Sunday, 24 February 2013

I-tutaki, You-tutaki, We-tutaki Together

So the story continues...

Elaine, Dean, Kevin, and I got up ridiculously early to catch a flight from Wellington --> Auckland --> Rarotonga to meet up with my dad and Juanita. Once in the Cook Islands, I was keen to take a picture as we walked out of the plane. However, the different in air temperature and humidity proved to be too much for my camera lens to handle and I ended up with this photo... Unedited, unfiltered.

We were greeted with unbelievably potent flower leis and took a van from the airport to Palm Grove resort on the south end of the island of Rarotonga. I cannot describe to you how happy and excited I was to see my dad for the first time in over a year. Yes, we FaceTime every few weeks and even when living in Vancouver, we only saw each other a few times per year. But it's not the same as a big hug from my dad. The weather was hot and muggy and we spent the afternoon snorkeling, tanning, and catch up.

The following day, we all jumped on the tiniest plane I have ever been on. You may have been on smaller, but for someone who used to be quite phobic of flying, this was some serious exposure therapy for me. This little ten-seater flew us 262km over turquoise waters to Aitutaki, the Cook Islands' second biggest island boasting a population of 2,000 residents.

Holy doodle! Etu Moana resort was beyond words. I have never stayed at such a beautiful place! Each couple had a large studio villa, complete with private outdoor shower and toilet paper bow, nestled right on the beach. 

We spent one evening at 'Island Night', where we got to eat an enormous buffet of locally made food including breadfruit, ika mata, pawpaw, and a variety of root vegetables. After stuffing ourselves, we sat with our food babies and were entertained by a traditional Cook Island choir and island and fire dancers.

And my favourite... This one is for all of my cheerleading girls from SFU. We thought making pyramids was hard. Let alone in loin cloths and with fire sticks.

The following day was when cyclone Garry came for a visit. Because our villas were beachfront, all six of us were moved into one villa inland. We spent the whole day on the undercover porch reading, playing cards, and trying to not get wet. Garry hit hardest in the evening, with 120km/h winds and pretty intense rain. Kevin and I, however, live in Wellington, where 120km/h winds and intense rain are the norm on a blustery winter's day. The only upside here was that it was still 25°. We all retired to the villa and cooked dinner (which included the mandatory stock-up-for-a-cyclone food, Spam), watched a movie, and played Pictionary. Oh and did I mention that we had about five bottles of wine, two cases of beer, and a forty of scotch? Well not by the the next morning we didn't! The storm was nowhere near as bad as we had prepared for and ended up being a really fun experience. The manager (a Canadian) told us she could hear us partying all night and thought to herself, "typical Canadians!"

The day after cyclone Garry was BEAUTIFUL! It was windy, but we welcomed the breeze to keep the mosquitoes away.

The following day we all journeyed on a lagoon tour where we had the pleasure of snorkeling for hours, visiting the little islands that surround Aitutaki. The weather was perfect and our guide was hilarious. For someone who still is slightly afraid of fish, I think I did pretty well.

We ended the adventure at Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), a small inlet in the lagoon that hosts the world's smallest post office where you can get your passport stamped with a big foot! This lagoon tour marked the end of our stay in Aitutaki, a place most definitely worth revisiting.

Part three of our parental invasion is still to come ('Pat and Juanita go Kiwi'). All the photos so far are from my camera, but I'm hoping to snag the pictures from both Elaine and my dad to show off a bit more of our wonderful time together.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Invasion of the Parental Units 1.0

Wow, where do I even begin!? The last month has been a whirlwind of moving flats, Kevin's mum and stepdad visiting, travelling to the Cook Islands with them to meet up with my dad and his partner, coming back to Wellington to work for a few days, travelling to the South Island with my dad, and then trying to settle back into a routine. Phewf! After only working two and a half weeks of the last seven, I think I need a vacation from our vacation. And I've got 'heeps' of photos from all of these adventures, so let me start from the beginning...

Elaine and Dean came down on 18 January for a brief tour of Wellington before we buggered off to the South Pacific. That weekend, our flatmate Paul (official blog introductions and tour of our flat to come) was celebrating his big 3-0 by taking 18 of us on a sailboat around Wellington harbour. The weather was a bit gloomy, but the clouds held onto all of the rain and we enjoyed a booze-cruise that included "I'm on a Boat" being played only 4 times in a row.

The following day we then took the parentals over to one of my most favourite places in Wellington, Breaker Bay. We walked along the WWII information points and were lucky enough to have beautiful sunshine and turquoise waters.

Monday, we all hopped on the train over the Martinborough for a guided wine tour. You just can't do New Zealand right without a few (or many) wine tastings. So drink we did! 

Dinner that night was at Southern Cross for a delicious stone grill platter, which included a giant smoking-hot stone slab with raw lamb, beef, prawns, and halloumi cheese. You just put your goods on top and watch it sizzle to perfection!

The next day we had more beautiful weather and more delicious food and drinks. We joined a guide from Zest Food Tours through the Mojo coffee roastery, a gourmet chocolatier, Moore Wilson's gourmet grocery store, and ended at Logan Brown for an unbelievably decadent lunch. 

All I can say is, good thing I wore my stretchy pants. More photos and stories to come shortly!