Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thank you for Speeding

After 40 years of being a single man I finally got married on November 11th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My wife, Jaleh, and I then spent our honeymoon traveling across the north island of New Zealand.

We landed in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city then drove our rental car north to the Bay of Islands to tour the area including Cape Reinga where the Tasman Sea spills into the Pacific Ocean. Our tour included a drive on "Ninety Mile Beach" and sledding on sand dunes.

The next portion of our trip included scuba diving in the Tutukaka area which is the marina (not much else in this "town") near to Poor Knights Island. The water was a bit cold but the diving was very nice especially at Blue Mau Mau Cavern which was filled with a school of mau mau fish. Following diving we drove to the Roroturo/ Lake Taupo areas to enjoy the geothermal baths, spas, sailing, hiking, and great restaurants such as "Pimento's" in Lake Taupo which was just excellent. Given our overall dining experience I would give them a "5" just like I did for "Elements" in Phoenix -- really a quality business. Apparently I was driving too fast on this portion of our trip since we received a speeding ticket this week from the New Zealand police. The letter stated that "approved vehicle surveillance equipment" that I have to guess was mounted in one of the police cars we saw driving in the opposite direction -- and here I thought it was a nice letter from the New Zealand Department of Tourism asking how we enjoyed our trip!!!!

The driving portion of our trip ended in the capital city - Wellington - which is my kind of city since it is a port city built on a hill. We toured the parliament building, the botanic garden, and their national museum/art gallery known as "Te Papa" which is a must see if you are in Wellington. The exhibits on maori (the first settlers who paddled canoes from Polynesia to New Zealand) culture were very interesting along with the geological history since New Zealand is dominated by volcanic activity.

From Wellington we flew back to Auckland for one last night on the town which included a visit to "Minus 5" which is a bar completely made out of ice. The bar's cover charge includes the use of a parka and gloves so overall we were comfortable as we drank from mugs made of solid ice.

No doubt I overlooked some of the highlights but trust my wife will chime in with her own observations -- yes, dear the sky tower in Auckland was another great tour!! -- but in summary let me say that we enjoyed every city and venue we visited except Frank's Pizza in Russell which was rather mediocre so a "1" on my 5 point ranking scale. The people of New Zealand are very personable and the country just "feels" as if it is well run in terms of business and government services.

Kia ora,


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