Monday, March 20, 2017

5 Two favorites

5 Two favorites

March 14 (Tuesday) Today we started out riding motorcycle. 
The folks in Aukland were extremely nice.  This was my chariot.
Greg, the rental guy, gave us instructions and a route.
While we’d been going to rent for a day, we shortened it up … we didn’t really feel like wandering around Aukland in stop-and-go traffic, so the ride was shorter … but exhilarating.  I was on a brand-new 2017 Dyna with forward controls and no windshield.  I have to say that’s one awesome bike, with plenty of power. 
This bike fits me pretty well, even without a windshield.
It was a great ride and the roundabouts were mostly okay.  I'm glad I got to ride in New Zealand and would love to do a real bike tour there as the area is beautiful once you're out of the city with some great roads to follow. 
By afternoon we were on our way to Rotorua, to the southeast of Aukland.  It was time to get out of the city and spend a bit of time in a much smaller town.

We drove through beautiful hills with green pastures.  At every turn we saw sheep, cattle and horses, with the occasional alpaca.  We saw some that had been sheared, and some that had not been. It’s quite a difference.  They’re actually pretty skinny creatures.

We stopped partway in a little town called Hamilton, off the Motorway 1.  We wanted a cup of coffee and a little leg-stretching.  Who knew there’d be a parade with a group of bagpipers playing in our honor.  Actually it was celebrating a graduation with lots of young people in their gowns and caps.  It was fun and noisy and put us in an even better mood for the rest of our drive.
These young people were having a great time and were full-of-life.

Our parade ...
We continued on our way and had to stop in another little town when we saw these ... they actually have little shops inside selling wool and other local items. 

And how could I resist taking a photo of what is probably a representation of a sheep dog.
We found sheep, but every time we did no one would pose.  It was always butts to the tourists.  Maybe they knew that whenever we had a meal Stef was eating one of their relatives.
We stopped and got over by the lake.  Who knew what we’d find … I was so excited … black swans.  My day was made, my heart was thrilled to see them.  My mind wondered why I had to come to New Zealand to get my best ever swan photo.

My favorite swan shot.

I couldn't help taking shot after shot after shot. 
I could watch swans for hours.

And they seem to like posing.

And I just liked this one because of the shadows in the water.
It was a great drive, and we got to our hotel with limited use of the GPS.              

We did our usual walking tour around town and found thermals, Government Gardens, Rotorua museum, Rotorua Lake, and more black swans.
But first, we checked on renting bicycles for a day.  We chose our rental company because one of them had a dog, Jet.  And the price was a little lower, too, and that helped.
There were some nice buildings, including a clock tower, on our walkabout.
The entrance to Government Gardens.
The fence at the entrance is made of totems and this wonderfully-decorated fence.
While there are some beautiful plants, most everything is dying and winding down as they come into their fall season.  The area was gifted by the original Maori owners of the land in 1880.  Once a swampy, scrub-covered wilderness with steaming pools and mud, it has been carefully laid out and the beauty was quite evident.
Rotorua Museum that is currently closed for earthquake assessment and strengthening work.  Too bad.  The building from the outside is lovely and I'd sure like to have gotten inside.
The stained glass on the building was beautiful, set in a wonderfully random non-pattern.
There are still lots of thermal pools on the grounds.
This sculpture was unveiled in 2001.  The artist's inspiration was the people in the area.  Crafted in bronze it reminded me more of the Darth Vader.  It was still very cool. 
From the gardens we walked to the boardwalk around some of the thermal pools.

There's a lot of bubbling water around here.  Stef tested one of them.  Yep, they were hot.
It's a great place to walk, as long as you stay on the path.

Love to see the thermal pools.
There are some totems around in lots of these areas.

A rainbow helped end our walk on a beautiful note.
This looks to be a fun place to be for a few days, in a much smaller town having about 70,000 people.

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