Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Kaitaia to Auckland

I said my goodbyes and thanked Rebecca and Mike for the opportunity to stay with them. I managed to catch my bus and whilst waiting i was also able to speak to na na Bette! it was great to hear her, it was he birthday and obviously i wasn't there for the crazy Hathaway get together! Before i knew it i was in Auckland reunited with my friend Sarah after a few months apart, we enjoyed a few fruit ciders and headed out for some live music and dancing. Sarah was kind enough to put me up for the night and dropped me off at the airport headed for Fiji Fun the next morning!


So i spent 7 days woofing, it was a great experience which made me think about a lot of things. Tasks involved making bread which was an amazing arm workout and took alot of energy. Next was the muesli which involved lots of seeds; sunflowers and pumpkin, dried fruit; apricots and rasins, honey and oats and anything else you wish. we fried the ingredients for about ten minutes and then mixed everything togethe, really delicious. I also had the chance to shoot a rifle, which was fun. We capturd a few possums in traps around the house and visited the beach which was stunning and a look out point which was origionally inhabited by maori and their animals. From this viewpoint you could realky see how secluded the house was, surrounded by bush and forest. Our sleeping quarters consisted of a small tree house on stilts about 300m from the main house. Ther was no electricity, just candle light and luckily a heater. As we slept we could hear the Morepork owl and the stream flowing. Each morning we fed the chickens and helped out with gardening, weeding and domestic jobs. Rebecca was thankful of the help with 3 children under her wing and her own business it was all GO! I also baked muffins and cakes which the children loved and managed to cook two big meals for the whole family, chicken paprika was a winner with salad picked every night from the garden.  I hope to take some of the ideas i learned about lifestyle back home with me especially the recipes.

Bus to Kerikeri to Kaitaia (Woofing Begins!)

The scenery from Auckland up north was beautiful and always changing. I was about to begin a week of Woofing. Woofing is short for Working On Organic Farms. I had been wanting to have the opportunity to do this at some point and now was perfect. I was greted by Rebecca who owned the house i was going to be staying at. She was very sweet, and welcomed me with open arms. We headed back to the family home where i met the three children Brody 14, Ruby 11 and Hamish 8. I then met Mike, Rebeccas partner. They were a lovly family, very community orientated and a focus on self sufficiency. There was no television in the house, which was actually a nice break and meant the children had to use their imaginations to entertain themselves. I was happy that there was another 'woofer' Lauren who was woofing at the same time which was good. Our first night was spent attending a cultural evening which Rebecca had been invited to. It was a crazy experience. The group was celebrating the winter solstice, Matariki the traditional maori celebration is marked by the arrival of constellations in the southern hemisphere and the changes between the seasons. I found myself taking part in greetings, song, dance, poetry, lighting candles and eating lots of food. There were a few speakers throughout the evening who had been invited to say a few words. I learnt alot about culture and ideas and peoples views and opinions. However the conversation did getbehated when a German man, living in New Zealand was trying to compare his culture and traditions with the Maori! Pete Smith a local Maori man was not happy and explained that there are no similarities and the fact that the native people went through a huge change when the Europeans came, they had no choice and wee forced almost to change their life styles. I found it interesting as it just showed that the European influence still hurts some of the native people. I think it is important for people to speak their minds and have an opinion about the events. The issues are still vey much alive and maori people feel very strongly about what happened and that is why some are trying to educate new generations about the importance of New Zealands history before the Europeans came. I guess it was passion speaking, which im all for. Unfortunately Peter ended up leaving the ceremony and invited people to his marae. It left a wier atmosphere in the circle and every part of me also wanted to leave, but i saw myself as a fly on the wall, an outsider, i considered my own beliefs and thought about the crazyness of different peoples beliefs and opinions and how ot makes the world go round, creates conflicts and helos people with their journey. An intense one!

Wellington back to Auckland

Most of the bus continued their journey south, as i had startd on the south i decided to head back to the north of the north! This time a much quieter bus consisting of only about 6 people. It is amazing how groups of people can change so dramatically some buses are loud and eveyone gets on, others are a bit more groupy and some much quieter, it has been cool as i have had about 8 different drivers and therefore 8 different groups, so i would say i got a chance to experience it all. From Wellington we made our way back up north through what felt like the four sesons. As we travelled the sky was blue and the sun shone, white fluffy clouds floated overhead, we stopped at National park again for lunch and as we ate the snow started to fall. We had to leave early as it had started to settle and we had a 6 hour journey ahead of us. Then we experienced a hail storm, into a light rain and eventually the skies cleared. I arrived in Auckland and checked in at Base hostel. I havn't really been that impressed with the base hostels, and this time i had the pleasure of spending the night with two Irish builders and a Scottish plumber. They had been staying at the hostel for 4 and a half months, I couldnt believe it! It definately smelt like they had been there for 4 and a half months, and there was no window in the room. Luckily i was headed straight up to Kaitaia early the next morning so i had a quick escape!

National Park to Wellington

Unfortunately the crossing had been canceled for those wanting to do it as winds were high and rain was expected. We made our way south to the capital city Wellington. Recentlynnamed by lonely planet as "the coolest little capital in the world". The city has a 'buzz' about it, lots of out doors activities, including hikes, kayaking, mountain biking and theen there are many bars, theatres and art galleries. The Te Papa museum is a MUST SEE, and i have to say it is the best museum i have ever been to. There was a large colossol squid on show and various natural history artifacts. The museum highlights maori culture and history, the influx of Europeans and effects of war, changes through time and the movement of people into the country from all over the world. A really fabulous place and well worth a visit ove a couple of days when in the city. We ended up having a draw off in the arts gallery section and making 'poems' with the magnetic words on the writers wall. We stayed at Nomads where we wee treated to a fre mini meal of chili and spent the night playing beer pong and dancing in Electric Avenue! The night ended with a Bailys (i think).

Back to National Park - Tongariro

The group had decided that we loved our Stray driver, 'Motors' was full of beans, and managed to get us from A-B describing important features and parts of history along the way in her own funny way. My favourite part was when we stopped in the small town of Ohakune to look at a giant carrot, This had been designed as it was the best area in New Zealand for growing the carrot. There are many big scultures scatteed in various places around the islands, including a large salmon and fruit. The bus consisted of about 21, mainly girls and 4 boys! We stopped from place to place testing various flavours of New Zealand pie, my fave, the steak and cheese :-).  We arrived at National park where the probibility of some of the group wanting to do the crossing was looking bleak. I felt licky that i had managed to do it a week ago in perfect conditions. We spent the night playing cards, watching movies and finally having a few wines in the two hot tubs which were available to guests outside. It was cool sitting in the hot steamy water with the heavy rain pouring onto our heads, - very refrshing.

Taupo to Blue Duck Lodge

Most people were hungover today as we had travelled from the Marae to stay at Lake Taupo. What was suppose to be a quiet quiz night ended up as crazy karaoke! So many An out90's classics were screamed out, back street boys, spice girls, oa There if focus on educating visitors about sis and Greese of course! Whilst travelling to Taupo, we went through Rotorua. It was her that in the rain we were able to see the geothermal hot pools which was pretty cool, and even more cooler if you are a geography teacher! as it rained the muddy pools exploded and popped, crackled and tossed bits of mud into the air. The area has been nicknamed 'sulphur city' because evrywher you go here smells of rotten eggs! Delicious!

We travelled for about 3.5 hours until we reached Blue Duck Lodge. This was an incredibly beautiful place a huge farm which was comitted to sustainable development of the area and the surrounding forests and the protection and conservation of the beautiful blue duck. This duck is endemic to New Zealand and there are just 1400 pairs left, 10 of which can be found on the grounds of the lodge. The area offers a range of activities from hunting to horse trecking. A group of us opted for a nice hike to a waterfall while others got involved in the chasing of goats or te riding of horses. We all stayed in fabulous wooden chalets and there was a great fire in teh communal area. The owners put on a movie night but we opted to listen to music (by Passenger), drink wine and have a good old chat! The owners are extremely passionate about what they are trying to achieve which is fantastic. There is a focus on educating visitors about the importance of preserving the local flora and fauna. The horse treckers had returned fairly wet and dirty as it had been a pretty miserable day weather wise, and unfortunately one of the huntes, i wont name her! (Miss B) had returned from a pretty grusome hunting experience where i think more blood was coming out of her forehead than the animal she had attempted to shoot! we luckily were able to laugh it off and enjoyed the turkey and old goat which had been captured that day! Our walk had consistedof beautiful birds, fantails and parakeets and a beautiful kingfisher. The evening consisted of a camp fire , beverages and for me an earlyish night! A very chilled place, an outdoor enthusiasts playground. If you get the chance then GO!