Dear Adventurous Reader,
We are flying over the mountains of New Zealand, the Alps that line the west coast of the South Island. The white peaks reach up, from a long way below - they feel as if they are trying to touch the bottom of the plane. The mountains don't do that in Australia. We try and find a way to look out the windows, leaning over passengers to grab a sneak-peak of a new country as it comes into view.
The flight was long. For a first flight, for any flight, the children were fantastic. Standing in line, waiting in a row and following orders. They sat on the seats, didn’t climb about or yell and scream, they were well behaved and it was a great relief - I didn’t expect bad behaviour, just sometimes new things bring about unexpected actions. I felt the tension ease as we begun the decent into Christchurch, we made it without having to apologise to any other passengers.
Even through customs, which was long and boring, after an early morning and a long day - everyone was denied sleep by hours of exciting and new things - we made it to new soil, a different country, and were welcomed at the airport by our long-lost friends Eileen and David.
The boys were super excited to get back “home”, because waiting for them were Simon and Reuben. Simon and Reuben are close friends of the boys, they moved back home to New Zealand a few years ago. Due to a series of fortunate events, our tickets managed us to spend a week in New Zealand. An Unexpected Journey, with our friends having space to house all of us - incredible. We altered our plans of a direct flight to Canada, and took the adventure that came to us.
I’ll just point out that we have rather awesome friends. David and Eileen were game enough to host our horde. Maybe the didn’t know what they were getting into having us on site for a week.
New Zealand Difference
Things are different in New Zealand. The house have strange roofs, and the the blocks have yards. The people say “‘ey?” and are nice and smile when walking down the street. The wind is cold, and the mountains that line the backdrop remind me that I am no longer in Australia.
Bordering the town, on the north-west side, of Rangiora, maybe one hundred kilometres off in the distance, are mountains, tall enough to be draped in snow. Our home and everything around it is so flat, in comparison, and the mountains, covered in snow at the beginning of spring, seem to me an odd occurrence - the locals probably wouldn’t even notice.
The town feels both large and small. Population wise it is the same as our home town, but it has lots of shops and a larger town centre. People drive on the correct side of the road, and there are cycling lanes that have cyclists in them - it is so flat around here that riding would be a great way to get about. We have found the local Countdown (Safeway back at home), and a library that has some cubbies to crawl inside and read.
Aqua-blue water winds around the smooth pebble-lined river, ice melt pressing through the wide river bed. White rolls of water press over the pebbled river, as it twists between the mountain range that we are driving between to get up toward Hanmer Springs.
The water is hot, springs warming the water from below the surface of the earth. People stroll about in bathing suits, stepping into the warm water from the chill-day air.
The large pool at the bottom is filled with children, and shortly after setting upon the waters (for we all wanted to swim) the life-guards call us all to exit. A poo has been found in the pool. Emergency evacuation, for ‘it’ and all of us. So, as a group we set upon warmer waters, finding spas and pools that have a temperature of more than 25 degrees.
Adeline and myself found that the pools of warm spring water, cascade into pools below, either going down rocky waterfalls, or long canyons. If you start at the top, you can crawl on your belly down from pool to pool. Stopping for a relaxing sit along the way. On our way down we meet Joash and Elijah, who join us until the water slides seem like more fun.
The second evacuation call, upon our return to the Pool Pool was sign to pack up and leave. A wonderful drive back down the mountains, descending roads we had climbed to spend a wonderful day.
The “hulls” (say it out loud, and you will get the accent correct) wind up and down, covered with trees and a misty rain that quietly falls. There is no wind in the trees, only the sound of birds chittering. The boys are building a long, stone weir into the river, dropping stones large and small onto into a neat pile, and then jump out of the way of the cold water as it splashes upward.
Eileen stands on the dry stones, passing more rocks along the long line of boys who arrange, or drop the rocks, into place. The boys are always yelling some form of command to each other. "We'll get to the other side!" One suggests, but Levi brings the voice of reason, "Nah we won't. It's too far."
Joash has started his own wall, in another place, away from the water to keep himself dry. He had been building with everyone else, but decided that the splashes were to be avoided.
Here the hulls are tall around us, steep and lined with green trees. The green of the grass and trees is new to me, I have seen green trees before, but this lush, green colour shines from everything. It is beautiful to look upon - “The grass is greener on the other side (of the Tasman Sea)”, as the saying goes.
What brought us to Rangiora was friends - friends who had moved back to New Zealand, with a sea separating us for a time. The Unexpected Journey to New Zealand was something the boys looked forward to, and the week with Simon and Reuben and Zoe, David and Eileen, was refreshing, but also fun for everyone.