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Published: October 5th 2008
Glynn and I visited the falls before the recent rains and it was less than half the width of it here!
Well here we are, just nine months in to our new lives in New Zealand and we have already had our very first visitors. Jude's auntie Margaret and her partner Kevin (his surname is Hogg, hence the name of the blog!) popped by for a 10-day visit to sample life in this neck of the woods.
For those of you who don't know Jude's family, Margaret is the sister of Jude's step-dad, Edmond, and Kevin is the dad of UK Radio 1 DJ Joel (one half of JK & Joel). There, that's about the extent I'll ever get to name-drop a famous person into conversation! Mags & Kev have been over in Australia for a while visiting Margaret's two sons who both live in Sydney. It was only a 3-4 hour hop across the ditch (that's what Kiwis call the expanse of sea between Aussie & NZ) to Auckland but things didn't quite go to plan when Margaret and Kevin turned up 2 days early!
It was Saturday afternoon and Glynn and I had been shopping in readiness for having 2 extra grown-ups to feed. We'd barely unpacked and sat down when the phone rang. "Hi Jude, it's Margaret.
Jish thinks the Hunua Falls would be even better if they were named after him.
We're at the airport" to which I stupidly replied "which airport?". Yes, you know the answer - they were at Auckland airport but we weren't expecting them till Monday! Off we zoomed to Auckland International Airport which is thankfully only about 30 minuts away from home and were greeted by two smiling and relieved looking faces. Not quite the welcome to NZ I had in mind for them but it makes for an amusing anecdote! It turned out Magaret and I got the dates a bit mixed up in our emails and neither of us had realised the mistake.
Glynn managed to book a week and a half off work but I could only get 3 days' holiday so it was great that Mags & Kev arrived at the weekend as I had a whole extra day and a half to spend with them. We wasted no time in showing them some of the local sights including the beautiful Hunua Falls which was thundering down with gusto following the recent heavy rains.
While I spent my week at work, Glynn played chauffeur, taking our guests north, south, east and west. I managed to wangle an afternoon off on
A lovely corner of Auckland that's only just up the road from where we live :-)
the Wednesday and we all headed over to the Botanical Gardens for a free guided tour of the park which was just stunning as the spring flowers are now coming into season. I was amazed at how lush and vibrant the plants were looking given that winter has only just come to an end. Auckland has a unique sub-tropical climate which means different plants and flowers can flourish all year round. My favourite plant of the day was a tree that has leaves which smell just like lemon tea!
The following weekend, we had planned a weekend away in Rotorua to show Margaret & Kevin some of our favourite North Island locations so far. Using Kevin's TomTom satnav, we meandered our way through the back roads on the 3-hour drive to the edge of Lake Rotorua where one of my colleagues had booked a timeshare apartment at Marama for us to stay in for the night. We arrived well before the official check-in time but as it's low season, the receptionist kindly let us go in early. The house was stunning - better than any hotel or hostel and for just a fraction of the price. As tempting as
not a bad display of flowers considering it's the end of winter here.
it was to just kick back and relax after the long drive, we donned our togs and made straight for my favourite place of all - Kerosene Creek.
Kerosene Creek is a hot geothermal river with a small, 2 metre high waterfall. This was our thrid visit and it was every bit as pretty and rejuvinating as we remembered. We spent almost 1.5 hours just lazing around in the bath-temperature water and letting the minerals from the river soak into our skin. Kevin suffers from a chronic back problem and said that he felt no pain for 3 days after dipping into Kerosene Creek and both he and Margaret said they hadn't felt so good in years. Testament indeed to the power of Mother Nature :-)
With our batteries fully charged, we made our way to the centre of Rotorua where there is a public park bursting with geothermal activity. We gazed at the geysers, fumbled our way through the steamy mists of the hot lakes and marvelled at how many new hot pools and streams had appeared in the park since Glynn and I visited less than 2 years ago. All around us were areas cordoned off
Out of Africa
Jish enjoys a spot of African flora at the Botanical Gardens.
with yellow 'danger' tape and signs warnings to watch your step. It's incredible to think that all this activity is taking place not 500 metres away from a busy main road and people's homes.
We picked up some good old fish and chips for dinner but our plans for playing cards for the evening was thwarted by the onset of fatigue. One by one we dozed off on the couch and it wasn't even 9.30pm before we had all hit the hay.
The next morning we all woke bright and breezey, energised from a long slumber and the lasting effects of bathing in Kerosene Creek. Alas the weather had turned cold and wet so we took our time getting ready for the day. Opening the lounge curtains, I was surprised to see a line of cormorants sitting patiently along the banks of the canal behind our house. Then a group of seagulls flew down and landed on the patio table right outside the back door, closely followed by a pair of waddling ducks, a big white goose. I briefly felt like I was starring in a Cinderella movie but quickly realised these birds were accustomed to being fed
Not One but Tui
These blue birds are called Tuis and they like to drink the nectar of these flowers. The only problem is it gets them drunk and they fall out of the trees!
by the guests who stay here. I'm a sucker for animals though so I grabbed some bread and began submitting to the squawking demands to throw crumbs this was and that. The whole hilarious scene was topped by the arrival of two black swans who actually climbed up the back steps to join in the feeding frenzy!
Evenutally, we managed to tear ourselves away from the comfort of the timeshare apartment and made a beeline for a local forest of redwood trees. Redwoods are the world's biggest trees - like the type you get in California - only these trees weren't quite as old or as big. There were some seriously impressive specimens and the trees seem to thrive in NZ's climate. The day's rain also didn't penetrate the forest canopy too much so it was the perfect way to see more of Rotorua without having the weather spoil it for us.
We had a wonderful time with Margaret and Kevin during their visit and were very sad to say goodbye at the end of an action-packed and fun-filled 10 days. They are back in Australia again but I'm sure we'll be seeing them again soon. Who knows,
not all magnolias are beige although I suspect all magnolia living rooms are!
maybe it'll be our turn to visit them in Aussie next time?!
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