Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wrapping Up New Zealand

A brief update… While waiting to catch our boat back across the lake from Hidden Valley, we watched another tourist having her picture taken with a Campbell River B.C. newspaper in hand. We said hello and found out she'd known a family in Hope. None of us could come up with names but at our invitation she's subsequently posted a comment. We remember Grant Sherman and Helan Murphy Sherman and, whether or not that's the right branch of the Sherman family of her acquaintance, it just proves it's a small world after all.

Following our visit to Hidden Valley we drove to Waitomo and took a four-hour tour of one of the Glowworm Caves, one that we’d highly recommend. Pictures will follow. We drove up to Raglan enjoying some of our last views of the green rolling hills of the North Island.

Our first choice of campgrounds in the area turned out to be a dud as far as we were concerned. Nothing personal, but the well-meaning American graduate students running the park are committed to the environment and apparently spend their energies posting signs outside the restrooms that say “Water is precious. Don’t waste it…” etc. rather than in actually making the restrooms or the campsite itself into something more inviting than a junkyard parking lot.

We headed back into town and found the Raglan Kopua Holiday Park, which met our needs quite adequately. Since we deliberately were running low on supplies, Brian treated Chef Kathy to dinner out. Did we pick a winner in The Orca Restaurant and Bar! These folks obviously share our passion for quality food.

A fish soup entrée (what we call the appetizer course) for Kathy with hints of Thai (one of the servers mentioned Tahiti) and a Szechuan calamari for Brian, both terrific. For the “mains” Kathy chose a Shepherd’s Pie with lamb and Brian chose the paella. Both were excellent, washed down with a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc followed by a glass of Coonawara Cabernet. We've eaten out only three times thus far in New Zealand - three good meals and this was the best of them.

We returned to the van and watched a so-so DVD movie (Chasing Liberty) we’d borrowed from Wilderness Motorhomes. It’s great to go out camping and really rough it like this.

During the night it rained fairly heavily on and off and there was a solo flash of lightning, followed by quite loud peals of thunder that woke us both up. From time to time it sounded like we were parked next to one of the waterfalls we’d visited.

This morning we moved to a site within range of an Internet signal (more roughing it) and now get ready to return to Auckland. Photos to follow when time and bandwidth (severely limited here) permit.

And now the sun has made a brief appearance, so it's time to go to work.

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