This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .
Today’s travel notes
Me and the TC spent last week driving up New Zealand’s North Island, making our way from the southern end to Auckland in the north. We started in Wellington, where the TC attended a conference. Then we drove across the green hills to Napier on the east coast, and back to Taupo in the centre surrounded by thermal springs and geysers. We oohed and aahed over the steaming Craters of the Moon and the wasteland surrounding Pohutu at Rotorua, before heading north to Tauranga on the coast and finally to Auckland.
My impressions? How green everything is! How remarkable to see gouts of steam spouting upward from forests and valleys, even from farmyards and roadside gutters. It’s like being in the middle of a Tolkien scene.
Don’t trust blindly in your GPS. We spent over half a day wandering around the mountains outside Napier, trying to find our way to Taupo. The GPS kept insisting we should turn into roads that were clearly suitable only for the most rugged 4WD. Indeed, entry to most of them was barred by bright yellow boom gates! Eventually we just followed the highway and a map.
The Nautilus, on the Marine Parade in Napier. Quality, comfort, space and great value for money.
Hotel DeBrett, on High Street in Auckland. Quirky style, warm welcome, quality and beauty.
The book I’m in
The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut. A brilliant book! It’s a bit of George Orwell with more than a touch of Douglas Adams. This worm reckons that this book, written in 1959, must have had a big influence on the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re partial to the darker side of life blended with sci fi and black humour, this book is a must read.
Me at Craters of the Moon, outside Taupo:
That’s steam you see boiling up from the crater below me. As is her wont, the TC is quite happy for me to be exposed to the utmost peril in the interests of a good photo. Has she considered, I wonder, what such hot wet stuff could do to a bookmark like me? Talk about pulp fiction!
Wellington is built upon and surrounded by hills of various shapes and sizes. We were there in early spring, birds a-tweeting and flowers bursting out all over the place:
Huge dead trees clutter the countryside. The beaches are made of black pebbles. This is Makara, near Wellington:
On to Napier. More black beach. Jonathan was there before us:
Art Deco, Napier. It happened here:
An earthquake hit Napier in the 1920s, followed by a devastating fire in 1931. The city rebuilt the town centre, Art Deco style. It was the height of the Great Depression. The work gave many a family their daily crust.
The Daily Telegraph building in Napier:
Munster Chambers in Napier:
A Napier main street, with the posh houses on the Bluff behind:
How green everything is! This is a typical scene on the drive from Napier on the east coast, to Taupo in the centre:
We almost drove past Craters of the Moon, never having heard of it. Then the TC saw the signpost and we turned in on a whim. Here’s a tip: Don’t drive past. It’s well worth a visit. Quiet. Birdsong. Bubbling mud. The scent of sulphur. Bright colours in the vegetation and the mud.
Don’t stray off the walkway:
This video gives you a good idea of what it’s like. Please ignore the strands of the TCs hair that occasionally skitter across the image:
At Rotorua we attended the Maori welcome ceremony. This worm thought the singing and dancing were beautiful:
The ground surrounding Pohutu geyser is bleak and blasted:
Stark yet appealing, here it is from another angle:
This video captures the slightly surreal feeling of Pohutu, the big geyser at Rotorua. In the distance is a model with her camera crew. In the foreground is the wasteland that surrounds the geyser.
After Rotorua we drove to Tauranga on the north east coast. The walk around Mount Manganui is good. It takes about an hour at a leisurely pace, with good views of natural forest, the bay and the straits between Matakana island and the mainland. Here’s a view of Mount Manganui and the Bay of Plenty, seen from Te Puna near Tauranga:
Auckland is a great city, no doubt. But when we arrived it was pouring with rain. We found the Hotel DeBrett and opted for an afternoon of DVDs, chocolate and luxury. This is the glass-roofed courtyard in the middle of the hotel, where you have breakfast, coffee and company:
That’s all for today dudes.