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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Coastal Road Trip - North Island

On February 24th we finally caught another (get away) break, and realizing that we had been so boat-bound by repairs and maintenance, we loaded the car for a road trip to the southeastern coast of the North Island, via the Pacific Coast Motorway. Frank and I needed some time just to ourselves for a few days before taking Destiny up to Auckland. Driving the Pacific coast Highway we took in the beauty of New Zealand's rolling hills, timberland, farmland and ranchlands, stopping wherever and whenever the spirit moved us – no plans other than to turn around when it was time to head back. We visited Gisborne, New Zealand's easternmost city and dined at The Works (5 stars in our book), which is the only remaining structure of the once largest freezing and meat packing plant in New Zealand. It has been preserved and converted into a delightful wine bar/restaurant featuring gourmet fare and a dessert bar. Crossing into Hawke's Bay we took in the
beauty of the black beaches. Then on the outskirts of Napier we visited a produce farm that displayed its freshly harvested fruits and veggies for sale. The owner came out to greet us, offering a personal tour of his orchards. We loaded up on a large variety of fresh fruit and homemade jams, marmalades and chutneys before venturing off to Napier.

We found Napier captivating! It is a charming and well-attended seaside village, which in 1931, was rocked by the biggest earthquake in New Zealand's recorded history, with more than 600 aftershocks, changing the geography of the entire area. The city was devastated by the quake and consumed by fires. Today's Napier is completely restored beyond her original beauty, and is one of the most inviting towns we have yet visited. We booked a room at a hotel that was one of the few structures to survive that quake; a brilliantly restored art deco called The County Hotel. It is also the only 5-star accommodation in the area, boasting a 5-star restaurant at which we happily booked dinner.

The following day after a photo-op walk, we drove back to Tauranga taking the inland route through Rotorua stopping off at the Polynesian Spa for a dip in the thermal pools. It was a perfect and peaceful ending to our road trip.

When we returned to Destiny we were pleasantly surprised to see Ian and Julia (Moasi) still around. They had not yet departed for Whangarei because of approaching inclement weather. We in fact realized that our own departure for Auckland's Bayswater Marina was going to be pushed back. This posed a bit of a problem for us mainly because we had wanted to sail out of Tauranga on the 28th, making a couple of stops en route and arriving on the 1st or 2nd of April in order to be firmly settled in for Karen's arrival (Frank's daughter) on the 3rd. The day after our return, however, the marina announced that we were to expect a gale on the scale of HUGE blows, much larger than the one of Feb. 20th. The entire fleet of berthed vessels was busy securing their yachts and rigging, scaring us half to death. So we followed suit, getting Destiny ready for this monster of a storm. We made arrangements with our friends, Andy and Melissa (Spectacle), who were
already at Bayswater to accommodate Karen in the event she arrived there before we did, and informed Karen accordingly. Then we hunkered down, once again, ready to protect our home from Mother Nature's furious attack.

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