I'm back from my weekend in Auckland--had such a good time! I went up on Thursday afternoon and came back yesterday (Sunday). Went shopping, had fantastic food, went out to this amazing beach called Piha which is one of the big NZ surfing beaches (and the photos above are of that), and obviously saw my sister Felicity and her husband Mike. I managed to develop a bad cold which meant that the descent back into Christchurch on the plane was hellish--apparently a blocked nose means all this pressure builds up in your head. It was so painful and my ears blocked and wouldn't unblock at all for about two hours, and even then they weren't perfect. Yuck, I hate not being able to hear properly.
I really like Auckland. It's just that much bigger than my hometown to seem like a real city, yet it's not so huge it's inconvenient... although traffic is terrible and I don't think I could live there, it takes ages to get anywhere. But there are fantastic restaurants/food stalls/etc everywhere, and I tried Moroccan food for the first time ever, and it is so unbelievably good! I think it's a new favourite of mine. I also had some masala dosa, a southern Indian dish, from a stall in the Aotea markets. We had it in Malaysia and loved it so much, and Mum had it all the time when she was teaching at Hebron School in the Nilgiri Hills in India, but it doesn't seem to get sold much in Indian restaurants in NZ. So that was quite exciting!
I've got heaps of pictures, mainly of Piha and some out of the window of the plane, but I've just put three up for today. Piha (as demonstrated in the bottom photo) is a black sands beach; I think iron used to be mined from it. So quite striking really.
I've just been reading my friend Vicki's blog, which is on my links to blogs as 'Gapping in Kenya'. She and I have been penpals for ages. At the moment she is spending a gap year (or maybe less than a year, I'm not sure) in Mombasa in Kenya, but her home is in Guernsey, and she spent her childhood in East Africa with missionary parents, and she went to boarding school in England... :) Her blog is amazing, I can't believe some of the stuff that's happening to her. It makes all the stuff I write about seem quite irrelevant... :S