A Travellerspoint blog

November 2011

Whitianga, Matakana, Dairy Flats....

We have been getting around!

sunny 21 °C

The last 2 weeks have been busy....
The first weekend of November took us to Whitianga on a surprise visit to Mary & Neil's (Gerald's parents). We pulled up onto the driveway to see Mary look like she was about to give us a good telling off for driving onto their property, until she realised who it was and then it was all smiles! Gerald's sister Jenni was also staying for the weekend, the beginning of a family get-together, I say 'beginning' because within minutes we were on our way to catch the little ferry across to Cooks Beach for a BBQ at Shenagh and Sels - Gerald's aunt and uncle - who happened to have their son Tim over for the weekend with his adorable little one year old, Chloe. Lots of sausages and catching up later, we decided to head back to Whiti via (of course) a couple of geocaches up on Shakespeare Cliff. The weather was beautiful and the caches were hidden in some really beautiful locations with amazing views, well worth the long, steep climb.IMG_0957.jpg
That night we went out for dinner and as we got to dessert Gerald's aunty Bev, who also lives in Whitianga, came to join us as she had just finished work. So that was the entire Coromandel Coast part of the family visited in about 12 hours!!!

Weeknights found Gerald and I on a mission to get a bit fitter and so we joined a local 'exercise group', paying up front for 3 months unlimited lessons - so far so good. I guess paying up front gives us the incentive to make sure we go...

11/11/11 found us attending our first Geocaching event. We headed out after work along with over one hundred other cachers to embark on a night of geocaching like never before! We did a geohunt, which involved some crazy driving by the driver of our team, trying to ensure we got back in the best time, the lesson we learnt is always read ALL the questions in advance as several times we had to do a bit of retracing our steps and when we got to the last question it said 'How many petrol stations did you pass?' Ooops had to guess that one! We also did some night caches which involved hunting fire tacs that glow when your torch hits them so you can follow the trail and much, much more. We met loads of people, some who have been caching for over a decade and have 1000's of finds under their belt which meant that we picked up quite a few tips and future locations to scout out. Having heard about a power trail series called '101 Dalmations' from one couple we decided to check it out on the Sunday. We drove North to the start point in an area called Dairy Flats (God knows why as it was far from flat at times!) and managed to do 23 of them over the next couple of hours, we decided to stop there as we knew we had the long walk back to the car to do as well. Gerald had the misfortune of ripping his shorts whilst looking for number 3 and so spent the rest of the walk with a breeze round his bum!!!! ha ha! The others will be done some other time!P1020050.jpgP1020044.jpg

This weekend we headed up North again, this time further along, to the Matakana Coast. On the way we stopped in the tiny village of Puhoi, mainly because we had seen a sign on the side of the road saying they did cream teas! The scones were HUGE and as much as I love a cream tea there was no way I could finish this one. The village was very cute and had it's own library which was about the size of a garden shed! P1020057.jpgWe had a little look around before heading on to our accommodation. We stayed in a lovely place called The Sandpiper Lodge, my birthday present from Gerald. The lodge is set in about 6 acres of sub-tropical gardens and even has an estuary running through it. As we arrived we were greeted by the free range chickens, the happiest and fattest chickens I have ever had the pleasure to meet! They were so friendly you could even stroke them! They just loved to follow us around running around our feet.P1020130.jpg We dumped our bags and decided to head to the Tawharanui reserve. We had heard it was a really lovely walk along the coastline and through native bush plus we knew there were a few geocaches hidden there so thought we would combine the two. The views most certainly did not disappoint and the beautiful sunshine helped too. We clambered over rocks to get to each new bay admiring the views. P1020090.jpg The only event to mar the day was finding a Little Blue Penguin washed up on the beach, he was in perfect condition so we guess he must have died very recently. Poor thing. When we finished the walk we headed into Matakana village for dinner and drinks and to admire the famous art deco toilets they have there!P1020128.jpg When we arrived back at the lodge there was a little bunny sitting on the lawn eating grass, he soon hopped off when he heard us approaching though. This morning we were given a hearty breakfast before leaving The Sandpiper to head to The Brick Bay Sculpture Trail. We had heard this was another great walk to do and so decided to give it a go. The walk was about 2km and the sculptures are set in some really beautiful grounds so it was definitely worth the $12 entry fee. P1020179.jpg Time was getting on by the time we finished the walk so we decided to head back home stopping to do (yes you guessed it!) a few more geocaches. We found our favourite one so far today - it was disguised as a nut and bolt! the tiny log book was inside the hollow bolt and took me a while to find it, I noticed it looked a bit different from all the others so thought I would just see - and there it was!!! We had been close to giving up. Another cool find today was a fence along SH1 which is covered with hundreds of hub caps that have been salvaged from the side of the road and then fixed to this fence - one of the caches was hidden behind a hub cap! Thank goodness the given co-ordinates were correct otherwise it would have been a long search!P1020192.jpg

So that completes the update for the last 2 weeks....plan to put lots more photos in the gallery so check it out soon....

Posted by bumblebum 20:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

World Cup Win, sunshine and cats!

sunny 18 °C

Thought it was time for another update.....

I had a lovely birthday....when I woke up the post box was stuffed full of cards so thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! A friend of mine that I met when I was teaching out here last time came over for lunch and a gossip and then Gerald took me out for a delicious dinner in CAC restaurant in Mount Eden- a great place for tapas and cocktails.

The school holidays seemed to whizz by and before we knew it the weekend of the Rugby World Cup final was upon us! We spent the Sunday morning volunteering at Cats in Need, a rescue home with around 100 cats and kittens - some with very sad stories of how they ended up there. We were both needing a cat fix and so gave them a hand cleaning out all the litter trays and cages before we got to play! Within seconds of sitting down I had a cat laying across my shoulders, one on my knee and about 10 wrapping themselves around my legs and Gerald was similarly covered in cats! We plan to help out once a month to get our fix until we get our own house when we will give a couple of the cats a 'Forever Home' as they call it there. I am already in love with at least 10 of them so I don't know how we will ever choose!
Our next stop was Paeroa, in the northern Waikato region. Our friends Alwin and Daisy own a dairy farm out there and as Daisy is due to give birth in the next week or so we thought we would fit a visit in before things get a bit crazy for them. Daisy is an amazing cook and I'm sure we left there a stone heavier after all the goodies she baked! Dinner was early so we could all be plonked on the sofa ready for 'The Big Game'. I don't think any of us were doing much sitting though as it was such an 'edge of your seat' event! There was no celebrating until that final whistle and despite only being a one point win - it was a win and now ALL of New Zealand is happy! Sky TV had a visit from The Cup yesterday so Gerald was able to get his photo taken with it.

I now have my own little class in my own classroom and it is so lovely having just 11 children! This week the whole school has had a daily trip to the local swimming centre for lessons. We all pile on the school bus after lunch and I get to watch them while someone else does the teaching for a change! NZ schools are so different from the UK. In the UK we would never dream of leaving the school premises without spare uniform, a first aid kit, a list left with the office of who exactly is on the bus etc and the bus would have to have a seatbelt for every child otherwise we would be going nowhere! Here we walk the kids down the road, barefoot, to where the bus waits, they pile in 3 to a seat if necessary - not a seatbelt in sight and off we go!

The weather is slowly improving, we had a great weekend out and about which resulted in me getting some interesting strap marks having forgotten to put suncream on before we went out - oops! We went on a lovely walk around the Orakei Basin near Auckland city doing a little bit of geocaching on the way - we are getting closer to our 100th find now! Then in the afternoon we were well fed again as our neighbours had a BBQ and a lazy evening was spent eating, drinking and chatting to them and their friends.

Last night we met up with Gerald's eldest sister Alison as she was visiting from Wellington for work. We had a good chat over dinner at Gina's Italian restaurant- another fave of ours that is pretty well known in Auckland. Their speciality is barechested, singing waiters presenting a cake to any female who happens to be celebrating their birthday. No singing waiters yesterday though!

That just about covers the latest turn of events....

Posted by bumblebum 21:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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