Akaroa to Dunedin, Monday 25th Feb, 2018

Monday 25th Feb 2018

A sumptuous breakfast and we depart Akaroa. The journey out seems so much nicer than the journey in, exhausted as we then were. The road over the hills of the Banks peninsula is a pleasure to drive.

Banks Peninsula, above Akaroa

Akaroa to Dunedin 400km

Sheep graze, lovely views abound and we are sad to leave such a picturesque part of NZ, but leave we must as today’s drive, all of another 400-ish km, takes us south down Highway 1 to Dunedin, the southerly-most point of our odyssey. We seem wedded to Highway 1. There are others, I promise, but this one is the back-bone of both North and South Islands and runs right down the eastern coast. There is little to report of this leg of our journey other than that David amuses himself burning fuel at every overtaking opportunity. Why? Because he can, and because gets bored by the back of the vehicle in front. The national speed limit is 100 km/hr. Tell that to David!

We pause at Oamaru, a once prosperous little port town whose public buildings and water-side warehouses are stoutly constructed from the local white-stone, imposing and well-preserved in the mainly neo-classical Victorian style. There must have been a confidence in the future about when these buildings were erected for their fronts have monumental insets proclaiming that they are “McMurphy’s Wharf” or “Wool and Meat Export”, “City Library” and so on. Clearly no one ever expected a change of ownership or purpose. Its broad main street is predicated on the turning circle of bullock carts and it was a thriving export centre of meat and wool.

Oamaru must have over-reached itself, for by the end of the nineteenth century it was teetering on bankruptcy. Fortunately there was little incentive to swing the wrecking ball with the same enthusiasm that wiped out much else of the built heritage of New Zealand and Oamaru is now a cute collection of small shops, bars and restaurants with a mildly bohemian air. It reminds me of London’s Portobello Road in the 1960s.

Sue scanning for penguins

Down there, there is one. See him?

The reason for our stop is that Oamaru is the home to colonies of Blue-eyed Penguins and their Yellow-eyed cousins. Apparently they can be seen in the evenings waddling down the high street. Sadly not today and not at lunch time. We camp on the headland overlooking their supposed haunts, field glasses and cameras at the ready, but they are clearly all at sea, doing what penguins do – except for one, who stands, quite still, on the shore with his back to us. We are, however, rewarded by spotting numerous sea-lions who, waking from their day-long slumbers on the rocks, shamble clumsily into the surf to then show off their swimming and cavorting skills. We must journey on.

Dunedin, our stop-over for the night, is described as a bustling university city. We check in to our hotel, stable the car and before we can venture out, the heavens open and all the rainfall of the last, fine two weeks descends upon Dunedin. Confined thus to barracks, we have another Sue-inspired room-picnic (enhanced by a very decent bottle of SB), and recline.

In Akaroa, Saturday 24th Feb, 2018

Saturday 24th Feb, 2018

The Lonely Planet guide tells us that “Banks peninsula was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions about eight million years ago, harbours and bays radiate out from the peninsula’s cone centre giving it an unusual cog-wheel shape”. Akaroa is a pretty little town nestling in a large bay at the end of the road. It was at first settled by the French, but their land was sold to the New Zealand Company in 1849. A year later a large group of British settlers arrived and took over. The town’s people strive to recreate the feel of a French provincial village, down to the names of its streets and houses. Generally it is a sleepy place, but its peace is periodically shattered by hordes of, mainly Japanese and Americans, descending from gargantuan cruise ships which anchor in the bay.

Home in Akaroa

Our billet is a “Boutique Victorian house”, owned by a British ex-pat. It made up for our tedious journey by being wonderfully appointed (over-stuffed?) with Victorian china, glass and furniture and offering delightful hospitality. Our hostess is a pretty Japanese girl called Etsu who is studying English in an Australian University. How international is that? She bows, greets us with a beatific smile and no service, large or small is too much for her. Our breakfast table groans with cut glass, silver napkin rings, bone china, butter curls and, of course, foodstuffs.

English twee


Thus fortified we set off to explore Akaroa. Its huge bay is a refuge for marine wild life. The kiwis are very eco-conscious these days and are proud to show visitors their maritime fauna. It is another sunny shirt-sleeve and shorts day, so we join a catamaran boat safari and spend a fascinating couple of hours spotting Hector’s Dolphins, cavorting alongside the boat for our amusement.

Hector’s Dolphin on the run

David tries to photograph them, but they appear and disappear randomly, seemingly to thwart him. We see fur seals lounging on the rocks at the base of high volcanic cliffs, miniature penguins (which are unique to the Banks peninsula) afloat, as well as rafts of spotted and pied Shags and Terns.

Mini penguin

Our craft ventures as far as the bay entrance where the waves are three or four metres high and we hold on for dear life. I have read of the experiences of round-the-world yachtsmen in the wild seas of the Southern Oceans and the couple of our wavey experiences this holiday leave me lost in admiration for their fortitude. Back on dry land we deserve a rest so we lounge in the sun on Akaroa’s pretty little beach and enjoy just being still. Every village we drive through boasts at least one fish and chip shop. Is this NZ’s national dish? We enjoy a blue cod and chip supper on the quay-side in the evening sun. Early to bed.

Blenheim to Akaroa, Friday 23rd Feb, 2018

Friday 23rd Feb, 2018

Blenheim to Akaroa, the long way round

From Heaven to a fair approximation of Hell. We must now journey from Blenheim to our next destination (pre-booked and paid) at Akaroa at the tip of the Banks Peninsula south of Christchurch.

Along the Wairau river

It is a fine sunny day. The temperature is 25 °C and the car is carefully loaded, fuelled to the brim and raring to go. What should have been a straight line south down the Highway 1 east coast road, is now a huge detour inland , through the mountainous Buller Region, and the Northern Canterbury plain to Christchurch.

Southern Alps en-route to Akaroa

This route takes us around the obstacle of the New Zealand Southern Alps. The early journey follows the Wairau river past numerous vineyards but soon becomes mountainous, serpentine, busy with other diverted traffic and peppered with road repair sites needing stops for “lollipop men” with “stop /go” signs, and slow crawls on stone-chip, newly surfaced sections of road. I will not dwell on this horror save to announce that we arrived, exhausted at our destination, 8 hours and 540 km later. It shouldn’t have been like this but there was no alternative. It is a pity that we were so tired, as the last 80 km from Christchurch to Akaroa is a delightful section of road which at first skirts, then mounts the spectacular volcanic cone which comprises the Banks Peninsular. We have a “carpet picnic” on the house balcony, devouring the sandwich lunch we should have had en-route but didn’t, and retire to a long, near-death sleep.

We cross to South Island. Bad news and good news, Thursday Feb 22nd, 2018

Thursday 22nd Feb 2018

Early rise and breakfast, we load our bags and the car does its last journey to the Inter-Island Ferry terminal. A quick check that we have got all our belongings out before I drop the keys through a hire-car returns slot and we board the ferry for Picton, South Island. It is a fine sunny day for the three hour ride across the Cook Strait, which links the Tasman Sea on the west to the Pacific Ocean on the east. The wrath of two great oceans meets here and as we leave Wellington Harbour a voice announces that the sea today is “less than friendly” and that we should “take care if moving about the ship”. We have made numerous ferry journeys to and from Spain across the Bay of Biscay, which is renowned for being a bit rough as the deep Atlantic Ocean waves reach the continental shelf. We have always been rewarded with “mill-pond” experiences. This one is different. Our little ship pitches and tosses, rolls and yaws for an hour or so rendering many passengers bilious and most of them quite unable to move around the ship at all, let alone with care. It is with some relief that we enter Picton Sound, the long channel leading to the harbour and the sea flattens out a bit. The rolling hills of South Island are most attractive and this has to be one of the most handsome ferry crossings in the world.

South Island Beckons

We disembark at about mid-day, announce ourselves the Messrs. Europcar and are re-equipped with a shiny white Toyota Corolla. I had never heard of one either, but it turns out to be roomy, powerful, fitted out with aircraft standard displays, auto-everythings and a joy to drive, which is a good job because it is going to have to do quite a lot of it. The bad news is that we were advised that in consequence of recent rainstorms, the east coast road to Kaikoura, our next planned stay-over and a mere 160 km drive, is blocked by land-slips. If we want to go there, we have to make a 450 km detour inland and around the Southern Alps and back to the east coast. It is too much for an afternoon drive so we abandon Kaikoura and its promise of sea-life watching, and spend a day in Blenheim.

Our South Island plan

Now the good news. Wine aficionados among you will know that Blenheim is in Marlborough, the largest wine growing region in NZ. Its wineries are set along the Wairau river valley and grow cool-climate grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Winery names such as Brancott Estate, Saint Clair Estate, Clos Henri, Wither Hills, Auntsfield Estate, and Cloudy Bay Estate spring to mind.

With a free afternoon to fill, we acquire a map of the producers who do “cellar door” tastings and betake ourselves to the Cloudy Bay Estate to sample several of its best wines accompanied by a plate of the freshest oysters one could wish for.

Afternoon Delight at Cloudy Bay Winery

David & Sauvignon Blanc in perfect harmony

Sue and Oysters get acquainted

We woz here

We drive carefully back to our hotel, snooze awhile, do a little picnic shopping, and dine on local, enormous green-lipped mussels, washed down with a bottle of fine Sauvigon Blanc. This place is heaven.

Napier to Wellington, Wednesday 21st Feb, 2018

Wednesday 21st Feb, 2018

We are sorry to say goodbye to Napier. Here we could have rested longer, enjoyed the easy lifestyle and, no doubt, tasted more wines, but we have a schedule to keep to and since we have booked and paid for our accommodation en-route, then en-route we must be. We arise early, load our chattels into our trusty car and head south. The journey is easy, but long and David tries to maintain a steady 100 kph (the national speed limit), overtaking any vehicle that is going more slowly. This necessitates some careful reading of the road markings, some adroit use of passing places and a few bursts of speed that can only be described as exuberant. Six hours of travel finds us entering Wellington in light drizzle where we find or hotel, recce the journey to the ferry terminal unload our various boxes and bags (for the car has become a kind of home from home) and repack it in an orderly manner in its two suitcases. Here we must drop off our hire car, take the ferry to South Island as foot-passengers and pick up a new hire car in Picton. Sounds complicated but it makes good economic sense.

Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. I guess it being situated more or less half way between the two islands’ extremities that is good politics. I mentioned that the developers of Auckland had not been kind to its inhabitants. The developers of Wellington have been, in comparison, positively cruel. Modernist commercial tower blocks labelled at their tops “Deloites” and “Bank of New Zealand” in bright lights (such vanity) blight this coastal port town and dwarf the remaining Victorian dwellings and its quite grand municipal palaces. Such a shame.

We venture out in search of sustenance and after an exhausting trek – for Wellington is hilly, rather like San Franisco – we end up in the dock-side sheds, now revamped as chi-chi restaurants with loud music and brash waitresses. With our Mission Estate bon-viveur evening fresh in mind we endure a dreary and dispiriting repast. We shall not be sorry to leave Wellington.

Around Napier, Tuesday 20th Feb, 2018

Tuesday Feb 20, 2018

Napier sits on the Pacific coast of NZ in Hawke’s bay. Captain James Cook landed here in 1769 and named it in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke who decisively defeated the French in 1759 at the Battle of Quiberon Bay. It is now famous in the UK for its fine wines. “Napier”, says the Lonely Planet Guide, “is a charismatic, sunny, composed city with the air of an affluent sea-side resort. It was largely rebuilt after the devastating 1931 earth-quake in the popular architectural styles of the time and has a unique concentration of Art Deco buildings”. It reminds me of old UK cinemas, the Hoover building on the Great West Road, Boots’ grand factory in Nottingham and numerous block of flats. None of those are as good as this.

Art Deco in Napier

Napier is very conscious of its charm and exploits its tourist potential mercilessly. Crowds of cruise-ship visitors wearing “Whisperer” headsets are taken around its streets by guides carrying small penants. I am sure the former are being expertly tutored by the latter, but they all look so bored. Those not in crocodiles sit glued to their i-pads or mobile phones (for cruise ships, as we know, provide limited and very expensive internet connections and shore-time is valuable for catching up.)

Youngsters on-line


There is a good supply of elegantly restored cars of the 1930s vintage that serve as dial-a-ride taxi experiences. The place has the air of a film set and we are the “extras”. We coat-tail a couple of English speaking groups for a while, then slink off to savour the experience for ourselves. It really is quite charming. Napier has the café culture characteristic of warm climate cities and its streets are generously laid out with pedestrian-only open spaces and handsome public art – and nice coffee shops. It is a good place to be and we like it.

Napier cafe culture

We drive south along Hawke’s bay towards Cape Kidnappers named in honour of the place where the Maoris tried unsuccessfully to kidnap Captain Cook’s Tahitian servant boy. Now it is a colony of nesting gannets – equally voracious but only accessible by tractor or 4×4 vehicle, neither of which we possess. I guess it is also accessible by air if you happen to be a gannet.

We withdraw and drift along the lovely continuous village of low-rise houses which comprise the village of Clearview. What a pleasant surprise! There is a winery, The Clearview Estate, just by. We roll up to their cellar door and spend a delightful half hour tasting some of their delicious wines, including a Gewurtztraminer, two sumptuous dessert wines, a noble late harvest and a red which we buy. Sadly, their output is not to be found in the UK. Now there’s a thought for an import business, David.

Mission Estate

Sue is on a mission to visit Mission Winery in Napier. We book for dinner, get togged up (for we are living in shorts and T-shirt order) and drive to their grand estate. Mission Estate is the oldest (1851) winery in NZ and is named for a catholic seminary who still own the property. The French founder monks imported their wine-making prowess so that Hawke’s bay wineries generally produce excellent Bordeaux style reds, Syrahs and Chardonnays. The famous fruity Savignon Blancs are mainly found around the Marlborough district in South Island. It starts to rain and a complete 180° double rainbow greets us as we arrive. Is this a portent?

We dine under a pergola of grape vines (of course), sip enormous Gerwurtz and Chardonnay aperitifs and share a bottle of Mission Gimblett Gravels Syrah with our delicious entrees. I can’t think of a nicer way to share a table, a glass or two, and an evening with my lovely Sue.

We drive carefully back to our hotel and fall sound asleep. Tomorrow we journey another 320 km to Wellington and our ferry to South Island.

Waihi Beach to Napier, Monday 19th Feb, 2018

Monday 19th Feb, 2018

Rather reluctantly we set forth for the next leg of our NZ odyssey. Reluctantly because we are completely charmed by Waihi Beach resort – so neat, orderly, clean, friendly, warm, happy and, I guess, quite wealthy. Our hosts at the Waihi Beach Lodge, Greg and Ali were the most thoughtful and generous of people. The kind who give you a warm feeling on meeting. Their small accommodation unit is home from home – charmingly decorated, comfortable, perfectly kitted out with its own compete kitchen including a fridge stuffed with wines and beers. Every possible requirement for the travelling visitor has been thought of and provided. Ali even provides home-baked shortbreads for afternoon tea and a farewell carton of home-made muffins for our onward journey. Waihi Beach Lodge even features in the Lonely Planet guide to NZ, and Greg acts as the L.P. correspondent for each new edition on what’s to know around Waihi. What a discovery!

We have to cover 360km to Napier, our next stop, and we take in Rotorua and Lake Taupo en-route. It is warm again (29°C) and dry, though somewhat overcast. The coastal strip is very fertile and is covered in Kiwi fruit farms and avocado plantations. The scenery is a little forbidding as the groves are surrounded by protective hedges of closely planted Cypress which grow to 6m or 7m in height. Through the occasional gap we spy neatly tended rows of Kiwi vines trained on pergolas and similarly regimented avocado trees – about the same size as apple trees. Ali, our hostess, was bewailing the high cost of the, as yet un-travelled, produce. There is no farm-gate shopping as the farmers’ eyes are on the export markets.
As we enter open country we are surprised by the terrain. The whole area is lumpy. Small hills are dotted around randomly, a bit like the UK’s southern peak district, though smaller and more frequent. Are they volcanic? There are no craters. Are they miniature Alps, for this area site astride and active plate boundary? We have no answer and would welcome enlightenment.

By coffee time we have reached our first pit-stop, Wai-o-Tapu just south of Rotorua. There is a fault line across the island running NE to SW as the Pacific tectonic plate is being subducted under the Indian / Australian plate. The result – oodles of geothermal activity which provides about 5% of NZ’s electricity, lots of free warm water to breed shrimps (a curious but doubtless lucrative inland industry) and the occasional catastrophic earthquake (viz Christchurch in 2010 and again in 2011). Anyway this place is a must for hydrogen sulphide sniffers and connoisseurs of boiling mud pools.

We visit Wai-o-Tapu (Maori for sacred waters) and join throngs of Russians, Japanese, French, German and American groups coached in from their cruise ships. Gosh they are noisy. But we pay our dues and wander along the carefully laid paths and board-walks to view prosaically named “Devils lakes” (boiling mud), “Satan’s canyons” (sulphurous steam wells), “Champagne pool” (effervescent) and so on. All very well curated, obsessively safe with a catch-penny shop at its exit. Good fun, though we much preferred Lake Borgoria in the Kenyan rift valley, a similarly exuberant geo-thermal outlet, where for a few shillings a chap wearing flip-flop shoes dips a plastic carrier bag of eggs tied onto a long stick into the super-heated pool and offers you a hard-boiled couple for lunch.

Onward towards Lake Taupo, our lunch stop. This is the most amazing lake, 25 km across. It is the flooded caldera of a volcano that began erupting about 300,000 years ago and blew out 750 cubic km of ash and pumice, making Krakatoa (8 cubic km) look like a pimple. I am glad we weren’t around for either. Lake Taupo is a wonderful playground for sailors, water skiers, para-ascenders, fishermen, lake golfers (you heard it from me first) and more, and a substantial town dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure and little else sits on its northern shore.

NZ’s longest river, the Waikato, flows north out of Lake Taupo and on its way slams into a narrow chasm making a dramatic 10m drop into a surging pool. These are the Huka falls. You just have to see this white-water canoeist’s nightmare. I don’t believe anyone has survived falling into this maelstrom. The river flows on more sedately from here emerging into the Tasman Sea just south of Auckland.

From Taupo is a dramatic 150km drive through the Ahimanawa range of mountains. Through these steeply forested slopes the road follows a series of gorges with narry a building, a shop, a turning off, a petrol station nor any civilisation for its entire length. Lord help anyone who hasn’t topped up his tank and checked his tyres before this journey. Needless to say David sees this a golden opportunity for a speed-trial and overtakes every vehicle possible. We arrive in Napier safely and check into our hotel.

Gold in Waihi, Sunday 18th Feb, 2018

Sunday 18th Feb, 2018

After a truly sumptuous breakfast we went prospecting for gold. The town of Waihi sprang up around its Martha mine – a huge open-cast hole in the ground (now 250m deep) which was begun in 1878. It was NZ’s richest mine and has produced prodigious quantities of gold and silver until it closed in 1952. I guess the price of precious metals must have gone up, because it was re-started in 1988. A side collapsed a couple of years ago so its operations are paused pending stability.

A few km away is the Karangahake gorge, a deep river gorge and also a gold-mine, started in 1875 and productive during the early 1900s. It was the site of the biggest quartz ore processing plant in Australasia and in its hey-day a town of 2,000 miners and their families lived there. It is now all but deserted, its workings abandoned and is a fascinating museum of industrial archaeology. We walked a few km through the gorge along its fast flowing river; across suspension bridges; through pitch-dark dripping tunnels (we had our torches) tripping over railway lines to emerge high in the gorge. It is sobering to think of the awful working conditions of the miners.

A strange stuff is gold. Almost completely useless apart from being chemically inert, malleable into fine jewelry and a good conductor of electricity. For some strange reason is has been promoted to the very definition of wealth. People have risked all to dig it out of horrible holes in the ground, fought over it and died for it, traded it so that it can sit, as useless ingots, heavily guarded in other huge holes in the ground. And we think animals are stupid?

We end our exploration with a geothermal indulgence by visiting a local hot pool that is filled each day with water at 40 °C that bubbles up from a hot ground well. What a delicious thing to have in your village. A swim and a wash all in one. It is now wine o’ clock and we dine well and sleep the sleep of children. I figure we have worked off the jet-lag.

South to Waihi Beach, Saturday 17th Feb, 2018

Saturday 17th Feb, 2018

Well long journeys can be tiresome and tiring.Today we pack our kit, load the car and set off for our next pit stop at Waihi Beach. Waihi sits to the south of the Coromandel peninsula, on the Pacific coast of NZ way to the south, and east of Auckland so we must retrace our steps to Auckland and continue on. The 250 km back to Auckland was OK-ish. At least the road was familiar except that is was the other way round.
We have now been shopping and reconfigured our car with a box of foodstuffs, en-route snacks, drinks and so on. We have this touring stuff mastered. It is just that another 160 km is added on from Auckland and it gets wearying. Anyway we soak up the distance in our little red car and enjoy the new views.

The land changes to the south of Auckland. This part of North island is a series of north to south hill chains with swathes of gentle, flat, fertile grazing land between them where the rivers run off. We spy dairy farms galore, milk tankers taking their produce to market, and again tidy single storey farmsteads. The single track highway with occasional passing places is getting to David who wants to get this journey over. Well he does, and we roll into Waihi Beach ocean resort at about 3 o’clock.

Our accommodation, The Waihi Beach Lodge is a delight. We have booked a series of cottages cum apartments. They are a very common format in NZ, kitted out with small kitchens, pots and pans etc. as well as the usual bedroom and bathrooms. Some have laundry facilities too. We are welcomed and billeted de-luxe and given a guide to the area by our hosts. This hostel features in the Lonely Planet guide to NZ and deservedly. Stiff from driving for 6 hours, we walk the 30m across the dunes to the ocean beach (which stretches 9km), and stroll for a couple of km or so dipping our toes in the ocean and watching the surf. This place is a surfers Mecca.

The sand is clean and washed; shells abound and Sue is in her element combing for samples of clam shells that aren’t chipped or smashed. Our walk is really a recce. to the nearest restaurant which we tag for an early dinner. And so to bed listening to the roar of the surf. We shall explore Waihi tomorrow.

Around Kerikeri, Friday 16th Feb, 2018

Friday 16th February, 2018

Today we investigate Kerikeri. We take a leisurely and early breakfast on our veranda (we are still awakening at Oh goodness me hours). Last evening our hosts delivered a basket of goodies to help us start the day.

Clad now in shorts and T shirts, for it is 27°C, we drive to Aroha island which is a warden assisted “eco-island” accessed by long causeway through the mangroves. We are required to sign in so that if we get lost someone comes to find us at sun-down which is comforting. The kiwi bird – emblem of NZ and soubriquet of its inhabitants – dwells in such dank, lush green forests. Sadly for us it is nocturnal so remained unseen. One could buy night treks for $40 with a 50% guarantee of seeing one. We decide to pass up that kind offer. Tall Kauri trees, found nowhere else in the world, grow here. They are conifers related to Monkey Puzzle trees which grow slowly up to 50m in height with amazingly straight trunks up to 5m in diameter. Not surprisingly the early settlers made short work of most of them for their canoes, houses and latterly, telegraph poles. They really are the straightest timbers I have ever seen. They are now a protected species. Among these giants grow Silver Tree Ferns – curious plants with silvery undersides to their fronds. It is said that the Maouri ancestorstors tore off these fronds and laid them upside down along pathways to better reflect the moonlight and illuminate their nocturnal travels. Clever chaps.

It is just the end of summer here. The deciduous trees are beginning to shed their leaves. The fruit trees have long since fruited. We wander through a grove of orange trees among which dwell several colonies of NZ bees. I guess that orange-flavoured honey is a perk for the wardens who manage this lovely idyll. What a job from heaven.

Kerikeri is clearly a lovely place to live. The houses around the suburbs (it is a very small town) are individually built, and thus to their owners’ taste. As with suburban Australia they typically enjoy a half acre or whole acre plot. Land is cleared; walls are made of lava boulders; the roads are wide with grass verges full of Agapanthus and white lilies, and the houses are set way back. It is all very spick and span, clean tidy, well ordered and smacks of wealth. I guess many of these dwellings are second / holiday homes. I gather that if you have done OK then a pad on the Bay of Islands is just the thing. The nearest to this I have seen in the UK is Sandbanks in Poole or Jersey.

NZ postmen’s lives are made easier by the American custom of positioning remote mail boxes at the road end of their curtilage. Sailing boats a-plenty bob on moorings at the ends of the gardens of these houses. Like Jersey, metre of foreshore is snapped up by the next grand dwelling rendering public access difficult if not impossible. Worse still there is a preponderance of grumpy signage proclaiming “No beach access” or “No exit” or “Last turning point”, basically “Go away and let us alone to our self-satisfied wealth”. I guess ’twas ever thus.
Was it worth the long journey north? There is still much to see so we shall form a view as we go.