Eleven: Road trip to nostalgia
While Germans were busy crapping in our abandoned homes, I was in the midst of a whizzbang tour of the north.
A good old-fashioned roadie around Northland. There's something fantastically liberating about taking off in a car with no real plans. And I know we can't claim it as our own but a road trip does somehow feel particularly Kiwi. Perhaps it's eyeing up pie warmers in small-town dairies or wondering where you might discover the perfect milkshake.
I was away for four short days but it was the best break I've had in a very long time. Of course, it almost didn't happen. It's the first I've flown anywhere with my boyfriend. He is not known for his ability to catch every flight he's booked and it became obvious why as we waited for our Friday flight. The man has no respect for time or the words "boarding now".
Thus, I have made a rule that we each board separately at a time which does not cause us to break out in hives.
Anyway, we ended up in Auckland for a function and took off, Northland-bound, on Sunday morning.
Seeing the Non Doctor is a bit more local to the north and I am a terrible navigator, he took the lead behind the wheel.
They're a friendly bunch in the north. Just as we accelerated out of Orewa, a friendly man waved at us so exuberantly, we felt compelled to pull over. The man was in a nice uniform and introduced himself as Officer Something. He gave us a nice little greeting card which he called a "ticket" and waved us off as we returned to the highway.
In the South Island, we have the rolling hills and open farmland. I love the passes between our side and the West Coast but open-roading through the north feels like a different country. Coming through each bend reveals a different bay, the native bush is different, the flowers are tropical.
"Look over there," he would say.
"Yeah! And look there," I would say.
The whole place was just so, well, so looky.
We looked and looked. We stopped in Whangarei and looked some more. We looked at the famous Hundertwasser artistic toilet block in Kawakawa and we looked at the debris that had blown through Paihia courtesy Cyclone Lusi. We looked at some proper New Zealand heritage in Waitangi and at Hone Heke's flagstaff. I read plaques and found my historical knowledge shamefully thin. On we went towards Kaikohe.
Still further we travelled, passing through small towns feeling so proud of our country. Through the Hokianga Harbour, ducking up to Rawene and back down to Opononi and Dargaville - names of towns that seem so foreign to me unless they come up on the news or weather.
We passed sign after sign for local museums but we just didn't have time to stop. We did, however, take in New Zealand's rich arboreal history, popping in to view Tane Mahuta, a gigantic kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest.
Then it was a night in Matakana for two weary travellers before making it back to Auckland in time to catch a flight home.