Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Very Barrier Christmas

For most of my life, I have alternated Christmases every year between Dad's side of the family and Mum's. I spent Christmas 2013 in Tauranga with Dad's side of the family so 2014 was Mum's turn. Usually my grandparents on that side of the family are the ones who host Christmas but this year Mum decided that she wanted to host everyone at her place on Great Barrier Island.

I flew up to Auckland and over to The Barrier a couple of days before Christmas with the plan of staying until a few days after Christmas. Clem was having Christmas with her family but was joining me on the island for a couple of days afterwards.

When I arrived, Mum's parents who I call Marshy (Mum's mum) and Darshy (Mum's dad) were already there. Campbell, Linda and Mum's youngest sister Nicole were also there for Christmas but arrived after me.

It was a lot of fun getting to experience the island in the height of its Summer boom. There were a lot of people around compared to my last visit. A lot of the holiday home owners were enjoying their Summer paradise spots and there were quite a few travellers over for the quality surfing as well.

We did a lot of stuff together, most of which was walking around and seeing places that I hadn't yet seen so that was fun. We also did a lot of eating and drinking in the true spirit of family Christmas. For a few years now, food has been my favourite part of the holiday season, not just the traditional Chrismas lunch but all of the good food before, during and after December 25th itself.

When Campbell arrived we went out and did some fun stuff together which was awesome because we don't get to hang out and do brother stuff all that often any more with having to co-ordinate schedules and such to do so. We took the Kayaks out a couple of times and tried fishing off them albeit unsuccessfully.

Christmas day itself was pretty quiet. It suited the location. We all just chilled out, opened gifts, ate when we felt like it, drank all day. The Barrier has a chill feel to it that sort of inherently impacts everyone in the place. It's a pretty hard place to stress out about anything and the perfect place to relax.

After Christmas, when Clem arrived, I had a couple of things planned to show her. We didn't have a lot of time to do stuff before we were back to Auckland and on to New Year's plans but it was enough to get around some of the cooler stuff on the island.

The main thing we did while she was there was visit the hot spring. We went for a drive across the island in a combined sight-seeing and filling up the car at a cheaper petrol spot adventure and headed to the spring after that. I assumed I'd be able to find the track fairly easily having been there before but I managed to get horrifically lost.

Where I thought the track started was actually the start of a different track. It ended us up in the same place but instead of an easy 15 - 20 minute walk each way we had an hour and a half's walk through rough, storm - damaged track to the spring.

We had a nice relaxing time down at the hot spring after the massive trek we took to get there and on the way out we linked up with the track we were supposed to take so we had an easy walk out. The only problem was that with taking the correct track out, we were about a 15 minute walk downhill from where we'd parked the car.

Being the gentleman that I am and being ever conscious of how far I'd made Clem walk unnecessarily already, I convinced her to sit and wait in a grassy area by the side of the road for me to go up and get the car. After a long uphill trudge on a very hot day whilst horribly thirsty I got to the car, drove down to pick Clem up and we headed home. It was a cool adventure even though it didn't go exactly to plan. Clem probably wanted to murder me by the end of it all, which is fair.

The other notable experience we had was attending an evening of food and music at the Barrier's Thai restaurant. There was a buffet of various Thai dishes and a local band (named Beatz Workin, google them) played a set of classic rock songs from the 60s,70s and 80s. The food was good as was the music and the weather. It was nice to chill out with family and to be able to enjoy everything from a seat at the back with a drink in hand.

The Christmas and Post Christmas festivities on the Barrier were a fun and relaxing time with family and I hope to be able to get back to the Barrier again at some point next summer. It was great to have Clem come over and to be able to show her some of my favourite things that I've experienced on the island so far. I couldn't really have hoped for a more relaxing Christmas.

The next post here will be about New Year's and our trip out to Waiheke Island.

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