Well, our time in New Zealand has just about wound down to a close. Last night, Brooke and I jetted about an hour north of Auckland to have dinner in Warkworth. We dined with another set of new friends whom we had met when we first arrived in the country. Our last dinner in New Zealand was at an upscale pub where we finally had a chance to sample the fish ‘n chips we had been salivating over from town to town. Deliciousness followed. Driving back, we were greeted with the gorgeous site of the Auckland nighttime skyline welcoming us across the bay and into our final New Zealand hotel stay. I know I’ve said this a dozen times in a dozen posts, but it is a beautiful country.
We leave New Zealand about a thousand times more knowledgable about the culture, people, geography and history than we were when our plane landed in here thirteen days ago. And we’re still learning new things. For one, it turns out that when a sheep gives birth, the result is always twins. Never just one baby lamb, but two. We’ve also determined that given the Kiwi bird’s propensity to sleep up to 20 hours a day, Brooke might actually be part Kiwi. (Note from Brooke: “At least I wish I was. At least then people wouldn’t judge. Oh, they judge.”) Last night, we also learned about the Feijoa: A fruit that boldly claims to be like none other. Since the feijoa are out of season we won’t get to sample. But I’m continually surprised by the sheer number of fruits that I’ve never heard of. Last week, Brooke discovered and fell in love with the Tamarillo. A tart citrus fruit with the essence of a tomato. Unique, no?
We managed to see a little bit more of Auckland on our last day including stumbling across an adorable shop called The Garden Party in the Ponsonby section of town. We limited our purchase to an Andy Warhol styled Sheep Coaster set (trust me, they’re awesome. Come to our new place for drinks and we’ll break them out) but the store had some endlessly great gear. We ordered one last Long Black coffee at one last café, sent a few postcards, and I even found a respectable enough looking barber to give me a much needed haircut. Our last day to-do list included wanting to try a Meat Pie for lunch which, despite it’s off putting name, is a much beloved local favorite. No stranger sounding than a Sloppy Joe, I suppose. We weren’t able to make that happen, but we’ve added it to our next time list. Our to do list for when we return to New Zealand is getting longer by the hour! We have a whole Southern Island to explore!
I think one thing I’ll remember most about New Zealand is the roads. We’ve been told that an old Kiwi joke is that road builders here get paid not by the mile of road they lay down, but the number of curves they install. Every day outside of the cities is a bit of adventure driving. Yesterday, we came across the commonly seen sign for “falling rock ahead.” Less than a mile down the road, we nearly plowed into a giant friggin’ boulder the size of a small Honda Civic. The mammoth rock was firmly situated about a third of the way into the road. Yikes. Also, in driving over 1,200 KM we saw a singular Kiwi Bird Crossing sign. Ah, I should have taken a picture of that one. Moving forward, my stress dreams may consist of riding around curvy mountain hills that you can’t see around, only to discover a double-long logging truck barreling down the other side of the two-lane road with 300 foot drop-offs.
In our next post, Brooke and I will share our favorite moments from New Zealand. But for now, Vela has been returned to the Spaceport, we’re at the Auckland International Aiport well in advance of our flight and will board our China Southern flight back to Guangzhou and then to Tokyo, Japan. Brooke and I are looking forward to our path to Tokyo and our stay at Camp Zama tomorrow. Next stop: The land of the rising sun! Onward to new discoveries and new adventures.