Finally the road meets water again and we followed the coast down to Wellington
. Ian, exhausted from doing all the driving, sought refuge in the hotel, but I really wanted to visit Te Papa - the Museum of New Zealand. It was a great museum, especially given it was free, but an hour and half wasn't enough to do it justice. Highlights included a house you can stand in and they simulate and earthquake, an outside 'bush in the city', a big Maori meeting place, used by the local tribes, and a ride where, for a few dollars you can 'blast forward' or 'blast back'. I paid $9 to be blasted back to the creation of the earth!
Force to leave the museum by virtue of the fact it was closing, on the way back to the hotel I spotted a balti restaurant. As we haven't had a good curry in a couple of weeks we headed out there for dinner. The sign above the bar said "From Baltistan, Via Birmingham to Wellington" Yay - Birmingham is on the culinary map! It was a pretty good curry but not as good as a Brummie one.
After a dinner we had a couple of pints of the black stuff in an Irish bar with live music - so all in all, not a very Kiwi experience in their capital. However on the way home a bunch of local lads stopped us and asked us if we could help with their a challenge - they needed 5 people to do the Haka with them. Obviously we couldn't oblige but some locals did so we got a free performance!
Yesterday was a long drive from Taupo to Wellington. The road follows lake Taupo before going through a national park where we got some amazing views of the snow covered mountains. We then traveled down what is known as the 'desert road' by virtue of how barren it is. However it is not a desert (too wet), the inhospitable conditions are caused by previous lava flows, so nothing much grows. Once off the desert road we were mainly traveling through farm land, although some of our rest stops gave us stunning views. We did pass through the odd few towns, including own that is supposed to be the Gum Boot capital (presume wellies) of New Zealand, who named their park 'gum boot park' and their restaurant 'gum boot cafe'. We stopped for lunch in a town called 'Bulls' where the residents and embarked the name; the police station had the sign 'const-a-bull' above the door (see photos!).