It was time to visit Janis and Richie at their farm near Feilding. Apart from catching up, the highlight was a round of golf. We hadn't played for years, so it was fun just hacking around. A bit of a pain - Rachel always hits the ball straight - whilst I take the indirect line on most strikes.
While here, at midnight on the 8th June, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 1. No more Covid-19 restrictions, no more social distancing, no more signs. It seemed very odd walking into the library, not having to sanitise, leave contact details, stand back.... The only restrictions left at Alert Level 1, remain at the border. Kiwis can return, but must go through government managed isolation for 14 days. No-one else is allowed in - we feel somewhat lucky to have landed here.
In Masterton, I caught up with a Police colleague Barry Bysouth, who had emigrated to New Zealand around 2006. I should have given him more notice, but figured on a quick visit on our way south, with the plan for a proper catch up (drink) on our return north in a few months.
From Masterton, we drove to Castlepoint, to walk up to the lighthouse and admire the scenery.
The next day, we drove to Martinborough with its central streets laid out in the pattern of the Union Jack. A stroke of luck - the little cinema was open. A few hours of fun watching 'The Gentlemen' and enjoying a bottle of local Pinot Noir - love the civilised cinemas.
We drove out to Cape Palliser, along a fairly rugged coastline. This is the most southerly point of the mainland on the North Island. At the end of the road, we climbed the almost vertical steps to the lighthouse. This beautiful cast iron lighthouse has stood there since 1897. Driving back, we came across a large colony of fur seals, within feet of the road. We must have been blind on the first pass.
A little further back along the road, the settlement of Ngawi, with a mixture of fishing boats on the shore fronting the water and the strangest collection of tractors/bulldozers behind them, facing the road.
After a failed attempt to lunch at Lake Ferry, we travelled along the west side of Lake Waiarapa to settle for the night at Greytown. This good looking town had an excellent Indian restaurant. The next morning we did a self guided tour of the town and I was persuaded to visit the Cobblestones Museum. Local museums, for me, were starting to wear a little thin. We decided to each pick 20 items that would appear in the museum. Rachel is still bitter at the 18 to 15 defeat.
From Greytown, we moved to Featherston. This was the location of a Military Training Camp for volunteers in WW1. There is a fine memorial on the main road. On the edge of town at the cemetery, there are long lines of military graves, a sad reminder of the hundreds of soldiers at the camp who died of Spanish Flu. There were also the graves of many veterans of other conflicts.
Time to head into the capital, Wellington. Our first night in the city was spent in a small car park. We took a walk past busy bars and restaurants to the waterfront. It seemed strange, no social distancing requirements - life, for now, back to normal.
The following day we visited the Beehive, NZ's legislature. There were only four of us on the guided tour. One of the four was the grandson of the architect who designed the Beehive and Coventry Cathedral. This caused a flurry of excitement amongst a few guides and he was invited to return the following day.
We shifted to the outskirts of the city and stayed at a marina car park.
In the morning we visited the Te Papa Museum. An excellent museum and the Gallipoli Exhibition was particularly good.