I had only about twelve hours in Wellington between the Coromandel and going down to Golden Bay, where I hadn’t been since the tail end of my South Island trip in 2008. I was very keen to return to my beloved Shambhala because…well because my last New Year’s Eve was not that great, to be honest. In fact New Year’s Eve has generally not been a fantastic time of year for me, and I had this feeling that I just wanted to go somewhere quiet and beautiful and chilled out. My dear friend Alice agreed with me on this, and when we remembered that the delightful Mussel Inn would probably be a good place to drink a couple of homebrewed Ginger Bears or Captain Cookers if we felt the need to splash out on the night itself. Eric was also keen to spend his last couple of days in New Zealand trying out the drinks menu, so as soon as I got off the plane from Auckland, did a load of washing, ate a Pizza Pomodoro margherita, and had one night in my own bed, it was time to get up early and head on down to Nelson.
Eric and I met Alice at the airport and, as soon as we realized her bag had been lost and would be delivered the next day, hopped in our hire car and headed for Onekaka, along the twistiest, turniest, hilliest road I had been on since the week previous on the way to Hahei. I was driving this time so it wasn’t too bad…okay, yes it was. But we persevered and finally rolled up to Shambhala, which was just as serene and perfect and gorgeous as I remembered it, and immediately hopped down to the low long washed-away beach.
I hardly took any pictures during the days we were there because I was just so relaxed I could barely be bothered to reapply my sunscreen in a timely fashion, let alone truck upstairs to get my camera. There were books to read and tea to drink, naps to take and tidepools to investigate. The days were so long and warm and bright and there was so much nothing to do. Coming back to work today was such a shock because I can still hardly believe I’m not on that beach. I think I’m just going to make it a rule of my life that I go down there at least once a year from now on.
The more active among you will be happy to know, though, that we did manage to rouse ourselves enough to go to beautiful Pu Pu Springs, though, on the way back from drinking coffee and buying hippie earrings in Takaka. Sadly I didn’t get it together to get a picture of all three of us together, but here we all are, nonetheless, in our separate shots. Just pretend like there is a picture of us all talking and laughing and listening to “Why Can’t I Touch It” by the Buzzcocks and you will get a pretty good idea of how we spent our time all day and all night.
Alice refers to those as her “comedy dog” shades, by the way.
One thing that we were all pretty dedicated to was the good old Mussel Inn, though, I tell you what. We went there every day for lunch, and twice on New Year’s Eve Day. I didn’t take any pictures of New Year’s Eve because I was too buys with shenanigans, but here is what it looks like during the quiet afternoons.
It’s such a lovely place—totally chill, with people spending all day drinking the local beer and eating the vegetarian nachos, with various dreadlocked barefoot kids running around and various dreadlocked barefoot backpackers lounging around the empty firepit.
Our friends Pete and Andy and Aussie Dave rolled up from their various South Island adventures just in time to meet us at Shambhala in order to sit around and look dodgy until it was dark enough to go out into the night, along the glowworm path. Once we got there basically the whole town (so, like three hundred people) was there, drinking and dancing and laughing and talking and kissing at midnight, out under the summer stars.
I did all those things too, letting some of the weight of the year fall off, being a part of myself I haven’t been for a while, wearing a sparkly shirt and managing to drink almost a whole Apple Roughy. It was glorious and ridiculous and too much fun, better than any New Year’s Eve I can remember. I am still thinking about that night almost a week later, partying like it was 2009.
After an evening that had involved many many hijinks and quite a late night, we recovered on New Year’s Day just quietly on the beach and on the lawn and in the tea house (although Alice and Eric did manage to tough it out to make one more trip to the Mussel Inn while I took a nap in the sun) with various new friends, looking out over the bay, eating biscuits and chocolate and making flax bracelets and singing made-up songs and chatting about just about everything. It was such a good way to start the year. I have high hopes, my friends. I really do.