08 December 2008

New Zealand, Part Three

Better late than never, here is the continuation of our trip to New Zealand.

On the Sunday, we drove to my brother and sister-in-law's place in Whangamata (Fahngamatah). They live right on the beach and my brother has a boat plus a quad bike, on which he took Gabbie for spin along the beach. It was too damn cold for me to go racing around on bikes! They have a narrow block of land, about quarter of an acre, on which they have their "beach shack"...a two storey house...some beach shack.

That night we out for dinner at the Surf Club where I had beer battered gurnard with a salad. I must say here that the seafood in New Zealand is so tasty and I think it's because of the cooler waters. I do know that I ate a lot of fish during our holiday. I'm not really a fan of batter because it's usually thick and stodgy so I have my fish crumbed. But all the fish I had in NZ was in a lovely thin batter, I suppose you could call it a tempura batter. Very nice.

Whangamata is a resort seaside town and the next day, Gabbie and I had a look around the shops. Fatal mistake...there was a shoe shop called Tangos. Over $300 later we came out with two pairs of shoes (me) and a new handbag plus a pair of shoes for Gabbie. My sister-in-low was very approving. (When I returned to Australia, I was telling someone about my purchase. "But didn't you just buy some shoes before you went away?" they queried. "What's that got to do with anything?" I replied, "One can never have too many shoes.")

Gabbie also bought a pretty top and a sarong for $37 in another shop and I bought a pair of summer trousers for $10 plus a pair of bone and paua shell earrings.

After lunch we drove to Te Aroha (Tee Ahroehah) to pick my brother up from Bunnings where he works as manager. On the way, we stopped at a place called Waihi (Wyhee) to look at the Martha mine, which is an open cast gold mine. It's beside the main street. There is a hill and when one walks up the path at the top, there is this enormous great hole in the ground. It's 250 metres deep and the huge dump trucks, weighing 85 tonnes empty and 1950 tonnes full, take 15 minutes to slowly crawl up the 3 km from the bottom to the top. Out of the 1100 tonnes of rock and soil they carry, 6 to 8 teaspoons of gold is extracted. But the mine makes $1 million a week and 82% of that income stays in New Zealand.

Within about two or three years, the mine will close as it's almost at the end of its useful life. It will then be filled with water and stocked with fish for recreational purposes as well as boating and swimming. At 195 metres deep, it will take five years to fill from natural rain run off and water pumped from the nearby Ohinemuri (Oheenemooree) River when it's very high. If the mine was left to fill naturally it would take 25 years. We also watched them blasting...it was not at all dramatic. Just a muffled thump and the ground rippled, a bit of dust rose into the air and that was it. I was expecting a huge blast and rocks and gravel flying everywhere...most disappointing.

After all that, we went to my sister-in-law's favourite coffee shop...called Banana Pepper...go figure. The food was absolutely divine and we learnt it was all baked on the premises by the owner's mother. Home made and boy, could we tell...it was delicious.

It was lovely to catch up with my brother and learn too, that I have a niece I didn't know about. Natasha was conceived during my brother's time in the NZ Army about 30 years ago and she searched for her father and found him...my brother. Apparently she comes to Australia quite a lot for her job so I have asked my brother to give her my phone number. It would be lovely to meet this young lady. According to my sister-in-law, she is delightful.

After a quiet night at home, the next morning Gabbie and I packed and headed off to Rotorua. I must say though, that all this driving around in New Zealand made me appreciate the lovely straight roads at home. As New Zealand is a mountainous country, I was getting thoroughly fed up with all the S and hairpin bends we encountered, especially heading towards the coast. My sister-in-law, being used to them, drives around these twisting roads at a hell of a speed and there was no way I was allowing her to drive. Gabbie and I would have been terrified out of our wits!

I would have more photos to show, but Gabbie, naughty girl, hasn't emailed them to me yet.

Next time, Rotorua, where my roots are.

The view from the deck of my brother's place.
My sister-in-law relaxing after a hard day of retirement.

My brother being socially unacceptable.

Roxy, their Labradoodle (Labrador x poodle). She's only a year old and is a lovely girl.

Gabbie with Roxy.


Walker said...

Sounds like you had a great time and the fish is great isn't it.
Yes I know, a woman can never have to many shoes.
So did you learn to breath through your mouth again in Rotorua lol

Angelo said...

Wow Robyn, talk about a view from the deck! I'd love to have a shack with a view like that :) Glad to hear more of your New Zealand adventure, looking forward to part four.

Gattina said...

Of course I was very intrigued by the fact that your brother left a trace 30 years ago, and you inherited a new niece ! New Zealand sounds so far to me but we learned quite a lot about this country when Mary married the crown prince of Danmark !

katztales said...

I was in NZ years ago and thought it very beautiful. Like Scotland but more blue and less purple.

A niece you didn't know about? Now that's exciting!

Anonymous said...

I was actually very interested to read about the mine. $1,000,000 per week is a nice bit of change. It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I'm looking forward to the pics and the next part of the story. Come on Gabbie :)

DellaB said...

Hi Robyn.. wow, your story(s) have made me SO homesick for NZ. Not actually my home, bit I lived in Auckland for more than 16 years - raised my kids there, and yes, the beautiful and plentiful food, the steep and winding roads, the beaches, the warmth of the people.. so why did I leave? umm.. the rain?


Merle said...

Dear Robyn ~~ Great post about New Zealand. I am so glad you and Gabbie enjoyed it all. Thanks for your comments, I hope you made that Podiatrist appointment. I am glad you are happy about the award. I have another and it gets hard choosing who to send it to ( and try to give everyone a go.)
Take care, Love, Merle.

Liz said...

What a beautiful place - and a cute dog!

I know what you mean about windy roads and people driving too fast: scary!

Remiman said...

So really, how many pairs of shoes do you own?
Just asking. ;-)