First though we went to Tonga. It was a get together of a group of friends from Gisborne and before, and we stayed with the family of our old flatmate Mike, who own a surf resort on the North Shore of Tongatapu.
Us and then the gang of Techno Tonga 2009
It was great to catch up and relax with friends we hadn't seen for a while. There was plenty of cocktails on the beach, reading books, surfing and snorkelling going on, a touch of volleyball and a magnificent table tennis tournament, won by Mike the Tongan Tornado. In the photo below I declare the eventual runner up "tighty whitey" the winner of an earlier round game.
Outside the friends, frivolity and beach Tonga has little to offer a traveller after aesthetic beauty and outdoor recreation with a wannabe ecologist bent. It is a small flat island with far too many people and churches and too little biodiversity. The prominent fruit bats were a gift to the king sometime last century and apparently eat mosquitos, but have also decimated the islands mango supply. Having them flapping around in the daytime seems to me at least a metaphorical exclamation of a collapsed eco-system.
So yeah it was really a beach and beer trip.
I guess since and before then there have been a few strolls and missions around Wellington. Mum and Dad came up to Wellington and I took them over to the fantastic Matiu/Somes Island. The island in the middle of the harbour we look out to from our lounge which is now a nature reserve and home to all kinds of cool creatures like parakeets, giant weta and tuatara.
And before then, I think, there was the rubbish clean-up down at Evans Bay which I organised. There was a great turn out of people who learnt a lot about the micro-trash we are pumping into our oceans every minute. Thanks to all those that made it out, especially those under duress!
Another great little trip we did was the Haurangi Crossing, a mountain bike out in the Wairarapa. The team for this one was us, Jacqui, Ramash and Greg. Starting just south of Martinborough we headed down the main road towards Cape Palliser. It was a pleasant rolling road with a tail wind the highlights of which were the quite fantastic local store after about 10km (long enough for a pie) and the appearance of a snow covered Tappy, a feature in this part of the world, as we descended into the bays of the south coast (Mt Tapuaenuku of the inland Kaikouras is 150 kilometres away across Cook Strait).
From the south coast it turned ugly as we headed uphill into the Haurangi range. Real ugly. Brutal. It was Pennys first mission on her new bikeand she was pretty tough to come through it. To survive. The Haurangis are low, steep hills covered with scrub and the odd patch of remnant forest. It is one of those hunters paradises, where men get to cruise around on quad bikes with guns having fun. After a few hours or more we emerged on the far side with 30km's or so to go to the car along a lovely gravel road. Good times.
Rightio, thats about it apart from a few orienteering events and general cruisings around, hopefully clearing the decks will encourage me to get more creative on the blog again.