New Zealand – Impromptu Geocaching

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So yes. Geocaching happened. I was upset, I think. We were scheduled to fly out the next day and I didn’t want to go. It felt like before our holiday had stretched out in front of us for miles and miles and suddenly, now I was leaving? Leaving my family behind, my dog, my friends. I was only just beginning to comprehend how things had changed and now I had to go? I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to. Sad face. So, instead of tantruming and refusing to go to Thailand like expected (because I still wanted to go to Thailand, obviously), Zee and I went for a drive. Squeezed in a bit more sun somewhere familiar.

I think I’ve mentioned Geocaching before. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a world wide treasure hunt. You download the app on your phone, and use your GPS to find little caches all over the place. Zee + I have cached all over the place. New Zealand, UK, Croatia. The caches are literally everywhere.

This one was down the road from where I grew up. I must have passed it a billion times in my life. I’m glad we were able to drive through and catch it while the sun was going down. I wandered about without shoes (something I’d never, ever do in London) and soaked in the last moments of home.

New Zealand – Fishing

By | RL | One Comment

Fishing, with a rod in a little boat out in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is something I’ve been doing with Dad since I was a child. I’ve caught hundreds of fish in my lifetime, and delighted in eating the fresh goodness of the days catch (no, seriously, DELIGHTED!). For me, the eating part of fishing is by far the best bit.

Well, turns out that Zee has never once caught a fish. Ever.

It was a bit mind boggling, so even though the tides were badly timed Dad and I took Zee out for a days fishing. It was GLORIOUS! The skies were blue, the water flat. There’s something really amazing about being out on the boat. The silence, the gentle rocking. Hanging out in a small space with people you don’t mind hanging out with.

Besides the snappers and whatnot, I managed to catch two baby sharks (which Dad dehooked and threw back). Zee caught a handful of baby snapper and a decent sized Kahawai and Dad? Dad managed to catch himself (which was a bit awkward, and required a three man operation to get the hook out of his finger without pulling the barb through the flesh). It’s quite relaxing being on the boat, out on on the open water. Everything is still and quiet.

We didn’t catch a haul like I remembered as a child (snapper too big to fit in the bin, so their tails would hold up the lid), but we did okay. We caught enough for dinner, and that’s enough really. I suspect that thanks to commercial traders trawling all the fish out of the ocean, the snapper schools probably aren’t as big as they were 20 years ago.

Because we’d caught enough for dinner (that and the fish were just eating our bait) we called it a day, and stopped off the back of Waiheke and taught Zee how to waterski. Because that was something else he’d never done.

It was amusing watching him fall rather spectacularly, and when he did get up? I cheered – glad he’d managed it, glad he’d stuck through and glad that we spent that day out on the water together with Dad.

This was one of those days I want to remember. The sun, and salt and all the happy.

Taking the boat for a swim.

That view!

The first little guy I caught. I kissed him before I let him go.

I love this shot of Dad teaching Zee. Dad taught me how to waterski just like this when I was about 12. And he taught Sibling and a whole bunch of our family friends. Love it.

The boat.

New Zealand – Surfing Lessons, BBQs + Puppy Cuddles

By | RL | 6 Comments

New Zealand is great for surfing. We’ve got some phenomenal surf beaches, and they are almost always within driving distance. In Auckland we’ve got Piha. It’s a good beach for surfing, because of a perfectly placed sandbar and a headland that allows the waves to curve around uniformly. It’s the site of both national and international surf competitions.

Knowing that Zee was keen, I got us both surfing lessons out that way. We got up stupid early (before the sun was even up!) and were met by Brett from New Zealand Surf Tours in town, and driven out to Piha. He was a great guy, Maori and very surfer-esque. Easy going, very relaxed and living the surfer life. He was an awesome instructor.

In the morning we got all wetsuited up and did some boogie boarding. Oh man, I haven’t boogie-boarded in ages and I’d forgotten how much fun it was! I know I was meant to be concentrating on where my hands were and where my body was in relation to the board, but mostly I was happy just catching a wave. There is something truly glorious about catching a wave, having it carry you along. I was gleeful.

I was much less gleeful about the next bit. I know that since we’d been kitesurfing I’d ruined my back a bit. Have you ever done a burpee before? It’s where from standing position, you touch the ground, kick your legs out so your planking (as if you’re doing a push up) and then you jump your feet between your hands and jump upright. Brett had us do burpees, because once your on the board that’s the closest technique for standing up.

Well… my back wasn’t having any of it. Trying to do burpies on the beach ruined me, there was no way I was going to be able to do it in the water. So, after lunch, I graciously conceded and the lesson became a private lesson for Zee. And oh man, did he love it. I think he was always meant to surf. He took to it like a fish to water, and was standing up pretty quickly, riding along the surf.

It was a pretty phenomenal day. Zee went back the next day without me, and apparently it was even better. I spent the day hanging out with Dad and Quinn. Oh man, best day ever. Taking time out to spend a day chilling with your dog really is one of the most relaxing ways to spend a day. Loved it. Don’t hate me for all the puppy pictures. Adore.

I love New zealand in the summer. When Zee had returned he was shattered and ended up napping the garden. It was kind of adorable. Dad graciously put on another one of his epic BBQ’s for us and oh, it was a feast!

This in part is why I love New Zealand so much. The beaches are glorious, the seafood + BBQs phenomenal. The strangers are nice and its easy to find new things to love. Not to mention all the family, just hanging out moments. I soaked them in. I’ll miss this when I’m not here.

New Zealand – Auckland

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After our big roadtrip, we took a bit of a down day in Auckland once we were back. Zee and I hustled down to the Tyler St Garage and met two old friends for lunch, The Second Quarter (who I’ve known forever) and Em, who I’ve known even longer (true story – Em + I both got our belly buttons pierced to celebrate our last year of school… mines still pierced!)

Anyway, we met at Tyler St garage, which was lovely spot overlooking the harbour. There were many cocktails because I wasn’t working and it was lovely. The conversation was… novel enough. It felt like bragging a bit, and a bit off kilter, but fine all the same (for those in the know, I couldn’t help but think of that awkward, horrible night in Parnell that time. Awkward!). Lunch was lovely, though! There are loads of new places popping up in Auckland. It’ll never feel like London, but it was nice to see that Auckland could compete on the lovely, fun places to eat stage.

Afterwards, Zee and I shopped along the high street, and visited the Sky Tower. The views! The views slayed me.

We were slated to meet my gorgeous friend Heidi for drinks + dinner, so we did. Heidi and I were friends from London, and oh god, I missed her. Heidi is glorious, and catching up with her was as if no time at all had past. Loved it. In true Heidi style we had some lovely wine, and then moved to Orleans where we had more wine and dinner and just all round a great time. She got me a cork for my collection, signed by the amazing blues singer that was on that night. Turns out Sibling was there too with her friends so we all joined and had a great party. To add to the fun time awkward remembering, turns out Heidi and Jimmy are together now, so down he came too. Good thing there was an awful lot of wine.

Still, it was great night. I was worried that after London, Auckland would seem dull. Small and low with not so much going on. Turns out that if you know the right people, you can make your own party.

New Zealand – Whangamata

By | RL | 6 Comments

After Hot Water Beach we retreated to Whangamata, which we were using as a base. I have a soft spot for Whangamata. As children we used to spend two weeks every summer out that way. This summer we spent some time on the beach, but mostly playing cards, eating all the food and hanging out with Mum and her partner. I spent a large chunk of time trying to figure out how to do crossword puzzles, and this physical get the bars around the ball puzzle that was lying around. We went out to dinner on the tiny little high street, and I drove the ridiculous Commodore up and down the stretch by the beach after, ‘cruising’ through the night, through the empty beach streets. On the Sunday we said bye to Lyth and Sibling (sad face) as they went back up to Auckland. Zee and I spent a few extra days hanging out, enjoying the sun and what not.

I have to say, it wasn’t all fun times and sunshine. There was a bit of a drunken free for all and tears after we’d had a few too many glasses of bubbles. I think the hardest part was realising that being so far away for so long had really deteriorated a lot of my relationships, and had allowed too many misconceptions to fester. Heartbreaking, because I’d always assumed that some things were rock solid. A misconception on my part, obviously.

My problem is that it’s too easy for me to be out of sight, out of mind. There’s no feedback loop when I’m on the other side of the world, in a very different time zone. It’s too easy take whatever stray thought and with a bit of emotion have it become fact when I’m not there to ask. It’s heartbreaking. To be put in the ‘too hard’ basket because the distance is too big.

It took this trip, and moments like this to realise what my absence really meant.

Still, the beach was lovely.

In a less emotional frame of mind, I really did love this road trip. Whangamata was our last stop before we went back to Auckland and it really was great to see so much of New Zealand. To show Zee places I’d been talking about for ages, to adventure with Lyth again. To revisit places I hadn’t seen since I was small. To remember how great Hokey Pokey is, and what a real beach is like. To be sunburnt, and around people who speak the same way you do.

It really was phenomenal – made me realise how little of NZ we’d seen, and given more time, how much more I’d want to see. Still, high five for a brilliant road trip!