Picking up from Jayne’s wonderful blog, she and Ian rendezvoused with me, Andy and Higgs in Wellington after their road trip. Higgs was very excited to meet his grandparents for the first time, and eight hands are much better than four when it comes to pats.
Andy and I both finished up our last week of work for 2016 and on the day before Christmas Eve, we all piled into the car and made the drive over the Rimutakas to Martinborough. For those of us with a needy Vallhund on our lap, it was slightly less than comfortable. Ah well. We’d booked four nights at a nice house just outside the town centre, and boy was it beautiful! There was tons of space, hardwood floors, a yard with fruit trees and even some complementary wine and candy.
We spent Christmas Eve visiting some fabulous wineries and enjoying an evening platter at Poppies Vineyard. On Christmas Day, we woke up to a beautiful morning and had some buck’s fizz (what we’d call a mimosa in America) with bacon, cranberry and brie sandwiches. Yum! After opening our presents, which included a full box of various beers from England (another yum!), we decided to head to Cape Palliser. Our first stop was the Putangirua Pinnacles, a.k.a. The Paths of the Dead from Lord of the Rings. I did a previous blog on this spot, but for me, these places never get old.
Higgs wasn’t with us on our last trek here, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. He even helped everyone look for fossils.
But he wasn’t really up for family photos.
So we forced him. Notice the festive Christmas shirts!
After photos, it was time to cool off for the furry beast among us.
A perfect Vallhund pool!
I don’t think the rest of us would’ve minded a dip ourselves; it was pretty warm.
Having visited in October last time, it was great seeing Putangirua in the summer this time around.
The view back towards the ocean was gorgeous.
Back at the car, we decided to continue on along the coast to Cape Palliser Lighthouse, which is the southernmost point of the North Island. For reference, here it is on a map:
The road was unpaved most of the way, so we bumped along until the very end.
Once we parked and got out of the car, we looked up, up, up to the tippity top of the 253-step stairway. Our destination beckoned.
Higgs didn’t like that we had to wait at the bottom of the steps while a group of people descended. Finally, we gave him the go ahead.
He was in the lead the whole way up.
It was windy and chilly at the top, but the view was well worth it. Besides, we Wellingtonians are pretty used to wind.
I can’t decide which direction has the best view. Everything looks windswept and wild at every angle. What a rugged, desolately beautiful place.
Higgs was growing restless, and the rest of us were growing cold; it was time to head back down the 253 steps.
Before jumping in the car, we crossed the “road” to check out the beach.
With thoughts of a barbecue feast dancing in our heads, we made the long and winding drive back to Martinborough.
Since this is my third Southern Hemisphere Christmas, I’m getting slightly more used to the drastically different Kiwi holiday traditions, like barbecuing in the sun. For Americans, especially those in New England, it’s hard to imagine a summer Christmas. All our seasonal songs are about snow, after all! Alas, it’s a burden I am forced to bear (can you feel the sarcasm?).
After our banquet, I figured we had to get some group Christmas photos. I really love the final product.
Higgs wasn’t super keen, perhaps because of his costume, but he powered through.
Andy is holding Higgs’s mostly annihilated Santa toy. It’s still around, but has far fewer limbs nowadays.
I wasn’t quite done with the photos just yet, must to a certain Vallhund’s chagrin…
What a handsome reindeer!
And another favorite:
Thanks for humoring me, everyone! It was wonderful to spend Christmas with family when Andy and I are so far from our respective homes. It felt a lot more like a real holiday. Thanks, Jayne and Ian!
Up next, a hike in the Tararua Mountains to finish off our holiday extravaganza. Stay tuned!