Thursday – Waitangi Day – the long version!!

Waitangi Day is a public holiday in New Zealand, but typically enough I was awake stupidly early – there were cows to be milked!!!!

John handed me a bundle of warm clothes to wear, fleecy trakkie bottoms, tops, fleece, beanie and we were off. I was told there were 2 rules for the farm – do what he said and no giggling – also keep quiet, no sudden movements!

We got to the shed and I was wrapped in an apron as we stepped into where the cows were, all lined up, bums to the middle of the area we stepped down into.
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Milking them by hand was remarkably easy, I thought it would be so much harder – you just stroke their udders and then off you go! I also got to remove/apply ‘the cups’ the vacuum system they use to milk the cow – super fast, takes 7/8 minutes/cow.
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It’s strange how complacent people become when presented with the same view every day, barely notice the mountain and there was an incredible red sunrise going on outside that no one noticed!

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I got to try the warm milk – it’s about 39degrees when it leaves the cow – that was surprisingly nice and very rich. I tried it again later when it had cooled down to 4degrees and really still don’t like it!
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We headed back to the house for another awesome breakfast – no bacon, but hash brown, mushroom and egg sandwich!!

John drove us to New Plymouth as he was getting a flight to Wellington to watch the Sevens – we were there by 9am!

It was the end of a great couple of days spent as the result of a random series of events. Feel very lucky that I could go visit the farm and see a different and very important side of NZ life with someone so kind and willing to answer my million questions – now quite the dairy farm expert! Also sad that as ever with travelling we’re very unlikely to meet again – if we’d met both living in the same country he’d fit perfectly into the crazy bunch of people I do sporty stuff with and no doubt he could drag us all into doing the Coast to Coast next year – such are the cons of travelling………

My sadness was short lived as people were getting up and I got to share my freshly milked milk with them and relive my morning over again!

Once (from L-R) Maren, James, me, George and Sophie were up and ready we went into town for the Waitangi Day celebrations. We spent 2 happy hours in the sun watching local bands play and enjoying the free food they were handing out.

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While the last band were on I got a message from Nikki – her boat was somewhere off the Philippines and she’d got phone signal, was so nice to hear from her, but hard to hear how tough she was finding it, she’d even cried (she never cries unless drunk) so in turn I had a little cry and we had a little text chat while she watched for pirates! I miss that girl.

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Happy/sad emma!

Once the music was over we walked along the sea front looking at all the flags that were flying – I think they paint a new one every year – then headed back to the hostel for lunch.

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Tom and Connor, our resident life guards, were also home and offered to take us to the beach to body surf – it sounded fun so off we went! They took us (me, Sophie and Maren) to Back Beach which is at the bottom of a cliff. We had to run down a massive dune of black sand to get there. It being a sunny day the sand had really heated up and within seconds your feet were on fire, the girls and I had to drop to our bottoms, wave our feet in the air to cool them down before plucking up the courage to run again…… So painful, but you had to keep going down or climb back to the top!!

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Tom on his way down
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Sophie and Maren resting their feet

Reaching the bottom we continued running into the sea which was blissfully cold! Once we’d recovered laughing at the pain we headed for a swim in the sea and to discover body surfing. None of us mastered it, but had great fun trying, jumping in and out of the waves. The only issue was we all slowly started feeling like our suntan lotion was reacting with something in the sea and for all of us in inappropriate places. Turned out it was jelly fish, Connor revealed this to us when he too was stung and really seemed to want to strip from his shorts!!
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After much lazing and a small snooze for me we made our way back up to the car. It turns out there were steps down to the beach so we, and our feet, happily climbed back up them.

Dinner was left over curry, still yummy and still more left for tomorrow!

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