The next day, Jono drove us south from Tauranga to Wellington. It was a full day’s drive so we made a couple of stops along the way to break up the journey. First we stopped at Huka Falls but it was freezing cold so we didn’t stop for long there. Then we drove round the beautiful Lake Taupo to get to Taupo town (or was it the other way round?!) In keeping with the rest of the trip, our activity here was another surprise: test driving a Lexus that Jono and Kate (but mainly Jono) were thinking of buying! The weather had both warmed up and cleared up by now so we took rather a significant diversion up Mount something or other to admire the views and play in the snow. We had lunch in a cafe at the ski resort at the top and spent a bit of time taking pictures of the panorama and a lot of time wishing my knee would stop falling apart so we could go skiing again. We arrived into Wellington in the evening and found our way to Andy and Amanda’s (Kate’s brother and his wife) flat. Kate cooked a risotto and we finally got round to trying the Tahitian cocktail (labelled on the box “Tahiti Drink”) that we’d been carrying round. As nice as the drink was, I think the fact that there was still a fair amount left over the next morning speaks volumes…
The next day we went shopping in the morning and visited the Bee Hive, New Zealand’s parliament, in the afternoon. I think you can all guess which part of the day I enjoyed the most! It was very interesting learning about how New Zealand have attempted to integrate Maori traditions into their democracy. Our tour guide seemed to have a healthy cynicism for politics although it was a bit difficult to know whether we should laugh or not. In the evening we all went out for a delicious Turkish meal for falafely and hummusy goodness.
We spent most of the next day in the car driving back to Tauranga. We arrived fairly late so went straight to Jono & Kate’s new favourite restaurant, The Flying Burrito Brothers. Claire and I made an elementary mistake by sharing a starter of stuffed chillies. But troopers that we are, we battled through them, mopping our brows between each mouthful. The next day, with our lips still on fire, we went to some thermal springs in the morning followed by trip to a winery with the most generous free wine tasting that we’ve ever experienced (and we did a lot in South America). Back at the house Jono knocked up some fantastic pizzas which we enjoyed with a couple of bottles of our favourites from the winery.
With our trip nearing an end, we headed for Auckland. We went to Auckland Museum and saw some amazing Maori carvings and learnt a bit about the history of New Zealand. We took a ferry across to Devonport and went to a cafe where if you looked away for 2 seconds, birds would land on the table (inside the cafe) and try and steal your food. In the evening, Kate surprised us, as she had done for the entire trip, with an amazing meal on at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower.
Although it was only 2 weeks, we packed a huge amount in and I can only end this blog by saying thank you so so much to both Kate and Jono for making it such an amazing time.