Wednesday, 3 February 2010

New Zealand in the summer

When you're overseas, people are always telling you how beautiful New Zealand is (thanks, Lord of the Rings) and you can only agree - because you know it's true. But it's not until you come back from a long spell away from Aotearoa that you really appreciate it.

The Te Waiti Valley

The intensity of the blues and greens, the lack of people, the stunning clarity of the air - I spent most of the trip from Auckland Airport to Opotiki staring out the window and grinning.

Brothers on the beach

While the summer in Wellington has been cool and wildly inconsistent (never a day the same as the last), you can rely on the Bay of Plenty for sunshine. And that's what we got - two weeks of nearly continuous brilliant weather. We spent a lot of time in the sea or the river. Perhaps the highlight was our trip up into the hills behind Opotiki, deep into the native forest in the stunning lovely Te Waiti Valley. We skimmed stones, swam, picknicked, walked down the river and perfected our kung fu skills to the point where we could shatter rocks with our hands. True story.

But all good things must come to an end and we had to head back to Wellington for work. Back to the land of blasting Antarctic winds and strange fogs, but also good days when, as the saying goes, you can't beat the place.

The hills beyond Johnsonville

It's good to be home.


After two and a half years, 30 countries, innumerable ruins, churches, museums and pubs, various elephants, camels, crocodiles and foxes, it is wonderful to be back in the place we love best with the people we love most - the folks.


We landed on Christmas Eve, had a very nice catchup at the airport with Charyn, Sharan, Tony and Birgit, before the latter two took me down to Opotiki and Lauren jetted off to Napier. Things have changed back in 'Potes. Kieran and Rueben are huge, for a start. And while I was away Mum and Dad have been building a new house, which is flabbergastingly nice. It's all polished wood and light, with solar water heating, a thriving garden and spectacular views over the town to the Raukumara Ranges and the Bay of Plenty. Good work, parentals!
Mum in the new house.

Christmas in Opotiki is all about presents, a local pine tree, sunshine, beers and too much rich food, a trip to the beach, and family. This year was one of the best I can remember, with a big turnout of whanau - Sylvia, Tony, Birgit, Tama, Kieran and I joining Rueben, Mum and Dad from various parts of the world. It was a great day.