Happy New Year!
It has been a busy month and a bit, and I have rather neglected the blog... After moving in, we had a week to clean out the old flat (no issues with the final inspection - huzzah) and then get the house ready for the arrival of my parents for Christmas. The week also included the last orchestra committee meeting of the year, an evening tea with the ex-landlady, the last Sci-Fi meeting of the year and the wedding of our ex-next door neighbour's son.
We had a fantastic time with my parents - we were incredibly lucky to have 10 days of glorious sunshine before we got caught by the tail end of a cyclone. This meant that we were able to spend Christmas Day on the beach as well as do all the tourist sights of Wellington with the sun shining and the sky blue. We started our Tiki Tour on Boxing Day; travelling first to Napier, where we had supper overlooking the harbour,
got to see some fantastic Art Deco
and took a wine tour (no photos of that - the wine was too good!).
We spotted black swans and ducklings at Lake Taupo
We stopped by the Huka falls
and then saw some amazing geothermal pools at Wai-o-tapu, near Rotorua.
(we have a room which is painted the same colour as that last pool...)
We had a slightly damp time in Auckland, as the cyclone was settling in for the long haul, but enjoyed catching up with family, and also introducing my parents to the Parnell Chocolate shop.
New Year's Eve was interesting - we spent it in Te Kuiti, which is just outside Waitomo. It was not the most exciting of towns, particularly if you are looking for somewhere which will serve food (that isn't just a takeaway)... So, we spent the last hours of 2011 at the motel room, eating a microwave supper (the motel rooms only had microwaves, rather than fully functioning kitchens) and playing silly card
games. An absolutely perfect way to spend the evening!
Unfortunately, because of the amount of rain that had fallen, the Black Water Rafting that I had booked was cancelled; instead, we went on a walking tour of Ruakuri Cave, with a very entertaining guide, who on his own admittance had partied very well the previous evening. He certainly needed his flask of coffee!
Our next stop was Mount Taranaki; we were incredibly lucky with the weather, because we arrived there on the first day that it hadn't rained. Whilst the mountain was still shrouded in cloud, we were able to go on a couple of walks, one which was certainly damper than the lady at the DOC site had led us to expect (full blown fording through streams which were now gushing rivers...). But it was well worth it when we climbed the side of a waterfall at Wilkies Pools and saw the cloud clearing above us:
We then headed back to Wellington, a round trip of 1779 km!
Our final excursion was to Kapiti Island - I'd been looking forward to this trip for months, and wasn't disappointed. We got to see loads of birds, and hear even more:
North Island robins followed us all the way round
Saddlebacks were incredibly noisy in the trees as well as popping over to see what we were doing
The Weka were everywhere, particularly when they thought there might be a chance of getting something to eat!
And, best of all, whilst waiting for the boat to take us back, we got to see the Takahe, with their chick; there are less than 250 of these birds remaining, so to know that the conservation work on reserves such as Kapiti is working is fantastic.
Then it was back to earth with a bump as we took my parents back to the airport and got ready for the first day back at work after three weeks off. Since then, we've mainly been focussed on the house; doing DIY (I got to climb all over the roof painting the rusted areas with a solution designed to turn the rust back into iron; I was then supposed to paint it with a primer to stop it rusting again, however, it has either been raining or blowing a gale ever since), fixing the dud battery in the house alarm (we thought it might have been a bit of a bad introduction to the neighbours to have the alarm go off during a power cut, particularly if it was on one of the evenings that we were out) and turning the garden back from a jungle into something that looks a little bit more respectable.
I know I owe photos of the new house - will get them up at some point - promise!