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On to Wellington

Woke up at 0700, breakfast at 0800, on the road around 0900. Our trip south took us through Tongariro National Park, where we would have been hiking if the weather had held. Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro loomed over a flat desert that was starkly different from the green we'd been seeing. At Waiouru on the south side of the park, we visited the Military Museum to lean about NZ's participation in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and numerous UN missions. Thought it was fitting for Memorial Day weekend.

Lunch was a lamb pie, very tasty. We drove on, ever southward. At one point we stopped at subway for a snack, and I was a bit surprised that they didn't have a straight mustard (yellow/brown/etc) option...the closest was honey mustard. We made a pit stop at Otaki Beach, somewhat dark sands, very large tidal change, but it was low tide so all the wood and shells were exposed and reminded me of the US Pacific Northwest.

We carried on and tried to follow a road to the Upper Hutt outside Wellington, but it got increasingly narrow and became one-lane. So we were a little uncomfortable driving on a curvy, one-lane, backwoods road near sundown with a quarter tank of petrol in a small, right-hand-drive rental car...so we decided to turn around. We made it to the hostel by following signs to the city centre and found it was right next to the train station. They all seem to be commuter trains, nothing to Auckland was posted). Our room was on a floor full of 12-year-olds on a school trip and they were running around and leaning out of windows and other kid stuff, so I went down to reception and asked for a room not on a floor with children. The clerk said "Oh, sorry!" and booked us on the floor above. There had to be 20 of those kids and we could still hear them chatting out the windows but not nearly as loud as before.

For dinner, we walked to the wharf area and found a popular pizza place called "One Red Dog." We walked back to the hotel looking at the city lights, turned in around 9pm totally exhausted from the day. We actually fell asleep for three hours before waking up to get ready for bed. It worked out well, because I had to feed the parking meter. Our day tomorrow is two museums, just so that we can recover a little from the last week of running around.

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