Christmas in New Zealand
21 December 2015
One day we were just toying with the idea of visiting my brother in-law who migrated to New Zealand as we drool over direct flights with attractive airfares. We decided to find out if they would have any plans over Christmas and were surprised that he was very excited about my wife and I going over; and even suggested a 4 day canoeing trip and camp! It would also include hiking at Tongariro Crossing.
The idea was bizarre, my wife didn’t think she would be fit for canoeing but after having read the information online that the 4 day trip was one of the easiest, suitable for almost anyone, we were convinced. It was a camp on route with all meals provided and it wasn’t cheap either. Anyway, after booking our flights with 3.5 weeks in NZ, we were very excited, including our teenage nephews. There were a few months ahead of the trip and the plan was to exercise in between to build up stamina.
Packing for the trip was fun too. My wife and I had to buy appropriate shoes suitable for trekking and water sports. One day, we chance upon a sale at Takashimaya and there were good quality shoes at 70% off with sizes just for us! We had to plan for summer in Auckland and wintry weather for the hike. My brother in-law did all the planning – itinerary, accommodation, canoeing trip, train tickets and we simply sat back and relax.
My brother in-law’s place was really nice and cozy. We were particularly pleased that our two nephews gave up their room to accommodate us. The weather was fantastic with cool refreshing air all day and night. Going for a jog around the area feels like entering a holiday resort in itself – all the houses are beautiful with an array of flowers blooming around them. The light breeze rustles through the leaves which provided a musical rhythm all around, lifting the refreshing fragrance from fresh flowers along the way. Meals were something to look forward to – my sister in-law would cook her specials and we were always overfed from breakfast to dinner. My brother in-law was quite skillful too and I chipped in to roast an organic turkey for Christmas celebration.
What an adventure we had during the actual canoeing trip! First time experience with ‘toilets’ in the wilderness and having to come up with specific plans to get down to business. There were ongoing discussions on how and when to get ‘things’ done.
Canoeing down the river was very tough. All our canoes were loaded with equipment, besides our belongings (except for the guide as his was a single canoe). The guide brought along his partner and children – it was good they came along and helped load, unload equipment and put up camp tents for us. We did unexpectedly well in our canoeing and actually completed the distance for 4 days over 3 days. Hence we were able to spend 2 nights at the Maori’s home. A real treat we had there, was a shower. I had never looked or appreciated a shower the way I did then. It was in a very simple wooden shed and a bag of warm water with a shower head attached. Yet, this was one of the best showers I had in my life!
On our final day of canoeing, there were some rapids to deal with. By then, our arms were very sore and we had to swop partners. There was a stage where the guide’s children towed my wife’s canoe for a distance. The canoeing was finally over and it was such a huge relief that we all survived.
After a night’s rest, we were planning on the Tongariro crossing. This was a lovely place with mist drifting mysteriously around us, it feels like heaven. My wife didn’t make it to the top as the gravel was very loose and air was freezing cold even though she had thermals on.
All in all, it was a wonderful adventure and a very special Christmas for all of us. My sister in-law is very fit and clearly suitable for all these activities. My wife felt that with all the struggles she went through to complete the trip, she had doubts if she could survive another. Nonetheless this is something we can proudly announce to everyone on our achievements!