Nothing like a crazy game of mini-golf to energize one’s self from a long windy drive! Leti drove her first brutal leg of the trip from Taupo Lake to Welly and we went directly to Carlucci Land which is a blend of artistry and mini-golf. We had the course to ourselves (thanks to blistering cold weather) and a competitive match with several hole-in-ones and one lost ball (shhhh, we won’t share who had that!). The outcome was memorable and got me raving for Ireland golf (another dream away).
We freedom camped in town and had a wonderful Brazilian hot dog dinner that reminded us of friends and home which leads me to my next blog on new friends made in New Zealand.
We’ve had a few surprises like poor campervan customer service (fyi New Zealanders complain about customer service too) but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Here are a few new friends we’ve met: At the southern tip of 90-mile beach we mistakenly drive to the wrong home. After a few words, the gentleman redirects us to his neighbor who happens to own a wine vienyard. Fortunately, this mistake turns in our favor as their housesitter, Alwyn, arrives home just in time and welcomes us to stay the night as well as enjoy some wine and conversation about local politics, the Maori people and culture. Not to mention the fact that the neighbor we saw earlier, checks in to see if we are alright. New Zealander hospitality! Later in the week we reach out to another Okay-2-Stay partner in Roby and her awesome dog Monty; her passion is farming and her expertise with plants is incredible – we saw lavender and smelled a bubble gum plant to name a few. Similarly, Roby’s hospitality goes beyond expectations as she runs out to greet us upon arrival and then provides us with printouts of recommended places on departure. Then there is Richard from Vine restaurant in Lake Taupo. He graciously bought a round of beer and having quite a bit of worldly knowledge himself, gave us some tips on Perth. I’ve always said to my kids that the world is balanced with both good and bad people but New Zealand’s good far outweighs the bad.
Americans are pretty awesome too – we met the Hoecker family from Oregon and the next thing you know, we are speaking Portuguese in New Zealand (they lived in Brasil for a few years)! We really enjoyed sharing our story as well as getting to know theirs (as well as some nice travel tips on Thailand!). Yes, it’s a cool cool world… Cheers!