Remember the days when New Year’s Eve was the most important night of the year? The days when there would be months of planning going into one night? Trying to be at the perfect party, at the perfect location, and with the perfect outfit? Yeah, me neither. It’s been too long. I’m the parent of a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old. My New Year largely revolves around making sure they are getting to where they are partying, and home again, safely. It is this parental duty that resulted in me and my other half making a spontaneous trip further down New Zealand’s east coast to the Coromandel Peninsula.
While our ’baby’ stayed with friends in ‘teenage party central‘ Whangamata, hubby, and I headed slightly further north óf there to the quieter town of Pauanui for a couple of nights. Pauanui sits on the mouth of the Tairua river opposite the larger town that shares the river’s name. Pauanui has a permanent population of about 1200 which swells to around 15000 over the holiday period.
We stayed with friends who own a bach in the town. A bach is a traditional Kiwi word for a holiday home, usually modest and often located near a beach. Our two-night stay consisted of walking, swimming in the surf, drinking wine, barbequing, drinking wine, playing bananagrams (my new favourite game), drinking wine, reading, and sleeping.
On December 31st we headed back over the hills of the Coromandel Forest Park to the town of Thames situated at the southwestern end of the Coromandel Peninsula. From here hubby caught a bus home to Auckland as he had to work the following day and I checked into a campsite just outside the town for two nights.
And this dear friend is where I spent New Year’s Eve. After a dip in the river, a snacky dinner, and a couple of glasses of wine I fell asleep in front of the TV at about 9pm in the dinky caravan with fixed awning I had rented at $85 per night. After a three-hour nap, I woke up at midnight, check with the kids that they were both alive and well, wished them a Happy New Year, and fell back to sleep. It was the polar opposite of a wild night. The upside was I woke refreshed and ready for adventure on the first day of 2022.
After reviewing the compendium folder in the caravan I opted for a short road trip to Rapaura Watergardens. After paying the $15 entry fee I set about exploring the 64-acre private estate. After I’d reached the furthest point at a lookout over a waterfall I found a spot beside a waterlily pond and did some art. It was well worth the trip.
The remainder of my time at the campsite was spent trying to stay cool, sitting or lying in the river, while reading or resting.
On my way back to Auckland I stopped briefly at the Shortland Cemetery. Set high on a hill on the outskirts of Thames it has been in use since the late 1860’s and is the final resting place of four infant siblings of my hubby’s grandmother, Helena Scott (nee Papa). Once I made the climb to the cemetery I realised it would be nigh on impossible for me to locate Flora who died in 1872 aged 11 months, Annie who died in 1878 aged 7 months, Laurence who also died in 1878 aged 9 weeks, or Rosetta who died in 1885 aged 3 months. The section they were likely to be in was both hilly and overgrown and I had on some very unsafe fake Birkenstock sandals. It was a recipe for a broken ankle or worse. Grandma Helena and another five siblings seem to all have made it to adulthood, while losing 4 out of 10 children would be horrific now I’m sure at the time it was fairly common odds.
Back to Auckland for a rest!
Happy New Year!