Greetings my friends from “the land of the great white cloud”, or its near equivalent in Maori, and that’s Maori, as in Maari, not Maori, as in Mowari, or so we have been reliably informed.
All goes well, and thanks to all friends, on the water and on “dry” land, for your Christmas and New Year greetings. We hope you had a restful and peaceful break. Like all good boaters, we follow the weather forecasts daily and my, haven’t you all had a lot of rain in the UK.
|James and Livi concentrate on some mini golf over the Xmas holidays|
Here in “God’s Own Country” it’s been a bit of a mixture of cloud, with the occasional very hot spell and overnight shower. Over the water in Australia it’s really cooking at the moment we hear. Stuart, if you read this, please report from the Gold Coast.
In Wellington, where we are currently based, it’s a balmy 24 degrees this morning and Pat is at the moment having her breakfast outside on the patio, as she watches the tractors cutting the grass in the park, that backs onto Erica and James house.
Any of you who have visited this part of the world will know, however, that things can change very quickly. We had a 500 Km journey yesterday and at 5pm, we passed through a small town that was displaying the temperature above its KFC as 26 degrees, and a half an hour later, we arrived in Wellington to a very cool and breezy 15 degrees.
The forecasters had predicted a cool and showery Christmas Day for this part of the world, but it turned out to be the hottest in Wellington for 15 years, and there was no wind, which, to me, was more amazing. We joined Erica and James and their pals for a picnic above the beach at Scorching Bay, about 20 minutes from here, and the photo, below, with little Livi was taken there.
|Christmas Day on the beach at Scorching Bay|
On New Years Eve, we drove up to the Coromandel peninsular, to spend a few days with our Kiwi pals, Kevin and Helen. Erica, James and Livi, flew up and we picked them up at Auckland Airport. The previous day we had driven up to Napier (one of our favourite places with some great Art Deco architecture) and then overnighted in Taupo, by its huge lake, which we had previously driven through, but had never stopped. Lovely spot, but it poured down on our arrival.
The Coromandel is a little ear of land that sticks out, west of Auckland. It is stunningly beautiful, and it’s got the lot. Fabulous beaches, quaint little towns,mountains, and lush, verdant valleys. It’s where most of Aucklanders have their holiday homes and is a favourite weekend retreat for many Kiwis. Our base was in Whitianga, (pronounced Fitihanga), which has a winter population of 4,000 and over Christmas and New Year, that swells to 40,000. There were 14 of us in the house, and although it was a bit crazy at times, we had a great time and Kevin and Helen’s family made us very welcome.
Every house seems to have a boat in the drive and theirs was no exception. We were hoping to get some cruising in, as I am feeling a need to re-connect with the water, and James was hoping to go fishing, but despite a service the day before, the engine would not turn over on New Years Day and all the boat shops were shut over the holidays. It didn’t stop us getting out and about though.
Kev and Helen run a small farm near Hamilton, and all the meat we consumed over the week, which was considerable, came from their animals. Even the venison sausages. Kev’s neighbour saw a stray deer on the property and promptly bagged it and they dragged it home. They all thought it was highly amusing that I preferred my beer warm, rather than freezing the life out of it. I’ve had a similar reaction in Canada, and I now just shrug it off. Once they even put a bottle in the microwave as a joke. Ha Ha!
|With Kevin and Helen at Whitianga|
We spent around two days coming back to Wellington and drove all over the place. Getting around is easy, as they drive on the proper side of the road over here, but getting your head around the names of the towns you pass along the way is something else. Paraparaaumi and Ngauruhoe are two that spring to mind. Another thing we have noticed is that everbody in red coloured cars seem to drive very fast here. Can’t work that out yet!
|The Poms cook for the Kiwis at Whitianga|
They also like to put their individual towns on the map by plonking a giant “something or other” in a prominent place on the main street. We saw a giant sheep, a giant wellington boot, and a giant carrot on our travels yesterday. I know there is a giant Kiwi Fruit somewhere. We saw it last time we were here.
|Waterfall in Tongararo National Park|
This Thursday we are heading across to the South Island on the Interislander ferry, to see our pals Vic and Val in Nelson, my favourite place in all of NZ. Only there for a few days but looking forward to seeing them both.