we've spent the past week or two traveling south of auckland on the north island. somewhere in there i managed to catch a cold, which i'm now finally getting over, though the mucus lingers. food seems to be the main event no matter where we go. we found an excellent noodle house and a chocolatier in rototura (aka rottenrua aka rotovegas, the geothermal hotspot of new zealand. it's basically a city built in a volcano). we had an excellent hangi meal there as well. from rotorua we headed out to the east coast guided by a Koro, a native of the east side who has an extraordinary amount of knowledge about the local maori history and legends, from the origins of the ngati porou tribe to the initial conflicts between maoris and captain cook. out on the east cape we did a farmstay where we had a boil-up with pork shoulder, lamb neck, kumara (new zealand sweet potato), and puha (a kind of thistle). this evening was spent at a bennigan's-type place with a surfing theme in napier. i bit of a letdown after the previous few feasts. we later trotted down the street to an irish pub to watch the rugby league final between the melbourne storm and the brisbane broncos. a man bled from his earlobe.
napier is a town that was flattened by an earthquake in the 1930s and then rebuilt with an art deco theme. it's a pretty cool little city of about 60,000 people and acts as one of the main port towns for new zealand, importing goods from all over the world and exporting lots of fruit and wine from the hawkes bay area (where napier is located) as well as other goods. brendan and i have decided to spend a couple extra days here and then it's off to taupo.