Kathryn and I embarked on a 16 day trip to the North Island of New Zealand, taking off at 11.55pm on Wednesday 27th November. One of the wonderful traits of Kathryn is her spontaneity, which can be quite different to my leanings towards planning and structure. Whilst living in Melbourne I’ve been learning to relax and trust, being unafraid of the uncertain, and so our largely unplanned trip has furthered that.
I was hesitant about hiring a car in New Zealand because of the risk of crashing and the amount we’d have to pay. My doubts were cleared by a really cheap find online, which turned out to be a reliable, fuel-efficient car who we named ‘Sunny D’. She was a faithful companion who overcame many a damp towel stench, and even a little bang (2 hours before her return was due).
I often think of travelling as a rather self-absorbed, first-world phenomenon, but our trip offered us opportunities to love the world and people. We stayed in the gorgeous Taurangan suburb of Mount Maunganui for 4 days with my uncle Chris and cousin Tom. It was such fun getting to know them better. We went on a day trip to Rotorua with Tom, where we saw incredible geothermal lakes and mud-pools, and raced down luge (go-kart) tracks together. We did beaches, walks and church together, and our time with them made the trip so worthwhile. On our final night we stayed with my cousin Ben, and were able to catch up. I remember wishing as a child that I could go to NZ, and it turns out this trip’s timing was perfect. I also got to see Harry Fenton (!) from Edinburgh in Taupo!
Other highlights were sea kayaking around Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula, many trips to natural, thermal baths, sunbathing on beaches, walking through redwood forests, camping by beautiful lakes, snorkeling, morning dips in the ocean, and many chats and prayers in Sunny D.
I’ve learnt a lot from the trip. The main lesson is that friendships have to be worked at, but they are worth every tiny effort 🙂