I've just returned from a trip to Napier, in the region known as Hawke's Bay, where we celebrated the one year anniversary of my arrival in NZ. The drive is about 5-6 hours, depending on how often you stop. We stopped in Taupo at the Hot Springs there, where we soaked our muscles and got prune-skinned. There are pools of varying temperatures. Unlike the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, the water here appeared clear and didn't smell. The setting is nice, but can't compare to the view at the Polynesian Spa (visited back in Feb).
Our lodging was in Eskdale, about 15 min drive north of Napier. I found the Cornucopia Lodge through doglinks, and I chose it because she allows dogs. The owner has 3 Border Collies and competes in agility trials. She made us breakfast and a lovely evening cordial and handmade chocolate. Her property has plenty of lawn for ball chasing. Fargo was well behaved and got on well with the youngest collie who was cute as can be. We left Fargo in his crate on the covered porch on Saturday so we could enjoy the gorgeous sunny day touring around. We visited Esk Valley, Kim Crawford, and Clearview wineries. There are dozens of wineries in Hawke's Bay, but 3 was all I could manage tasting. We stuck to the whites, because the reds are a bit weak in our view. We can get really good Cab Sauv and Merlot from Australia. We had lunch at Te Mata cheese cafe, then visited the Arataki Honey center. Napier, I should mention, is a beautiful seaside city with many gardens. We picked a good time to go because everything seems to be blooming now, and the flowers are just lovely. Also, the baby lambs and cows are gamboling about the grassy pastures. We'll plan another visit to Hawke's Bay sometime in the future, for a longer time.
Last weekend, Fargo and I met up with sister Barb and her two Ridgebacks, friend Holly and her Ridgeback, and new friend Hsin-Yi (from the Expats in NZ yahoo group) and her Great Dane at Waiatarua Reserve, where the dogs can get off-leash exercise. Afterwards, Holly and her partner Steve joined Darin and I at Hallertau Brewery, where we had some delicious beer and small plates (see photo). Holly's blog is CaliforniarefugeesinNZ, linked here on my blog. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to one of the Americans I have met here, Rhonda. She intends to come back in a few years, probably for good. I hope she can manage the transition back to the US, in Kansas, of all places.
In the next blog installment, I promise to post photos of the Symond Street Cemetery, which is really cool. And haunted. With what, you ask? Check back in about a week and see!
BTW, the NZ All Blacks Rugby is continuing to totally rule the 2007 World Cup, woo hoo! They are great fun to watch.