Monday, February 7, 2011

When It Rains It Pours

Well there’s a small boat made of china
It’s goin nowhere on the mantelpiece
Do I lie like a loungeroom lizard
Or do I sing like a bird released
Everywhere you go
You always take the weather with you
~Jimmy Buffett

The last few weeks have been a little bit of a whirlwind…perhaps cyclone would be a more appropriate way to explain it. Lindsay (Laura’s friend from Olympia) arrived a little over a week ago and moved into the apartment. She and I are sharing a room for the next few months. It’s like college again and we are becoming fast friends.

After Lindsay arrived, we headed to the Kay’s bach (that is what Kiwi’s call beach house) at Waihi Beach, which is positioned between the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty. When we arrived at the bach they had Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” playing. It was perfect! Unfortunately it started to rain, so we had friends over for cocktails and game night. It’s small world because Donna Kay (Laura’s co-worker) is from Rush City, Minnesota. She met Terry, her Kiwi husband, when they were both attending school at the University of Minnesota. Since Terry is from NZ, they decided to settle here. One of Donna’s friends who joined us for game night is from Boston. She also met a Kiwi in the states, fell in love and settled here. It seems to be a trend. We enjoyed a lovely evening of cocktails and conversation as the rain continued to pour down. We retired for the evening around midnight, but were awaken by the sirens at 2:00 a.m. Cyclone Wilma had arrived! It was high tide, so the town began to flood. We started to move the furniture to high ground and watched the water rise into the wee hours of the morning. We were literally one inch away from the bach flooding and having to evacuate. But then the rain miraculously stopped.

The next morning we ate breakfast on the deck and enjoyed the new "lakefront view." The local workers had to come and pump the water out of their yard because it was up to my waist. By midmorning the storm had cleared and the sun came out for the day. We decided to explore the beach and hiked the Orokawa Bay Track. I think we should have realized that the rain was going to affect the track, but we just charged ahead. We had to maneuver our way through a mudslide and cross two freshwater streams that came up to our knees. By the time we reached the third river, I had reached the end of my rope so we turned around. Mike told me that I gave him hiking blue balls...oh Mike. The following Monday was a holiday (Waikato Anniversary - each town celebrates their anniversary and gets a day of each year), so we headed to Raglan Beach for the day. It was windy and a bit overcast, but we set up camp on the beach and made pictures in the sand. It was a nice little Monday.

When I decided to make the move to NZ, I knew I couldn’t afford to just explore and play for a year. It was important for me to get a job while in New Zealand. I spent the first couple of weeks applying for office jobs, but I keep getting rejection letters. I think my CV and cover letters get lost in translation and I think I may be overqualified. In the meantime, I picked up a temporary gig at Convex Printing Company. It isn’t ideal work, but it’s a paycheck. Luckily, I work for Quentin who is a friend of ours and he looks after me. He is entertaining at work and brings me New Zealand treats. He has introduced me to some of his favorites including, vegemite (which is disgusting), scones, pie, povlova and smoked marlin (which his mom caught.) Although I am dedicated to finding work, I am more focused on having fun for the next couple of months. Lindsay and I might pick fruit in Tauranga in March and then my plan is to move to Wellington by the beginning of April.

After I received my first paycheck, we took the day off and headed to Auckland (NZ's biggest city.) We did some shopping and I randomly met a guy whose brother lives in Gresham, Oregon. How random! After we explored Auckland for a bit (which is like most other cities), we hopped on the ferry and headed to Waiheke Island. It was such an amazing day. The ferry ride was so beautiful and when we arrived on the island it was like a little slice of paradise. We walked from the dock to downtown Oneroa and found ourselves a nice little spot on the beach. We enjoyed a glorious girl's day filled with sunbathing, reading and gossiping.

On Friday, we packed up the car and headed to Taupo for the weekend. We set up camp and called it an early night because we had to be up by 5:30am to head the Tongaririo National Park. We hiked the Tongaririo Crossing. It is often described as the best on day walk in New Zealand. It has varied terrain and includes spring water lava flows, an active crater, emerald colored lakes and hot springs. It was 19k and took us about six hours to hike. Unfortunately, it rained most of the day and our visibility was limited. Before I leave New Zealand, I think I want to try it again when the weather is better. After the hike we headed back to the campsite and enjoyed soaking in the Taupo Hot Pools. It was a great way to relax after a big day of hiking. We had friends join us for that evening and we went out downtown Taupo. It was a great night filled with dancing and socializing. We even met some of the All Blacks rugby players, including Richard Kahui. The rugby players are like A-list celebrities here, so our kiwi friends were quite excited. 

My first month in New Zealand has been absolutely amazing! I can’t believe how much we have done in such a short amount of time. And even with all the rain, I still have managed to get an amazing tan. Life is pretty good on the island!

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