So many things struck me as being truly, specially ‘Kiwi’ on our holidays that I thought I’d make a list to share with you – the funniest thing is that it neatly sums up the highlights of our trips. Here goes:
You know you’re on Summer holiday in New Zealand when:
1. Your first priority in the morning after breakfast is making up the Maggi Onion Soup dip for ‘Four OClock-Wine & Beer OClock’, which happens to be the same time as “Chip N Dip’ time.
2. You don’t care that the babies and preschoolers are up until 8PM because it’s already four hours past Wine OClock.
3. Every morning you wake up and your biggest decision of the day is which beach to go to – up at Matakana it's Omaha, Snells, Martin Bay, Goat Island and Tawhenui Regional Park within 20 mins drive and at Kuaotunu it's Kuaotunu beach, Greys Beach, Rings Beach, Otama, Opito, Matarangi, Whangapoa, New Chums, Whitianga, Wharekaho only 5-15 mins away.
4. Midnight at New Years in Matakana sees you heading outside wrapped up in rugs to listen to the fireworks being set off at Omaha – a million miles away, but it’s so clear and quiet it’s like it’s next door. You swear there’s more stars up there.
5. A break from traditional steak and sausages in a BBQ dinner in Matakana on the farm turns glamourous: we russle up a roast chicken on a spit on the BBQ, stir fry veges on the BBQ, eat outdoors overlooking the vines and the lake, and drink a lovely red wine bottled at the vineyard next door.
6. You have a long D&M conversation about how the Coast Road stretch from Thames up towards Coromandel town and over the mountains to Kuaotunu is one of the most amazing drives in the country, rivalling the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne (home of hubby).
7. You simply grin along with everyone else when the NZ Herald reports on the swimmers next door at Matarangi not caring about the bronze sharks in the water, and hop right in too. On the days when the blue bottle jellyfish wash up, you don’t leave the beach, but simply build pools for the kids in the sand.
8. The baby and the four year old happily stick their arms out for sunblock time, and even enjoy rubbing it in. You're proud that no one got sunburnt the whole Summer.
9. You sadly note the dozens and dozens of flower bunches laid by the trees where that poor teenager died in Matarangi – knowing it’s a big tragedy in this incredibly safe, tight knit community. Young people’s deaths are not a known part of summer here.
10. You don’t have to pine for coffee because this year there’s suddenly food caravans everywhere, and the campgrounds, cafés (or dairy-cum shop) in the array of beach towns in our part of the Coromandel all seem to have CafeLaLa coffee (roasted in the Coromandel). It’s ‘insanely’ good coffee, just as the branding suggests and far from seeming poncy, you think: good on them for supporting local.
11. Even the dog sleeps in.
12. On the mornings when the dog and kids don’t sleep in, it doesn’t matter – it gives you an excuse to take the dog and the pram and walk the beach as the sun rises at seven, exploring rock pools and riverlets and not overheating.
13. Extended day naps by the baby, exhausted from the sun, swims and sea air, give you a chance to catch up on a pile of (personal) crafting, painting and sewing projects: my tally in the Coromandel was 1x painting; 1x t-shirt; 2x skirts; 1x work top, 2x cushion applique covers and a pile of pictures or flower pressings with Miss Four.
14. Every Saturday or Sunday has a local craft market to attend (Matakana Farmers Market; Matakana Twilight markets; Kuaotunu Craft Market; Whitianga Craft Market) and everywhere you go you can see signs for the home studios of local artists in residence. The Black Jack Gallery is my favourite.
15. You swear, once again, to do more day trips to Northern beaches and long weekends in the Coromandel this year: and are adamant that you really mean it.
16. The best photo memory of the Summer is simply all four of your family’s pairs of feet in the sand.
Dinner at Matakana, overlooking the vineyard and lake;
The 'best sunset ever' - yes this was an 'in-joke' for the whole holiday;
The view from our deck in the Coromandel;