This past week/weekend we traveled up north where it is always summer!
We have learned that we can always count on James to stop at every little place he thinks has any significance to New Zealand whatsoever on the way to wherever we are going. It’s great because I think it’s in all of the little things that we get a real feel for the culture and lifestyle here. Our first stop on our trip north was at this huge tree. It is called a Kauri tree and it is compared to the Redwoods back home (or at least New Zealand’s version of a Redwood). At this stop James gave all of us matching lava lava’s and showed us how to wear them. Later that day we also stopped for New Zealand’s best meat pies (little pie crusts full of meat and gravy, people live off of them here, something you’d see at a 7-11) and again to see bathrooms decorated with mosaics and wine bottles.
Once we arrived in Paihia (where we were staying in Bay of Islands) we went down the street to the place where the Treaty of Waitangi (their declaration of independence in a way) was signed and there was a whole museum and special Marae, but we have heard this stuff a lot by now so we spent a lot of our time doing head stands and laying in the grass because it was a beautiful day!
On Friday we took a drive up to Cape Reinga, the very top of New Zealand. There were amazing views of the oceans and beaches and cliffs and stuff from atop this big hill we sat on, and all that white foam is where the Pacific ocean and Tasman sea meet! We planted some trees up there to leave a part of us in New Zealand! I know, touching.
From there we went to some huge sand dunes, which we slid down on boogie boards. Videos to come soon J We drove straight onto the beach (you heard me, ON the beach. James and Dr. J are rebels) from there and rode for an hour or so down 90 mile beach (we didn’t go the full 90 miles though). We had to hurry and make it out before the tide came back in, so we were booking it the whole stretch of beach which was exciting. Why do they call it 90 mile beach when they use the metric system here? Well I just don’t know. At the end of that journey we stopped at Doubtful Bay for a swim, but it was cold so we just played around on the rocks looking at barnacles and stuff.
On Saturday we took a ferry to another island in Bay of Islands called Russell. We walked around the cute shops in town (tons of cute boutiques, book stores, etc) before heading to our Science teacher’s (from our classes in January) house. It was absolutely beautiful, right on a secluded beach, so we just had a beach day there. Yes, it is still exciting every time we go to the beach J James taught us to catch these little tiny fish with our bare hands, and he found an octopus for us!
On the way home, we decided to chill at another beach, and we discovered a little kayak rental so we took them for a spin around this small island (I don’t know distances, about an hour round trip), again with James. We stopped at our little island for a quick swim with the 8 or so of us that were there and it was just the cherry on top of the perfect summer day!
We just went to church on Sunday and hung out around Paihia at the motel and watching the sunset. Conference isn’t broadcast until the next two weeks here, so this Sunday we’ll watch the Saturday session at church and the following Sunday we’ll get the Sunday session. Until then I am feeling quite out of the loop.
We hiked to Haruru Falls on Monday, and it was a beautiful hike through the tropical brush! It reminded me of a mini Niagara Falls (I’d say 1/9 of Niagara), which was not what we had expected at all but it was pretty! It was a good activity for us all to do together on our last day with the whole group.
Here we are Tuesday morning, saying our goodbyes to James and to each other (…until we get back to Provo, but it won’t be the same, ok??). We sang our Maori song to James and then another one accompanied by Emily on the ukulele, but no one really sang the last one cause we were all blubbery. Love you girls! And James and Jim and Linda!
Last night, Jessica was coming over while Christine went out with her parents. We go to each other’s houses all the time and just walk, but this time Kerry offered to go pick her up. We went out to the car and realized why: bug convertible rental car! It was so funny, we decided to go to the grocery store as well, then take a super long way home even though its fall now and getting cold. Thanks for the ride, Kerry!
For our last day in Auckland today, Sheryl took off work and took us to lunch at The Brigham with Raewyn and Kodie. It was such a cute place with beautiful gardens to walk around. Kodie and I even got to help feed the doves (or white pigeons? They looked special either way)! We were so lucky. We’re going to miss the Lord family so much!
Goodbye Auckland! It's been real!