Sunday, 27 November 2016

Living for the weekends

A few weeks back we had a gorgeous day so me, Amy, Colin, Ben, Shanyn, Tim and Ash drove to Long Bay on the North Shore and set up camp on the beach for the avo.  We put on our togs and played Force Back (a throwing game with 2 teams that i have never quite understood the rules of so won't bother explaining - I also spent a good 8 months thinking it was called 'Four Spec' because of the kiwi accent), lazed in the sun and took a quick dip in the rather cold ocean.  We then went back to Colin's house, played loads of VR (Colin's a geek and spent money on a virtual reality head set which is AWESOME and a lot of fun) and had a BBQ.  Shanyn put worcester sauce in the mince and the burgers turned out delish.  We also played a really good card game called Punderdome. It's essentially a cards against humanity version of puns - there's 2 cards with a random word on and you have to make a pun that links them, and it goes to the vote.  Me and Ben were really good - my proudest moment was when we had to link 'snacks' and 'Sherlock Holmes'. I came up with "Watson your plate? Sherlock's good".  I still giggle about it weeks later.

Force Back on the beach

home made naan and daal. this bears no relation to our beach trip, I just want to prove I do cook every now and then. ha

Another weekend we went for an impromptu evening out at a local brewery.  It was very Peckham - they brew their own beer, the furniture is vintage and they had 2 dogs, one of which was a pug.  They also had a vintage car which we somehow managed to spend the night sitting in.  We ended up in Family Bar on KRoad which was a bit dead, so instead had shisha and kebabs (well the boys did, me and Amy sat there observing).

 The next day we went on what was meant to be a little walk to the Mokoroa Falls.  It was only 20 mins to the falls themselves, then we spent a good hour playing around them and ended up having a fun photoshoot from Shanyn.

Shanyn's photo

Shanyn's photo

We then decided to walk a different way back as it was a loop track - and oh boy was it fun.  Turns out the track basically follows a stream, and the track was super we decided to just walk through the stream instead. It was brilliant - the water was warm and the stream base was mostly bedrock so not too deep or slippery.  We had to cross some waterfalls and do a little bit of climbing and clambering and it was the most fun I have had in ages - especially as it was so unexpected and unplanned.  We finished very wet and muddy but also on a right high!  I was exhausted at the end and pretty much ate a burger then fell asleep at about 7pm.

Me, Ben and Sam went to a weird play that was being put on in the city centre - again it was quite Peckham. The play was outside and set in a car, about 1 boy who was gay and struggling to find love and kept falling in love with his stright male friends instead of other gay guys.  It was good but being outside it started to pour it down....but in true Kiwi spirit everyone was soon chucking their umbrellas to people more in need and it was all very lovely and jolly.

I started climbing again. I went one week as I had no other plans and it was my first time in AGES and I really enjoyed it.  I don't know what happened but my attitude to it had completely changed and instead of being a baby and doing climbs I knew I could do, I decided to try hard ones that I knew I wouldn't get to the top of.  This led me to realise that I am stronger than I used to be and though I dind't get to the top of half the climbs I tried, I managed to get half way which I was very proud of!   I then went again the following week with Morry and I aced it - probably because I was trying to impress him and feeling a bit competitive but I managed to do one that had stumped me for a while, and one from last week that I failed at.  Woohoo!

I've bought a new car. My old one failed it's WOF (MOT) and needed $600 repairs on it so I decided to bite the bullet and repair it and sell - it's proving hard to sell which is annoying and in the mean time I bought a new car, a little Corolla as I don't need something as big as I have got.  The old lady I bought it from didn't want to come on the test drive so I left her in my house where she ate guacamole and nachos with Amy and Shannyn, then when I decided to buy it I left her in my house again whilst I went to go play netball and she waited for her partner to arrive to pick her up.  I love New Zealand.

Last weekend Amy, Colin and I went to Matakana in the morning for the markets - it's a really cute little town up North and the last time I went was with Morry but it was pouring with rain.  This time the weather was beaut and we had brunch from street stalls then headed to Goat Island, with the original intention to hire kayaks and then go round the island.  There were no kayaks, and it turns out it's a pretty rubbish thing anyway as you're not allowed any further than the bay and you're not alloed on the island with the kayaks, so instead we did a glass bottom boat tour which was fun and we saw string rays and lots of large fish.

We had our last netball match of the season.  We lost (obviously) but I felt a bit sad at the end - it's the last match we'll probably play ever as that team because people kept dropping out and the last 3 weeks it's been a nightmare to find anyone to play so we've decided not to play summer league. But I really enjoyed the games and I felt sad we won't be playing together any more!! We took a team photo at the end - except it's not the entire team because the boys couldn't make the match, and also we didn't have 3 centres and 2 defence haha.

This Friday me and Amy went out for cocktails - after a failed attempt on K Road we ended up browsing bars on the waterfront before deciding upon Sardine, mainly because they had a Lemon Meringue cocktail that featured lemon sorbet and french meringue.  It was nice to go out and get dressed up (I spend my life in my work clothes or active wear) and as an added bonus, as we were paying an old drunk man sat next to me refused to let us pay.  I told him that we were strong independent women who could pay for our own drinks but he refused and the bar lady refused to take our cards to pay, and put it on his tab.  I tried to pay for his beer but he waved me off and told me to enjoy my evening - it was nice that we got our drinks paid for (came to $70!) but I also felt bad and like I had to do something in return, I considered flashing him my boob but refrained.

Purple lipstick - yay or nay?

Yesterday was most productive. I got up super early to take my car to the garage, then picked up Ben on my way back and we tried out SUP (stand up paddleboarding) at this free event I saw on facebook.  It's harder than it looks!!! I spent most of my time kneeling as I was so wobbly standing.  Then I came home, did a food shop, then picked up Amy and we went to the shop and I bought a boogyboard (so excited to use it) and some surf booties and a kettle bell, then I mowed the lawn and did some house work, then I sunbathed, then I had a nap.  Then me, Amy and Ben drove to Orewa and met up with Morry and his sister and some of her friends, and we had dinner and a catch up then went to watch the fireworks on the beach, then headed home.

Today we were meant to be doing another awesome stream walk but Colin had food poisoning on Fri evening and spent all evening and Sat morning chundering and pooping, and then people started to bail so instead I drove to Shakespear Regional Park (it winds me up but there's no 'e' on the end) for a little wander.  It's really pretty and there's so many little islands just off the coast - I need a boat to explore them all!!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Playing tourguide to Jen - Part 2

We drove on to Fox in the pouring rain and though initially were going to camp, when we did research a hostel room was only $7 more expensive than camping each, so we stayed at Ivory Towers backpackers - which, by the way, is bloody amazing.  The lady had blue hair and she gave us the discounted BBH rate for no other reason than she was a nice person, the kitchen was really well equipped and had free tea, there were no bunkbeds in sight and we had our own room.  It was a very lovely sleep indeed! (though I was woken once by Jen sleep talking, "What!!! They've blocked the view of the Haast Pass!" - glad she's getting into the spirit of NZ!)

In the morning we embarked on my favourite part of the trip - the Copland Track! For some reason I was nearly shitting myself over this - I think I'd read too many warning signs on the DOC site about rockfalls and being washed away by the river.  The track starts with a river crossing which I hate - my feet get so cold they burn so I wasn't looking forward to it. I spent the evening prior texting Shannyn for reassurance that I could do it and telling him that if I didn't text him on Sunday at 5pm then I was probably dead and to alert the police and my mum.

However it was my favourite part of the whole trip! We started early and despite the heavy rain the previous day and night, the river was actually lower than when we'd checked it out the previous day.  It was painful on my feet and I made weird noises with every step but I made it through in one piece, helped by a trusty stick I'd found at the start of the track.

The track is definitely up there in my top 10.  It's 18kms long but with no long steep sections, it just ambles up and down until you reach the hut.  It's beautiful - we had perfect weather for it which helped.  After the river crossing you enter a woodland that's filled with vegetation and native birds, and navigate little streams that you either wade through or rock hop over, sometimes the track is actually a little waterfall which you have to walk up.  The local rock is really sparkly and glints in the sun - we were convinced there were traces of gold in it but on further research post walk it's Mica.

navigating mini waterfalls that form the track. I can see why they say not to attempt it after heavy rainfall

The track meets up with the Copland River and there's a bit of boulder hopping (one of my favourite activities in the world) and then you have to cross one of many roaring rivers coming down from the mountains using the terrifying swing bridges.  Well to be fair only 2 were terrifying - steel cables where you could see through to the river below you and a big gap either side which you could fall through if you tried hard enough.  But it's all part of the fun!

Logan, my trusty stick

my favourite view of the whole walk

One of many bridges (well 8 to be exact)

These are the scary bridges!

We eventually made it to the hut, swapped our tramping gear for our bikinis and headed to the natural hot pools!  If every hike ended up with hot pools I'd hike every damn day!  The pools are shallow and have a muddy base and we had to submerge ourselves to stop being eaten by sandflies, but you just lie down in that lovely warm water and look at the snow capped mountains across the valley and feel very content with life!

We made it! The Welcome Flats hut

Hot pools!

The boiling hot stream that feeds the pools

The cheeky Alpine parrot - the Kea

The river crossing - there's this stream then 2 others to cross over before you get to the other side

We hiked back in the morning, meeting a German guy in the car park who we'd made friends with in the hut.  He gave us tea and we gave him chocolate then we parted ways and headed back to Fox, feeling very accomplished.  We camped at a proper campsite and spent the evening reading books on bean bags and checking out nearby glowworms.

In the morning I dropped Jen off at the helicopter place so she could do her helihike, and I had a fairly chilled morning where I walked to Fox Glacier and sat in a cafe drinking hot chocolate and writing.

Fox Glacier

Fox valley. Amazing to think that less than 100 years ago the entire valley was filled with the glacier

Jen came back full of beans after her exciting morning, and we carried on our drive up the West Coast to Hokitika.  I called my old acquaintance Wayne (from the farm) and we offered to cook dinner in exchange of a bed for the night which he happily agreed to.  It was SO nice to see him again! He's such a lovely guy. We cooked him dinner and drank beers in the garden and played with his dog and had a good old natter about the farm and life in general before hitting the hay.

I look a bit uncomfortable but contract to my expression I was really happy to see Wayne again!

We woke up on our final morning and packed up all our stuff - it seemed like a daunting task after having everything spread out across the car, but we managed to fit everything into our packs again, and hit the road back to Christchurch.  We stopped for coffee and a snack in Arthur's Pass, and enjoyed watching the Kea's hop around on people's cars picking at the rubber (luckily not ours!).  The drive through Arthur's Pass was beautiful but longer than I expected and I was panicking that we wouldn't have enough time to clean our car before dropping it at the airport.  But we made it in time and had an uneventful flight back home.

Amin was really nice and picked us up from the airport (in a Jaguar?! courtesy car apparently - but made us feel like VIPs!) then we took him for dinner to say thank you and for a catch up - Jen hadn't seen him since Sri Lanka.  When we got back we were the first ones home, so started unpacking stuff.  I heard Shannyn walk in so I ran up to him asking him to smell my arm pits (this sounds weird but the context is I forgot to put deodorant on in the morning but didn't smell and wanted to prove to him I didn't. To be fair it still sounds weird) but did a double take as the person I'd run up to wasn't Shannyn, so I got all embarrassed that I'd asked a stranger to smell my underarms, and I was confused because it looked like it could be Shannyn but something wasn't right - then I twigged and started laughing hysterically because he'd shaved off his beard and looked like a totally different person.  Bloody Movember! You can donate here if you wish

See! He looks so different!

The next day we took a drive out to the Waitakeres - I was keen to show Jen that Auckland had more to offer than just the boring city she'd seen so far.  We did the Fairy Falls walk which I really recommend as a short leg stretcher - minimum effort, maximum impact in terms of what you see - gorgeous native bushland, Kauri trees and a super cute waterfall that looks like it's been constructed for a Japanese feature garden. We then drove to Muriwai, had lunch and checked out the gannet colony - which is soooooooooo good!!! You can get so close to the gannets and there's tons and tons of them.  I am going to go back in a few weeks as it's hatching season and I wanna see the wee babies! They're a little bit smelly but cute birds - they mate for life and when one of them flies off and comes back they make a fuss over each other as if they haven't seen each other in weeks - it's pretty adorable.

Kauri tree

That evening I hosted a pot luck (where everyone brings some food round) so that Jen could meet all my Auckland friends. It was a bit disjointed as everyone turned up at different times and not many people brought food but it was a nice evening nonetheless and I was happy Jen got to meet some of my closest friends out here.

Thursday was Jen's final day so we had a leisurely packing morning then walked to Mt Eden and had lunch, then I took her to the airport and waved goodbye.

It was a whirlwind trip but very enjoyable and so nice to see Jen - I hope to have more visitors hint hint everyone! I also hope Jen enjoyed it, it's such a long trip for such a short time!!