Saturday, February 16, 2008

February 12, 2008 - Paekakariki

We woke up this morning in Raglan to drizzle. Over an excellent breakfast and a couple of flat whites (creamier versions of a latte), the drizzle turned into a downpour. At the local internet cafe we discovered that the surf forecast was for small swell and onshore breeze, which results in crumbly waves (as shown in the above photo) that aren't much fun to ride. And did I mention that it was raining? We decided to take advantage of the flexibility of traveling by a car and push on south now and possibly stop back on our way back north next month.

As we drove south towards Wellington, we snaked through the hills of King County. The scenery was right out of Lord of the Rings. I fully expected to see the Riders of Rohan come ranging over the next ridge. The driving was hard. Every few minutes we would come around a soft curve at 100 km/h to spot a sign showing a switchback and admonishing us to slow down to 30 or 40 km/h. And they weren't kidding. And remember the rain? It followed us all day long. By the end of my shift at the wheel my hands were cramped from gripping it so hard.
We couldn't make Wellington by dark, so we stopped for the night in Paekakariki, a beach town about 30 minutes north of Wellington. We stayed at a backpacker hostel with a beautiful view of the Tasman Sea. For 60NZD we got a double bed in our own room, with bed linens and mosquito net provided, but no towels. There were a few other double rooms and a dorm room with bunk beds. The bathrooms were shared. The large kitchen was fully equipped. Unfortunately, the walls were very thin - almost as thin as the pillows.

One thing that perplexes us about kiwi homes is the lack of screens in the windows. There are plenty of bugs here. And kiwis clearly don't like having them in their homes. Every fourth advertisement on TV is for some kind of chemical bug spray. Air freshener like devices that spurt out anti-fly pheromones every hour or so are quite popular. But very few people seem to take the simplest, least toxic approach and simply screen the windows. We had to chase a few uninvited guests out of our room before turning in.

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