Friday, December 31, 2010

New Zealand is Different...

Yesterday, Jeff and I were waiting for a bus that was late.  We saw it stopped down the block and wondered if it was having engine trouble.  It finally headed towards us and when we got on, the busdriver said, "Sorry, dears, I had to go to the chemist."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from New Zealand

We both wish everyone a very merry Christmas and hope a great time is had by all.  We are spending Christmas in Wellington and we've been treated to good weather (not always a given for Wellington), great food, and a really fun time.

Christmas in summertime is very odd but highly recommended.  Oh yes!

But we do miss everyone.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

World Famous Snowmaggedon

To everyone in Minnesota, we thought you might find it fun to know that your little snowstorm last weekend and subsequent collapse of the Metrodome roof caught on video made the local news here in Auckland.

We find that maybe half of Kiwis know where Minnesota is in the U.S. so perhaps this will make it more memorable.  Yer famous!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Auckland Christmas

Big Santa on Queen Street
It is still very odd to be experiencing Christmas in the height of summer.  Not only is it warm but everything is green with flowers blooming and weirdest of all it's light until past 9:00.

So it's kind of strange to see people walking around with wrapped presents and Christmas decorations up everywhere.  So I thought I'd post some pictures of Christmasy things around Auckland.

The trees in the last of the photos are called Pohutakawa Trees and they are "New Zealand's Christmas Tree" because they bloom bright red in mass quantities in December.  They're really something.

Big Santa Closeup

Sidewalk Ornament

A Splash of Color Downtown

Sky Tower Lights

Franklin Road Christmas Lights

Pohutakawa Trees in Bloom
Sky Tower Color

Pohutakawa in the Viaduct

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Visit to the Wogens'

Many of you have requested to see some pictures and descriptions of our apartment and surroundings in our neighborhood of Herne Bay in Auckland.  So we've created a little tour on that we hope will get you better acquainted with our new home.  (Click on the link above or on the right side of the blog to get there.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas in the South Pacific

The Kiwis have their own Twelve Days of Christmas!

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five - big - fat - pigs !
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree.

1. A pukeko is a native bird about the size of a chicken that has huge dinosaur-like legs and feet.  They are really common around here -- you see them eating alongside highways and parking lots.  A ponga tree is a brown tree fern.

2. Kumera is a kind of sweet potato that Kiwis go nuts for.

3. Flax kits are little bags woven out of the native flax fibers.

4. Huhu grubs are edible larvae of the huhu beetle.  They're about the size of a cigarette and some people like to eat them -- largely, I think, to freak other people out.

5. There are wild boars here.  

6. Pois are fluffy balls on cords that are swung around in some traditional Maori dances.

7. Yeah, Maori eat eels.

8. Puha is an edible plant that can be cooked up like collard greens (except not as tasty).

9. Pipis are a kind of edible shellfish.

10. Yeah, Maori also eat fish heads.

11. The Haka is a traditional Maori postural dance.  The All Blacks rugby team perform a war Haka before every game.

12. A piupiu is a type of Maori skirt which looks a lot like a bead curtain.

Now I'm going to put on my swim togs and jandals and go to Caroling on the Beach!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weekend in the Coromandel

Last weekend we had our own long weekend to take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday since I wouldn't have to work.  We went to the Coromandel Peninsula, a two hour drive form Auckland.

It's a beautiful, secluded area with mountains, beaches, and lots of activities.  We mainly did some light hiking and exploring end enjoyed some good food and scenery as well.

The first night we stayed in Coromandel Town and the second night was at Hahei so we got to see most of the peninsula without having to rush.

More pictures are posted at - click the link to the right to get there.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life and Hiking

Last weekend, Jeff and I were spending some time on the Coromandel Peninsula and were hiking around the forest park. The hike we chose to go on included a 1 km tunnel through a hillside and as we walked along, holding hands tightly in the dark, slipping and sliding on the wet ground, and helping each other when we stumbled, all while headed towards the light at the other end, I realized that we seemed to have wandered into a metaphor.