jen yu: new zealand 2003 - day 8

new zealand 2003 - day 8

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desert road, otorohanga kiwi house, auckland
august 1, 2003
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In the morning we polished off the dregs of our perishable food items as we would no longer have access to a kitchen. The morning was chilly, but the bustle of the fishermen (everyone else except for us) preparing for their activities made the whole place feel alive and energized. Nougat took some time warming up, and then we set out for Otorohanga via the scenic drive around Tongariro National Park starting with Desert Road. It was sunny (forecast was for rain) and the drive through the Rangipo Desert afforded wonderful views of the Volcanic Plateau from afar. All of the little ski towns south of Tongariro NP were very quaint and attractive. We stopped in Okahune for some brekkie (NZ for breakfast) at a wonderful cafe and walked through the town. Next stop - back to Otorohanga for lunch and a peek at the Kiwi House.

Jeremy was really getting the hang of driving in New Zealand (I should say, driving Nougat in New Zealand). We debated going back to the Burger Bar for their awesome fish and chips, but decided to try another place just out of town. We should have gone to the Burger Bar. I think I was becoming addicted to fish and chips! On our way out of the restaurant, Jeremy grabbed a New Zealand immigration pamphlet - just for kicks (right). The Kiwi House caught our interest because they keep an enclosure for the kiwi birds which simulates night during our daylight hours so that folks like us can watch the kiwis in action. They are much bigger than I had imagined, more active than I had expected and goofy in a cute way. The rest of the exhibits were well done and showcased native birds, reptiles and plants. What an amazing ecology!

Back on the road, it was now overcast and drizzling. For once, the forecasters were correct, but it didn't matter since it was a driving day. The rain dissipated outside of Auckland and the traffic began to pile up - afterall, it was Friday at 5 pm. Thankfully, Auckland traffic is nothing like Los Angeles traffic and Nougat putted us all the way to our hotel which was in a crappy part of town. Lonely Planet came through for us because it had said this hotel was very close to the fun part of downtown, and it was (once Jeremy found the shortcut).

We strolled up Queen Street, amazed to find ourselves in an international urban setting. The city was hoppin! We went to Tanuki to try Auckland sushi. Based on our requests, the chef asked if we were from California. Sushi in New Zealand is more like traditional Japanese sushi. They don't do the giant rolls like spider roll (soft-shell crab), rainbow roll, dragon roll... When Auckland hosted the America's Cup earlier in the year, our chef had been exposed to many Californian's sushi tastes. The shrimp was sweet, the oysters fresh as spring water, and the king fish was wonderful. However, we are still deeply devoted to our chef, Fumito in South Pasadena (even if he doesn't surf and ski like Yuji does in Auckland).

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