Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bottom of the North to Top of the South

The three-hour Interislander ferry journey links NZ's North and South Islands. The 92 km (57 miles) sail between Wellington and Picton has been described as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. Here's one of the ferries arriving at Wellington, where we park the car and head for the terminal.

Bicycles, Canoes, and Dogs

In the terminal Thursday waiting to board, Wellington's newspaper led with the fog that had grounded thousands of air passengers and caused many car crashes on Wednesday. Happily, it had cleared for our drive into Wellington.

This is good news. It won't go into effect until next year, but stands to help many smokers quit.

Dangerous idiot: 'nuf said 
Offcut makes hats from materials destined for landfills.

It's a thrill every time to see the maw open and toy cars stream out.

Now it's our turn. There's some serious traffic directing inside.

Ferry route.(Trouble viewing click here.)

The vistas along the way are enough to trigger good dreams.

Last night we landed just before 6 pm and made our way to the modest motel we'd booked. Then ensued a classic story of two people whose blood sugar was dangerously low, walking (yes, I'd misjudged) to the only resto nearby (and by "nearby" I don't mean nearby), ironically called the Jolly Roger because the owner was not in any way jolly (he was a big meanie) and our simple meal of two bowls of fish chowder turned out to be the worst we'd ever had AND it took a full one hour and 15 minutes to be delivered to our table, by which time we were trying to reassure each other that we were lucky to be in NZ. Then we had to trek back. I thought this was a nice picture though, on the hopeful walk toward dinner.

The Jolly Roger is attached to the biggest marina on the South Island. How could all those yachties put up with it?

 = speed bumps

One fifth of NZ's coastline right here

We went to the iSITE in Blenheim, one of many scattered throughout NZ whose job is to help you with info on walks, activities, maps, and anything else you care to ask ("Where could we find a nice cafe?").

The 7.8 earthquake in November 2016 ripped up route 1 to Kaikoura (which we visited in 2015), where locals make their living with whale watching tours and other such pursuits on their gorgeous coast. We hope to visit again in support of their economy.

81 degrees F and sunny today in Picton, cooling at night to 53F, just about perfect. Off-season rates begin on April 1 and on Saturday/Sunday we fall back an hour. Autumn arrives in NZ.

We walked the harbor across from the motel this afternoon in the still-warm sun.

Arapawa  Maori Rowing Club, est. 1919.

Gurnard and greens for dinner, the gurnard fresh from the boat at the New World grocery in Blenheim, where we shopped today.

South Island salut from the Queen of Flat Whites, who likes this island best

Tomorrow we're heading for a few days at an airbnb in Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds. It sits near the end of the Queen Charlotte Track, one of nine NZ Great Walks, and we're hoping to hike a nice piece of it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Eat, Walk, Read, Eat, Sleep

I can't imagine a day without these things.

Look at the colors on those plums and kiwi. Our host left them in a bowl for us. I used to wonder why people would buy pre-cooked beets. On the road, I get it.

About seven miles today. Art is wearing his protective coloration.

In the opening paragraph of her new novel, “I Will Send Rain,” Rae Meadows notes: “There had been no rain for 72 days and counting. The mercury would climb past a hundred today and no doubt again tomorrow.” Set in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1932, the book is the affecting story of the Bell family endeavoring to maintain their farm during endless drought. The privations the four endure are monumental. (Thank you, Brookerz!)

“Police work wouldn't be possible without coffee," Wallander said.
"No work would be possible without coffee."
They pondered the importance of coffee in silence.”
― Henning Mankell, One Step Behind 

Grilled cheese and red onion on sourdough.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In Plimmerton, In Plimmerton

In Plimmerton, in Plimmerton,
the little penguins play,
And I have seen an albatross
at Karehana Bay. 
NZ poet Denis Glover

Departure day breakfast

Keeping it brief because we have some hinky wi-fi here in this tiny bach (pronounced "batch" and short for bachelor pad, but describing any small getaway place) in Plimmerton, just a stone's throw from Wellington, where we'll board the ferry Thursday for the South Island. In conversation earlier with the Irish owner of the bach he told me it was cloudy and rainy in Wellington today, a common occurrence due to the mountains, which he described as "very high for a tiny land."

(trouble viewing map? click here)
A beautiful day for the drive.

Here's the view toward the water. This is a sweet little airbnb place with everything we need.

I parked myself right here for a little reading.

Steps to the beach.

After the drive, a flat white to revive

Friendlier than he looks, this delightful deli owner discovered we were from the US and told us his daughter had gone to California on a tennis scholarship when she was 17 and was still there. The softball question: how old is she? 41!, said he, laughing uproariously.

Good day to you.

Work Day in Whanganui

A good day. Work, bookshop visit, the Spark store, a walk through town, and fish.

A mural of Whanginui on the Spark store's wall. Spark is a telecom place we check in with occasionally to ensure we've got the bits and bytes to run our navigational ipad and the phone. This is a friendly city whose arts scene is thriving in revived old buildings along the mighty Whanginui River.

Kō au te Āwa, kō te Āwa kō au. I am the river, the river is me.
The Whanganui River is a major river in the North Island of New Zealand. It is the country's third-longest river, and has special status owing to its importance to the region's Māori people. In March 2017 it became the world's first natural resource to be given its own legal identity, with the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. The Whanganui Treaty settlement brought the longest-running litigation in New Zealand history to an end.[1][2]
More on this fascinating story here, in the NZ Herald.

Where we're staying, on a quiet residential street just a few blocks from downtown Whanginui.

Flip 'em over and one minute until dinner. The wide availability of fish in NZ is an utter joy. Please be kind to your chef.


Tarakihi are more numerous on each of the South Island coasts and the lower part of the North Islands east coast, but are quite common right around New Zealand.