February 22nd to 28th Waikanae and Wellington area
22 Feb 2008
Not much success in resolving the photo problem as they have only been able to recover the photos up to Buenos Aires so we are missing all the photos from Cusco, Macchu Pichu, Santiago, Easter Island, Bora Bora and the Bay of Islands. I will keep the memory stick as it is as I can still see all the photos on the camera but these may only be thumbnails. We are still hoping that the special Fujifilm software in the camera may enable us to upload from the camera to our PC at home so we'll keep our fingers crossed and for the rest of the trip use the other 1Gb memory card.
In the afternoon we took the train into Wellington and went to Te Papa, the New Zealand national museum. We met up with Ian and Cindy at the Wellington railway station just after 6pm and went to the Westpac stadium, known as the cake tin, and watched our first ever live game of international Rugby where the Hurricanes from Wellington were playing the Reds from Sydney. the wellington team scraped a win 23-18. There are fourteen teams in the league spread across NZ, Australia and South africa so it must get very expensive to watch away games! It was a beautiful, still, warm evening which is not normal for Wellington.
Today we went to the Lindale tourist centre near Waikanae and visited the farmers market for lunch and looked round the speciality shops which were there. In the afternoon we drove up the coast to Otaki where they have a number of outlet stores and at last I replaced my baseball cap which I wear much of the time to protect from the sun but it disintegrated in the washing machine when we were up in Auckland.
On the way back down we found a Paua shell shop and Christine found a ring she liked.
We returned to the beach house where Cindy and four friends had arrived after about a 50 kilometre walk as training for a sponsored 100km walk around Taupo lake in early April in aid of Oxfam. Their families joined them and we had a barbecue in the garden after they had cooled off in the sea as it was a very hot day. It was also good to see Ian and Cindy's two daughters and four grandchildren who joined us for the barbecue.
We went to the Army at Tawa with Ian as Cindy was on another training walk and met up with some friends, Harry and Betty Leper, who had been at Lower Hutt when we lived there. We started by singing the New Zealand national anthem, in Maori and then English. The service was a nice mix of traditional and contemporary with a small band and a Soul Praise group which is like the songsters but not everyone is in uniform. Some retired officers, Ada and David Widdowson, knew Win Pender, Tim and the family. We think she is a cousin of Win.
After lunch with Ian and Cindy we returned to Waikanae and enjoyed a drive along the coast before returning to the house to prepare for the big day tomorrow!
Christine informed me I am now another year older. I cannot remember receiving so many cards on or before my birthday for years so I'll obviously have to travel away more often! Ian put a letter box up specially so we could receive mail and in this last week it has been used every day.
We had to be up reasonably early as we went over to Kapiti Island which is a nature conservation area controlled by the department of conservation. We had to get permits to go and there are only about 40 issued per day. All bags had to be checked to make sure we weren't carrying any rats or other mammals which would endanger the wildlife comprising many endangered species.The crossing from paraparaumu beach was only about 20 minutes and not too rough. Once on the island we were given our instructions which included not feeding the birds even if the Kaka parrot and Weka flightless bird tried to get inside the bags we were carrying and we had to bring all our rubbish off the island. If there were any smokers they had to smoke on the seashore and take their cigarette butts off the island at the end of the day. The climb up the Trig track was very arduous and we were fortunate it was not too hot but I certailnly lost some weight climbing it. The view from the top, Trig point was great after the clouds lifted and we could see the South Island of NZ as well as the Kapiti coast of the North Island. Fortunately the track down was much easier and we managed to see several other birds including Tui and saddleback.
After a late start we drove up to north of Palmerston North to see some gardens at Kimbleton which Christine had read about in her RHS magazine. It was not the best time to see the garden as it is mainly rhododendron and Azaleas which flower in November in NZ but still very interesting. On the way back we stopped at a large wind farm, drove through the Manawatu gorge and then down through the Wairarapa, calling at Mount Bruce sanctuary to see the Takahe birds. The trip over the Rimutuka hills was not as bad as when we lived in NZ and we then went back to Waikanae via the Paekakariki hill road from where we got great views of the coast. We ended the day with a walk along the beach and got some nice photos of the sunset over Kapiti Island.
A quiet day relaxing in the garden and reading was a great break from the busyness of the last few days. Hopefully we haven't spent too long in the sun! We met up with Murray & Christine this evening and enjoyed dinner at one of the local restaurants. Its been good to catch up with them during this trip.
Our last day in the area so it has to be busy. We drove into Lower Hutt and Seaview to a Wollen weaving mill which uses old 1870 equipment to weave garments that have been used in Lord of the Rings, Lion Witch and the wardrobe and many other movies. The entrance is through a wardrobe door, fur coats and a snow blizzard!
We then drove to Petone for coffee where settlers first arrived in New Zealand before we went into Wellington to meet my old PA for lunch. In the afternoon after getting the car headlights adjusted we drove up to the Otari Wilton native bush for a walk through the reserve. A final drive round Wellington took us to Oriental parade, Mount Victoria lookout and Evans Bay where we met Ian & Cindy for dinner looking over the harbour.
It was a long day but we certainly enjoyed these last two weeks renewing friendships.