|Yes, we are still alive and well even though we haven’t written for several weeks now! This entry may turn out to be quite lengthy! We hope that all of you had a wonderful Easter.
The last time we wrote we were headed for White’s Bay where we stayed for two days. It was really a very nice DOC camp with (cold) showers, flush toilets and a sandy beach. As usual we visited with some nice people, including the ranger. One day while we were walking around the camp we met a man holding his arm out dangling an animal! At first we didn’t know what kind of animal but we soon learned that it was a possum that he had plucked. He gets $95 for a kilo of the fur—it usually takes about 16 normal size possums to make a kilo, 13 large ones. He sets traps to capture them. Possums are a nuisance in NZ(as are hares and sloats) and were originally brought here for the fur but since they didn’t have any natural predators have taken over, destroying some of the valuable natural resources of the country. We’ve seen them dead on the road, but not any live ones. The fur is usually mixed with merino sheep wool, made into lovely garments like sweaters, caps, etc. for a dear (expensive) price. While here we also had hoped to get some paua (abalone), but no such luck. Our last evening on the South Island was spent in Picton, in the parking lot of the Retired Servicemen Association. We walked over to the ferry terminal to check where we needed to be that next morning and were grateful we were leaving on the 18th and not the 17th. The wind was really strong, in fact the sign noting the ferry status read HEAVY. When we asked what the next level was the man said CANCELED. Both ferries were running almost two hours late. We woke up early the next morning as we were due at our ferry at 7 a.m, walked over to the local wonderful bakery for pastry and then waited in line to board the ferry. Our trip over was without any problems. There was a light wind and cooler than when we came over in December so we spent most of the time inside where it was warm.
We headed for Paraparaumu where Eric’s friend Richard and his wife Caroline live. You may recall that we met them in December and spent the last night on the North Island with them before our ferry trip. We weren’t sure how long we would stay since Eric needed to get the taxes done but they said we could stay as long as we wanted! Thank goodness for the internet, Eric was able to do our taxes without any problem!! Caroline had back surgery six weeks ago and was recuperating, so we tried to help around the house as much as we could. Richard is really busy at his job so doesn’t have much time or energy when he gets home and you know Eric!!! He loved helping with several repair projects. I helped with household chores, did a little gardening and also did some of the cooking. Our seven days with them went so fast and we really enjoyed our visit, so we were sad to leave!! We did a little sightseeing with Richard and Caroline, especially on the one week end that we were there. The weather was not the best and we had several days of rain and wind, but we could still enjoy the beautiful ocean view from their home. And while we were in the area we enjoyed visiting Eric’s cousin Larry’s wife’s(Brenda) cousins, Richard and Dee. Brenda’s mother was a Kiwi, married an American(a Merchant Marine) after the war and moved to the US. Her family remained in New Zealand so Brenda has several relatives here.
On March 26 we headed for the east coast of the North Island driving along Highway 2, passing through several small towns. Greytown was a favorite, but we arrived too late to visit any shops but did enjoy walking through the town. We spent the night at the Masterton Cosmopolitan Club then headed farther north staying the following night at Dannevirke Services & Citizens Club. By the 29th we arrived at Phil and Sally’s place in Hastings where we planned to stay until the NZMCA’s Easter Rally that began on the first. We were able to do laundry and also a few touch up jobs on the RV, and a little sightseeing, too. We placed signs in all of our RV windows hoping to entice a customer at the rally! We took Phil and Sally out for an Indian dinner and were also joined by their friends Ian and Barbara.
When we arrived at the A&P (similar to our fairgrounds) Showgrounds for the Easter Rally(54th Annual) we were very impressed by the organized parking. An extra benefit for us was being at the end of a row so that our FOR SALE signs were evident—how lucky for us! In the end there were 879 rigs and almost 2,000 people(we were the only ones from overseas!) at the rally! We’ve attended a few rallies in the States, so we noticed several similarities such as opening ceremonies, trade displays, and workshops etc. Each evening there was entertainment which we really enjoyed. Saturday night was the “Art Deco Ball” with everyone dressing up in vintage clothing and dancing to live music. We found several things to wear at places like Salvation Army and Caroline and Sally let us borrow a few things, too, so we looked quite good. The Hawkes Bay area (including Hastings, Napier and Havelock North) is noted for its architecture, due to the fact that the area had to be rebuilt. In 1931 the area was dramatically changed with a 7.9 earthquake. Over 200 people died and the area itself was 40 sq km larger when the earthquake heaved the seabed above sea level. Sunday was open day for the public, the day we hoped for a customer. We did have a few people stop by, but no one really immediately interested in buying an RV. So now to plan B! We thought we’d begin our trip to Hamilton after the rally on Monday, but several of our friends highly recommended staying overnight in the area because of holiday traffic. We accepted an invitation to one of the member’s POP sites and were we surprised to see over 25 rigs there! And what an evening! Roger, the owner plays the keyboard and several others joined him with their musical instruments. So we danced again, this time in a large garage! Roger and Carolyn live near a mushroom farm, a honey factory, a cheese factory and many wineries—some within walking distance, so we included a few stops in our morning walk before leaving for Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is NZ’s largest lake formed about 26,500 years ago by one of the greatest volcanic explosions of all time and again in 181 AD. The weather was fine for traveling, but shortly after we arrived in Lake Taupo it started to rain. We were so glad that there was a large freedom camping area called Reids Farm near the Waikato River (NZ longest River flowing from Lake Taupo). The sun shone again the next morning allowing us to go for a long hike to the spectacular Huka Falls. It was a really nice day to travel to Hamilton through small towns and lovely green countryside dotted with sheep/cows. We had been invited to spend the night with Bruce and Lorna (we met them originally at Kinlock, again at Riverton in the South Island), but after arriving and discussing our plans, they suggested we stay a second night. Both were planning to go to Auckland the following day and we could do laundry, catch up with our journal entries and a few other errands while they were gone. Bruce is great with TradeMe, so he has helped Eric with advertising our RV on it. Tomorrow we’ll head to Auckland and North. We haven’t even touched that area and there is so much to see there. Our time is passing too quickly at this point with April 25th not that far away! Of course we are also concerned about selling our rig. We’d like to do that before we leave here, though we have had a couple of people say they’d help us if we got desperate. We hope we won’t be, but the holiday season is now over with fall arriving and winter not that far behind so not the most popular time to buy and RV. Pray!