Our month in New Zealand was the first time either of us had ever holidayed at home. Vogue had recently published a Wellington guide, which we of course ignored because who needs a hometown guide when the way to Ortega Fish Shack can be found on your own initiative.
Arriving felt both incredibly strange and at once so normal. It was fun spotting some of NZ’s little quirks that were once so familiar as to be unnoticeable. Like pies. There were pies everywhere. In every service station, small town bakery and even at McDonalds, who bought the rights to an old fast food chain and belatedly introduced them as a menu item. In keeping with current fashion, the service stations now do gourmet pies that would be more delicious if there were more meat free options..
We drove to Warkworth and passed through every small town along the way. Were it not strange enough that the main highway is lined with small towns and 50kph speed limits, they all have a something to distinguish themselves from the next destination on the map. Like decorative corrugated iron in Tirau, a flour-producing windmill in Foxton and (unbeatabull) bulls puns in Bulls (not Martinborough, though, where those photos above were taken, just classy wine growing country there). And every sports field is of course marked with its rugby posts compared to Italy’s football goals.
There were trees everywhere, or at least far more than over the rocky mountain tops that surround our valley. We managed a little hiking while home: a quick in-between-the-rain walk on Kawau Island, then Matt got lucky with the weather and completed the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with his brother, and I overnighted in the Rimutaka Forest Park with my dad and uncle.
I was more appreciative and in awe of the crazy giant birds that are battling to hold their own in a rat and stoat dominated world. Including the weka on Kawau Island that would steal my sandwiches at any opportunity.
Our first weekend in Wellington was, miraculously, warm and sunny and still. The infamous wind, that makes it a home of choice and not an accident, was missing until we returned from various weddings around the North Island. That wind can be a little hard to take at times, so it was so nice to head out some nights without any kind of long sleeves or a jacket (I know!). Until our final weekend when we battled through the bluster for the Island Bay Festival in hopes of seeing the Sicilian-derived blessing of the fishing boats (postponed, due to high winds).
Going home was getting to see friends and family, familiar shops and brands. Knowing where to go to find something specific, and being able to articulately and confidently (almost everywhere – introductions and greeting friends will always be my awkward point) express yourself, and your wants and needs to other adults is a skill I had been missing. Getting to attend the build-up to our friends’ wedding, and making it to the actual (art deco styled) wedding of my cousin was pretty awesome, too.
If it were not for the uncertainty and internationalness of our next destination, I would have saddled us with a cat and/or dog by now. So my parent’s pet cat and dog, the latter who loves trains and came on many a walk with me (and who came to meet me at the airport, how happy he is!), were a temporary replacement :).
One of my only dining requests was fish and chips on the beach, the seagulls on clean up were an optional extra.
I have left with feelings of nostalgia and a little of homesickness, I think in part caused by the process of sorting the large plastic crates full of my stuff – certificates, school books, birthday cards and letters that I can’t bear throwing away, and the few pieces of furniture and previous things from the houses of my grandmothers that I can’t bring with me, and my much depleted library that will never be culled completely – that had been combined into 5 (or 6?) cardboard boxes and a suitcase instead. And now all of my possessions are stored in the attic and who knows when I’ll see them again (though Matt may have requested one of the books from a box.. just warning you, parents).