I kicked off 2017 on the Coromandel Peninsula, on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. On New Year’s Eve I had flown back on a tiny 10-seater plane from Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki gulf (more to come on that!), Allie and Warren picked me up from Auckland Airport and drove straight to Whitianga in the Coromandel, where we had been kindly invited to a friend’s bach (New Zealand holiday home).
Whitianga is beautiful and the bach was right on the waterfront – the beach was was essentially an extension of Wayne and Sonya’s front garden. It was the perfect low-key New Year’s Eve, enjoying some drinks on the deck, listening to the fireworks being set off and hilariously seeing the local youths go skinny dipping in the distance as midnight struck.
We woke up with sore heads but in the mood for adventure. Wayne and Bryce had recently bought a new custom boat and needed to give it a certain amount of mileage before it could go for it’s first check. Bryce had heard that I had never visited Cathedral Cove and asked if we’d like to go for a spin in the boat. He didn’t need to ask twice! We packed up our swimming cossies (or ‘togs’ as they call them here in Aotearoa) and jumped in the boat. Going down the road sat in the boat with Wayne driving the car was rather amusing but passersby were mostly uninterested in seeing the 5 of us drifting down the road in a car – Whitianga Harbour is nearby and driving boats along the road is relatively normal in this part of the world.
After launching from the boat ramp, we were off! The boat was rather impressive and we sped around the peninsula, checking out Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and Hahei from the water. Doubling back, Bryce asked if I wanted to swim from the boat to Cathedral Cove. He jumped in first and I asked if it was cold. “Nah bro!” came the response – I soon learnt he was fibbing when I jumped in and got a bit of a shock to the system! We swam to a nearby rock and did some bombs, jumping off the rock into the water, then swam all the way in to the beach. Cathedral Cove is named after a huge hole in the rock that you can walk straight through. It’s an hour’s walk from the car park to this idyllic spot or a 5 minute swim from your own private Coromandel boat tour 😛 The beach was beautiful and I’m glad we made the effort to swim in to the cove. Getting back to the boat was a real struggle against the waves and we were exhausted with the effort of it! Luckily Sam, Allie and Warren had cracked into the beers and had some ready for us.
After 10 days up North, I headed back to Wellington and got a beautiful view of my suburb of Island Bay as the plane descended towards the capital city – I knew I was ‘home’. Getting back into the swing of things (work, exercise, food shopping) was tricky after an extended period of relaxation and nature! Luckily January brought a fair few distractions.
I saw La La Land at the dreamy Lighthouse Cinema in Petone – I am trying to see more films and TV shows this year so that I stop having the “How can you never have seen *insert pop culture reference here*” conversation that seems to happen on a weekly basis. (Mini review – loved the cinematography and costume design, thought the story was average at best).
Wellington City Council organises a yearly 3-week-long series of outdoor concerts in the Botanical Gardens and I managed to make it to two of the shows, seeing Albi and the Wolves and August Fields on consecutive Friday nights after work. It’s so great that the council put these shows on for free and that Wellingtonians embrace the chance to sit outside listening to kiwi artists.
Taking in high tea at Hippopotamus Restaurant, within the Museum Art Hotel. My lovely friend Carla treated Kristin and I to a fancy pants high tea, complete with teeny tiny sandwiches, delicious cakes, macarons, champagne and cocktails! We felt like princesses with our individual pots of tea and it was a perfect Christmas present.
Losing 8 bets in a row at the Wellington Cup races. This sounds like it shouldn’t be a highlight but it was! Wellington Cup is a yearly event that I like to attend – it’s the perfect excuse to dress up and drink bubbles all day. The weather wasn’t on form, the drinks queues were ridiculous (and limited to one drink per person…. errrrr) and as mentioned, I lost every bet but I had a great day!
Enjoying an extremely relaxing massage at the Amora Hotel. Not only had Carla treated Kristin and I to a high tea, she had also booked us in for a massage at the Amora Hotel! So on a rainy Sunday after the races, we met at the hotel and spent an hour in deep bliss – just what was needed after a day wearing heels at Trentham Racecourse the day before.
Camping out at Kaitoke Regional Park with Claire, Steve and Ryan. I love Kaitoke Regional Park – it’s close to Wellington but a world away from the city streets. It’s surrounded by green hills, has a crystal clear river and is a great place to ‘get away from it all’. Kaitoke was used as a filming location for Lord of the Rings as Rivendell (where the elves live) and has some nice walks and swingbridges nearby. We didn’t end up doing any walks, but did try to swim (bloody freezing – I was the only one who got in as far as my waist!) and ate delicious food (thanks Claire, food angel of my dreams). I fully switched off from technology that I didn’t even get one photo from the camping trip.
Getting a new scooter. My trusty steed Claude finally died last year – to be fair, I’d got pretty good use of him considering he was $750 to buy and definitely saved money on bus fares to and from town for work for the year that I drove him. (Is this weird talking about him as if he was actually a person?). I’d put off getting a new scooter until after I got back from my trip up north and was contemplating how much it annoys me having to get the bus again and not have the freedom to just drive to the beach or the markets when I looked on TradeMe and saw the perfect replacement. I went to see Basil that evening and brought him home! It’s so great to have the freedom to zip around Wellington again at ease. I’ll just make sure to put oil in Basil…
February is looking likely to be the busiest month of the year – hitting up at least 4 countries over the space of a few weeks! I’ll be spending the first ten days in Wellington, then it’s a whistlestop tour of London (UK), La Plagne (France), Bristol (UK) and Munich (Germany), before a quick trip to Singapore in March…
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