Date: 22 Jan 1999 00:00:00 GMT
(recalled after utilizing the inspirational powers of NZ Green)
Auckland New Zealand : Day 12
Saturday morning; Brian and I finished up packing our overnight bags,
kissed Nightmare Hippy Boy goodbye, and with all the appropriate
warnings given, hopped into the Celica Stationwagon and took off.
The Bearded Guy and I have worked out a system after travelling
together for many years. I don't like driving much, so he does most of
the driving and I promise that we will never get lost. We never
have..except that one time and we weren't REALLY lost, I just didn't
realize what the "road" would be like thus turning a twenty-five
minute trip into an eight hour wildlife saga.
We drove down Highway 1 'til it branched into Highway 2. We were
headed for Taupo by way of the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua. We were
expecting to spend about four hours of drive time with several stops
in between, arriving in Taupo at about 6pm; which is exactly what
happened. There's a strange thing about Kiwi's that I've noticed. They
are the most well-travelled people on the planet. Every anglo person
that I've met has travelled out of the country. Many of the Maori have
too. Lots of them vacation in Australia or Fij or Vanadu or some other
"nearby" Pacific island. Tons go to the US or Canada (they cost
roughly the same from here) or the British Isles. One of The Bearded
Guy's workmates, Alice (the Plain Girl from the OTHER fishing story)
has been to Europe several times to go skiing. BUT most of them
haven't been ANYWHERE in New Zealand other than their own home towns
and Auckland. By going to Cape Reinga the first weekend and Taupo the
second weekend, we were way ahead of most Kiwis as far as seeing the
country goes. Our goal is to cover the entire North Island this year
and do the South Island next year.
Anyho, we drove through Paeroa, home of Lemon and Paeroa, the National
Soft Drink. I can't describe the taste...it's sorta like a seven-up
but ...different. Both my menfolk drink it by the liter. You know
you're in Paeroa when you see the giant L&P bottle. It's featured on
one of the NZ 40c stamps. Through Paeroa, we slide along the Bay of
Plenty's white sands stretching forever, passing through tiny town
after tiny town, laid out in the usual NZ beach town patterns. One of
the things that I love about this place is that it's so small town
even in Auckland. Each neighborhood has it's "dairy" (convenience
stores usually run by immigrants or naturalized citizens), veggie
store, and takeaway. All takeaways have fish and chips. I think it's a
law or something. Most neighborhoods have a 2nd hand store and a few
other small shops. Behind and around this central core, are the
residences. All neighborhoods have names. Ours is Beach Haven. We're
the southwestern tip of the NorthShore. Next to us are Birkenhead, and
Now, I've said it before but it bears repeating. New Zealand is
BEAUTIFUL. It's breathtakingly, awesomely, unbelieveably beautiful.
It's painfully GREEN, BLUE and WHITE. Say God used a paintbrush to
create the sky, okay? It's a rough canvas, so he gets a BIG ole glop
of French Ultramarine Blue and starts dragging the brush down the
canvas. He starts painting just over New Zealand. By the time he gets
to North America, he's still got blue paint on his brush, but it's
just not as INTENSE as it was when he started. It's not possible for
things to be as green as they are here. It makes the flowers look
brighter, it makes everything look cleaner. The beaches look whiter,
as do the clouds. It's not a landscape so much as it is an envelope.
This is the only place I've ever seen that brings tears to my eyes.
We stopped for fish and chips in some small town, eating the sizzling
hot battered filets right out of the paper wrapping, in the car. We've
yet to have bad fish and chips. There's no such thing as old fish in
"Did you fart?" I asked wrinkling my nose a bit. Usually he's so proud
of them, he trumpets the arrival of a stinkbomb with great flair not
to mention virtuousity.
"We're near Rotorua," he explained. The whole town smells like a
dogfart. It's the volcanos, you see. Rotorua is full of vents into the
center of the earth. Steam rises out of the ground. The intensity of
the sulfurous aroma increases and declines depending upon the nearness
or distance of a vent. Either that, or my nasal passages were so
overloaded that they suffered a meltdown and the brain just shut down
the whole system in intervals.
We stopped at a hedge maze, paid our $6 (for two) and headed into the
maze. It was our intention to do what we usually do when given the
chance to be alone in a public place. The idea was to 'christen' the
center of the maze. It wasn't one of those mazes where you can stick
to the right/left wall and make it into the center. We had to
backtrack A LOT. Too bad. By the time the center of the maze was
close, so were a couple of families with small children who would have
been terribly shocked to come upon a pair of American decadents en
flagrante delicato. So we gave up that idea.
Just down the road a piece was ANOTHER maze. I love mazes. We stopped
and played in this one for a while. It wasn't a hedge maze, but
rather, a wooden 3d maze that was great fun. There were several other
couples there at the same time and we were all chasing around,
laughing and acting like little kids again. I love mazes.
As we approached Taupo, the traffic got thicker and thicker. It was
moving at a snail's pace by the time we hit the main drag. Bicycles
were everywhere. People crowded the streets and sidewalks.
"Damn, they must have GOOD fish and chips here!" I said.
"Wonder what's going on?" muttered The Bearded Guy.
We soon found out. There was an annual Bike Race that weekend. Five
thousand cyclists, their teams, and supporters were in town for the
weekend. I was glad I'd made reservations in advance.
We found our motel, check in and went up to our room, just above the
desk. It was great. There was a huge picture window that looked out
onto the lake, and a pair of French doors that opened out onto a small
balcony on one side. The other side held the kitchenette, complete
with milk in the fridge. The bed had dual control electric blankets.
Once again, "The Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand" had proved its
We drove around the town a bit, unfortunately timing the drive just
when the awards ceremonies were just ending so we waited in the car as
thousands of people streamed into the street, ignoring the crosswalks
as much as they used them. You go to jail here if you hit a
pedestrian, so we waited.
The town was too crowded to eat in town, so we took a chance and at
dinner at the restaurant at the motel. To our surprise, it was
delicious. Brian had the Guiness Pie, a beef pie with a puff pastry
topping and Guiness in the gravy. I had the lamb roast with veggies
and kumara. We both had caesar salads and shared dessert; chocolate
fondue with fruit, angelfood cake squares and marshmallows.
We made reservations earlier with a man named Gus, of the boat "Te
Arani" (the orange) to meet hiim at 5 am to go trout fishing the next
morning, so we didn't stay up late. My mental alarm clock went off at
4:15 and I got up to make a cup of coffee in the kitchen before my
shower. The Bearded Guy woke up when the wakeup call came through at
4:30. I was just stepping out of the shower, so we traded places and I
had another cup of joe and dried my toes.
It's chilly here at 5 am, even in summer, particularly on a large
lake. Taupo is 19 miles wide, 25 miles long and fukkin' deep. I know
MY dick didn't touch bottom.
The sun wasn't up yet, but Gus was, we were, and hopefully so were the
fish. We introduced ourselves and got on board. Te Arani is not huge,
only 17' and holds 8 people comfortably. It was just the three of us
that morning. We weren't sure if there would be any food on board and
didn't want to presume, so we brought muffins, fruit and
chocolate-covered raisins. We settled in and Gus steered the boat
gently out of the marina. He picked up a little speed and we headed
for our first spot of the day. We stopped and Gus explained his tackle
and his system. We were to cast into the water, let out about a
hundred foot of line and reel it back in slowly. Worked like a charm.
Brian had a 6 pounder on his line by 5:30. I was thrilled. It was
lovely, all pinks, purples, golds and greens. Rainbow trout are just
lovely to look at. They're even better to eat, so Gus brained it with
a small stick, gutted it, and threw it into the cooler.
I caught one, a nice 5 pounder that fought well but lost in the end.
Another thunk and it joined the first in the cooler. The sun was
coming 'round, doing that thing where in makes the water look like
silvered peaches. Gus pulled out the kettle and heated some water for
coffee. We took a break and had breakfast in the middle of the lake.
Something about having a cup of coffee at dawn in the middle of a lake
is sacred. We were all very quiet, not shy, but reverent. We sat
watching the birds fly over the water, sipping the steaming liquid and
just enjoying being where we were.
Gus broke the reverie by firing up the engine. He wanted to take us to
another spot that he thought might be more productive. After all, we
only had three hours to catch fish in, and Kiwi's are so spoiled that
not only do they EXPECT to catch a fish every time they go fishing;
they expect to catch A LOT of fish. We reeled in our lines and Gus
took off, futher into the middle of the lake, towards an island that
sits in the center of the main part of the lake.
Soon Brian caught another one. These trout are wily customers. You
have to pay attention to the line. If they nibble, you hook 'em.
You're working with a fly, so there's no bait for them to swallow. You
have to FISH. It's great fun, even when you lose. I'd already caugh a
big fish, I was in a good mood no matter what happened.
Then I got a bite. I jerked the hook and it jerked back, hard. I got
that thrill that every fisherman gets when they know they've got a
player on the other end. Oh it was a good fish! It fought me for ten
minutes. I torn between wanting to make sure that I got it into the
boat and wanting to play that fish for hours. The boat won. I reeled
it in and Gus was waiting with the net. We pulled it out of the water.
It was gorgeous, and Gus declared it was at least 6.5 pounds. I'd
never seen a trout that big before, much less CAUGHT one. I was very
happy. Brian was very happy. Gus was very happy. The fish was in the
cooler...feeling nothing in particular.
A short time after, Gus fired up the engines once more and we sped
back to the marina. Our three hours was up. Gus bagged our four
monsters and we thanked him and headed back to the motel.
When we got back to Auckland, gave two of the trout to our next door
neighbors. I baked my monster, stuffed with spinach and covered with
toasted almonds and butter. I poached the second one in a court
boullion and used it for salads, omlettes and to seduce a little
orange cat that now lives here and is named, Maui.
A bad day's fishing beats a good day at work...but a good day's
fishing is heaven on earth.