New Zealand

15th March

I got to Sydney without any hitches including a good sleep on my flight with 4 seats to myself! Alas, this was the start of a very long day. I waited at my gate to Santiago via Auckland with my fellow passengers and Duncan (Jojo’s brother) waiting for my text to tell him I had taken off, BUT as time was ticking, nothing was happening. My flight was still “on time” when we should have already taken off but after an 20 mins of confusion the flight was cancelled. Panicked I wasn’t going to get to Auckland before midnight I ran around like a headless chicken trying to find out what I could do. Luckily, a wonderful lady from Qantas customer services managed to get me onto their flight that got in at 23.59 with the added knowledge that NZ were giving an hour leniency for people that were arriving around midnight to get through the airport on the other side. After a solid 12 hours in Sydney airport’s departure lounge I arrived in Auckland (with a well-deserved G&T on my flight ;). Immigration had a very stressful, tense atmosphere, full of travellers and residents trying to get in as soon as possible. It was so tense that a very out-of-it woman at the back of the hall sneezed and the whole room went quiet! I got through easily and waited by baggage reclaim for my backpack that I knew wasn’t going to turn up as it has been handled by 3 different airlines. I gave up and left with only my little rucksack to meet Jojo!

As of now, 9 days into my stay in Athenree, Katikati, 2 hours south of Auckland and a 7 minute drive from Waihi Beach, I have been in self-isolation despite missing the clamp down. Everyone here is a bit paranoid and I have had a big black mark next to my name as an Englishwoman, flying in from Bali, and travelled in Thailand. Even though I am feeling as good as I have ever felt, we are counting down the days that I can get out! Despite this, on my arrival Duncan (Jojo’s brother) and his partner, Kath, invited us for dinner where I requested bangers and mash with baked beans and crumble for pudding to make me feel like I was at home even though Duncan was very unimpressed by my average request for a meal.

Jojo and I have been taking daily walks on the beach, the neighbours, Mike and Sheryl, come around regularly for drinks and are unphased by my potential contamination, so much so I got invited to their family get together last Saturday where I met the whole fam. All the cousins and their banter between themselves made me miss mine! Duncan has let me borrow his car so I can get around by myself and do my own thing (once I am allowed out!). We are now in lockdown so any plans of me getting away have been stumped but it doesn’t matter! I am just very grateful that I am still enjoying another country other than England at such unprecedented time. I am sending big hugs to everyone from the other side of the world and I will see you all soon, but I don’t really know when! Stay positive and healthy and I am missing you all x

 

13th April

Hi everyone! I’m in week 5 of NZ and 2 and half weeks into lockdown here and not much has changed with me. For all of those of you that haven’t spoken to me recently, lockdown in NZ has been quite strict with it coming into place on a Wednesday evening and the govt saying wherever you are at midnight is where you have to stay for the duration so no travelling around to get to your parents or family after that, telephone numbers and addresses being taken at the supermarket, fines if you are too far from home, no getting in the car to get to somewhere for your daily exercise, no shopping bags in the supermarket, and empty streets and shut shops. However, as we are in a rural area we are allowed to ‘bubble’ with up to 6 people and do self-isolation with other households so we have done exactly this with our lovely neighbours, Mike, Sheryl, Dylan and Jake. Most nights we go over or they come here for drinks and nibbles before supper and chat away (and drink away!!) which keeps us all sane and sociable. Daily life consists of me waking up at 10am (coz what else do I have to wake up for) and Jojo going down to help clear the campsite that Mike and Sheryl have run for the last 11 years and were meant to have sold on the 1st April – unfortunately this has got moved back until lockdown ends 😤. On site they have thermal pools which we enjoyed last weekend and sat in for over an hour and took a bubble selfie minus Sheryl.

 

We are very lucky with the weather at the moment with it still being warm enough to sit outside on the deck look at our  beautiful view of the ocean.

With the weather being so lovely we are able to do our daily walks in the sunshine and blue skies. The tides were very good last week so we did 2 walks to the beach equipped with coffee in a flask and hot cross buns at low tide in the morning sun as well as a long and wet walk across the estuary to meet Duncan and Kath in the middle. Mike went to meet his friend for a beer with a deckchair attached to his backpack and sat right in the centre for an hour or so.

Meanwhile, Duncan’s “middle” wasn’t quite the middle we were going for so we ended up practically on the other side at Tanner’s Point where we had a little catch up and a photo (featuring Duncan’s favourite shirt 🙈).

 

On Good Friday we cleaned the pond out of all the sludge and mud. Mike, Sheryl and Jojo seemed to have it under control (and it also stank so wasn’t going to go near that 😷) so the boys and I picked all the fruit around the garden. This included feijoas which are kind of like kiwi where you scoop out the middle but they have quite a perfumed taste which I haven’t learned to like yet despite there being an abundance of them. Freya will be very jealous of all our avocados!!

 

Easter Sunday had a very early start with the village pub quiz that we join at 7am for an 8pm UK start – we will blame the sleepiness for why we came last 😬! So lovely to see everyone keeping moral up and it seems that families are getting on well despite having the lack of space among each other. We then headed over to the neighbours for an Easter egg hunt that I persuaded Mike to arrange as I got super excited (and competitive..)about the previous night. The “adults” watched from the deck eating avo on toast, hot cross buns and a cuppa in hand while the kids scoured the garden for little chocolate eggs. I came 2nd with 11 eggs and lost to Dylan’s 16 eggs but I was happy with my position as I was an improvement from coming last earlier that morning. We then hosted Easter Sunday Dinner with a leg of lamb, roast potatoes and veg, and to finish I had made chocolate mousse and tarte tatin for pudding which went down very well!! The day was lovely and a nice distraction from being away from home at Easter but I know it would be no different if I were at home as it wouldn’t be the same weekend with Kimble on Saturday and the cousins over on Sunday. I hope you all had a lovely day too in isolation and keep smiling while the sun is shining ☀️(it’s warmer in England than it is here!!).

 

28th May

 

Hello again! I haven’t posted anything for a while as lockdown hasn’t been the most exciting as you all will agree. It was Freya’s 18th birthday on the 22nd April which was an action packed day of sun and social distancing visitors with a phew FaceTime calls to her sis in NZ to keep in the loop of the celebrations. It was sad for me to miss it as there was meant to be a secret surprise for me to come home after Vietnam before India to surprise Fizz on her birthday but unfortunately that couldn’t happen 😢 However, I felt like I was there, on the phone for present unwrapping and a tipsy call at the end of the day to tell me all about what had happened.

2 days later we went into Level 3 which meant we could extend our bubble a little more, drive to the beach for a walk, takeaways, and travel up to 45 mins, so we went up to Sheryl and Mike’s new business investment to enjoy the view over Orokawa Bay and do some gardening. A beautiful, 8 sleeper property overlooking the ocean where you can watch the container ships go and out of the port and even the occasional sighting of Killer Whales!

We extended our bubble to the Holiday Park managers Mon and Ron who are lovely and have a very dog-like cat, Winnie. We have fortnightly pot-luck dinners all together to keep up our social skills and spend time with some different faces.

Then on 14th May we moved to Level 2 and now I can see a bit more of New Zealand!

On Saturday morning we got up early and headed up to Auckland to pick up Bella and head up to Kawau Island to spend the night. Bella is one of Jojo’s best mate Scott’s daughter who did some travelling last year and stayed with Jojo in London while I was working with her. We got on SUPER well and she came out for lunch on my birthday with the family. She always said to come and stay with her if I ever found myself in NZ so Jojo and I went up to stay with her, Scott and her brother Oli on Kawau Island. Kawau only has 400 people living on it and has no cars so it was a nice little escape on the sea which I realised when Scott picked us up on his boat and motored our way to the island. After red snapper sandwiches for lunch we went for a little walk at Mansion House where there were peacocks everywhere and a gorgeous view of the bay. We then did some fishing on the end of the pier and I caught my first fish, a Red Snapper that was unfortunately too small to eat but was very exciting to catch. We warmed up by the fire and had a roast chicken, giant skillet cookie for pud and then watched Green Book with her full tummies! We had a slow morning with a big English breakfast for brunch to send us on our way back onto the mainland and for me to hit the city!

 

I spent the next 5 days walking around Auckland while Bella was unfortunately working at home. I did some serious retail therapy in the summer sales but also to buy myself some warmer clothes as it is getting quite cold now, as well as eating some yummy food and taking in the city.

I also got to talk to Elena, my Canadian “cousin”, while I sat at a restaurant next to the marina having a cup of tea and writing postcards with the sun going down.

I read on an article about things to do in Auckland and came across the free walking tour. I signed myself up as I had nothing better to do as the museum and art gallery were still closed, but unfortunately I got an email the day before saying I couldn’t do it as you need a minimum of 4 people and a max of 10. Annoyed I needed to find something else to do the guy emailed again saying the tour guide Catherine is up for still doing the tour if it’s not too late so on Tuesday I had a 3 hour tour of Auckland learning about the discovery of New Zealand, the local architecture and street art, to the native flora and fauna.

Bella’s mum, Mary, cooked us dinner on Wednesday evening and said tomorrow she will take me for a walk on Takapuna Beach and a drink on the Devonport Pier so I could see Auckland from the other side of the harbour which was beautiful to see on the ferry back to the city centre.

Feeling satisfied with how well I had done the city and pretty knackered from walking everywhere, my week of city life came to an end on Friday evening where we met Jojo on the way to Bella’s friend’s birthday weekend away where we had a burger at BurgerFuel and headed home to Athenree.

To end my post on a high I can say that I have got myself a job!! I sold myself to a few cafes and restaurants along Waihi Beach and succeeded with the Bowentown Cafe who had a girl quit the previous day and needed more staff. So I am being paid £9.45 an hour for as much work as I want so I can pay off my crazy spending spree in Auckland and not come home broke.

Oh and after our flight in mid-June was cancelled by Qantas, we have booked again for the 6th July so we will hopefully be home for the summer! Lots of love x