05.06.2009 - 05.06.2009 50 °F
Hi, it’s SkeeterVM, Thu’s guest blogger! We seem to be over the worst of our jetlag. Thu managed to sleep to 5am! But when she tried to get some quiet reading time in the hotel lobby while I was snoring away, found that it was locked for “off hours.” Not sure about the fire safety of confining guests to their floors….While we waited to see if the sun would come out over Lake Taupo, we watched “The Water Horse,” a movie about a Loch-Ness-type monster adopted by a Scottish boy during WWII. Alas, neither the sun nor a water horse appeared over Lake Taupo today. So we packed up our gear and headed through Tongariro by car to Wanganui on the Tasman Sea.
NZ highways are pretty much the equivalent of Rte. 302 in Maine (Van Metres will get the reference): two lanes with a passing opportunity every twenty miles. So imagine the adventurous (read “fool-hardy”) spirit involved in opting to take a “country road” the 60 miles to Wanganui. The guidebooks call the Whanganui River Road “impossibly scenic.” They could have just said “impossible”! A one-lane, unpaved road along a one-hundred-foot-high cliff through a rain forest from which goats, sheep, and cattle improbably emerge around every blind curve. Bad enough in the sunshine, no doubt, but we tried it in the driving rain. Today was supposed to be Thu’s"practice" day of driving. She won’t need any more practice. After almost flattening two goats and swerving to avoid a head-on collision with an on-coming van, she got us safely to Wanganui where we are now ensconced in a lovely former-brothel-now-riverfront-restaurant called Vega. Though a meal of goat steak would probably have been the most appropriate celebration of our survival, Thu had a lovely beef steak with fries and I had the salmon skewers with a glass of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc called “Canvas.” The owner of Vega says the wine is not available at retail. Too bad! It's delicious. Dry with enough minerality to balance the SB fruitiness. (And I got a "C" in wine class!)
We’re going to have a shaky-legged walk around Wanganui and then head to Wellington this evening. We’re finding the beauty of NZ hard-earned but worth it! Now here’s hoping for a bit of sun tomorrow!