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New Zealand Trip Day 18 – Remuera to Ruakaka

100325 Remuera to Ruakaka

We had a tasty breakfast and said goodbye to Marie (and Ruby):

We made a quick trip to Brenda’s Uncle Bryan and Aunt Jane’s to pick up our linen for the bach (pronounced “batch”…more on that later) at the beach. Cousin Andre was there, with wife Lou and two kids Ella and George all newly arrived from England to live once again in the motherland, so we had a bit of a visit – but no photos.

It was a sad day because it was time to return our Jucy van. That required us to drive into through Auckland and down to Albany 20 “K’s” (some bizarre unit of measurement that is .63 of a mile. We hit genuine freeways, oops they’re called “motorways” here,  and traffic:

But got a view (several times) of the downtown skyline:

We got Jean’s car and I got to drive it into Auckland, following the van to the drop off. It’s the first bit of driving on the left side on this trip and the first roundabout, a busy two-lane one, required some focus and concentration, but otherwise it was fun. After running all of these errands we made our way to the Northeast part of the island to Marsden Point where the nation’s only oil refinery and a place where Brenda, Jean and Marie once worked when it was being constructed. We got to the visitor’s centre just before closing and saw a cool film on the thing and looked at a cool model:

We arrived at our next stop at Ma & Pa Cullen’s house in Ruakaka (Maori for “tons of funny stories of Brenda’s childhood created here”). Youngest Cullen Kelly and her son Finn and Oldest Cullen Gary and his Tracy arrived for dinner with us and Max and Leonie.

The evening was filled with stories of mischief the kids performed in their youth, many of which seemed to feature Brenda in the middle of it all. If laughter is the key to youth we all shed a few years this evening.

Gary owns Breambay Butchery so we had a Kiwi dinner that featured Gary’s homemade sausages and Tracey brought some good dishes as well.

Gary represents New Zealand in skydiving competitions AND in underwater free diving competitions. He claims to be the sane Cullen kid.

Kelly is a certified tandem skydiving master, runs a skydiving business “Ballistic Blondes”. Kelly claims to the sane Cullen kid.

The only Cullen kid not yet shown is Brian (aka Joe) who routinely runs marathons with virtually no training beforehand and reportedly vows to continue to do so until sister Lyndy gets close to beating him. I have no knowledge of his claims to sanity yet.

Max enjoys his golf, though he uses a cart now as he’s worn out a hip. We forced him to pose with one of his prized displays, his two “hole-in-one” balls:

They also have this amazing plant in their garden that flowers about once every fifteen years or so:

Gary was thoughtful enough to bring a carton of Tip Top Hokey Pokey ice cream for dessert so he saved it from being a crap day.

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