So yes, we are still in Lavender Hill, not for long though!

Today is our last night here and after 8 days we couldn’t be happier about the experience. Tricia and John have been just awesome taking care of us.

After the two days harvesting and distilling lavender, Tricia gave us a day off and took us to some sightseeing in the area. First stop: Mount Eden in Auckland.

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Auckland from Mount Eden

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far from home

Then she drove us to Muriwai, a really nice beach with a gannet colony located close to Auckland and to Lavender Hill.

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Muriwai beach

Our days here, then, have been weeding, cooking spanish food (empanadillas and croquetas again!), eating delicious roasted meats, enjoying the jacuzzi and the company and watching movies. We couldn’t have any complains!

Thanks to Ellen we learned about the anzac biscuits and had the chance to try them. Just delicious!

 

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anzac biscuits

By the way, Marina and I have been talking about the idea of weeding and we have lots of questions. What defines a weed? Why certain plants are considered weed and some others deserve to survive? Actually mint is a weed! Why spinach aren’t weed? Is potato a weed? Uhm. We want to start an organization defending weed. Weed deserves to live! Darwin would be totally against weeding!

One week in our own Farmville and we are already delusional. But hey, not everyday you have the chance to see a lettuce of almost your own height!

 

Me and the lettuce

Tomorrow we are going to another Bed & Breakfast, in the south of Auckland. We’ll keep you all informed!

After almost three months travelling and a month and a half in the North Island of New Zealand, we thought it was about time to save some money so we could go to the South Island properly: renting a camper van. To do it we checked in the Help Exchange website and we found that it wasn’t that difficult to find a place where we could stay and eat in exchange for some hours of work.

So after another weekend in Auckland, when we cooked some spanish food for the guys (empanadillas! croquetas! patatas bravas! coca de tremp├│!), we took a bus on sunday to Northland again, well, actually just half an hour north of Auckland. In Albany, Tricia came to pick us up and to drive us to Lavender Hill, where we are going to stay for the whole week.

Lavender Hill is a luxury Bed & Breakfast, surrounded by lemon trees, lavender and beautiful gardens. Here Tricia, John and Splash the dog take care of us, treating us like part of the family. We (Marina, a german girl and I) live in their amazing house with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi in exchange of helping with the lavender and gardening.

On Monday it was raining, so instead of working hard, we did our best gardening and cooking.

I decided that it was time to learn how to make a proper pizza. So with the help of Marina, this is my first attempt to “the best pizza ever” (prize hold by Jai currently):

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Marina and Laura's pizza

 

And the german girl, Ellen, did an amazing chocolate cake:

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Chocolate cake

 

On Tuesday as it wasn’t raining anymore, we had to work with the lavender. So, as if we were in actual Farmville, we harvested the lavender field and distilled the lavender to get the valuable oil. It was quite a hard work, but everything is doable if you are with nice company and learning the whole process. And, of course, the idea of the jacuzzi afterwards kept us working! hahahaha! It was totally worth it! Believe me, now I really understand why the lavender oil is so expensive!

 

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Lavender

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Distilling machine

The jacuzzi was not the only reward though. Tricia is an awesome cook, and every dinner is just amazing. Yesterday, after the distilling, was just a feast:

 

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Roasted pork feast

Roasted pork, kumara, potatoes, pumpkin, apple sauce, delicious gravy, chickpeas with butter…. Oh my god! Between the jacuzzi, the swimming pool and the food we feel totally spoiled! Working is not hard at all if you get all of this!

As we worked a lot the last days, today we have a free day. I thought it was about time to write another post in the blog!

In the following days we’ll be here. Next weekend probably in another place working. The more money we save, the more things we’ll be able to do in the South Island and in Australia!

It’s quite weird to be working in this field here. Is the kind of thing that I wouldn’t do in Spain. It’s interesting to see how things have a different value when you’re so far from home. But I’m learning a lot, and that is totally priceless.

Another road trip to explain!

After resting a couple of days in Auckland when I was about to kill myself for my damn back pain, we headed the road again. Direction? Northland and the Bay of Islands.

On Sunday 9th we arrived to Baylys Beach, near to Dargaville, an amazing spot of the Kauri Coast, where we started to see what was all about: impressive and massive sand beaches, huge forests and a landscape like we have never seen before.

On Monday the trip started. First of all we had to see the oldest and biggest Kauri trees in the Waipoua Kauri Forest. Showing pictures of that is totally pointless, those trees are just HUGE and almost older than the country’s history: one of them is almost 2000 years old. Think about it for a minute: 2000 years ago the Roman Empire was in its highest point in Europe. The romans were totally on fire while those trees were born! So, after visiting Tane Mahuta, Te Matua Ngahere and Four Sisters (yes, the trees have names), we went up north, crossing from Rawene to Hokinanga by ferry. That day we slept in The Tree House, a really beautiful place in Kohikohi, surrounded by fruit trees and a magic atmosphere. The owner told us that kiwis wander arround. I didn’t see them.

The next day was The Day: we had to reach to Cape Reinga, the jumping-off point for souls according to Maori, where Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. Before that, we did our way through the amazing ninety mile beach.

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Ninety mile beach

And after some kilometers driving through the Aupouri Peninsula, we finally reached the actual north of New Zealand. While arriving, we didn’t even talk! So stunning! Even though Cape Reinga is the most famous one, it is actually Surville Cliffs the northernmost point of the country, but it’s difficult to reach by car. Instead, we had a walk watching how the Sea and the Ocean fight, while the lighthouse remains silent in one of the most special places I’ve been in my entire life.

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Cape Reinga lighthouse

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Can we be further from home?

After sleeping in Te Kao, Marina and Marty had something to do in the 7sq km of giant sand dunes: tobogganing!

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Marty, Marina and the giant sand dunes

My back was still in pain, so I decided to take pictures of them instead. So funny to watch! That day we went to sleep to Taupo Bay, in Mangonui, where we had an amazing dinner with prawns, mussels and a fish which name I can’t remember.

And then: Bay of Islands! I had really high expectations about that area and well, it’s really beautiful, but like Costa Brava in Catalunya, the tourism and house building has gone too far. A real shame.

In Waitangi we visited the Treaty Grounds and saw a 35m war canoe with a really long name. So, in Waitangi took place the most important treaty in the New Zealand history between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs in 1832. There we had one of our usual and always satisfactory lunch picnics.

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Waitangi picnic

After that we went to Russell, the former capital of New Zealand, known for the orgies that took place 170 years ago in its beach. I’m sorry, but we didn’t see any. We went to visit the oldest church in the country instead: Christ Church, from 1836.

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Christ Church in Russell

Russell town is really beautiful and cozy, with lots of nice spots to view the Bay of Islands. If you ever go there, don’t miss it!

The day after was our last day of road trip. So we did all the way down to Auckland through Helena Bay, Hikurangi, Matapouri, Whangarei with its falls (not that impressive, just crowded!), Mangawhai Heads, Wellsford (where beer is cheep!!) and finally, Auckland.

 

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This is New Zealand

It was really weird when we were about to arrive because suddenly Auckland felt like home. I missed it! And soon will be the last time that I’m there, so I will miss it even more.

And now, what?

For the first time in two months we don’t know what are we going to do even next week. The only thing we know is that, unfortunately, Marty won’t be with us.

Marty, we miss you, hippie!

 

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The three of us