Thames (pronounced like the river) is in "the Coromandel," which is mostly a short peninsula sticking up in the middle of North Island. I had wanted to cover its eastern coast, but we were staying on its western coast and just didn't have time to zig and zag around. We drove a short way along the peninsula's western coast, which is where we came across what I have decided is an anchor sticking out of the shallows. So there.
The reddish roof on the shore (at top) is where we stayed. I liked its location so much that I proposed that Vic and I go to a grocery and pick up microwavables for dinner, so we could spend more time at the hotel. Though we didn't pick any up, green-lipped mussels are on any seafood menu and available in groceries as well. The one in Vic's hand is a bit small for these creatures, which are tender and mild--and huge.
NZ has much in common with the UK; less in common with the US. As in the UK, ice creameries abound (see Tip Top, below). So do Cadbury chocolates, teas, strict hours for serving lunch, Elizabeth II on coinage, driving on the other side, =no= ice in any beverage that we were served (aaahh), and roundabouts. As in the US, the Coffee News was available in some places (seriously, same type face and everything), McDonald's-BK-Subway showed up in any city (even more US chains in the larger cities), and the dollar is the standard.
Unique to New Zealand? Deer are farmed, grass-fed; and every single NZ meat-focused meal is naturally organic: no hormones, no force-feeding, no caging (except for pork, in some cases). McDonald's advertises free-range eggs and its Weight Watchers menu. Espresso-based beverages and chai, just barely sweetened, are available all over the place, even in 'takeaways' along the road. The air and the water are so, so unpolluted. Pretty much only NZ exists in its region of the globe, 'the roaring 40s,' so who is there to pollute? The Enn-Zedders are much too civilized for all that.