It is our last day in New Zealand. I can’t believe that. The concept of New Zealand as a place no longer feels like a foreign country located around the world from my family.. I wouldn’t say it necessarily feels like ‘home’ because we move around a lot but, it is definitely a place that I feel comfortable and is incredibly close to my heart. Currently we are back in Rotorua. We flew here from Christchurch on March 30th landing in the evening and meeting up with Dirk. Dirk is the same gent that took us in for our one night stop in Rotorua back in January – a friend of Rachel’s. He was kind enough to let us crash in his living room during our time in Rotorua.
We spent the next couple days as busy busy bees. This was the first time I have been exposed to Crankworx and while Rachel said it was very different than the Whistler Crankworx that she worked, the exciting long days were rather normal. I was lucky enough to see the Speed and Style downhill competition (judged on exactly that – how fast you can do a track and the creativity in your execution), the Whip Off (a ‘jam’ style competition where riders attempt to flawlessly complete a simple – using that term loosely – trick, the whip.), the Junior and Women’s Down Hill Race (biking down the mountain), and my personal favourite and the grand finale – the Slope Style. The Slope Style competition – for all my non-biker readers – is a course of a bunch of jumps and these riders will go down and try and get as much air as they can and perform the craziest cool tricks. Rach warned me about this competition because although these were professional riders, it wasn’t uncommon for them to crash and more often than less break something in that crash. However, the competition was awesome – there were hardly any crashes other than one guy who I missed the name of … but he broke his collarbone on the final landing of his first run. I was in awe- these tricks and flips and things they do on their bikes are beautiful really – it’s like the bike (a big mountain bike none the less) is a part of them. I’m so so so happy that I was able to experience this with Rach – especially because I asked her 36820184 questions and she didn’t get irritated ❤. It was awesome to see Rach back in her element and entangled again with her love of 2 wheelers. In between these competitions Rach and I ate our food, drank our coffees and waters, and volunteered with the Crankworx team including Rachel’s boss/friend/lawyer from Whistler, Nathalie – who was brilliant! We helped with athlete registration, getting signatures for press releases, and providing ‘security’ to exits.
The couple days following Crankworx we went back into exploration mode – after only being able to see Rotorua for less than 24 hours our last time here, we took the next couple days to soak in the last town of New Zealand on our itinerary. We walked through the beautiful big red woods, went to the Polynesian Baths (heated by geothermal springs!), went down Eat Street for food, visited Farmer’s Markets, and sat by the lake. We still haven’t gotten used to the smell of Rotorua – I believe I included this in the blog post from the first stop through Rotorua, but there are lots of hot springs in this town full of minerals, specifically sulphur. When the springs reach the surface of the Earth’s Crust the chemical reactions with the sulphur create this rotten egg smell. Yuck. They say you kind of get used to it and I think you sort of do but every once in a while you’ll get hit with a wave of stink.
Unfortunately for our last full day here, we were planning on going to see a Maori Arts and Culture Center where Dirk works but Cyclone Debbie decided to hop over from Australia and visit NZ. She isn’t doing any real damage as she lost a lot of steam ‘across the ditch’ but she’s bringing the rain down.. pretty hard. Our last full day Rachel and I relaxed and watched some movies, specifically The Parent Trap (a favourite from a 7 year old Nicole) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople which is an authentic classic Kiwi Film. In the evening we took Dirk and his roommates out for a nice sushi dinner to thank them for giving us a roof for the last 5 nights.
And so here we are. Sitting at the kitchen table, finishing up some breakfast, getting ready to pack up our girls Desna and Nellie to cross the Pacific and make it back to the land of Maple Syrup.
It’s bittersweet to leave this beautiful place. I’m so sad to be leaving such a stunning country full of genuine and caring and wonderful people. Leaving sucks. But I think we did ourselves a massive favour and instead of coming off this wild 7 month trip and flying directly back to Toronto we are planning on spending about 2 weeks on the West Coast of Canada and made arrangements to visit Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, and finish up in Victoria. This is perfect because it won’t be such a dramatic shift in culture back to our normal lives that wait for us in Newmarket. We get to hit the breaks a bit slower and explore a bit more of Canada before we return back or our families and our homes. My lovely mum is flying out to Vancouver to meet Rachel and I (she lands 20 minutes after us!) and driving all of us out to visit my Aunt Alison and Uncle Mike for a couple of days. The adventure continues after this 4 hour bus ride to Auckland International Airport and this 13 hour flight.
Sending love from the gorgeous NZ for the last time ❤️.