For the last two weeks we have been carrying on with our helpx-ing in New Zealand, except we have now swapped our truck stop motel for a 5 star luxury lodge in Matakana; an area where Auckland’s rich and powerful come to play. It’s super nice! The massive lodge has three beautiful bedrooms, a pool, a hot tub (which we get to use) and amazing views out over the countryside and out to many of the small islands in The Hauraki Gulf.
Susan and Garth own the lodge and have been so lovely and welcoming to us. They are the epitome of hard working kiwis! They never stop, Susan runs the lodge and works at two other jobs, whilst Garth seems to be able to make and fix anything! So we have gotten stuck in to help as well, particularly Sam. Whilst I have enjoyed serving up Susan’s delicious breakfasts, chatting with guests and cleaning just three rooms, Sam has been building a gabion wall in the orchard. This involves constructing tricky wire cages, digging ditches and hefting bricks around.
I got the good side of the deal here! He’s done a great job and is just finishing now as we go to leave tomorrow. This will be a retaining wall to enable them to flatten the ground in the orchard where they want to keep some caravans.
Fortunately, it’s not all been hard work. We’ve also had some lovely days off, cycling to the beach, visiting the weekend farmer’s markets and taking a day to drive around the coast at Goat Island and Pakiri beach. Susan and Garth also took us to a few vineyards, which this area is famous for, and which we enjoyed. A lot.
We did have a bit of drama on our cycle ride day. After eating the most delicious ice cream ever (freshly picked blueberries, wizzed with frozen yoghurt, yum!) we were cycling home when we came across a man doubled over, trying to push his bike up a steep hill. When he said “can you call and ambulance please” we thought he was joking. He had actually fallen off his bike into a ditch and hit his head on a concrete pipe 45 minutes before. When no one had passed him he tried to make his own way out and had made it about 10 metres. After calling an ambulance, waiting with him and then helping the paramedics get him onto the air ambulance they had to call, we found out that he had broken his neck and his back. Poor chap. It looked pretty nasty, but he has been in touch since and let us know that he has had some operations and is on the mend. Luckily he was wearing a helmet, I’m never riding no bike without one now.
After that we were definitely in need of some wine, which fortunately we can partake of every evening at “happy hour”. This is definitely an excellent invention by the NZ hospitality industry, and Garth and Susan do it every evening for their guests. Between 6pm and 7pm the guests (and us) get wine and nibbles and a some nice chitchat and we have met some lovely people in our time here, especially the 7 people who we had to cook breakfast for on our own one day. That was a bit stressy (especially trying to time everyone’s choices of eggs!) but pretty fun. A German man even said that we should run our own b&b one day… maybe a new plan for 2014??