In and around Auckland and the joys of (distant) family

I arrived in New Zealand on a grey and rainy Sunday. I was picked up by my father’s partner’s brother, let’s call him “sort-of-uncle”, and he took me to their house where my sort-of-aunt had made dinner. It was great to have a home with a real bed and own bathroom after the 2.5 months of dorms and navy showers. Over the next days I met my sort-of-cousins, arranged paperwork which wasn’t as easy as hoped, and then met some more family members. These were cousins of my mum, so the children of my mum’s 2 uncles and aunt who had emigrated to NZ about 50 years ago. So, officially, they should be called “second cousins”. I met 2 second cousins (or actually one second cousin (Pam) and one wife (Suzy) of second cousin (Richard)) for lunch and went off with Suzy to Pauanui, a beach town on the east coast on the Coromandel Peninsula. Though the weather was grey, it was wonderful to be near the ocean and I was already looking forward visiting again when the sun rays make it all look pretty!
Back in Auckland I attended a sailing race with my sort-of-cousin, which was a lot of fun, though rain poured down on us and my arm was still painful 2 weeks later from somehow injuring it when climbing from side to side each time we changed directions. After the race we drank some rum with the crew and went to claim our prize but it turned out we didn’t actually win anything. Oh well! It was good fun.

The following day another second cousin (Eric) picked me up for a drive around the countryside. We went to Piha beach, which is a gorgeous black sand beach with a rough coastal line. Before we got there we stopped somewhere to look at a good view over Auckland in the distance.

And then we stopped at the prime view point over Piha beach.IMG_2364
…it was like Sapa all over again!
Piha was a gorgeous little town. We had some coffee and late brunch in the cafe, had a look at the beach, and headed back to Auckland.

I had been in Auckland for nearly a week now, and though I had many really wonderful sort of and second family members that took me places and kept me entertained, I felt it was time to get out of the city and find myself a cosy little place. What I found was The Farm

After my time at The Farm I returned to Auckland to have dinner with all the Auckland based cousins. As I walked into the restaurant I saw a group of tall people. Looking at their faces I thought to myself: hmm that could be my family… I decided to make a little round in the restaurant looking for the cousins I knew first. But no, it was indeed the group of tall people with familiar facial features (“hi, are you my family?” :D) We had a great dinner (roast lamb, yummm!), and afterwards I went to second cousin Pam’s place just south of Auckland. Here I stayed for a few days, fixing my bed in the car, shopping for some camping supplies, and waiting to pick up Sophia. But Sophia’s flight from Sydney to Auckland got cancelled… Twice.

So meanwhile I went back to the city and spent some time with sort of cousin Marieke. First we went out of the city again to her parents farmlet near Matakana, where we went to a really cute artisan food market and finally for the first time in New Zealand: to the beach! The water was cold, but the weather was hot, so it was more of a jump in the water to cool of and quickly warm up again in the sun. Back to Auckland again for a picnic and a party and the next day I finally picked up Sophia.

Omaha Beach

When I slowly drove down the lane towards the terminal, someone suddenly drove his car into the side of my car. What?! This was really inconvenient… So I stopped, turned out it was a man working for the car rental company Herz, so we drove over there. I had a bit of a scratch and a dent in the car, though I couldn’t be 100% sure that dent wasn’t there already… We exchanged details and as I was anxious to be on time for Sophia’s arrival I asked if I could just park there. A little persistence got me a yes, which saved me an expensive parking fee (winner!) I never ended up contacting them or getting the repair quoted, because I couldn’t really be bothered…

Meh… just another scratch…

We stayed in Auckland for a few days getting ourselves sorted. I also jumped off the Sky Tower, a farewell present I got from my work in Berlin. So that was obviously quite exciting 😀 !!! weeeeeeee

After that we went to a Christmas dinner with a bunch of people which was really nice and a couple days later we were off on our road trip of the Northland!

After our little road trip, we decided to head back to Auckland for Christmas. As we really wanted to cook a nice dinner on Christmas Eve, which isn’t celebrated by the Kiwis, we offered my second cousin Rob and his partner Kaye to cook for them, as a little family. We had a fantastic evening with lots of tasty food, and lots of wine.

Christmas Day we wanted to celebrate Kiwi-style and have a barbecue on the beach. As the weather wasn’t all that great for most of the day, we did have a barbecue, just not on the beach. Instead we had it in Ponsonby, with a friend Sophia met while traveling in Myanmar. So again, we had lots of delicious food, and lots of wine. (Or shall I say “heaps”?) Christmas Day was concluded with stroll up and down Franklin Road, a street where all the houses put on a magnificent Christmas lights display.

Boxing Day we spent with a hangover and driving around with Rob and Kaye who showed us the absolutely gorgeous beach of which I forgot the name, and took us to Piha again, this time with a slightly better view…

The following day, we funnily enough went to Piha again to laze on the beach, after an amazing and thrilling “hike”, which instead of walking paths, led us wading through streams and jumping down waterfalls. FUN! Again, really something you can only do in NZ…

A couple days later we left Auckland, again… For an undetermined amount of time.

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