March 17, 2017 – Touring New Zealand, part 1 – #35

Touring! - Fuzz-Fuzz is stoked to hit the road
Touring! – Fuzz-Fuzz is stoked to hit the road

After our haul-out, time slipped away mercilessly as we embraced a domesticity we’d not experienced since our time in Mexico. It can be so comfortable to simply stay put for a while. After uncertainty and stress, there’s something therapeutic in having a schedule. Sometimes this is exactly what we need, other times it can feel like a hardening of the arteries.

Despite great conditions for solar power, we were experiencing shockingly poor performance from our one-year old solar system, prompting us to replace all four 100w panels. Two panels proved completely dead, the other two produced about enough power to light a flea circus, dimly. Despite the unexpected cost, the new panels should save a lot of diesel, not to mention daily engine hours needed to keep our electrical system topped up. Reduced longevity is one of the problems with the thin, flexible panels that our setup requires. Hard panels last longer, but are delicate and require more space.


Fern - The Batuligans with Fern, our faithful four-wheeled friend
Fern – The Batuligans with Fern, our faithful four-wheeled friend
Solitary - This solitary tree provides much-needed shade in a contemplative place
Solitary – This solitary tree provides much-needed shade in a contemplative place

We did make a few surgical strikes to explore the North Island, but the bulk of our February was spent on projects, planning, and initiating new homeschool curricula for the kids. While trying to figure out school requirements, Karen encountered a surprising lack of enthusiasm from the high school guidance counselor in our home town, but eventually found an engaged Vice Principal to confirm the standards. Sean is now enrolled in an accredited high school program through University of Nebraska which should allow him to have a complete transcript, regardless of where he chooses to go in the future.


Whangarei - A quick trip to this cool city
Whangarei – A quick trip to this cool city
Cool Blues - I'll leave identification of this to someone more horticulturally inclined
Cool Blues – I’ll leave identification of this to someone more horticulturally inclined
Southern Alps - One of many incredible sights available when you hit the road
Southern Alps – One of many incredible sights available when you hit the road

As February rolled into March, we almost grudgingly relinquished our short-lived domesticity, giving up our comfy beds, home cooking, and regular swims at the community pool for exploration and adventure on the open road. Despite previous reports, we found the costs to explore NZ by car to be fairly high. The cost of petrol at around USD$8/gal didn’t help, but perhaps the biggest surprise to us was the cost of camping. Holiday parks, found almost everywhere, typically offer camping facilities ranging from bunk-type cabins to basic tent sites. Most have restrooms, showers and even community kitchen facilities, making them the most economical option. However, the cost for a basic tent site ranged from NZ$48 – $122/night, which seemed pretty steep to us. Consequently, we kept our land tour short. We were able to make several North Island excursions from Opua, with just an occasional overnight. When we finally did hit the road, we didn’t languish, driving a loop from Opua to Wanaka in the South Island and back in about twelve days, averaging about four+ hours of driving each day.


Cape Reinga Lighthouse - We're much closer to the South Pole than we are to home
Cape Reinga Lighthouse – We’re much closer to the South Pole than we are to home
Tailgate Camping - aka "Glamping" out of the back of Fern at one of many holiday parks
Tailgate Camping – aka “Glamping” out of the back of Fern at one of many holiday parks

CREW PERSPECTIVES

Here are a few thoughts about our exploration from the crew:

Peter: Karen, what sticks in your mind most about our tour?
Karen: Not one single place, but just an overwhelming feeling of awe at the beauty of all the places where we looked out over the water: Matauri Bay where we looked out over the Rainbow Warrior, the bluff [at Opononi] on the way down to Dargaville [looking west at the Tasman Sea], Crossing the Cook Straight, the look-out [at Hokitika] on the South Island where we saw the pancake rocks. All of it.
Peter: Wow, anything else?
Karen: I like the sheep too.


Matauri Bay Overlook - A beautiful view!
Matauri Bay Overlook – A beautiful view!
Happy Pastures - A common sight!
Happy Pastures – A common sight!

Peter: Sarah, what sticks in your mind the most?

Sarah: The Penguins.
Peter: At the Antactic exhibit [in Christchurch]?
Sarah: (Nods & smiles.)
Peter: Why?
Sarah: Because they swam really fast and were so graceful under water.


Penguin Crossing - We think it is highly unlikely to see penguins crossing the road, but you never know
Penguin Crossing – We think it is highly unlikely to see penguins crossing the road, but you never know

Peter: Sean, what were your favorite parts of our tour?

Sean: The Gates of Haast.
Peter: Yeah, why?
Sean: Because it was awesome.
Peter: Anything else?
Sean: I liked the water there…and it was cool out.


Gates of Haast - Sean & Sarah checking the glacial runoff
Gates of Haast – Sean & Sarah checking the glacial runoff
One Lane Bridge - A very common sight when touring New Zealand
One Lane Bridge – A very common sight when touring New Zealand

My hope has always been to share what I consider to be the most valuable spoils of our travels: our perspectives. That said, it’s nearly impossible to cover the highlights of our journey without a bit of travelogue. For those interested in touring New Zealand, the next two posts are for you. If not, hopefully you’ll enjoy some of the photos.


Waiotapu Geyser - Part of the tour at Waiotapu, near Rotorua
Waiotapu Geyser – Part of the tour at Waiotapu, near Rotorua
Nelson Lakes - Beautiful clear lakes in the South Island. This one filled with freshwater eels
Nelson Lakes – Beautiful clear lakes in the South Island. This one filled with freshwater eels
Champagne Pool - Geothermal activity near Rotorua
Champagne Pool – Geothermal activity near Rotorua
Road Trip! - What an amazing country to see from the road
Road Trip! – What an amazing country to see from the road

5 thoughts on “March 17, 2017 – Touring New Zealand, part 1 – #35”

    1. Thanks Sib!

      OK, good to know. No more dianella nigra shakes for the Batuligans! And here I was thinking the blurred vision was simply from old age! We are all sending big warm hugs your way. I’ve been thinking a lot about your dad since he passed, and all the special traits he passed on to you. I’m thankful for those. Big hugs to you twin cuz, and lots of love!

      The Batuligans
      Peter, Karen, Sean & Sarah

      1. Well… you might want to get your eyes checked in any case…. Just sayin’. #wearethesameage And, I’m hoping you’re thinking of my dad’s better traits and not his most salient. :) Love you!

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