Happy New Years everyone! It’s been a good few weeks since we put Bodhran in the water and not much work has really been accomplished. The weather’s been great and we’ve been trying to get out touring a bit after a hard 10 days in the boat yard. First we got my surfboard wet for the first time since the Marquesas on a little trip we took with Christian along the coast north of Whangarei. Little waves over a beach break and the water was too cold to stay in too long without a wet suit, but much fun was had and Tiffany caught her first waves, though she only tried to stand up once.
For Christmas we rented a car and took of for Arek and Iwona’s in Orewa. They’re renting a mother-in-law type apartment off the side of Robert and Sue’s house. So we had a great Christmas day with Robert and Sue’s family, Arek and Iwona, sunny weather in the upper 70’s, out in the country with rolling green hills and sheep in the background. We roast a lamb shank on a charcoal webber in front of a field of sheep for Christmas dinner. Probably a bit cruel, but the lamb tasted fantastic.
Boxing day found us at Omaha beach north of Orewa a ways. The water was in the uppper 60’s and we stayed in for nearly an hour without wetsuits. The beach was packed, but we found a great sandy patch, set up an umbrella and picked tunes, ate cheese and drank wine late into the day. I even got $5 from some guys near us, though we really weren’t trying to busk at all.
The next day we spent touring around Auckland. We started out with the Kelly Tarlton Aquarium and Antarctic Encounter. Not a bad aquarium, with some great rays, sharks and turtles, but the Antarctic Encounter was more like a lame Disneyland ride through penguin jail. Still it was my first time checking out King and Gentoo Penguins. After the aquarium we got some great gelato and walked around the waterfront before heading up the hill to the Auckland Museum. Hard to do a city the size of Auckland in a day, but I’m not really a city guys, so we’re going to save the rest for another time.
We left Arek and Iwona and drove down to Waitomo, south of Hamilton where the famous glowworm caves are. Actually there are glowworm caves practically everywhere in New Zealand, but Waitomo is where all the big tours are. We decided to spice up out glowworm experience a bit by taking a trip with the Blackwater Rafting Company exploring the water filled caves by inner-tube. Actually it’s about half walking, half paddling yourself through water with barely any current, but it was a lot of fun. Floating through a huge water filled cave with all the lights out and thousands of glowworms above you is pretty hard to beat. The only adrenaline filled part of the trip was the 4 foot drop off a waterfall that you had to jump off backward into your tube and clear a rock at the bottom.
Tiffany had to work the next day, so we drove back up to Whangarei. We had one more day with the car, so we did all the local sights around town including the Whangari Museum and Kiwi House, A.H. Reed Kauri Walk, Whangarei Falls and the War Memorial Lookout before taking in an evening showing of Avatar. I’m returning the car today, but I’d say we did pretty well packing in a weeks worth of touring with it. Now I really need to buckle down and get some work done on Bodhran so I can start adding some sailing pics to this blog.
Here’s a photo album with all the pics since I got back to NZ in November: