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Monday, February 20, 2012

A wonderful NZ birthday!

I've spent the last several days traveling around the northern peninsula of New Zealand with some friends from the US. We took a beautiful road trip up the coast, stopping at a couple of beaches along the way to play in the sand.

The route was dotted with lots of cute little towns, all with their own appeal. We saw the smallest library I've ever seen, with a mailbox for book returns. We perused a pub with its walls covered in visitors' personal effects: student ID cards, business cards, wallet photos of smiling families, & of course money from all over the world. We stopped at a honey farm, where we saw busy bees making honey. & finally we saw a very cool public bathroom designed by the architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. In one town, we stopped at a farmer's market & got food for a picnic lunch at a winery. The view from the hill at the vineyard was gorgeous. A perfect birthday lunch.

In the evening we boarded the ferry that would take us across the bay to the tiny town of Russell. We checked in at a quaint little hotel on the waterfront. The water is just 50 feet from our room & laps quietly at the shore. There are a handful of cafes along the water, long with a town hall and a small grocery store. The main street in town, running behind the row of seaside cafes, has a museum, a library, a bookstore, a bakery, a post office & a thrift store. Cute!

Yesterday we took a boat tour out into the Bay of Islands that promised a swim with wild dolphins - & delivered! The dolphins were obviously used to the boats full of people & as soon as they heard us approaching, they started swimming toward us, knowing that soon we'd all be in the water. The dolphins swam all around us, in front of us, under us, behind us. It was absolutely thrilling to see a huge dolphin come up for air right next to me! Before we knew it, the dolphins had moved on to another boat full of people, & it was time for us to get out of the water.

Today, I'm catching up on emails & doing a little bit of work. The internet connection is not great here in Russell, so I'll have to wait until I get back to Hamilton to upload photos.

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