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Tuesday 3rd Feb
We began the day looking around Inglewood and visiting Frances's local church - Inglewood United Church (Presbyterian/Methodist). They have just called a new minister from Zimbabwe.

From there we travelled to Mount Egmont (Taranaki). This mountain dominates the scenery round here and can be seen from Inglewood although the top is often in the clouds. We went on several short walks in the area and lunched out on the mountain.

In the evening we journeyed into New Plymouth to look at the lights which decorate Pukekura Park over the Christmas season. The lights give an ethereal feeling to the trees growing in the park.


Wednesday 4th Feb
A cycle ride along the seashore at New Plymouth was our first activity. On the way we stopped off at Mangamahoe Lake to view the lake with the mountain in the background and also to have our photos taken.

On to New Plymouth where we hired two mountain bikes (Barry and Frances had taken their own). The good news was that weather was not too hot and we cycled over 20kms along the front and around the town. The bad news was that about 2kms from the end Christine's back tyre developed a rapid leak and so she had to walk the rest of the way.

After the ride we went into Brooklands Park for lunch. This park borders on Pukekura Park so after lunch we went on an extended walk through the area looking at the native trees and also to the Fernery which houses lots of beautiful and exotic flowers.


Thursday 5th Feb
A day of travel - 280km from Inglewood to Paraparaumu and not a lot to see on the way. We arrived at Waverley for elevenses and then carried on to the Bason Botanical Gardens just north of Wanganui. There were quite a few impressive trees there, including varieties of Palm tree that we had not seen before, and several types of birds but mainly of the English variety that had been introduced to NZ in the 1800s. A Tui and some NZ pidgeons were the only native birds to be seen.

After a couple of hours in the garden we made our way back onto the main road to carry on to Paraparaumu, stopping midway in a layby for 40 winks. We arrived about 5 and after dinner ventured out onto the beach to see a beautiful sunset.


Friday 6th Feb
We spent most of the day on Kapiti Island - a nature reserve where they have managed to eradicate all of the non native species of birds and animals with the exception of the blackbird. The boat left at 9am so it was an early start. On the seafront at Paraparaumu there were Black Backed Gulls and White Fronted Terns. After landing on the island we began the ascent of the hill which is over 500m high. We were in no rush as we wanted to spot as many birds as possible. The Kaka was easy to see - given half a chance it would have pinched our lunch from the backpack. The Weka was also an easy bird to identify as it cannot fly. The other smaller birds were more difficult to identify although we definitely saw Tui, NZ Robin, Bell Birds and a Kakariki - a Parakeet with a red head. We might have seen a Stitchbird at the feeding station half way up but we weren't sure. After 3 hours of slowly walking up and up, and pausing for lunch where the Kaka wouldn't see us, we still hadn't reached the top. The clouds were starting to envelop us and when we asked how much further it was, we were told it was another 30 mins. As there was no view from the top in these conditions we decided to return to basecamp where we lay on the beach resting our weary limbs.
After dinner we took the car to the top of the hill behind the Motor Park. They are selling off plots of land here with terrific views across the sea to the west - and probably at terrific prices as well. On the way we saw some Pukeko birds.


Saturday 7th Feb
It was only a short journey today into Wellington - about 50km. We arrived at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary at opening time not knowing what to expect, as quite a few of the birds had been introduced here from the Kapiti reserve. We were very pleasantly surprised to find several species that we hadn't seen before and the terrain was more user friendly than Kapiti. A male and female California Quail came to pose for the camera almost as soon as we entered the gates. There was also a Pied Shag on a raft on the water and a Little Shag sitting on its nest in a tree.

After lunch at the Reserve we travelled the short distance to the Botanical Gardens. Everwhere round here is so hilly and the gardens were no exception. By the time we had got to the top - with a wonderful view of the city below - we were quite worn out. So off to the centre of Wellington to find a cup of tea by way of the Cable Car.

The Wellington Sevens (Rugby Tournament) is on at the moment so the town was full of fans. It is the done thing to dress up for this event - more or less anything goes. The ladies in the picture called themselves 'The Rainbow Wives'. It could be noisy on the camp site tonight when the fans return from their celebrations.


Sunday 8th Feb
Today we visited the Te Papa museum in Wellington - a large modern museum, housing exhibits relating to the natural and cultural history of New Zealand. We took the bus into the centre of Wellington and spent most of the day at the museum - there were so many things to see. Maori history, was of course well covered. The size of some of their boats was amazing - a canoe I measured as being about 24m long. There were also many intricate carvings as in this Maori Meeting house. It was only the weariness of our feet that told us it was time to leave at 3.30 in the afternoon.

On the way back to the motel we added another bird to our collection - a Paradise Shelduck.


Monday 9th Feb
We spent the morning in the Lower Hutt area of Wellington - firstly going for a short walk along the sea front and then visiting 'TheNewDouse' Gallery. There were two main exhibitions - The Enchanted Forest which included a display of costumes for ballet and theatre productions based on the children's stories Cinderella and Babes in the Wood. There was also an exhibition called 'The Family' by textile artist Malcolm Harrison. He had created individual dolls each with their own character.

Just before lunch we made our way to the airport to catch the plane to Nelson. We landed mid afternoon and drove 'up' to Kairuru Farm Stay (west of Motueka). We are in a beautiful cottage overlooking the Abel Tasman Park and the Tasman Bay.


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Page updated 9th February 2009