This photograph was taken at the start of 2008 in New Zealand’s North Island. The train carriage in the background is a Thai Restaurant we’d just had a meal at. It was a fabulous place which had kept all it’s original features. So much so you could almost imagine what it might be like on the Orient Express – albeit on a much grander scale!
We were in New Zealand for a friend’s wedding. They’d spent the best part of a decade in the UK but had headed back home in 2007.
When we arrived we stayed in a converted railway carriage in the beachside town of Raglan. An unscheduled stopover in LA meant we were there for one night rather than two but we had a great time nevertheless. Situated on the west coast of the Waikato region, the scenery in and around Raglan was incredible. The black volcanic sands create a sense of atmosphere and it’s a surfing mecca for wave riders, with three world-class point breaks.
The next stop was a reunion with the groom to see England play the Black Caps in Hamilton. Although England lost by ten wickets, it was a relaxed environment sitting on the grass of the ground with much banter. And beer. When it was sunny we posed in our sunglasses. When the rain came, on went our Kagool’s and we pulled childish faces from underneath our umbrellas.
We stayed until twilight when the black clouds threatened and the moon shone brightly. When everyone left the ground was littered with plastic beer bottles but not for long. A clever machine appeared and scooped them all up! It was definitely a night to remember with both old friends and new.
Having said our goodbyes, next stop was the Bay of Plenty. Nestled beside the cerulean blue Lake Rotorua is Rotorua itself, a volcanic-shaped wonderland with thermal activity is its heart. It offers geysers, bubbling mud pools and steaming craters. We sat in a hot spring watching the geysers and mud pools until our skin shriveled. Then we’d get out, cool down with a cold shower and do it all over again.
The following day we headed towards Taranaki to meet the groom before his big day. We promised him that weekend we’d be back for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Little did we know POD would arrive the year before.