After visiting the Northlands, we moved down to Rotorua where we stayed with a lovely couple on their small farm. A farmstay is meant to give you a glimpse of NZ farm life and includes breakfast and dinner with ingredients from the farm you are staying on. We were not disappointed. Especially considering that I miss-programmed the GPS and just as we were 20 minutes from arriving at destination, I realized we were actually 2 hours away. No matter, Leon was still driving on the left side of the road as required and we arrived just as planned, only 20 minutes late.

The Flemings served up some lamb, venison and beef from their farm or neighbouring areas. They used to have a large block of land that they leased and raised thousands of sheep. But due to the economy and the gentle pull of easier times, they just manage their 60 acres farm, complete with chickens and a nice vegetable patch. They have been in the farmstay business for over 20 yrs. A lovely couple, they know how to make their guest feel like they are part of the family. The food was terrific, all home cooked (including a mean cup of tea) and the conversation was easy and enlightening. The big event in their life is the upcoming wedding of their youngest daughter. They’ve been preparing the grounds with flowers and a grass podium for the bride and groom to stand on for the ceremony. It will be a grand yet homey affair. We wish them the best of weather and a marvelous time!

While in the area, we drove over to the West coast and visiting the Waitomo glow worm caves. This is really neat! They take you down the equivalent of 5 stories inside a cave where you board a boat and gently glide down of subterranean river while looking up at the ceiling, filled with tiny lights made by worms just trying to attract the fresh mosquitoes. The process is similar to what a firefly does.

Waitomo caves exit

From there we drove cross country through some beautiful scenery to the Kiwi Experience and Rainbow Gardens where we learned all about the endangered Kiwi bird. Cute fellas, they are about the size of a cat at maturity, no real wings, with long beaks and feet that look like they never evolved from the prehistoric times. This center incubates and hatches eggs from the wild and then returns the healthy kiwis to their home once they are grown enough. The gardens also feature all kinds of local birds.

From there, we continued to the downtown area by following our nose. The smell of sulphur from the geothermal pools is not pleasant. We were certainly glad not to be staying in the town area where we would have not been able to sit on our balcony. Peee ewwww!!! We did visit the spa and sit in the hot pool for a brief while. Not as pleasant as Leon’s hot tub but it was a welcome soak. We returned this morning to the downtown area to walk around the hot pools. Really, really smelly mud, for the most part. It seems they lose the odd drunk or child in those pools at times. Ewwww!!!

I am currently sitting in a lovely century old home in Art Deco town, Napier. We are in the middle of a prime wine district, right next to the Pacific. We had a virtual wine tour today as we missed all the real tours with our late arrival. (We stopped to see Blue and Green lakes and the Huka Falls on the way.) We still got to try 6 different wines while sipping along to a video at the wine center. Neat concept!

Hawke's Bay

We walked around this pretty city that was destroyed in the early 1930s by an earthquake and rebuilt entirely in the Art Deco style. Dinner was a pizza and salad with a nice local wine while enjoying a view of the waterfront. We stopped back into the wine center and bought some more wine for a quiet evening in our room. Another terrific breakfast in planned for the morning and then off to Wellington, the capital of NZ.