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Suzen's Personal Journey - Chapters Seven & Eight

Suzen header On to New Zeland.jpg

Wwoofing in Wonderland

By:  Suzen

Leaving Bali via the Denpasar Airport at midnight was a great way for me to begin my next adventure. I was dropped out front by the driver I had hired to bring me to the airport and the first thing I did was look at the airport from outside and wonder - now what do I do.

To leave Tampa with an encouraging, good friend and arrive in Bali to be met by someone I know was one thing. To leave an unfamiliar airport alone and to arrive in a place I had never been before, also alone, was another story. But here is the end of it...I did it!! With all the transport stories I encountered in Bali I am happy to announce smooth sailing (err, flying & bussing) to New Zealand!

As we all know, I am not really a seasoned traveler, and actually not much of a traveler at all, except in my head, where I have been many places and done many things! And here I am in New Zealand by way of Indonesia!

One of the great benefits from the past few months is, now I know more of what I can do. And I know just how wide open the travel door is for me to continue to explore the world.  Both the internal and external worlds!

Five minutes before midnight I left Bali behind and flew south across the Indian Ocean and the entire continent of Australia to arrive in Sydney at 11AM Sydney time. I wouldn't even begin to discuss flying time or time zones...I am still utterly confused, I will just say that the 12 hour difference between Florida and Bali turned into a 16 hour difference once I arrived in Auckland, NZ! Even though I was flying towards the USA...never mind the fact that I was also traveling into the southern hemisphere, where south is cold, north is warm and July is the midst of winter!!Suzen My Time Spent In Australia.jpg

From Sydney we flew across the Tasman Sea, (2 more time zones) to arrive in Auckland NZ at 4:30 in the afternoon. It is winter, (I keep reminding myself!) so the days are short, and as we were approaching Auckland the late afternoon air was like liquid gold on these lush green hills...quite simply...Exquisite.

After landing, collecting my luggage, exchanging money and buying adapters for NZ electric outlets and a NZ SIM card for my prepaid phone I went out to the shuttle area to go to the B&B I had booked for the night. I am pretty sure it was SLEETING!! Culture shock, body shock, mental shock. Mostly rain, blowing rain I might add, and bits of something white and cold! I would have handed my suitcase to Ivan the Terrible if he opened the door to a heated vehicle and said "climb in"!! In fact I got a very nice shuttle driver who blasted the heat for me until I began to acclimate.

I arrived at my B&B around 7pm (no earthly idea what this meant to my body clock!!) numb with cold, disoriented and famished! Jet Star Airlines did not hold a flickering candle to Japan Airlines when it came to food and my pastime in Bali had, after all, been eating! The B&B was located near downtown Auckland and there was no choice but to head out again. There was an umbrella for me and I layered on everything I had worn during the entire 6 weeks in Bali, and trudged out in search for food and, really, I NEEDED a glass of wine. One of the main roads in Auckland (Dominion Road) had a ton of eating places and I needed to walk 5 or 6 blocks in the dark against blowing, cold rain to get there. However, I spent most of the walk laughing out loud! The umbrella threatened to turn inside out and tried to fly out of my grip several times and each time I laughed harder!!  I kept saying to myself....here I am at the end of June in a cold blowing rain on the other side of the world in another hemisphere! Yahoo!! Not only that, I had NZ money in my pocket and I was on the hunt for new, local food!! However, being the easy mark that I am for anything Italian, I was swayed by a random comment about pizza and ended up in a very cute little pizzeria. The place was warm and cozy and offered red wine and I ate an entire (wasn't really that big) cheese and herb pizza. Being revived and warmed I walked around town and noticed all these Asian Noodle Bars. Noodle Bars?! I love noodles and have always wanted to go to a noodle bar! I was still a little bit hungry and remembered that tomorrow I would be traveling north and begin working as a wwoofer. Yeah, I thought, I need a noodle bowl and so I ordered one and enjoyed it!

The next afternoon I took the bus 2 hours up to the village of Waipu. I was picked up by Rosemary Neave, founder, owner and chief cook at Waihoihoi Lodge. The lodge is a beautiful retreat for women on one of the prime locations of the north island of New Zealand. We traveled about 5 miles up the mountain from the village of Waipu with the last couple of miles just a gravel road.  We turned into the private drive of Waihoihoi Lodge and seconds later this amazing vista opened up before my eyes....everything beautiful in one view....rolling green hills, sea and mountains- really spectacular! Immediately I was reminded of the quote on Waihoihoi Lodge's homepage by the New Zealand Herald: "As you approach Whangarei, there is a magical moment when unfolding hills part and the coastline and offshore islands appear before you. This is one of the best views on the planet."  I couldn't have said it nearly as well but I wholeheartedly concur.

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Photo Above- View from Waihoihoi

My room is a cozy little loft facing a wall of windows overlooking the velvety green hills of the north island coast of New Zealand. On one side the hills fall away at the sea, and on the other side- mountains. It is almost impossible to tear my eyes away from the view in front of me. Such a green are these hills; now with the warm golden light of late afternoon beautifying them even more! It is late June and Winter here so the days are short with bouts of rain throughout the day. So far, the rain has given way several times a day to brilliant blue sky, more often than not, escorted in by a rainbow. The temperature is pleasantly cool, just enough to want soups and stews and sweaters. Actually, the 55-60 degrees have been very agreeable to me. (Normally anything below 78 and I start to shiver!)

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Photo Above- View from Waihoihoi Lodge

As I mentioned previously I am at the Waihoihoi Lodge "wwoofing", WWOOF being World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  For a few hours a day I work around the lodge, doing housework, helping with the guests, cleaning up after meals (you know, stuff I know!!) And then there are the chores like hauling in firewood, gathering eggs, serious weeding and clearing out the stuff from the tree pruner... (things I don't know!) But the perks are way worth it! Not only does this exchange cover my sweet little room but the meals are extraordinary. Rosemary is a wonderful cook. She cooks food perfectly suited for the day.  For example, on this cold and rainy day she made a hearty and very comforting, lamb stew.  I was comforted! The next night she whipped up a roasted chicken with potatoes and carrots and served it with fresh colorful vegetables over a bed of arugula; still warm from the garden! Tell me how cool it is to see someone coming up the lawn with a basket of freshly picked lettuces and vegetables at around 5:30 in the afternoon?? Or how energizing to start the chilly day off with hot oatmeal topped with stewed apples and feijoas (a guava like fruit) with homemade yogurt to top it off.  Did I mention the homemade bread yet? Needless to say I will return to the USA healthy and hefty!

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Photo Above- Suzen "Wwoofing" at Waihoihoi

Actually, my wwoofing has provided a rather mystical metaphor to my days.  As I was pulling weeds that had reached 4 feet high and not all of them willing to be uprooted, I realized how much stuff needed to be uprooted from inside me. Most of my own weeds were firmly held by the soil of my own making...and these weeds were content, well fed and watered! Hence a struggle ensued over who was in control and where the power lay...I was doing physical work, but my mind was on metaphysical things!! Therefore my efforts at fighting these weeds became extremely personal to me!! (My back can testify to exactly how personal!) But, seriously, I saw quiet a lot of unpleasant stuff (weeds) crowding out my personal truth and I had seen enough glimpses of truth to know I wanted to pursue it. Pull those bastards out by the roots and take them to the compost pile! (My higher self sometimes uses this language!)

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Photo Above- Suzen on the way to the compost pile

As a testament to the New Zealand hospitality, on one of my first few days at Waihoihoi Rosemary asked if I would like to take her car to Waipu Cove and Lang's Beach.  It was a beautiful afternoon and my wwoofing chores were done. I had my international driver's license which I had secured before leaving America and I really did want to go to the beach plus I missed driving a car...so I took advantage of her generous offer!  Needless to say, they drive on the left side of the road and the driver sits in the right side of the car...virtually mirroring how we do it in the USA...so I felt comfortable cruising along at about 10 kph (which is about 6 mph) on my road trip to the beach...with no traffic, thank God.

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Photo Above- Suzen's shadow on Waipu Cove

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Photo Above- Lawn to Waipu Cove 

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Photo Above- Pied Shags on Waipu Cove

It was just gorgeous at Waipu cove with the surf, a variety of birds, trees overhanging the beach and a nice long area for walking. I was exquisitely happy as I headed home around 4:30 pm anticipating another delicious meal and feasting already on the views in every direction.  I was cruising along with the confidence of one-in-control when I came upon a bridge. It was a one way bridge and I had the right of way...yet as I came further across I could see that there was a car coming toward me so I instinctively moved to the left.  Suddenly, from out of the blue, I was careening across the bridge to a heartbreaking stop having been knocked silly by something. As I got out of the car I noticed that the other driver had stopped his car and was just sitting inside with his hands gripped tightly around the wheel and his mouth wide open. Just to break the silence I said, "I don't even know what I hit!" In a beautiful NZ accent he said very matter of factly, "you hit the bridge." Well der!!  It seems there was a knee high concrete wall on the left side of the bridge just below the metal guardrail and out of my view.  The right side (the side I could see) only had the guardrail. My front left tire and wheel had bumped (bumped may be too gentle of a word here) into the concrete wall. Due to this I had to call Rosemary, my recent happiness now evaporating rapidly, and tell her..."I owe you a tire and a rim and I'm so sorry"!!!  She came for me in her neighbor's car, driving up just across the street from me and said, "no worries mate, the mechanic will come and get it." (The joys of community living!) To say that she was a good sport about it is a colossal understatement! She even relayed a story of crashing her neighbor's sports car into a fence herself last summer, which I took in as a very thoughtful gift. Then off we drove, in full view of yet another NZ rainbow and home to a beautiful dinner.


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Photo Above- Gardens at Waihoihoi

During my stay at the lodge we had three guests from Taiwan and two guests from the USA. Of the three Taiwanese guests, two were residing temporarily in New Zealand and one was visiting from Taiwan.  The Americans were 2 retired women from Maryland who were taking 6 months to visit the north island of NZ and 6 months for the south island with a side trip to the Cook Islands in order to renew their visas! Rosemary had a meeting one morning while the Americans were visiting and I was left in charge of making breakfast. They wanted eggs (why did I ask??) but I couldn't get the gas stove  to ignite...we all tried and I began to envision Rosemary coming home to three dead Americans who died trying to light a gas stove! Being the resourceful individuals that we were we all agreed there was only one course of action...use the microwave!  We made the eggs in the microwave and they were darn good too! The toasted homemade bread and jam really helped!

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Photo Above- Gravel road down the mountain

One of the most enjoyable times thus far was biking down to Waipu with a following day of biking on Uretiti Beach. We rode the bikes down the mountain on Monday, Rosemary fearlessly flying down the curvy gravel descent with a distance of about 2 miles and me, not keeping up at all, with my brakes pumping most of the way!!  Finally smooth asphalt for the last 3 miles, at which time I did catch up! Rosemary did some shopping and errands while I spent time in the Waipu Museum, which depicts the history of Scottish pioneers from Nova Scotia migrating to New Zealand in the 1850s. There is still a strong Scottish heritage in Waipu. In fact, one of the weeks I was here was Tartan Week, part of the Winter in Waipu Festival.

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Photo Above- Piper Band- Waipu

At the end of the week there was a genuine Piper Band marching through town and everyone had on their clan tartans!!  Winter in Waipu is full of activities including contests and festivals for the 3 off-season months of June, July and August. Plus, there are always the beaches, everyday of every season, beautiful and accessible.

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Photo Above- Morning on Uretiti Beach

On the day we rode the bikes down to Waipu we left them safely tied up in the churchyard overnight and got a ride back up the mountain. The next day we drove down into the village, got our bikes and cycled the 5k to the beach, around 3 miles, and then biked forever on this spectacular, wide and gorgeous beach. As we were cruising in the bright sunshine there was a rain shower viewable in the distance. The next thing I knew I looked up to see this extraordinary rainbow covering the sky. If only I could adequately describe the colors and panoramic view on the beach at that moment!  Naturally, digital film just doesn't do justice to such a sight. Part of the beauty was the feeling of utter freedom while cycling on the hard packed sand as the waves were crashing before me.

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Photo Above- Dunes on Uretiti Beach

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Photo Above- Cycling on Uretiti Beach

When I wasn't gasping at the rainbow or just exhilarated by the beauty of so much water and sky, I was scanning for whales...not just whales but actually Orcas...although I have yet to see one. Orcas do swim in these waters, and June is the month to see them.  Jean-Michael Cousteau is in New Zealand at the present time to find and film Orcas. Because it's cold, they come in close to shore to hunt rays for food. We saw skeletons of rays but, so far, no Orcas.

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Photo Above- New Zealand Rainbow

As a farewell treat on my last full day at Waihoihoi, Rosemary took me along to help one of her neighbors pick lemons. It sounded so wonderful however, it was actually hard work! Plus it was cold, and raining, and early in the morning. I thought we would just snap off the lemon and toss it into a bushel basket, but there was a skill to it, can you believe that? We had to wear these front packs, gloves, (lemon trees do have thorns), and with special clippers we needed to clip the lemon off in order to avoid pulling the stem totally off which causes decay.  The stem had to be trimmed close and properly to avoid piercing the skin of "his mate" during packing. Obviously NZ is a great place to grow lemons; these trees were loaded down, rows and rows and rows of them!! One of the difficulties was getting down under the tree to get the wonderfully smelling fruit and then attempting to stand up with the front pack loaded while wearing 25 lbs of clothing- there was just no way!  I couldn't grab a branch because of the thorns and I had enough pride (just barely) not to yell, "I've squatted and I can't get up!" So, I just burrowed the old knees into the mud and muck and heaved.  There was a tractor with a trailer where we dumped our lemons and then went back in for more.

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Photo Above- Suzen on the way to morning tea...

However, New Zealanders being the civilized lot that they are do stop at 11:30 am for tea.  Morning tea for NZ consists of fresh coffee or tea and raisin cake and cookies.  Then it's back to work until about 1:00 pm at which time we stopped for lunch which included steak and mushroom pies, more tea and honey sandwiches! Not a bad morning and actually a very fun experience! However, if we had continued on for the afternoon shift I would probably still be lying in bed and begging for mercy.

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Photo Above- Suzen in the sun at last.....lemon picking

After 2 weeks wwoofing at Waihoihoi Lodge I am off to the Bay of Islands, even further north. I will be staying in a Backpacker's Lodge for a few days before heading back to Auckland. I am a bit sad to leave Waihoihoi Lodge and Waipu but adventure calls and I am headed for what the local Maori call "The Edge of The World", where the Tasman Sea meets and converges with the Pacific Ocean.

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Photo Above- Fog on the mountains

As a resource for fellow travelers, Rosemary is in the process of launching a new travel website for women. She has operated Women Travel New Zealand for several years and is now launching Women Travel the World. The number of women traveling alone or with other women is one of the fastest growing groups of travelers around the world. This site gives women many resources for accommodations and tours specifically for women.

You can check out a preview of the new site at: http://www.womentravel.co.nz/html/Women_travel_the_world-links.htm

Speaking of women traveling the world, after the Bay of Islands and Auckland, I am thinking of an excursion to the beautiful west coast of Florida. I hear Sunset Beach is still one of the best-kept secrets of the state of Florida and considered by many to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

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Photo Above- Rosemary and Hildegard- Goodbye for now, until we meet again..



Chapter Eight: The Hills are Alive...

By:  Suzen 

On a chilly but bright sunny day I left Waihoihoi Lodge to spend a few days in an area of New_Zealand_Intercity_Bus.jpgNorthland New Zealand called The Bay of Islands. One of the joys of traveling in New Zealand has been the Intercity Coach. If we had buses like this in America I would have traveled the entire country by now! These buses are punctual and reliable, are more comfortable than planes, cleaner than most cars... (no eating or drinking allowed) with a friendly conscientious driver. At least, this has been my experience. Since the buses are usually nowhere near full I consider the double seat as my personal suite with high back, reclining seats and big picture windows exposing the green and blue of the NZ countryside. I read or work on this journal or just veg while enjoying the scenery. As we drove north, the hilly green meadows were either graced with a beautiful stand of trees lined up across the ridge or the green ridges without trees gave you the distinct feeling that Julie Andrews would come twirling across any minute with her breathless song already on the rise.





Photo Above titled - The Hills are Alive 

We pulled into Paihai in the Bay of Islands mid-afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day here as well, still verging on cold. (I know I know it is winter!!) Still, everything is sooooo green, and as I walked through town the smell of freshly mown grass actually made me feel warmer! One of the old homes, (an historic dwelling I have already forgotten) is currently the public library on the grounds of the village green. I took a risk and walked into this library knowing full well I may never walk out! I am a complete chump for libraries of any sort, but these small cozy ones with big windows and big chairs and books everywhere just about do me in!! Still, I was able to tear myself away (there were no chairs available), and continue with my plan, which was to take the ferry over to the next town.


Photo above-  Paihia Beach

The town across the bay is a waterfront town called Russell and has the appearance of a place 50 or more years ago. Very picturesque and, in the summer, I am sure it is lovely to sit out on the beach or at a sidewalk café. However, the afternoon I was there I just sat inside by the fire and enjoyed looking out the windows while sipping on something warm. The ferry returned us to Paihia just as the sun was setting. I got no pictures because I was so much enjoying the warmth inside the ferry and the reddish gold beauty outside while moving through blue waters. These are the times I feel so exhilarated and fortunate to be exactly where I am at the moment that to try to capture it almost causes the magic to diminish.


Photo Above- Russell

  On the chilly and dark walk back to the Lodge after the ferry trip, I stopped at a local fish & chips place called Mako's Beach Bar and had an excellent dinner of, needless to say, fish & chips, next to a blazing heater which allowed me to also enjoy the cold Guiness that they featured.


Photo Above- Paihia Bay

A new phenomenon for me is the guesthouses and backpackers hostels. Of course, I have heard of hostels, but that was back when the words counter and culture were hip. The word hostel, or even backpacker for that matter, conjures up in my mind - shelter from the elements, big rooms of shaggy hippies, hiking boots and cigarette smoke. However, times, as they say, are changing. Now, according to Wikipedia..., "The traditional hostel format involved dormitory style accommodation. Some newer hostels include en-suite accommodation with single, double or quad occupancy rooms, though to be considered a hostel they must also provide dormitory accommodation. In recent years the numbers of independent and backpackers' hostels has increased greatly to cater for the greater numbers of overland, multi-destination travelers ...The recent eruption in independent hostels has been called, "the single biggest news in the world of low-cost travel". Right. Also, I discover, to my extreme happiness, that ensuite means attached private bath.


Photo Above-  Me At Saltwater Lodge

One of the appeals of staying in this type accommodation, aside from the killer price, is the New_Zealand_My_Room_at_Saltwater_Lodge.jpgopportunity to meet people from other countries and often very diverse styles of life. In addition, often those who run the guesthouse/lodge are typically in touch with the region on a more local level and the chances of learning about the area outside the touristy parts are much improved. The place I stayed in Painia, was called the Saltwater Lodge. I had a 4 bed "dorm room", but being winter, I had it all to myself with a huge, spit clean bathroom and hot and cold shower, refrigerator and hot water maker for tea or coffee. Then there is the huge common kitchen (merely label your food) and a lounge with tables, couches, computers and a big TV with lots of movies. My room was just under $19 US dollars per day. It was warm, clean, roomy and quiet. What's not to like?

Photo Above-  My Dorm Room  

When I arrived in Paihia I was encouraged to sign up for a tour to the edge of the world....no, really! It IS called the edge of the world!  Anyway, according to local legend the Maori Indians of New Zealand believe that when a person dies, his spirit travels to this spot where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean converge.  Here the spirit sprouts wings and is free to move about the universe.  However, if the person was evil during his lifetime, he will not sprout wings but rather fall into the sea to be eaten by a sea monster.


Photo Above- Convergence of the waters

That morning I was picked up at my lodge at 7:15...and began the excursion to Cape Reinga and the edge of the world. The tour consisted of twelve hours and quite a few miles of breathtaking scenery and tons of local history and Maori lore presented by one of the best storytellers I can remember hearing. (Of course, the lilting NZ accent is a treat in itself.) This tour was well worth the $100 it cost me.


Photo Above-  Morning Mist

The beginning of the trip took us through Northland countryside just as the sun was rising. There had been a frost overnight, (one of only 1 or 2 per year up here!) and once again, the fairyland quality of this frost on the lush green grass was impossible to capture, especially with a small digital camera...and from the window of a moving bus!! Still, check out this lovely idyllic scene.


Photo Above-  Me at the edge of the world

The destination and highlight of the trip was Cape Reinga, which is located at the tip of the north island of New Zealand. Today there is a lighthouse at the point where these two bodies of water meet and converge. The color actually differs from the more turquoise color of the Tasman Sea and the darker blue of the South Pacific, with a long stretch of turbulent water.


Photo Above-  Meeting Waters


Photo Above- Convergence of the Waters

The route to get to Cape Reinga was via the 90-mile beach, which is closer to 60 actual miles. However, the beach is spectacular no matter how many miles long it is. We drove the length of this beach to get to the Cape in a bus that had been built on a truck chassis and fitted for this type excursion. This is a wild beach in every sense of the word, although the day we were there it was quite subdued, still you could tell this was not an American beach!! There is no swimming, no sunbathing, certainly no tiki bars!! The undertow and swells are supposedly vicious, according to our tour guide, who told us that you can be in waist deep water one minute and the next minute the water can be at your chin from the swells. Often, too, there are rogue waves that can arrive suddenly and carry an unsuspecting object - say you - out to sea...next stop South America! There are 3 entrances or exits on this beach and only three for the full 60 miles. The sand dunes are huge and vast. We stopped several times and our guide warned us each time not to go into the dunes. (Pronunced - junes).


Photo Above- DUNES

He said one can easily get disoriented and very lost in the junes. Also, if you drive on the beach and decide to camp or otherwise leave your vehicle and come back after high tide, your vehicle will be buried in the sand and is virtually irretrievable in one piece.  We stopped several times to view different sights, one of which was a rare sleeping seal. And a big bird related to the condor....


Photo Above- SEAL on 90 Mile Beach


Photo Above- Water of 90 mile beach

In addition to driving on this very wide beach we left the beach by way of a "stream", according to our driver...whatever you want to call it, it was a tributary flowing from the surrounding area into the sea. It was wide and fairly deep in places and I am guessing a couple of miles long. Near the entrance to this stream were some dunes that had obviously been confiscated by the tour groups. Our bus came supplied with boogie boards and there was sand boarding for all!! Yippee! This I was really looking forward to. Until I saw the junes and watched some mature guys doing it... In the end, I declined...if I had not been alone and afraid of fractures or a concussion, with no one knowing who I was and no clue how many hours the next medical facility was, I would have been near the front of the line. Plus I thought of our beautiful soft sand dunes in Florida...with these junes on the 90 mile beach I may just as well have gotten on a boogie board and tumbled down a high steep red clay hill in Georgia!


Photo Above-  Sand Boarding


Photo Above- Beginning of the stream


Photo Above- The Stream

Finally we emerged from the stream and onto a hard surfaced road of sorts for another few miles before getting back onto a normal highway. A day at the beach in New Zealand is just not the same day at the beach that I am used to!! But a   day and a beach to remember. With all the development of my world, i.e. Florida, this beach is an amazing example of the undeveloped wonders still existing on this planet. 

We returned to Paihia around 7:30 that evening after one last excursion up a gravel road to the top of a ridge where the Maninginangina Reserve is located.  We arrived at dusk and were all silent with a reverence for this forest. The Puketi Forest is an ancient forest, where the Kauri tree, which is totally protected now, can reach a height of 169 feet and up to 45 feet in circumference with an estimated age of 2,100 years.  The Kauri is among the world's largest trees in company with the Sequoia and the Giant Redwood, and is considered one of New Zealand's most precious habitats.

I really loved my last full day in Paihia. Walking around in an unknown town in a foreign country, not even the right season for me (winter in July) put me into another dimension. I had on my fleece jacket and 2 pairs of socks and good sneakers and a backpack and I felt as complete and rich as I possibly could at that moment.  A different climate, new food, not knowing a single soul was all kind of exhilarating. All I was responsible for was to wander...taking in the sights and smells of a new place, the exquisite little flowers, a sea of blue water, all the splendid little things that filled me up with gratitude. Wandering with no schedule, knowing when I was hungry I would eat and when I got sleepy there was a warm clean room. I really loved that day.


Photo Above- Winter Flowers


Photo Above- Tiny Flowers


 Photo Above- Flower


Photo Above- Breakfast

My last stop in New Zealand was at the Big Blue House in Auckland where I stayed for 2 nights before catching my flight back to Bali.  I arrived just in time for dinner, as my food karma continues to carry me along on a wave of culinary delights. The next day was cold and rainy and I spent the better part of it (after breakfast of course, more homemade bread!!) in my very cozy little room under the feather quilt in what felt like my mother's womb! The electric blanket under the mattress cover helped with that sensation and forbade me to exert much more effort than it took to turn the pages of my book...There were only 2 other guests in the House, two women from California. That night for dinner my host decided that she would treat us Americans to a traditional Kiwi dinner consisting of an all day roasted lamb with real mint sauce, a bowl piled high with a variety of roasted potatoes, green peas and lots of graaaaavy. Then, we had a New Zealand meringue cake with fresh fruit and hokey pokey ice cream. (Guess who woke up moaning in the morning?) Thankfully one of my new friends from California took me on a nice long walk around Auckland the next morning before I had to get a cab to the airport for the 12 hour trip back to Bali!  My new friend from California, Laurie, has a Guesthouse in the mountains near San Bernardino. How fortuitous!  It is called The Rainbow View Lodge in Running Springs, CA. Check it out at http://www.rainbowviewlodge.com/ The four us, Laurie and Anna from California and Wendy, our New Zealand host, and me spent several hours after the Kiwi dinner burning off our calories through talk!! We discussed everything from self-awareness in women around the world (we are all the same) to leasing a car for a 6-month stay in New Zealand...next trip!


Photo Above- WENDY, LAURIE & ME


Photo Above- Low Tide Auckland

I knew when I got to the airport in Auckland something was up. There was too much laughingNew_Zealand_Air_NZ.jpg and squealing and the energy level was just in the stratosphere. Turns out it was National Youth Day in Sydney where 60,000 "youth" were converging on the city...most of whom were on my flight!

The Sydney airport, (so far) is the only airport I have been hopelessly lost in. Thank God I had 3 hours to make my connection. Finding my gate took up most of my connection time, which involved a bus to a separate terminal which no one deemed important enough to mention to me, although I asked everyone walking in an upright position.  Finally, I am sitting in the midst of what feels like the whole of humanity waiting to board.  Stationed here, all of the people I will live with for the next several hours (including inconsolable children) parade before me. Sometimes repeatedly. My one bright hope is that dinner will be served...and earphones provided! Once more I will cross 2 seas from the island of New Zealand to the island of Bali before crossing seas and continents to get home. I would not have missed this opportunity in New Zealand for anything. The NZ tourism board is presenting NZ as the youngest country on earth and has an awesome video ad...check it out at: http://www.newzealand.com/travel/International/

One more stopover in Bali and I am heading home. Home, what a concept, filled with every warm emotion and all the longing of my heart.

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