Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Week 2018

by Carolyn

We have enjoyed the very elegant Greenhill Lodge in Hawke’s Bay this week. It was built in 1898 and beautifully restored in 2001. The grounds include an orchard and kitchen garden, plus pergola, fountains, grotto and heritage trees. It was once part of a huge sheep station but over the years, property around the estate was sold off.

Afternoon tea in the living room


Thank you Mary and John
It was off and on rainy while we were there, but that was actually a welcome break from constant activity and need to be on the move. Little things, like a chance to do laundry and write some letters, read and wander the grounds made for a relaxing few days.

We took a trip into Napier, the “Art Deco City”, rebuilt in 1931 after a devastating earthquake destroyed the city and nearby Hastings. Some 4,000 hectares of today’s Napier were underwater before the earthquake raised it above sea level. Today, the buildings, sign fonts, color schemes, and seafront promenade are classic “Great Gatsby” style and the town is recognized as culturally important for its architecture.
Art Deco everywhere

Christmas Eve shopping in Napier

Napier Botanical Garden

Napier Botanical Garden
When we first arrived we explained to the innkeeper, John, and assistant, Mary, that we had plans for Christmas dinner with our newest pilot friends, Paul and Lucy W. Turns out that Mary knows Paul very well and Lucy’s family farm is only a mile down the road. New Zealand is a wonderfully small country! Christmas dinner was delicious and the crazy gift exchange afterwards was hysterical. We were so excited to be a part of this extended family and friends tradition.
Carlen and Rodo

Paul and Jack

Hysterical "Chinese auction" gift exchange
We left our lovely hosts at Greenhill for a splurge side trip to Sydney, Australia. The afternoon we arrived was spent wandering and photographing the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and Botanical Garden but the main purpose of the visit was so Carlen could have her long-promised Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb. Fourteen years ago, she was denied the chance to climb because she was only 11. Promise kept. It was a gorgeous day and we had a great experience. That afternoon, Carlen and I visited the Susanna Place Museum which is a preserved block of brick apartments from the 1840’s, saved from “redevelopment” of The Rocks in the 1980’s. Dinner was with another set of new pilot friends, Ari and Tamra H., who prepared an amazing feast of salads, vegetables, grilled meat and fruit for dessert.

Classic Carlen with Hibiscus pose
We did it!!

Modern skyscrapers surround the 1840's Susanna Place Apartments
(Carlen and Rodo are off to Los Angeles and Jack and I are headed to Queenstown. FYI, the Sydney airport is NUTS!)

Queenstown is surrounded by stunning scenery and filled with too many tourists. But, nearby Arrowtown offered a little more history and a chance for one last bike ride in New Zealand. We’ve enjoyed some quiet days for just the “two of us."
Chinese immigrants came to work the gold fields in the 1860's

Hiking in Arrowtown

Our last bike ride in New Zealand

There was a diver (on the right) vacuuming silt for modern day gold panning device
Queenstown...1,000,000 tourists are behind me

Newly renovated Stoneridge Estate Lodge
Lake Hayes, outside of Queenstown

The view from Stoneridge Estate 

We walked the trail around Lake Hayes

Sunday, December 23, 2018

NZ Backroads Multisport Trip

by Carolyn

How to summarize eight days of perfection!!??

1.  Guided hike with a naturalist on private property. Some ferns are edible and some are poisonous. Do I take a chance?

Yes, your feet will get wet!

Hard fern
Krauss's clubmoss
Black fern

2.  Kayaking in Cathedral Cove. Scenes from Chronicles of Narnia were filmed here. But, even better, we saw dolphins!

3.  Hiking through old gold mining tunnels “lit” by glow worms. This place is magical! Maori tattoos describe your role like a resume.

The speck of light over Jack's shoulder is the other end of the tunnel

From a print hanging in the hotel
4.  Best Bike Ride Ever! Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand. It means “land of the long white cloud”. But no clouds today! Also, they have good wine in pretty cans.

The whole gang before the first ride

My new favorite after a hot ride: sauvignon blanc
5. White water rafting in Tongariro River Gorge. The concession owner has set hundreds of traps for stoats, rats and possums to protect the endangered New Zealand blue ducks...which we saw!
Yes, we really did need all that gear!

Endangered New Zealand blue ducks. 
6. Start the morning with a hike, end the day on the bike. Cycling through wine country, apple orchards and fields of sheep.
Huka Falls

7.  More cycling and this time with wine tasting.

Craggy Range Vineyard
8.  Hiking with sea shell fossils underfoot and middle earth views in the distance.

Every step is awesome!

Best Backroads trip yet!

Final post: Facts, Figures, and Appreciation

By Jack With RTW 3.0 (westbound) officially complete, I thought I would offer some facts and figures regarding the journey and final words...