In the words of Noddy Holder ...Ittttttttt's Chrrrrrrristmas!
09.01.2014 24 °C
Well im sorry I've been busy having such a good time that blogging has taken a back seat! So I left off in Auckland where everything was new and we had been to Waiheke island for a fab weekend. Well next up was our Christmas and new year extravaganza plan that we were all itching to get to! I met up with some other friends from home in Auckland which resulted in a girls night out in 'Poof' an aptly named new gay bar in Ponsonby complete with pole dancing drag queens and a few attempts from a couple of members of our party.....excellent efforts! First up though I had to buy a car as you do, and after much indecisiveness, car showroom trawling, Frank Butcher East London impressions and a few hitches from the car sales man; aka Japans own version of Fawlty Towers Manuel i got a deal on 'Tina' the Honda Fit Jazz! So far so good she is coping well with all the driving and my Dad is delighted that I've stopped ringing him to ask about second hand car advice!
So in summary:
Christmas: We set off from Auckland a few hours later than planned thanks to Manuels mess up with the car being ready but we were on the road to The Coromandel in no time. A quick stop in Pak and Save and Warehouse (NZ's answer to Costco/Woolworths) for supplies and fancy dress outfits for our Christmas video message (more later) and to meet Brena one of Chris and Michelle's (C&M) friends who was joining us. Beautiful scenery and some seriously windy roads later we were nearly at Cooks Beach! On a separate note Kiwis your driving is atrocious! You drive too fast, overtake on bends and generally have bad road manners...for such laid back people what are you in such a hurry for? Might your crate of Tui get too warm in the boot Bro!! Nutty drivers has been evident for much of the rest of the trip, evident in two accidents we've gone past where the car has driven off the side of the CLIFF!! Seriously people chill out!
Back to Christmas! 4 nights in a tiny cool retro 'Bach' (holiday home) which was on a slope which made for an interesting downhill walk from the kitchen to the living room, 5 mins from the beach, one shop, BBQ, comfy living and as much possible outdoors and breathtaking scenary as you could want! ....Delighted!
We did a huge walk around Cathedral Cove to a surreal beach on one of the days, had beers at the beach and cooked a lot. Brena left on Xmas eve and this year for the rest of us was very quiet in comparison to our past ones! BBQ bottle of wine bed!
Christmas Day on the other hand was shall we say a bit more lively, one of the most fun I've ever had and a huge improvement on last year. With a slight worry I might miss my family a lot C&M certainly didn't let this thought linger too long! It went a bit like this:
Long Beach Run 8am
Breakfast and Bucks Fizz hilarious Skype from 'slightly' tipsy family at home
Present opening and an impromptu quick fire round quiz
Fancy dress swim in the sea in the rain to much of the towns delight at these Brits abroad!
Beers and 2 hour monopoly as we underestimated ham cooking time
G&T o'clock and prep
Dinner of roasted ham, colcannon, roast veg, cabbage and potatoes and lashings of wine.
Post dinner sunbathe as sun emerges and a delighted 2nd trip to the beach armed with wine and beers and some songs until sun goes down
Our own version of the alternative Christmas video message which I can only show you as my words won't do it justice!
More Skyping of other family, Rose wine and cheese board followed by a few accidental shots and a good old fashioned dance round the kitchen!!
In the words of Gordon Ramsey......Christmas....DONE!
Quite relaxed and a few litres of water later we were due to leave Coromandel 2 days later. I feel Coromandel was really the easing ourselves into the trip part!! Next up lake Taupo for 9 glorious nights, this Bach was amazing and had incredible views, really home from home we felt so comfy. Joined by 3 other friends of C&M we hugely outnumbered Chris 5:1 on the girl front, he coped really well and thoroughly enjoyed drinking Chardonnay crossed legged at any given opportunity. We had a jealousy inducing beyond excellent time and it was so good to meet some people who hopefully will be a continuing feature of the NZ adventure!
Highlights of the trip were:
Tongariro crossing where we got up at 5am and walked and climbed for 7 hours up a 1800m active volcano in some might say treacherous conditions. Huge huge achievement and has enlightened my desire to continue on with some of the other 8 remaining great NZ walks!
Natural Hot springs which just blew me away, luckily not literally. Just up before the Huka falls the mountain falks into the river and because of much thermal underground activity, heats the water so that people like me can just walk down a hill and jump in a ready made natural free bath of thermal pool!! Incredible!! Why go to the spa when it's free by the river!
Prawn fishing where Michelle identified herself as captain Birdseye catching 5 prawns to mine and Chris's 1 and 2 respectively!
Many a competitive game of Articulate
Some stand up paddle boarding which I loved and was delighted not to have fallen in on my first go!
Lots of cooking and a particularly ructious face achingly hilarous NYE and unexpected continuation onto New Year's Day....well for some of us anyway ..ahem!
Joined then for 24 hours by Claire and Falloni my friends I met in Oz for our final meet up this end of the world before they sadly go back to Ireland! Dinner, drinks, walking and lake time....perfect will miss them loads on this time zone!!
Next on the trip agenda was back to the three amigos and 10 days of camping along the East Cape. A trip to 'Hunting and Fishing' and we armed ourselves with remaining camping gear and drafted out a plan for our route. Luckily we are all on the same page of what sort of things we want to do which makes it easier and we've been pretty laid back so far. We left Taupo on a day of grey rain and drove towards Napier. As soon as we emerged over the mountains the sun appeared and that's the way it's stayed!
Napier is a lovely Art Deco city with some great buildings. Camping started off well with a make shift camp fire dinner we made, the first camps sleep not so well. Noisy birds, airplanes, hot sun in tents and generally sleeping very close to the floor was one to get to used to! Quote of the day from Michelle as she emerges from the tent at 7am after 1st nights sleep "who would go camping, this is a joke".
By day 3 she can't stop talking about how much she loves camping and she's not wrong! In general camping is going really well and I'm really enjoying it so far.
We also hired bikes one day and stopped off at 2 wineries and a brewery on the track a brilliant way to do a wine tour with a packed lunch! 30km of cycling in a day at the end of the trip which is great for the body but not so great for my bum which by the end was not in a good way thanks to the uncomfy seat unlike my bike at home! I was very close to loosing my rag about 3k from home so i got off and walked the rest of the way home to save the bike from being launched into the river!! I thoroughly enjoyed the walk!
We've been in holiday campsites so far with good access to facilities but when we get further along up the East Cape it will get more into the 'wilderness' which we're actually looking forward to a lot.
Now I can't say enough about how beautiful it is here, green, lush land, mountainous and incredible beaches. It's widely known how beautiful NZ is and they are not wrong. Key kiwi identity points: Good Beer, Great food, Amazing scenery, great people, super outdoorsy, a strong love of reggae and a nice chilled cruisy approach ! I love all these things!!
We're currently in Mahia which is a beautiful tiny town, michelle and I woke up this morning and ran up a small mountain after a coffee, went to the beach and then went to some more hot and cold plunge pools as you do and last night we played Darts. I love this holiday!!
In other news I am tanned! This is as tanned as a ginger person has ever been!! Michelle is jealous and I will be wallowing in this until she catches up!! Also my Maori pronunciation has hugely improved, I've watched loads of Maori tv and forced myself to make sure I pronounce all the place names I go past...and google translator has just introduced Maori to its list of languages for my Maori emergencies (I heard this on maori tv news!!)
So tomorrow we are leaving for our next stop Gizzy which will be my new home in Feb so I'm looking forward to showing C&M my new area
The calendar is already filling up with visitors and trips for 2014 which is hugely exciting and I would have had 9 weeks off before I go back to work in Feb! Glorious!
So hopefully the sun keeps shining for our East Cape adventure and we get to do our top 3 things; have a horse trek, have a hangi and see some whales!