Rick’s parents have arrived! They arrived here safe and sound after a very long 35 hour journey from Pennsylvania. Leo and Mila were so excited to see them and it has been nice to have family around. My in-laws were pretty tired so after dinner, we all went to bed super early. All of us slept very well and we were ready to show them around. The next day, we drove to Maitai Bay and spent a few hours sunbathing on this piece of paradise. On the way back, we stopped at KariKari Estate winery. This place was spectacular. Located on a hill overlooking mountains and the Pacific ocean, just a pure bliss. We did a quick wine tasting, which was ok, and then grabbed a table, ordered some food and wine and admired this breath taking scenery. Leo and Mila received coloring papers and crayons and were super busy. It was such a lovely afternoon, something that was needed, especially for our guests from America.
The following day Leo and Mile went to school, Rick and I hit the gym, and my in laws went for a walk along our local beaches. That day we all took it easy since Mila and Leo started to come down with something. We have been super lucky because during our 10 months of travel, none of us have gotten sick. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as Leo and Mila join day care they started to get ill. They both had a mild temperatures and passed onto me. The next day, I am not sure why, but we decided to drive 2.5 hours to Waipahu Forest to see the biggest tree in New Zealand - Tane Mahuta. When we got there, we literally took 30 steps and the tree was there…so we took a long car trip to see a giant tree - something that the Grizzwalds would do, haha. The tree was impressive but definitely not worth this long drive. Also, the weather cooled off a bit, it was raining so we could not do too much that day. We stopped at some viewing points but since Leo was still running a fever, we chose to return to the house. He was so tired, it was odd for us because we have not seen him so ill in a very long time. Thank goodness, his conditions improved overnight, and even though we did not send him to school, he finally had no fever, was eating and being a normal crazy Leo. Rick took Mila and his parents to see a Rainbow waterfalls and do a short hike, while Leo and I stayed home and rested.
And it’s raining again, by raining I mean pouring! Now we know why New Zealand is so lush and green, it had rained a lot over the last 2 weeks. So today, we have hung out in the house, did another puzzle, drank wine and chit chatted. On Sunday, we drove to KeriKeri and despise the nasty weather, we walked around the Farmer’s Market. It’s funny because one of the market stall owners said he could tell we were visitors because as soon as it started to rain hard, we all were hiding underneath the roof, haha. The locals just keep strolling barefoot without being bothered by the rain. On the way back home we made a stop at Cottle Hill Winery and just sipped on some wine - I guess wine is a cure for everything :)
Monday, the clouds parted and we welcomed back the sun, yay! In the morning, we dropped the kids off at the school and took my in laws to Tapou Bay beach. We have not been there yet and it turned out to be a beautiful spot. The water had a gorgeous color and the green hills only added more magic to this spectacular scenery. We all got sunburnt, surprise surprise! In the afternoon, we visited a local butcher and stocked up on some local meats...we definitely had a feast that night, yum yum!
Life has definitely slowed down for us. We really feel as if we lived permanently in New Zealand…kids go to school, we go to the gym, and just fully embrace the local culture. We run into the same people and feel as a part of this wonderful community. The owners of our rental are wonderful too. They keep bringing us fresh grapes, figs and other goodies. The other day Pete - our host gifted us a huge freshly caught red snapper that we grilled for dinner. Most of the evenings we have a chance to witness beautiful sunsets while sipping on wine, not a bad life at all. Even though Northland is a bit isolated, you get a real sense of community here. Its the people who rely on each other that makes the World go round. This slower pace of our journey was just what the doctor ordered.
We also made another drive to the Cape Reinga to see the lighthouse. And guess what, it rained the entire drive! Surprisingly, once we made it to the cape there was literally a small piece of blue skies and this mystical blue & gray color over the open waters. We walked down to the lighthouse and admired the stunning views. I think we made it just in time because as soon as we were leaving it started to rain. We’ve mentioned how windy the New Zealand roads are and they finally got the best of Mila. On the way back she vomited...poor girl : ( Don't worry , as soon as she took a bath she was back to being a crazy and wild bambino :-)
The last day of my in laws visit we booked a half day cruise along the northern islands. That morning Rick woke up super sick and was not able to join us, bummer. We left mid morning and drove to a small port town called Paihia (about 1 hour drive from Hihi). Paihia is a super cute and charming little town on the water, full of boutique shops, restaurants and little cafes. We walked around for a bit, got a bite to eat and at 1:15 boarded our boat. The weather improved significantly and most importantly, it was not raining. We cruised along the islands and finally got off at the Robertson Island. Mila was deep asleep and Leo did not want to leave the boat, so I decided to stay with them while my in laws were able to explore the island for a bit. As they were about to come back on the cruise ship, it started to rain again and needless to say, they got a little wet :) The final attraction of this expedition was seeing the world famous “Hole in the Rock”. At first, the captain was not sure if we would be able to make it there, since the water was too choppy. Luckily, by mid afternoon the conditions improved and we were able to make it all the way there. It was definitely the highlight of this adventure. The rock literally had a hole that looks like a secret passage to another world. It was a fun and intense day, a perfect way to end a visit with my in laws.
It’s hard to believe that their stay came to en end…they were here for 10 days and it literally flew by! Leo and Mila were so happy to see them and spend some precious time together. That day they did not want to go to school but rather drive to the airport with Annie and Papa (instead of the trip to the airport, they were picked up by school bus…Mila was not too happy about that). We are so thankful that that they were able to make it here and see it. It was a long journey for them (about 35 hours) but it was a time well spent. We have only 10 days left in this wonderful country and will live it to the fullest. Not sure what’s next but we wont worry about it yet : )