A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay: Part One

To be fair I wasn’t Halfway Down, more like A Quarter Up…

“A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay”

It used to be a term of snide derision.

The moniker for any unidentified person in the society photo section of Auckland’s Metro magazine in the 80s.

Whether they had their back turned, or were wearing a lampshade, they were “A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay”

Some in our region may have even aspired to it, but not many.

Certainly not me.

Sadly it appears some old habits die hard. Or not at all..

Yet, over recent months I have been an actual “Visitor from Hawke’s Bay” to Auckland several times, on account of surgery I needed to undergo that could only be done in the city.

Rather than the local tourism board paying for my visit and lavishing me with luxury accomodation and gourmet food as Hawke’s Bay’s agencies do to visiting Auckland media, the Ministry of Health paid for my return travel and equal nights’ accomodation in both motel and hospital beds, and I had to hunt and gather my own food, except when my kind social media friends shouted me a coffee or lunch. (Disclosure statement ends.)

So Close, Yet So Far.

The last time I was in Auckland was in 2011 for a Foo Fighters concert at Western Springs.

My wife and I stayed in the centre of town and we were in the city for about the same length of time it took to drive there and back.

It’s not that we didn’t WANT to visit more often, it’s just with IVF, the birth of our daughter, buying our first home, the death of my Dad, my month-long government-funded stay in Wellington, and the death of my Mum all coming hot on the heels of that concert trip, we simply hadn’t had the time or opportunity to go back to Auckland.

So, odd as it may sound, I was looking forward to this operation. As it gave me an opportunity to have a nosey around!

There and Back Again: A Hawke’s Bayite’s Tale

My first expedition for a pre-op appointment and assesment was by road.

Leaving Napier at O-Dark-Hundred I cross the fabled Napier-Taupo road in a mixture of bright, full, moonlight for the most part and pea-soup fog in the middle section around Lochinvar Station.

It isn’t until I am deep into the Waikato region that the sun starts to make an appearance.

And what an appearance it is!

A pink and purple pastoral panorama unfolds around me as the early morning hues illuminate rolling dairy country. Patches of mist lie in valleys and green grass glistens in the gloaming.

It’s the sort of view giant dairy cooperatives pay advertising firms millions of dollars to try and replicate on clogged, polluted urban motorway billboards.

I somehow manage to drive non-stop to Hamilton, where stomach and lower portions dictate I need to take a break for breakfast, stretch and a rest-stop at around 8am.

New Zealand’s state highways and roads really are a story of thirds.

One third is perfectly fine, one third is roadworks and the final third is utter rubbish and SHOULD be roadworks.

I drive the fastest I have ever been legally allowed to drive on the Cambridge Expressway – 110km/h!

The only thing is with that section of road being several hundred meters across, with multiple lanes and (almost) everyone else doing the same speed, you might as well be doing 50km/h – there is no sense of the added “Oomph!” that 10km/h would otherwise bring.

You also still get passed by Audis and Hiluxes regardless of the speed limit, so very little changes, really.

You quickly reel in those who have overtaken you anyway, as further roadworks and rush-hour traffic grind everyone down to a crawl past Mystery Creek.

Having spent the last few hours driving so smoothly and freely, we are now packed together so tightly I can see the irony dripping from their exhaust pipes.

Aside from some stunning native bush views along the northern Waikato River trying to draw your attention away from the road and task at hand, the rather deafening sound of cicadas in river-side pine plantations along State Highway One is quite distracting.

Before you realise what the noise actually is you fear something is going wrong with your car.

Sadly something DID go wrong with my car on this trip once I arrived in Auckland.

The exertion and heat of the almost non-stop trip up made my transmission somewhat fiddly upon starting, so I limited my movements in the hope I would be able to get home in one automotive piece.

Close encounters of the Twitter kind! Paul Brislen and a Visitor From Hawke’s Bay.

Never the less I do manage to meet up with fellow Twitterer, technology commentator and pop culture fan Paul Brislen in person for coffee at a swanky Mount Eden Village cafe and pick up a present for my daughter from the equally Twitter renowned Time Out Bookstore.

The appointment with my doctor at the Greenlane Medical Centre goes much better and quicker than planned, and the picturesque view of Maungakiekie – “One Tree Hill” (right behind the hospital) out his office’s windows cheers me up, so I decide to go into town.

This is where the logistics of Auckland traffic come into play.

Greenlane is, in the grand Auckland scheme of things, very “central”. You are kind of in the middle of, well, everything!

This does, however, mean it can take a while to get everywhere.

With my car recuperating at my nearby motel, I decide to test out Auckland’s public transport system and catch a bus into the CBD, do some sightseeing and drop some copies of the magazine I write for, “Baybuzz”, to some of my big-city media friends.

The fare is reasonable and the ride is comfortable, but there is only one issue – the other bazillion vehicles on the road! (I did, unwisely it appears, choose to travel at 4pm in the afternoon..).

What “should” have been about a 15 minute commute takes over half an hour and I get into the CBD just as most of its workers are heading in the opposite direction.

While in Auckland I decide to sample some of the city’s haute cuisine that is unavailable in regional New Zealand – Namely Krispy Kreme Donuts and Wendy’s Burgers!

“No Regerts!!”

After taking in central Auckland for about an hour the day’s driving and events catch up with me and I find myself rather exhausted, sitting outside Britomart without the energy or will to traipse back to the bus stop I arrived from at The Civic Theatre.

I decide to take the train back to Greenlane (have I mentioned before that I think trains are awesome?!).

The train trip takes a mere ten minutes, if that, and another short bus ride delivers me to the door of my accomodation for the night and soon after I am enveloped by the arms of Morpheus.

“I’ll see you again
When the stars fall from the sky,
And the moon turns red,
Over One Tree Hill.”

H.G. Wells, Huka Falls and Home

I wake early the next morning keen to get home, or as far home as possible before any further issues can afflict my car.

At least I THINK I wake.

Merging onto the Southern Motorway in the early hours of the morning is like entering an 80s neon dream.

A river of white, yellow and halogen blue lights stream towards you, as those bound for work in the city make their way in. While ahead, red tail and brake lights form a long, rippling rouge ribbon to the south.

It’s not too disimilar to the “Light Cycle Battle” in the movie Tron (and quite possibly why residents of the next major city in this direction, Hamilton, use the movie’s name as their city’s nickname).

As the motorway heads towards the Bombay Hills the pink and purple tinges of dawn are growing over the horizon.

But also coming over the hills is a scene from “War of the Worlds” – Row upon row of giant power pylons stretch towards the city and motorway.

Not unlike Wells’ giant aliens, these steel quadrapeds actually provide power to the metropolis’ populance, but in the misty glow of dawn they look other-worldly, straddling the red and white streams of light.

Traffic flows freely and smoothly, despite the sheer volume of vehicles that are simultaneously using this small strip of road. The only issue I have is trying to rejoin the flow after pulling over to take the obligitary picture of the Waikato River and Huntly Power Station beyond.

I bypass Hamilton to top up with fuel and grab breakfast to go in Cambridge.

I carry on, eventually stopping at Huka Falls for a walk, where my car decides to play its “lets not start of a while” trick again and in Taupo to take a look at the lake (transiting Taupo so early in the morning on the way up, I had bypassed the town).

The trip back over the Napier-Taupo is far less foggy and dark than the day before and I arrive home in time for a late lunch.

It was a roadtrip I had wanted to do for some time, but now having done it twice in 24 hours with car issues, I think I would prefer to fly next time.

Fortunately they fly you up for operations, which would come around quite quickly.

To Be Continued!

Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness: 2018 Edition

For over a decade now, Mrs InFrame has been coming up with a special 12-day menu to celebrate the “Twelve Days of Christmas”.

She alternates each year between the traditional and the New Zealand version, otherwise known as “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”.

This year was the Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness Edition!

Most of the dishes have a direct correlation to the songs (Five Big Fat Pigs = Pork/Ham/Bacon), others use a fair chunk of artistic license as, with the original “Twelve Days” song we’d be swimming in poultry with French Hens, Swans a Swimming, Geese a Laying etc. etc. otherwise.

I’ll do my best to explain as we go.

This year’s menu plan is one that was SUPPOSED to be the one in 2016, but went missing just a few days before we were to begin and resurfaced, too late, on Christmas day (It was a Christmas miracle!).

So sit back and enjoy as I reveal what my true love made for me over the Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness for 2018:

A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree

Blue Cheese, Date and Walnut Parcels:
The blue of the cheese represents the Pukeko, while spinach represents the foliage and the flaky pastry looks like flakes off like Ponga Tree bark.

 

 

Two Kumara

Kumara, Spinach, Goats’ Cheese and Walnut Salad:
Pretty straight forward here – Mrs InFrame baked the Kumara into chips to give them a lovely texture.

 

 

Three Flax Ketes (“Kits”)

Cherry Pie:
Woven flax Kete are used as baskets and bags to carry things like berries, so we latticed the top of the Cherry Pie to give it a woven look.

 

Four Huhu Grubs

BRANDY SNAPS!!:
Huhu grubs are a creepy crawly delicacy at most “Wild Food” festivals, mainly for their gooey-squishiness when you bite into them, so filling tree-bark like Brandy Snaps with oohy-gooey whipped cream seemed a wonderful take on the idea!

 

Five Big Fat Pigs!

Pork and Pepper Sloppy Joes:
Five big Fat Pigs make a lot of pork mince and while they might not appreciate the alliteration of “Pork” and “Pepper” I’m sure your average Captain Cooker or Kuni-kuni would be quite happy munching on a fresh, crunchy capsicum.

 

Six Pois a Twirling

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Balls:

Mrs InFrame had the day off for this one, and our friends Tim and Junko from Tu Meke Don in Napier made us some rice balls to represent the soft balls that are swung on braided threads in Kapa Haka and other Maori songs and dances.

They look like Poi, E(h)?

 

Seven Eels a-Swimming

Slippery Sausages in Muddy Mashed Potatoes and Been Reeds:
The Longfin Eel are native to New Zealand. and can be found in lots of waterways – even the creek that runs past our house. They like water that has things they can hide in, like reeds (represented here by the beans) and mud (the Mashed Potatoes and BBQ Sauce)

 

Eight Plants of Puha

Faux Pho-ha:
Puha is a green, leafy green, wild vegetable that usually grows near water, so we made a watery Pho soup with mint, coriander (leafy green herbs) and meatballs.

 

Nine Sacks of Pipis

Pipi Truck-style Pizza:

The Pipi Pizza Truck is a bit of an institution her in Hawke’s Bay – being on the first new wave of Food Trucks, so tonight’s pizza paid homage to the Pippi truck, rather than the bivalve mollusc.

 

Ten Juicy Fish Heads

Sri Lankan Fish Curry made with Hawke Bay Snapper:
My boss had been fishing on Hawke Bay a week or so back and kindly gave us some of the snapper (fillets, not heads thankfully..) he had caught. It went perfectly with this Sri Lankan curry!

 

Eleven Haka Lessons

Affogato:

The Haka is, of course, synonymous with New Zealand’s national rugby team, so it was fitting that we went to our usual café, Six Sisters, and had (All) Black coffee, with a rugby ball-shaped dollop of ice cream!

 

Twelve Piupiu Swinging

Frank-topusses

Piupiu are a Maori grass skirt, as can be seen in the Poi e video above. When the dancer wearing it sways or spins the individual threads spread out a bit like octopus tentacles. When you split Frankfurters into quarters lengthways at one end and cook them, they split and twist upwards and outwards just like tentacles, or the swaying piupiu skirt. It also seemed like a novel way to close out this Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness!

We hope you’ve been inspired to try some of these, or your own version next Christmas.

From the Napier in Frame family to yours, we wish you a Merry Kiwi Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!