Dizzy Swallows

Honeymoon: Piha (Goodbye NZ)

July 28th, 2014

Leaving Waiheke was tough, but the transition to Auckland city life was made doubly so by the first and only truly awful lodging experience we had: a tiny AirBnB apartment (more like airless) downtown with dirty sheets (shudder). Our flight to Fiji being the following afternoon, we decided to hightail it as early as possible and squeeze in one last New Zealand adventure. We left in the dark wee hours, weaving our way out of the city and across the top of the island to Piha Beach.

One of NZ’s famous surf spots, Piha is a gorgeous black sand beach with reliably vicious break and a rugged but friendly little community (as a metric, this community of 600 supports two official surf clubs). After our brief, disturbed sleep, Piha coffee tasted like black gold and, munching happily on a savory scone, we headed down to the sand.

Piha’s iconic … Continue reading

Honeymoon: Waiheke Island

July 25th, 2014

Memory is a strange thing. The past is nothing more than stories we tell ourselves. Often, when trying to recall particulars, I wonder at how the story spins itself from fleeting fragments, and vivid shards, from the delight of the senses, from a depth of feeling. We tell ourselves these stories, and whether we lose pieces along the way, the stories become the past.

My memories of Waiheke Island are steeped in sunshine, the overwhelming, brilliant kind that makes you squint even behind sunglasses and raises the scent of hot, dry grass. They are filled with a freshening ocean breeze, laden with salt and the promise of the sea on your skin.

Our home on the island was an entirely extravagant beach cabin at Connell’s Bay. As you may have guessed, yes, we have been entering the luxury portion of our honeymoon (just wait for Fiji!).

Though our stay began … Continue reading

Honeymoon: Otama Beach

July 9th, 2014

Hello lovelies!

Today’s post finds us deep into the Coromandel Peninsula, having driven a rather long way from Kamahi. After another saga of winding roads, we arrived at the remote but breathtaking Otama Beach. Our lodging, once again found via the wonders of AirBnB, was a traditional bach (pronounced “batch”). These icons of Kiwi history are typically small but charming cabins now used as vacation rentals.

The bach in question was done up in perfect beach style, complete with chotchkies innumerable and even a rather impressive collection of Princess Di memorabilia. Coupled with one hell of a view, the overall effect was lovely, comfortable kitsch.

The near entirety of the oceanside wall was in fact an ingeniously folding glass door which opened onto a sweet little deck, perfect for sipping morning coffee or doing a bit of long-needed yoga.

Our wonderful hosts had truly thought of everything, … Continue reading

Honeymoon: Otorohanga and Waitomo

June 4th, 2014

After our second day in the waters of Raglan, we hopped straight from the surf and into the car, arriving salty and sweaty at the doorstep of our next abode, the incomparable Kamahi Cottage. This luxury B&B is tucked up on one of the pastoral rounded hills of the tiny Otorohanga district, adjacent to Waitomo, famous for its glowworm caves.

I can’t say enough good things about Kamahi. Our hosts were hospitality incarnate, sweet and attentive, yet respectful of privacy. Their home and the cottage preside over the family’s working farm, a massive spread of hundreds of acres that has been in their family for generations.

The cottage itself was perfectly appointed for comfort and pampering, with a beautiful half-story bedroom and the most divine amenities, right down to wooley socks and complimentary whiskey.

Guests can opt for a gourmet dinner cooked by owner Liz, either delivered to the … Continue reading

Honeymoon: Rivendell to Raglan

May 21st, 2014

Leaving the Able Tasman, I found I had somehow neglected to pack my camera battery charger. Crisis! This meant for the rest of the trip I was jealously guarding power, choosing my shots with much more care. I always travel with two batteries, and kept the last reserves of my first to shoot our last glorious stop in Fiji (so you have that to look forward to). Until then, I scrimped and saved, with some help from Jacob’s cell phone camera…

A brief stop in Queen Charlotte Sound, and then it was off to the North Island.

We took the ferry from Picton into the charming city of Wellington, where we scored a few thrift store finds and had the second best Indian food I’ve ever had (this being the best).

We then made our first and only stop related to The Lord of the Rings (if you … Continue reading