Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Action weekend

After leaving my American friends in Waiheke I was back to good ol' Devonport.
I woke up at 5am Saturday morning and headed south again.
Destination: Whakatane
Mission: Kill Something
We stayed with Sam's family for the weekend. They were so gracious and fun! It's crazy how hospitable everyone is in NZ!
When we got to Whakatane, the weather was beautiful, so we decided to go out on the ocean and do some fishing.
I've run out of superlatives for the NZ scenery

I had so much fun. It was my first time ocean fishing from a boat.
The beautiful island we anchored by

Who caught who?

One guy dove and grabbed some crayfish, which are NZ lobsters. Then we caught a bunch of mau mau that were schooling around our boat.

I won the bet to land the first one. The loser had to lick my fish from mouth to tail. Man I'm twisted.
That night we feasted on our catch and hung out with Sam's family until about 11pm. Then we went out hunting till 2am.
I will love him, and feed him, and call him George

I shot a possum.
It was the first time I've ever killed anything with a gun.
The possums here are adorable. They are cute, fuzzy, marsupials and I shot one through the heart.
Even though they are pests here, and harmful to all the native plants and wildlife, it still took me some time to decide if I could shoot something I wasn't going to eat.

Early the next morning we were up and headed into the wilderness for a pig hunt. We hiked through a sweltering jungle and up a mountain for about 3 hours.
I never laid eyes on a single pig. All I saw was jungle and a few sweet vistas that showed the valley and ocean below.
The dogs smelled a pig and took off for about 45 minutes chasing it, but none of us could keep up. haha. We had to just sit and wait for the dogs to return. I was pretty happy to take a much needed break from hoofing through thorns and mud and jungle vines.
Happy Hunting

The Kiwis are constantly dropping the c bomb, and they call the backcountry bush. So I had a long laugh at the expletives used to describe the "bush" we were fighting through. It was a great time.

Flashback to my tour in Nam

I was so tired. We got back to the house and I passed out for the rest of the night . I only woke up for about an hour in order to eat dinner.
The next morning we drove to Rotorua. We stopped at a geothermal exhibit called Hells Gate.
No, seriously

Hell's Gate, very cool

It was very cool and made me want to revisit Yellowstone when I get back to the states.
Hell's Gate

We were so beat from the day before that we just walked around town and ate and drank the whole time we were in Rotorua.
The Princess Gate hotel where we stayed in Rotorua

 We found a micro-beer pub called Brew, and I had my first real IPA since Ive left California. Sooooo gooood. Once it hits your lips...
I'll definitely have to go back and do the luge, zorb, and thermal pools.
Black swans at Lake Rotorua

My "Black Swan" impersonation 

Lake Rotorua

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yankee Thanky

So Ben, Pat, Joe, Gilbert and I crammed back into their Subaru and headed to the east coast of Northland.

The weather was stormy and it rained most of the day, but as we drove from the Kauri forest back to Orewa we were able to stop at quite a few beaches and enjoy the scenery.
Goat rock reserve

It was a fun day. I can't emphasize enough how nice it is to see old friends!
Once we were back at Orewa Pat and Ben took kayaks out on the ocean while I read on the beach and tried to steal a few rays from the intermittent sunshine.
Kayak haka

The next day we went to the island of Waiheke. It's a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland but it feels like a completely different country. I'd visited the island very briefly when I first arrived in NZ.
We stayed at this very cool vacation house, complete with kitchen.
Kitchen! Holy moly do I miss having a kitchen!
Since it was my last night hanging with the guys and it was turkey day, I cooked us a NZ thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, we couldn't get our hands on a defrosted turkey, but we made do with 2 big chickens.
Yankee Thanky

I was stuffed!

It was yummy and I had so much fun cooking! Even though I sacrificed a few fingers on the oven rack in the process. Im such a klutz!

Joe's friend John, and his wife Galena joined us and I had a great time.
John and Galena were awesome

The next morning Joe drove us over to Palm Beach where we spent the day swimming, and drinking beer. The water was amazing, crystal blue and warm!
Palm Beach

It seemed too soon when it was time for me to leave and catch the ferry back to Devonport.
I had such a fun time with the guys and it was so nice to have a little bit of home here in New Zealand.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Americans are coming!

Woohoo! The Americans have arrived!
Ben, Pat, Joe and their friend Gilbert are traveling the North Island for a few weeks.
After some communication finagling we met at Orewa holiday park Monday evening.
We grabbed some dinner and supplies (liquor and cookies for me).
Then got back to the park for a beautiful beach-side sunset.
Orewa beach

It turned into a late night. It was so good to see friends and hang out! I learned about 8 new ways to play poker and held onto my $5 buy-in for a couple hours. I'm so proud.
The next morning I parked my car on the roadside and hopped into their Subaru to drive up to kauri forest in northland and back to the best damn holiday park, again!

Hello zip line.

Fancy meeting you here.

.....I've missed you....

Ho-hum just another NZ beach side sunset

Today was a quiet day. One of those days where you can cram 5 people into a Subie and drive 3 hours with hardly a peep.
This quiet day was brought to you by bourbon.

But we rallied.
We got to the holiday park. And of course it was raining. So we went for a short hike through the Kauri forest then stopped to watch the last half of the niners game and eat the BEST FISH AND CHIPS in New Zealand. The locals remembered me from when I was here a month ago. That's how awesome the Kiwi's are.

Then it was back to the park where the sun made a welcomed appearance. The guys played soccer for a bit. I declined after gorging  so much on dinner. Then Ben played guitar for a bit.

Afterwards there were a few games of dominoes and we rode the zip line till we got kicked off for being too rowdy after hours. So we walked to the nearby bridge and scoped out the beautiful glow worms.

Monday, November 19, 2012


It was SO good to get outta Devonport and back on the road.
A pic from my Thursday run in Devonport

I left with two navy friends Friday afternoon and we drove 3 hours south east to the Coromandel peninsula.
Sunrise from my Devonport parking lot

The scenery was completely stunning. It reminded me of  driving in Hawaii. Steep, bright green mountains, covered in tropical plants, that looked down onto a bright blue ocean.
Around 5 we arrived in Whitianga, a small harbor town on the east side of the peninsula.
We were spending the weekend with the gracious and sweet Mills family. The parents of one of the Kiwi divers. We got to the house before the sons arrived, so we accompanied the parents to the local RSA for dinner, beers and to play some pool. Tiny pool, on tiny tables. I had an amazing steak dinner for the unbelievable pice of $15. Score!
Later that night, the rest of the Mills' arrived. The two sons and one of their wives. The 6 of us chilled in the backyard, drinking and chatting, until the early morning.

The next day we drove to Cathedral Cove and walked down to the beach. It was drizzling for most of the day and we got sandblasted on the beach. So we only spent about 30 minutes there before we headed over to the hot water beach.

Hot water beach sits over a natural geothermal hot springs. So we walked out with a couple shovels
and dug into the sand to create a mini shore side hot tub. It was pretty crowded, considering it was
On the tramp down to Cathedral Cove

Safety first at Cathedral Cove

Then off to the pub and back home again. Abby, the wife of the Kiwi diver, is from Ohio. She made us the most delicious Turkey day dinner!
I was so excited to have thanksgiving in NZ. Complete with homemade pumpkin pie! Nomnom.
We all sat around the table until midnight drinking and chatting again, then off to another bar. I lasted about an hour before throwing in the towel.
Hot water beach

The next morning we had plans to take out a boat and I was gonna fish while the others dove but the weather had different plans. It was sunny but the wind was at gale force. So instead of  going out on the water we walked around the pretty harbor or Whitianga.
Whitianga Harbor

Then we were back on the road. Back to Devonport. My reluctance to go back to Devonport was tempered by some Hell Pizza. Best and only decent pie in NZ.