29 March 2007

In Grandads garden there are lots of neat sculptures, bonsai, artwork and surprises around every corner. This was Mummy's very favorite one.

This is another plant in Grandads garden. It's pretty groovey, Mummy liked taking pictures of it because it's kind of weird.

Simple flowers marigolds...a bit common really...but in their plainness is quiet beauty.

We took a day trip to Goat Island, and Matakawa, it was just a few hours but we went past the turn off, went 60K too far in fact. Basically the day was getting windy and a bit cool so we scrapped going snorkling and stopped for a coffee and a fluffy at this winery on the way out of town. The service was a little slow, apparently they know that because they built a giant chess set in the courtyard for people to play while they whipped up a cup of slowjoe (seriously, how can a coffee take 45 minutes?). Mummy buzzed around the garden taking pictures of flowers while I settled for more itellectual pursuits.

CHESS...a fine game for champions on a mildly blustery day.

I'm not sure how this works...it looks a bit confusing, but I am a pretty good bluffer...um, what's this one called again? I need a plan..a cunning plan....

STRATEGERY! Now that doesnt sound bad when it comes out of the mouth of a two year old does it! Yes Piper, that's it...send the little guys in first, they dont have a chance.

On our way back from Rotorua, we stopped at the forest where Daddy got to be a Rally car driver for a day. It was so cool! Daddy got to drive around in a crazy car going very very fast on a gravel race track through the forest. Rally driving is HUGE in New Zealand, it is a really skilled sport, the drivers have nerves of steel!

I'll show more pictures later...along with some of Daddy rafting in Rotorua with Uncle Andrew. Those photos need a WHOLE blog of their own. I might let Daddy post them, only he can type the amont of exclamation marks that would give the experience justice!!!!!!!!!!!

BTW...this Rally thingy was Mummy's Christmas gift to Daddy. Wicked Awesome!

This is Flynn, his Mummy Wendy and his baby sister Eva.

I think Piper is in love!

After Hahei we travelled down to Rotorua to see Auntie Tracey & Uncle Andrew. We also saw our friends from Auckland, Wendy & Daryl and their two kids Flynn and Eva, we met at the park and checked out the mudpools. "oooooh boiling mud!" The kids were fascinated. Sadly the playground was shut but they found a way to enjoy the morning none-the-less.

It started innocently enough, splashing, laughing, more splashing...soon enough the terrible twosome were soaked! Well, the playground was closed for renovations so all that was left was this dinky little paddling pool, and kids gotta have fun!

and..the clothes came off! Faster than lightning! Piper wasnt sure at first about being naked in public...she needed to warm up to the idea.
Hmmm...there is something very different about Flynn?

and then...the pants were off and it was a free for all!
Piper loves to keep reminding us that "I went nakie with Flynn in Ro-to-ru-a" It was nice to see them play so nicely together. Piper also learnt a life lesson, and has commented frequently in the past few weeks, "Flynn has a PENIS, Piper doesnt have a PENIS on my body" OMG!

19 March 2007

Okay, this doesn't actually look as good as it felt! This is Hot Water Beach. 5 minutes from Hahei and Cathedral Cove. At low tide people go out with shovels and dig their own 'spa pools', the water is hot, yep, hot! In some places it's actaully boiling so you have to be careful where you dig. One spot is perfect, 2 inches away it can be downright chilly or so boiling that you will swear that this "is the stupidest thing I've ever done"...but if you play your cards right and follow the Germans(there are a few of them and for some weird reason they know where to dig?) you can score yourselves a fantastic hot pool of mineral water for yourself. It was great. Piper loved it, Nana loved it, Daddy loved it and I loved it too! Great for soaking your weary muscles after a tough day on the beach.

Our cute little cabin by the sea. We travelled to the coromandel with Nana Rosemary and stayed in this cute little cabin by the sea. Just minutes to Hahei beach and a 5 minute drive to Cathedral Cove (the entrance) and Hot Water Beach..it was wonderful and the breakfast offered up by the hosts were delicious! We loved our little cabin at 'The Church', it was tranquil! Our own little deck was surrounded by a wild garden, scented with herbs and florals...nice. Nana & Piper enjoyed a night in while Mike & I took dinner at the restaurant, aptly a 'church'. The food was yummy and it was nice to be able to walk 1 minute back to our cabin.


Minneapolis to New Zealand ... $3500USD

Hours in car from Auckland to Hahei ... 3

Being HERE ... priceless.

There are only three ways to get to Cathedral Cove. The first is a 45 minute hike down a very steep hill and through the bush, which reverses into a 75 minute hike up that very same hill. You have to take all your supplies, be sure you have been to the bathroom and don't forget your sunscreen! Secondly, you can take a kayak, two routes, one shorter, one not so short. Thirdly, if you are short for time and have a toddler back on the beach with Nana, you take a boat trip! Next time we go, we hope Piper will be up to the hiking. That way we can spend a few hours enjoying the gorgeous water and sand. People get married down here, that means all the wedding guests have to hike up and down the hill...that generally means it's a pretty small and intimate affair...as it should be!

Piper hung out with Nana Rosemary while we braved the waves. They made sandcastles, ate apples and had a grand old time on the beach. The sun was pretty hot, and the UV is harsh in NZ, so one of these handy little tents is a must have when you are beaching around down under. I dont think Piper noticed that we left!

More Hahei, Mike and I went on a boat ride around the beaches and to Cathedral Cove. Mike got a kick out of the tractors on the beach. Hey, it isn't kiwi if there isn't a tractor or gumboots involved! We had a wonderful time on the boat ride despite being right up front and getting soaked!

more Hahei. seriously, we loved this place! We ran into these utility workers who had stopped to have 'afternoon tea' by the beach. They enjoyed their ice creams and watched the people on the beach for about 20 minutes before heading back to work. Most of us are lucky if we get to look out a window at lunchtime, life is different here.

Week two, day 1.

Hahei! Yay! This was our favorite spot, and next time we are in NZ we will go back for another few days, or longer. The beach was lovely, the water was clear and clean. There weren't too many people on the beach as school vacation was over...it was wonderful. There is such a great sense of enjoyment when you visit such a pretty place and there is a general store, gas station with two pumps which also doubles as the boat tour/scuba and snorkel shop. 3 small cafes and thats it! Unspoilt by t shirt shops, cheap buffets and highrises! Pure unspoilt beachtown - priceless!

Week two:

This was our travelling week! We drove down to the Coromandel peninsula with Nana Rosemary. Our first stop was in Thames for coffee and a potty break, then we stopped at Tairua for an iced chocolate break, I let Daddy read the maps, I needed all my energy to navigate this baby! Yummo! Thankfully I'm so high energy it doesnt go to my hips! That's real cream everybody!

Pavlova...the Australians claim it as their own, but they also think 'Crowded House' and 'Russell Crowe' are Australian as well. Deep down they know that their little kiwi neighbours invented this delicious treat.
Pavlova is a delicate concoction of sugar, sugar, sugar and egg whites . Top with fruit and cream and you have a sure fire winner! Passionfruit is a classy touch for any special occaision!
It is perfectly acceptable to consume leftovers at breakfast!

18 March 2007

We stayed at Grandad Pete's and Nana Jocelyn's house in Whenuapai, which is 25 minutes from Auckland City. They are huge garden freaks. Seriously, they are garden-a-holics. They have spent six years turning a bare 2 acres of land into a blissful subtropical retreat! They even have busloads of people come to look at the gardens. It is considered the best subtropical garden in the country. It has a lot of space for Piper to run around in and lots of plants and scuptures to look at and ponder.


We had a sheep cake made for Piper, it was not only cute but it was delicious. It seemed a shame to cut into it because it was so pretty - whatever, we hacked that lamb apart in 10 minutes flat....it was yummolicious!

You know when a meal has been enjoyed, there is undeniable proof. You don't need a forensic scientist to figure out that this party got a 100% approval rating! Is there any pavlova left?

Piper had a birthday party in New Zealand, we invited cousins and friends with kids...it was a blast. Sausages and chippies, and lots of yummy kid approved fare. It was a lovely sunny day, and we all had a wonderful time. Piper was very lucky to have a second-second birthday, being two required it. Apparently hobbits started the tradition, and who are we to argue it's benefits.

There is this phenomenon in New Zealand, of which most 'littlies' (NZ term for kids) partake. It is called the 'fluffy'. It is to children what coffee is to grown ups. A fluffy is a small espresso cup sized drink concocted from steamed milk, frothy latte
foam and drizzled with chocolate, or spinkles or chocolate powder. There is almost always a little cookie, marshmallow or goodie on the saucer and it is never more than $1, even at the finest of places. Fluffy's are lovely, and we have an addict. It made Piper feel like she was one of the gang. Kudos kiwis...we love the fluffy phenom, and we will endeavour to bring the tasty beverage to this small corner of the world!

It's not a very good shot but it's as close as we could get to the huge ship Queen Mary II! Yep, the QMII docked in Auckland harbour(I have to spell it that way!) while we were in town. Piper looked up and said, "it looks like a building Mummy" - it does! It was HUGE! We read in the paper that the 80 day around the world trip in one of the penthouse suites is $400,000! WOW!

Grandad's shipwreck up close.

"I can see you Daddy!" Piper kept yelling for Mike, it was pretty cute. She ran all the way down to the water to welcome him back home. The rusted old boat at the bottom of the garden is actaully the HMS Hawera, an old naval mine sweeper that got lodged and forgotton many many years ago. It's plays the part of a bit of garden art now. It fits in. Our very own shipwreck! Cool!

Daddy decided to take the kayak out for a spin...the water was very still that day, and he went a long way out. It's kinda cool how we can walk off the back of Grandads yard straight into the water! We put an order in for jetskiis, so hopefully next time we can go riding on the water with a little s-p-e-e-d!

Looking off the patio at Grandads. It was really relaxing. Being by the water everyday was wonderful. We'd wake up in the morning and sit outside with our coffee and watch the waterskiiers go by. Bliss. That's our word for it. Bliss...I have to say it again and again.

Nana pushed Piper around in the stroller at the zoo(we hired one for $2), Piper tolerated it for about 3.2 seconds. I think we are definately 'out of the stroller'. We opted not to bring one on the trip, it worked out, Piper is pretty good about walking and Mummy & Daddy are getting stronger by the day since we do end up carrying her a bit. Thankfully she is still a bit of a peanut and not too heavy!

This is a rainbow lorikeet. There were a lot of baby ones and they are very tame and will hop right onto you if you let them. Getting up close to nature is thrilling for kids.

What are you lookin' at?

Uh you!

Who me?

yes you!

The emu's at the zoo are just walking around in an enclosure filled with Australian animals(nothing too dangerous, just birds, wallabies etc), so all the kids can touch and pet them. We liked this part the best.

Week one:

We visited the zoo. This was a highlight for Piper since rhino's are her favorite animal at the moment, thanks to Justin Robert's song about the 'imaginary rhino'. Piper really got into reading the map and looking for all the animals she wanted to see. The giraffe/zebra enclosure was very cool, as well as the rhino and elephant habitats. The Auckland Zoo is really a lovely smaller zoo with great habitats for it's animals.

Too tired to finish chewing...talk about being worn out from playing at the beach!