Nothing beats New Zealand in summer, with its blue skies, sparkling seas, and gorgeous pohutukawa trees in bloom. Everyone’s crazy busy with parties and get togethers, and there’s a slight hint of pre-Christmas stress, but on the whole it’s awesome. We’re really enjoying being home.

Monday 9/12: My friends Ange and Janine and I had found a good deal on a two-month gym membership, so we met up for a Zumba class at lunchtime. Otherwise, it was Monday: always a busy day for ITP work.

Tuesday 10/12: Whenever I’m back in the country, I always meet up with my friends Amber and Tracey, who I’ve known since primary school. This time, we had a barbecue dinner at Tracey’s place in the city fringe, then wandered up Franklin Road to look at the Christmas lights. Every year, the inhabitants of this short Ponsonby road decorate their houses with hundreds of lights, and it’s an Auckland Christmas tradition to check them out. Meanwhile, Craig was at Taekwondo with his sister Stephanie, re-discovering long-forgotten muscles.

Gorgeous beach view with pohutukawa tree in new zealand
The pohutukawa tree is a symbol of Christmas and summer.

Wednesday 11/12: Our friend Ange is a graphic designer who does a lot of work for Indie Travel Media; being back in Auckland means more opportunities for face-to-face meetings. She’s recently moved into a gorgeous office in the city, and Craig headed in there for a couple of hours to hash out a plan for the new year.

Thursday 12/12: Craig’s mum and stepdad live in a beachfront apartment in Kohimarama, near the more well-known suburb of Mission Bay. Although I never get tired of the view from their lounge, today we decided to get a bit closer to the water, and walked along the coast to St Heliers. We also had a pleasant coffee with fellow blogger Megan in the morning, and in the evening Craig punished himself a little more at taekwondo.

Craig's stepdad Martin treated us to delicious prawns.
Craig’s stepdad Martin treated us to delicious prawns.
Friday 13/12: My sister Anna’s in New Zealand at the moment, showing off baby Leo to relatives around the country. Since my brother Simon lives here, and Craig and I are also temporarily in residence, my mother decided to have an early Christmas lunch to celebrate the occasion.

It’s the first time in four years that the whole family has been together, and the first Christmas celebration together in about eight. And it’s certainly the first one for a long time with children involved! So I spent the morning with Mum, buying essentials, and the afternoon preparing food and presents for the picnic the following day.

Saturday 14/12: It was a perfect day for a picnic: bright blue skies, a hint of a breeze. Unfortunately the tourists were out at our chosen spot, Bastion Point, and swarmed over my (admittedly very cute) nephew Henry. When they’d gone, we settled down to a great meal of ham, chicken, salmon, various salads and dips, brandy snaps and Christmas tarts, and a few glasses of wine.

Henry and his tourists.
Henry and his tourists.

Too soon, Mum had to leave to go to work, and we had an appointment to keep as well. We’d agreed to housesit for some friends of ours, who are heading to the States for a chilly Christmas, and we wanted to have a look around the house and meet the cats before they took off. It was great to see Nathan and Jaime, and we were stoked to also see our mate Michael, who arrived just as we were leaving. Of course, that meant that leaving was a little delayed…

Sunday 15/12: We’d (perhaps unwisely) offered to take Nathan and Jaime to the airport; since they had to be there at 6am, a 4.45am alarm was in order. Unsurprisingly, we went straight back to bed when we got back to the house!

Our temporary cat, Fanta.
Our temporary cat, Fanta.

In the afternoon we stopped by a barbecue at our friend Nikki’s house before driving over to the North Shore to Anna’s apartment rental for pizza.

On the whole, it’s been a week full of friends and family, with great weather and excellent food being the icing on the cake. Life is good.

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