Another year has flown by and I do believe my Grandmother was right after all. They seem to speed by more quickly each year!

I saw the New Year in in Totaranui, one of New Zealand’s truly spectacular and special spots. We have been blessed with hot, calm weather, to everyone’s relief and joy. It’s a lovely, well managed campsite, nestled between towering native bush and the sea. I have done lots of swimming and snorkeling off Skinner Point. The sea life is a treat with abundant colonies of paua, kinna, mussels, star fish and even some clams. Healthy sea weed and kelp provided cover for crabs and fish I have yet to identify! The down side of no Internet! I do like being able to research things I see!

The walk over to Goat Bay is a good workout and very beautiful. It’s a decent climb up through mature Kanuka and Kamahi trees, predominantly, but of course there’s also Rimu, black Beech, Lancewoods, Akeake and the smaller shrubbery, mostly broad leafs. I saw plenty of fat Kereru, Wood Pigeons, snoozing off their over indulgence on the berries! Lots of birdsong also, from the Tuis, Fantails, Bellbirds and so on. Truly a magical part of this country and a fine spot to start the year!

The Weka and Pukeko are super cheeky here, being so used to having campers and hikers around. They are an endless source of entertainment, chasing each other round, climbing into buckets of water left out, and generally being totally opportunistic. They’re also very vocal, with a fair range of strident calls. Shane comes up with a running commentary on what they’re apparently saying to each other, wildly irreverent and funny. We’ve eaten well and wined possibly better! Down to our last bottle of red today. Just as well we’re heading out tomorrow, sad as that is! I could stay here for a lot longer!

I had Christmas with Dad and Mum and the extended family, at Brandon Downs, the Ewart family farm. It was nice to see everyone and catch up on the family news. I had driven as far as Wellington, left my car with an acquaintance, and caught the ferry to Picton. I’d planned to hitch hike from there but it was raining so I hopped on the bus.

The driver was terrible. It seemed he’d been called on to drive unexpectedly, as the train got canceled, and was very unhappy about it. He was barely short of downright rude in his commentary, being sarcastic and snide the whole way. His driving left a lot to be desired as well, at one point standing on the brakes so hard I got hit on the head by things flying out of the overhead locker. Turns out he was using his cell phone and didn’t see the road ahead. The only thing that made the journey tolerable was the company of a visitor from the Czech Republic sitting next to me. We conversed using Google translate and had a good chat! Nice guy. I hope he’s enjoyed New Zealand.

I have some loose plans for the year, which do not include returning to theatre! I’m going to sell my house in Christchurch and get all my mortgages, student loan etc settled, freeing me up for travel and boat work. I’m applying for boat work again and if not already contracted by the start of the Mediterranean season again, will head that way around April. I’m hoping to do the offshore marine medics course in Auckland in March. And I’m keen to go to Europe either via the US, Kenya and Tanzania or Thailand. Haven’t decided! Of course, plans have a habit of changing or evolving!

The last couple of nights of my trip have been in Napier with Vicki. Wonderful to catch up! I then drive up through Gisbourne and Opotiki on me way back to Ohope. Its a spectacular drive, requiring concentration as its mostly windey!

Good to be home and with the boys again. I missed them heaps and the chilled vibe we have here. We’re living in the sea, it’s so hot! I had a go on Matt’s surf board yesterday. Such fun! Not that I stood up but loved the feel of the wave under the board! Might have to further that acquaintance!

So… Have a wonderful year, everyone! Push your boundaries and above all, be happy.

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