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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Left is right!

After almost a week of being in New Zealand's largest city, we were ready to put Auckland in our rear view mirror and head out into this beautiful country.  Auckland was fun and diverse and picturesque, especially when we took a ferry across the harbour to the North Shore and the charming port town of Devonport.

Heading out into the hinterlands meant that no longer could we leave the driving to someone else.  Instead, for the first time, I was going to have to get into the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road.  I had been trying to pay attention to the driving patterns as we walked around Auckland and as we rode in taxis, but until you grasp the wheel with your family and belongings piled in, you don't realize how different it is.  Fortunately, the drive from the rental car place to the highway was very short, so I got to get accustomed to looking to my left for the middle mirror while going with traffic traveling in the same direction and at roughly the same speed.

Annie was a great navigator as we decided to go toward the Coramandel Peninsula to the south and east of Auckland.  After about an hour, we were on the peninsula's west side and started the gorgeous drive to the north.  With no reserved place to stay for the night, we drove along with no agenda, and stopped for lunch at a town called Thames.  As fortune would have it, one of the main streets through the town, Pollen was closed down for some sort of Market Day, with vendors selling all varieties of trinkets and clothing.

One thing that was not being sold was food, and Annie had been fighting off a craving for Indian food, so, much to Marley's displeasure we stopped at the Taj Curry House.

No pizza could be found on the menu, so we ordered some "chips" for Marley while Annie tried Butter Chicken for the first time and I decided to compare their Chicken Tikka Masala with those I had eaten in Cincinnati.  

Marley normally orders lemonade when we're eating out and we discovered in Fiji that such an order will get you a nice frosty can of Sprite, mainly because there is a lemon on the can.  That has added a drink option to her repertoire which has been a positive.  

Our hunger satisfied, we got back in the car with the steering wheel on the wrong side, and headed back up the peninsula.  At first, it was reminiscent of Virginia, with sweeping valleys and green mountains, but then as we got deeper into the drive, it became more a mix of Switzerland and Hawaii.  Tropical vegetation covered green hillsides, at times giving way to verdant fields.  The road was very winding and twisting but filled with amazing views.  Every few kilometres there would be what they call car bays, where you could pull over and take in the vista.

A craving for ice cream had us planning to stop at the next major town, Coramandel and we pulled in around 4pm.  It was charming with a somewhat rustic feel, which Marley described a "wild west" town.  A glance at the map showed that the next stop was something of an hour and a half to a two hour drive on winding roads that this Yankee driver had had his fill of for the day.   We went to the local I-site office and a few quick calls from the helpful staff found us a cute two bedroom cottage that was a bit above our budget, but it had a swimming pool and wi-fi, so we took the plunge.  A great spot to start our trek south through New Zealand's North Island.


  1. I've always wondered how it would be to adjust to driving opposite of what we're accustomed to! :) How was the indian cuisine compared to Cincinnati's? Chicken tikka masala is a staple favorite of mine.

  2. Bill, see if you can play a round of Golf Cross. It's a game (football goal meets golf) invented in New Zealand where you play golf with a football shape ball an instead of putting you chip into a net attached to something very similar to a football goal post.