Monday, November 8, 2010

Life in Taradise

(Taranaki + Paradise = Taradise!)

Written/Posted 10:55 AM, Tuesday, Nov. 8th, 2010
Oakura, NZ

We've been in New Plymouth for almost a week now! We are settling in and feeling very much at home here at the Wavehaven, and hoping to stay longterm, as the owners tend to let people pay affordable weekly rent to stay for a couple months. As I mentioned before, almost no one stays here only a couple nights- most stay for weeks or months. So far, it is definitely a haven, and though the waves come and go (a surfer's trials and tribulations), the weather has been fantastic!

I don't have any super exciting adventures to relay to you all, as we've been mostly settling in, looking for work, and surfing. We've surfed three days in a row (ok, I didn't surf on Sunday, but we're also hampered by only having one board at the moment), and the coast here is just littered with surf spots. Yesterday there were next to no waves, so we went and played in the hip-deep water at Oakura beach, one of the few breaks without rocks, and only about 5 km from Wavehaven.


 Me paddling out to the sandbar where the water is only a few feet deep (hence the waves breaking there)

 The antithesis of big wave surfing...

 Matt and our new board

 Matt catching a gnarly one-footer :) 

Oakura foreshore from the beach. 

As you can see, the water is so warm we don't need booties or gloves, and we actually could have surfed without the wetsuits without being particularly uncomfortable- a revolutionary concept for us, since we are used to surfing the north Pacific, not the south!

We spent most of yesterday in New Plymouth, running errands and looking for work. Here's a few views of the town:

 Devon Street, the main street in the shopping district

 Puke Ariki, my favorite feature of New Plymouth. This is the enourmous and wonderfully done civic center. The portion on the righthand side is the I-Site, small theater, restaurant, and museum. There is a skybridge to the portion on the left, which is the War Memorial and Library. There is also an art gallery in between the two. The library is to die for, one of the most well done I've ever seen. We discovered that a lot of the funding for Puke Ariki and other public buildings here comes from Todd Energy and Shell. There is a large petroleum industry and offshore drilling in New Plymouth, and while I don't like to see such an unsustainable form of energy used, I can appreciate that the funding is there for such comprehensive public services. Puke Ariki means "hill of the chief," and refers to the heightened piece of land where the civic center sits, which used to be the site of a Maori pa, or fortress, providing an advantageous view over the sea and surrounding land. 

 New Plymouth foreshore and the Wind Wand, a controversial sculpture that moves around in the wind. Regarded by some as art, and by others as an eyesore. There is a coastal walkway that spans the entire foreshore from the port (the smokestack in the distance) all the way past the opposite end of town and up to the White Cliffs. 

The lawn and amphitheatre between Puke Ariki and the Centre City shopping mall, from the waterfront street. If you enlarge the photo and look carefully, you will see Matt (in blue shirt) on the furthest point of the lawn, surrounded by seagulls!

The work search continues, but another temporary gig just fell into our laps the other night, when a guy who used to stay the Wavehaven walked in while we were eating dinner, and asked if anyone here was looking for work. We raised our hands, and it turns out that he has a side business building hammocks, and needs a couple of people to do the staining of the wood frames and some other odd jobs, and has enough work to equal a few weeks' full time work, paid by unit but coming out to about $15/hour. The work is in Oakura, on the street that leads down to the surf beach, so it's really convenient, and we can do the hours whenever. We should be starting next week, but are pretty stoked that we got a job without even looking for it! We are still looking for more permanent work, and dropped our c.v.s off at a local cafe that is looking to hire two people for the summer. We need to makes some more calls and do some more searching, but are feeling pretty good about how things are going so far. 

We are very much enjoying the pace of life here, and being able to cook whatever meals we want, instead of what we can do on a single-burner butane stove, and have been eating very well. Since we are trying to keep spending to a minimum, we shop mainly at Pak'n'Save, which still has great deals on good, local food, but we can also buy in bulk and keep our shopping trips down to one per week. Oakura has a Foursquare where we can go if we run out of essentials, and save the small amount of petrol we would use driving to New Plymouth. Some of our meals so far have been pan-fried Moki (a delicious NZ whitefish) with spring onions and couscous, roasted kumara and pumpkin with garlic and rosemary (oh yeah- there is a small herb garden here!), and we had great success with kumara fritters for lunch the other day. We are still thoroughly addicted to English tea, and now have a massive biscuit (light tea cookies) habit too. I'm certainly not complaining!
I will post some photos of Wavehaven soon, and until then, here's wishing you all well, and I'll end with a photo of Mt. Taranaki, taken from just south of Oakura:

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