Our new charges, Paris (the little 9 year old white Maltese) and Monte Carlo (the 7 month old cockapoo) watch their folks depart, but not before they all throw us a July 4th party with hamburgers, hot dogs, corn, red/white/blue cupcakes and decorations to boot! Once again we are touched by the kindness and generosity of homeowners and the friendliness of the neighbors and friends to whom we are introduced.
Kerikeri is a different kind of lush than Dunedin - more of a tropical feel and like all of New Zealand amazingly beautiful. After our 3 month routine in Southland, it feels a bit foreign to adopt a whole new one in Northland, but we are quickly taken with these sweet characters.
Paris is a little girl with big attitude. She loves to sit high on the rock wall overlooking and monitoring the property, and we can’t help but liken her to Simba on Pride Rock. Monte is one cute curly puppy, quite well behaved for his age but still full of puppy antics which are quite entertaining. Outside of daily neighborhood walks (our route goes by a donkey friend), our chief responsibility is retrieving this dynamic duo after they find reason to leap off of Pride Rock.
Our first week in Kerikeri produces a few wonderful surprises. First is the plethora of birds. There is a beautiful creek running through this area so it is no surprise that there are many Sacred Kingfishers around. They love to perch atop the vineyard posts, flashing green as they fly off. There is a resident flock of Eastern Rosella parrots here as well adding to the local color. The native Tui love to hang out in the non-native flame trees with their nectar filled red flowers, and this morning a regal Swamp Harrier glided around right in front of the house. We have seen so many familiar bird faces as well as a few new ones - the European Goldfinch, the Common Myna and the Barbary Dove.
The second BIG surprise is a visit from our daughter Emma - in honor of Tim’s birthday. She and I have been scheming for months since our 3 kids proposed the idea shortly after our arrival here in New Zealand. Only her brothers and all the plus 1s, who can’t make it in the end, know the secret. I take it back - Travis and Hoti, the donkeys in Dunedin, know all about it as I have safe secret conversations with Emma out in their paddock away from Tim.
Our stealthy efforts pay off and Tim is truly and thoroughly surprised - precious! The Kerikeri homeowners utilize a few bedrooms in the house as a lodge so Emma is welcome. For 2+ weeks we get some special time with the middle child! It is reminiscent of 3 years ago when we traveled to visit Emma in Chile where she was living and working.
With several days of sunny weather forecast ahead, Emma and Tim start planning a 2 day bike ride on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Emma and I take a lovely hike along the Kerikeri river from the historical Stone Store (oldest stone building in NZ) and Maori grounds to Rainbow Falls and back, and the next day she and Tim are off on the bikes for a test ride.
Let the good times roll - in New Zealand!
PS - Surprise #3 - we are extending our trip by 2+ weeks - stay tuned…