Last year TVNZ weather presenter Tamati Coffey and his partner Tim Smith bought a house in Rotorua, renovated their Auckland home and got hitched in a show-stopping ceremony in front of 140 guests. So a peaceful week on honeymoon in Rarotonga seemed the ideal time for some much-needed rest and relaxation. But typically for the energetic couple, what started out as some quiet "our time" turned into a week-long party.
"We'd been to Rarotonga once before, but on a strict budget. We brought our own milk and cheese in a chilly bin so we didn't need to eat out. This was a bit different," laughs Tamati (32), who kept the honeymoon destination secret from Tim until their wedding night.
"We'd had a great day and it was lovely to see everyone, but we were definitely ready for a rest!" On their way to Rarotonga the happy couple were touched to discover how many people wanted to offer their congratulations. "It gave us warm fuzzies. It seemed like everyone from the cab driver and the check-in staff to the flight attendants had seen our wedding in the Weekly and knew we were going on honeymoon, so we were treated fantastically," smiles Tamati, who says he can't get used to referring to Tim as his "husband".
Despite arriving at Rarotonga's Sanctuary Resort in the early hours of the morning, the pair weren't about to rest – yet. "The porter had only been there three days and he couldn't find our room – we were walking around for ages!" laughs Tim (32), adding that when they finally discovered the honeymoon suite, complete with fire lanterns and private gates, "it felt a bit like arriving on the set of Survivor!"
Typically for the unassuming pair, Tim and Tamati crept quietly around the private pool, sauna and rooms so as not to disturb anyone else, unaware that the area was reserved especially for them. "We were trying to be as quiet as possible – we were completely buzzed when we found out it was all for us," says Tamati. So delighted, in fact, that the pair sat in the private outdoor bath – in the pouring rain – for the rest of the night, finally retiring to bed at 5am.
The newlyweds are by nature sociable and fun-loving, so it's no surprise that the pair got to know many of the other guests during their week-long holiday. "Our motto is always to bring people into our lives, so after a romantic dinner on the first night, we went to the bar to see who was there," says Tim.
A few hours later the pair had found their niche. "There was Terry and Jill, the English couple in their seventies, Jack and Karen, the Jewish lawyers from Melbourne, Elise, a Kiwi who now lives in Haiti, Ruth, the 68-year-old party animal, and Rosie, the 58-year-old Canadian who was travelling as her way of getting over her husband's death – they were our posse!" laughs Tamati.
After a week of snorkelling, karaoke, eating some of the best food they can remember and enjoying long, balmy nights that usually ended in the pool, the pair finally headed home to their beloved dogs and, finally, normality. "We love setting ourselves challenges, like redoing our house, but last year we really pushed our boundaries," says Tamati.
"Right now we are really happy, so this year, I think we're going to just stop and take stock and enjoy the moment."
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