The Bay of Plenty Memoirs

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Tonight I feel like your stereotypical writer. Sitting in a motel room in Auckland, wondering where the next pay packet is coming from; sipping tea made with a kettle that doesn’t fit under the tap, and those tiny pots of milk that never seem to be enough, but always turn out to be the perfect amount… I can hear the traffic outside; the fridge is whirring like the tardis, and the man in the room next door has a rasping cough. I’ve eaten all my satsumas, but I’ve got plenty of tea.

I’m trying to decide which bed to sleep in. The double provides sufficient ‘starfish’ space, and it’s closest to the light switch, (there’s nothing worse than stubbing your toe during the scramble-run-dive to the bed in the dark after switching off the light), however the single has, more than likely, seen a lot less ‘action’.

Speaking of ‘action’, I had my first experience in a strip club the other night. Having finished my job in the posh hotel, “The leading hotel in the Bay of Plenty…” (blah blah) I had leaving drinks with some of my work mates. It was a typical friday night on The Strand, and there were a few Mid-Christmas parties going on, which made it slightly rowdier, (Mid-Christmas is a mid-winter celebration, which often involves turkey and tinsel because Christmas falls in the middle of the busy summer period). We started in the usual fashion with a beer or two in the local, when some of the guys began talking about how they always used to go to the strip club. I let slip that I’d never been to a strip club: mouths fell open and that was that! They took me to ‘Route 67’, where we sat along a bench and watched a couple of dances. It was a lot more tasteful than I expected, (and possibly more tasteful than it would be in London), and the girls were really natural, down to earth and friendly. We had a nice chat about wine with a topless girl in the middle of her dance, and then she asked if we would like to spank her. One of my mates even got to motorboat her! The boys weren’t allowed to touch though. I never imagined seeing myself write this, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Shortly after, we moved on to The Bahama Hut, where we danced to generic music and drank Backdraft shots…

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The shot was set on fire, and sprinkled with cinnamon to create sparks, then the barman put a cup over it to catch the smoke and put the flames out. I had to take the shot with a straw and then breathe the smoke out of the cup.

We sat on the swings in the seating area, just for the novelty of it, and we danced around the palm tree until the club shut, and as the cops made their closing time arrests, we shared taxis home, marveling at the crystal clear stars blinking down at us through the rear windows.

The clarity of the sky here never fails to impress me. I was sitting on the deck back in Tauranga the other day; the sun was shining, it must’ve been about 20 c, and I just sat and listened. In the distance I could hear the faint whoosh of the highway; someone was mowing the lawn in a nearby neighbourhood; a dog was barking in multiples of 3 somewhere in the valley, and the goat on the hill bleated here and there, but the sound that filled my ears the most, was the sound of the birds. Not just one bird; not even one type, but a colourful collage of maybe 10 or 20 different songs, filling the blue sky with music. It got me thinking about how close we are to nature in this part of the world, and all the things I’ve seen in Tauranga and The Bay of Plenty…

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A Shag at The Blue Lake, Rotorua (sounds rude)

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Creepy spider’s web in The Bay of Plenty

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Admiral Butterfly in The Bay of Plenty

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An Orb Spider in the garden

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A shiny green ladybird in the garden

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 Cicada skeletons – throughout the summer months, these big fly-like insects shed their skins, sounding similar to a field full of crickets, and leave them scattered about the landscape like a graveyard.

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Bumble bee in the garden

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Paperwasp nests in the garden

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Praying Mantis – these guys are everywhere! In the shower, on my long board, climbing through the window… they’re awesome, and when you hold them, they swivel their eyes at you!

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Skinks – these little lizards are cute too. They run super fast, but if you’re quiet, you can see them basking in the sun in the garden

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Sting Ray in Tauranga (dodgy camera phone)

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Male and female New Zealand Robins – (they really are All Blacks) in The Bay of Plenty

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A Tui in Whangamata

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A Fantail in Taupo, such flitty little birds – difficult to photograph

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A Silvereye in Taupo

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Male and female Bellbirds in Taupo – quite rare to see

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Glowworms in Waitomo

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A Kingfisher in the garden

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A Tomtit in Whakatane

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A fluffy butterfly in the garden…

But in contrast to the abundance of beautiful birds, trees and insects, Tauranga city itself has been a marvelous place to spend these past months. I’ll never forget the day I walked home from work and saw a balding man in a business suit, scooting along on a little fold up scooter. And when I witnessed a fight between a man and a woman outside the church while a christening was going on. The little quirks of urban life, matched up with the serene harbour views and coffee shop culture, it’s definitely given me something to miss.

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However, with the end of one chapter comes the beginning of the next. I’m flying to Queenstown in the morning, so it’s farewell sub-tropic, volcanic shire land, and hello dramatic snowy mountains!

The stars are shining for my last night on North Island. Good night!

…And I think I’ll choose the double bed…