March 8, 2015 Napier, New Zealand

We left Turangi and drove toward Napier.  We stopped at an an overlook, only expecting a view of the cloud draped landscape but were pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful waterfall Waipunga Falls.PicsArt_1426065419667

Our two and a half hour drive took us through pastures and I mountainous terrain before descending to the coast and a fabulous view of Hawkes Bay in the Pacific Ocean.  Due to its fertile soil and temperate climate, it has thousands of acres of farms, orchards and vineyards.  It is a major food producing area of New Zealand.
We arrived in Napier, scene of a devastating earthquake in 1931, and checked into our motel.  Our room was on the third floor and motels do not have lifts (elevators), so we had to haul all our stuff up the stairs.  It was all worth it when we opened the door to our room and saw the balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean and heard the waves crashing against the shore.PicsArt_1426066672862PicsArt_1426065903769PicsArt_1426065997719
Napier is a cool little town with tree lined boulevards along the beach and an art deco theme.  It is one of the cruise ship destinations and we saw a cruise ship in port while we were there.
We spent one day just exploring the little town, doing some geocaching and enjoying our ocean front balcony.
Our second day we chose to do a hike to Shine Falls.  It is 190 feet tall and without a doubt one of the prettiest we have ever seen.  It was about an hour’s drive from our motel along some PicsArt_1426068328493PicsArt_1426068548594PicsArt_1426067697716pretty winding roads that included six miles of gravel road.  We passed pasture after pasture of cattle sheep and horses along the way.  While the hike was advertised as “moderate” in difficulty, it did include some challenging ascents and descents and we were glad we had our walking sticks and hiking boots.  We started by walking through a pasture and the path led us over hills to the bush (forest) area.  We arrived at the falls hot and tired, but my oh my was it worth the trip!!  We sat for awhile drinking in the beauty.  Bill contemplated getting in the pool of water at the base of the waterfall until he felt how cold it was!PicsArt_1426068644368PicsArt_1426068183266PicsArt_1426068097150PicsArt_1426068003493PicsArt_1426067849044
Some observations:
In our travels so far around the North Island we have seen very very few billboards of any kind along the roadways.
I mentioned the price of gas in the last blog posting.  It has averaged us around $1.38 US dollars per liter so far.  There are 3.785 liters per gallon, which puts the gas in New Zealand at around $5.22 US dollars per gallon.
We often hear radio stations in restaurants and stores playing American music.
We have been able to watch American Idol, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and occasionally Fox News on about a seven hour delay.  Many other American shows we normally watch on CBS, ABC and NBC are several weeks to months behind schedule so we have seen many of them already.  We have also been able to watch some great American movies on the tv in our motel rooms.
Sometimes we see New Zealand on a map in a Visitors Center or on a weather map on tv and we are struck by just how remote and isolated New Zealand really is!  We really are in the middle of nowhere!  COOL!

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