I remember it was a long trip, like 8 hours by car and we broke our trip in Wanganui - can’t recall exactly where, as we didn’t take photos at that place - to rest for the night. It was a backpackers’ lodge and it looks like it was Tamara Lodge overlooking Whanganui River. We arrived late at night and picked up food at a petrol station in a small town on the way there. It's funny because we always thought we could find McDonald's or KFC in every town we passed by but we were wrong. I think we ate sandwiches and meat pies and the latter was a bit salty. But we survived the night. We didn't really get to see much of the place as we arrived so late and tired. We also had to leave early the next day as it was still roughly another 2-3 hours of drive from there to Wellington. We had stayed at the Bamber’s House backpackers’ lodge in Auckland when we first moved to NZ, while we waited for our container to be delivered to the house we were to rent in Westgate. So, we kind of got the hang of staying in backpackers’ lodges, though in Asia, we usually stayed in hotels. One of the things we found out on our short stay in NZ is that staying in a hotel there is just too expensive.
A most memorable part of that trip to Wellington was the way we got to the Malaysian Embassy on time the following day. When we got to Wellington, we had the map to the embassy but somehow we kept missing the turn to the road getting there. The place was hilly and there were so many small roads intertwined, after a while of driving around, we knew we were just lost. And time was running out on us as the business hours were short. They closed something like at mid-day, probably because it was a Friday (?) and they were observing the traditional closing hours for the employees to go to the mosque. We were frantically praying and finally, we saw somebody who just got out of her house go into her car. We stopped and talked with her and she said we're very near the embassy but it's really tricky getting there. But she was also on her way out so she said she could lead us going there. So, that's what we did. So, God gave us an "angel" to bring us to the embassy on time! Woot! That was another memorable answered prayer for me. God is so good! After that we still had time to go to the Philippines Embassy as well to have my own business done. They wouldn't accept my passport-sized photo but insisted we should have a photo of me taken at their "official" photographer which is the instant photo machine at a pharmacy in their neighborhood. So, we went out there and had my photo taken and then we were able to finish that passport renewal application. To think we put in a lot of effort to make that blue-background passport photo done at home in Auckland. The children's photos were accepted by the Malaysian Embassy but not the Philippines Embassy.
After we got our business done in Wellington, we drove to a backpackers’ lodge in a place called Paekakariki, which is about 45 minutes from Wellington. We stayed there for two nights. (We went back to Wellington the next day to see the Te Papa Museum and also the Mount Victoria Lookout.) It was quite a chore climbing up the steps, something like 45 steps (?) up to the location, but when you get up there, wow, the view!! The place was called Paekakariki Backpackers but now it seems they have renamed it to Hilltop Hideaway.
A beach is always beautiful, I guess. But because you view it from a hilltop it becomes really awesome, both the view and the feel of it. Our family (then 5 of us) occupied one whole room which was really for 6, so, we didn’t have to share with other people. But we had to share the house with other traveling folks, some of them tourists from other countries, some with babies and young kids, a couple were retirees just moving from place to place in NZ. We could actually pick up mussels from the beach, as it was mussel season, but we didn’t know. We found out about it only when we saw the elderly couple there cooking some mussels in wine, in the common kitchen, and then having them for dinner on the deck. They told us they collected those from the beach! We thought that was really cool. :)
The sundeck where you can enjoy the view while enjoying your own home-cooked meal.
View of the greenery around.
The hill towards the back of the house.
The dining cum lounging room.
View of the dining room from the kitchen.
Still part of the living room.
That's my younger daughter.
We played cards after dinner on that dining table. :)
I guess part of the memories is that I can see my children evolving. Our younger son used to play cards a lot around that time, now it's all just computer!! :(
We had great food that we cooked in the kitchen, too. bwahaaa!! - fried eggs! I don't know why but my older daughter loves to take photos such as this. These are mostly her photos, actually.
They have a computer too, to which we can take turns going online. We, of course, used it mainly for checking emails only.
And more views of the water.
But I guess the main attraction for the kids was the dog.
Because we were missing our own dog left in Malaysia.
This is the real beach below where you can pick / dig up for mussels. It wasn't that spectacular but it was natural.
And there are places where you can also sit close to the beach and just enjoy the feel of it.