Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We're "enjoying" a rainy day in Taupo, in the middle of the North Island next to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand.

The bad weather--the first bad day in the seven so far we've been in NZ--scratched a day trip to the national park to see the snow covered volcanoes up close.   (Hopefully we will see them in the morning from our B&B overlooking the lake before departing toward Napier and Hawke Bay.)   On the other hand, the rainy day gave us the chance to do some errands here in town (including our second laundry run of the trip) and relax here at Rangimarie B&B.   This included a welcome afternoon nap as the rain was falling gently on the roof.

A few reflections on Hawaii and New Zealand since my first post back in Toronto--nothing too profound as you will quickly see:

Hawaiian shave ice, like Hawaii itself, was quite a treat.
--Shave ice is soooo much better than the snow cones we grew up with.
--The Hawaiians we met throughout our visit were remarkably friendly.   This even applies to the TSA employees at the Kona and Honolulu airports we encountered.  (The open-air airport at Kailua-Kona is a refreshing change from the typical and puts you into the right mood upon arrival.)
Not your typical airport departure lounge.  (Kona Airport)

--For years I have been indifferent about visiting Hawaii.   This is no longer the case as I would welcome a return visit sometime.   For us, I think we made the right choice spending most of our time on the Big Island with its lower population density and wide open landscapes.   (The resort zone immediately north of the Kona airport was the only side of the island we did not see.)    The volcanic desert in the south and the rolling hills of range country in the north around Waimea provided stunning vistas.

It's kind of desolate down here--Kilauea Iki crater walk
Looking down to the sea from the Chain of Craters road at Volcano National Park

Beach in Waipio valley on the windward side of the Big Island--we had to hike in and out

New Zealand:
--All the superlatives I've heard about NZ over the years are not hype--they are absolutely on the mark in my opinion.   This place is so easy to travel in and so rewarding every step of the way.
--I'm struck by feeling so at home here, yet so far away from home.

From the Coromandel peninsula east of Auckland

Inferno Crater (actually an underwater geyser) at Waimangu volcanic valley south of Rotorua
Part of every day here--the New Zealand "flat white".   Amen for that.

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