Thursday, May 24, 2018

Art Deco and Hot Springs

By Jen.

When you have spent a few days in the wilderness (even when van glamping like we do), it is nice to head into civilization for a bit. So, we made our way over to Napier and Hastings. On the way, we spotted the Mohaka Viaduct, the highest rail viaduct (97m) in Australasia.

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We made it to Napier after lunch. Both Napier and Hastings were flattened by a deadly 1931 earthquake. The silver lining to this is that there are now lots of art-deco buildings adding quite the flair to the town. Since we entered from the north, we visited the crown jewel of the style first: the National Tobacco Company’s building.

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The beauty of art-deco: both simple and elaborate at the same time. Isn’t it a beaut?

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The park along Marine Parade was also very intriguing.

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A floral clock! Can I get one of those?

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Even some of the stores have embraced the 1930s vibe. Love that headband!

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Can’t forget the manhole covers.

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Not everything was art-deco. This was the side of the Museum Theatre Gallery.

The next day we tried a drive up Te Mata Peak, but as I mentioned previously, rainy season has started. Couldn’t see much through the clouds.

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The clouds make the hang-gliding launch a little spooky…

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Back in Hastings, we noticed that even the street lights had an art-deco flair.

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Apparently this is the Spanish Mission style.

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From Hastings, we ventured into Kaweka Forest Park to Mangatutu Hot Springs. The springs are channeled into 2 large tubs, where you can sit and enjoy the naturally-heated water while looking out over the beautiful Mohaka River. Sadly, 3/5 pictures that I took failed to save properly and we were too busy enjoying ourselves to get any more good pictures. It was one of those activities that you could enjoy even if it was raining.

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The temperature of the water was about 97°F. You could see the steam wisping up from the water through plants.

Fun Fact: There are only 11 species of ant here in New Zealand. And, they seem to be pretty rare! In all the time we have been here, we seen maybe 3-4 occurrences of ants. It is really bizarre being in a place that has so few ants! Seems like in the US, if you drop some food on the ground, the ants will be all over it in a manner of seconds or minutes. Here, unless the birds like it, it is rarely bothered. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Te Urewera NP

By Jen.

The loop around the East Cape from north to south brought us near Te Urewera National Park, where there is a Great Walk around Lake Waikaremoana. We figured it was worth a detour to go check it out. Unfortunately, the weather was forecasting lots of rain over the next week, so we didn’t know how much we would get to enjoy. Fall rains are here and days have just over 10 hours of sunlight. When we arrived, we had just enough time to run up to Lou’s Lookout before it started pouring. I am glad we did! I had picked it on a whim, but it ended up being an unexpectedly fun walk up and around and through limestone rocks to a legitimate lookout over the lake.

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The next day we had rain off an on, but it started off without rain.

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We decided to hit up some waterfalls first.

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Toi toi plants.

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A tall, old rata tree.

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This one is aged between 800-1000 years old.

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We then made our way to Lake Waikareiti
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The sun finally came out to play right before sunset.

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You can see why it is called the “sea of rippling waters.”

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The next day was rainy again and so we decided to skip the last walk and kayak and just head out and down south again.

Fun Facts: Apparently NZ is small enough for them to justify counting and publishing the number of lightning strikes experienced during a storm. After a front passes through, there were be an article with a headline similar to "Over 1000 lightning strikes near Auckland last night." I just found it bizarre that they cared so much about it, as I came from the Kansas Plains where lightning was fairly commonplace and never really announced. I don't think I have ever heard how many lightning strikes occurred during a storm in the States.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

East Cape

The eastern coast of NZ's North Island is a rural collection of farmland, remote fisheries, and tiny villages.
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The East Cape villages have a few unique churches.  These communities have large Maori populations, and this has infused a unique flavor to these churches.
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We walked 800 steps up to the East Cape Lighthouse.
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A nearby beach had a tidal shelf filled with fossilized shells. Most of these are over a million years old.
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