23 January 2012

New Zealand Chronicles | On The Road Again

8 December 2011

I'm not sure if it's typical to take a holiday whilst on holiday, but that's what I did. Yes, I had seen plenty, but there were apparently even better beaches further north. So, nearly a week after I arrived in New Zealand, Ang and I set out on a weekend road trip. Step one: load the car. Step two: find my new favorite breakfast. I didn't think it would be so delicious, hence the missing bite from the picture. 

It's a bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes, basil, oil & vinegar. It was perfect. I wanted to eat it again. Nothing fancy, just something I had never considered. The bagel was warm and everything else was cold. That may have had something to do with it. I'm not sure. Now I admit I've gone slightly basil - crazy since a bar(tender) in Santa Monica, but that's mostly been about cocktails. But this! This was something I promised I would add to my routine at home. Six weeks later I have yet to be in any sort of routine. Who am I? We drove.

Fascinating thing about tolls in New Zealand, you pay they after the fact. No FastTrak. No EZ Pass. You just drive. The cameras take a picture of your plate, and you have five days to go online and pay your toll. It's brilliant really. No back traffic back ups - important when your highway is only two lanes in each direction. No one has to worry about having cash or change. Tolls get paid without any  traffic slowdown whatsoever. It's the epitome of efficiency and I approve. We drove.
Eventually Ang got hungry (I'd say she really missed out on the bagel train, but she doesn't eat any of the delicious parts) and we stopped at a McDonald's. There, I saw the first of a series of confusing pairings. Kiwis wearing athletic apparel from two different American teens. There was a girl wearing a Lakers jersey with a Hornets hat. The clashing brought a tear to my eye. It was hard to watch. Fortunately for you, there was no way to discretely take a picture. We drove.

Inside the restroom.
We stopped in a podunk town, where we were told he had to visit the restroom. It sounded just that odd to Ang when she was told. But after being told more than once, we decided there must have been something to it. So, we set out to potty. It took two passes through the town to find it, and a third pass to find parking. Then, we were there, at the Hundertwasser Toilets. Easily the prettiest restrooms I had seen in a while. Instead of being an afterthought, these restrooms were an attraction. If you ever have to go near Kawakawa, I highly recommend them. Actually, you should visit even if you don't have to go. It may be Kawakawa's only tourist attraction. We went. And we drove.

Outside.

Next stop: Paihia, the main area for those seeking adventure in the Bay of Islands, or for those seeking to leave behind family and friends and move halfway around the world. It was in Paihia  where Angie had the adventure that made her love New Zealand. I think her trip there -- more than to other parts of the country  -- where the idea of residence became nascent. Paihia changed Ang. I knew that before I arrived there. But there's something extra amazing about being there and watching her tell me all about it.

Our trip through Paihia lasted as long as we were legally allowed to park: 30 minutes. I assure you, we saw plenty.





Pohutukawa blossoms


Helicopter tour from the side of the street.


We stopped at a farmers' market, because that's the Bay Area thing to do. We bought some delicious bread. I also picked up mozzarella and blueberries. Yes, I admit to a "see it want it buy it" problem thing. I'm working on it. I mean I'm working on it now. I was not working on it when I went from the farmers' market to the fudge shop.

Spent a lot. Ate no more than a sample's worth.
I am apparently not a big fudge person.
This reminded me of egg loving friends and XBFJ.
Looking at it also made me gag.