Nov 3, 2010 – Wednesday –Rotorua to Te Kuiti, New Zealand – We drive from Rotorua to Te Kuiti today. Along the way near Mangakino, we stop to see the Pouakani Toara Tree. We stop at the nondescript entrance located on Highway 30, and walk for 10 minutes to see this giant tree in the forest. It is immense…similar to the trees we saw in Costa Rica on the jungle walk. It is the largest Totara tree recorded in New Zealand, so it is certainly worth a look. Speaking of looking, the tree is so large it is difficult to see the whole thing from the forest floor.
|Sheep & hills at sunset|
Despite these negatives, Margaret, the B&B operator is a real gem. She is exceedingly helpful, and makes our stay in this part of the North Island well worthwhile. Margaret recommends two restaurants in town, so we pick the first one and give it a try for dinner this evening. The Riverside Lodge is in a lovely location right by the river; however it is basically a bar that serves food. There are smokers all around, so we sit outside on the patio. Everyone looks at us as though we are from outer space and the service is exceedingly slow (we wait an hour), however the food is fine once it arrives.
Nov 4, 2010 – Thursday – Te Kuiti, New Zealand – The day starts badly, since Margaret makes us instant coffee this morning. She also serves us a continental breakfast instead of the full English cooked breakfast we have had at all the other B&Bs so far. The fresh fruit and rhubarb compote for the cereal is nice, and the endless toast and homemade preserves are appreciated, however the instant coffee is dreadful.
We go out to a nice restaurant tonight called Kai, which is run by a local young man and his French wife (who does the cooking). The meals are a blend of French cooking and local tastes. I have the Filet steak, which is a "Scotch" cut (unlike any filet I've had in Canada), however it is a very nice steak cooked to order, topped with a creamy mushroom sauce and accompanied by roasted potatoes, fresh steamed green beans, and a grilled tomato. The others in my party rave about their selections as well. Pavlova is offered for dessert, which we all agree is better than the Cherries Jubilee we were served aboard ship in the Pinnacle Grill. I have a cappuccino, which is nicely made. The young man who runs the place is thrilled that we are happy with our experience, and tells us they are #1 rated on TripAdvisor. I can see why, and will add my favourable rating when I return home.
|Joe in the Glowworm cave with hardhat|
|Glowworms at end of cave|
|Fish of the Day - Snapper|
Nov 6, 2010 – Saturday – New Zealand to Canada – We have breakfast a bit earlier this morning, say our goodbyes to Margaret and her husband Graham, and leave for the airport by 8:30am.