That night we arrived in Auckland and met Peggy and her family on their awesome 46ft catamaran in the Viaduct Harbour. How lucky were we?! They took us out for an awesome Christmas Eve dinner at the Waterfront restaurant looking out into the harbour. We got back to the boat and continued the party with some more wine and kava tea. Kava is a root that grows in the pacific islands. Certain cultures have ceremonies dedicated to drinking it. First the Kava is cut up and mashed into a pulp, then it is placed in warm water. People sit around in a circle and the Kava Tea gets passed around. Before someone takes a sip, everyone else at the table claps 5 times together, and when they finish the sip, everyone claps once. Then it is onto the next person. It takes some doing, chopping, mushing and soaking, but the kava tea makes your whole mouth numb. Tastes like mud, looks like mud, but a cool cultural treat. We slept on the trampoline, on the bow of the boat under the stars. What an awesome way to spend Christmas! We woke up to spend Christmas morning with everyone and were surprised with stockings of our own. We went over to the Hill’s friends house on the north shore for Christmas Dinner. These people were just incredible. The father is a diver, underwater photographer and marine biologist. He’s the one who filmed the feeding frenzy scene with the whale shark and tunas in Planet Earth. Pretty dang cool. Dinner was lovely and Philipa and I made two pumpkin pies, a nice treat.
You may notice that in almost all of these pictures there is alchol. In the bottom most right picture, we are sauced, in a dinghy, in the harbour. It was a fantastic, rum filled night, and one that both of us paid dearly for. John really outdid himself, and fed the fish 4 times the next morning. Best line of the day: “Kel, can you come hear and turn this winch for a minute? I have to vomit.”.
Since Christmas we’ve been sleeping on the boat and spending time with the Hills. the other day we did a hike just outside Auckland with these incredibly huge Kauri trees. We found a waterfall and plunge pool, so John led the way and swam in the freezing water. Philipa and I followed. Cold but very cool. After the hike we went over to the beach and explored for awhile. Peggy and I found a purple crab, lots of slimy annenomies and an insane amount of green tipped muscles in tidal pools.
We have unfortunately had our first run in with crime in NZ. Our car, parked on a quiet side street near the harbour, was broken into. The 1989 Toyota Townace is apparently not really very hard to break into, and it looks like a screwdriver was all it took to pop the window lock off. Two bags full of various things were taken, but the biggest bummers were, in order of least to most annoying: towels, Clive Cussler novels, Kelly’s headlamp, my rain jacket, our computer backup drive, and a tie for the most annoying thing was between lambskin gifts for people back home, and the Swiss army knife that John got a few summers ago from Mamie and Norm. We are trying to claim it on insurance, but we are not sure how much we are going to get for it. Next stop, a tour of the north and then back to Auckland for our SCUBA course and selling the van!