I have some catching up to do! We spent December 18th in and around New Plymouth, first of all visiting their fabulous museum, Puke Ariki. The centrepiece of their Maori collection is a set of five magnificently carved wall panels discovered in a wetland in 1971. Shortly after that they were smuggled out of the country and sold to a Swiss art collector. A few years later, this man's daughter was kidnapped and in order to pay the ransom he put some of his collection up for sale including these panels. The NZ government succeeded in halting the sale but were unable to have them repatriated. In 2013, the collector died and the government successfully negotiated with his heirs to have the panels returned.
After a few hours in the museum, it was time for a little exercise and we had a pleasant walk along the waterfront where once again we found some woven flax leaves...
and then on the edge of Mt. Teranaki up to Wilkies Pools.
The clouds around the mountain summit started to clear just as we heading back into town,
...and then as we were leaving the next morning we were treated to a beautiful sight...
We then drove (about six hours) to Wellington on the 19th, unfortunately giving short shrift to the southern part of the North Island! We took our time however, taking a few coffee and lunch stops. We stayed in Wellington for two nights with new friends, Margaret and Keith, fellow members of the Affordable Travel Club. Keith helped us make the most of our one day in Wellington. The first stop was the fabulous national museum Te Papa ("the treasures") where we took an introductory tour ably guided by a sparkling Italian woman who spoke beautiful English and has been in NZ only 8 months. She is here on a working visa and feels she's landed her dream job, guiding tourists. After a quick but late lunch we took the cable car up the hill (Wellington is very hilly, much like Auckland and San Francisco) to the Botanic Gardens, but first taking a picture of Lloyd sitting in one of the restored 1903 cars...
At about 5 pm we stopped for some much needed refreshment (beer and cider) at the Backbencher tavern across from the parliament buildings, before finding a great dinner at another gastropub. A full day! So ended our explorations of the North Island.
On the 21st we flew to Nelson on the South Island. It was a very hot day, about 30 degrees, and even the locals were complaining. Nelson is a pretty city of about 45,000 people, with a very lively and artistic town centre. I found a fabulous yarn shop named Cruella's, and another shop, a co-operative called Fibre Spectrum. In both places I bought a ball or skein of yarn, my new rule of buying one of something in any yarn shop. I have changed the course of my travel knitting projects....the purple & green double knit shawl continues at a snail's pace, and I've reached the heels of both socks. I have abandoned the plan of the double-knitted socks, in fact have mailed that yarn home! Instead I have switched gears a bit, and will be knitting socks with whatever sock yarn I buy along the way. My new rule is that it must be NZ yarn, and I will add Australian yarn to the mix when we get there!
We stayed with another ATC couple, John and Connie, on the outskirts of Nelson. They live in an adobe mud brick house, off the grid powered by a windmill and photovoltaic panels and solar water panels.
And they have a fabulous view!
We have really enjoyed our ATC experiences...we arrived as strangers and left as friends. (http://www.affordabletravelclub.net/)
Another reason to come to Nelson was to visit WOW, the wonderful World of Wearable art! (Www.wowcars.co.nz) They share space with classic cars--a surprising combination but it works!
This was my favourite piece, Flow of Creation, by Kirsten Fletcher of the U.K.
We didn't move very far from Nelson, just about 8 km or so, down the road to a holiday park in Richmond where we have a self-contained cabin for four days. We have loaded up on groceries including a small turkey and are hoping to find like-minded foodies amongst the other guests for a potluck Xmas dinner, similar to the "waifs and strays" dinner that we have hosted at home for years. I will let you know how it goes in a few days! We are planning to spend some time at the beach, walking on some of the many trails nearby, visiting wineries, and of course finding some knitting time in the shade.