It’s cold and raining in New Zealand. We were in the Bay of Plenty, supposedly an area that receives the most sunlight of anywhere in the country. If it’s any sign, we wonder if the sun ever shines anywhere.
Nonetheless, we haven’t let the weather stop us. We visited an aviation museum (indoors) and managed a short hike between torrential downpours. We tried visiting a kiwifruit farm to learn about the famous fruit but all tours were cancelled due to being flooded out. We visited a honey farm, where the famous New Zealand manuka honey is made but were only able to visit the indoor showroom due, of course, to the rain. In Rotorua , we witnessed sheep shearing (indoors, where Harrison got to feed a baby lamb) and the kids snuck in a gondola and luge ride when the rain had died to a drizzle at one point. We toured Te Puia, a Maori village and geothermal park where we stood waiting for the geyser to spout, you guessed it, in the rain. We visited a kiwi bird house, and were thrilled that it was indoors, but alas, kiwi birds are nocturnal and stayed burrowed in a very dark makeshift habitat, so we never saw any. Is this all a scam?
Now we are in the Bay of Islands, and it’s still raining. We spent a day yesterday on a bus tour to 90-mile Beach, which is officially a New Zealand highway but drivable only at low tide. And drive we did - at 100 kph – but still in the rain. We couldn’t see out the windows due to the inside fogging up and the sand sticking to the wet windows outside, plus the fog made for even worse visibility. Still, it was a fabulous day. We sandboarded down massive sand dunes – in the rain – and walked out to the Cape Reinga lighthouse at the tip of NZ that will be greeting all our boating friends who will be heading here this month – where the wind was so strong that we were literally blown over several times, and the rain so strong that it felt painful as it pelted our faces.
The only touring days so far that haven’t seen rain were a driving day north (the scenery definitely did look beautiful in the sunshine) and when we went underground for black water rafting in the gloworm-filled Waitomo Caves (Danielle’s blog post to follow).
Still, NZ has been a wonderful change from cruising, and it is no doubt a beautiful country (we couldn’t help but feel at times that we were in our own backyard of northern California) with incredible people (with a bit of a Canadian vibe). The kiwis (not to be confused with kiwifruit and kiwi birds) are a happy friendly proud people. Life here is impressively and simply very civilized. Even in the rain.
-Barb in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand