Writing this from the dusty floor of Samuel's spare room in Madrid, it seems like the drive I took from Dunedin to Auckland with Chris was a very long time ago. Actually, it was early December. In any case, it was one for the books and I've put off blogging about our blissful trip up the mighty Whanganui river because I didn't know what to say about it. I still don't, but here are some pictures.
We had extremely little money and were looking for a place to set up our tent, so the sisters offered to let us camp on the lawn for a donation of our choosing ($20). When we gave the donation the next morning, the sister took the note in both hands and looked into my face, asking "are you sure you can afford it?" I said yes, of course, thanked her profusely and went on my way bathed in light.
Continuing towards Raetihi, we saw a turn-off advertising a 'Vintage Car Museum.' This seemed incongruous on the edges of a national park, so we turned off the motorway to see.
After a soak in the natural hot stream and a swim in the freezing river in Taupo, we continued on the 'thermal drive' to Rotorua; somewhere I hadn't been since I was in the womb. Chris took me on a walk through the Redwoods, to his favourite look-out and through that luminous wetland three pictures down. The earth around there really does feel rumbly and like it is groaning. The myths I had heard since childhood about mountains who got into passionate romantic fights and upped and moved seemed a lot more believable here than in the cold stillness of the South.
In Auckland I surprised my long-suffering friend Jenna and her man Stuart on a busy Friday night by asking to camp in their yard. Being angels, they offered us the sleepout instead and left us to our own devices to make friends with Herbie Flowers, pictured below. He has no teeth and is an adorable busy-body (if I type on the computer he helps me by sitting on my lap and typing along with me).
For more on the Sisters of Compassion and Jerusalem/ Hiruharama, see this understated and charming documentary.