After arriving in Auckland by bus from Bay of Islands, we picked up our rental car and made the 45-minute drive to Muriwai. We admired beautiful Muriwai Beach, and then we found the home of our new friends Omri and Lucy. We had connected with them via the KiwiBurn group on Facebook. They graciously invited us to stay at their lovely home with them, their two daughters, and their au pair from Rochester, New York, Marguerite.
Checking Out Muriwai Beach
The next day, we headed back to Muriwai Beach to explore a little more. We hiked along the shore on a scenic trail and went for a walk down the spectacular beach. We would have stayed longer, but we were eager to return to Omri and Lucy’s house for the Thanksgiving dinner that Lucy had planned for her three American friends.
Our Thanksgiving feast consisted of smoked salmon, mashed potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, tortilla chips & guacamole, and Lucy’s homemade pumpkin pie. Lucy said she’d never made pumpkin pie before, but we don’t know if we believe her. It was so delicious and made with fresh pumpkin (not canned), made-from-scratch pie crust (not frozen), and homemade whipped cream (not Cool Whip). We told her this wasn’t necessary, but she did it anyway; and we had one more thing to be thankful for that day! She even went so far as to find some small paper American flags to decorate the table for us.
Giving Thanks for Family
Of course, since we were 19 hours ahead of Texas, we celebrated the holiday a day earlier than our friends and family back home. So we started our Black Friday with phone calls to our sons and moms in San Antonio, Texas. It was very exciting to finalize plans for Gerard, Steven and Nick to join us in New Zealand in December. We’ve spent several Thanksgivings on river trips down the Rio Grande in the past, so this wasn’t the first time we were away from family on Thanksgiving. But it was the first time we were so far away, and with no set return date. That made the phone calls that much more meaningful and special. We were happy to hear everyone was doing well and enjoying their feasts.
Fairy Falls: Worth the Hike
After that, we started on the hour-long drive from Muriwai to Piha, stopping along the way to hike at Fairy Falls. This was an interesting and beautiful place for wishing other Americans a Happy Thanksgiving and exchanging photo-taking favors.
We hiked out of the Falls and continued the scenic drive to Piha. When we arrived there, we parked the car and walked along the beach, eventually climbing up to the peak to marvel at the magnificent views. We stood at that peak without a care in the world, mesmerized, reflecting upon how much we have to be thankful for. And we are, 365 days a year.
Dinner in Auckland with New Friends
Eventually, we hiked back down, returned to the car and drove back to Omri and Lucy’s house in Muriwai. We picked up Marguerite, and drove to meet Omri and his friends for dinner and live music in Auckland. We met up at an Indian restaurant called Satya, located in the Auckland CBD. There we met Deke, Marc, Brog, Martin, and a few others. It seems like we ordered everything vegetarian off that menu. There was so much food on the table, and it was all great! It’s an extensive menu, though, so surely we left some things for a future visit. If you’re ever in Auckland, don’t miss Satya. We certainly won’t when we visit Auckland again.
We Love Live Music
From Satya, we walked a few blocks or so to an Irish Pub called The Dog’s Bollix, to hear a great band called Melting Faces. Omri’s friend (and now ours) Daniel is a saxophone player with the band. We had a great time enjoying the unique sounds of Melting Faces, while also getting to know some of Omri’s other friends and Marguerite a little better.
The next day, Omri invited us to yet another friend’s (David’s) birthday party at his house near Muriwai. Omri wanted to arrive early, so he could finish building the slip-n-slide in David’s back yard. We spent hours at the party. We started by trying to help David and his wife Crystyna set things up for the party, but Crystyna is the most organized hostess we’ve ever seen, so there wasn’t really anything left for us to do other than watch Omri test the slip-n-slide. It was crazy fun, and — thankfully – most people didn’t get hurt. Dirk was still nursing his cracked rib from our sailing trip, and unfortunately (or fortunately?) wasn’t able to participate. Bev was happy to watch the action.
No Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey for These Guys
As the sun went down and the crowd thinned, Omri and his college buddies continued to one-up each other. This culminated in an egg-eating contest. Raw eggs. Shells on. Whole eggs. Trust us, as hilarious as this was, you don’t want to accept such a dare or watch anyone else do it. After that experience, which had no clear winners but one really clear loser, things quieted down. The evening ended with a beautiful and peaceful drum circle. And a guy named Dan played his coronet.
See You Again Soon, Omri and Lucy!
It was so much fun hanging out with Omri and Lucy in Muriwai, meeting their friends and family, and seeing this beautiful part of the world. We didn’t take enough pictures of the friends we made there, but we were busy having fun! Muriwai and its beach was one of our favorite places in New Zealand. If we were going to live in NZ, Muriwai would be a top contender. We were glad to know we’d see Omri and Lucy again at KiwiBurn. On Sunday morning, we said our goodbyes and drove from Muriwai to KaKahi to spend a quiet week in a quaint, peaceful farmhouse.