We only stayed a day (and night – or actually a night and day) in Wellington, and spent most of that time at the national museum, Te Papa. The kids enjoyed the earthquake room (similar to that in the Natural History Museum, London), along with looking at the world’s only Colossal Squid exhibit.
We left Wellington, and undertook our last (relatively) long drive of our trip, up to Hawkes Bay, where we were staying in Napier. The kids loved it here. Fantastic motel with outdoor pool and a pool and table tennis tabole was what sold it to them, I think. Hawkes Bay is beautiful, and seems to have its own (hot) micro-climate. Certainly as we approached, the sun came out and it stayed that way until we left (nights excepted, of course). Oh, and the bonus was that in the unit next to us was a group of trainee bakers on a fornight’s course at the local bakery (one fo the best in NZ, apparently), and therefore we were treated on arrival with a plate of fresh cream cakes, with ciabbatta and other breads during the following days. Heaven!
The only downside of Napier (which is a beautiful Art Deco city) was the lack of sandy beaches – the ones we saw were all gravel. I’m sure there are plenty in Hawkes Bay, but we didn’t stumble across them – no that we were looking too hard.
After three nights in Napier we said goodbye to the pool and headed for Taupo. Our original plan was to stay in Taupo overnight, but everywhere was booked solid, and after further enquiry, we found that our visit coincided with an annual 11,000 cycle race around Lake Taupo. The was due to take place the day after our visit, so we didn’t see any of it, but it did mean a slight change to our plans. What we did do at Taupo was the Huka Falls jet boat!
This was absolutely awesome (we’re in the back row, by the way). So much so that we just had to go on it again! The boat is incredibly fast, and does (amongst other things) 360 degree turns on the spot. The driver also does his best to make it look as if you’re going to crash into every rock and tree that juts out of the river. He cuts it so fine that I’m sure there it’s only a matter of time before there is an accident!
More to follow…