So it seems as if my fellow bloggers have deserted me – not even Dave seems to want to post. He spends most of his down time learning Japanese, so it is left to me. I will do my best to update as much as possible. I know everyone likes Dave’s posts, but I’ll have to do 🙂 We are behind, there is no way around that. Lack of internet will do that to you, so I am going to start with where we are and will work my way back and fill in what I can.
We are in New Zealand and we are loving it! Before we set foot here, we did spend a week in Bondi Beach outside of Sydney, Australia (more on that in another post). We were happy to step foot in our first English speaking country since we started. And thank goodness things are all in English since we have now started on our road trip part of this journey. Dave as our driver has to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. This would be all the more difficult if we didn’t understand the road signs.
We arrived in New Zealand last week and went straight to Waiheke Island. It is a small island about a 30 minute ferry ride from Aukland and super mellow. So mellow in fact that the one rental car place was closed when we got there and our friend’s friend had to call them to come and open up again. They didn’t think they had any more renters for the day, so they closed up shop early – I think we got there at 3:30. Our kind of living!! We were fortunate enough to stay at this great house given to us by one of Dave’s client, Doug. We loved it! It was at Enclosure Bay and we felt right at home. We were able to cook, which was great. For some this might seem odd, but throughout Asia we stayed mostly at hotels and we have been ready for some home cooked meals for awhile now. Girls were happy in their bunk beds with reading lights and we had about 150 stairs down to a little private beach. Too cold to swim, but it was nice to walk down to each day.
We spent some time walking the cute streets and checking out the shops. Had a nice lunch and great beer at a local pub called The Cove and the girls enjoyed yummy gelato a couple of times at Island Gelato. We walked the local beach and collected shells – a favorite past time when we come to a beach.
One of the best days was our drive out to Man O War Vineyards. We drove across the island about 40 minutes – 2o of which were on a dirt road. Dave definitely thought I was getting him lost, but I take my job as navigator quite seriously – especially if a great glass of wine is waiting for me at the other end!! The terrain of Waiheke is beautiful – rolling hills, sheep, cows, vines and it ended with the tasting room at the edge of Man O War Bay – amazing!! The girls were able to run around the grassy area, there were games and picnic tables and we were blessed with beautiful weather! The wine was fantastic!! We tried both the whites and the reds and weren’t disappointed. Still have one bottle we bought with us – and actually broke it out tonight.
We also made some new friends with the caretakers of our house, Chris and Margaret, who were kind enough to invite the 5 of us over for a delicious home cooked meal. Always nice when we can meet locals and get a taste of real life wherever we are. They were too kind and took good care of all of us. We are enjoying the olive oil they gave us for our road trip from their own olive trees grown on the island. Claire wishes she had a whole vat!!
We were sad to leave our little piece of NZ paradise, but headed back to Aukland for a few days. A sleepy little town. Dave and I both loved it – reminded us of Portland. It seemed old school, not yet gentrified, but cool. We really just had some down days – strolling the streets and shops. That always gives you a feel for how locals live. The shops seemed to close early – I think 8pm on Saturday night – unheard of on the streets of San Francisco so close to the holidays. Speaking of holidays, we were happy to find Christmas windows at the local department store all decorated, so we didn’t feel so far from the downtown Macy’s. Plus there was a huge Santa gracing the corner of Queen Street where there was also a local playing the didgeridoo. Pretty cool! And we have managed to decorate a little at each place with stockings and a small tree. Plus our elf managed to find us all the way down here thankfully!!! I have to say, while I miss the Christmas spirit with family and friends, there something to say about taking it easy for the holidays and not running around like a crazy person as I normally do getting everything done – gifts, cards, cookies, etc. We will miss your Christmas cards, so feel free to email us a picture of it 🙂
We went up to the Sky Tower and looked out over the city. Through the windows not only could you see the landscape dotted with now dormant volcanoes, but you could watch people bungee jumping from the top of the tower! Crazy!!
And now we have rented our green and purple Jucy mobile and have hit the road!
We won’t fly again until we get to Christchurch on January 5th. Currently we are in Rotorua staying at Cedarwood Lakeside Motel right on the lake.
It is has trampolines and swings, so everyone is happy. And happy is key right now. It did get ugly for a couple of days in Waiheke and we wondered if we were going to have to throw in the towel on the trip, but we had a family come to Jesus moment and decided we were continuing on. I think that coming down from all the time in Asia was more than we thought it would be. But we seem to be in a good place now. We are definitely trying to change up our itineraries a bit and slow things down. It isn’t worth it to move around too much when you are gone for so long. But here in NZ and Australia, there are many things we want to see and we are trying to work it out. Once we get to Europe in February we have decided to try to stay in one town/city for at least a month at a time. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m going to end with the great adventure Dave and the girls had today – Zorbing!! What a crazy experience where you roll down a hill in these gigantic inflated balls with water inside – just like a hamster in a hot tub 🙂 They loved their first two rides so much, they did a third.
We are taking a break before going to learn about the local Maori culture tonight – girls are rewatching Return of the Jedi so we can be ready for the news Star Wars movie when it comes out. Can’t wait!!
And stay tuned – we are scheduled to zip line on Friday – definitely out of my comfort zone, but I’m ready…….I think!