Sunday, April 05, 2009

The non "working" part of our working holiday has begun...

On March 30th, our lives in Auckland came to a close, and our journey south with Mom & Dad began.

(PS- We have not yet said our formal, teary good-byes because a) we’re returning to Auckland for a few days before leaving the country, and b) I hate good-byes and I'm going to delay it as long as possible.)

Here she is folks. The primary driver… moi!

And here's our eager (and very much appreciated!) secondary driver...

When Dad's not driving, this is what Mom and Dad look like as they are being chauffeured around the country...

(They are indeed buckled in... Gus has SEVEN seat belts!!)

En route to our first destination (Mt Maunganui), we passed the famed 7-meter high L&P bottle in the town of Paeroa. L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) originated in the early 1900s as plain ol’ mineral water from Paeroa. Add a zing of lemon, and you get L&P! Our family has grown quite attached to this lemony beverage, and therefore could not resist the photo op.

Lowell loves anything and everything to do with lemons. Even oversized lemon rubbish bins departing from his derriere.

We arrived at Mt. Maunganui in time to walk up and down it before dark.

Married for 33 years, and still kissing on mountains. Perhaps this is evidence of the success that is the marriage course they run out of their home...

We ended up camping (for free) along the beach near some (free) public washrooms, and received a (free) internet signal to boot!

In the morning, we rose bright and early, downed brekky, then took a jaunt around the mount. After that refreshing walk, we boogy boarded for one last time on the North Island with the rents before heading further south to Rotorua.

Mom & Dad have become pro-star boogy boarders!

Before hitting Rotorua, we stopped at the kiwi fruit vineyard (aka tourist trap). We took photos, and yes, bought souvenirs.

Upon arrival in Rotorua, we stopped at an ice cream shop to try some true blue kiwi ice cream. We had genuinely hoped to sample kiwi fruit and honey ice cream, but neither were in stock. We happily settled on Hokey Pokey and Feijoa flavours which are also very kiwi-ish.

Poor Lowell didn’t notice the wasp that had made itself comfortable in his ice cream, and he unintentionally shoved it in his mouth with a bite of the creamy goodness. The wasp retaliated and took a chunk out of Lowell's lip. What was previously a very happy ice cream-licking Lowell became a vewy sad wasp-stung wittle boy...

That night we soaked in the hot pools at our campground, visited the boiling mud ponds, and anticipated the Maori cultural evening that we were planning to attend.

At 6pm, a shuttle bus picked us up and took us to the Maori village. Our driver, Mark, was a Maori himself and he was absolutely hilarious. A thoroughly entertaining nut...

(The googly eyes and wagging tongue is an intimidation tactic used during the haka (for example). Apparently it translates literally as "your flesh looks tasty". Yummy.)

On our way to the village, Mark explained the meaning of “Kia Ora” (which is a Maori greeting) by greeting us in 58 different languages. And he didn’t give us just one greeting per language either- he rattled off four or five greetings with awfully convincing accents.

Out of the 35 people on our bus, my very own Daddio was selected as our Warrior Chief! He was summoned to the front of the bus to demonstrate the hongi (a Maori greeting) with the driver.

Dad and the other four selected chiefs (from the other busses) stood in a line as Maori men danced their cultural dances around them then chose "THE" Warrior Chief. The big guy beside Dad was chosen as the ultimate chief.

The evening included real stories from Maori history told mainly through song and dance.

Dad had the honour of doing the hongi with the head chief of the tribe...

How chiefy this newly minted chief is!!

The second half of the evening involved devouring a delicious feast that was cooked in the traditional Moari way... underground with hot rocks and steam (hangi).

Aw, and Mom and Dad ended the evening off with a little hongi...

Our good friends Lance & Nat insisted that we attend this Maori cultural evening before leaving the country, and it was well worth it. Those two sure are a couple of smarty pants.

Okay, now we're onto April 2nd...

The goal was to end up at the base of the Tongariro Crossing for the night, so we made a few touristy stops en route.

Touristy stop #1:
Huka falls!

My super studdly hubby and I have been here before...

...but it was a first for the giggly rents!

Touristy stop #2:
The Honey Hive in Taupo...

Lowell appropriately re-enacted the unfortunate sting incident with a stuffed bee (which was a TAD larger than the wasp that did the actual stinging).

Whilst at the Honey Hive we also savoured both honey AND kiwi fruit flavoured ice creams. They were deliciously, delightfully, mouthwateringly, pleasantly scrumptious. This particular event is not documented as the amount of drool dribbling down our chins was humiliating.

Touristy stop #3: The McDonald's airplane that Dave & Lori had discovered during their Kiwi adventuring. Same ol McDonald's food... new exciting atmosphere!

We reached our goal destination (the base of the Tongariro Crossing)at a decent time, set up camp, and fell into a freezing cold yet surprisingly restful sleep. We rose bright and early to begin our 20km hike. But that, folks, is a story for another day. Goodness gracious, this mammoth post covers only the first 3 days of our journey. There is oh so much more to come...


Shelley said...


marcandorkylie said...

sweet road trip! or should i say sweet as?
i love the picture of dad with the mask. very chiefly indeed.
have fun on the south island!

ps - our WV was dweadom

Anonymous said...

When did your dad lose his moustache? It took me a minute to figure out what was different. Looks like you are having a grand time. Can you figure out what goes into the honey ice cream? I have an ice cream maker and that sounds just too good not to attempt!

JulieAnne said...

Lowell I think it's hilarious that a wasp bit your tongue! That is not something very many people do in their life. Love you guys, Keep on having fun!