A common sight outside our window these days
It's 20th January, and today marks exactly 4 months since our arrival in New Zealand, and the halfway point of our time here! Now it's just 4 months (and a few days) until we come home to the states, and we're entering a new phase of our trip.
Matt saw Jessa safely off at the New Plymouth Airport (Matt describes it as "One dude, two desks, and three gates") yesterday morning (and she is still in transit!), and now we are facing a departure of our own: We will be leaving Taranaki on Monday (the 24th) after almost 3 months here. It's a sad prospect, as we will be leaving a place that has been a great home to us, and also saying goodbye to the many amazing friends we've made here. New Plymouth, Oakura, and the Wavehaven have been very good to us, and we've had an amazing time here. We've gotten some awesome surf, taken advantage of all the things to see and do here, had a little bit of paid work (although not as much as we'd like, the one downside of this area), had a great visit from Jessa, and been able to live rent-free for almost 3 months. Jono has been kind enough to accommodate us for that long, and didn't ask us to pay rent on our room when we left to Wellington for 5 days, and gave Jessa a room of her own for free while she was here- a really fantastic gesture, and we are grateful for it. We'll be taking with us loads of great Wavehaven memories, including our New Zealand Thanksgiving, sunny days at the farm with Merv and Michele, sweltering summer days spent on the front porch with other travelers, and countless hours on the beach and in the sea. It's been a very good run.
Beautiful photo of a tree fern fiddlehead (koru) by Jessa
We'll miss it here, but moving on is exciting too. We have a lot of New Zealand left to see before we go home, and we're very much looking forward to that. We also need to earn money, and luckily we have a good opportunity to do that ahead as well.
So here's the plan for the next little while. On Monday, we will head north, embarking on a "tiki tour" of Northland/the Far North, i.e. the whole area north of Auckland. The Far North is where Provo and I went on our surf tour in January 2007, so it will be a fun re-visit for me, and I'm really excited to show it to Matt. We will be in a remote, beautiful, and very summery part of New Zealand. Home to Ninety Mile Beach, Kauri forests, Cape Reinga, and the Bay of Islands, Northland holds a lot of treasures, and hopefully we will get to see many of them. We will be spending about 3 weeks up north, exploring, surfing, and freedom camping, living as cheaply as possible as funds are a bit low. On the way back from the Far North we will be doing a short farmstay/workaway with Laura and Lloyd at Our Wee Farm near Kerikeri (Bay of Islands), which we are very excited about. Laura contacted me through my blog when she found out we were doing farmstays and invited us to come do a work exchange, so it's pretty exciting that it worked out- it will be my first time meeting someone as a result of blogging. I've been reading her posts about monarch butterflies and all the caterpillars they have on their farm, and it looks like I will have to get over my holy horror of big caterpillars. The thought gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I guess it's a chance for self growth.
After visiting the north, we will be arriving in Napier, on Hawke's Bay, around the 13th of February. We have orchard work (probably apple picking) awaiting us there. After really rum luck trying to locate picking work on our own, we decided to go through one of the many hostels in that area that have relationships with the contractors and arrange work for their guests. We've been in contact and they are arranging contract work for us, and so we also know we have a place to stay- as BBH (Budget Backpackers Hostels) members, it will cost us $100/week per person for a tent/van site there, which isn't bad. Although apple picking is very hard work (10-12 hour days) and is paid by the amount you pick, you can earn up to $1,000 per week, so it's worth working hard for a short amount of time. Our plan right now is to work there until late March, at which juncture we will head for the South Island.
Gorgeous flowers at Pukekura Park
We have quite a list of chores to get done before we leave the Wavehaven, so we'll be working through those in the next few days, in between fitting in some last surfs on Taranaki's breaks, and Matt's last hours of work at the YMCA. Because a lot of Northland is really remote, we may not have access to cheap groceries, internet, laundry, and other amenities while we're up there, so we need to plan ahead a bit. Also, it will be a bit of a transition living in the van again, and it desperately needs a good clean before we go.
Some things on our list include:
-Completely empty the van, vacuum it, wash all inside windows and dashboard
-Wash the outside of the van
-Jettison all unnecessary things accumulated in our time here
-Wash basically all the clothes we have here, and the bed linens for the van (we'll probably do laundry by hand when we're up north, so best to start out with everything clean)
-Stock up on things like sunscreen, soap, batteries, and shampoo
-Get Lucy's oil changed
-Make a menu plan for the rest of our time here, making sure we use up the rest of our frozen veggies and pastry and other perishables that don't travel well
-Make a menu plan for the first half of our trip, and stock up at Pak N Save and from Blair's garden
-Mend a couple items of clothing and my straw sunhat (due to lots of windy days, the brim is becoming detached from the crown)
-Charge up phones and computer right before we leave
-Freeze jugs of ice for the chilly bin
One of the Sugarloaf Islands from Paritutu Rock