Thursday, February 15, 2007

We had a great time at the Greenacres farmstay in Levin, with our hosts Dorothy and Derek.  When we checked in about 4:30 pm on the 13th, they asked if we wanted tea or wine.  We choose wine, and Derek kept filling our glasses with white wine while we snacked on cheese, crackers, salami and olives.  They shared their history with us and it was all very interesting.  All our homestay hosts have been great resources about New Zealand and our Greenacres hosts were the most hospitable yet.  I think they would have entertained us all evening if we hadn’t said we were tired and ready to turn in.  Dorothy served us a big breakfast on Valentine’s Day.  The cost of the comfortable room with the great view and all the food was less than $80 U.S.  On February 14th we headed south on Hwy. 1 along the Kapiti Coast.  We spent a few hours of visiting Lord of the Rings film sites.  Our first stop was Queen Elizabeth Park, the location of the Pelennor Fields scenes.  From there we went to Upper Hutt, where some of the scenes of the Great River Andouin were filmed.  The next stop was Harcourt Park, which was used as the Gardens of Isengard.  After that we went to Kaitoke Regional Park, the site of Rivendell.  We took a short loop walk through a rain forest in the park.  It was all very beautiful.  We left the park and drove south to Wellington, where we stopped to visit the Te Papa Museum.  It is a very interesting place, and we enjoyed the section of the museum about volcanos.  We listened to a description of the eruption of Mt. Tarawera, which we had visited earlier in our trip.  After the museum visit we checked into the James Cook Hotel in downtown Wellington where we’ll stay for two nights.  February 15th was a gorgeous day in Wellington, the scenic capitol of New Zealand.  The location of our hotel is excellent, as it is right next to the cable car that takes you to the Botanic Garden and about a 10 minute walk to the government buildings.  We started the day with a cable car ride up to the garden.  It was especially nice for two Minnesotans to see all the beautiful flowers blooming outside in February.  After our tour of the Botanic Garden, we walked to the government buildings.  Kiwis think the Beehive is ugly, but we think it is unique.  We took a tour that included the Parliament Building and Library, but tourists are not allowed in the Beehive.  After the tour we went to visitor’s gallery in parliament where we observed a small group having quite a boring discussion.  New Zealand used to have a two party system, but now they have many parties.  The Labor party is currently in power.  New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote.  Near the government buildings is the St. Paul’s Cathedral (Anglican) and the Old St. Paul’s Church.  The old church is much more interesting, as the interior is made of New Zealand wood.  It is a popular place for weddings and funerals but no other services are held there.  We spent part of the evening driving along a coastal drive east of the city that had many beautiful bays and beaches.  We saw a few surfers in the incredibly blue waters.

Tomorrow we leave Wellington and the North Island and take the ferry to the South Island.  Each day is a new adventure, we’re ready to see what the South Island has to offer.  Earlier in the trip we called our daughter Anne’s cell phone using Skype on our laptop.  It cost about 2 cents a minute.  Tonight we called our son Jeff from our laptop to his computer and it didn’t cost anything.  It’s very easy and the sound quality is excellent.  It sure beats paying big prices for international calls.

View from our bedroom at Greenacres

QE Park - Pelennor Fields (LOTR) in this park

Hutt River (Great River Andouin in LOTR)

Harcourt Park (Gardens of Isengard in LOTR)

Kaitoke Park - Hutt River, Rivendell

Kaitoke Park - Rivendell

Kaitoke Park - Loop walk through rainforest

Swingbridge in Kaitoke Park

Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Wellington from Botanic Garden

Rose garden

Begonia House

Begonia House

Wellington from cable car entrance area

Here comes our car

Inside St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral

Inside Old St. Paul’s

Beehive and Parliament Building

Coastal drive - Oriental Bay

Coastal Drive

© Jay Deitch 2020