It's been a while since the last blog, but I'll try to catch you up as much as I can! I tried to blog a few days ago, but it didn't save and I was too frustrated to retype the whole thing.
I'll pick up somewhere after the Waipou Forest. It was too long a drive to make it back to Auckland so we picked a random spot on the map called Mangawhai Heads. We pull up to the hostel, which was more like a house, Coastal Cow Backpackers, and walk into a living room of people drinking and playing poker. We tried to talk to them, but we were clearly not cool enough. So, we awkwardly sat on the kitchen counters while Noam made us another delicacy. I got in trouble the other day because he read on my blog that we were afraid of our first meal... haha so, sorry Noam if you are reading this one! We had noodles, baked beans, and onions mixed together. Again, we ate every bit.
Soon after a German couple came in and we made friends with them. They were shunned by the others as well so we knew it wasn't just us. They taught us how to make homemade pizza dough. It looked delicious, but we still haven't made our own yet. The guy was 7'1" and the tallest person I have ever seen. The tallest Kaori tree is know as the "father of the forest" - so, obviously, we cracked ourselves, and Noam, up because we just referred to him as the "father". They have been in NZ for a few months and were helpful in telling us a few places to check out. It was another good night. We woke up ready to go for the drive to Auckland.
The views simply driving around this country are amazing. Even in the rain, it's beautiful. All types of landscapes. It is always great and then you pass a sign that reads "Drink + Drive = Dead Ahead" or "Drinking and driving means DEAD in a ditch" "High Crash Zone Ahead" It weirds us out every time. Gets the message across though, I suppose. Also, have I mentioned the one way bridges? Every once in a while you'll come to a bridge that is only one lane wide. The drivers have to "give way" to each other. They are kind of fun. I still feel like I'm driving in a little racecar game. We went back through the toll road that makes you pay online, chose the more scenic free route, and made it to Auckland.
I have a good friend, Smith, from Charleston who has been living just outside of Auckland so we went to meet him. He was over here this past Jan to June and came back again the day after us. He, luckily, met a family on his flight the first time and became really good friends with them. He was staying at their house in Mt. Eden until he bought a car. They are a super nice Kiwi family. Eliza and I were debating what to do/where to go and the mom, Delwyn, offered for us to stay the night as well. Staying in an actual home, with hot showers, a dog, and a free dinner.. duh. We had taco salad for dinner and were able to catch up on a few things, including shower. That is where I blogged from the last time. Smith helped us out around Mt. Eden and was able to buy a Netbook and camera. So now you can see pics! I have a few of them on facebook, but am working on getting some here. I wasn't able to transfer them last time.
Anyway... we hung out in Mt. Eden for a bit then decided to head a little more South to Mount Maunganui. This is a great little beach town on the East Coast, known for its surfing, that the father told us about. We made it into town and didn't really do much the first night. We walked down the beach to some cool rocks over the clear blue water. You can see our gooby Christmas card pic on fb. We hiked to the summit of the Mount the next day and it was awesome. Weather was great and sun was out. Also, we watched the Ole Miss LSU game.. well, I say watched, but what I really mean is tried to comprehend the play by play lines online. We took the netbook to a little restaurant in town and set up shop. Ordered two Jim and diet cokes and received them premixed in little glass bottles. We didn't really know what to think at first, but they ended up being pretty good. What a game! It was really intense "watching" it this way because it would only update every minute or so. We were on edge and looked like crazies when we realized we won! It was pretty funny. Rugby was on all the TVs, but there we sat watching our American football.
Later that day, Smith and his friend, Ben, (Hey Ben! I know you're reading this!) decided to come to "the mount" for surfing. Sadly, the surf wasn't any good, but they got to hang out with us.
We hadn't had a shower yet, and didn't have a home. So we walked right up the stairs of the hostel we'd already checked out of and success. It was getting close to deciding where our "home" would be that night. The guys said we were going to drive down the beach and just find a spot to camp... and that is exactly what we did. haha. We made our little home next to two picnic tables on Papmoa Beach with a "no camping" sign about 7 feet away. The sun went down and we pitched our tents. What a night, that ended up being 2 nights.
The boys snorkled for mussels at the bottom of the mount. Eliza and I went for a run and then laid on the beach for a while. I got in the water after the run, and although it was refreshing, it was freezing. By this time, we were in desperate need for a shower, an actual shower, not an ocean shower. We drove into town and decided to check out the RV site. It was like winning a free gift. We walked right in, showered, and walked right out, maybe a little faster than we walked in. Success. We went back to the "campsite" and hung out for the rest of the night. We (the boys) steamed the mussels for dinner and they were delicious.
I am going to have to update more later because we've been through a lot more since then! Karlene Jean has a doctors appointment though so got to go! Pray she just has the flu and not a heart attack!
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