Bay’s a Plenty

14 12 2009

Torrential rain greeted us in Auckland for a couple of days forcing us to abandon our leaky Walmart tent and cough up for a mattress for the back of our car. One of the main reasons we’d returned to Auckland was to see the Dalai Lama speak. His warm up act was a famous Tibetan singer who after her set got the whole arena Ommmmm-ing until our internal organs vibrated, quite bizarre! And then all of a sudden his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama appeared in a blue puff of smoke, floating on a lotus leaf a few feet above the stage.

After some prolonged greetings, Maori singing etc..The Dalai Lama made himself comfortable – shoes off and crossed legged on the couch with a poker player’s visor perched on top of his head!

He started off with some general chat about different religions etc.. which seemed to send a few folks into a bit of a slumber! The second half was a bit more interesting though once he’d started cracking a few jokes and telling us about how he used to bully his brother and “Dis his friends wife”!

Generally he was very down to earth, frank and realistic – none of the mystic spiritualism I was expecting!

We left Auckland the next day to spend some time in Mount Manganui in the Bay of Plenty. This is a bit of a rarity in that there’s actually some development around the great beach here, although still no amusement arcades in sight! We came here on New Years Eve on our last visit and the place was rammed, being one of the most popular holiday areas in NZ. Fortunately it was a little quieter now and quite a nice place to relax for a couple of days. Awesome long white beaches, fish and chips and hot spring pools kept us occupied until we continued East to Gisborne.

Gisborne and the Eastland are still predominantly Maori Land. Apparently in some of the towns they haven’t yet discovered boy racer cars and still trot up and down the streets on horseback carrying rifles! Gisborne was stinking hot so we didn’t do much in the heat of the day apart from reading on the beach and visiting local vineyards. The morning we left we got up early to wade out into the sea and swim with the bottlenose dolphin, Moko, who’d taken to hanging about by the beach for the last few days.

We’d watched him the day before having lots of fun stealing people’s surfboards and boogie boards! The press here have labelled him a ‘killer dolphin’ and even a ‘sexual predator’ warning people of the dangers of getting in the water when he’s around. The locals know this is all nonsense though and we enjoyed swimming with him for a while – he seemed to take an interest in my toes and kept nudging them as if he was trying to work out if they were edible!

A few hours down the coast is Napier in Hawkes Bay. Napier was largely destroyed in 1931 by a massive Earthquake and when the city was re-built they used a lot of Art Deco architecture that remains today. We’ve spent a couple of days here exploring and relaxing in cafe’s, chintzy tea-rooms and parks, trying to get through the mountains of books we’ve been accumulating!

We’ve now moved down to the neighbouring town of Hastings for a few days. After stocking up on cake at the weekly farmers market we headed up Te Mata peak just outside of town for views around Hawkes Bay.

From here you can imagine all the activities you could get up to if you lived around here. Surfing at the Beach in the morning, followed by a short kayak up the river into the heart of the winelands where you jump out and walk, run or bike up to the top of Te Mata. From here you take off from the purpose built ramps with your paraglider or handglider and fly inland along the hills to Mt.Ruapehu for an afternoon of snowboarding!

We’re planning to stay in the area for a while to investigate the job market and maybe stay put for a few weeks over the summer holidays. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is 10 days away, it just doesn’t feel right in a hot country! We hope everyone is looking forward to their holidays back home and winding down at work – Christmas parties, watching Ferris Beullers Day Off in the conference room, eating a whole tin of Quality Street every single day??

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