Out with the old, welcome the new!

on December 31, 2013

So it's the last day of the year 2013. What a rollercoaster it's been! Ups and downs, such goes life... after 4 years I still haven't gotten used to starting the new year with blue skies and lots of sunshine. No fireworks here in New Zealand. No walks in the snow. Instead I had a wonderful afternoon at the beach with a swim once I got home from work :-) What a lovely way to end a year!

As always there's some New Year resolutions I've made, too.

1. Think positive! Don't worry and be happy :-) Good things come to those who believe...

2. Enjoy life!

3. LIVE! Been working way too much, that definitely has to change. I want to go out more, meet people, explore the beautiful country I've chosen to live in.

What about you guys? What's your top priorities for 2014? It's going to be my year, I can feel it =D

Getting ready for Christmas

on December 23, 2013

One day before Christmas Eve I've finally managed to make a batch of Vanillekipferl, the traditional German Christmas cookies everyone soooo loves *heehee*

For all of those who want to try... here's the recipe again (slightly modified for New Zealand ingredients)...

400g butter
560g flour
120g sugar
200g ground almonds
4 teaspoons of vanilla essence (equals 120g vanilla sugar or 4 packages of vanillin sugar in Germany)

* knead the dough until all the ingredients are combined
* roll out little mountain-shaped Kipferl as shown in the picture above
* bake for 15 to 20mins in the oven at 180°C until golden yellow
* let Kipferl cool down, then roll in a mix of icing and vanilla sugar
* enjoy :-)

Yucky spider!

Look what crawled out of the shed today! Must have been hiding under the logs we brought home a while ago...

Back on track

on December 10, 2013

After eating lots of junk food in the past few months I've finally come to the conclusion - I need to change something! Started exercising again and hope I can keep it up for a while. Will try and so a little bit EVERY day instead of overdoing it and then losing motivation. So today I only went for a "little" walk - down the driveway to the letterbox and back. It's about 1km - but MAN she's steep! I can feel my buttocks BIG time... Working heaps the next couple of days so gotta think of something to incorporate a bit of exercise into my schedule...

What is YOUR favourite indoor exercise? Plank... Crunches... ? Let me know and I'll give it a go =D

Living off the land

Our garden is really starting to produce now =D We've started harvesting courgettes (zucchini) and get about 10 a day *woohoo* We take them off when they're still fairly small to make the plants produce more - instead of ending up with monstrous marrows that nobody can eat before they go off *lol*

Matt has also been picking the first beans and it looks like in a few days we'll be eating our first cucumbers. Peas will be ready in a couple of weeks and just after Christmas we should have corn and capsicum (peppers) and the first pumpkins.

Tomatoes? Hum... not doing so well this year. Due to the constant change in the weather we're battling blight hard out this year. Been spraying heaps but it doesn't seem to help. Anyone have some more suggestions?

The Kiwi Christmas Tree

on December 09, 2013

The Pohutekawa blossoms around Christmas - this is our very own specimen =D

Welcome to New Zealand, Mara!

on November 26, 2013

3.5 years and about $3000 (NZ) later I can finally announce: I am a New Zealand resident *woohoo* The mailman brought my passport back to me yesterday with a brand new resident visa! Until November 2015 I can enter and exit the country as often as I like without losing that status - then I get my permanent residency.

I am positively surprised how fast and hassle free everything went this time. They reckon Immigration NZ needs 3 to 9 months to even assign you a case manager... I must have been REALLY lucky this time... I only sent my application off during the first week in October. Three weeks later I had my application approved and - after paying yet another fee and sending my passport back - three more weeks later my passport including my resident visa was in the mail. Never even heard from my case manger or anything .-)

Thank you Immigration New Zealand =D This is one of the happiest days in my life! Now I can concentrate on my next dreams and goals... my brain just never sleeps *lol*

Immigration calls...

on October 06, 2013

It's been a bit more than a week since I've sent my residency application to Immigration New Zealand. I hadn't heard from them, yet, only seen online that they had received my application. Knowing it takes 3 to 9 months to process it I wasn't too worried about not hearing from them. No news is good news, right? Well - I heard from them on Friday and the news wasn't good. They were trying to take out the fee and my credit card kept declining. Fortunately the lady on the phone was quite nice and said she was holding my application until Monday so I could hopefully sort something out. Which I have - by Tuesday they should be able to access the money and then... the waiting begins I guess...

Today I met a lady who used to work for Immigration and she said if they take the money it's already a good sign. It means I have already been assigned a case manager and they have started the process (not like the last couple years when they kept sending my applications back saying they were incomplete). Apparently they are pretty much shutting down in December but if I am VERY lucky I might get a response as early as NOVEMBER!!! She reckons January at the latest I should know what's happening...

Please everyone, keep your fingers crossed...

This is how fun work can be

This weekend me and two colleagues where taking 4 kids that we normally have in respite up north. We left Friday afternoon and went all the way to Ahipara just north of Kaitaia where we enjoyed a lovely dinner with Fish and Chips at the beach.

Saturday was as outdoorsy as can be... After breakfast we headed all the way up to Cape Reinga where Matt and I had just been a few months ago. I love that place, it's so gorgeous - beautiful landscape, crystal clear blue water, monstrous sand dunes and more...

Funny that a lot of Kiwis have never actually been there. It's quite spiritual, too, as the Maories believe that here the last journey begins for the souls of those who have passed. Their spirit leaves earth from the Cape to make its way to Hawaiiki (similar to Heaven)...

On the way back we stopped at Rarawa Beach and gathered some tuatuas (similar to Pipis - seashells/mussels) and a delicacy for anyone who loves seafood. You're meant to dig for them with your feet and then pick them up from under the sand before the waves get you. I actually just spotted them in the water right in front of me!!! We got enough for a feed and they were a yummy addition to our dinner =D

Today we stopped at Ngawha Springs, the mud pools I've been telling you about in the past... Stinky but relaxing as usual :-) Finally home now, trying to get my laundry sorted, tidy up and relax... Matt is already out fishing again but left me a wonderful boil up for dinner *yumyum*

Weekend trip to Piha

on September 22, 2013

It's been a while since I've started working with Pukeko Au Pair. Unfortunately its founder Marina and I have never been able to meet in person - until this weekend. Every year in September Marina organizes a weekend for new Au Pairs at a beachstay in Piha, one of Auckland's most famous beaches. She invited me to come along and take the time to finally get to know each other.

Had a really good weekend (though I was still sick). Got up early as on Saturday to hopefully watch the sunrise but unfortunately it was too cloudy. Still the sky was mean with beautiful colours.

Later in the day we walked to Kitekite Falls - a very scenic bush track through native Kauri forest that leads you to the bottom of the falls (about 30mins). If you continue you can hike up to the top but I opted for the easy way back *lol* On Sunday we went to Piha Beach again and this time the weather was absolutely GORGEOUS!

Check out some of my pictures on Facebook :-) (You don't actually need to be registered to see them)

Back to Gospel

on September 17, 2013

Matt and I have long been talking about going to church. He's a Christian but was a bit unhappy with some of the 'institutions' in town. So we decided to give the little Fellowship near our home a try. Now those who know me know I haven't been raised beliving in God. Yet whenever I joined friends or my American host family for church I mostly had a good time.

What has drawn me most to church, though, is the music. One thing I have dearly missed in the past 3 years since coming to New Zealand is Gospel music. After almost 4 years with the Little Lights of LE it was hard to give up singing. I've tried a couple of choirs here in Whangarei but it just wasn't the same. Well, it seems I've finally found it again! The church service wasn't at all what I had expected. No long sermons or ceremonies - but instead a lot of worship through song. Just what I was looking for.

And the funny part? Matt surprisingly turned around and asked me if I really knew all these songs. Nope - apart from Amazing Grace I didn't know ANY. But once a musician always a musician I guess *heehee* I really enjoyed it and might even be able to bring some of the gospel songs from my old choir back in Germany to the next service. Now I just have to get a hold of some of the music sheets so the guy on the piano can accompany us...

New beginnings II

Since we've moved Ruffy has spent a lot of time on her own. As she can no longer join us in the kitchen/lounge area but now actuqally has an entire room to herself we thought it's not fair for her to be on her own so much. So voilà - welcome to the family Fluffy =D Fluffy is a loop-ear rabbit, male, about 2 months old. And we're really happy as both get along just perfect!

The initial introduction was rather boring. A bit of sniffing here, a bit of sniffing there. But neither was actually interested in the other one. We almost thought especially Ruffy might not even realize there is another rabbit in the room - considering she's only really ever known Matt and me. But a few weeks later and both run around together, they play chase, they jump... Fluffy is still a bit wary of us but he knows the hand that feeds him *lol* So he'll come around.

New beginnings I

Do you guys remember when I was telling you Matt and I might be moving soon? Well - we did =D We found a wonderful house not as close to the beach as Waipu but a hundred times better! We now have a fire place which has been keeping us warm every night since we've moved in (thank you my darling for cutting all that wood!). We're still lacking heaps of furniture, but we've got a pull-out couch to sleep on, a dining table (with no chairs) and a fridge (that actually works!).

We've started a bit of gardening but because we've both been sick and I've been working lots of weekends not much has happened so far. But we're getting there. Our landlords are awesome, really nice - and they let us have our peace ;-) Did I mention we have little lambs behind our backyard fence? And Tuis singing and Rosellas chirping... what a blessing!

Getting started

on September 15, 2013

Just over one months into living at our new place we're starting to set up out new garden. Space is rare so we have to make the most of it... And since Matt loves saying I never do ANYTHING in the garden... here's the proof I AM helping ;-)

Constantly on the move

on July 11, 2013

Haven't been posting much for a while I just realized. Matt and I have been pretty busy - and my last post unfortunately wasn't uploaded and is now lost somewhere in space... But anyway. So what have we been up to? I have just sent off my latest application to Immigration New Zealand. Only another work permit at this stage. My residency application is pretty much ready to go, just missing a few minor touches. Hopefully get that sorted by the end of July/August.

Meanwhile I've been keeping myself busy with my 2 jobs - at kindergarten (I'm currently working in two different centers) and the respite house. I never would have thought working with special needs children/teenagers can be so enjoyable and rewarding! It's definitely my new choice of career =D

I'm also getting more involved again with the Au Pair Network I've set up more than 2 years ago. Rather by accident I recently stumbled upon a girl who had just arrived in Whangarei - and another one might be starting work here soon. There's also a few more business ideas I'm currently looking into. Life stays exciting =D

Another change maybe coming up soon is yet another move. While Matt and I both love living in Waipu - the area is just magnificent! - we've been having quite a bit of trouble with our landlord when it comes to his part of the bargain. Our place is freezing cold and damp - barely or no insulation, holes everywhere, mould - and after one dead rat under our couch and another one somewhere in the kitchen that doesn't get taken care of we're literally SICK of it. We're going to look at a place this weekend. And you know when you get that feeling that something is just right? I think Matt and I can both already see us moving in *lol* So keep your fingers crossed...

That's it for today. Lots of work still to do. Ka kite :-)

When one door opens...

on May 28, 2013

... quite often you have to shut another one in order to go ahead.

Juggling 3 part-time jobs in order to make a living is stressful. On the body, the mind, and on ones  relationships/social life. It seems like you're constantly working yet you barely make ends meet. I've been praying for things to get better and it seems my prayers have been answered. At a cost.

After starting to work in respite care a few weeks ago I finally had sufficient hours to really get an income. It was a blessing finding that job and I really enjoy it. Yet it made things more difficult because I had to juggle that plus kindy plus my various home support clients. Lots of travelling - and lots of rescheduling. Not always to everybody's satisfaction.

Yesterday I got a call from the Ministry offering me more hours with another child at a different center. At first I declined as it collided with pretty much all my clients. And then I started thinking... 2 jobs with adequate hours and good pay - nothing wrong with that.

So - even though it somehow breaks my heart to let "my old people" go - I handed in my resignation yesterday. Still have to tell a few clients and I know they won't be happy. But as harsh as it sounds - a therapist told me years ago I have to be more egoistic. Plus I'm a gut person and deep inside it feels like the right move. So let's hope I don't regret it...

Waterplay and bubble bath

on May 21, 2013

What do you get when you accidentally fill the dishwasher with dishwashING detergent instead of dishwashER powder? A bubble bath in your kitchen! Not sure if the girls at kindy really thought it was that funny, though...

And what happens when you leave a plastic bag in the sink and then turn the washing machine on? You can kayak through your house! Now that luckily was NOT my fault and I have to admit I couldn't stop laughing when I saw it...

Starting slowly

on May 20, 2013

Living healthy isn't always easy. There are so many temptations you have to face each and every day. And since I have a very sweet tooth I tend to say yes a lot more often than no.

But I've been trying to be good - by adding more and more little goodies in between the bad choices. Like making my own fruit and vege drinks  at home, snacking carrots instead of chips and adding lots of fresh fruit to my bowl of after-dinner-ice-cream...

Also for a few weeks now I've been carrying a bag of spare clothes and running shoes in the car for those days when I finish work early and have to wait for Matt. Of course since the bag has been in the car there were no such days... until today. Just been for a 10min run around the park and feel GREAT! My reward was instant- I saw the rescue helicopter land right next to me and the pilot wave at me (their base is right next to the park).

Now I hope to keep it up. Once a week is the minimum goal - with longer runs bit by bit and eventually more often per week. Until I can finally afford going to the gym again.

Oops - here comes the rain. Lucky me. Better get home...

Welcome to Ngawha Prison - or not...

on May 19, 2013

What a day! Matt treated me to a day at Ngawha Springs but we almost ended up around the corner - at Northland's biggest Correction Facility. We've seen a few prisons on TV and how visitors get searched in the car park. Never thought that would be us one day!

For some reason Matt felt sightseeing today and wanted to do a drive-by off Ngawha Prison. Who knew you're not actually allowed to do that? Before I knew what was happening we were directed onto the car park by 2 fierce looking officers...

"ID please, then step away from the vehicle so the dog can search it!" Ahm... ok...

We had nothing to hide but it did feel a bit creepy. It was pouring down, too. After dog and police were happy our car was clean we were told that next time we wanted to come around for a look we should call... no thank you...

We ended up making it to the Hot Pools just after the rain was gone and relaxed for a couple of hours. What a bliss!

Hopefully next time Matt comes up with some less exciting detours *lol*

New beginnings

on April 30, 2013

For quite some time now I've been trying to get a full-time job but - for the umptieth time - I've recently been turned down. Again.

But not all is bad. Instead of getting a full-time job that I might not even enjoy I have yesterday started a new part-time job (that makes 3 now) that I know will satisfy me. On top of my work with special needs children at kindy I will now also provide respite care for families with special needs children/teenagers.

Starting with a few shifts this week and really excited :-) it will once again be a challenge juggling all the jobs around each other. But hopefully I will finally work enough hours to be able to start saving a bit.

The good side about part-time work is I will still have opportunities like yesterday and stop at a beautiful spot like the Whangarei Falls to enjoy a lunch picnic :-)

Best chat with NZ Immigration EVER!

on April 24, 2013

I just got off the phone with Immigration New Zealand and am happy as!!! I needed to find out what visa I can apply for this year because my current one expires in August. Well guess what - I CAN FINALLY GO FOR MY RESIDENCY!!!! WOOHOO =D

The lady I spoke to today was the friendliest and most helpful one I ever had in the 3 years that I've been dealing with Immigration. Unfortunately I didn't catch her name so here's a HUMUNGOUS thank you to the unknown Immigration Officer with the Indian accent...

She not only told me exactly what forms etc I needed to fill out this year. She's also putting everything together in a letter today and send it off to me because I don't have a printer. Isn't that nice? For the first time I feel fully informed, she gave me tipps and what I need to look out for...

And here's some more good news. I neither need a new medical certificate (which would have cost me another $500) nor a police certificate (which hast cost me a lot of time consuming trouble the last 2 years). Only thing I need to do is start pestering some of you again to give evidence about Matt and me actually being in a relationship. Easy as, huh?

Only catch - as it takes between 3 and 9 months for Immigration to process a residency application I probably have to reapply for a partnership work permit again in July. But she's sending those papers, too, to save me time and money. And I've heard from friends that you get the fee back once your residency is approved.

Fly little Monarch

on April 19, 2013

Matt found another cocoon a few days ago and brought it home. We weren't sure a butterfly would actually hatch thinking the season for them must be over by now.

When we came home today, however, the cocoon was gone and nowhere to be found! A good search finally showed this beautiful specimen of a Monarch Butterfly hiding at the bottom of an old cardboard box.

Unfortunately it looks like this little fella isn't going to make it :-( something has been chewing on him, probably ants or spiders... tonight he can rest on the cape gooseberry plant. We'll see how he is tomorrow...


on April 17, 2013

I've always been interested in where I - and therefore my family - have come from. When I went on holiday to Germany I got heaps of information about my mom's side of the family thanks to one of my aunties who has been looking after our family tree etc. The last few days and weeks I've started putting everything together, using ancestry.de to build up the family tree.

Thanks to the documents - mostly obtained during Hitler's reign to prove that there's no Jewish blood running in your family - I have been able to trace our family roots back to early 1800. It's AMAZING! It looks like some of my ancestors have come from areas that would nowadays be in the Czech Republic and Poland. Not a lot of globetrotting so far, but I'm only just beginning...

Bon appetit

on April 14, 2013

When it comes to fishing Matt is the most reliable fisherman ever :-) He never comes home without a feed... yesterday he caught heaps of Kahawai so we had smoked fish for lunch and then fish & chips for dinner *yummy* I had a go at filleting and smoking and apparently didn't too a bad job...

Today I made some more tomato sauce and MAN that is the nicest EVER! There's nothing better than homemade!

Thank you Hikurangi

on April 13, 2013

It's been almost 1.5 years since I've started my work as an Education Support Worker (ESW) where I help special needs children at childcare centers. I've had a few children since and enjoyed working with every single one of them - despite some of the challenges with naturally come with this sort of job.

Looking back to when I first started I am still grateful that my first assignments took place in Hikurangi. The staff at "my" childcare center has been wonderful. From the very first day I felt like part of the team - and I have learnt HEAPS.

With the last of "my" children from that center going off to school, however, my days at that center are numbered. I will miss the children and my lovely colleagues and hope that one day I will be able to return (I already threatened them I'd come back as a student once I start my degree *heehee*). We had a little birthday-/farewell-lunch going on yesterday and I got these beautiful flowers from the center and some candles.

Thank you guys for everything! The past 15 months with you have been an unforgettable time full of learning, playing (*ggg*) and memories I will treasure. YOU ROCK!

Superbunny in action

on April 10, 2013

Ruffy is the coolest pet ever! She's as fast as lightning, really clever and sooo entertaining :-) wish I'd be fast enough to tape all her mean jumps and twists... yesterday she was chewing hard on Matt's jandals but hopped off every time I tried to take a picture or a video. She gets really upset when she's not the center of attention. As soon as you start ignoring her she starts annoying you.

And did you know that rabbits love rhubarb pie and ice cream? Ruffy has been trying hard to get a piece of my pudding the last few nights. Today she was successful - I left my bowl unattended for only a minute and ZOOM - Superbunny had managed to jump into it. Now she's busy cleaning herself *lol* what a rabbit...

Happy birthday to me :-)

on April 07, 2013

What a lovely view to wake up to on your birthday :-) Thank you everyone for your wishes, it's been a really nice weekend! Nothing major happened, but I don't need a big party every year. This year it was just Matt, Ruffy and me. And we had lots to do this weekend, considering how much stayed undone while I was gone to Germany...

Matt got the garden ready this weekend so we can start planting and preparing our winter crop. Everything needed to be dug over again, mix it with compost, horse manure, chook poo... We've still got a few watermelons in the garden, our capsicums and chili plants are still producing and my eggplants might finally spit out some fruits after MONTHS of waiting. Meanwhile we still had lots of leftovers from our summer harvest and didn't want that to go to waste. So I spent most of my weekend in the kitchen bottling and baking and cooking and pickling...

 some of my work: pickled cucumbers after a German recipe ("eingelegte saure Gurken"), pickled beetroot and fig jam...

I also made heaps of Feijoa sauce and dried a full tray of figs to have some nibbles for winter...
I finally found a recipe for rhubarb pie that comes close to how my mom used to make it. Here's my first atttempt - and guess what.. it was DELICIOUS!!! Even Matt loved it and he normally doesn't care much about rhubarb. I recommend it warm with hokey pokey ice cream *yummy* Ruffy couldn't resist, either, and jumped right into my bowl one night...
Another first: Mattt thought it was about time I learned how to use a drill. Wasn't that hard at all (after he set it up for me *lol*)! So I helped him take down the fence we had used for the peas to climb up. Don't I look like a professional *heehee* And I didn't even break it!

Exploring the Kaipara Harbour

on March 31, 2013

In the past few months our fishing missions have taken us to Pouto a few times. It's right at the entrance of the Kaipara Harbour, at the very tip of the Pouto Pensinsula. Stunning scenery with a beautiful and neverending beach as well as massive sanddunes, friendly people and easy fishing even more newbies like me.

Having a long weekend with Easter and all we thought it would be a good idea to go back there and hopefully catch heaps of fish for dinner. It's a long drive from Waipu to Pouto, but definitely worth it. The entrance to the harbour is called "the graveyeard" as 113 ships have shipwrecked here in the past due to a massive sandbar. Locals have told us there's a way around the sandbar but it's quite a detour. According to the local website the most recent shipwreck dates back to 1994.

One thing I've been wanting to do ever since we first went to Pouto was go and see the lighthouse. Unfortunately it's a few kilometers down the beach and we never had enough time to walk there - and back. Again we made it to Pouto in the late afternoon so a bit too late. BUT this time the tide was just right for us to take Pebbles, our little Rav, onto the beach and drive to the lighthouse. You can do so two hours either side of low tide but it is recommended you have a 4WD! Matt was a bit worried we'd get stuck but I have to admit I didn't care. Remembering my 4WD adventures in Australia on Fraser Island I wanted to feel the thrill again *heehee*

After talking to a bunch of locals and getting some reassurance we'd be sweet as we took off...

It was sooooo much fun *woohoo* We had to be careful, though, because there is quite a bit of quicksand around. But the locals said to just boost through it - so we did. Gosh you have to be there to experience the feeling =D The lighthouse is about 12 kilometers down the beach so it took us a while to get there. Actually we almost drove past it because it is hidden up high behind the sanddunes. We only noticed because some other guys took their truck up on the sanddunes and we were wondering what the heck they were doing.

We tried to take the Rav up to the lighthouse, too, and actually made it half way up!!! Then we got stuck *lol* And had to turn around. Parked it at the bottom and walked up - and MAN she was steep! Even Matt was pumping by the time he made it to the top (I beat him because he was chatting away with some locals *g*)

The lighthouse itself isn't very special at all - but the view definitely is! Next time we go I'd love to book a quad tour and race around in  the sanddunes *heehee*

We ended our day - not with fishing but with a yummy bbq at the beach. T-Bone, baked potatoes, corn... a Kiwi stlye feast :-) Gotta catch some fish next time, but with the tide being so low there wasn't much chance of catching anything.

If you'd like to see more pictures of Pouto and the Kaipara Harbour - including snapshots Matt took while he was fighting a fire in the bush - follow this link...

Winter in Germany

on March 15, 2013

It's the last night with my family here in Germany today. After a farewell dinner at our favourite Greek restaurant tonight I'll travel on to Nürnburg tomorrow and after another short stopover will be going back home on Wednesday.

The last 2 weeks were a bit like travelling back in time. Nothing much seems to have changed around here except that everybody got a bit older *lol* My grandma asked me last week how many people I've met while I was here. To be honest - I've lost count. But I really enjoyed seeing every single one of them again. Talking to former schoolmates, colleagues, friends and relatives (and seeing their children for the first time!!!) and even being able to sing once again with the Little Lights of LE was worth the trip.

There's lots of pictures here if anyone would like to see :-)

The hardest thing was saying goodbye to my grandma knowing it probably was the very last time I got to see her. Already she's back in hospital where I spent a few more hours with her today. I wish her well, but I'm too realistic to think she'll be there forever...

Sleeping under the stars

on February 11, 2013

What a weekend it's been. We packed our bags early Saturday morning to head off to Whangamumu. It's a harbour - or more like a bay - in beautiful Northland, close to Russell (you have to follow SH1 from Whangarei going north, then off right at Whakapara towards Helena Bay/Oakura then follow the signs). Anyway... after almost half a year I was finally going fishing again *woohoo*

We arrived at our starting point Rawhiti just after noon. There's a track through native forest that leads you to the magnificent spot you can see in the picture. You can park your car along the road, but if you want to be safe (especially when staying overnight like we were going to) there's a lovely elderly couple, Victor and Barbara, who offer to look after your vehicle for $3 daily or $8 overnight. You can leave it on their property so all your belongings are safe. Apparently there's been some issues with theft and break-ins into cars just parked on the road. So consider this option if you ever wanna go there.

Once everything was settled and Barbara had given us a few tipps on where to fish we started the hike. The track takes just over an hour but MAN that walk is nothing for the unfit. The first 45mins are CONSTANTLY uphill and pretty steep, too. It's hard enout just to walk that - but even more so with all the gear we had. Food and water supply, bait and berley, fishing gear... We were more than relieved when we made it to the top of the mountain range. From there it was only another half hour mostly even ground with a final drop down to the beach. Full of sweat and exhausted from the heat I went straight into the water for a little swim. It was sooo nice and warm. Simply beautiful.

After a little rest we walked the remaining 15mins to the historic Whangamumu Whaling Station. The track leads you along the beach and is only accessible 1 to 2 hours around low tide. So time your trip well. When we walked back the next morning it was of course high tide so we had to walk through knee-deep water to get back to the track that lead home.

There's some information boards around the area of the Whaling Station that tells you about its history. A few of the buildings and boilers can also still be found. Quite interesting! Around 1910 they caught between 10 and 50 whales a season (nothing compared to how the sea gets raped today). We went for a good look around and eventually set up our gear on some nearby rocks. It didn't take long for the fish to bite - but unfortunately most of them were rather tiny and had to go straight back into the sea. I caught a few snapper and some kahawai that evening but since there wasn't anything decent around I eventually lost my patience and concentrated more on enjoying the scenery. There was an abundance of fish in the water and you could see them really close, circling around the berley bag. Pretty awesome =D

We also saw a couple of stingrays that kept swimming around. Matt was fishing until way after dark and of course had to hook the big one eventually. He handed the rod to me so I could have a feeling of the power those animals have. WOW what an experience! I took the stingray "for a walk" along the beach, but in the end we let the line snap off. After all - what would we want with a stingray? Poor creature took off again - only to come back to our spot minutes after, though!

Sometime close to midnight we finally ran out of bait. It was way too late to attempt the walk back so we just stretched out on the grass. Unfortunately the temperatures over here drop to below 10 degrees at night even in the summer. So despite 3 layers of clothes it got friggin' cold! I was shivering so bad I was sure to be suffering from hypothermia sooner or later. Luckily Matt though of the hypothermia blanket in our First Aid Kit! It's amazing how well these things work! Once blanket of course wasn't big enough for the both of us. But at least we could cover our hands and faces and upper halves of our bodies. Instant heat! Unbelievable! Next time we will come prepared better (yeah right, we always say that*lol*).

Still I didn't get too much sleep. Cold wind, hundreds of mozzies and the hard as ground just didn't do. As soon as the run started rising we got our stuff together and started the hike back to the car. Made it in less than an hour this time *woohoo* and well before the heat kicked in again. It certainly was an adventure!

Now only 2 weekends to go until I'm on my way to good old Germany for a little visit. Wonder what'll happen next weekend!

Waitangi Day 2013

on February 06, 2013

This year I really wanted to spend Waitangi Day up north - in Waitangi. After all that's where New Zealand as we know it now was born. Matt wasn't too keen at first but this time I got things done my way *heehee* and MAN did we end up having a fantastic time!

Weather was beautiful today: clear sky, lovely sunshine and only a little breeze. Once we arrived at Paihia we parked the car and went down to the Marina. Instantly spotted the chopper on the beach... that was one thing I've been wanting to do for years but it's always so bloody expensive! But after going on antique Russian Antonovs, shabby looking Polish Wilgas and even a glider (last summer) the one thing still missing on my wish list was a helicopter ride.

Lucky for me Matt was in a generous mood today - thanks to the good pay from fighting that massive fire in Pouto until last week. Anyway... I finally got my Xmas present *woohoo* we checked out SaltAir - the local company offering helicopter rides - and we found the perfect one for us.

20mins all the way to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rocks. I have to admit I was a bit scared. Over a yummy seafood lunch Matt told me about every thing that can go wrong in a chopper and about all the guys he (personally) knew who'd crashed and died over the years.

But... it was too late to chicken out. 12.30pm we took off. And WOOHOO that was a great feeling! Our pilot Manu told us heaps about the area, pointed out islands that were good for fishing and a lit of bits and pieces. The flight was over way too soon but I've taken tons of awesome pics! Will upload some in the next few days to share this unique experience with you.

I can only recommend this to anyone! The flight was smooth as, the view magnificent!

We still walked over to Waitangi afterwards to have a look around the Treaty Grounds. But there wasn't even a hangi available so once Matt got his hair cut for just $10 we headed back home. What a memorable day :-)

That's what I'm talking about

on January 28, 2013

My first "real" day of summer. What a bliss! It's been pretty windy all day but the sun was out and the surf was good. Spent a few hours at the beach around the corner, went for a swim and already got a nice tan. Even found a book on the shelf I hadn't actually read yet! Can't remember when I last read a book - sometime last year... Today was just what I needed after the busy season at the dairy. Refilled my energy to be ready for the kids at kindergarten tomorrow. Wonder how much they've changed over the past 6 weeks.

An early morning walk

on January 04, 2013

Since the New Year's rush is over my hours at the local dairy have been cut a little. But starting work at noon has its advantages - for example being able to go on an early morning walk to the nearby wharf and enjoy the scenery of our new home. Crystal clear water, lots of wildlife (we have a bird and wildlife sanctuary just around the corner) and an abundance of fish. Should do that more often :-)

Meanwhile - after having been working at the dairy for two weeks - I have not only memorized 95 percent of all the prices. I can also feel my right arm from doing ice-creams all day long. Growing some strong muscles there, I can tell you! Haven't had a day off for almost 2 weeks now and still got another 2.5 weeks to go before things are back to normal.I'm not really a workaholic, but somehow I keep ending up in situations like this *sigh* well, at least I get a free ice-cream (almost) every day after work *woohoo*

Here's more pictures of beautiful Waipu if you're keen =D