I'm very behind in updating my blog, so I'm posting now what ought to have been posted back in January. Those who follow me on Facebook already know what an excellent time I had away this summer exploring first Auckland and then the Bay of Plenty just a little further down south. There was such a lot to do in Auckland, and we only had around five days there so we had very little time to squeeze a lot in! On the itinerary was a day trip to Rangitoto Island which is a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf with a ferry running to it twice a day. It has a lovely Pohutukawa forest and, being Christmas time, they were all out in flower looking spectacular. (Pohutukawa is referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree). We walked to the summit where we encountered something I'd rather not have been within a mile of; a rather large tree weta. I'm not a creepy crawly fan and definitely kept my distance from this fellow.
As much as I enjoyed the break from work, I couldn't help thinking a lot about pirates when I seemed to find cannons just about everywhere and even a landlocked pirate ship! Rainbow's End theme park was an excellent day out, but I avoided the pirate ship ride as I had just been tricked into going onto the roller coaster and, apparently, I'm getting too old for such rides. My stomach rebelled for hours after and I was relegated to 'holder of bags and camera' while others enjoyed the themselves. Another excellent day out involved visiting Auckland's Sky Tower. There was the option there to do the Sky Jump (jump off the edge of that? I think not!) and the Sky Walk. The braver among our group opted for the latter. Not being a fan of heights I hid so while others were enjoying the thrill of being strapped into a harness and walking around a rail-free platform 192 meters above the ground, I was inside rocking back and forth muttering 'can't look, can't look!'.
After Christmas Day, we piled into a mini-van and headed down to a tiny little town called Matata where we rented a beach house for a week. While there wasn't much to do in that town, it was in a great location for us to do more day trips exploring the Bay of Plenty. While we were there we experienced a 4.4 earthquake early one morning. The owner of the house came to check up on us and cheerfully told us that a few years earlier, the house that previously stood on the site had been destroyed by a landslide caused by an earthquake combined with flooding. So much for escaping the aftershocks we were having in Canterbury; it seemed Mother Nature too wasn't happy about my fleeing and decided to follow me! Either that, or Cronus was annoyed I hadn't invited him away on holiday and was directing some of his Godly Wrath in my direction. Anyway, spending the day chilling out on Ohope Beachcured my earthquake jitters; such a lovely beach and excellent swimming too!
I felt very sad when the holiday was over as those I met up with had come all the way from the United Kingdom (third year in a row for one of them!) and I won't be seeing them again anytime soon. I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas and the New Year than holidaying with lovely relatives enjoying beautiful summer weather. Despite the odd day of rain and the earth grumbling and rumbling, it was the Best Holiday Ever. I hope y'all enjoyed an equally fun Christmas break and that you are still enjoying the memories created by it. I'd like to wish you all a very late Happy New Year! Yarr!