Monday, March 1, 2010


Good morning,

Autumn has now officially arrived. Obviously summer missed the boat and decided to stay elsewhere this year. I shouldn't complain, we've had some really nice days recently.

Anyway, Marty and I took off to Auckland a few weeks ago for a well deserved break. Our initial reason for the trip was to pick up a bar top that we bought off Trademe a while back. It was a spur of the moment buy but hopefully our kitsch 70s basement (garage) bar will be awesome. We've been picking up a few things for it recently including an old American pay phone which has been modified to work without coins. Very exciting. Picking that up this weekend. We missed out on a 1950s globe last night but we'll keep searching. Here's the bar progress so far...

So, after the market on Sunday we headed off on our trip. We stayed a night at Lake Waikaremoana which was absolutely beautiful even if we did get ambushed by mozzies. The next morning it rained but we walked up a little river to a waterfall that we'd seen on the drive in. Amazing waterfall - HUGE! I took 1,000 photos with my new Nikon D3000 DSLR so I'll have to add a few when I get home. The Urewera National Park is quite amazing. The road goes on unpaved forever, winding through the hills and native bush. We came across a few of the wild horses (who weren't that wild) grazing on the side of the road. There's not a lot along the way in terms of civilisation. Ruatahuna is the only town between Wairoa and Murupara it seems and that only consists of a petrol station (minimally stocked) and some unfenced livestock. There were a few barns and a church I think but all look disused.

We eventually got to Murupara where we thought we'd stop for a coffee... why? Hmmm... Murupara didn't survive the recession. The only places that haven't been boarded up are the WINZ office, Credit Union, 4 Square and the post office. Even the 'Wines and Videos' and The Clobbershop were out of action. The one cafe that we came across, Kokomo's Cafe - Fine Foods and Catering, was inhabited by a group of acquaintances chatting away. We entered, witnessed the menu (chop meal etc), ordered a coffee ("would you like one from the machine, or instant?" - the machine was a Nestle Cuppamatic or something equally uninspiring) and took a wobbly seat outside. The girl behind the counter gestured to the Cuppamatic as though she were starting a magic trick... she seemed pretty impressed by the machine. We got instant. The instant turned out to just be dirty water, Marty added foam to his.

Hard to see but that sign says, "Murupara Wines and Videos"

Our rego had expired on the ute so Marty went off to the Post office to get a new one just as they were closing. He asked if he could get a rego. The woman barring up the shop said, "oh, nah, we don't do those. Only big places like Rotorua do those". We left, rego-less and still in need of a coffee.

We drove on with no idea of our next stop. We headed toward that big place, Rotorua. We were both quite tired and I was grumpy due to lack of sleep (thanks mozzies) so we pulled off the motorway to Wai-O-Tapu. We went to some hotpools which had been blocked off due to construction. There were several tourists on the other side of the fence, disinterested in the possibly danger, gazing over the bubbling mud. We did the same. We took off again, still no closer to finding a place to stay the night. We drive aimlessly down a road toward Waikite Valley and came across a really lovely, fairly new hot pool place. We camped again and, in typical camping style, Marty decided the only thing we should cook that night was venison with a plum and red wine jus. Of course. So we spent ages in the kitchen as tourist after tourist came in with their 2-minute noodles and other sensible camping food. The meal was amazing though and well worth the slightly odd looks.

The next day we finally got to Auckland. We met up with Graeme at his cafe, Twin Peaks, and made ourselves at home in his little flat. The boys went surfing a lot and I caught up with a few people. I had forgotten how horrible Auckland is to try and get anywhere. Traffic was horrific, I had forgotten how to get anywhere and ended up almost crashing several times and running REALLY late due to all the dead end roads and no turning signs. Terrifying. After that I just used the trains which work surprisingly well.

We caught up with Ed the Engaged at his work briefly and then went to get some food at the lovely little restaurant, Wine Loft, before Graeme joined us. We were trying not to drink for about 4 days but everytime something happened and we ended up having at least a glass of wine.

The highlight, of course, was Faith No More. It was great that our trip coincided with the gig. They were spectacular! Mike Patton put on a great show. I really have no words to explain it. It was just amazing!

Anyway, Marty, Graeme and Charles had decided that the day after the gig they were going on an early (5am) morning surf. So Charles sensibly went home to get some sleep and we headed back to the flat where we continued chatting until about 3am. I fell asleep and Marty and Graeme had a total of 1 hour sleep before heading out to Pakiri. Marty took some amazing photos of Graeme.

When they arrived back Graeme decided to stay home and catch up on some sleep but Marty and I had made arrangements to meet up with Chrissy and then later on some drinks with Amy, Dario, Gareth and Lorraine and then later still, Courtz and Tim. So Marty had to struggle through the sleepiness tugging at his bones. It was a really lovely day though and it was great to catch up with people.

The next day we started our journey home. We got in touch with Mark and Tracy who were staying in Papamoa so we went and stayed with them for a night. Marty continued on his goal of surfing as much as he possibly could on our holiday and took off across the road early the next morning.

We had booked at my regular work motel, Colonial Lodge, in Napier so we started making our way back towards the bay. We stopped in a fantastic little place called Okere Falls just north of Rotorua. It has a nice little boutique food shop and a beautiful little garden and a river across the road. We had a coffee, took some photos and went on a brief walk. I will definitely be going there next time I'm passing through Rotovegas.

We got back to Napier and checked in to our room. Marty finally met the owner (and regular muesli buyer) Mark - albeit in a slightly intoxicated state after a one of the winery concerts. It was quite amusing. We went out to dinner at a really flash-looking place that turned out not to be quite the top-notch place we expected due to really simple things that weren't done well. It was a little bit of a let down. I basically had to climb into my bowl in order to get at the food inside because the bowl was so massive. And a really late and uninspiring mojito for Marty... so uninspiring he sent it back and waited some more.

The next day we headed back to the farm via a last minute job. It was nice to get home but it was a fantastic trip. We'll have to do it again sometime soon :)