Sometimes we luck out and get to use Mr. M’s travel points for oceanfront rooms and airline upgrades. And sometimes… well, sometimes we economize.
Day #10,289: We economized.
And I mean that in the best possible way.
I should start by saying that I love tripadvisor.com more than any one person should. It’s the first place I turn to when looking for accommodations on our trips abroad, and I think I’ve only been disappointed once (spoiler alert: this was actually not it). The thing I love most about my fellow tripadvisor members is that they review based on overall value, not on extravagance. I’d almost always rather stay at the hidden treasure and save our travel dollars for experiences.
And this is how we came to pay $30 for our night at the 806 Motor Lodge in Hastings, New Zealand. While definitely built in the 1960’s, the motel felt safe, our host was unbelievably gracious, and the little courtyard looked beautiful to sit in, if it weren’t the middle of winter and freezing outside. Plus, our room had the BBC on tv (while in NZ, we became addicted to British comedies from the 1980’s) and a coffeemaker. Tripadvisor, you’ve done it again.
But I get ahead of myself. Day #10,289 started in Napier, a city on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s north island. After a massive earthquake leveled most of the town in 1931, the entire town was rebuilt in the art deco style, and the architecture is what most visitors come to see.
To be perfectly frank, we were only marginally impressed with the art deco and were far more enthralled by what we considered to be the true jewel in Napier’s crown:
Opossum World has dedicated itself to the New Zealand ecological pest that is the brushtail possum. Originally the possums were introduced to NZ in 1837 as part of a fur trade… now they’re reproducing like crazy and threatening native wildlife.
You can find more (very interesting) info on the possum threat, and the controversial ways officials are trying to solve the problem, here:
The ecological issues surrounding current possum threat were fascinating, but equally so were the museum’s taxidermied representations of the little scamps.
They even had a coin-operated ‘shooting range’ where you could take aim at the vermin. Mr. M did quite well, despite accidentally shooting a cardboard farmer in the butt.
In addition to very informative, amusing, and possibly X-rated dioramas, Opossum World sells possum fur goods. I bought a pair of gloves for my grandma (who was alternately amused and disturbed that her gloves came from the likes of the creatures pictured above), and she has repeatedly told me how warm and soft they are. You can order their goods online: www.opossumworld.com
After a day filled with art deco and brushtail possums and wine-tasting in New Zealand’s famous Hawke’s Bay, we were gearing up for a low-key, BBC TV-filled evening at the 806 Motor Lodge.
We put on pjs and settled into “Are You Being Served?”. But it was cold. Really cold. Ever the problem-solver, I turned the heater up. An hour later, with the heater apparently having gone into hibernation, we were huddled together under the comforter in full winter gear: woolen socks, hats, sweaters, the works. It had to be in the 30’s that night. My teeth were clattering. I was genuinely afraid that the motel cleaning person would find us the next morning, frozen to death in some gruesome human diorama… sick, karmic payback for giggling at taxidermy.
When I woke up, with blue lips and virtual icicles hanging off my eyelashes, I hobbled to the tiny bathroom. And found… our front door swung wide open to the elements.
Apparently the front door required a subtle jiggle (okay, a shoulder slam) and a bit of finesse to keep shut. Finesse that we very clearly lacked. When we realized we had essentially been sleeping outside all night and that all our discomfort could have been avoided by… ahem… shutting the front door, Mr. M & I were delirious with laughter. I laughed that I was a little surprised we didn’t end up with a brushtail possum camping out in our suitcase.
Which we of course then pictured in a nightcap, on a midnight bathroom run with a roll of TP in its tiny paw.
For all our supposed ‘travel savvy,’ closing the front door had somehow managed to escape us. You live and you learn, right?
Scratch that- you travel and you learn.
**It should be made clear that the 806 Motor Lodge in Hastings is a perfectly lovely place to spend your trip. Don’t let our ineptitude keep you from visiting! Just shut the front door when you turn in for the evening.
To explore my next day’s adventure being attacked by a giant Kiwi bird, click here!