Aside from the week in Fiji and a couple of overnight stays in the trusty Golf, the winter months were a time for living that “real” NZ life, and hustling to save money for the Big South East Asia Trip. We worked full time plus tutoring, Adrien sometimes bashing out 12 hour days and 7 day weeks by the time he had gone from the mailroom to the windsurfing school to his tutees, and me dragging myself to tutor high school kids after a long day at my Auckland Council desk or on Saturday mornings. But it wasn’t all work work work: Adrien spent any free time he had windsurfing, windfoiling (Google it), or kitesurfing, and I danced (at Auckland’s The Palace- famed for their appearance in Justin Beiber’s ‘Sorry’ and 300,000,000 views on YouTube) ran 5ks on the beach, did yoga, and spent a lot of quality time with Rona and Rufus.
Once we were confident in our savings for the next few months sans travail, we were able to loosen the purse strings a little and had a couple of very enjoyable weekends away.
The first one was in a superly beautiful hotel called The Sanctuary up north in the Bay of Islands. A rare occurrence for us, we splashed out and drove 3 hours to relax, have dinner out, enjoy incredible views and a healthy hotel breakfast, and those fluffy hotel robes no shop can replicate. We walked along Paihia beach at sunset where we had been almost 3 years previously and the trip was worth every penny.
The next weekend away was another extravagance we hadn’t allowed ourselves until we were certain of our future funds. Another long drive which was totally worth it, we went East to Whakatane where we took a ferry to White Island, an active volcano in the Bay of Plenty.
On the recommendation of Alan, owner of the windsurfing school where Adrien works, we made a pit stop at Maketu beach for some kite surfing and then, when the wind dropped, some stand up paddle boarding. It is a beautiful estuary perfect for such activities, and we were so grateful for the tip!
SUP yoga time is back!
The ferry to White Island the following morning was an experience. One hour into the choppy 90 minute journey, the back deck was full of peaky faces (my own included) clutching on to sick bags for dear life (mine was thankfully empty), while the crew had the unenviable task of depositing these bags into the wheely bin attached to the deck.
We arrived at the island and were hit with the familiar smell of sulphur, although less eggy than dear old Rotorua, it felt more powerful as were, after all, entering the belly of the Whakaari volcano. The colours of the ground ranged from pink to yellow, and the streams running down the side of the so-called path tasted like iron in one area and oddly like lemons in another (really, we tried it!). We were given helmets and gas masks, the latter coming in handy when gusts of wind engulfed us in sulphur-laden steam, resulting in scratchy eyes and a stinging throat. A bizarre and totally NZ experience, we were really glad we did it! Aside from the volcano trip itself, the discovery of beautiful, quiet beaches along the coast of the Bay of Plenty was a real perk of the trip, and Adrien was in his element being able to kitesurf 2 days in a row (even if he did leave his board behind at the beach, resulting in an hour and a half’s backtrack when the realisation hit).
Looking at him with love, while he gazes back… at the volcanic rock
Welcome to the hell mouth! Don’t breathe in or step off the path and you’ll be juuuuust fine
Back in Auckland, and we’ve almost come to the end of our time in our houseshare in the gorgeous Takapuna. We rounded off our time here with a night of slow-cooked pork and SO MUCH other food, with almost everyone we’ve gathered into our little Auckland life.
A darn good bunch
Next on the agenda: finishing up at work and saying goodbye to my lovely colleagues at the Council, and taking any last trips we can think of between now and the 15th November. The countdown is on, it’s scary but exciting to think of the fun last couple of weeks we have ahead of us in the beautiful Aotearoa!