14 days in New Zealand, North Island.
Taking along my eldest, Tim, who turned 10 this year for a catch up with my youngest sister, Lisa, free for two weeks with a mandatory training break.
My parents and my husband held the fort at home.
Nothing planned, just a return flight and camper van.
My calm was tested before I even left Coffs Harbour. Our flight into Sydney was canceled, which my travel agent forgot to mention. But he got us into Sydney on a later flight, rather bumpy with a massive thunderstorm ripping through on the other end, keeping us in the air for another half an hour. An end sprint saw us having our bags pushed back onto the plane that had already given up on us, making it to Auckland after all, just after midnight.
With so much stuff happening in my day to day life: planning, organising, checking. My head could do with a break. So I made this deal with my sister on the first day, we would swop roles. Where as she normally just have to follow her training schedule from the Dutch Rowing Federation, she would now take on the role of planner and organiser. Where I would just have to drive, or hike or wherever else she would get us into. Quite a bit as it turned out! Then, what else do you expect when you go on a holiday with a professional athlete?
Hiking we did, onto just about every mountain Lisa could find.
First day, I made the ignorant comment off: ”It getting to four 'o clock, we better start looking for a campground soon”.
Which got answered with: “We still have almost 3 hours of daylight left, lets do this hike”.
That set the tone for the rest of our holiday. Eat when it gets dark, let’s go.
Although Lisa put a lot of effort in getting a plan together each morning, more often them not, we would change our plans multiple times that day, going with recommendations from locals, or hunches.
Where mine would get us to some excellent coffee and food, Lisa would manage to get us on another windy gravel road...
We ended up chugging away quite some kilometres, on foot and by camper van.
Wherever we went, the scenery was amazing. The amount of photo’s we took was crazy. Every turn would bring another surprise.
Winding our way along gravel roads, for 230 kilometres on end, barely seeing anyone.
On to some hidden lake.
Where Tim & Lisa quickly took to the more difficult trails, riding their hearts out.
Where we free camped along the black pebbled beach, where we gave aid to a sick baby seal and walked along the boulevard. We loved driving along the many different orchards covered in blossom, the many, many beehives brought us to a local honey factory where we tried many of their gourmet honeys as well as the amazing hokey pokey ice-cream...
And although this one was one of the “tamer” hikes, it was my favourite, just magic.
Soaking in the thermal pools at night, rather smelly, but totally fascinating!
The first night was the stuff from horror stories, including a woman screaming on the top of her longs in the middle of the night, being chased by a ute doing burn outs. We survived this sibling spat and decided it could only get better from there. Which it did.
Shoveling away into the boiling sand, making a hot water bath.
At the very last night we rocked up at a free camp. It turned out to be the parking lot at the local rowing club, still open.
That’s a sign right!?!?!
And so Tim went for his very first row, guided by his auntie.
The next morning, we left Lisa behind in Cambridge, where she’ll train on Lake Karapiro until December.
Making our way back to Auckland, switching the head back on, navigating, organising, a camper van to return, a bed to find and flights to catch
We didn’t make it all the way south, neither did see the Bay of Islands,
two weeks just wasn’t enough.
Which gives us all the reason to go back another time...