NZ Day 7: The Cat Bus (Or at least, The Bus To The Cat)

Even without the reconfiguring, our schedule always included one very long bus ride from Waipu down to Hamilton, so we could get off the northern peninsula of the island and reach the interior, close to the Hobbiton movie set. Kerry and I had to see Hobbiton, of course. If we went all the way to New Zealand and then skipped it, we would be beating ourselves with sticks at the end of the trip — and when we got home our friends would probably beat us with sticks too. And it would serve us right! Hah!

Ready to load up!

We got up with plenty of time to spare, and packed up the bikes lazily. We both knew we’d just be going half a mile and then re-packing them underneath a bus. In seven days we’ve had to switch our gear between:

  • planes
  • kayaks
  • bicycles
  • hiking trails
  • a shuttle
  • a boat
  • and a bus

… with four hotels and a post office in between. Sometimes it feels like it’s the gear that’s on vacation, and we’re just chaperoning it along. “Here, let me fluff that pillow for you, camera. Is that seat comfortable enough, repair kit? Be sure and give me a good Yelp review after your trip.”

(As an aside, it’s day 7, and we’ve already been personally reminded by employees at two establishments to go online and review them on Yelp. That service has quite a foothold here.)

The bus churned and rumbled way, waaay up into the hills along Highway 1. We never even considered cycling on this part of the highway, and I was very glad for that. We could have been squished by this very bus! I dashed back and forth between the windows on either side, giddily snapping photos, but afterwards I looked at them and almost none were usable. I was countering the motion blur by shooting at 1/8000-second, relying on the amazing sensor in the camera to keep the photos from being grainy, but every time I saw a pretty scene at the roadside it flew out of range before I could compose the shot. I am spoiled by bike touring in multiple ways.

No idea what this is, but I am amused by the design!

No idea what this is for, but it's pretty cute!

Vaguely disturbing ... But tasty.

I caught a few interesting things, but after an hour or so I just put the camera away and chatted with Kerry, and then listened to The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents while she took a nap. I’ve discovered a third thing that causes her to instantly fall asleep next to me: Riding a bus. The first two are watching tv, and reading fiction out loud to her. (Non-fiction doesn’t seem to work.)

After many hours, we arrived in Hamilton, and set out to accomplish the day’s mission: We were going to visit Diesel, the Rototuna Countdown Cat. Yes, that’s right, we’ve traveled thousands of miles around the curve of the Earth in order to roll up and visit a cat that lives in front of a supermarket. We’re perverse individuals that way.

We had to ride pretty far north from the bus stop – also the opposite direction from our booked hotel – to get to the right Countdown supermarket, and when we got there, one of the clerks told us that the owners of Diesel had in fact moved away at the end of last year and taken the cat with them. This was pretty disappointing, but the side-trip turned out to be worthwhile, because the very same shopping center had a pet store in it with another kittycat wandering around outside!

Welcome to the shop! My name is Ginger Boy! I'll show you around.

“Welcome to the shop! My name is Ginger Boy! I’ll show you around.”

These are some of my favorite things! Actually everything in here is mine, and it's all my favorite! Let me show you more!

“These are some of my favorite things! Actually, everything in here is mine, and it’s all my favorite! Let me show you more!”

My best favorite thing is the food thing. Now you may pet me while I eat. That's two best favorite things at the same time, which is also my favorite thing. (Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.)

“Welcome to my apartment! My best favorite thing, is the food thing. Now you pet me while I eat, and that’s two favorite things at the same time!”

(Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.)

“Then afterwards, we sit and watch the Zebra Finches! If you want one, they’re only five bucks each.” (Ginger Boy was right, they’re fascinating. I took a short movie of them darting around.)

After that visit, Kerry and I ate some mediocre fush’n’chups and cycled back across town to the Albert Court Motor Lodge. Hobbiton was only two days away, but before that we were going to explore the Hamilton Gardens! Fancy stuff! But before that: Lots of sleep.

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