I’ve been so busy enjoying my current gap year, that I have not looked back at my 1985 gap year for a while.
Back in June 1985 I had a holiday within a holiday, a break from nanny jobs in Wellington. So I headed back to Auckland.
I had a new home in Auckland. My friends had moved house while I’d been working. The new house was bigger, had a hot tub out on the deck. There were standards in Australian and New Zealand homes that we didn’t have in the UK, well not in houses I’d known. One idea was a separate laundry room, rather than having washing machines in the kitchen. Another idea was a rumpus room, a recreation room, kids room, party room, games room. Just an informal room to relax in.
Staying with these friends was my first experience of living with a dog. The only pet I’d had as a child was a blue budgie. Here, the family consisted of parents, two pre-teen boys, a boxer dog named Tess, a cat called Sparks, two goldfish and a duckling named Waddles. There was a big cage for the duck, but it spent most of the time following the boys around the house.
As with any new home, I got involved in stripping wallpaper and helping decorate. I minded the boys during their school holidays while both parents worked.
Another NZ concept that was new to me was a “bach” – a modest holiday home or beach house. My friends had a bach in Turangi near Lake Taupo. So we drove from Auckland with the usual gear plus food and bedding. I shared the back seat of the car with the two boys, the dog, sleeping bags and pillows.
My UK family don’t drink much, so staying with a wine enthusiast was enlightening. Although we had food supplies we stopped in Taupo at a “wine store” and stocked up with twenty bottles of wine. We had a few “ not – too – sober” evenings.
We stopped at a few places around Lake Taupo, including Waihi Maori village and Tokaanu thermal area, boiling springs, boiling mud pools and hot swimming pools.
The Wairakei Power Station collected power generated from natural steam coming out of the ground in a natural thermal region.
The Huka Falls on the Waikato River were amazing. The river averages one hundred meters in width but narrows to just fifteen meters creating a thundering waterfall and rapids.
We drove around the national park, with clear views of the three volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and the highest, Mount Ruapehu. There was snow on top of Ruapehu but just rocks at the lower level of the ski lifts and chalets. These are still active volcanoes and there have been spectacular eruptions in the past thirty years.
Back in Auckland I had a few days to explore the city, take the ferry, visit suburbs of Devonport and Parnell, galleries, craft and gift shops, bought a few souvenirs before travelling back to Wellington and another job.
Films that I watched during these months in NZ, some recent, some a few years old.
Passsage to India
Kramer vs Kramer
The Year of Living Dangerously