I have spent the last week or so, since we got back from New Zealand, getting over my jet lag and just generally catching up on everything. Lots of unpacking, many loads of laundry, and trips to the various supermarkets, farmers markets and farm stores that I shop at to stock up on food. Then, of course, getting back into the rhythm of preparing and cooking food, meal planning etc. which you gladly let go of when on vacation 🙂
We had such an awesome time in New Zealand! We caught the tail end of the New Zealand summer weather, so overall it was warm and sunny apart from some rainy afternoons.
My mum lives in Auckland, which is in the North Island of New Zealand. The part of Auckland where mum lives is known as the East Coast Bays. It is a truly breathtaking stretch of coastline punctuated by calm bays with beautiful sandy white beaches. The beach down the road from my Mum’s house is called Rothesay Bay (see picture above) and is an easy walk. As you can imagine, Larissa, my 3yo daughter was in heaven!
All she wanted to do was to go to the beach and swim, and so we did, most days.
Although the water had cooled sufficiently from the height of summer for most locals to declare the ocean too cold for swimming anymore, we had come from Northern Hemisphere winter and the water felt fabulous to us!
And great big scary caves too!
As well as swimming, I tried to go for as many walks as possible. At low tide, you can walk from one bay to another around the rocks. If the tide is too high, you can walk over the cliff top walkways that link one bay to the next. These walkways are very scenic with great views.
Jacob, our 6mo, also really enjoyed our trip. He is a very sociable baby and loved being around so many people. So much so that he decided that he hardly wanted to nap, in case he missed out on any of the action!
In addition to spending time at the beach, we enjoyed catching up with friends and hanging out with family. It is hard living overseas and only seeing your family once a year or so. I especially regret that Larissa and Jacob don’t get to spend more time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. But we really like where we live in Northern California too, and so we are lucky to be able to live in one beautiful place and vacation in another.
On the food front, it was feijoa season while we were in New Zealand. YES!!! I think feijoas might just be my all-time favorite fruit. Big call I know….but I simply adore feijoas, and I have my daughter hooked now too. For our first 6 years in America we lived in New Jersey and I don’t think I ate a single feijoa in all of those years (feijoas are extremely seasonal and our trips back home never coincided). Then four years ago we moved to Northern California, where the climate is more similar to New Zealand. It happened to be Fall, and I saw some feijoas at a local fruit stand. They were called “pineapple guavas”, but it didn’t really matter what they were called, I was in fejoa heaven once again! Now we have planted our own feijoa trees and I can’t wait for the first harvest.
I also spread vegemite on anything that moved. Although vegemite is actually an Australian product, it is equally common and popular in New Zealand. It’s an acquired taste, but I have definitely acquired it 🙂 I also brought a couple jars home with me.
One very special food unique to New Zealand are the New Zealand green-lipped mussels. They are my favorite seafood. Love them, adore them, ate lots of them! In fact these mussels are now being recognized as a super food that can help with arthritis pain due to anti-inflammatory compounds, and support gut health (a topic near and dear to me!) The mussels are freeze-dried into a powder and sold in capsule form.
My final memorable food indulgence was roast lamb which my mum cooked for me. Lamb has always been my favorite roast, and no one cooks it quite like my mum does. With mint sauce, gravy and all of the trimmings, I was a very happy little camper, and went back for seconds…or it might have been thirds! 🙂