Kia Ora Readers, ( that’s Hello in Maori)
Long time no post! Our time in Katikati was a one of a kind experience. There were many moments that were really incredible and other times where I found myself disappointed.
The Fruit Vans
The fruit vans company should not be considered a WWOOF experience because it is not about Willing Workers On Organic Farms. It’s a cash only business that uses WWOOFers to sell non-organic food that was rejected by grocery stores. If the fruit still wasn’t sold it was brought back to the house to use in our meals – we were the bottom of the food chain. The WWOOFers were treated fairly and the way the business was run was not kept a secret… However for Rach and I, it made us feel kind of icky participating in selling sub-par fruit to people who assumed it was fresh.
Speaking of food, I mentioned in my last post that this place was vegan… What I originally thought was a wholesome and pure initiative to better the environment or make a point about eating foods that were better for the human body turned out to actually be the cheapest way of feeding 30 plus people. We ate a lot of breads, oil, and avocados in addition to the left over fruits and the occasional green veggie. That was a little disappointing.
The accommodation was as Rach puts it “2 portables pushed together”. The ceiling and walk over Rachel’s bed didn’t meet leaving a nice little crack overhead – at least she good say whether or not it looked like a nice day! One night before I went to bed I found a sweet little cockroach eyeing bed… Comforting.
Here’s the thing about our stay… I didn’t pay for food, I didn’t pay to sleep there, I never felt unsafe, and I made a bunch of new friends from all over the world. It was so great to feel like a part of a tightly knit community away from home. Everyone was there for one another and we were able to spend our time off hiking, checking out small nearby towns, surfing, and hanging out at the beach. It was also nice to unload and at the end of the work day have a beer by the bonfire, chat about people’s days and hear funny stories.
There was one couple here from France, Pauline and Dimintri (Dimitri was Rachel’s fruit selling partner) who we constantly joked about being our parents.. They were fun, sweet and brutally honest. They loved to give us advice and suggestions for our trip too! They had been travelling NZ for 10 months and had been together for 2 years. We absolutely adored them! We also had cool roommates, Laura from Italy (my fruit selling partner), Hilke from Germany, and at the end Dodo from France. We also had Cristina from Argentina and Lisa from Germany who worked in the kitchen and were both incredibly sweet. We had the lovely Timo from Germany, Meghan from Texas, Yumi from Japan, Giallom from Canada, Manon and Remy from France… And many many others that we just loved getting to know!
What we realized was that it’s hard to to know your getting yourself into with WWOOFing. It’s basically like you look at a profile on the internet full of great pictures and a brief summary of the place, town, and work. Then you read the reviews and hope that they are accurate. For this WWOOF I would say that now looking back the reviews all surrounded more of the social aspect then the kind of work or living situation.. And when I was booking our place I was looking for more of a community feel so that the holidays were easier and less lonely for both Rachel and I… Which we ended up having! The holidays were spent with a temporary and cultured family of WWOOFers.
I’m happy to say that while it was an interesting WWOOF, Rachel and I made the best of it and I’m proud of us for keeping an open mind and a positive attitude throughout our stay.
For Christmas Eve we had a big (vegan) feast with different dishes from different parts of the world, complimenting the many different cultures that were at the house for the dinner; samosas, German potato salad, bruschetta, etc.
We had a talent show where we watched some folks perform poetry, dance with silk fans, and fire baton twirler, and our favourite guitar and drum duo (Giallom – Canadian & Dimitri – France).
We also did a secret Santa that was meant to be all home-made gifts! I had a girl named Kiera – also from Canada – who was a massage therapist and our first conversation surrounded our love for avocados.. For her gift I made a necklace out of an avocado seed and carved two hands on it to represent her love for massage… I’m hoping it doesn’t rot (but it’s the thought that counts right?)
Timo from Germany had me for Secret Santa and remembered I had mentioned that I wanted to learn how to juggle so he made me some a set of 3 juggling balls to practice!
After our big Secret Santa we went out to the fire pit and chatted and joked all night – I even went to see the sunrise at Waihi Beach! (No pictures sorry I forgot my phone)
Christmas Day we spent at Waihi Beach, lying in the sun, swimming & jumping over waves, singing, surfing and just relaxing. It wasn’t my traditional Christmas but I had a really good time and still felt loved ❤️. (Also on Boxing Day – which was still Christmas Day in Newmarket- I got to FaceTime my whole family, wish them the merriest of Chtistmases and see the turkey!)
Our original plan for New Years Eve was to go to Waihi Beach, make a fire, drink, and stay up to watch the sunrise… Unfortunately there was a liquor ban and a fire ban put in place so we ended up spending New Years at the house. Our kitchen staff made a lovely feast and we sat outside and watched the stars and had a big count down at midnight – I spent the first minute of 2017 giving the best and biggest hug to my best friend❤️.
I didn’t make it to sunrise and slept a nice portion of the morning on the 1st. In the afternoon Rachel treated me to an AMAZING burger and cheese board at the Waihi Beach Surf Club/Pub (cheated the vegan lifestyle). Very close to the top of my list of best meals I have eaten on the trip – especially after eating vegan for 3 weeks. We finished our meal with a double scoop of ice cream each. It was perfect. I also was able to FaceTime my parents in Toronto and wish them a happy New Years at their midnight!
So What’s the Plan Now?
Rach and I finished our time at the Hippie House of Katikati January 3rd and are heading to our next WWOOF at a family house just outside the town of Bulls. On our way, our bus stops in Waitomo (one night), Rotorua (one night), Taupo (two nights), and River Valley (one night). While it was incredibly amazing to have lots of people and a little home away from home both Rach and I are happy to get back on the road!
Last night Rach and I stayed with a friend of her’s, Dirk, who is took us around Rotorua and took us on some beautiful walks, introduced us to the geothermal pools, showed us the infamous New Zealand Silver Fern, and enjoyed a delicious fish & chip dinner with us on the shore of Lake Otawekaus – so grateful! We also stopped in Hobbiton on our way to Rotorua – but as We are on a budget, Rachel hasn’t seen LOTR & I have only seen it once, we didn’t go in.. But I included lots of pictures of the things that I could see for free for all my geeky friends 👭❤️.
As my father would say, Missing you and loving you, loving you and missing you. ❤️ Happy 2017 everyone! Xx