My Christmas trip home to New Zealand was a rather last minute amazing fortnight that I spent with family and friends. Over the two weeks I traipsed across most of the North Island, and was lucky enough to enjoy 25°C temperatures and sunny blues skies (except for New Years Eve which transpired against a planned bonfire – but hey, it meant that we toasted 2015 in snug and warm inside).
Most tourist guides / people / recommendations /
stories feature the South Island as the place to visit. Well, that’s
very true – think majestic alpine ranges, breathtaking glaciers, winding
roads and a fair few sheep. The North Island comes off as a much poorer
relation – if you’re thinking of visiting it does have a plethora of secrets to delve, and is worth popped by. Long and thin, much like the rest of New Zealand the landscape is hilly, covered in bush and
nowhere is more than 3 hours from a beach.
3 hours from a beach people!
The last time Mr Kiwi and I were in Auckland we spent a day haunting the waterfront, jumping up and down on the glass floor of the Skytower (well, he did, I stayed as far away from them as I could) and did a harbour cruise on a powered yacht under the Auckland Harbour bridge. We were even allowed to steer – I was terrible but my trawler brawler was pretty good!
This time (sans Mr Kiwi, who spent Christmas with his family and on Skype to me) my few days began with brunch – as most good days do – fresh beignets, muesli and flat whites in the shadow of the SkyTower – our tallest building dominating the Auckland skyline – just what the Doctor ordered after the best night in a bed I’ve ever spent. Travel for 30 hours on a plane and you’ll understand.
Pohutukawa trees line the waterfront and many roads – this year the New Zealand Christmas icon was an explosion of vibrant red, crowning each of the many trees lining the waterfront and roads. I knew I was home.
|One tree hill (not to be confused with the American TV series) is an Auckland landmark – despite having no tree anymore…|
My lovely family organised for a Christmas lunch kiwi-style (my second of the year already :D) and an afternoon of catching up (perfect for jetlag suffering)…
..and included two of my absolute favourite Christmas desserts – perfect Pavlova and Jaffa Slice. Oooooh Jaffa slice! (And yes, I basically spent two weeks in New Zealand bouncing from missed food item to food item like a typical homesick expat – the first thing I did off the 30-hour flight was take a shower then leg it to the supermarket. True story!)
I spend a few years growing up in Auckland, so I’m a little biased, but I rather like it in many ways. A smaller slower paced version of London, it’s our biggest city both population and land-wise and is home to around a million people. A million people brunching, speaking with Kiwi iccints (that’s accents for the un-initiated) living life and getting caught on spaghetti junction – a rather twisted pocket of motorway that loves traffic jams.
Best of all it’s home to my lovely, kooky, crazy Sister and a fair few aunties, cousins and friends. And, when all else fails you can boost it down the motorway to pastures quieter.
** You gotta love an outtake of someone learning to use their camera, and having to remind themselves not to fiddle with the settings hey? I’ve entitled it “Oops”.