Saturday, November 10, 2012

Traveling solo in New Zealand

Well it has been a while, first a quick update on the knee front.  Going remarkably well, only thing I still have problems with is if I am sitting for a while then its awkward to get up.  Otherwise the right knee is pain free when I walk, which is pretty amazing.

The recovery is so good I have been able to travel to New Zealand where I joined up with a number of work colleagues to go to the Wearable Arts Festival in Wellington.  But thought I would take advantage of goinh there and see a bit of the countryside first.  So I travelled on my own from Auckland to Wellington.  Stayed in Auckland the first night and with the maybe false sense of security of a traveller, felt quite comfortable wandering the streets at night and finding a lovely place to eat at called Elliott Stables, which is like an upmarket food hall.

I was incredibly lucky as the weather was amazing, clear skies with a bit of rain at night and a bit of rain on the road as I travelled from Auckland to Taupo where I stayed at Debretts Spa Resort which is a cabin park with its own Thermal Springs so spent a lovely few hours in the hot springs.  Bit daggy as they are quite old, but relaxing none the less.  Can't get over how amazingly friendly and helpful New Zealanders are.  It made it such an easy country to travel in on your own.

the slide at the thermal springs, no I did not go on it, chose instead to laze in the many pools

The NZ countryside is just beautrful, green rolling hills, then roads winding beside rivers with strange red lowlying shrubs more rolling green hills with lines of mountains off in the distance.  Stopped at an incongrous little roadside break and discovered the most amazing waterfalls which were not even signposted.  At Napier, on the East Coast,  got caught up in the first ever National Earthquake Drill.  At the info centre when the siren went off and they told me to get behind the counter and kneel down.  When I explained that I couldn't kneel they were a bit discombobulated so said 'oh well just put your hands over your head' I am sure that would help  if  a ton of concrete was falling on  my head.

Travelling on my own forced me to plan a little bit more which meant deciding each morning where I would stay that night.  So on the third night chose from the internet a place called Himitangi Beach because it had a cabin park and according to the info it was good place to watch the sunset....  More green rolling hills, and now snow covered mountain ranges in the background.  Stopped at a winery called the Junction where the woman who owned the place with her husband suggested I sit in the sun and look out over the mountains  while she brought out wines for me to taste.  Choice! (that's what NZers say when they are happy I think)

At Himitangi Beach turned up at the cabin park to find they had a nice little self contained cabin available and when I asked the woman if there was anywhere I could get something to eat, she said 'mm what day is it? Wednesday - ahh the Cossie club will have their ten dollar roast.'  so after a walk along the most amazing and primeval beach I have seen - full of huge chunks of driftwood, huge sand dunes, groups of men with strange traingular fixed nets, that I learnt were for catching whitebait, I went off to the  only place to eat in this lovely village, the Cosmopolitan Boaters and Firshermen's club for what turned out to be a lovely roast lamb and a chat over dinner with some fellow cabin parkers.

Himitangi Beach
Then drove down to Wellington where I met up with the mob from work, 11 of us in total.  Had a lovely lovely time.  Wellington behaved admirably, sun shine every day, very little wind, spent lots of time walking along the waterfront, going to the markets, eating and occasionally drinking.  Best meals - the lobster sliders at the Hummingbird cafe in Courtenay Place, the kilo of mussels done in a coriander and coconut sauce at a German pub near Lambton Quay, and sweet things a Crack Pie at the market.  The locals celebrated the sunshine and summerlike temperature of 18C by going out in pedalboats and jumping off the pier into what I am sure was freezing cold water.  Lots of music, a ladies ukelele band at the market, dancing to 60s music, then an Irish band and the knee held up remarkably well.

Wellington Wharf
So all in all a good time.. loved travelling on my own and would recommend it to anyone who has not tried it, there is an element of freedom that allows you to stop and take photos, have different conversations wiht the people you meet, eat, drink and just soak up the place without having to negotiate.  But it's also good to travel with a companion, what's important is having the choice......

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like such a wonderful journey - the perfect blend of natural beauty and friendly folks!

    And I agree - it's lovely to have someone to share things with, but travelling on ones own is such a different experience. I think it allows for more contemplation and (perhaps conversely) more getting out of your own skin (or perhaps the skin that the people we know and love give to us). Okay, now I'm really not making sense so I'll shut up... x