NZ Days 10-11: Idle Time

After the excitement of Hobbiton, we took a day off in Tirau. We opened the door to our motel room, letting in the sunlight and letting out the cigarette smell, and just lazed around for the entire day, cropping photos, playing with the internet, and snacking. Aaaaaaaah!

Here’s a gallery of snacks we saw in New Zealand:

I remember "Aero" from Melbourne. The rest of these are new to me...

Have you been bicycling dozens of miles every day for a week, plus hiking, swimming, and kayaking? Then you get to eat CANDY ALL DAY! (Well, along with other healthier things of course.)

I remember “Aero” from Australia. The rest of these were new to me.

These are two things we DID NOT get at the snack shop.

I think there is something lost in translation here – or perhaps gained in translation. Heh heh heh.

Do not touch the giant pythons!!!

There really are snakes in New Zealand: Big yummy ones!

Turns out my friend Andy was traveling at the same time:

Hey, man! Are you off gallivanting about the countryside?
Why yes I am!
Whazzap mah man?
Ah-ha! I’m actually leaving Manchester right now. I sent you messages on hangouts. :-). Where are you?
I’m in Taipu, New Zealand!
The sun never sets on the british empire!
New Zealand? I don’t serve New Zealanders.
Oi, we serve ourselves, mate!
We just cycled to Hobbiton and took 10000 photos
That sounds awesome! I want to do that!
Hi, Kerry! The place I ate at last night was out of the leg of lamb and the steak and ale pie, so I had to settle for roast pork and Yorkshire Pudding.
Well at least you didn’t get argued into eating Bubble ’n’ Squeak
I’m here for work, but I missed a connection so I’ve been “stuck” in Manchester for two days. It’s been “horrible”.
Wow those air quotes are almost as big as the mosquitos in this room! (We have to keep the door open for as long as possible, to git rid of the cigarette stink in the walls.)
Manchester eh … I assume it’s been dark->foggy->raining->foggy->dark, for the last 48 hours?
With about 15 minutes of no precipitation, but blistering cold wind, yes. My old Michigan layered-dressing skills came right back.
Nice! Did you have flashbacks to working in the department of corrections and beating off hippie chicks with a stick?
Of course!
So, it’s warm and humid there, with a fog of flying insects?
Sort of, but the fog is made of small birds, and it’s divided every 1/2 mile by an enormous cyclist-torturing hill. In the north it’s tropical like Hawaii and you get sun-showers all day. We’re in the lowlands now and it’s almost exactly like California between Monterey and Bakersfield, except NOTHING is flat ANYWHERE. There is literally NO flat ground in NZ. The closest you get is the molten mud-pools but they’re not technically “ground”.
Okay, so this is costing me like £9,000,000.27 per text. I have free international data, but not text. I just wanted to make sure you’re alive. :-)
Alive and kickin’ it!

We did leave the hotel room once, to get a huge meal at this awesome cafe:

The Loose Goose had a nice selection of ciders, and gluten-free toast for my breakfast plate! Mmmmm.

That evening we watched one of my favorite animated movies, The Cat Returns, and went to bed early.

Next morning: A bus ride 86 miles east, to Whakatane!

Early versions of our itinerary had us taking the shuttle up to the town of Rotorua and then bicycling down to Whakatane from there, since it was mostly downhill on the map. But the “mostly downhill” shown by the elevation graph just isn’t enough information: A spot-check along the highway using Google Street View revealed that the highway narrows as it runs along the shore of Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoma, to the point where there is absolutely no curb at all, with sheer cliff on one side. YEAH, NO.

By day 11, Kerry and I had described our route to probably a dozen different curious New Zealanders, here and there along the way. A number of them responded by shaking their heads and saying “Yeah, no.” I think this is some kind of local catchphrase. A colloquialism?

Pretty hard to miss the Tirau tourism center when it's shaped like this.

The bus departs from the Tirau tourism center, which is shaped like this. No joke. I think the tongue is a giant piece of industrial rubber flooring.

Once we arrived, we reassembled our bikes and checked in. The hotel clerk had some bad news for us: Our scheduled tour of White Island was probably going to be cancelled due to rough seas. Bah! Well, perhaps the weather would clear up in time for the “dolphin encounter” snorkeling trip the day after that.

We went walking out around the town to pass the time, and spotted a thai restaurant. Optimists that we are, we asked the waitress – a young woman who turned out to be the daughter of the owner – if she could make us a thai iced tea. She went into the back and brought out her mother, who said, “you’re the first customers we’ve had who even know what a thai iced tea is! Where did you learn about it?”

We explained that we loved to eat thai food back home near San Francisco, and that almost all the thai restaurants there had it on the menu.

“I’ll tell you what,” she said. “I have the ingredients in the kitchen, since we use it for our family meals. I’ll make you some from that.”

We were very grateful and excited. I actually did a little dance in my seat!

The tea, and the rest of the meal, was excellent. While we chomped we saw this out the window:

Sometimes you gotta do some shoppin' in Whakatane, so you drive your Belarus 611 tractor into town...

Sometimes you gotta do some shoppin’ in Whakatane, so you drive your Belarus 611 into town…

The weather stayed windy and grim well into the night, and we weren’t optimistic about our chances of a White Island tour the next day. We consoled ourselves by watching The Venture Brothers and taking a bath in the absolutely gigantic bathtub that came with the hotel room. Rough life, o woe is us! Etc.

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