In New Zealand we did what most travelers do, and rented a camper van, but perhaps we were a bit tight. We rented a
bottom of the line van which Trish christened “Bert” for the backer logo by the door. The company we rented from
specialized in buying up very used vans that no one else wanted. The steering was loose; a great liability in windy New
Zealand, the land of the world’s most aggressive drivers.
We spent a total of two months wandering about the two islands. Here are some photos with a few notes and one essay:
There were also other distinctly Kiwi hazards – which Trish loved.
We started by driving through the Aukland traffic to the Northern most point of New Zealand, where we had to take a photo.
There are big trees in New Zealand; the Kauri trees rival the California Sequoias is size. We met many very friendly Maoris
and became absolutely addicted to Maori bars. Here is a couple we met one afternoon. We followed them over a Kiwi
“metal road” – gravel to the rest of us – to their camp for some wonderful mullet they were smoking, (as well as some other
New Zealand is famous for its beautiful natural scenery. Here are a few examples:
The cities were interesting too, especially Christchurch on the South Island.
Queenstown is a great place to meet people, and to spend a lot of money. Here are some Aussie friends just before I
paraglided off the mountain, and Trish on the Luge - look at that determination!
We particularly enjoyed Steuart Island. It is a small island, reached by ferry, off the southern coast of the South Island. I
think both these views warrent large pictures.
This gate from an old farmstead dates from the early nineteenth century.
In conclusion, we would like to share a special experience we had with Kiwi Hospitality.
We had been driving our camper van, “Bert” around New Zealand for almost two months and were going through an
especially active thermal area in the North Island near Lake Taupo. When we stopped in a pub for some beer and pies for
lunch, some dairy farmers recommended a local thermal pool. The pool was off the side of a small country road. It was
under a thicket of trees, and was formed by the confluence of two streams, one hot, the other cold. We could soak in the hot
water, and then just move a little to refresh ourselves in the cold stream. At times the sand below our feet felt like we were
stepping on matches!
While we were relaxing a local family joined us. Two artists and their small children, Ashar and Louchen. When the father,
Alan, finished shaving his head, he joined the rest of us who were chatting. When he asked us where we were staying, we
told him about the local camper-van park we were planning on using. He said that we would be much more comfortable at
their house, so why don’t we join them? Of course we assented. He drove Bert and I, while Trish joined Heather and their
kids in their pick up truck. Two small pigs they had just bought were in the back.
After Alan and I did some shopping we arrived at their beautiful home set in a about an acre of land. It is full of stunning
gardens and sculptures they and their friends had created. It’s located on a short waterway connecting the lakes Rotorua and
Trish was already there and was frantically waving her arms as we arrived. It seems that while Heather was putting one pig
in its pen, she asked Trish to watch the other in the truck. Trish not being experienced at pig guarding, the pig in the truck
had escaped; so we all joined in the pig chase. The pig ran through the neighbor’s garden, then out on the road. It almost got
into the bush, and then would have been impossible to catch, but fortunately bounded back towards the yard. After much
running and fence hopping by all of us, Alan was able to catch the pig in a large fishing net, and we all wrestled it into its pen.
We were fortunate we did not have to deal with their other pig, a boar named Boris. Boris was very mean, had two sharp
tusks, and weighed over three hundred pounds.
We parked Bert on their lawn overlooking the waterway. Some friends joined us for the excellent dinner of fresh salad from
the garden and a wild turkey that Alan had recently shot.
Shortly after the children woke us in the morning, Alan arrived with “room service” consisting of two cups of fresh coffee.
Breakfast was large pancakes with bacon, brown sugar, lots of syrup, and fresh lemon. The Kiwi’s combine sweets with
lemon, a practice we were not familiar with. It was really quite good. The kids spent the entire morning in Bert with Trish.
They didn’t even want to go with their dad to cut down the Christmas tree!
We then moved on, still overwhelmed by the beauty of the countryside and the wonderful Kiwi Hospitality. Our next stop
was at our friends’ Anthony and Antoinettes home in Cambridge. We had met them in Tonga, and stayed with them twice
on our trip around New Zealand. Anthony would take us to the local butcher to have us pick out what local treat we wanted
him to prepare for dinner! He was truly a gourmet chef.
Here are my favorite parting shots.