It’s the morning after the night before as I begin drafting this week’s wrap-up post – and what a week it was…(and what a night before it was).
The night before was a joint celebration in honour of a 60th birthday (not mine) and a 30th wedding anniversary (also not mine) – and the ultimate reason for this trip to NZ…but more on that later.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the heart-breakingly sad events that occurred in Christchurch on Friday – but I have no words for that. Instead here’s what made me smile last week – my birthday week.
1.No day job work for a week. Yay!
2. The kiwifruit groves in the Bay of Plenty. I hadn’t really thought too much about how kiwifruit is grown, but up here the vines are protected by super-high almost maze-like hedges. You can see the hedges in the pic below.
3. The lemonade popsicle at the end of the Cathedral Cove walk.
4. My birthday dinner at Salt in Whitianga. A marina, fairy lights, good food and a warm Kiwi evening – what’s not to like?
5. The murals in Katikati on the way to Rotorua. Katikati has 3 claims to fame:
- It’s the first planned Irish community in NZ
- It’s the avocado capital of NZ
- It’s full of murals – and a town full of murals is always a good thing
Plus the bakery here won the first place in the NZ pie competitions for their vegetarian pie. It had bok choy, kumara (sweet potato), carrot and parsnip in it. We didn’t try it, but we did sample their butter chicken spring roll – which was, to be honest, a tad weird.
6. The roses in Rotorua – I’ll tell you more about Rotorua on Thursday, but it’s fair to say it’s not one of my favourite places in this fabulous country. The roses in Government Gardens were, however, gorgeous.
7. The random puffs of gas and bubbles of springs that are literally all through Rotorua. The smell didn’t make me smile quite so much, but more on that on Thursday.
8. The line-up of retro Kiwi slices in bakeries. I think there are a few that I haven’t yet made at home.
9. The colour of the water at Huka Falls.
10. A swim in the lake at Taupo.
11. The sign for National Gumboot Day in Taihape. Yes, this town is the self-proclaimed gumboot capital of New Zealand – and we saw plenty of people wearing gumboots in a completely non-ironic way.
12. The bleak landscape of the Desert Road
13. The rolling hills as we got closer to the Wairarapa
14. An impromptu picnic in the grounds of a Martinborough winery with local wine and local cheese. We had no plates, borrowed glasses from the winery and used the swiss army knife to cut the cheese. Sometimes the simplest things really are the best.
15. A fabulous party with fabulous friends. Because the party was a joint celebration – J’s 60th birthday and H&J’s 30th wedding anniversary – the theme was the 60s and 80s. I channelled my 60s flower child and Grant donned a wig and was 80s bogan rocker.
The food was retro – think devils on horseback, vol-au-vents and asparagus toast canapes, prawn cocktails and deep fried camembert – and the music was also old-school. As for the venue? Tirohana Estate – a winery in Martinborough.
16. A visit to the seal colony at Cape Palliser – more on that next week
17. Best seafood chowder and great fish and chips at Lake Ferry Hotel – in the middle of pretty much nowhere.
18. Catching up with the best of friends – just priceless.
19. A birthday selfie. This is me at 52 – no makeup and sunburned but not really caring about any of that!
Okay, that was my week – how was yours?