Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fabulous New Zealand!

So after a disappointing experience in Auckland, on Tuesday January 12 we decided to check out of our hotel a day early and head to our new home in Palmerston North.

Our GPS estimated that this would take us 5.5 hours as the distance was 521 km. The route Mr. Garmin chose for us was the shortest by distance, but, as I learned later, was probably not the fastest route as it took us on some pretty isolated country roads. Lucky for us!

This might sound like a dumb error as it's pretty easy to distinguish a large highway from a country road. In North America, that is. In New Zealand, the only distinction is the "curviness".

 Both have a speed limit of 100 km/hr. Both have one lane in either direction and a dashed line between the two. Oh, and there are more cops on the "highways", so people usually drive faster on the country roads. And yes, we did see sheep by the side of the road - tens of thousands of them. And cows, horses, deer and alpacha.

Mackenzie thought "They're saying cheese!"
The journey took us 8 hours. And that was a good thing. The scenery was fantastic! Green meadows, snow-capped mountains, meandering streams ... for 8 hours! Usually on road trips, Trish calls me the "pee nazi" as I will not stop until the majority of our family are threatening incontinence. Character flaw - sorry. While traveling through the North Island's Waikato, Ruapehu, Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu provinces, I just couldn't help myself. I must have stopped 5 or 6 times just to take pictures. I took over 80 shots.  I could have taken many more. I wasn't sure what would irritate Trish less - stopping every 30 minutes to take pictures or swerving all over the place as I tried to snap pictures while driving at 100 km/hr. I tried both. The swerving thing was worse for Trish (and therefore me of course) and the pictures were lousy. Here are some samples (while standing still).

Random roadside scenery
More random roadside scenery
Mount Taranaki or "Mount Fuji" in "The Last Samurai"
We oohed and ahhed for all 8 hours. Honestly, the scenery was awesome and my $179 Canon camera simply didn't do it justice.

One other feature of our road trip. We stopped for lunch at the Subway restaurant in Otorohanga, population 2673. There were only about 15 people in the tiny restaurant in the tiny town including the 5 of us. Six of the remaining 10 were Kate Gosselin, American reality TV star of "Kate Plus 8", her Kiwi bodyguard and 4 of her 8 children. Trish and the kids eyeballed her the entire time, but I snubbed her for being so mean to Jon. I'm sure she got the message.

At around 5:00pm, we pulled into Palmerston North, the largest city in the Manawatu and our home for the next 6 months. I'll get the whole family to weigh in on what they think for the next post.

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