And Off We Go

Another early morning for us, as we caught our flight from Auckland to Sydney October 28th.34-081


This was truly saying goodbye to New Zealand.




To ease the sadness, Daniel and I had a Kiwi snack while en route. Natasha was never real keen on these little crackers, and she was sleeping anyway. (Enter cues of the Hallelujah chorus.) So we literally ate them all.


Post Script: When posting this, I found an overlooked post from our last few days back in Nelson. So I posted it back chronologically where it fits in the story. You can find it here, or just scroll down and see it in between a couple previous posts.


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!



Doing the Lasts

The last week in New Zealand had come. We were doing all the things we usually did, but for the last time. It was fun; full of laughter and smiles, but with a foreboding feeling of “this is ending.” Of course, we had an exciting trip home to look forward to, with a lot more new firsts, but the truth was, we were really going to miss New Zealand.

So we filled the last few days with things we wanted to do again, or even for the first time, like touring the Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory. It was a really fun little tour, with the best tour guide ever. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures. :(



Following the factory tour we had to have fish and chips one last time at the beach. Of course, with more L & P to drink.



The following day was Saturday, and the last chance to visit Nelson’s Farmer’s Market. It turned out to be a lovely day and Maria and I got some shopping done for gifts and such to take home.



We tasted the carmalised almonds and crepes too.





We had walked past this bead shop many a time, but had never gone in. Oh my goodness…thousands and thousands of beads of ALL types in there!



It was coming to the end of the winter poppies, but they were still beautiful at the base of the Cathedral’s hill.




Back home, I decided to try a new recipe for supper and of course, needed about 4 more hands to get everything done in time for our company. Good thing there were 4 extra hands ready and willing to help.



Our company was Steve and Sharon, who we met at church many weeks before. It was another fun evening with Kiwi friends.


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.