Hey and welcome to part 4 of the great update!
Boy was it strange dropping Steve off, we'd been traveling together for a long time, a little over 4 months I think; very strange to be travelling alone again!
Well I headed out to Taradale, a suburb of Napier to go an see Jane Crosse (my godmothers mother) whom I had not seen in a long time. Jane was awfully nice and put me up in her place for a few days while I sorted myself out and came up with a plan. It was great to stay with someone I had known from the UK to get that home feel again! Plus the added bonus of nice cooking! I ended up staying in Napier for a few more days as I had to get some stuff done on the car and a little bit of shopping. Whilst I was at Jane's we drove out to Puketitiri to visit Chris (my godmothers brother) and to go have a look around Balls Clearing, one of the few remaining spots of natural undamaged vegetation. I also had time to go to Cape Kidnappers and see the Gannet colony, quite an amazing sight seeing 2000 odd birds right in front of you completely unfazed!
Chris was kind enough to invite me out to his place and use it as a launching pad for a walk into the Kaweka ranges. Chris in my mind has one of the best jobs in the world, he owns his own helicopter and flies hunters, fishermen, trampers, kayakers, well anyone really into the Kaweka, Kaimanewa and Ruahine ranges! What a job! Well I headed out the next day in the Kaweka's for a three day hike in gorgeous weather, boy was it hot! I unfortunately got a huge blister on the heel of my right foot on the very first day of tramping which made for painful and slow going. The views were stunning, I could see right to the middle of the North Island spotting, Ngarahoe and Ruapehu volcano's in the distance, what a majestic sight. For the whole three days that I was out in the wilderness I did not see a single person, it was if I had the whole place to myself. It was also out here that I realised that I would in fact miss New Zealand when it was time for me to go, I have really enjoyed working/ living/ traveling around this country, a great place... needs better beer though ;) !
After getting back from my tramp I stayed a few more nights at Chris' place before heading out to Sarah's other brother, Ben's place at Patoka Station to work for a bit. I had been looking forward to this for a while, seeing a true NZ farm. On my first day I got stuck straight in, helping moving sheep around the yards putting them through the sheep dip! Over the next two weeks or so I helped out with a variety of jobs across the farm, moving sheep/ cattle, putting sheep into the wool sheds for shearing, dagging, dosing, general farm hand work, I also dug (using a trencher) a whole set of trenches all over their property for water pipes. It was hard but enjoyable work, I loved it! Whilst I was on the farm I also had a chance to have a god at a spot of clay pigeon shooting, much harder than you think! I also had a chance to go out on a spot of hunting, although we didn't get the chance to shoot anything much larger than a few rabbits.
While I stayed with Ben and Suzie I ate great food imbibed nice wine and beer and just generally relished in the fact that I was not moving to a new destination every 2 days. I noticed that whilst travelling it really helps to stay put for one in a while. Ben and Suzie were also kind enough to invite me to stay at their place for Christmas which was great, I met many of their friends and generally had a good time enjoying company. They kindly bought me a Christmas present, incredibly short shorts; one thing I noticed in my time in NZ was all Kiwi men just loved to wear rugby/ running shorts at every conceivable moment! Seen as I was given a pair for Christmas I decided that I would have to wear them whilst I was working on the farm, to fit in you know, wouldn't want to be a funny Johnny foreigner! New years was also spent at Ben and Suzie's place, another great evening.
After leaving Ben and Suzie I headed over the Kuripapango Road to Tongariro national park to continue my journey towards Auckland.
Adios til part 5.