Friday, January 28, 2011

Pub Night in New Zealand

January 28, 2011 We have been skirting natural disasters for a month now. While we were in New Zealand’s North Island enjoying beautiful weather, there was another earthquake in Christchurch on the South Island. A couple of days after we played golf in Rotorua, there was a huge brush fire on the course and yesterday they had an earthquake. When we arrived on the South Island, the North was hit by torrential rains and major flooding has covered parts of Auckland and other cities we just visited. Today we are in Cape Foulwind (which is about 6 miles from Westport, right on the Pacific coast – called the Tasman Sea here). I am sitting at our kitchen table looking at a fantastic flower garden and out to the sea – watching breakers hit some huge rocks (called the Steeples) jutting out of the water. This location is so beautiful that even though we had reserved 3 nights here, we have decided to extend to 4 nights. It is just breathtaking. Pauline and Bruce, who own the property, are so nice that we felt like we had known them all of our lives the minute we met. She wanted us to come over to her house for a glass of wine last night and then she drove us to her favorite local pub, The Star Tavern, for dinner. That was a hoot. We were the only non-locals; and wearing jeans and collared shirts, we were way over-dressed. Come as you are was just that. Fishermen, still in boots; some left their boots at the door and were just in socks. We loved it! People just being real, without pretense. The atmosphere was fantastic. Lots of people came up to us to find out who we were, introduce themselves, shake hands, etc. The food was great, too – Paul had a falling-off-the-bone lamb shank with a medium dark Tui beer and I had a Fisherman’s bucket (rig – a kind of shark, scallops, mussels, squid) – all caught that day – with the local Sauvignon blanc. A family band started at 7PM and people were dancing and singing along. The pub owner’s dog let himself in and out of the sliding glass door, greeted the customers, played with the kids and fell asleep near the sofa. We were close to our cottage, so we walked home. What a great opportunity to be part of lives that are so different from ours.