Rats and NZ Adventures

Firstly, I want to thank everyone on LJ, DW, G+, and FB who expressed their condolences with the passing of Rover the rat last week. It touched me deeply that so many of you, nearly all who have spent no time in his company, saw fit to respond to my little eulogy. I make apologies for not responding to all the wishes in person, as I have been away in New Zealand with limited Internet access - and the screen to my laptop has been damaged - and have only just returned tonight, to discover that the old, blind, and cancer-ridden Tramper rat is surprisingly still with us and have managed to eat all the food that had been left out for him.

The NZ trip was inspired by a desire by funontheupfield who had never visited. So with caseopaya, the three of us ventured again to the land of the long white cloud, catching up on the first night in Wellington with Joe G., for another evening of fine dinner (this time at the Oriental Kingdom), fine conversation and finally fine drinks at the Matterhorn. We stayed at the Waterloo, a dilapidated deco hotel with a some history, and the following day visited the slightly brilliant Wellington City Museum before catching the ferry to the South Island.

We arrived late to Havelock, the self-proclaimed "green-shell mussel capital of the world" nestled in the extraordinary landscape that is the Marlborough Sounds. Our original choice of accommodation, Blue Moon Lodge, seems to have a change of owners and orientation from our last visit. It was crowded and stank. We bailed on that and went two doors down the road to the Havelock Hotel which provided a spacious, private, clean, and even cheaper alternative. Plus they had great food; naturally enough, one couldn't go past the mussels. Afterwards we braved the weather and went for a walk on the local tracks to check out the glowworms - it was "a little wet".

The following day was breakfast at Apples for Charlotte, and then an epic trip to Golden Bay, which included at stop-over at Nelson and the impressive Ngarua Caves. At Golden Bay we stayed in the pleasant surroundings of The Inlet Hostel which proved to be a good base of operations, allowing us to go for a visit to Farewell Spit, then a good two hour horse-ride courtesy of Cape Farewell Horse Treks. It has been about twenty years since any of had ridden, so it was great to get back in the saddle so to speak. Then, just prior to a late lunch, there was a regional blackout. funontheupfield and I though this was a good opportunity for a couple of hours tramping; the trial would have been challenging in the dry, but courtesy of the weather it was a bit of a clamber through mud, great fun nonetheless.

After that it was the return trip to Wellington the following day with an early start in the morning and a return to the Waterloo Hotel. The final day included breakfast at the old Wellesley Hotel a trip on the cable car to the Botanical Gardens, lunch at the Rogue & Vagabond, and a short visit to the Old St. Paul church. Finally, I must make mention of the two movies I watched during the flight; Arrival and Rogue One. Quite different SF flicks, but enjoyed both quite a lot. The former really did well in the last twenty minutes or so, and the latter was probably one of the more gritty of the Star Wars series.

So that was a six-day holiday; it was a pretty busy affair with a lot packed in. My previous three trips to NZ have been largely work based so it was good to get around a bit more and finally see a part of the country that I hitherto had not been to. One nice discovery during the trip was learning that my application to attend the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt has been approved. That will be the next trip.

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