Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wanganui to Hamilton

It has taken us a few days but we finally are getting into the swing of it in NZ, now that we are nearly ready to leave. One thing we learned a bit late is that many towns like Wanganui have community free wifi in certain areas. That Tuesday morning we went to a cafe at the "i site" to browse our emails and get directions for our next destination, Hamilton. We also went into a stunning art gallery featuring the work of Liyen Chong, who spent a year in the town artist residency program (Tylee) and made exquisite pieces, such as these two where she embroidered using her own hair. They are very small and delicate.

The drive to Hamilton was, as usual, spectacular: green, green, green; winding roads between steep hills dotted with sheep and baby lambs, some so high up they looked like small white rocks up on the steep slopes. We saw a lovely waterfall, and many fabulous birds.

Driving in NZ deserves some description of its own. It is refreshing. Roads are in consistently good repair, no potholes or bad surfaces. Everything is immaculately clean. There is no roadside litter. Signage is amazing. Everything is marked clearly, every roadside picnic table indicated ( and there are many provided). People travel at moderate speeds and cheery signs remind everyone of good safe driving practices. We may have been lost a few times, but it was clearly our own doing. The signs and maps provided are comprehensive, clear, and constant.

We have seen thousands of sheep and lambs in this country. It's no wonder that every city has merino wool shops with a wide range of clothing to purchase. In the Blue Mountains in Australia we both bought merino "skins", thin wool shirts worn like long underwear, because it was cold up there. I'm a bit embarrassed to say that we both have worn them day and night ever since, with only brief breaks to launder them and put them back on again. They are fabulous for an extra layer of warmth, yet seem to keep you cool when the day warms up. They don't smell even when you have had them on for days. I've gotten kind of superstitious about my "skin", feeling safe and happy as long as I have it on! Not sure how this will work out in SC, but at least winter is ahead of us, unlike here.

Hamilton is a big, modern town. This was our last night in our beloved camper van, and our "holiday park" was city owned and offered a wealth of great facilities. There were hot showers, laundry room, communal kitchen and dining, game rooms, kids playgrounds, places to fill your van with water and dump waste. The whole place was immaculate, quiet, and of course, green! This could really describe every one of the places we stayed. They have been uniformly great, well managed, and extremely quiet, spacious, well-thought out, and pleasant. Many are municipally run.

We had Thai food for dinner, then went back to pack up and clean our our van, in preparation for turning it in tomorrow. Tonight we laughed for a long time when we lay in bed talking. During the last week or so I've been startled awake a few times a night by what sounded like a loud drilling sound ( think machine shop) coming from her side of the bed. I've been assuming she had developed a new and peculiarly loud snore, but haven't said anything until now. She was embarrassed, astounded, and appalled. We laughed it off comparing it to her frequent commentary on my nose hair, and threats to go after me with scissors. Yep, we both have our little physical imperfections, we said, and we laughed for a long time together. Just as we were drifting off to sleep we both heard the sound again. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrp! "Was that it?" she asked. Yes, it was, but it wasn't her after all. It was something in the camper van, perhaps a water pump or motor of some kind. More laughter, and finally to sleep.

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Location:New Zealand

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