With Brendon away, I decided to take a roadtrip down to Mt. Maunganui to hang out at the family bach with Mark and Laurel during the school break.
Equipped with my energy drink of choice, Lift Plus, and a full tank of gas, I hit the road in Baby Shea solo style. This would be my first NZ roadtrip alone, as well as the longest roadtrip I have ever ventured to take behind the driver’s wheel. Baby Shea handled the NZ roadside well, and to my accomplishment, I also managed to stay awake the whole time!
The drive was really quite spectacular- this was the first time I had been awake for the whole trip, and I have to say, there are some stunning sights to behold alone the way.
Part of the drive takes you through a gorge, where you are surrounded on either side by towering cliffs with trees, and a winding river that runs beside the road. For several minutes, it literally feels like you are driving through the Rockies.
For another part of the drive, the NZ countryside became surprisingly flatter than the plains of Saskatchewan. Fields that stretched on as far as the eye could see, dotted with cows, hay bails, and barn-like structures, very much reminded me of the land where I was born. Throw a little bright-yellow canola in there, and the picture would be complete.
One of the many enchanting towns I drove through on the way was Waihi. I had seen this fascinating structure only by a distance before, but stopped in for a closer look this time.
From afar, I thought it must have been the remains of a church that had burnt down, but it turns out that this historic structure, known as the Cornish Pumphouse, is a relic of the original mine in Waihi – the richest gold mine in New Zealand (1878-1952).
The Mount held some fun and relaxing times during the break, including many a stroll down Mt. Maunganui’s charming main street, some bocce ball on the beach, and lots of basking in the sunshine. It was so nice to be in the company of good friends, and to know that I’m not totally “alone” in NZ, even while my Boy is away.
Laurel and I ventured out on a photo-taking excursion one afternoon to the Te Puna Quarry, eager to try out some new photography techniques we learned from the book “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson, which was given to me by my friend Natasha.
The quarry is basically a large hillside that had been mined, and is now turned into a collection of beautifully-landscaped gardens. A maze of footpaths winds up the hillside, covered in a variety of tropical flowers and plants and artistic sculptures.
We came upon the largest orchid garden that I had ever seen in my life.
Seriously, SO many orchids. Hundreds and hundreds, in a wide assortment of colors. It was hard to capture the granduer of this sight in a single photo. I could have spent hours photographing these orchids, but decided I should probably give the other floral varieties some attention too.
The views from the top were pretty amazing.
So were the views up close.
The fascinating species of plants that call the Te Puna Quarry home made pretty great subjects for us to practice our new photography learning on.
If you have a fetish for buttons, as I do, here’s a fun idea to put all those buttons you’ve been collecting to use.
Using her floral arrangement skills, Laurel helped me fashion this button bouquet out of a handful of buttons and some floral wire while I was down in Mt. Maunganui. It was a simple project that didn’t cost a lot, nor did it take long to assemble, but will act as a versatile table arrangement that can be customized and changed up for different reasons and seasons.
I’m not entirely sure what the rest of the break has in store, but I can say that my roadtrip to the Mount was filled with pretty much everything one might hope for in a spring break roadtrip: Sunshine, alertness behind the wheel, beautiful sights to photograph, the soothing sound of waves, good friends, some newfound learning, and even a little bit of craft time.