This time around on R&R, we actually managed to keep a sort of a travel journal, which I will crib from shamelessly to fill everyone in on our awesome trip to New Zealand and Sydney. I’ll pare it down a little bit since it filled a small notebook, but at least this way you’ll get to see all the highlights of our trip (unlike the China trip, which I realize that I never finished writing about). Danny and I each contributed different portions of the narrative, but except where it actually makes a difference I’m going to skip differentiating who wrote what.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Lake Taupo, North Island

After a 21 hour flight (including 3 stops), we were very glad indeed to get here yesterday afternoon. We drove down here to Taupo from Auckland — a really beautiful drive through hills and pastures and more livestock than either of us has seen in a while. Tons and tons of sheep, but also cows, alpacas, and “red deer,” which look like reindeer. We arrived at the Paeroa Homestay place, and were slightly surprised (despite the name) to find that we actually are staying in the upstairs of someone’s house. It’s a lovely room, though, and the couple who run the place are very nice. We keep thinking we could do something like this one day.

The view from our balcony (over Lake Taupo across to the Tongarira National Park):

We’re not sure yet if it’s just Taupo or all of New Zealand, but we’ve decided the best description we can think of for what we’ve seen so far is “Goochland, CA.” It’s chill and beautiful and full of good wine and produce like California, but unpretentious and natural like Goochland.

This morning we had breakfast with Barbara & John, the couple who own the house. Barbara made some recommendations for what we should see, but since the weather was still overcast and drizzly this morning, we ended up walking around town a bit and buying presents for people before lunch. We had a mussel-rich lunch at Fine Fettle and then headed up to hike to Huka Falls. I had forgotten sunscreen and by that time the sun was out with a vengeance, but the hike up was beautiful and surprisingly devoid of people considering how famous the falls are here.

Huka Falls:

With my beginnings of a sunburn and both of us quite warm, we decided to head back to Paeroa to cool off in the lake and relax a bit before dinner. So we swam in the icy lake and it was…icy, but refreshing. We then sat on the porch and read a bit before going to dinner at Plateau in town. We had a devotion together before lunch, and have committed to establishing a few things before we return (reluctantly) to the place from whence we came, including making more time for God, for being physically in better shape, and for each other.