New Zealand road trips

It’s A Road Trip – the musical round up!

Begin at the beginning they say but for this post I’m beginning at the end. We were home, the first load of washing in the machine, our dog still running about the place with excitement and a dash of relief at our  return, and I had a cup of tea to hand when I discovered this post from Christin. It’s an ode to Jason Mraz’s 93 Million Miles.

We’d had a near miss on the last leg of our journey.  I suppose it wouldn’t be a road trip without encountering at least one idiot. We were on the Napier/Taupo Road. The driver of a brilliant orange Holden, you know who you are, mate!, thought it would be clever to play skittles with approaching cars. No collisions, thank-goodness, due to the evasive actions of three attentive drivers with quick reactions. It was the only time there was the sound of cursing during our trip. I’ll own up – it was me. The expression my father reserved for idiots on the road burst right out of my mouth:  “You silly cow!” Maybe not exactly cursing but the worst of insults. I sounded just like Dad. So, safely at home, 93 Million Miles was the right song for the right moment. I’ve listened to it several times since.

Here’s the rest of the musical round-up. Remember there’s no accounting for taste, so make of it what you will! To last the distance the music had to suit the mood of the day as well as cope with the vagaries of our car’s sound system. Some of our favs got kicked off because they were too moody, (how’s that for logic?) or two mellow, too soft, or too graunchy, or too something!

In no particular order our playlist was:

  • The Best of Peter, Paul and Mary – especially This Land is Your Land, with us singing along as we drove past the volcanoes on the Central Plateau on Day Two.
  • Any list of mine includes a blues album. This trip it was The Best of Elkie Brooks. Just right for driving through drizzle on the way from Taumarunui to the Waitomo Caves. My favourite: Pearl’s A Singer. Elkie sure can belt it out!
  • Next up was Rodriguez : Searching for Sugarman – gotta a love the ultimate come back kid! We were lucky enough to see him play live in Wellington lat year. Now he’s part of the family canon.
  • The Heartache EP from The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra made the list. The EP  was a Christmas present from son number two a few years ago. At first the name of the group had me wondering if his affinity for Wellington had gone a shade too far. I was won over from the first track. I’ve seen them perform three times and I bought myself a bright red ukulele on the strength of this EP.  The most favourite from an EP full of favourites? It’s A Heartache.


There’s something about this rendition that makes me break out in a grin every time. It’s got to do with Bret McKenzie, he of Flight of the Conchords and The Muppets fame. Yes, Bret is a sometime member of the ukulele orchestra. I always imagine it’s him, with his quirky grin, adding the supposed-to-be-gravelly voice over with a soupçon of pathos.

  • Seals and Croft were a must listen. I’m showing my vintage but I don’t care! These guys are good. They’re like all old friends: it can be a long time between catch-ups but when you do get together it’s as if you’ve never been apart. Or, in our case, as if those decades haven’t really gone by.
  • Joni Mitchell had an honourable mention on Day Nine. She’s another decades long favourite. After all the questions we found ourselves asking in Mangakino Joni singing Both Sides Now was the only choice.
  • And last but by no means least there’s The Woolshed Sessions. This album was a one-off, recorded by a group of friends in a woolshed. To me, the slide guitar (at least I think that’s what it is, I’m no musical expert) of the first note, on the first track, Hey You, is the quintessential South Pacific sound. I hear that note and, no matter what, I feel better. I don’t know how that works, Jess is singing the blues, but it does.

There were two other musical highlights on our trip. They were the two best. The sort where you probably had to be there to understand.

Runner-up to music event of the trip goes to the Taumarunui RSA on Mother’s Day night. They serve a mean roast dinner! Better than I can cook at home. And that night it was  accompanied by a regular, old-fashioned sing-along. The sort with clapping, laughing, someone strumming on the ukulele, and chit-chat threaded through the music. Magic! Their repertoire included: Country Road, Pearly Shells, Down to Louisiana … you get the drift. Tunes we all know, voices that were as good as Elkie’s only undiscovered, and it was okay for anyone to join in – except for those with full mouths – not looking at anyone in particular here!

The top spot belongs to the The Waitomo Glow Worm cave sing-a-long. It took place in the cathedral – the largest and highest part of the cave. The acoustics are famous. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has sung there and, now, so have I! Yep, for real. Our guide invited us to try out the acoustics. A couple on the tour were celebrating their wedding anniversary. The wife sang a most beautiful song, one I didn’t recognise, to her husband. He in turn, presented her with a very large, sparkly ring. So large and sparkly the guide told the husband that he would have to marry him, now.  He was only half-joking. As is the Kiwi way, if one person sings a song it should be returned in kind. So the guide, with John and me doing our best to stay in tune, (we were the only Kiwis in the group)  sang the beautiful love song Po Kare Kare Ana! Those acoustics are incredible. We sounded half-pie decent!

Here’s the real deal:








14 replies »

  1. Thanks for the great read – I remember Seals and Croft – I love them too! And Po Kare Kare Ana is beautiful. Haven’t we come along way since the beginning if blogging 101. Your blog looks terrific! I can’t believe how much I learned from doing the challenge. I now have a much better idea of how to write a blog.

    Your singing in the glow worm cave sounds like a lot of fun. In Queensland we have caves near Rockhampton that have wonderful acoustics as well. 🙂


    • Thank-you, Maria. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I learned so much from that course – it was a fast track, wasn’t it! Your blog has changed heaps as well 🙂


  2. well did you know that Jason Mraz is from the richmond, VA area (and he grew up a few neighborhoods away from where we live…) pretty cool huh? And I like his music – but was not that familiar with this song. He played a Christmas concert in town recently – and I am sir she combined it with being home for the holidays. well isn’t music just great? and I like your play list sharing – and loved how your worded this ” there’s no accounting for taste, so make of it what you will!..”

    and glad there was not a collision – and that you made it safe and sound (which reminds me of that Capital Cities song…) O_o
    Have a nice weekend Jill. 🙂


      • Thanks for your comments Yvette, I’m glad you like Po Kare. It’s a truly beautiful song. The funny thing is that while we were singing in the cave, I was standing beneath a stalactite. I couldn’t see it, we had to keep lights way down to protect the glow worms. I could feel it though, big drips of cold water falling on my head. The guide told us that if a drip from a stalactite dropped on to us, why, that was considered to be good luck. I got multiple, wetting drips while we were singing – so I was thinking I had a lot of good luck coming my way. And then he told us that if stalactite should drop on to us, why, that would be hard luck! This was right after we had examined a huge stalactite that had fallen to the ground and discussed the risks of being in the cave during an earthquake.I guess my good luck was to get the chance to be part of that special celebration for the couple, that there was no earthquake, and not to have that stalactite fall on my head!


        • okay – so was laughing pretty hard with this – ha! even without the good luck bad luck – just feeling the drips like that – in the dark – while singing – quite an experience. and also – I would drove to hear the acoustics in there – I have been to a few places with natural acoustics and it is moving – like red rocks in colorado – whew – and this impromptu cave sing-a-long – with that amazing song, the acoustics in this unique place, and you guys trying to stay in tune and getting dripped on – well it is just so fun!!!


      • Hey Jill – well that Capital Cities song has been used in car commercials lately – for Toyota I think – but when it first came out I loved it.
        have a great weekend – 🙂


  3. Ha! I just had a cup of coffee in my own hands as I saw your post, savoring it along with your story. 🙂 I can never decide which is better – embarking on the trip or arriving home from it. I love traveling by car. I grew up road tripping and miss it sorely (my next car will be a hybrid so I can afford it again!). I’ve driven cross country alone probably half a dozen times in my adult life and it brings me back to center every time. There’s nothing like being on the open road with a great set of tunes. I absolutely love your lineup! So many memories for myself in those songs you mentioned. Some new songs and artists, too, that I’ll have to check out…since I like your taste in music and all. 😉

    Fantastic read and thank you so much for the shout out. I’m glad that you enjoyed Jason’s song. The video is pretty stellar as well, I think. 😀


    • Thanks Christin. I have to agree, coming home is as good as leaving! Hopefully, it won’t be too long before your next road trip. So pleased to have introduced you to some newbies.


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