January 18, 2007

VIsitors from North (most places are North...)

Some of these pictures were taken by my mother. She and her partner arrived last Friday, were dragged around some 3-4 beaches and 2 bush walks over the weekend, drove to Northland (I'd assume walked a whole lot there) and are due to return to Auckland tonight.

Muriwai was beautiful as ever last Sunday, but it was difficult to enjoy it after 2 bush walks in the morning and some 4hrs driving to Te Arai and back (the waves were raging mad on the East coast for a change, so we didn't dare to surf there...:) I could only imagine how it must have felt for our visitors after 30hrs of non-stop flight from Europe...

NZ is a pretty small place, but there are so many interesting things and beautiful views, and the landscape changes so dramatically, that in those 3 weeks that my mother is here, I think they'll be able to make a small round of North Island (not even touching Wellington!!!)

I'll be taking some time off work and joining them for a small tour around the South of the North Island. There still are a lot of places that we with Kaj haven't seen on our trip last April, so this time I hope to catch up on those: Mt Maunganui, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Mt Taranaki, etc...

From what I could tell, I think my mother is quite impressed by NZ. But she's easy to please, just bring her to a forest, let her wander and check out the plants for hours. NZ has plenty of plants that don't exist elsewhere in the world, so the first few days I was struggling to name any of them (the easy way out was to label them all as kauri... thats the famous one... :)

But then I got a plant encyclopedia from the library and checked out NZ native plants list on Wikipedia with Nicoletta and now I'm much more fluent in NZ flora.

Otherwise things are going quite well, the surf is calling us tonight to Piha... Maybe... So after a long day at work, we may be a little bit "pihalla" ("pihalla" in Finnish means something like "out of it"), as Katja pointed out... :)

Posted by gkligyte at 11:51 AM | Comments (1)

January 12, 2007

Things Treacherous and Fierce

The summer is definitely coming. The weather pattern has changed. The cold southerlies and westerlies stopped and friendly northerlies brought some humid, rainy, but warm weather from the tropics.

I remember how we used to complain about too predictable weather in Singapore: why do they need weather forecasts at all, if the weather is always +32C degrees, sunny with ocassional showers? Now I'd like to take those words back. NZ Weather website is one of my most frequented websites and for the longest time there were no good news there, no matter how often I checked it...

Since westerlies have stopped, the surf conditions are supposed to improve on the West coast. This week we went to the beach after work 2 times. Both times not quite perfect conditions, but still very nice way to end the day.

These pictures were taken on the weekend and Piha is difficult to recognise. I've never seen that many people there before. Supposedly this is not even considered "busy" for Piha.

Just today I read statistics that out of 800 rescues by lifeguards in ALL NZ beaches last year, almost 150 rescues were in Piha. Quite a high toll for 200m stretch of sand, I'd say!!! Especially if you think how much of shoreline NZ has!

The waves in the Western beaches are often treacherous and fierce. Yesterday, as we arrived to Muriwai for our evening surf, we saw a "body" wrapped in golden rescue blanket transported by the lifeguards. Well, the guy was alive, but certainly not doing too well. No idea what have happened there, but most likely he injured his back or neck somehow.

The beaches look deceivingly pretty, but we heard stories of people being sucked in while standing knee-high in water!

Anyway, we're usually very careful in water and so far (at least I) never ventured to the ocean when it looks that you can't get out without breaking your neck.

Other stories from NZ: the road death toll for the year 2006 was lowest in 35 years! Well done, you'd think!? Not if you read NZ papers. This, unexpectedly caused "some problems" in sourcing organs for transplants! That article sheds a completely different light on the idea of granting driving licenses to 15 year olds. Seriously, can you get any fresher and better quality organs than a 15 year old has?!?! So yes, now it makes sense, the government (and the farmers union that was fiercly oposing the idea of raising the driving age) apparently has a vision and a mission against the boy-racers. It sounds like genocide to me! :)

On a lighter note, it is almost summer, it is Friday, we'll be going surfing in the evening again and my mother is flying in tonight at 11pm!! Yeah!! I can see more holiday in the horizon!!!

Posted by gkligyte at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2007

New Things Undone

So the New Year came and went. I mean the party, the New Year is still with us! We were lucky to go back to Endless Summer Lodge in Ahipara. It was full of nice people again and we managed to do some surfing too. Today is the last day of my holiday, I'm back to work on Monday. Most of the nice things that I dreamed of doing during the holiday are still undone (the good thing is that I can blame the stomach bug for that!!!). Auckland Art Gallery still unvisited. Auckland Museum either. Drank coffee with a muffin in a nice cafe while reading newspaper in the morning - 2 times. Explored nice neighbourhoods or beachfront by foot - 1 time. Cleaning windows - unfinished. Baked muffins - 1 time. Sat in a hammock reading - half a day. Carrot cake - chilling in the oven now. Shopped for books - 1 time: scored 3 books and a magazine. Software - not updated. Files - unsorted.

I'm sure you've experienced that - waiting for all the nice things to happen (imagining how it will be) and remembering them is way nicer than actually doing them. For example, the idea of a relaxed afternoon in a cafe is what matters, actually. When you're in a cafe, your chair may be quite uncomfortable, the muffin too sweet/not sweet enough/dry/soggy, sun too bright/sky too cloudy/you may have forgot your sunglasses, weather could be too cold/too hot, water could taste of chlorine, you may have some obnoxious people sitting too close to you talking too loudly, there may be no (oh sheer horror!) today's newspaper available. But when it is all gone, in the past, you probably would remember it as a glorious afternoon anyway.

It doesn't apply to surfing though. That's the ultimate "here and now" experience. When you're out of water, you are left with sore muscles only. The actual thing is about being there, paddling, catching the wave, feeling your board dropping and taking off at insane speed. You'd probably never look back and dissect your experience. And really there's no time to think that the water is too murky, the sun too bright, there's too much jellyfish in the water and that maybe I'm getting a cataract. Thats an idea for a new yoga - stop thoughts racing in your mind, concentrate on one single thing. So far, I think, surfing is the single most powerful way to empty your mind (that kind of explains why surfers have a reputation as airheads... :). You should try it!

Posted by gkligyte at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)