Day 7 Travel Notes
This was one of our longest driving days - over 300 km. It rained lightly for a good part of the trip. The scenery was very agricultural with vineyards, orchards along with cattle and sheep. It was (according to Jan) easy driving.
About half way along our route we stopped at the Mount Bruce National Wildlife Preserve. Though it was raining we still took the walking tour (they provided ponchos). Very interesting temperate rain forest environment with a number of aviaries with rare and endangered birds of New Zealand. Another nice thing was that they identified many of the trees that we had been wondering about on our previous drives. We were surprised to hear that the Kiwi, New Zealand's national symbol, is in danger of extinction. There are a number of breeding programs going on but loss of habitat and predation by non-native animals is a serious threat to them.
Next we drove on down to Greytown which the hostess at the McHardy House had recommended. It turned out to be a little too much of a tourist trap for us and we weren't even able to find a good place to eat lunch. Same story in the next town. We finally found a little hole-in-the wall place that advertised 'burgers.' I should have stuck to the fish-n-chips!
This evening we were staying at Wharekauhau Lodge, on a 5000 acre sheep station adjacent to Palliser Bay. Getting there was quite an adventure in itself. About 40 km of narrow winding roads with the last 9 km being gravel. The weather was starting to deteriorate so we were relieved when we actually spotted our destination. Wharekauhau was, arguably, the most lavish of the places we have stayed. Like Huka Lodge, we again had our own cottage away from the main lodge. It had a great view overlooking the bay and there were sheep grazing about 30 feet outside our door. When we were shown to our cottage one of the two lodge cats, Fish, (the other was Chips) decided to join us. She promptly went to the mini-bar and begged for milk. Feeling cat deprived, we complied and she soon was curled up on our sofa snoozing. T
his was the first evening when I felt it necessary to wear a jacket to dinner. Yet it was to their credit that, with all the elegance, they made us feel very welcome and not at all out of place. Again we were almost alone here - there was one other couple from Arizona and another couple who pretty much kept to themselves. The weather was windy and rainy and it looked dark and foreboding out on the Bay. I had the distinct feeling I was in one of those old murder mysteries that takes place in an isolated mansion on a dark and stormy night.
I woke up several times in the night when it blew especially hard or rain pelted down heavily. Still it was a great place to stay and another place that we will come back to if we visit New Zealand again. Since we were only staying one night we did not get the opportunity to take the ranch tour which Jan (being a farm girl) would have loved.