Crossing the northern mountains

Or alternatively entitled “Critter Day”. After last night’s entry we had quite a rain for about an hour then it completely cleared up. Thus far on this trip the weather gods have smiled on us. The few times it has rained have either been while driving or safely ensconced inside. But we did have an unwelcome guest in the house… Somehow a rather sizeable black moth showed up and was flitting around like crazy. I was trying to either get it to go back outside or meet its demise. I was unsuccessful. However Dian answered the pest control alarm. Out she came, grabbing both a dish towel and a pillow. Tossing the pillow at it finally got it onto the floor where we could send it to moth heaven. Thought that would be the end of it, but, oh, no. Yet another moth showed up. Luckily it decided to hide and not bug us.

After that excitement we had a wonderful night’s rest and woke up and fixed a nice breakfast that we ate relaxing on the deck enjoying the bucolic sounds of farm life.

We were soon off on today’s drive that was to take us from Napier across the mountains to Lake Taupo then on to Tokoroa, where we were to stay with our second Affordable Travel Club couple. The drive was beautiful, taking us up and down and all around as always. Saw many forests plus lots of areas where they had clear cut the timber and then replanted. We’re told they export 95% of the timber. There were countless motorcyclists on the road going in both directions. Must be a weekend thing. One good thing I’ve noticed in all the driving here is how well they mark things. On all the mountain roads when you come to a curve they clearly mark it and put a speed limit on it. No road has been marked higher than 100km. But on the curves sometimes they are as low as 35km. And they are not mistaken! I’ve learned to trust their judgment.

Eventually we came out of the mountains and round a bend there was Lake Taupo! It’s the largest lake in the country having been made from a volcano that exploded ages ago. We found a lovely, quiet spot on the lake to sit and enjoy lunch. Afterwards we drove thru the town but thought it looked much too touristy for our liking. We kept going. Barely 4 miles out of town we came upon Huka Falls, that Dian’s friend Terry (whom we met in Nelson) recommended we stop to see. It was a worthy stop! The falls were gorgeous. There was also a nicely done, easily walkable path along the river. We met any number of folks to chat with. Well, after all, our last host referred to us as a “friendly, chatty pair”! We drove on just a short way when I saw a sign for coffee. Screech! On with the brakes, a quick left turn and onto a long, gravel road we went. When it appeared that I had made a totally wrong choice, it suddenly became right! Into this odd little spot where were first came across a few alpacas, then peacocks, then a number of chickens with broods of chicks following along, then a friendly dog. Whoa! Definitely critter day! I did get a nice cup of coffee, plus the owner gave me pellets to feed the chickens and alpacas. What fun!

Onward toward our destination we passed a large group of deer, the sort they farm here. Reminded me of Africa how they moved as one with the noise of the car as we approached.

We came into Tokoroa which is a small town, but fairly close to Rotorua, where we plan to visit the next few days. We met our hosts, an elderly couple who are well traveled, with lots of stories and a great deal of hospitality. We headed out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant, then came back to settle in for the night.

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