April 19, 2008

Autumn tour contd.

About 130 people were at the book launch at Aratoi Museum, plenty of books and paintings sold on the first day and we have heard of people who read it cover to cover immediately. So all good.

We continued our trip down State Highway 2 from Masterton, with a detour via Martinborough to sample the local vintage, to end up in Wellington where we stayed with a cousin in Owhiro Bay, on a very southern tip of the North Island. The road really ends here and the house looked out over a dramatic piece of ocean with sharp rocks and inlets breaking the surf. Just around the corner the ferry Wahine sank 40 years ago, and in 1982 a Taiwanese fishing boat, the Yung Pen, went down just offshore. Good wreck diving there, apparently.

We spent a little time in Wellington the next morning to visit Radio New Zealand to drop off the book for review and, hopefully soon, an interview, and to pop into the national museum Te Papa, which happened to have a small exhibition on about the Scots in New Zealand. It mentioned a Scottish engineer, Peter Seton Hay, who worked for the NZ Government and was involved in the design of some of the bridges of the North Island main trunk railway line, including the Makatote Bridge near National Park and the Makohine Viaduct near Marton. As chance would have it we traveled back north on State Highways 1 and 4 and were able to see those very structures as the road follows the railway line for part of the way. They are very elegant and slender bridges and quite worth seeing.

We spent the night in National Park after taking a detour on the road up the mountain to the base of the Turoa ski field. It was a misty day and out of season so it was all desolate, windy, wet and a cold 7 degrees at the end of the road at a height of around 1600 metres.
The welcome at the Ski Haus in National Park was warm - especially the huge log fire - the food delicious, the breakfast copious and the room spacious and comfortable, including a television set. Recommended, in the off season at least, as we were the only guests staying!

Then on the last day on the way home via Hamilton, avoidable at the best of times but this weekend especially with the petrol heads gathering for the V8 races. Not our cuppa as the tribalism involved between adherents of one American car company and another American car company is frankly ridiculous. And of course, it involves far too many clothes for our sporting liking.
Oh, and if you are a Holden fan, don't look at this.

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