Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rangitoto Island Visit

Rangitoto Island from the ferry
Yesterday we went for an afternoon hike on Rangitoto Island which is a volcanic island created when it erupted 600 years ago.  It's just a 25 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland and we spent a few hours hiking to the summit and back.

When we got off the ferry it was raining horizontally but things turned nicer as the day went along and it was sunny by the end.

Hiking through the forest

At the summit

Walking amongst the lava rock

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Holiday Weekend

This is Labour Day weekend here in NZ and since Monday is the first "bank holiday" (as they call them) since June people are very excited.  And to make it even better, the weather is fantastic so people are doing their barbecue thing and all.

Of course it doesn't really matter to us since with one not working and the other working from home for a U.S. company it'll be just another day on Monday.  :-)  But for some fun today we're going to try some lawn bowling...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things I miss (besides the obvious)

Gluten-free pasta in restaurants
Driving on the right side -- (they call the left the "correct" side here)
Almond Nut Thins -- they haven't mastered GF crackers in NZ
Udi bread -- see above and substitute "bread" for "crackers"
Going to hear jazz at the Riverside Wine Bar or the Dakota
Betty Crocker GF baking mixes
Chex cereal
Kettlebells class
Walking around lakes -- can't find many circuit walks
Eddie Bauer and CAbi
Cooking with pounds, ounces, cups -- what the heck is a millilitre?
Central heating
Dunn Bros. coffee
OPH gluten-free pancakes
To be continued...

Things I don't miss: election nonsense; politics; Raceway Park; hayfever; onset of winter; yardwork

Things I miss most: all of you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yet More Photos

In case you're not bored yet I've posted more photos of the recent trip at - click the link at the right to get there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last Day - Kauri Walks

Starting the day looking out from our hotel room in Omapere
The wind has not relented much for our last day but that's OK because we have planned to do walks in the forest protected from the wind.  In the Waipoua Forest live some of the largest and oldest known Kauri trees so our goal is to see them.  They're massive!

The braches are so big that other plants grow on them.  Pretty cool to see.

Tane Mahuta - the biggest Kauri by volume. It's about 170 feet tall.

Te Matua Ngahere - the widest (54 feet around) and oldest Kauri (2,000 years)

Anne and Te Matua Ngahere

Cape Reinga - Oh, the Wind

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga
On this day we were at Cape Reinga up at the northernmost tip of New Zealand.  Very rugged and beautiful, but the wind was blowing like we've never experienced before.  I would estimate gusts of at least 70 mph - the kind that nearly knock you down and you have to really fight to walk against.  Unreal!

Unfortunately the unrelenting and cold wind kept us from doing some hikes we had planned along the coast but we made the most of it and spent a good amount of time in the car driving to and from the cape as well as down the west coast.

A view of the massive dunes near Cape Reinga.  Note that the "haze" over the dunes is from the strong winds blowing the sand

Even the gulls sought refuge from the wind, and this is at a bay on the leeward side of the cape

A rainbow greets us on the car ferry across Hokianga Harbour

Doubtless Bay

A walk down to Karikari Beach
OK - I wasn't able to post for a couple of days either because of running out of time at the end of the day or not having internet access.

Anyway, here is the next day of the trip which we spent mostly around Doubtless Bay and the Karikari Peninsula with some light walking and a winery visit.  It was good to have a fairly restful day for a change.

Fishing for something big
Impromptu wine tasting at Karikari Vineyard overlooking the sea
Near the end of the day at Matauri Bay

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bay of Islands - Hiking

Boardwalk through mangroves
Today we did a nearby 6 mile hike that had forest, mangroves, a shag nesting colony, and a waterfall.  We then took the ferry to Russell for lunch and a short hike up to the vista on Flagstaff Hill overlooking the area.  It was another nice day of weather and fun.

Shag nest with two young ones
Hururu Falls

A view from Flagstaff Hill

The town of Russell

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bay of Islands - Sailing

"She's a Lady" from the top of Waewaetorea Island
Today we went for a 5 hour sail in the Bay of Islands aboard the "She's a Lady" with skipper Glen.  We sailed from Pahia to the uninhabited Waewaetorea Island in the outer islands where we got to go ashore and hike up the hills for incredible 360 degree views.  The beauty of the area is amazing.

We were the only passengers (the beauty of low season) and although it was a nice, sunny day in the 60's we think it would be even better here during the summer with temps in the 80's.

The heart of The Bay of Islands
Relaxing on the boat
Skipper Jeff
We sailed right by these two Blue Penguins
The beach we anchored at for a hike and lunch

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bay of Islands - Kayaking

Today we spent a good part of the day kayaking in the Bay of Islands.  We started out in Paihia (near where we are staying) and went across the bay to the charming town of Russell where we walked around a bit then continued towards Oronga Bay before going back to Paihia.  The water was smooth and calm and it was a lovely day.  We kayaked for almost 4 hours and when we got back we had ice cream then had to nap because we were so worn out.

I think our B&B hosts are the nicest people ever but I'm not sure.  :-)  We're having a great time so far.  Tomorrow we're going sailing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Northland Holiday

We'll be spending the next week or so taking our first New Zealand getaway since arriving.  We'll be visiting the Bay of Islands and the Far North - it's supposed to be quite beautiful.

It's about a three hour drive from Auckland so we'll be driving there.  We'll be based in the Bay of Islands area but hope to see much of the region including Cape Reinga at the northern tip of the country.  Our plans involve lots of hiking and water activities.

I'll try to put up some posts while we're there.

Guess who's UNemployed?

Yes, I gave notice at Wheelers. I think I gave it a fair shot, but I finally realized it was not a good fit for me. I'll be starting the search for a new position as soon as we get back from our Northland holiday. Look at me -- I'm George Costanza, taking a vacation when I'm unemployed!