my Waitangi Day

Right, where was I? Oh, yes, watching “The Muppets” and then a Q&A with James Bobin in January.

This post will be short and not very relevant and up to date, because it’s about Waitangi Day on 6th February. I made a small celebration of this day myself, more in a culinary way, rather than dancing and singing. Or street protesting together with a Maori community.

I just simply made lamb meatballs for dinner, had L&P bought from Kiwi Fruit shop (which doesn’t exist anymore 😦 ) and baked Pavlova according to this recipe. Everything was delicious, but I liked how my sister described the dessert. She said it was as if she was eating a cloud!

By the way, I visited Waitangi last year in September.

from Waitomo to Hamilton via Otorohanga

TUESDAY, 6th Sept.

The next day the weather got worse. It was cloudy and rainy. I had a shuttle at 2 p.m. to Otorohanga and then a coach to Hamilton at 3:45 p.m. I didn’t want to go to Hamilton too early, because it was the middle of the week and my hosts were working, so I didn’t want my arrival to collide with their plans.

I stayed at the hostel. At about 2 p.m. came Bill, a slim with grey hair, about 70 year old gentleman. He took my heavy bag and loaded it on his van, talking all the time cheerfully. We stopped at the village to pick up another passenger and all the way to Otorohanga Bill talked about limestone, Maori, volcanoes, cows and sheep. When he found out that I want to stay in New Zealand a bit longer, he said we should find a rich farmer, never mind that I don’t want to live on a farm. But he was very convinced to his mission and we stopped by his friend’s farm to see sheep and meet the farmer of many skills: shearing, milking, hunting… drinking – added the farmer. He already had a wife, but Bill didn’t seem to care about it.

When we got to Otorohanga, the Kiwiana Town of New Zealand, I still had a lot of time before my bus would come, so Bill asked me if I wanted to see a real kiwi. He offered he’d take me to Kiwi House and a shorter visit would cost me $10 instead of a full visit for $20. I thought it was a good occasion to finally see a live kiwi bird, because I doubt I see it in the wild. I couldn’t take photos inside the house and Bill took this photo. I’m telling you, full service!

Kiwi birds were so funny and cute and I could see them very close! After that Bill dropped me off by the bus stop. I promised him to tell my friends about his service, so here it is: Bill Millar, Waitomo Shuttle, freephone: 0800 808 279, email:; cost of the shuttle $12.

It took me 1 hr to get to Hamilton from Otorohanga. This time the bus driver was quiet. He took my bag, he didn’t even ask about my name, just where. In Hamilton, there was my CouchSurfing host waiting for me at the Transport Centre. His wife and him were my first CouchSurfing hosts and what a great couple they were! J. welcomed me at the door, I got my own room with a double bed, my own toilet and bathroom almost the size of my room back at home. They were about my parents’ age and so hospitable. After I had some rest, J. offered me some New Zealand wine. We sat down in a living room and talked eating crackers with New Zealand cheese while dinner was getting ready in an oven. In the meantime their younger friend arrived. She was about my age, had a good job and had just bought a house and had 10 month old kittens. She works in Cambridge (20 min drive from Hamilton) and by the end of delicious dinner (lamb, yams and kumara, the proper New Zealand pavlova with kiwi fruit and hokey pokey ice cream from Tip Top for dessert) and the lovely evening, E. said if I ever wanted to stay at her place, I’m very much welcomed.

Before I went to bed, J. had turned on an electric blanket on my bed… CouchSurfing RLZ!

throw another shrimp on the barbie

Sorry for being quiet recently, but there hasn’t been much to write about and I think I’ve been a bit distracted by what’s been happening in the UK right now. Imagine the whole world going on like that. There are enough baddies out there to make it happen, so what stops them? OK, I’m not panicing, I’m just preparing myself for what’s about to come eventually.

On a lighter note, I was at an Australian barbie yesterday. There was no shrimps (have you seen this ad with Paul Hogan?), but we had steaks and sausages, salads and of course pavlova for dessert. That version of pavlova was a bit different. It was small round pieces of a plain meringue and you put some fruit and whipped cream by yourself. So the essence of pavlowa or what pavlova is, is this: meringue + fruit + whipped cream.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I have been counted. Every 5 years on 9th August, there is a Census Night in Australia and every household has to complete a Census for the Australian Bureau and Statistics, either online or paper exactly on that day. I had to complete my column, even though I’m just a visitor staying here for less than one year.

And the last thing to “report” is that it finally came to me that I’m under a bit different sky and G. showed me today The Southern Cross, when it got dark. It looks pretty much like a kite. The sky wasn’t clear enough to admire it more, because it was cloudy today and rained, but I hope I’ll have more chances to watch the stars on our 5-day trip which starts this Saturday. I’m not taking my laptop, so, unless something happens, we’ll ‘see’ you next week.

a bus driver

Yesterday I had this song in my head all day,

G. got a call from school, so he went to work. He’s a relief teacher. Sometimes he works one day a week, sometimes more often and he can choose the schools he wants to work at. He’s got a good life. For one day (6 classes) of his work he earns a half of my monthly salary. Imagine that! Poland is like a third world country.

P. is a bus driver and he works from Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a few hour break in between. Yesterday he came at about noon and took me to show me his work. I got a free bus tour around Brisbane and its suburbs.

The population of the city is 1.6 million and it’s located by the Brisbane River. Last year the financial centre of the city, which is just right by the river was closed for a couple days due to the floods. The city itself is pretty modern and still growing, great public transport, modern buildings and there’s a new bridge. The council house looks like a modern art gallery.

Town hall on the right

The suburbs are on the hills surrounding the city and riding through them is like riding in a rollercoaster in a theme park; the hills are that steep.

I liked the western suburbs the most. The houses are built on tall poles in the treetops. It’s as if the road was running through the hills and the houses were stuck to the sides of the hills and there was not enough ground to build a house on it, so they are on the poles.

After the tour P. took me to his friends for dinner. A group of more than 20 people who recently visited Israel got together to remember the trip and share with the stories and photos. The food was good. I had falafel and then halva. All in Israeli style, but there was one Australian accent. I tried pavlova. Yummm! It was a lemon meringue crusty outside, soft inside, very sweet and on top there was like thick vanilla custard and various fruit. There was also chocolate cake, but not as good as mine. 😉