Now THAT is what I am talking about!
Well folks, it's been quite a season. Granted, it wasn't the hottest or sunniest summer I have spent, but I can safely say that this is the best summer I have ever spent in New Zealand. And granted, I didn't do everything you are supposed to do here, and I didn't see everything you are supposed to see here, but the things I did do, the the things I did see and most importantly the people I met - were sweet as.
If you remember way back when we first arrived in New Zealand, the thing I was most keen on (aside from surfing) was to become a part of a community. It took a while, but I found the community I was looking for in the form of Surf Lifesaving (and it incorporated surfing so I was doubly stoked). I am going to do my best not to rant and rave anymore about lifeguarding or surfing, as looking back over the posts for the past few months that is all I have written about, but humor me this one last time.
Last weekend - a four day Easter weekend - was the last patrol of the season for surf Lifesaving. Apparently this weekend is usually marked by cold, onshore winds and heaps of rain, but since we had that all summer the gods decided to grace us with blue skies and pumping surf. The surf was so big that I didn't even surf on Saturday and on Sunday I surfed at the south end of the beach where it was smaller. Althought the waves were too big for me to surf I managed to make it out the back (past the breaking waves) with my camera and get some mean pictures of the waves (to be posted when I get decent Internet). The waves were so big that one of the lifeguards snapped his SUP. Oops, sorry Troy!
Monday the waves were a bit smaller and peaky and super fun but I am not going to talk about waves anymore. I have been traveling well over a year now and have not really felt like I belong anywhere for some time. I love the cruising community but they are not my peers, and I love the locals in the islands but to them I am an outsider. As a surf lifeguard I shared responsibilities, patrols, fun and games... In a sense, I had a shared purpose - and it felt really good. Don't get me wrong, it took months for me to become more helpful than a nuisance, to learn people's names and for them to learn mine, but showing up weekend after weekend I slowly became a part of the Whangarei Heads crew. A special thanks to club captain Lindsay Hill who gave me numerous rides out to the beach and got me involved in SLSNZ in the first place.
But now it is all over - for the season anyway. The gear has been packed away, the clubhouse cleaned (as well as any condemned building can be) and everything locked up for winter.
Winter? Yes, the days are getting shorter and althought it has been sunny, the air is crisp and the wind has a bit of a bite to it. This means it is time to leave, to head north to the warm waters of the tropics. Last night I was dropped off at McLeod bay where the boat was anchored, as Rutea left Whangarei even before I did on Saturday. We are currently anchored in Tutukaka as we cove hop up north to the Bay of Islands where we will wait for a weather window to head to Fiji.
The Southern hemisphere cyclone season officially ends May 1, but weather guru Bob McDavitt has given cruisers the all clear to start heading up the thousand miles to the tropics. We hope to leave within two weeks. Until then, we are making sure we still know how to sail and making sure the repairs we (Dad) did over the past five months hold up.
I got the closure I was looking for with the final epic weekend of surf Lifesaving, but I hope to share another good Kiwi story with you before we leave this pretty damn cool country.