It's the Final Countdown: Last Week of NZ
Here's a riddle for you. What else do you need but an iced chocolate, a dear friend, and a room full of cats? The answer: Nothing. Your life is complete! I went with Kathryn to BaristaCats cafe in the heart of downtown Auckland. Yup, a cat cafe where you can sip some bevs and enjoy eats in the company of some very sweet rescue cats. One of my favorite cats was Wednesday (named after Wednesday Addams). She is 14 years old with the most thick set of bristly white old lady whiskers you can imagine. She has dementia and arthritis and she can't hear a thing. That won't keep her from talking with you...at you haha. A-dorable. This cross-eyed cat was also so cute I almost couldn't handle it. I was a bit worried about the reality of how cats in a cafe would play out but this was such a cool place, clean and well-run.
....And thus we begin a bittersweet recap featuring highlights of my LAST week in New Zealand. Can you believe it's already my last week here!?!?! In honor of the occasion I decided to not be lazy and actually take the good camera along for the ride. Why don't I do that more?! #bloggoals
I flew from Nelson to Auckland and spent my final days at Casa Firth with some of my favorite people in NZ, Kathryn and Roger and their kids Hamish and Jasper (and Zoe meow). I was happy to find Kathryn a cat-cafe-comrade-in-arms! As a side note, I want to reassure all concerned Disney fans that since my last stint in Auckland, she remains a strong convert to Beauty and the Beast. This visit, I introduced the magic of Aladdin to Jasper. May the seeds planted here sprout into a lasting legacy of Disney fandom.
One of the nights I was there, Hamish, had a lantern festival at his school. In preparation, some parents made pumpkin lanterns by carving and drilling designs and putting candles inside. Lest you think it is Halloween in May, I will clarify that pumpkins in NZ are not giant orange beasts (Halloween just isn't a big thing in NZ so this isn't weird or out of season if you're a local). Pumpkins here are pretty small and mostly grey or green with stripes. As a shout out to fellow X-Men fans, do you recall Rogue from the first movie? Anna Paquin? We carved the pumpkins at her sister's house. Crazy huh? Not to celebrity name-drop (lies)...but I'm basically a jack o'lantern away from marrying Wolverine...
The actual lantern festival itself was lovely. Jasper and his friend played live guitar music and that kid is SO freaking talented!!!
For my last full day in New Zealand, Kathryn had the grand idea to visit Piha, a gorgeous black-sand beach near-ish Auckland. It was a sunny, beautiful day and we luckily caught the low tide. We came across a wicked pool of sea foam so thick it felt like walking in meringue! Obviously, most of our time was spent playing in it, though we did venture up a nearby outcropping of rocks to watch huge waves crashing into the cliffside. What a majestic scene!
It's been nearly 8 months in New Zealand. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone by. I have felt a bit stagnant lately, post bike ride, and it's time to move on but so hard to leave. As cheesy as it may sound, I will hold NZ in my heart forever. I LOVE and am so grateful for my collection of NZ friends, my family away from family. They have come to mean so much to me. I have grown and learned more from them than I could have imagined. I love the places that have become my homes away from home. Part of me wants to stay in NZ forever. As a younger traveler I put a lot of energy into cramming as much as I could into what time I had. As I'm getting older, I am enjoying the richness of quality time in a few places and building connections with wonderful people. I love my patchwork quilt of friends and homes around the world....and at the same time I am looking forward to the familiar places and faces of my home home.