Auckland For A Day

Once again, let me remind all you faithful readers that I am still playing catch-up for our trip home from New Zealand. This is just another in that ongoing series, so this particular post takes us back to October 27th, 2014.

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We had a simple flight from Nelson to Auckland, where we three would be spending the night before continuing on our journey home. Our little one did some coloring in the Auckland airport while we waited for Maria and Logan to catch up with us.15-014

We decided it would be best to get a rental car for us to do some sightseeing in Auckland, and it would be handy to have not only to get us around town, but to store all our stuff since we couldn’t check in to our hotel this early in the morning.

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As soon as we had transportation, we headed to Auckland Botanical Gardens to hang out for a while.


We had lunch at the garden’s cafe, and somehow Natasha acquired a little bottle of bubbles. (No she didn’t steal it or anything, I simply don’t really remember where it came from. The waiter? The cashier? Who knows.) It was a nice addition to our walk through the expansive garden areas.



Sometimes it is very hard to get a 4 year old to walk with you. If she stays close, she is usually complaining about the walk and how tired her legs are. But if you let her lag behind a bit, sometimes she starts talking to herself and gets transported to her own imaginary world. This is quite a relief, since it’s 100 times better than complaining. However, the downside is, she walks completely at her own pace, which is much slower than ours.


And, she gets distracted quite easily.


I, in the meantime, was in search of the popular Giant New Zealand Fern for a parting picture.


The kind rental car lady said we should definitely stop by the One Tree Hill area while we were in Auckland, and take a walk with the sheep. It was indeed a very good idea.


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I rather fell in love with the place, and depending where you stood, you’d never know there was all of suburban Auckland spread out on all sides of you.



We took Maria and Logan to the airport that night and sent them on their way home. We however, had several more days before reaching the United States. Next up, Sydney!

Saying Goodbye

October 27th had come. The morning we packed up and did the dishes for the last time in our little house on the hill, and said goodbye to the goats. We all (Logan and Maria included) were headed off to the airport. Logan and Maria had a separate flight after ours on the same day, so it was nice to have our very own departing photographer as our little family walked to the airplane at Nelson’s airport. Logan caught a very bittersweet moment for us as we headed out on the tarmac in the springtime rain.




I tried to capture the town of Nelson from the air, and if you know what you’re looking for, and really zoom in, it is possible to spot our house on the hillside in Nelson. From our vantage point at home there, you would have never known that those “hills” loomed up behind us. But they were there all the time. You just had to climb Grampians Reserve to see them.



Remember our boating adventure out to the Boulder Bank Lighthouse? Here it is from the air!12-008


Goodbye Nelson…many wonderful memories were made here and you won’t be forgotten any time soon!



There’s A Hole in the Ground

Well, it’s time to play catch-up. Despite all my best efforts at blogging in the here and now and trying to keep things updated and close to the actual event, sometimes I just stop blogging because I am enjoying the here and now.

You see, we are home now, back in the States and it’s just not quite New Zealand. We saw a lot on the way home, which I will of course share at some point, and now we are home with very mixed feelings. It has its nice points for sure, like being in our own little house again with our own kitchen. Natasha has her beloved stuffed animals to play with again, and Thanksgiving is coming. (I love an American Thanksgiving, and that’s something that Kiwis don’t have.) But we miss a lot from Down Under. Things like amazing scenery and the urge to rush outside because if you don’t, you might miss seeing something spectacular. Fun accents wherever you go, washed carrots, and the sense of exploring whenever you exit the door.

I’m sure it’s just a matter of creating those same feelings wherever you are, but sometimes you just can’t create amazing scenery. There simply aren’t big hills to climb where we live in the midwest, or rocky coastlines.


So to pick up where we left off back in October, Logan and Maria were still with us and we were exploring more of Abel Tasman National Park. On this particular outing, we drove up the mountain pass towards Takaka with an extra passenger. Just before we started up the mountain, we picked up a backpacker who was hitchiking. That added something new to the drive!

We weren’t going all the way to the town of Takaka right then since we wanted to stop at Harwood’s Hole, so Nikko hopped out before we headed back the gravel drive to the entrance to the hole. He wasn’t there when we came out, so we assume he got a ride down the mountain.

Meanwhile, we were hiking in the most magical forest I’ve ever encountered. Everything was mossy and green like a rainforest.


There were bogs.


And rocks to climb over. (This was considered an “easy” walking path.)



And purple mushrooms.


And leafy, lettuce-looking moss.


And of course, a ginormous hole in the ground. It was so massive, we just basically sat down and stayed there. You couldn’t really see the bottom or the entrance because of the angle, so we just observed. There were some German hikers there at the same time and one guy in particular was more daring than us. So we just watched him climb and prayed we wouldn’t watch him fall. (He didn’t.)




On our way back out, it might seem cliche, but I really wanted my picture with a sheep. The road went right through their pasture and was rather picturesque. (But what isn’t in New Zealand?!)


A Scottish Highlander met us on our way out as well:


So from there, we let Maria take the driver’s seat and we went down Takaka Hill to the town in search of milk. As faithful readers might remember, we searched out milk in Central America and Europe, so it was only fitting that we do it here as well.


When we first came through Abel Tasman National Park, we saw the sign “Raw Milk” out by the road and stopped to investigate.


This was by far the most elaborate set up we’ve encountered. Village Milk even has a website and obviously, it’s not illegal to sell raw milk in New Zealand.


Their shed, right on the farm was complete with a fridge containing clean glass bottles to purchase, and a sanitation process that steams customer’s containers before the milk fills them.

We weren’t prepared to get any milk that first time, but this time we brought our empty water jug and procured some. It cost $2.50 a litre. (New Zealand dollar.) Kind of appropriate that Logan and Maria were here when we actually bought some, since Daniel and I met on their dairy farm and have so many great memories of times spent there.


On our way home we had enough time and sunlight to show Logan and Maria Split Apple Rock. This time it was at low tide, and we could get a lot closer to the rock and explore some of the caves nearby.




Instead of me bringing little treasures home without a clear purpose for them, I photographed my finds.

In Which We Traverse Curvy Roads

With our second round of visitors, we decided to take them to our second favorite location, Cape Foulwind. (Our top favorite spot was Castle Hill.) The roads here can be very curvy when you need to climb over mountain passes and such and after only walking or biking for a couple weeks at a time, riding in a vehicle again can give some folks a bit of carsick feelings. Maria and I weren’t feeling that great, but we finally arrived.  It was definitely warmer this second visit, but I tell you, that place is quite appropriately named because the wind can be very breezy.


This time we decided to hike a little further than last time and we went all the way to the lighthouse and back. The sign says it takes about an hour and 15 minutes to walk one way, but on our return trip, we tried to hurry along without stopping a ton of times and it only took us 45 minutes. But we really were scurrying.

This picture does not accurately illustrate the height of where I was standing. It was windy and a little worrisome to stay too long…


Can you see this sign? It says, “Please keep children by you at all times.” So it was very handy that I had a child to keep near me for my own safety. :)

This is not meant to look like a worn out group of trekkers, truly. We were attempting a serious look. It might not have worked…


Following Cape Foulwind, Logan drove us to Pancake Rocks. It was another quick visit, but the rocks were still just as amazing.


Third and Final Time

One last climb up the hill to the Centre of New Zealand. This time, Natasha did it all by herself. In her own imaginary world, pausing quite often to pick flowers, sing a song, talk to herself and eventually we made it to the top.





At the bottom, there is a nice grassy field for playing games and throwing frisbees and letting your dog run. It is the location of the first Rugby game played in New Zealand and nearby is a small playground and some swings. After swinging briefly, Natasha scampered off to the slide, but left her shoes behind. We all had started to follow Natasha, but Logan noticed the forgotten ballet flats and calmly picked them up saying, “I assume she wants her shoes…” I had to capture the moment since it always makes me smile to see a guy holding little girl’s shoes. :)