Nau mai, Haere mai

Image result for taupo
Waitangi weekend in beautiful Taupo

Today is Friday February 12th, the Chinese Lunar New Year. Kia ora.

Last weekend it was Waitangi Weekend. Saturday February 6th is traditionally a public holiday, but Monday February 8th was a public holiday, on account of the 6th falling on a Saturday.

We drove to Taupo on Saturday for an aunt’s 80th birthday party to be held on Monday. We got away later than expected, at 12:15 pm. The traffic out of Wellington was heavy, but lightened considerably when we got onto the Expressway. It is so exciting to see this being extended both to the north and to the south, each time we travel on it. We had lunch at our favourite café in Otaki, where I had a croissant. We stopped again at Taihape, but the cafés were closed by that time. We reached Taupo at 6 pm.

We had dinner with my son’s family at a Thai restaurant. Thankfully it wasn’t too busy, and we had a banquet, sharing dishes between us. The next day we followed the family to the AC Baths. These have been upgraded wonderfully. I was able to get a coffee there.  Afterwards we went to Pak’N Save – a huge store and very busy indeed. We got a park outside the front, and struggled to find the few necessities we needed. We bought some food to eat for lunch back at the motel, marvelling at the greater choice of take away food.

In the afternoon we drove upstream from the Huka Falls to the Aratiatia Rapids – very civilised, with a carpark, several walking tracks, and a walkway to get a good view of the water being released.  The walkway was very uneven, but we got a great view of the water, standing at a viewing platform where we could see both ways – the release of the water, as it made its way upstream. There were sirens to warn that release was imminent. The release was very dramatic – we watched the foaming water travel up where previously it had been calm. It was a very hot day! 

Afterwards we went to the Tongariro Domain – a nice play area – where we discovered the Museum (I am ashamed to admit I hadn’t been there before). Taupo by now was very busy, and very hot indeed.  It was cool inside the museum, and well worth a look – very hands on, you could go inside a 1950’s caravan.  We went inside the Wharenui, and looked at Maori remains in the Tongariro Gallery. The Museum is a very interesting place.  It didn’t look very big, but there was a surprising amount to see there.  The Wharenui was in the centre, of course, but was balanced by the solemnity of the Tongariro Gallery on the one side, and the Art Gallery on the other. The darkened Tongariro Gallery held many fascinating Maori artefacts, including a waka, and some fine paintings of early New Zealand scenes, including a Barraud – this time a painting of Lake Taupo, but from a non-traditional location.

Afterwards, we wanted to get gelato at a Gelateria in the main road, but there was a queue, it was very hot, and besides, we would have had to cross the busy road. Instead, we settled for trumpet-like ice creams from a supermarket. That evening we walked in the heat past crowded bars to have a kebab for dinner.

The next day was turning out to be quite busy. Friends of ours wanted to meet for breakfast at a café at 9 am. We were due at the marina at 10:15 for a 90 minute cruise.  It all turned out fine, of course, despite my trepidation.  The day dawned much colder than the previous one. We met our friends at Victoria Café, where they were just opening up. Fortunately we were early, and ordered early, because the café rapidly filled up. The menu was a little strange, but I had toast with jam and marmalade, and a long black coffee and orange juice.  We had plenty of time to get to the marina for our cruise, but I was happy to wear my cardigan and my jacket.

The cruise was just great. It was overcast, but most seats were enclosed. The seating was like on a train, with benches between seats. The children were able to have a turn at the wheel; they were also given drawing materials and charts of things to look for. There were toilets, and morning tea – tea, coffee and water, and blueberry muffins.  The cruise passed several other boats and stopped for a few minutes beside the Maori rock paintings.  It was very moving.

When we arrived back, we went to the motel to get changed for the birthday party. The party went well, I think!  Afterwards, we were due at our friends’ Taupo “cottage” for dinner, where we had a lovely time. I would not have thought I could do all this.

The next day, we all checked out by 10 am, and we drove to Napier, across the Taupo-Napier Road. This was quite busy, and had no internet reception for much of the way.  It took a couple of hours; we picked our daughter up for lunch at a nearby café (she had waffles with fruit, I had mushrooms on toast and JD had corn fritters). We delivered her back to Clive, and drove back to Wellington.

In other news, more things are closing in Wellington. David Jones, which replaced Kirkcaldies’ (with many of the same staff), is to close. That is very sad indeed. It was a really nice place to shop. Astoria Café (next door) remains closed, with nothing to replace it. In Australia H & M has closed three stores, blaming online shopping for the lack in trade.  I wonder how anyone can buy clothes without trying them on?  There has been a building site at Stewart Dawson’s Corner for a very long time, and there was talk of an H & M Store going in there. Evidently this is not likely to happen. There are few places to go in Wellington now!

In the US, Trump’s second impeachment trial has failed, in that it didn’t achieve enough votes to impeach him and apply any kind of censure. This outcome, while not surprising, is very upsetting, nonetheless. There have been harrowing images of the insurrection at the Capitol, telling us how close some senators were to disaster; showing Romney and Schumer running for their lives; and, still, no one except journalists cares about Vice President Mike Pence. One commentator says that he’s not Trump, and he’s not liked. Still, Trump’s treatment of him was terrible. It transpires that Pence had told Trump that he couldn’t overturn the election result, as Trump had requested, and yet even after Trump was told that Pence had been moved, he tweeted to the effect that Pence had let him down, thus encouraging the mob to pursue him. The Biden administration continues to do its work – there have been no major crises, as yet.  Although 484,000 people have died of coronavirus, the vaccines are being distributed and administered, and it seems that the daily death rate is slowing.

It is now Sunday February 14th here, Valentine’s Day. Today there has been important Covid 19 news. There are three cases in the community, in South Auckland, all in one family. The woman, who spread it to her husband and daughter, worked at a firm that does cleaning and catering for Air New Zealand. Furthermore, the family went to Taranaki for Waitangi Weekend. Thankfully, it’s not in Wellington (yet!); the Auckland area will be at level 3 for three days until midnight on Wednesday, and the rest of New Zealand will be at level 2. What will this mean for the week’s activities? I don’t know yet. I imagine council services will be rushing to decide.  My brother-in-law’s trip from Western Australia has been totally messed up by sudden lockdowns firstly in Perth and now potentially in Auckland, where he remains in MIQ. There are several weddings next Saturday – I’m relieved now that we’re not planning a party or going to one. We’ll see what happens. While I feel sorry for those affected, it’s really no big deal as far as I’m concerned. Exciting times! Ngā mihi.

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