Catching up with Dan
I used to live with Dan at university and since I'd last seen him he has lived in Canada, where he spent his days snowboarding, and now lives in New Zealand, spending his days surfing. We'd got a couple of days free before my parents arrived and it was the perfect chance to catch up with him and his girlfriend Freya.
The drive from Auckland to Mount Manganui was beautiful. There's lots of fruit orchards, growing anything from kiwi fruits to avacados, plus plenty of wineries en route. Graham (our van and home) made his way through stunning riverside scenery and breathtaking coastal roads on our first trip out in him.
Mount Manganui towers above its flat seaside town when you drive into it. The area feels very expensive and I likened it to being in a scene from Desperate Housewives. The roads are pristine, everybody's lawn is well groomed, people seem to have plenty of time to sit in coffee shops and all the drives are filled with expensive cars.
Dan greeted us into his lovely home; a beautiful beach front flat that he shares with his girlfriend and two other housemates. We were looking forward to spending our first night in Graham but couldn't refuse the offer of an actual bed... I'm sure we've got plenty of time to be sleeping in Graham over the next three months. It was just like old times; whisked away to 7 years ago at university when Dan was definitely the house joker (I'm not sure I can write what practical jokes he used to play on us girls on this blog page) and we spent plenty of time chatting about what each of us had been up to since then.
On our first afternoon there Dan showed us around Mount Manganui town (which included a burrito stop... delicious) and also an evening stroll around the mount at sunset. Me and Jason let Dan get on with his work for a few hours and we enjoyed a couple of hours on the beach sunbathing and playing bat and ball. I could see why rich Aucklanders come and spend their holidays here.
We enjoyed a morning strollstroll around the lower part of the mount at sunset.
It seems that the locals' active life revolves around the mount. The next day Dan took us on a morning walk up to the top where we were overtaken by loads of people doing their morning exercise routines. The sun was out and you could see for miles, a perfect wake up call.
Dan had some work to be doing and me and J had a few things to sort out for the van, so spent our day separately. We bought some essentials for our road trip, including tea towels, fleece blankets, a frying pan and food supplies. We had a little time to spare so visited a local waterfall and swimming spot called Kaiate Falls, which was pretty but too cold for me to swim in. It didn't put off some of the local lads from back flipping into the refreshing pool though.
Our day was finished off with a steak tea and some red wine, which Jason rustled up as a thank you to Dan and Freya for hosting. And then a really good night out with one of Dan's housemates, Ian, to a jazz DJ set at a local bar where we had a boogie after some complimentary drinks from Ian (as he used to work there).
We thought it best to make our way nearer to Auckland rather than stay with Dan so that we knew we were only a short drive away from the airport in the morning. Can you imagine my mum and dad's faces if we dare be late to collect them from the airport after a +24 hour journey to reach us?! I wasn't about to risk it. We left Dan and Freya (but not before Jason got some free avacados from the Farmer's Market) and spent the night at a beautiful free campsite next to the sea. I have to say, I LOVED spending the night in Graham; cooking our evening meal on our portable stove, watching the stars through the moon roof in our car as I fell to sleep and then waking up to sunrise over the sea...perfect! Let's hope the novelty of sleeping in a van doesn't wear off.