On the 3rd of February, we finished our Australia adventure and begun our time in New Zealand. We flew into Auckland and got a ferry over to an Island called Waiheke. We were there to visit our friends the Mews who used to live in Richmond. One of their daughter’s Harriet, was in Willow’s class. Willow was so excited to see Harriet because she hadn’t seen her for a long time.
When we arrived, Alice and Johnny (who are Harriet’s mum and dad) came round to see us and welcome us to Waiheke. We walked down to the beach – which was about 20 metres away – and played in the surprisingly warm sea. The beach had the best shells we’d ever seen : there were thousands of them all along the beach. We then went on a walk into the Bush and came upon lots of big rocks with trickling water coming down. We climbed up it…of course (even Harriet’s younger sister Frida did it!) As we were in the forest, I was getting EATEN ALIVE by mosquitos. I came out with about 20 new bites all over me. Harriet stayed over at our house that night because her school hadn’t started yet after their long summer holiday.
The next day we went out to explore the island. The first beach we went to was called Enclosure Bay. Alice had told us that recently two Orca Whales were seen in the bay and had swum right in-between some children! We didn’t see any whales and just played about on a paddle board. We then drove to the other side of the island to a place called Man o’ War. There was a vineyard and it had a really cool food truck in the garden where I had a bacon and egg bap and guacamole. We blew up Harriet’s paddle board again and used it on the beach. There were lots of boats so we had to go in and out of them.
On our third day, February 6th, it was Waitangi day. Waitangi Day is the celebration of when the Māori and British signed a treaty in 1840: the treaty was an agreement between the British and the Māori for them to work together and create New Zealand (so it is seen as the birth day of New Zealand.) We went to a Marae – the meeting place for local Māori’s and took part in a Powhiri – a Māori welcome ceremony. It was nice to be part of the celebrations and we saw some children doing singing and dancing. The welcome at the beginning was a bit tough becuase it felt like it was going on forever and we were standing in the blazing, hot sun listening to loads of people give speeches in a language we couldn’t understand.
Afterwards, we went up to a really nice vineyard for lunch – there was a climbing tree in the garden that had a platform half way up but it was really hard to climb and I almost fell. Back in England, Flossie and I learnt how to do a two person cartwheel and I tried to teach Betsy how to do it. The first couple of times we tried, I was dropped on my head but we finally managed to do it; even though it was nowhere near as good as Flossie and I. When we did it, the tables that were next to ours started cheering which was nice but quite embarrassing. Throughout the meal, Alice thought that the man behind us was Robbie Williams but it wasn’t.
On our final day in Waiheke, we went to Harriet’s school. It was the first day of the new term so in the morning we went to watch their Māori welcome. All of the kids in her school were singing to the new children joining in the Māori language. This ceremony was a lot better to watch than the other one because it wasn’t as long and it was children doing it not adults.
We then got the ferry to Devonport – a small suburb of Aukland. When Willow was in nursery, she made friends with a girl called Isadora who then moved to Devonport. Willow has been talking about Isadora for so long now so she was excited ( and nervous ) to meet her. We walked along the beach with them and climbed up this massive hill. At the very top, it started raining so we sheltered under a tree. I started climbing it but when I was near to the top, I realised I couldn’t get down. Dad helped me get down but then the branch I was holding on to snapped and I fell to the bottom of the tree. I badly grazed my left leg and got a small one on my right. For lunch, Isadora’s mum made an amazing pasta dish with lamb. We had to get back to Waiheke to pack so Willow was very upset to say goodbye but we may see them again in England and so she is counting dow the days until then.
The next day, we had to leave Waiheke which we were all very sad about. (We later scored Waiheke and it came out top of the list of everywhere we have been so far!)
Next, we drove to Russell and when we arrived it was raining so much! We thought we would do some boat trips around the Bay Of Islands but the whole time we were there it didn’t stop raining. One day we went to the Waitangi treaty grounds where we learnt about the treaty that was signed there nearly 200 years ago by the Māori and the British. We went on an Audio tour with a guide who was speaking through a microphone but we could hardly understand him because he was speaking so fast in a strong Māori accent. After getting drenched, we saw a Māori show where they showed us all of the different instruments and dances.
We all loved our first week in New Zealand and we began our second week by having lunch with some other friends from Richmond who have moved back and who had lent us their car. We met the Duders (or Doodaa’s as Willow spells it) and had a lovely lunch with them before driving on to Rotorua.