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Published: October 29th 2011
View from Sofitel
The hotel in which we spent our first and last nights looked out over the adjacent marina.
Our flight from Auckland to Tahiti left of October 7th at 5:00pm. The plane landed in Papeete on October 6th at 11:30 pm. So at 9am on October 7th we were walking towards Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand AND we were laying by the pool at the Sofitel Hotel in Tahiti. Never have we been so baffled by time change.
We spent our first day in Tahiti getting accustomed to hearing French everywhere, figuring out how much 100 francs really equated to, and navigating our way through the famous Papeete market. Our flight had landed the day before Liza’s parent’s (Brian and Kit) cruise ended, giving us time to explore the town before heading to Tahiti’s neighbouring island, Mo’orea, for the rest of our vacation. On the morning of October 8th, we gathered our things from the hotel and made our way to the ferry docks in town where the cruise ships were moored. We met Liza’s parents outside the ferry and had a few hours to catch up over some coffee and baguette before the ferry ride. It had been nearly 9 months since Liza had seen her folks, so the reunion was a welcomed
Our first experience with the local culture.
one. The ferry left the docks around 1pm and took roughly half an hour to get to Mo’orea. The boat ride gave us a different perspective of the islands, which only magnified its beauty.
Once on Mo’orea we were met by Pascal, the groundskeeper for the house, who escorted us to get our groceries for the week and then drove us to the house that Brian and Kit had rented. We quickly set out to explore the property. The back door of the house sat less than 20 yards from the beach which was situated on a large lagoon. The front yard could have fit at least one Frisbee field. The house had three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and had a full gym in an adjacent building, which included a ping pong table that Liza dominated for nearly the entire week. We quickly grabbed the snorkel gear and set out to explore the lagoon. Liza, being the more experienced underwater explorer agreed with Matt that the lagoon had some of the nicest underwater life that they had both seen. We snorkelled multiple times daily over the week that we were there and got to see hundreds of varieties of fish,
the family of seven stingrays that patrolled the shallow, sandy waters, a moray eel living in its coral cave, and the two black-tipped reef sharks that called the lagoon home. We also swam a couple of times with a school of tropical fish that we can only estimate numbered greater than a thousand. One of the simple delights but definitely a highlight of the experience was the vast array and quantity of fresh tropical fruit that was left for us at the house. Every morning someone would cut up a mango, papaya, or pineapple to enjoy with our breakfast. When not snorkelling, we spent the days reading, lying in the sun, and enjoying delicious Hinano beers and less delicious local wines.
Although we spent much of the vacation lounging around and taking advantage of our opportunity to do nothing (or in Matt’s case, to do nothing in a warmer climate), we did get out of the house on a few occasions. Brian and Kit extended their generosity beyond getting us to Tahiti and housing us there, and took us out for a couple of delicious meals at local French Polynesian restaurants. The cuisine could be considered a mixture of
Life's Better on the Porch
This is how we spent a large portion of our time. The drink in hand varied but the location stayed the same.
French and Caribbean. Regardless of style, the fresh fish and seafood were delicious. They were so delicious, in fact, that we tried to catch some of our own. The house provided an outrigger canoe, and Brian’s ingenuity resulted in two fishing rods composed of tree branches, fishing line and simple barbed hooks. Matt and Brian set out to provide dinner for the house and were reaping a bounty before the canoe went over and dinner was lost, along with the fishing rods. Kit and Liza sat onshore with the binoculars watching the comedy unfold a couple hundred meters offshore. One of the benefits of renting the house was that we were entirely immersed in the local culture, which involved watching neighbours go out daily to fish the lagoon for their food and their employment. One of the detriments of living amongst the locals is that they made fishing look far too easy.
We spent one morning exploring the island by car. Mo’orea only has one main road, so navigating was fairly easy. We drove around Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay, and up the mountains that made up the central part of the island to the Belvedere lookout. The stopping
Back to School
We didn't have the camera on us the first time we encountered this school of fish. Luckily, they were predictable and we found them the following day.
point provided a stunning view of the surrounding area. In light of our fishing expedition failure, we decided to try our luck in the deep sea the following day. We spent four hours on the boat in the scorching sunshine, which, for those that ignored suggestions of applying sunscreen (Liza), proved to be a painful endeavour. We trolled for big fish for a couple of hours and after little luck we switched to looking for the smaller tuna in the area. Despite cruising among and through the enormous schools of tuna that we could see jumping out of the water, the fish were not overly interested in our lures. After three hours on the water we finally got a bite. Matt was tasked with reeling in the fish, which turned out to be an 8-10 lb. Skipjack Tuna. After enough time had passed, one of the guides on the boat sliced and diced a portion of the fish and we enjoyed by far the freshest sashimi we had ever tasted.
The weather turned sour for the last couple of days, which wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened given the sunburns we were experiencing from the fishing expedition.
Liza and Kit.
We coasted our way towards the end of the week and had a lazy Friday preparing for our journey back to the main island. We were surprised to find out on Friday morning that the ferry service had gone on strike and our voyage back to Papeete had the potential to be much more complicated than we had envisioned. We managed to get some of the last seats on the last flight out of Mo’orea and enjoyed the six-minute plane ride and knowing that the chances of making our flight the following morning had improved drastically. We spent our final night in Tahiti enjoying beers by the pool and relaxing in our room. We awoke at 4 am for our journey back to New Zealand. The travel went as smoothly as we could have hoped for, but it could not completely ease the disappointment of leaving such a wonderful place behind.
We arrived in Christchurch, which for Liza was business as usual but for Matt was a whole new world to explore. The timing of our return could not have worked much better, as we got to the house hours before the All Blacks were to play their semi-final
The house faced west, which gave us stunning sunsets daily.
match in the Rugby World Cup against arch rival Australia. Thus concludes Liza’s two-week vacation, and two-weeks of Matt’s five-month vacation.
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