May 122015

our final housesit

so our final house sit in NZ is over and we have headed to turkey for the next leg of our adventure. I guess a few words of reflection are warranted. NZ has been an absolutely wonderful experience. I think our blog posts over the last 5 months have pretty obviously reflected the enjoyment and pleasure we have found living in NZ.

we were blessed with a virtually never ending summer, we found our own little heaven in piha and sal was moved to comment that NZ was the first place that she had felt she could live outside of nhulunbuy – something i fully concur with. We walked beautiful beaches, explored amazing tracks thru the middle earth like forests and every bend and corner revealed another incredible landscape.

we found great food and coffee, we connected with sal’s family in a way that would never have been possible with just a quick visit, we looked after a huge range of animals in our house sits, from cats, dogs and chooks thru to sheep and cows. The house sits allowed us to really see various areas of NZ including the Coramandel, Waikato and Tauranga areas as well as some suburban auckland spots.

particularly special was spending time with jeremy and leesi here, so much time has been spent together over the years in nhulunbuy – it was wonderful to all get together in their home and home town!

eveywhere we went we found people incredibly friendly and helpful, in fact I cant think of anywhere i have ever been in australia or elsewhere, that people were so friendly. (other than nhulunbuy!)

i am going to finish with my one whinge about kiwis, i only do so to show that I am not romanticising our brothers and sisters from over the ditch. Sorry, but kiwis are shocking drivers, they almost never drive at the speed limit.

on windy roads, (of which there are a few in NZ!), they almost stop to go round the bends! The only time they ever approach the speed limit is when you want to pass someone you have been stuck behind as they crawl around the corners!!

i am pretty sure if thats the worst thing I can find about this country its no bad thing! so thank you NZ for a wonderful 5 months , i am sure we will be back and you have certainly set a standard for the rest of the countries we visit.

Apr 152015

panorama of maunganui beach

well summer has just rolled on and on in NZ, we have been doing a house sit at a place called papamoa beach, near tauranga, south of auckland, and its just been magnificent – i have managed to have a swim nearly every day of our couple of weeks here.

we have been looking after 2 dogs and 2 cats for dave & estelle in their lovely house just one block back from papamoa beach while they are in the UK for a couple of weeks. rush is a border collie, honey a greyhound cross, paddy and fern the two tabby cats.

we havent really got up to anything all that amazing, just enjoying the coastal lifestyle, lots of walks with the dogs, swims, nice meals out down the road in Mt Maunganui and lazing around at home.

we have really enjoyed hanging out in Mt Maunganui, which is only about 10 minutes down the road, the extinct volcano makes an impressive backdrop to the landscape, there are lots of walks and little beaches and islands, and the main strip has great cafes and restaurants along it.

its been very relaxing and its an incredibly friendly place, everyone, all ages, are very chatty and happy – you cant walk along the beach without people saying hello. its interesting because we always say one of the things we love about home is that its such a friendly place and we think of it as being unique in that regard – but the peeps of papamoa was at least as friendly.

we have also been planning the next steps in our gap year, we have decided to leave NZ in early may, so we have a couple more weeks at a new house sit on the other side of tauranga, then we go back to piha for a couple of nights in the bach, then 5 days in a house sit in auckland.

we will sell our car while in auckland and then on the 10th of may we fly out to istanbul to start the next leg of our adventure.

kai has more photos and his take on this housesit on his blog, just click on the link to the right.


Mar 032015

the farmhouse

Patetonga, not to be confused with Pategonia, is little corner of the Waikato Valley, south of Auckland, its Chiefs country if you are a rugby fan and otherwise its basically a big valley between two ridges filled with dairy farms. its lush, green, rolling hills and dales, green as a bag full of emeralds – at the end of summer. The Waikato has the jewel of the Coramandel Peninsula in its north eastern corner and Lake Taupo in the south, Raglans beach on the west coast and a bit of Roturua for bubble. The Waikato is home to the Tuheitia Paki, the  Finn brothers, Daniel Vettori and Colin Mead – just to mention a few.

we are down here in patetonga house sitting a small farm for a week, its a stunning property with views across the green and rolling hills to the eastern ridge, a lovely older style farm house with a classic 80’s sunken lounge, a pool, huge vege gardens, orchard, and a happy little collection of animals!

we are looking after a cat who apparently turned up one day and stayed, she is pretty stand offish, although happy to show off the spoils of a hunt – be it a mouse or one of the many rabbits from the fields. There are also about 30 sheep who have to be moved from paddock to paddock every couple of days, NZ’s oldest sheep in the orchard, (an 18 year old toothless suffolk ewe!), she gets fed pellets and we shake a few tangellos out of the tree for her to squish up in her toothless gob. We also have 3 young steers to look after, they need some feed and zinc suplement each morning. Finally there are a few chooks and a huge old rooster that provide a few eggs a day in return for the kitchen scraps and a scoop of meal in the morning and wheat at night.  Kai has loved being in charge of all the animals, feeding, moving, checking etc and has become quite the not so little farmer.

pop over to his blog to see more photos of him with the animals! HERE


a fresh apple from the orchard


we have really only done one day of heading out and exploring the region, we drove over to Thames and then out the Coramandel Peninsula to Coramandel village for lunch then across to the east coast and through Te Rerenga, Whitianga, and out to Hot Water Beach. the beach is famous for its hot water that is just below the surface of the beach at low tide, you can dig holes and make your own hot spring bath! unfortunately it was high tide when we got there, but the surf was great so i had a half hour body surfing before we headed on to Taipua and then back home.

the circuit through the Coramandel has some of the most stunning scenery you will ever see in your life – and thats saying something in a country jam packed with breath taking scenery, its certainly somewhere I would come back to and spend some serious time exploring.

all in all its been a fabulous week, and i am sure we would all happily stay for another week at least, but the owners, dot & malcolm are back on tuesday night so we head back up to Piha on wednesday and move into our rental bach on the beach for 3 weeks.

Jan 242015
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kai on the devonport foreshore with auckland in the background


i realised its a while since i posted, and in fact when I uploaded the images I realised I had completely forgotten to post about our trip to devonport, takapuna and dinner with the fabulous luke, zekiah and lorenzo!

we were heading over to auckland to sal’s cousin, luke’s for dinner last friday week and as it was a glorious summers day we decided to head over to takapuna on the north shore, for some shopping and a swim before going to dinner.

we arrived in takapuna about lunchtime so i suggested to sal we head down to devonport where we would be more likely to find a nice cafe for lunch, so thats what we did. we had a wander thru the trendy shops, grabbed a bite of lunch, had a great coffee, kai had a play in the playground, climbed a couple trees and had a swim and then we bundled back into the car and headed back to takapuna.

just as we were leaving zekiah sent sal a text saying she was going to takapuna with lorenzo for a swim and did we want to come over from piha early and meet her there!! of course we rang back and said, ‘guess what! we are on our way there now, see you when you get there!’

so a relaxing swim and lazy afternoon was spent on the beach at takapuna and then we went back to luke & zekiah’s for a lovely dinner – zekiah had made a yummy chicken and chorizo dish which we polished off with gusto along with a few beers and a nice wine!

i also found some more images from round piha that i hadnt posted yet, so here are a few more summer snaps! white’s beach is our little private beach, its only the next beach north from piha but the access is a very steep climb up from north piha and then a magnificent view from the peak, and then a mountain goat climb down the cliffs into whites beach! most of the forest tracks start from the back of piha, so its easy access for us and an alternative to getting our exercise on the beach!

Jan 042015
whites beach

whites beach

today was a classic summer sunday, warm, sunny and lazy! we pottered around at the bach, sunbaking, cleaning, washing and a little bit of gardening inderspersed with eating and resting while listening to tunes. all very chillaxing.

this afternoon kai wanted to go for a walk so we he and I jumped in the car and drove down to north piha, he beaches were packed at piha, everyman and his dog had jumped in their cars and driven out to piha for a bit of sun ‘n surf, we had the hot tip from jeremy though, head up into the hills and over to white’s beach when its busy in piha!

i can see why its quiet! Its a vertical climb out of the north end of north piha beach and then an even more vertical scramble down the other side into white’s beach – not for the faint hearted! in fact best suited to sure footed mountain goats. jeremy was right though, there were 4 other people there, so it was like a private beach really.

kai and i braved the cold water for a quick body surf and then we discovered the rocks were carpeted with lovely green lip mussels, so we filled our boardy pockets up with a feed of mussels and began the mountain climb, clamber and scramble back to north piha and then dashed home to cook up the mussels.

i decided simplicty was the order of the day, steamed them for a few minutes in water and then ate them with sushi vinegar, soy sauce, chilli, mayonaise, fresh thyme and coriander as a range of dipping condiments! all washed done with a cheeky little sav blanc!

life is sweet!

Dec 202014
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kai playing with kelp

I feel like there has been a significant shift since our arrival in piha, we always knew the first month was going to be a lead into the ‘gap year’, a month still in australia and a month staying with friends and family rather than on our own.

already, after only a couple of days we can feel the difference, its great to be just us in the house again, (as nice as it is seeing friends and family!!), we are also starting to find our way on this path of the gap year, we are becoming very relaxed, but also really enjoying just living.

its the little things – we have been going for big walks on the beach at piha and it crossed my mind that when i get home i must try and walk the beaches at home more – then it came to me that the reason we can do it so easily here is precisley because we are not working or going to school!

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kai in silhouette

i think our thoughts and minds are becoming very peaceful too, not just from the no work, no school, but on top of that the tranquility of a little coastal surf village in NZ!

i feel like we are also having a cleansing of sorts, eating really well because of both the abundant (relative) supply of fresh produce, but also again because of the time we have on hand, and combined with daily real exercise its got us all buzzing! (excuse my purple patch).

even within the tiny confines of jeremy’s bach, we are finding our own individual enviromental spaces – which has always been important to all 3 of us.

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looking down from the loft bedroom

little things are great too! the morning coffee ritual continues because jeremy brought one of my Caravels and a Lido grinder and I brought a bag of our coffee with us – so I get up and put the caravel on, grind some coffee while i wait for it to get up to temperature and then pull a couple of shots of caffeine nectar!

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its also giving us a chance to consider some of the aspects of what life in retirement might look like, and I think over the next few months that will be an interesting insight – what will we fill our days with to replace the routine of ordinary life?

that also informs our choices for what we choose to do over the gap year – i get the sense already that as nice as it will be catching up with friends all over the world, having a series of bases like piha where we are in our own space and free to do as we choose, will be our preference.

i will sign off with a picture i took just on sunset last night down on the beach, a surfer and his girlfriend having a kiss, watching the sun slide away.

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love on the beach!

Dec 182014
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bubbly in the air nz lounge


it was with some sense of relief that we flew out to auckland from melbourne yesterday, the tragic consequences of the seige in martin place in sydney hung heavy over most australians I suspect.

the tragedy was overhung by the disgraceful reporting from all of the australian media, the murdoch gutter trash the worst, but even the abc was awful. it was a feeding frenzy of sensationalist misinformation, culminating in the disgusting headline from the daily telegraph “death cult CBD attack”. the media’s misinformed hysteria encouraged all of the loony, racist, xenophobic redneck elements in our society to make a range of threats against those they saw as responsible.

in the end it wasnt terrorism, it wasnt even political activism like our none too bright PM claimed, it was a lone, mentally ill, criminal who should never have been out on bail and who should never have had access to firearms. no doubt the one’s that failed to keep society safe from this sick man will now use the cloak of terror to try to further erode our rights, the government has already signalled this in debate on the proposed data retention laws – while ignoring the fact that a man who was out on bail for conspiracy to murder an ex-wife and multiple sex offences was free to lay seige on a cafe not because the AFP couldnt access his data but simply because he wasnt locked up in gaol.

out of all tragedy comes hope though, the #illridewithyou project that came out of twitter and went viral was a reaffirmation of the true australian spirit of tolerance, support and unity across diversity.

also its worth remebering that the last similar, lone, mentally ill, criminal killed more than 30 people in port arthur – but that was before the subsequent gun laws and the banning of semi automatic weapons. imagine the result in america from a similar siege – it wouldnt only be two killed.

anyway, enough of that! we flew to auckland with air new zealand, on a B777-300 in business class,  it was damn nice to say the least, the new style of business class seats are fantastic and it made for a very comfortable trip, the wine and food was not too bad either!

we arrived to a very wet auckland and took a taxi over to pick up our frien leesi’s car from her mum’s house, then drove out to piha in the pouring rain with no internet on the phones and no map! luckily my internal gps seemed to fire and we made it just before dark. we got a handover from friends of jeremy’s that had been staying there and settled in for our first night. i havent bothered taking any photos because its been very grey and dull. today we did a big shop in town and got settled in. hopefully the weather will lift and we can start to enjoy the beach!

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cant argue with that!



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