The Hendersons       Week 5 of our 2004 Morgan tour of New Zealand


Moggie's Big Adventure - Morgans to New Zealand

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Week 5


February 15th – Sunday – Franz Joseph to Punakaiki 

I think we were glad to leave Franz Joseph because the breakfasts were so damned awful.  The previous day we had bought some pastries for breakfast, but still had to put up with fake orange juice and instant coffee.  Tom had ordered bacon (which is really ham) and it wasn’t any better than the sausage of the previous day.


We had a short drive along the coast line, first stopping in Hokitika (where I bought a beautiful hand painted silk scarf), then on to Punakaiki.  We didn’t expect much by way of accommodations – we’ve learned that the smaller places have pretty minimal accommodations.  We were delighted to find a beautiful place in the Punakaiki Rocks Villa – the grounds were interesting and the rooms were among the best we’ve had.  Tom sat out on the little patio outside our room, and I walked up to the reason for being there – the pancake rocks and blowholes.  What an incredible sight!  The pancake rocks are limestone, formed over thousands of years and looking like very thin pancakes stacked on top of each other.  The blowholes are incredible, with the spray leaping for at least dozens of feet over the sea floor.  They are truly amazing, and this is a country where there are thousands of things that are truly amazing.  I took a lot of photos, then walked back to the motel.  While Tom and I basked in the sunshine (what a treat from yesterday) a few really old cars turned up – a ’29 Cadillac, a Ford and a Packard – they are headed to the art deco festival in Napier.


 Tom and I drove up to the blowholes about 6:30 – the best time for viewing was supposed to be 6:45-7:15 – we couldn’t get over the whole thing – how can it be described?  Well, hopefully our photos will do it justice.


At Punakaiki    The rock formations are very interesting    These ARE the pancake rocks    This is a blow hole    The draw here is the pancake rocks and the blow holes



The rush of water coming through the low opening was incredible        Look at that spray    Those must be very hard rocks to stand up to that pounding    You could watch the waves for hours    The wave action is amazing and beautiful


Most of us had dinner at a little restaurant about 14 km from Punakaiki, just south of a place called Barrytown.  George and Janet Proud, Tom and I, and Fiona ordered an antipasto as a starter – it should have been a full meal!  Overall, given that we were in the middle of virtually nowhere, the dinner was excellent.


If we keep stopping for sites like this we'll never get there    There's a WOW around every corner


February 16th – Monday – Punakaiki to Nelson


The hotel couldn’t provide cooked breakfast, so they made arrangements for us to have breakfast at a café in the little village.  The food was OK, but the sandflies were everywhere – I couldn’t wait to get out!


Today we drove to Nelson.  The drive was nice, but not a lot of spectacular scenery, as we have become accustomed to.  However, we did have two interesting experiences.  The first was only about 15 minutes after we left Punakaiki.  We had stopped at a viewpoint and Tom was trying to clean the lens of the camera.  While we were parked there, he kept saying “Get away from the car” – strange – I didn’t see anyone.  When I questioned him about it, he told me ‘come, see for yourself’ – next to Moggie was a weka bird – most interested in our tire – Tom would chase it away by voicing disapproval, and then he would venture up to the car again.  They actually had a bit of a face off at one point.  I tried to capture the event in photo, but I’m not sure if I’ve done it justice.


Moggie and the weka    The weka seemed very interested in Moggie's tires


The second was when we stopped at a little place at about 11:30, hoping for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat – it was in the middle of nowhere – and had the worst cup of coffee we’ve ever had in our lives – I didn’t use the restroom, but Tom said they were awful.  So much for country charm.  We drove on a bit and came to a town called Murchison, which had a fairly nice little stop.


Once we arrived in Nelson, we settled into what were very nice accommodations at the Rutherford Hotel, just opposite the Cathedral.  The hotel was sort of old fashioned, but roomy and nicely appointed.  Tom and I poked around the town a bit, then Tom decided to clean up Moggie.  In the process of trying to move her, he found that her ignition wasn’t receptive to a key.  Strange.  He called the Automobile Association – our AAA has a reciprocal agreement with them, and they sent out a nice man who wasn’t able to help.  He sent out a locksmith who was able to make a temporary fix by jabbing the ignition mechanism with a screwdriver – both Tom and I have experienced a reluctance to accept the key before – apparently it is caused by burrs building up in the mechanism, but only takes a jabbing to break them loose.


We’ve had five groups meals in a row, so Tom and I decided to go out on our own tonight – we had a pub dinner in Nelson – Tom had lamb and I had a chef’s salad with scallops, which was wonderful, but completely inadequate.  Well, I’ve eaten enough to last me until Easter, so not to worry. 


February 17th – Tuesday - Nelson


We woke to pouring rain – a real gulliewasher.  During the morning we just puttered around the hotel, then at 12:15 went to Holy Communion at the Cathedral in Nelson, Christ Church.  I really liked this cathedral – it is Art Deco, but sort of a Perpendicular – a nice combination of old and new architecture.  I also had a bit of a brainstorm and took a paperback book that I had just finished and traded it in at a used bookstore for a Bill Bryson book.


The weather cleared in the afternoon, so we drove out to the World of Wearable Arts Museum – most strange.  The Wearable Art are ‘clothes’ that are especially designed for a fashion show each year in Nelson – they may be made of plastic bottles, maps stitched together – anything goes.  Not something you’d wear to the office.  There was also a nice restored car collection, with some pretty amazing specimens.


In the evening we were invited to the home of a local Morgan owner, Brian Hetzell, who happened to also own the local distillery.  He had all sorts of cocktails available, and his beautiful home overlooked the harbor, with an amazing view of a little island.  Then we went to the Yacht Club, where we had a nice dinner (barbeque fish or steak, plus various salads and vegs).  It was a fun evening – Tim Ingham passed the flasher on to Richard Welch, who then passed it on to Fiona.


We have an early departure Wednesday, so we headed back to the hotel, packed as much as possible and hit the sack.


February 18th – Wednesday – Nelson to Wanganui


Well, early departure didn’t do us a lot of good, because our ferry was cancelled.  However, we were put on the ‘fast ferry’ that departed about 1 ½ hours later and still made it to Wellington about the same time as expected.  We found out that the prior day the ferry crossing had been cancelled because of high winds.  The day before that, the swells in the Cook Strait were 10-12 meters and a truck had tipped over in the vehicle hold of the ferry.  We understand that it was a horrible crossing, with just about everyone suffering from seasickness.


Mogs lined up for the ferry    The view over Moggie's bonnet    We took the ferry back to the North Island


We drove from Wellington to Wanganui in gale force winds – it was incredible – Tom had to fight the wind every inch of the way.  We didn’t encounter any rain, but there were roads that were closed and bridges that had washed out.


The journey to Wanganui was so tiring that we just had dinner in the hotel and went to bed.


We stayed at a hotel called The Avenue Hotel– the accommodations weren’t all that bad – about average, I’d say.  Nothing special.


February 19th – Thursday - Wanganui


The day started off a bit windy, but not raining, at least.  We decided to drive around the peninsula that was created by Mt. Egmont – Taranaki.  The drive to the northern part of the peninsula was quite pleasant, and we had glimpses of the mountain – probably the bottom 20%, but couldn’t see the top.  We stopped for lunch in New Plymouth – a bustling, attractive town.  Then we started down the west coast of the peninsula.  Towards the southern point of the peninsula we encountered the rain that we had been warned about – it was frightful!  We drove as far as we could with the hood down, but the rain was coming onto the inside of the windscreen so hard that we couldn’t keep it clear and we were drenched.  Tom pulled the car under the awning of a building that looked abandoned, and we put up the hood.  We were soaked to the skin.  However, we are hardy souls, so we made it back to Wanganui without incident.


We had dinner in the hotel again that night – it was too unpleasant to go outside.  We’ve heard that this is the worst storm that anyone can remember, with hundreds of people losing their homes and millions of dollars in damage to the crops.  There are roads and bridges wiped out between Wanganui and Napier, our next stop, so we are a little uncertain how long it will take us to get to Napier.


February 20th – Friday – Wanganui to Napier


It was a bit windy but no rain as we drove to Napier by way of Pahiatua.  We had been invited to lunch at a Morgan owners home there – several of the roads were closed, so the drive that should have taken an hour took two. 


Our hosts, the Rosses, have a beautiful 1929 home in Pahiatua – it used to be in the middle of a farm, but the town has grown up around it.  They fixed a nice barbeque lunch, with salads and sweets.  The most interesting part of the day, however, was when I got locked in the bathroom.  I had gone upstairs to use the facilities and Barbara Stinson told me where the bathroom was located, but said ‘there is no handle on the inside.’  She was right, but the flange that holds the doorknobs together was on the inside, so I figured I could just use that to open the door.  WRONG!  As much as I tried, I couldn’t get the door to open.  So, I decided to see if I could get the attention of someone in the garden.  I couldn’t figure how to open the window for quite a while – this is an old house and the windows were different from any I’d encountered before.  I really had to laugh at my predicament, wondering when someone would miss me.  Eventually, I was able to open the window and get the attention of Richard Welch, who sent Tom to my rescue.


Lunch stop at the Rosses    Our Mogs lined up at the Ross home


The rest of the drive to Napier was uneventful, although our room wasn’t ready when we arrived.  However, about ¾ an hour later, we got in and the accommodations were quite good.  We stayed at a place called the Marineland Motel – it was right on the water – we had a nice room with a little kitchenette, which was especially welcome.


Why Napier?  In 1931 Napier and neighboring Hastings were destroyed by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake.  When the townsfolk rebuilt (interestingly enough, the quake actually created land by raising some of the seabed 2 meters up, which is where they located the airport), they built in the style of the day, which was art deco. Napier has the largest collection of art deco buildings in one town in the world.  It is under consideration as a World Heritage Site because of its concentration of this type of architecture.


As was often the case, the townspeople didn’t realize what a treasure they had and some of the original buildings were demolished in the 1960s-70s.  However, a group of citizens formed a committee to see if there would be any interest in conducting informational walks about town (this was in the 1980s).  They thought they might get as many as 200 people.  They were quite surprised when they got 1100 people.  Knowing there was so much interest, they formed a permanent organization and worked with city government to try to preserve the unique character of the town.  They also started the Art Deco weekend, which was our reason for going to Napier at the end of our group trip.


One of the mainstays of Art Deco weekend is the classic car show.  Although the Morgans didn’t qualify to be shown with the ‘classic cars’ (which had to be at least 55 years old), they are ‘classics’ in their own right, so we were invited to show our cars separately, we just couldn’t be in the car parade.  So, the drivers went all out to clean up the cars Friday evening, in preparation for the show the next day.


February 21st – Saturday - Napier


Part of the fun of Art Deco weekend is dressing in period costumes.  Several of us decided we wanted to join in the fun, so we walked into the town to a costume shop and for $NZ15 were able to rent costumes.  I got an electric blue blouse, black ‘palazzo’ pants, a cute little electric blue hat and two strings of pearls. 


At 12:15 we were supposed to make our way to the street where the cars were being shown, in the city center area, just shy of the music shell.  We were more than a little surprised to find that we had a police escort to the show place!  We lined the cars up, took lots of photos of each other in costume and talked to many people who were there for the classic car show, parade and related activities.  Napier goes all out for its Art Deco weekend – there is a schedule of events that is several pages long and includes things like jitterbug lessons, a Great Gatsby picnic, fashion shows, a vintage aircraft show, organized walks and a soap box derby.


Our Morgans lined up on display in Napier    Some of our group in costume    Gerry (in kilt) and Maggie dressed to the nines    Fiona and Gladys take a break in the shade    Ray and Sara are leaving    The hats are quite chic    The art deco doings were great fun


We were delighted that we were joined by Doug and Liss Lloyd from Tauranga.


Doug and Liss look smashing    Doug and Liss and their Plus 8


That evening we were invited to a local Morgan owner’s home for dinner.  None of us had a clue what our host had planned for us.  First, he ordered a bus to our motel to pick us up – he lives several miles outside the city, on a hilltop overlooking the Hawkes Bay area.


Hawkes Bay is one of the premier wine regions of New Zealand.  Peter, our host, had invited a young woman, Yvonne, who is the local wine buyer for One World, the largest supermarket chain in the area.  She is extremely knowledgeable about wine, having studied it in university.  Yvonne was our ‘sommelier’ for the night and she set about trying to educate us about New Zealand wines very earnestly.  Her method was to take a type of wine (Chardonnay, for example) and pour three different brands so her clients could compare.  She started off with a New Zealand sparkling wine, then followed by a French sparkling wine, both of which were excellent.  Then she moved to Sauvignon Blanc – she had one from Marlbourough (on the South Island), one from Hawkes Bay and a third New Zealand SB, but one that was treated like a Chardonnay.  I think the consensus was that the Hawkes Bay was the best.


Napier from Peter's garden    The grounds at Peter's home    Peter's patio    The bougainvilea is beautifull    More of Peter's garden    Tom takes a nap in the chair hammock    Yvonne pours another delicious New Zealand wine    The evening at Peter's was delightful.  The grounds were beautiful (and relaxing) and the wine was wonderful.


Next, she poured two Gewürztraminer – one from New Zealand, one from the Alsace region – the Alsatian was much sweeter, and we all preferred the NZ one.  Then she moved to Chardonnay, including a French.  By this time, I had lost track and decided that discretion was the better part of valor and if I didn’t want a bad head in the morning, I had better drop out of the activities.


Meantime, Peter’s friend and landscape architect, Dave, and Peter’s companion, Jane, started cooking – there were cold prawns, cooked and raw oysters, bread and NZ olive oil, with nuts for dipping, gazpacho – all for starters.  The actual dinner consisted of barbequed venison and lamb, potatoes and several salads.  Finally, for dessert, there were fresh fruits from the garden, including strawberries with chocolate sauce.  Meanwhile, Yvonne kept on pouring – she made it through the reds (Pinot Noir and Cabernet) and started on the ‘sticky wines’ as she called them (dessert wines).


After Dave and Jane had finished cooking, they were relaxing in the kitchen.  Some of us went in the kitchen to chat with them.  They are very nice people and really seemed to enjoy putting on such a feast for the group of strangers with Morgans.


The wind was really kicking up by this point, so the clouds were blown away and we got to see the Southern Cross at last.


We piled on the bus and headed back to town, trying to sing a bit on the way, but some of the folks had made too valiant an attempt to sample all of Yvonne’s offerings, so our singing wasn’t very good.

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