Our original plan had been to drive North, take the ferry from Picton to Wellington, and explore some of the south end of the north island with our final destination being Hawkes Bay.
But the state of post earthquake/flood Wellington was not inspiring road travel and we had already lost a few days in our own earthquake/flood experience, so we decided instead to fly directly from Christchurch to Napier and spend a long weekend with friends there.
Christchurch, typically, really turned on the weather the day we left and for the first time in the week we'd been in New Zealand we had warm sun and blue sky.
We flew on a little turboprop and it was a bit bouncy coming into the bay. The sky opened up and gave us rain upon arrival but mother nature was just having some fun. The weather cleared quickly and the rest of the weekend was more like what we had been expecting on our visit - cool crisp air, hot sun, and big, clear, blue skies.
Roo picked us up from the airport and we spent an hour driving through town and up to the lookout to get our bearings and have a little history lesson on the area. Then we headed out of town, driving through gently undulating farmland and vineyards as far as the eye could see.
Kim and Roo live completely off grid in an extraordinary house perched in the hills of Kereru. As soon as we drove into the property my heart expanded - The vibrant green and golden hues, the rolling hills and ravines, the big, big sky, the quiet. We watched the sun set behind the hills in a burning tangerine streak, ate local lamb and drank regional wine in what was the beginning of our Hawkes Bay culinary experience.
On Saturday morning we rose slowly after an incredibly peaceful sleep (pure power!!) and packed up to go to the beach.
Ocean beach was not unlike Australian beaches with rocky headlands, grassy dunes and waves crashing over golden sands. The air and the sun felt different, but it still felt like home. We sat in the sun and splashed in the water. We ate and drank and were very, very merry. The girls all climbed into a quad to ride to the end of the beach where we talked and rolled down sand dunes and watched the sun set over the sea. We fell asleep in the cool salty air and woke up feeling the way only sleeping somewhere new and exciting can make you feel.
On our way home from the beach we thought it only right that we stopped off to tick another box - ice-cream at Rush Munro's. It was worth it.
On Sunday afternoon, after a recovery nap, I followed the boys on a fishing expedition in the creek on a neighbouring property. While the boys walked the creek on the hunt for trout I walked the creek and fell in love with the intricacies of the landscape… The creek separating and rejoining, braiding itself along the gentle curves of the cliffs that housed it; wild flowers bursting open, a fierce determination of life, in the rocky creek bed; the pastel pallette of the sky as the sun disappeared… As you might imagine I was very, very content.
On Monday morning the boys got up at a very rude hour to embark on more fishing in the evening we ate more, and drank more, and did more sky gazing. It was our last night in the North.
Before flying out on Tuesday we soaked out every bit of goodness from our time left… We ate a gorgeous meal at a local winery and paired it with spectacular wine. We had a beer at the warf. And we took a drive up Te mata peak for one last stunning vista of Hawkes' Bay and it's hinterland.
Saying Goodbye felt like saying goodbye to family; leaving felt like leaving home.
And we still have so much to do in the North Island...