Countdown calendar 01/17/2020, Auckland, New Zealand

343 days until Christmas. 287 days until our flight back to the US. And 41 days left in New Zealand. Why are we counting? Because we have already fallen in love with the culture and the people of New Zealand! What a great time we have already had here!! Dave is becoming adept at traffic circles and rarely turns on the wipers instead of the turn signals, though in a crunch, muscle memory kicks in and the wipers get turned on instead of the turn signals.

Today was spent recuperating from yesterday by relaxing at some amazing beaches, Muriwai and Watipu. We got to see some nesting gannets, including a bunch of fuzzy babies being tended to by their mothers. We walked along the sea edge on rock outcroppings that looked over the crashing waves. We strolled along the beach and felt the cool water of the Tasman Sea wash over our feet. While we had brought our suits with us, we did not swim, deciding instead to take the scenic stroll to the top of the overlook.

The afternoon saw us take a trip to the Arataki Visitor’s Center where we learned about the local wildlife and the parks. Dave got to have an interesting conversation with a local ranger (who was originally from Scotland!), and they compared notes on being rangers in national parks. A nice nature walk in the Waitakere Ranges rounded out the afternoon.

Dinner last night was “take-out” where we shared a traditional Indian meal seated at a bus stop bench. Who knows what we will find today? One thing I have yet to discover is what food, besides Kiwi’s, is New Zealand famous for? We will attempt to discover that as we play for the next six weeks in the summer sun!!! To that end we put a tad bit more thought into our dinner tonight. We decided to go to Piha Beach and walk along the beach before having a burger recommended by our local hosts. Excellent choice. The burger was amazing, and the view complimented the meal. At this point I would say New Zealand culinary fame is related to excellent food complimented by the views.

(PS I tried dessert today, we ordered a “milkshake” they are not milkshakes. Don’t be fooled by the name. Here, “milk shakes” are milk that is flavored and shaken, maybe with a bit of ice cream—but not enough to masquerade as what we know as a milkshake.)

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