A day (or 30 hours later to be precise) we landed back in amongst the silver skyscrapers of London.
Living in New Zealand, no one is more than 3 hours drive from a beach, and it is one of the things I miss most about living in London. (And having to take wind breaks will always make me giggle, sorry British friends!) We managed to sneak in two beachy visits during our New Zealand whirlwind.
WEST COAST - PIHA BEACH
Coming over the hills of Titirangi, the air was heavy, laden with rain. We couldn't see the expanse of rolling hillsides each time we crested, and our hearts sank. We had half a day to Tourist like we meant it, around Auckland City before boarding the enormous tin can back to the other side of the globe.
We had held our breath planning the tour as we rolled over the last rise and watching the weather reports, but fortunately our luck changed after an enormous storm had rolled the length of New Zealand (causing a few shenanigans in Christchurch) it must have cleared the unique weather systems of the coast out...
I hadn't visited the strikingly beautiful black volcanic sands of Piha since I was in pigtails, aged approximately 9 & 2/3rds, so a return visit was needed. With a vicious surf swell, Piha holds a challenge for many surfers (in high school I even knew crazy friends who would night surf there - how they made it back to class I'll never know...) and gets rather popular in summer.
Except for a couple walking their pooch, this moment was ours.
...then a wee pitstop to look over the Manukau Heads and admire a little local flora...
...before stopping for a touch of culture and a much needed flat white.
Only a few days earlier and a few hundred kilometers we had been walking the silver sands of the East Coast near Tauranga and getting in a few Dad hugs. You know, expat style.
EAST COAST - MOUNT MAUNGANUI
(aka 'The Mount' for all the cool kids)
The Mount is where Aucklanders tend to decamp during the six weeks of Christmas/summer holidays. They gather in cafes, sleep in beautiful bachs (summer homes) and let their kids run amok as all children should.
We drove over just as the afternoon was turning a little windswept and moody, and simply wandered. It was where I spent Christmas Eve, burning to a lovely shade of lobster, and ate pies with glee. This time we went for a naughty soft serve - for no reason other than being at the beach. That's more than enough reason, right?
Simply holiday perfection.
New Zealand, my beautiful island home of contrasts.