Monday, January 31, 2011

Rich and Judi in New Zealand

Lunch on Sunday at Mudbrick Winery, Waiheke Island
My parents have arrived in New Zealand!  We are incredibly excited.  And even though they got here just  before the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Wilma (aka hurricane) did, the wind and rain moved through in a day.  The weather hasn't been great, though - but we're making the best of it.

I'll try to post more pictures throughout their stay.  Tomorrow we're headed to The Coromandel in what should be some warm and sunny weather.  I hope!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sailboat Sighting

We saw this beauty in the harbor a couple of days ago so I though I'd post a photo.  It looks like an old ship but it's actually fairly new.  Still cool, though.

Next Monday is "Auckland Anniversary Day" (a public holiday) and there will be a huge regatta with over 400 sailboats in the harbor so we're looking forward to seeing some of that, too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some Notes on the Kiwi Accent

Being the child of a linguist, I grew up hearing a lot about the "Great Vowel Shift" of the English language.  Well, New Zealand has had her own Vowel Shift and sometimes it can be very confusing, since all the vowels are now standing for completely other sounds.  For instance:

"A"s are generally pronounced "eh".  So, "The cat sat on the mat" would sound like "The ket set on the met."  Or, if the stress is on the last syllable, like "Shiraz", it's an "aaaa", like sticking out your tongue for the doctor.  "Shiraz" rhymes with "pizzazz" in New Zealand.  And "kebab" rhymes with "slab" or even "rehab".

"I"s are really weird (to the Minnesota ear).  They sound more like a U, hence we get the famous New Zealand "fush and chups".

"E"s are really emphasized, so a "check" is a "cheek", "yes" is "yeees", and a "pest" is a "peest".  I once asked about a beautiful blooming jasmine plant and the response I got was, "Yees, uht's a peest."

"U"s tend to sound more like "ah", so you get "trahks" (trucks) and "bahses" (buses) driving on the road.

And "O"s I can't really make head or tail of -- at least I can reproduce them phonetically.  When a Minnesotan says "No" it sounds like "Noe" (or if they have a really strong accent, "noooooe").  When a Kiwi says "No", they pack as many vowels into it as possible so it comes out like, "Naaaaeeoooouuuu".  How they left out an "I", I don't know.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Big Birthday Weekend

Last weekend we celebrated Anne's big birthday (and her first summertime birthday) in the seaside town of Napier which is on the southeast coast of the North Island.  It's also in the heart of Hawkes Bay which is one of New Zealand's big wine regions.

So between eating good food, tasting lots of wine, and pampering Anne - it was a lovely long weekend in a beautiful area.  I think she rather enjoys having a summer birthday now. :-)

A whole lotta sailboats - as seen from our B&B in Napier.
Napier - The "Art Deco" Town
Still all Christmasy in Napier
A view of awesome Cape Kidnappers Golf Course

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All a-Twitter

As much as I love gadgets, technology, and the internet, I've always been wary and largely disinterested in the social media phenomenon - things like Facebook and Twitter.  I have accounts in each, but rarely use them.

So I'm going to take the leap and dirty myself in the land of Twitter.  I never thought I would, but a friend suggested it and heck, maybe it would be fun given our new circumstances.  So I'll give Tweeting a try and I'll do my best not to focus on the mundane.  This will be in addition to the blog entries - just more everyday things as we visit places or do things.

Feel free to follow along, and I won't be bothered in the least if you don't.  Or start then stop.  Really, I have no idea what I'm even doing.  :-)

Twitter name: @jeffwogen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More About Buses

Here's something that I think speaks volumes about how the people of New Zealand are.  Whenever someone riding a city bus gets off at a stop, they always...ALWAYS...say thank you to the bus driver as they leave the bus. If they're leaving through the rear doors, they'll say it loud enough so the driver can hear it.  Even teenagers do it.

So of course we do it now, too.  It's little things like this that I think make the world just a little bit nicer.  :-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wellington Photos

We spent 5 days in Wellington for Christmas and found a very interesting city with lots of culture and a huge amount of cafes and restaurants.  We had some great food, too.  We also nerded it up with a Lord of the Rings filming location tour.  Yes, yes -we know.

We got a good taste of the city's reputation as "Windy Wellington" but also had some days of near perfect weather as well (including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) - sunny, calm, and warm.  Some photos have been posted to if you care to see more.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Since New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to ring in the new year, let me be one of the first to say Happy New Year!  We had a great evening with steaks on the barbecue out on the terrace, a great bottle of wine, drinks later at a 1920's style restaurant called Prohibition, then watching a spectacular fireworks display that was launched from the top of Sky Tower at midnight.  Here is a (not so great) video of the seen from Ponsonby.

Happy New Year!!