Published: August 9th 2012July 19th 2012
HELLO ALL :)
June – MELBOURNE, Australia to AUCKLAND, New Zealand continued
It took 3 ½ hours to fly from Melbourne to Auckland and I arrived late because the flight was delayed leaving Melbourne. It felt nice to be coming back, I’d loved the place when I was here two years ago and would be spending time with my godmother Jenny and her husband Terry and then with Drew’s sister Heather, her husband Mike, Fergus (my godson) and their new baby girl who was due very soon. I had a bit of trouble at immigration when they couldn’t find my working holiday visa on the system so had to go and sit in a room (this wasn’t at all as dramatic as on the border control TV shows, it was just somewhere I could sit, even if they couldn’t find my working holiday visa I could have entered the country as a tourist without a pre-approved visa) whilst they looked for it. They did find it and let me in! Yey! I walked out of Arrivals after clearing customs to see Terry waiting for me! I was so happy to see him. My time with him and Jenny in New Zealand 2 years ago had been some of the happiest times I’d spent on my whole trip so it really felt like coming home.
It was lovely to breathe in the New Zealand fresh air when I stepped out of the airport, there’s nothing like it, it’s the freshest air I’ve breathed anywhere in the world. I was expecting it to be absolutely freezing but it wasn’t, it was a nice mild temperature, not bad for the middle of winter! There was a lot of traffic on the drive out to Patamahoe (just north of Auckland) and it was dark by the time we got home. Jenny was waiting for us with cheese and wine and an amazing beef roast with Kumara (New Zealand sweet potato) including in the veg’s. It smelled amazing (and was amazing). It was so so nice to be home with them both, they’re so lovely and I always enjoy my time with them, it’s so comforting! It was great to see their new house which had been in the planning stages when I was here before. We caught up and I got settled in and submitted my Uni assignment just in time. We watched Gypsy Weddings and Mrs Brown’s Boys (being shown in New Zealand for the first time, a clip became a You Tube sensation here so now they’re showing the first series in full). My bed was so ridiculously comfy and I went to sleep very happy.
June – just outside AUCKLAND
I was up quite late…can’t really blame it on jet lag when there’s only 2 hours difference between Melbourne and New Zealand! I had my breakfast and watched TV and then Terry took me out for the day to do our usual jobs. I love it! It’s like when you’re on school holidays and you go out with your Mum or Dad to do jobs. We went to the shops and to the farm and for a coffee and some quiche. At home I helped get pizza ready for dinner and we all had a nice evening together watching TV. I was studying at the same time and stayed up far too late to finish it before going to bed.
and Sunday 24th
June – just outside AUCKLAND
Jenny was out by the time I got up visiting her sister in hospital and Terry was out doing some work so it was just me until Sarah, their daughter, came round. Sarah is such a lovely girl, it was so nice to see her again and we had a nice afternoon chilling out, watching TV and talking about her wedding plans! Sarah introduced me to The Hunger Games… she had all 3 books in the house so I started reading the first (I was so addicted I finished it that night). Her fiancé Stephen (a radio host) came round and I really really like him. We all headed to the Pizza Box in Pukekohe for some dinner. I’d heard a lot about the seafood chowder from Terry so had that and it didn’t disappoint!
We spent Sunday morning chilling out with Sarah who had to return to Auckland after lunch. Jenny and I took a walk to the café in the village and had some cake and coffee. It was too good. We had a healthy fry up for tea and watched some TV; I was whacked out so wasn’t too late to bed!
to Friday 29th
June – just outside of AUCKLAND
We spent the week following our usual routine. I really do love it. Terry would come home from doing a bit of work to collect me to go and do our jobs (look around the shops, pick up something at the hardware store, get some goodies from the English Pantry – they’d run out of English marmite though!) and have a coffee and snack somewhere. We’d sometimes go to look at some scenery and one day we headed up to Pukekohe Hill for a good view of the countryside. In the afternoon Terry would head back to work so I stayed at home watching TV and doing Uni work. In the evening Jenny and I would often have cheese and wine… and we’d have dinner and settle down in front of the TV. Sarah had to go to hospital for a couple of days so Jenny went to visit her a few nights after work and I did some cooking! I successfully cooked Cottage Pies (thanks Mum!) and Bangers & Mash (thanks Gem). Terry and I picked up Fish & Chips one night too which were very nice. I got the result from my last Uni assignment too, was really pleased with it considering I’d been in such a rush – thank you Hannah for your help!
On a couple of trips we headed into Pukekohe and I had a wander around the shops and stumbled on lots of good books shops and a nice chocolate shop run by an English ex pat. I’ve learned two things about myself this week; I’m a compulsive donator (sponsorship, money in tins and the like) and a compulsive book shopper. I nearly had to physically restrain myself to stop buying books! Terry and I stopped one day for a fruit ice cream (sorry Cazzler, it was where Terry took us) which was lovely even in the middle of winter. The weather seemed to change very day, it was mainly very warm (if England was like this in the depths of winter I’d be very happy) and sometimes I didn’t even need a coat outside but we also had hail (so loud on the windows it woke me up) and a really big flash of lightning with a crash of thunder (just the one) that actually shook the house and blew out the internet connection.
Sarah came back again on Friday and we had another afternoon of catching up on favourite TV programmes, including Big Fat Gypsy Weddings which is very popular here. Jenny, Sarah and I headed out to get Thai Takeaway and I tried something new that was really delicious, will have to ask Jenny what it was. Sarah made us a lovely berry pudding, it was so good and felt really healthy (until we added Tip Top Hokey Pokey Ice Cream - sorry again Cazzler!).
June – just outside of AUCKLAND
Jenny, Sarah and I headed into Pukekohe in the morning for a look around the shops, including the second hand bookshop. I hadn’t found it the other day, thankfully because I needed someone there to control me! It had all my favourite authors and all their books that I hadn’t read yet so I think between the three of us we got most of them and the idea was to swap when I came back to visit again. We met Terry at Mitre 10 for lunch and in the afternoon Jenny headed to the hospital to see her sister whilst Sarah and I cooked a beef roast…! Mum, I can hear the exclamations of wonder from here! Yes, I helped cook a beef roast! Sarah was in charge but I definitely helped… It was surprisingly straight forward and absolutely delicious. Sarah did her nice pudding for tea (we’d had it last night but it was so popular) and we had a quiet evening.
July – Just outside of AUCKLAND to PARAPARAUMU
I was leaving Jenny, Terry and Sarah today to head down to Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast (just north of Wellington) to stay with Heather, Mike and Fergus. Heather was due to have baby Flora in a few weeks and I was hopefully going to be a helping hand… I was also going to try to find a job. I said bye to the Davis family (felt sad but would visit again before I left) and Terry took me to the bus stop. The Intercity bus was so very late, Terry waited for me so I felt annoyed for him until it eventually came and we said bye and I got on the bus. The first hour or so to Hamilton was really hard going because it was so hot and stuffy, I had far too many layers on. I changed buses at Hamilton and stayed on that one for 8 hours all the way to Paraparaumu. We had a stop off in Taupo for something to eat. I’d spent several nights in Taupo two years ago and it reminded me of Caryl, especially when we drove past one the hostels we stayed in. It was absolutely freezing outside the bus, really REALLY cold. There wasn’t any food places nearby and I couldn’t bear walking in that cold so I had to exist on a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar. Back on the bus we drove out of the town and around Lake Taupo (a massive volcano crater lake) and thanks to Terry’s tip to sit on the right hand side of the bus I got a beautiful view of the lake with the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park in the background. They are very impressive; Mt Tongariro (the flat one with several craters), Mt Ruapehu (the tallest and most active one) and Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom, actually an outlet Mt Tongariro). They were beautiful last time when I was here in the summer but now they were completely snow covered, very different and equally as beautiful. We took the Desert Road (State Highway 1, had been closed a few days ago because of heavy snowfall) around the volcanoes which gave us an hour and a half of incredible views. We had another stop off at Taihape, at the Gumboot Manor, have been there a few times too. Again they had hardly any food…where’s a Macdonalds when you need one! The drive out of Taihape was really beautiful. This area of the North Island has really distinctive sharp rolling hills with lush green cone shaped peaks and valleys covered in sheep and cows…I’ve never seen that type of landscape anywhere else. The sun was starting to set and everything was glowing pink, even the green grass and snowy mountain peaks. I love driving at that time of day so was happy as.
I was starting to get very sleepy and had to be careful because I didn’t know where to get off the bus! I knew we were getting close because it was nearing my arrival time but the bus driver wasn’t announcing the stops so I had to keep looking out for signs on shops saying Paraparaumu. I eventually realised I was there and got off the bus to find Mike waiting for me! It was great to see him! It always feels so strange though when you see someone usually only associated with home in a completely different country! We got a taxi home and I was greeted at the door by Fergus! I’ve really missed him and he seemed happy to see me too. He’d grown so much but is still totally adorable. Heather wasn’t far behind and I was so happy to see her, she’s such a calm and comforting presence, but she didn’t get emotional (I was a bit miffed!). They showed me around their lovely little house and we had soup and wine for dinner.
We got Fergus ready for bed and he chose me to read him his bedtime story, I’m apparently very privileged. We spent the evening chatting and catching up. I was quite cold though. Although it’s milder in New Zealand during winter than it is in England (even though it’s colder further south near Wellington than it was up in Auckland it was still mild) but the houses are not built the same. It’s not common for houses to have double glazing (unless they’re very new) or central heating (in a lot of places the earthquake risk is too high). There is a big push at the moment to get houses up to World Health Organisation standards because so many don’t meet them. Hev & Mike’s isn’t in that category but it was still chilly (it’s lovely, very cosy) and I needed the hot water bottle they’d got for me that night J I slept ok but woke up once during the night after dreaming about earthquakes… We were in a high risk area (Wellington has been expecting and preparing for ‘the big one’ for years) and because we were near the coast there was a tsunami risk (I’ve had re-occurring nightmares about tsunamis for years). Heather had talked me through the evacuation plan and the tsunami warning siren was only a couple of blocks away but it was obviously playing on my mind!
July – PARAPARAUMU
I was up early (there is a nearly 3 year old in the house!) and made myself fried egg on toast. It was my first time and I’m not sure if I did it right. Hev took Fergus to kindi and Mike went to work so Hev and I got the bus into town to do some jobs… I invested in some thermals, a pair of slippers and a dressing gown in The Warehouse and Pagani. We went to check out the cinema which was playing Tortoise in Love, the film made by our home village because we were going to see it later in the week. We were excited enough just to see the poster up!
We got the bus home and collected Fergus from kindi where I was added to the list of people who could pick him up. I got busy doing jobs, my Mum has always told me that getting on and doing things warms you up if you’re cold and it really does! Hev thinks I’m a domestic goddess (except for the cooking!) because I’m so efficient at cleaning and tidying. Hev made fish cakes for tea which were really nice. I got my thermals on early and they worked a treat, they certainly took the chill off. I went to bed with so many layers on I had to take some off during the night. I was so hot!
July – PARAPARAUMU and PORIRUA
We were all up and out early to go with Heather for a baby scan in Porirua. The train journey was absolutely beautiful along the coast (I’m now in love with that train journey…more on it later). I was allowed in to the scan and it was amazing. Flora is nearly due so it wasn’t like scan pictures I’ve seen before (for a start she was too big to fit in one picture!); you could see so many features and make out the shape of her face. And we heard her heartbeat. Mike headed to work and Hev, Fergus and I had some lunch and looked around the shops before getting the train and bus home. I went for a walk to check out the beach, which is only a 5 minute walk from home. It’s absolutely beautiful Kapiti Island looms large in the bay and the beach is rugged and wild with driftwood scattered over it. It’s so peaceful, a really good place to go and think. Back at home I helped Hev with some housework, cooked an omelette, read Fergus a story and then forced Hev to watch the penultimate episode of Revenge because I knew she wouldn’t then be able to resist the last episode and I wanted to watch that with her! We paid attention to the national earthquake awareness advert, with little kids telling you what to do if an earthquake struck (using words like salami for tsunami). It’s simply Drop, Cover and Hold.
Mike got home from work at 10.30pm ish and we were getting ready for bed when… a real life earthquake struck. It all happened very fast; Hev and I were in the middle of the living room when we felt it start shaking… we said ‘that’s an earthquake’ and within seconds were crouching in the doorway (we’d Dropped, Covered and Held!). Within another 10 seconds Mike had got Fergus out of bed and was crouched with him in the other doorway and I’d turned off the gas fire and got back with Hev who was holding onto me tight. I was worried it would bring on labour for but I felt weirdly calm during the whole thing. We could see the walls shaking and hear the house creaking in a series of short rapid pulsations. It seemed to go on for several minutes but it must have only been about 45 seconds. Once it’d stopped we stayed in the doorway for a good few minutes just in case there were any immediate aftershocks then ventured out. We were all a bit shaken (literally!) and I had to have some more wine.
Hev introduced me to GeoNet which monitors all of the New Zealand earthquake and volcano activity. It had updated very quickly to tell us it had been a magnitude 7.0 earthquake 257km below the earth’s surface (7.0 is really big, the depth had limited the impact) out in the Cook Straight (off our coast). Mike said it was the worst earthquake he’d ever felt (he’s lived in New Zealand on and off for over 30 years) as did many people talking about it on the train to Wellington over the next few days. I was glad it hadn’t happened when we were all in bed, it wouldn’t have been nice waking up to it. And it’s meant that I’ve read up on the earthquake and in particular tsunami risk to the area... I’m absolutely fascinated by it (should have been a Seismologist or something). We now had a benchmark; an earthquake that’s more violent or lasts longer is a tsunami risk. I’d assumed the siren would give us adequate warning but apparently not, if a tsunami was triggered in the Cook Straight we could have only 15 minutes to get to higher ground and safety. I think we all had a random sleep that night!
and Thursday 5th
July – PARAPARAUMU and WELLINGTON
I had two days of job interviews in Wellington with recruitment agencies so got the bus and the train into Wellington two days in a row. The interviews went well, I got good test results (typing, data entry, word and excel) and was accepted to all the agencies. I had a nice bit of lunch in a café on the Wednesday and a take away bagel from Wholly Bagel on the Thursday thanks to Mike’s recommendation and took some quick pictures of Wellington whilst there. It was too windy to hang about, they don’t call it Windy Wellington for nothing and in the winter the wind blows straight off the Antarctic! In the evening Hev and I chilled out and waited for another earthquake…! Mike was working late and we were glad when he got home!
July – PARAPARAUMU
Hev took Fergus to kindi then we headed to town to open my bank account and apply for my tax number and… to go and see Tortoise in Love at Downtown Cinemas in Paraparaumu! We were so excited to see home on the big screen! I’d seen the film when it was shown in the Village Hall but it was Heather’s first time, we hoped they hadn’t cut the scenes with people we knew in them. There was a huge queue inside the cinema because it was school holidays and Ice Age had just come out. I didn’t want to miss the start as thought a picture of my Mum might be in the opening credits so Hev told me to go in whilst she queued for popcorn. We were in the smart Cinema Gold theatre so it was very comfy and luxurious. There were a few adverts and then the film started and there was my lovely Mum, in a picture from when she was crowned Longworth Rose Queen. I promptly burst into tears, it was so lovely to see her up there! Hev joined me and I don’t think we stopped being teary during the whole film. It was really nice but so emotional seeing home and hearing phrases like ‘fancy a pint down the Waggon?!’ We saw my Mum again in a photo album and Heather’s little brother Ross and nephew Richard in their scene at the back of a bus. And I saw myself at the village fete (I deliberately wore a bright pink top!). At the end we got chatting to the two New Zealand ladies who were watching with us, they’d really enjoyed it and it made their day that they’d talked to people from where it was made. We had a bit of lunch afterwards then headed home for a rest. I cooked a cottage pie for everyone in the evening, was chuffed that everyone asked for seconds, especially because Fergus rarely asks for seconds!
July - PARAPARAUMU
Hev and I had a slow relaxing day! Mike was at work so we chilled at home and played with Fergus and gave ourselves facials. Fergus woke up from his afternoon nap whilst we had face masks on… he didn’t freak out but once we’d taken them off we asked him if we looked pretty and he said ‘NO’ and called us monsters! I felt 2 earthquakes that evening, not bad ones and they only lasted a few seconds. I just found myself bouncing on the sofa and when I looked at GeoNet could see a nearby quake that’d happened a few seconds ago.
July - PARAPARAUMU
ike was off work today so we all went into town. Hev and I went to watch Tortoise in Love for the second time… we couldn’t resist and I think we enjoyed it more because we weren’t so emotional. The rest of the day was very quiet. I’d been with Heather, Mike and Fergus for a week now and was very settled. We had our little routine in the evenings which included dinner, getting Fergus to bed, me getting in my thermals and gradually adding layers until I was in a jumper and dressing gown, Mike makes the hot drinks (hot milk for me, bless him) and at about 10ish we’d do the hot water bottles and put them in our beds to warm them up! It was lovely, we were just waiting for baby Flora to arrive now J
to Friday 13th
July – PARAPARAUMU and WELLINGTON
I had an interview on Monday so headed into Wellington again, it went well and I was accepted to another agency. I got a call that afternoon from an agency to say they had a position starting for me on Wednesday. It’s a very basic data entry role for the New Zealand government and I accepted, I wanted to work and it’d be better not to use any more of my savings whilst in New Zealand.
That meant I only had Tuesday before starting work so I spent the day with Hev and Fergus and the gas man, who’d come to check over the fire. He pulled the fire apart and got it working well again.
He did cause us a slight problem in the afternoon though…not his fault… I was sat on the sofa and saw a bug crawling across the floor. I casually said ‘Hev, what’s that?’ thinking it just looked a bit odd and we looked at it for a few minutes before she realised it was a White Tail Spider (the only poisonous spider in New Zealand!). It must have been hibernating in the fire. It couldn’t stay in the house because it would have given someone a nasty sting so somehow we got a jar over it (thankfully it was still sleepy so moving slowly) and got it outside. We’re both not fans of catching spiders so it took a lot of jumping about (Fergus ‘helpfully’ joined in) to get it outside.
I started work on the Wednesday which was a bit of a shock to the system because I had to get up at 6.30am! I know it’s not that early but it was so cold! I was out for the 7.01 bus which gets me to the station in time for the 7.22 train to Wellington. I was a bit sleepy. I found the building really easily helped by Mike’s instructions and headed in and seemed to pick things up really quickly, which surprised the people who were teaching me. So that was my Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – I’d go to work and then settle back into the usual routine in the evening. It’s an hour and a half door to door, with 50 minutes on the train (providing everything is on time). I really enjoy the commute simply because the train journey is so spectacular… (more on that in Part 2/2… I’m writing this on the train now and being distracted by a view of the most beautiful sunset over the sea, the sky looks like it’s on fire and the South Island is glowing purple!). I’ve taking so many pictures of it... (sorry!)
and Sunday 15th
July – PARAPARAUMU
We all had a really quiet weekend! There was still no sign of Flora; Hev was being monitored and had a big doctor’s appointment on Wednesday when some decisions would be made. I did Uni work like crazy because I had another deadline and wanted to get my assignment in before Flora arrived so I could concentrate on helping with everything when needed. I did find time to take a couple of runs down the beach… it rained so much one day I got soaked through with icy cold rain!
to Thursday 29th
July – PARAPARAUMU and WELLINGTON
I worked Monday to Thursday this week, so it was the usual up at 6.30am, out to work and back for about 6pm before the evening routine started. On Wednesday things did get a bit more exciting, although Hev didn’t think so at the time! Her blood pressure was very high so a decision was made to book her in for a caesarean on Friday… Flora was on her way J I asked for Friday off work and after some umming and ahhing (really… I’m a temp!) I got Friday off so I could look after Fergus. We spent Thursday night concentrating on getting Heather calm and ready J
And onto Part 2…
NOTE: I use these updates to capture my memories and share what I'm doing on my travels with friends, family and anyone who’s interested enough to read. The views are my own and I try my best to ensure any information I share is fair and accurate but I do sometimes get things wrong. I welcome any feedback so I can make improvements and corrections for future readers. Thank you.