When I was in New Zealand, I caught up with a friend of mine, Triona, who I had met in Thailand. When we met for the first time, we hit it off straight away and became good friends in a short space of time. When we parted to go our separate ways, we were so upset but we knew we would see each other again.
After Thailand, Triona went to Australia and I to New Zealand, but she was coming my way, so we arranged to meet in Auckland. On the day, I remember it so well, I was so happy to see her again, so much so, that I arrived at the airport to meet her way too early. I sat there fidgeting in my seat, standing up to look at the arrivals board countless times, and trying to contain my excitement. I think I had a huge smile on my face even before she came through, but, finally, after what seemed like a hundred years, there she was, running towards me, actually more like leaping and bounding, I was the same. We hugged and squealed like we hadn’t seen each other for years, it had only been about a month or so! Everything was good in the world.
Our first night back together consisted of walking down K Road to see if there was anything exciting happening, nearly falling over laughing because I said “I need a pew,” talking about a seat, but Tri thought I said “I need a poo!” and returning to the hostel and drinking vodka until 3.00am. The sort of things long lost buddies do when they get reunited.
After a couple of nights in Auckland, we boarded the Magic Bus for Paihia, in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand.
We checked into an average hostel and set off to explore, by renting two kayaks. We kayaked to a small island not far offshore, took a few photographs, did some beachcombing and generally had fun. It was easy to row on the way there, but on the way back it was a different story because the current was against us. We panicked a bit, we thought we were going to be stranded on the island unless we managed to row as hard as we could. But, we were strong and we eventually made it back and took ourselves off to the local bar to recover from our afternoon at sea.
At the bar, we were in for the treat of our lives. We met the locals! Two ageing gents, who went by the names of Fred and Alf. Fred was 76 and Alf was 80 years old. I thought I could drink, but, then, I had never met these two before. They kept buying us shots and matched us drink for drink. I hope I am still as sprightly as them when I get to that age. We had a lot of fun with them even though Alf kept calling me a pom bitch! His way of flirting I believe!
The following day, we travelled up to Cape Reinga which is not quite at the northwestern-most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, but far enough that the road ends and much of the journey was travelled along 90 Mile Beach. Reinga, in Maori, means the underworld, and legends have it that this is the place where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld. It’s a place of, not just, rugged coastlines and huge sand dunes, but it’s also the place where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet, causing huge swellings in the sea. Nature at its most spectacular.
In the evening, back in Paihia, we met Fred, Alf and a new crony, Rose and we repeated the shenanigans of the previous night. Our trip to Paihia was made all the more memorable by having the privilege to meet these three wonderful people who, although they literally drank us under the table, made us feel so welcome. I really hope they are still there enjoying themselves.