I hadn’t explained before but our trip was divided up into 3: time with family, then with friends and a mini moon! After spending the first week in Auckland with my family we then headed down to Wellington, the capital, which we both love. We lived here while I studied and we made great friends there who we miss dearly. We are very lucky that we met them and got to spend an awesome week hanging out together and having fun, we didn’t want to leave :-(.
Wellington is such a niche place, it’s a small capital – population about 200,000. When we lived there, our lives were very chilled. Weekends were spent shopping at the local farmers market, trips to the beach, Moore Wilson and we even managed to squeeze a lovely weekend at the Martinborough wineries. Also every Tuesday, we would meet with our friends before chess club (they went, we went home) and eat at Caffe Italiano, until I asked whether we could eat anywhere else. Then for a while we moved most weeks until Ga and I left for the UK and they kept eating at the same place. It’s a very hip sort of place and obviously has our parliament the Beehive. Cable cars are everywhere too as Welly is such a hilly place! Some people even have a cable car to their house.
Back to our holiday. We spent a few days with our friends Bill and Maria who live about 100m from the Wellington Botanical Gardens. When we were in NZ, we didn’t explore it very much, I only visited when my friend Nat visited from Denmark. It’s a beautiful park on a hill, which you can catch the Cable Car up to. There is also an observatory at the top. We did a couple of walks through there and it wasn’t so easy for me! Early December was filled with lots of eating and not so much exercise. Maria makes the most amazing food and also had plenty of Kapiti Ice-cream (which I’ll say is the best ever) and we were lucky that we had her cook for us. We also played a game of Carcossone which from memory I won.
Then we headed up the coast to our friend Alan’s BBQ at his parent’s bach in Otaki Beach. Now you might be wondering what a “bach” is? Well it’s a kiw holiday home.
“Bach” was [thought to be] originally short for bachelor pad, but actually they often tended to be a family holiday home. An alternative theory for the origination of the word is that bach is Welsh for small, although the pronunciation of this word is somewhat different. From Wiki.
So baches when I was growing up used to be quite basic. A wooden structure with a couple of bedrooms, maybe small kitchen and bathroom if you were lucky but these days they can be pretty flash (ensuite rooms etc). Anyways, it’s always a nice bonus if you can have a holiday home near the beach. So we headed to the BBQ, I somehow ended up near the BBQ but I made a quick escape but actually then ending up child minding (you say you can take the girl out of…).
It was a fun evening which I finished by beating Alan in our 3 minute match. I think I won 1.5-8.5. We then headed back to Ross & Lin’s. Guess what was waiting for me there?
While at Ross and Lin’s we had a great time. They live right on the beach and the view is amazing. You can see Kapiti Island (famous bird sanctuary) and on a clear day you can spot the South Island.
One day (the time there has sort of blurred into one), Ga and I joined Ross on his dog walk. Ross and Lin have 3 lovely dogs Ruby, Amber (who are English Springer Spaniels) and Smudge (who is slightly larger,male and some sort of half breed). who are super energetic. Ross decided to take us up towards some “small hills” or so he said. After wandering through the muddy woodlands and crossing streams we reached the bottom of the hill. Oh, I forgot – on our walk Smudge decided to bring us a dead possum – it was gross and smelt and I totally screamed. Anyway, back to the bottom of the hill I was trying to keep up with the guys but I massively failed. It was a steep incline and I was not ready to climb it. I told them to go ahead and Ross gave me directions (note that I did not bring my phone and even if I did I would have no signal) he told me that all I had to do was climb to the top.
Walking uphill, I was alone, cold, needed the bathroom and thirsty. At some point, a giant rabbit thing (hare! -Ga) jumped out in front of me and I feared for the worst – I was quickly thinking what animals do we have that I need to be afraid of – not many fortunately and nothing else came. Then my eye got stung by something so slightly blinded/in pain I then grabbed a stick and kept hoping for some clearing. Eventually I found some but then the path split, there was the overgrown path straight to the top or the paved pathway. Standing there, I was on a mountain side, I saw a road (obviously for some sort of logging trucks) but I had no idea where it lead to! I was shouting Ga & Ross and trying to call the dogs. I turned back and thought okay, worse comes to worse I walk back down the way I came and head back to the car. But then I saw Smudge, I was never so happy to see another being. Ross and Ga heard my cries and decided to come back down to find me!!
We then went down the paved foothpath and it wound right around the mountain, we lost Ruby but then she quickly caught us. We then went by some wild mountain goats who didn’t attack us but stared us down and went higher up the cliff side. After going up this hill, we had to go back down and then since we were on the other side we waded through dense bush until we reached the river again and made our way back to the car. Note to self, be careful when Ross suggests a walk. After that we came back to a beautiful lunch spread and I ate quite contently.
The early morning consisted of heading to the beach and trying a spot of kayaking. Can you see the difference between how Ross uses his kayak and how I do?
Later in the afternoon Alan dropped by and stayed for a couple of nights. We spent the days doing walks, playing chess, playing 4 player chess (which I don’t like – I’m a pretty bad loser), playing Scattegories, mini golf (Ga won) and just hanging out.
One day, we had the IMs Anthony Ker & Russell Dive visit. We played Carcassone, I think I won that one again and the boys played 4 way chess. Lin and I took the doggies out. Lunch was fish and chips! Lin taught me that the fish we ordered from the fish and chips shop is actually some sort of shark!! Be warned.
So we spent NYE’s at Ross and Lin and it was an evening full of laughs. NZ TV had no countdown and we ended up trying to spot fireworks from Ross and Lin’s bedroom. Looking through some binoculars half the time at what we thought were fireworks in the distance was just train traffic lights. We also spent a good 5 minutes looking into a neighbour’s window spotting what we thought were fireworks on the telly only to figure out it was just music videos.
Thanks for the great memories Bill,Maria,Ross,Lin & Alan. We miss you all and hope to see you soon!