The long drive

I left Kerikeri this morning and started my return trip out of Kerikeri in the Northland – it was a 230km drive today, which I figured would take about 2.5 hours.

It took nearly 3.5 hours. NZ roads don’t have many straight sections. Makes for interesting and involved driving though, no nodding off at the wheel for me. But at the same time it doesn’t allow one to enjoy the scenery quite as much as I might like – you have to be focused on the upcoming turn in the road. I do think this is probably the most common street sign I’ve seen in NZ:

Thankfully my Honda is a pretty decent drive, for a station wagon. I certainly miss my Mazda 3 for these kind of drives – tons of hills and curves with nary another vehicle on the road.

I’ve actually now left the Northland region and crossed back into the Auckland region, though I’m still 50km north of Auckland. I’m going to be WWOOFing for 6 days at an exotic fruit farm – they’ve got a very nice place up in the rural area north of Helensville, on the west side of the island. Hopefully I’ll get out to the western beaches once or twice this week – they are black sand beaches. Not going to go swimming anytime soon though – a wee bit too cold for that still! BUT, they do have thermal pools in this area. That might be a better option.

I met my new hosts just after noon and got to work after having a tasty avocado sandwich for lunch (eating vegetarian for a week – I will eat healthy!). Work will be outdoors once again – I was helping to clear brush yesterday and today will be pruning raspberry bushes. I just hope the weather will stay pleasant!

Colin and the Chocolate Factory

Notice the middle word there – Tasting. Oh yes, there was tasting involved. I probably could have renamed this blog as ‘Colin likes Chocolate’, ‘I went to the far ends of the earth for chocolate’ or the like and it would be a pretty apt description of some of the things I’ve done so far. I swear, I’m not obsessed or addicted to the stuff. I can quit any time.

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1 step forwa….nope, just 2 steps back

Another enjoyable day here in Kerikeri. I have one more day of work and on Tuesday, I’ll start heading south again. But for today, I got to work on a slightly different computer project today:

A digital turntable! This converts your LP into mp3s. Setting it up thankfully wasn’t too difficult, and I converted the first record in about 40 minutes – you have to play the record from start to finish to record it to the computer, and then spend time editing the music into seperate songs (if you so choose), add mp3 tags, and save the files. All in all it was relatively intuitive thankfully, just time consuming.

After my work for the day was complete, I took off to nearby Aroha Island.

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Wonderland

I’ve now been staying in my new WWOOFing homestay, and this was where I was responding to emails this morning:

I’m just outside of Kerikeri, which is a beautiful small town in the far north of New Zealand. It’s often a vacation spot in the summer, and during the winter is usually one of the warmest places in New Zealand. If the picture of my hosts place is any indication, you can imagine that I’m staying at QUITE the beautiful house. The family designed and built it themselves, and used many of the native woods on the land they own here – it’s absolutely *gorgeous*. High vaulted ceilings, a huge amount of windows, and a very unique design. Oh, and I get my own bedroom, bathroom and living room (though I spend my time with them in the ‘main’ living room – wonderful older couple). All in all, remarkably swank and comfy.

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I should have taken another before and after picture

I’ve been weeding some more the last 2 days and made good progress in the back yard. There is this very nice rock wall garden that was completely overgrown with weeds that I tackled yesterday (took almost all 5 hours to fully clear out). I didn’t take a picture before starting work, but I do have an entirely accurate artist’s rendition of what it looked like before:

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First day of work

Today I got my first full working day at WWOOFing. Work while WWOOFing can range greatly depending on where you are – you might be helping with livestock, trimming plants on a winery, or in my case, helping around a home. I arrived here yesterday afternoon after a pleasant ferry ride from Auckland.

 

Mine’s the poorly parked one. It was a gorgeous day, so I relaxed and read on the top deck for the 45 minute sailing.

As you can tell, it was a pretty quiet ferry. I made it to Waiheke Island without issue and drove about 20 minutes to find my WWOOFing family for the week. After numerous winding roads and a very steep driveway, I found them. Since I arrived in the afternoon, work was pretty minimal the first day – it began in earnest on Friday. Here was my task – weeding this:

It rained during the night, so everything was nice and extra soggy for me too. But, I got to work.

And, after about 5 hours of weeding, I was finished!

Those bricks were hiding amongst the weeds. 🙂 After a delicious afternoon lunch, I had the afternoon off to explore the island, which I took full advantage of!