My apologies for the brevity of last week's post: I had had a pretty low key final week in Australia so didn't have a lot to tell you all. However, since arriving in New Zealand, we've travelled over 1000 kms and met lots of lovely people!
I arrived last Friday and was picked up from the airport by Alex's cousin Caitlin. Caitlin and I had never met before but immediately got to chatting and got on like a house on fire! So much so that, when Alex leaves to go back to the boat, I'm going to hop onto a plane back to Auckland and hang out with Caitlin for another 10 days! It was particularly nice that we had the chance to get to know each other independently from Alex so that he didn't feel like he had to be a bridge between us. When he arrived, two days later, we were already firm friends and I'd met a whole group of Caitlin's friendship circle!
The day after Alex arrived, we had a day that we both agree is one of our favourites of the whole trip so far. The three of us took a ferry over to Waiheke island and went wine tasting! We had an incredible lunch at the first winery (Stoneyridge) and a bottle of wine that was the “baby brother” of their signature wine….our bottle cost $60 and the signature bottle cost a minimum of $400! You can see why we chose the way we did! We did, however, have a taster of the fancy wine and decided we actually preferred our considerably cheaper bottle! We then headed off to another winery (Mudbrick) which was absolutely stunning. There's a 2 year waiting list to have a wedding there…we tried to convince Caitlin to book, just in case! Haha! Mudbrick has a beautiful view over the water back at Auckland so, as we drank our second bottle of fantastic wine that day, we watched the sun start to set over the city. Pretty incredible!
While we were in Auckland, we organised to go for dinner with Alex's old house mates Rupe and Kimbo who are kiwis and live in the city. They've been married for a couple of years and are expecting their first baby so it was exciting to see both them and the bump! It was also particularly exciting for me as I remember distinctly when we met up with them in Thailand over two years ago now, when Alex and I first got together, and they said “you both must come over to NZ to see us” and suddenly there we were! Considering Alex and I had been in our first week of being together, it seemed like a bit of a pipe dream to be going to New Zealand together at the time.
The following day, Alex and I set off up to Kerikeri in the north of the island. We were so lucky and grateful that Caitlin's best friend Soph offered for us to go up and stay with her dad, even before she'd met us! People are so friendly here in NZ! Soph's dad, Alan, owns a large plot of land on which he has built a barn to live in and we got to go stay with him for one night. He was so accommodating and friendly and took us on a 3 hour “tiki tour” around the surrounding areas. Alan and Alex are both big debaters so the day was spent in lively conversation between the three of us and it was a really great way to spend our time up there!
Since Kerikeri, Alex and I have driven down to Roturua to see a redwood forest and geothermal parks, to Lake Taupo and to Napier for more wineries! Napier has been my favourite so far as the town is all Art Deco styled and they have really capitalised on this fact with Art Deco shops, restaurants with gorgeous decor and classic cars at every corner!
Alex in the Redwoods
Classic cars outside our hotel in Napier
We have just arrived in Wellington where we will spend one night before dropping our car off and hopping on the ferry to the South Island where we will pick up another car and start the second leg of our trip!
Me and Alex at Hobbiton!