Our ferry back to the mainland was scheduled for 11am, so we had plenty of time to catch breakfast in Blenheim. We walked Captain around what was obviously another cat’s territory and Not Safe, then drove into the ferry line and walked him around a bunch of parked cars. We hoped that some exercise, even if maybe a little stressful, would make his time stuck in the car belowdecks less miserable. Sadly, there were even more car alarms on this trip than we’d had on the way there; we counted eleven just in the first hour. Even before we got out of the car the alarms had started, with two different cars just adjacent to us complaining loudly into the echoing hold. When we checked on Captain mid-trip, we found him awake and cranky; we were pretty unhappy about having to leave him in the hold when we could have brought him up top and left him in his case. Just one more way this country is hostile to pets.
We got off the ferry and drove north, passing the town of Bulls (Friendship Club! Befriend-a-bull!), and finally establishing ourselves in Ohakune. Captain gratefully set himself up on his travel blanket the moment it emerged from the suitcase.
We’d thought about staying an extra day; it turned out that despite frequent nagging on our part, our new prospective buyers hadn’t made the phone call to scheduled a survey on the dates we’d agreed to. This meant that when they finally got around to it, the surveyor was already booked, and we were pushed back a week. So we had the time to kill, but it was cold and gray, and we figured we might as well be driving. Even inside the cafe where we had breakfast, we sought out the table with the indoor space heater. The weather forecast had that delicate little white thing pictured, something we haven’t seen in years. We took a quick walk through a surprisingly weird carrot-themed park, with creepy humanoid and gendered carrot mascots, and then got on the road going north.
The draw to this area is the Tongariro Crossing, a long hike around the dual mountains of Tongariro and Ruapehu. Even if Jazz’s foot had been up for it, the pass is closed to animals, and did we mention it was cold? The skies did clear over the next hour or so, though, and we stopped several times along the road to take pictures. Both mountains are quite imposing, rising as they do out of basically flat terrain.
One little pull-out viewpoint included a sign about which side to drive on, so you know there are some tourists coming through here.
We stopped for a late lunch in Hamilton, and took Captain on a walk around a little duck pond. This was, you know, fine; there’s not much to do around Hamilton, so this was fun as long as we thought of it as a stop to break up the drive rather than as a destination per se. We couldn’t check into our AirBnB for a couple more hours, and Captain wasn’t allowed at the botanical gardens.
At New Year’s we’d seen a comedy special, and several of the NZ comics had roasted Hamilton. Without any further commentary, we’ll say that we saw some vanity plates here.
After a night in yet another inlaw suite, we stopped for a tasty breakfast at a cafe with an enclosed courtyard and a rock that matched Captain’s pounamu. We tried and failed to find Jazz a German-style pretzel, and ended up at another cafe for a croissant instead. Another hour or two of driving, and we were finally back home at the boat. Or, at least, at the taproom right next door.