Another transition, another update…


Bank Account - Easy as pie. New Zealand pie.

Cell Phone - This involved a trip to a mysterious and elusive man known as the butcher whom we found at the Meat Boutique. He unlocked our Canadian cell phones for the price of several good cuts of meat, not that I would know how much any kind of meat would cost.

Buying a Car - My first auction experience and a very good one. The staff could not have been more helpful. I test drove lots of cars and ranked my choices. My heart practically jumped out of my chest during bidding and Leanna's pulse was remarkable, if not slightly concerning. In the end, I ended up with a black station wagon with a roof rack. Perfect for carrying kayaks, bikes, or surf boards. I found out later that I had purchased a pimped out ride. It seems that in NZ, tinted windows and gaudy white rims are all the rage for racing and cruising, even and especially for station wagons. Who knew? Boy racer or not, my new car was christened Korota “Mahi” Matatoa Motoka, our best attempt at a Māori translation for Black Adventure Car.


Auckland is a very active place and June and Ralph wasted no time making sure I was a part of it. We started in Takapuna with my first open water swimming race. The salt water was a little bit tough to get used to, my goggles lost their stick, it was tricky to site the buoys, I had a minor freak out about imaginary sharks, and I was one of the few without a wetsuit... however, I finished my first 1K ocean swim and am ready for the next one.

Ralph has repeatedly roped me into getting up with sun to run "The Tour of Auckland" which is a beautiful route through the domain and past the harbour with some brutal hills. A shock to the system after running in prairie-like Ottawa! Domain means city park. In Auckland, the domain is a big park in centretown with a museum and walking trails.

It would be a shame if we slept in, so on non-running days, it's off to the YMCA. Except for the swimming pool in the middle of the weight room and the Kiwi accents everywhere, the Tepid Baths YMCA is no different than any other in London, Montréal, or Ottawa.

Ralph & June's introduced us to some of their friends at a BBQ where Canadians outnumbered the Kiwis. Waitangi Day is the public holiday before school starts, like Labour Day in Canada, and we spent it at a bach (pronounced "batch") in Whangarei. A bach is beach house or cottage - very similar to the Port Franks variety, just substitute the ocean for Lake Huron. Whangarei is pronounced Fungeray, sort of - 'wh' is 'f' in Māori. I generally avoid saying place names as this causes significant miscommunication. This might spell trouble for my job as a speech therapist!

Kiwis have this habit of walking around without shoes on. So far we have spotted barefoot Kiwis in the grocery store, on Queen Street (main drag downtown) on a Friday night, on trails with sharp volcanic rock, over hot asphalt, at work at the hospital, etc. Another novelty - free wine samples at the grocery store last week.

We were all able to catch a wave at Muriwai. June, Leanna, and I had lots of help from the instructors while Ralph and Grant managed on their own. We couldn't figure out why they didn't want any help from the cute instructors. We actually got to use surf lingo like rip, swell, and leash, and got lots of good advice for hypothetically not taking a nose dive into the ocean immediately after pop-up. Surfing was so much fun and could easily be very addicting, especially with a pink surf board.

Rangitoto is one of Auckland's 50ish volcanoes. It is the youngest at about 6000 years old. You need to catch a ferry to get there and be ready to hike to the peak at 260 metres with spectacular views. I recommend strong-soled shoes to protect from the hot ground and a headlamp for exploring the lava caves. Thankfully, before I visited I had not yet heard of the existence of wetas, New Zealand’s most talked about insect, or their tendency to reside in caves.

As former speech-language pathologists and now a speech-language therapists, Leanna and I have a special interest in all the new vocabulary and uses of language here. I am now able to put together sentences such as "I got my togs, jandals, and chilly bin ready for a day at the bach", meaning: "I got my bathing suit, flip-flops, cooler, ready for a day at the cottage." And, "I made a casserole with aubergines, kumara, capsicums, and courgettes" or "I made a casserole with eggplant, sweet potatoes, peppers, and zucchinis." Also interesting is the use of the incomplete phrase 'sweet as'. Some examples:

In the car:
Meg - I am clear to switch lanes?
Ralph - You're sweet as.

In the restaurant:
Meg - Can I get the pizza without pepperoni?
Server - Sweet as.

At the surf shop:
Meg - I'm signed up for the 3 o'clock lesson.
Instructor - That's sweet as, bro.

June's generalization at the swim race with large swells:
June - It's choppy as.

Auckland has been great and I am sad to leave my friends, but will see them again soon. The next phase of the trip promises to brings more adventures in Tauranga and beyond. Oh yeah, and work on Monday. Sweet as.