We have found a new place to stay! We met a lovely lady named Jane through an extreme sports site here in NZ and then she was also at the Halloween party we went to a few weeks back and she had mentioned she might have a room to rent us. So we went over there on the weekend for a chat and some tea and then got invited to stay for dinner as she had some cancellations. As a result we got to meet her son and daughter in law and eat an awesome salmon dinner. Her son is what I am beginning to believe is a typical Kiwi. It’s like fifty degrees outside and he’s wearing shorts and a t-shirt. We spent a nice afternoon chatting about the differences between here and the states and having some great NZ wine. Here’s a great coincidence, Jane is a physiotherapist! She’s not working so much as a PT anymore, but I look forward to picking her brain about the profession and picking up anything I can add to my bag of tricks.
Since my last post, Marc and I have also gone to the Auckland Botanical Gardens in Manukau. We asked Margaret along and had a nice stroll through the grounds. Unfortunately, the batteries died in my camera that day so I got zero pictures which just means that we’ll have to go back another day. The gardens were really pretty and set up into different sections according summer/autumn or winter/spring colors and then also African plants, threatened native plants, a rock garden and the Gondwana Arboretum (trees descended from the ancient southern continent of Gondwana).We had a nice little picnic by the pond while watching birds flicking back and forth between the water and the reeds before going to the rose garden to “smell the roses”.
We also have Margaret to thank for introducing us to some friends of hers down the road. We’ve been saving organic scraps for her friends’ pigs for several weeks now so she brought us over for a visit; the friends NOT the pigs. Michael and Annie have a “lifestyle” farm just down the road. This means they have a house with a couple, 3-4 acres for a horse, two pigs, a goat, a sheep, many chickens and two little dogs.
All their animals are pets although sometimes a lifestyle farm may have 1 or 2 cows or whatnot that are raised strictly for meat. Their chickens are solely for egg production although one clucky hen is currently sitting on fertilized eggs because she kept stealing all the other hens’ eggs and trying to hatch them. Her name is Goldie and she is very soft.
Annie gave us a dozen eggs to take home and they were quite tasty as well as pretty with a deep orange yolk. I also got to ride Annie’s horse the next day. She came up the driveway on Sorhab (he’s part Arabian) and invited me to ride him back to her place. Didn’t take me too long to jump on and go for a ride. Here’s the thing though; we were speaking different languages. He’s been ridden English all his life and I know Western. Thank goodness Annie noticed and gave me some quick pointers on handling reins before we took off. He hasn’t been ridden much lately because Annie was involved in an accident a while back so I’m ridding a horse with mucho energy who is a bit annoyed at my amateur rein handling and is impatient to get home….which is where we were going. I am relieved to say he only tried to bolt once when a dog started barking at him and iwas able to keep him to a walk on the asphalt for most of the way back. Gods, what a beautiful animal. Thank you Annie and Margaret for a wonderful experience.
We ended up having dinner that evening with the extended clan as we had met Michael’s sister Donna earlier that afternoon. Donne had mentioned it was her daughter Rena’s sixteenth birthday the next day. So we all ended up at a Thai restaurant for an awesome impromptu birthday dinner. All together we were seven: Marc, myself, Margaret, Donna, Rena, Annie and Michael. Rena was very nice considering it was her sixteenth birthday the next day and she’s surrounded by adults and two strangers from America. We did learn she’s as horse mad as every other woman sitting at the table and would be showing in dressage with her pony during the weekend. Something else we learned; kids here experience school differently than in the US. From what I understand, they go to school year round (imagine that!), but get holidays and two weeks off after every quarter and six weeks off for summer holiday from mid October to mid December. After further investigation, NZ kids go to school 388 half days a year. Sounds like a lot,eh? Wonder how that compares with the US? Anyone feel like doing the math?
We’ve also been back to Kariotahi beach several times and Marc has gotten some good time in paragliding as opposed to para-waiting. One flight was two hours and the other flight was three hours. He’s told me the coast is really awesome from the air and there is a sand “bowl” he’s described that I’d really like to see. Gotta give him the camera the next time he goes up. Hopefully, he will be able to manage it with gloves as it’s still quite cold for him when he’s flying. I’ve had a bit of beach adventure myself when I went to pick him up after his second flight. The tide was coming in and I ended up getting stuck in the sand. Luckily, some people walking by on the beach helped Marc to push me out of the hole I’d spun myself into and I hightailed it for firmer sand.
We’ve also made it back to Hunua Falls for another trek through the bush. Still way too cold to go in the water though. We picked a different path and didn’t have to cross any streams this time. I do believe it seemed like there were less stairs too. The bush is so quiet here. You really have to look closely to find intersting things. We did see one Kereru (aka wood-pigeon) hunting for fruit up in a tree but it was too well hidden for us to get a picture. Otherwise, the bush is just green, cool, and silent.
We did about a two-hour hike before heading for home, admiring the scenery the whole way.