Long Nondescript Day #1

March 30, 2011 Comments Off on Long Nondescript Day #1

549 km

Today was nothing but a straight shot from Rotorua to Picton via Wellington. It was a lot of driving. The cool part was driving through Tongariro National Park, which looked a little like the American Southwest: mountains and tossed-about land, very dry with spiky plants. There were a couple textbook cinder cones, and it was neat because the area we were driving through was ringed by mountain ranges, and caught on all the peaks were chunks of cloud—you could see the rain shadow! Also the NZ army training grounds were in the vicinity, so the road was plastered with signs about how dangerous it would be for you to leave the road for any reason.

After the park was a pretty, rugged area with tall trees (starting to show fall color!) and deep river ravines with white sides. Very nice but unremarkable. We had lunch in Palmerston North, which is a flat soulless city, then had an hour or so to kill in Wellington before the ferry; it appears to be a very nice and San Francisco-ish city, but we never really checked it out thoroughly. The ferry was surprisingly boring. Driving on and off was exciting, and the boat was nice—restaurant, lounges with TV, movie theater, and so on—but three hours is a long time, especially if you’re seasick, as Simon was. I alternated between reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover and watching TV: a drama called Packed to the Rafters where a 13-year-old girl was stalking a guy in his twenties in very horror-movie-ish ways, and a show where a guy mocked teenagers in front of a middle-aged audience. The latter was quite funny because the lounge was full of pudgy middle-aged women chuckling at his jokes who looked exactly like the pudgy middle-aged women in his studio audience, and…it was just too fitting.

The Harbour View Motel in Picton is a very nice place to stay, with balconies overlooking the harbor and everything, but it bears mentioning mostly because it was the first place that we spotted the ubiquitous signs forbidding the cooking of fish in rooms. Those signs never failed to tickle me, although maybe it’s just me. The best was a hotel in Dunedin that added “curries” to the list of prohibitive culinary activities. It gave me a powerful urge to make curried fish.



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