May was a month of firsts and new experiences for me.
I sang in the Proms choir. The Proms concert is a very British tradition that brings out insanely contagious spirit in all who attend, however, the whole things seems to be a mystery to anyone who isn't British. Even my Kiwi friends who came to watch were dumbfounded. Without any kind of advertizing or warning, the audience came dressed up in blue, white and red. They wore crazy hats and brought union jack flags, streamers, blowers, and balloons. The concert started out calmly enough, the orchestra played, the soloist sang, the choir struggled along... then about halfway through, the audience stood up and began to sing, throw their hats and their streamers into the air and dance around. They formed a congo line and danced all around the theatre. Keep in mind that the average age of the audience quite a bit more advanced than the general population. Very patriotic. It definitely caused some twinges of homesickness and cravings for some Canadiana.
First Canadian Visitor
Jack gets the crown and I took holidays to celebrate. We kept busy with so many more firsts.
In the Coromandel, we headed to the magical Cathedral Cove and to hot water beach where you can dig a hole in the sand that fills up with volcanic heated water, just like a hot tub. It was a little bit tricky to find a spot with the perfect temperature. Some spots were much too hot. We ran from the relatively cold ocean water into the hot pool we had dug, almost like running from snow into a hot tub in Canadian winter.
Zorbing can be described as rolling down a hill in a giant inflated hamster ball. There is a little hole in the side of the ball which you must first launch yourself through. They then add a little water, close the hatch and you go sliding down the hill, attempting, and failing to stay upright. We did this three times. Twice in the ball together (no collisions, don't worry) and once solo down a windy track.
Off the coast of Tauranga we took a boat to an active volcano called White Island. Here we tasted sulphur, drank from the rusty volcanic spring, peered into the steaming crater, and saw boiling mud pools. The corrosive effects of the sulphur was evident in the erosion of the metal tools used by miners not so long ago and the chemical burns on the trees. We looked the part in our hard hats and gas masks, though I'm not sure how much protection they actually offered.
We met the Auckland posse in Waitomo for a series of caving adventures. We donned our wetsuits, helmets and harnesses to abseil down a vertical tunnel into a giant series of caves. We ziplined into the darkness of what looked like a clear night sky. Glowworms, or more specifically glowworm bums, speckled the cave looking just like stars. We jumped off a cliff into a freezing river on innertubes for some blackwater rafting. We climbed waterfalls, swam through tunnels and squeezed through tiny little cave spaces. As tourists, we were on a roll.
Next was the trip down to Wellington for a reunion with Ralph & June and a visit to the seal colony, then onto the ferry to the South Island where we saw dolphins!
Abel Tasman was my first experience of a New Zealand Great Walk. The scenery was stunning - golden sand, bright blue ocean, and lush green forests beyond. Because it was almost winter in NZ, the park was very underpopulated. We had our campsites and their accompanying beaches to ourselves. The full moon lit up the forest and the sea and the seals put on a private show for us. After two days paddling up the coast, the water taxi came to collect our kayaks and we tramped back to the start for another two days. The trails are well maintained and took us past countless little waterfalls. Some of our pacing had to be carefully calculated as you could only cross during low tide times. A Great Walk, indeed.
New Words and Phrases
"Rattle your dags" = go quickly
Dags are the pieces of dried poop that stick to the wool around a sheep's bum.
When the sheep walks quickly, the drags rattle.
Not exactly a new word, but a new pest. Tiny little guys that look harmless enough, but provide little mosquito-type bites. On the plus side, they appear to favour testosterone over estrogen.
Winge = whine
As in, "Stop scratching and don't be such a winger."
Fanny = not a backside, but a girl's frontside
Kiwi's break out into giggles if you use the term fanny pack.
First all-you-can-eat Meat House
They place a block on your table. One side is coloured red, the other is green. Green means go and go means bring it causing endless quantities of meat to be brought to your table until you turn the block to red. A fresh twist on the buffet. Yes, I'm a veggie, but my carnivore friends have birthdays and someone needs to eat the neglected veges.
First (and hopefully last) Pancakes with Golden Syrup
I don't know what it is, but golden syrup is not maple syrup and pancakes are just not the same. I will not like golden syrup.
We celebrated the Queen's Birthday Weekend recently. Not Victoria's, but Elizabeth's. No more long weekends in NZ until October. I'm new here, but this long weekend distribution might need to be reconsidered.