After a spectacular flight on Air New Zealand, Olivia and I were thrilled by the friendliness of the folks in customs at the airport. Because New Zealand is so isolated, they take special care to avoid any type of biological contamination. Our spiked log rolling shoes had to be cleaned because of this, and the folks kept apologizing and explaining why they had to clean our shoes. We were like, “Clean shoes… heck yeah!”
Ben, Michelle, and Chris greeted us and we started our eventful three hour drive down to Rotorua. After only knowing these guys for a few minutes, the immature humor took off. I KNEW I had found my kind of people. Olivia and I almost wet ourselves hearing, “I want a box of beer, can I have a box of beer, box of beer, box of beer, box of beer…” from Chris the entire drive. He finally got his box of beer to shut him up.
Once in Rotorua, the crew took us water skiing on the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. I truly felt I was living in a dream. I was jet-lagged and hazy, yet up on water skis in paradise. The boys dropped us off at a natural hot springs beach where we proceeded to shiver, burn our butts in the sand, shiver again, burn our feet in the sand, then sprint away from bees while the guys enjoyed multiple boxes of beer.
The next day Olivia, Michelle, Mary, and I went for a beautiful run around blue lake, and then I kicked their butts with a TRX workout. We went back to the house and laid out in the sun, log rolled, and I worked out some more. That evening, Stirling, Kate, and Scott arrived and we threw axes until our arms hurt. It was fun being with the gang again.
The Polynesian spa didn’t know what it was in for with the arrival of Shana and Olivia. We brought in Olivia’s waterproof camera and did a “photo shoot” in all of the amazing hot pools. People there thought we were CRAZY! We both got less than amazing massages, but the scenery was well worth the price.
The boys had to go set up at the show grounds so us ladies went to spend a few days at Ben’s house on Waihiki Island. There are no words or photos to describe the beauty of this place. Michelle led us on some breathtaking runs and hikes, and we drank some of the best wine I have ever tasted.
The Royal Easter Show
Work? Did we really come to New Zealand to work? Honestly, the Easter Show was much more fun than work. After getting the boom runs set up literally seconds before the media arrived, Olivia, Stirling, and I did an endless string of media interviews. Over the next 5 days, we preformed 19 hysterical Lumberjack Shows fueled by V, the greatest drink ever invented. Highlights of the shows included:
• Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy
• Beans, beans, beans, beans FARTS!
• Ben and Scott’s lack of ability to hit the target with the axe.
• Sun, rain, hail, sun, rain, sun all in one show.
• “That’s funny… right?”
• Ben’s hot pink tank top.
• Jo Jo the clown playing with heavy equipment with his togs, togs, togs, UNDIES.
Between shows, other than sitting under the hairdryers in the bathrooms to stay warm, Olivia and I made plenty of new friends. We learned how to sheer a sheep, I got to learn the trapeze with a Russian circus performer, and got suckered into purchasing the Miracle Shammy. In fact, we spent quite a bit of time with “ShamWow”. More on this later…
Our Kiwi Lumberjack crew frequented the Royal Beer Garden, and I did more lumberjack laundry than I’ve ever seen before. The 5 days flew by and before we knew it, it was time to say our farewells and split off in separate directions.
Bay of Islands
I had the opportunity to go up to the Northland with Chris and am so thankful that I did. I’ve never seen so much beautiful scenery, or ate such amazing food in my life. We explored the Bay of Islands, a beautiful Karui forest, and hiked up mounds and beaches all over the area. Words and photos cannot and will not describe it.
It’s not Good Bye
We headed back into Auckland and I spent a magnificent day surfing with New Zealand Surf-N-Snow Tours. I was quite rusty, and the waves we a bit rough, but even the location itself made it all worth while. If you are in NZ anytime soon, be sure to check these guys out.
Stirling and I were going to go surfing down in Raglan the next day, but my shuttle arrangements fell through. Instead I hung out at the North Shore Home Show (long story) then Stirling, Chris, and I went downtown to the Minus 5 ice bar. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos, but just imagine an entire bar made out of ice and ice sculputures. Even our glasses were ice! After doing a few shots down ice sculptures we continued to tool around downtown, eating even more wonderful food and getting into even more trouble. That night I parted ways with Stirling and Chris, and headed back to the motel to pack.
On my final day I did some more Auckland exploring on my own. I got a private tour of the War Memorial Museum, checked out lots of different shops, mastered the Auckland bus system, and made many new friends. But inevitably, the time for me to head to the airport arrived. After tearful “See you soons” I hopped on my flight back to the states. I have a feeling the folks sitting next to me were not too thrilled with my blubbering half of the flight back.
Now I’m flying from San Francisco to Chicago, wishing I could just turn this plane around and go back.
No matter what happens over the next few months, I WILL be back to New Zealand. My heart is still there.