Personal

February 2, 2013 – Hauraki Rail Trail, Paeroa, NZ

We spent an awesome day biking a portion of the Hauraki Rail Trail then doing a nice hike at the Karangahake Gorge along the way. Heading out from Auckland in the morning, we got to our destination just an hour later. This old railway has been turned into a bike trail which is fantastic. We ended up doing about 30km on the trail today with a stop for lunch at a sweet little cafe in Waikino. Our starting point was Paeroa which happens to be the place where L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) lemonade was invented and where the factory is located (you’ll see a few pics of us in front of a massive L&P bottle). Here’s a few pics from our day.

The "blue dragon" loaded up with our bikes. Sweet ride. May be the fastest blue station wagon in the southern hemisphere

The “blue dragon” loaded up with our bikes. Sweet ride. May be the fastest blue station wagon in the southern hemisphere

Rail trail used for gold mining in the 1800s

Rail trail used for gold mining in the 1800s

posing for a pic during the hike

posing for a pic during the hike

Steph - just about to embark through the tunnels. Gold used to be sent through this area...she may be looking for whatever is left.

Steph – just about to embark through the tunnels. Gold used to be sent through this area…she may be looking for whatever is left.

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sweet view of the gorge

sweet view of the gorge

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Rail trail on the left which follows the river for most of the trip.

Rail trail on the left which follows the river for most of the trip.

not a horrible view

not a horrible view

 

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Another pic of L&P bottle.

Another pic of L&P bottle.

Now time to do a little work.

January 25-28, 2013 – Bay of Islands, NZ

Steph and I were fortunate to get away for a long weekend up north – about 3 hours north of Auckland. The region is called Bay of Islands and we stayed in a beautiful town called Russell.

Had to take the car ferry...Steph is cruisin!

Had to take the car ferry…Steph is cruisin!

This is where we stayed...just steps from the water. Amazing spot.

This is where we stayed…just steps from the water. Amazing spot.

View from our deck...extremely difficult to sit here and have a drink...very tough life

View from our deck…extremely difficult to sit here and have a drink…very tough life

On our second day in Russell, we booked an amazing boat tour on the Phantom with Robyn and Rick. They run charters around the area daily on their beautiful boat. Happens to be Canadian made! They’re both amazing – they’ve sailed this boat thousands of miles. Rick has made the trans-pacific crossing several times. Apparently you only sleep for 10 minute intervals since that’s as a long as the it takes to cover the 3 miles to the horizon – any longer and you may hit another boat. He does this routinely…up to 48 days. No big deal!

Our captain Rick headin up to the bow. Rick has sailed multiple times across the Pacific - the guy knows a thing or two about sailing!

Our captain Rick headin up to the bow. Rick has sailed multiple times across the Pacific – the guy knows a thing or two about sailing!

Our group on the boat. Was blowing about 30 knots!

Our group on the boat. Was blowing about 30 knots!

Some guy livin the dream!

Some guy livin the dream!

The day out was a strong breeze to say the least! Only 6 of us on the boat which was awesome. We found an amazing little island cove for lunch which got us out of the wind.

Out boat the Phantom. A beauty!

Out boat the Phantom. A beauty!

Climbed up to this look out. Got this unbelievable view over the island and the rest of the bay. I think I took about 50 of the same pic...

Climbed up to this look out. Got this unbelievable view over the island and the rest of the bay. I think I took about 50 of the same pic…

Two lovebirds...

Two lovebirds…

Captain Steph...please note the boat is anchored.

Captain Steph…please note the boat is anchored.

Captain Petro. Also, please note that given there is a drink in my hand I wasn't actually driving. The boat is also anchored...

Captain Petro. Also, please note that given there is a drink in my hand I wasn’t actually steering. The boat is also anchored…

After lunch we had to go hang out on the deck...it was hard but someone had to do it.

After lunch we had to go hang out on the deck…it was hard but someone had to do it.

In case you're interested...this place is called Eagles Nest. This one "cabin" goes for 15-40K per night. I know, bit of a range, not sure how that's decided. People that stay here include Rod Stewart, Ashton Kutcher (and Demi when she was still in the picture) . And for the girls...part of the Bachelor was filmed here.

In case you’re interested…this place is called Eagles Nest. This one “cabin” goes for 15-30K per night. It wasn’t quite in our budget…. People that stay here include Rod Stewart, Ashton Kutcher (and Demi when she was still in the picture) . And for the girls…part of the Bachelor was filmed here.

That’s all for now, I have more pics but getting too tired to post.

January 12, 2013 – Matakana Wine Tour

The pics are in a bit of reverse order but nonetheless I figured I’d post a few from our trip to Matakana which is about 100km north of Auckland. We took a wine tour for the day and had great weather. We spent the day with our friends, Bonney & Paul who have recently immigrated to NZ from England.

Beautiful scenery in Matakana, New Zealand

Beautiful scenery in Matakana, New Zealand

Steph and our British friends (Paul & Bonney)  enjoying a delicious glass of wine!

Steph and our British friends (Paul & Bonney) enjoying a delicious glass of wine!

This place was modelled after Napa Valley.

This place was modelled after Napa Valley.

Double fisting, overlooking North Island wine country

Double fisting, overlooking North Island wine country

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Living the dream!

Living the dream!

More living the dream

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On the way to Matakana

On the way to Matakana

January 5, 2013 – Tour of Hobbiton: Film set of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit 

While I’m not really an avid fan of either of these movies (I haven’t actually seen any…), Steph and I did check out the movie set yesterday since it’s only 2 hours out of Auckland.

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It’s a pretty amazing place – in the middle of farm country with tiny single lane roads, Peter Jackson found the site while doing helicopter searches looking for the perfect location. The farm that he picked belonged to a local family who still live next to the film set. Our guess is that while the film contract (unknown $$) was probably lucrative, their 500 hectares with 13,000 sheep and a bunch of cattle provided a pretty adequate source of income.

pretty much anywhere you point the camera, you can take amazing photos...everywhere the colours just look amazing

pretty much anywhere you point the camera, you can take amazing photos…everywhere the colours just look amazing

Hobbit hole

Hobbit hole

Once the set was picked, Peter Jackson commissioned the NZ army to build 2-3km of roads on the property. Then they originally built temporary hobbit holes which subsequently have become permanent and are part of the tour.

The most impressive thing about the tour was hearing how fanatical about detail Peter Jackson was in making the film. For example:

  • He liked the size of apple & pear trees (in relation to hobbits) so he planted them, but Tolkien mentioned plums in the book, so all the leaves and fruit were removed and they hand tied “fake” plum leaves & plums onto each tree…madness
  • The famous oak tree in the movies had several thousand artificial leaves imported from Taiwan & individually wired onto the tree
  • On set, one person’s job was simply to walk up to the hobbit clothes line twice daily and change the clothes…why? to create a path in the grass to make it appear “lived in”…
  • He systematically designed each hobbit hole (all 37) depending on the size and scale of each film shot…so some are 30-40% of actual size upto 90%
  • Since Tolkien described many British flowers…Jackson flew a bunch of flowers from England to have them planted on the set…
I'm not sure I would be cast as a Hobbit...Steph however may have a chance!

I’m not sure I would be cast as a Hobbit…Steph however may have a chance!

Last week, one lady fell in this lake as she was backing up for a picture that her husband was taking. Steph managed to survive this tour without falling in!

Last week, one lady fell in this lake as she was backing up for a picture that her husband was taking. Steph managed to survive this tour without falling in!

More evidence that it's impossible to take a bad picture. A shot looking out over Hobbiton.

More evidence that it’s impossible to take a bad picture. A shot looking out over Hobbiton.

After a long & difficult tour we had to rehydrate with pints of Hobbit beer...would be better if it was a bigger mug

After a long & difficult tour we had to rehydrate with pints of Hobbit beer…would be better if it was a bigger mug

December 7, 2012 

Inspired by my brothers who both kiteboard, I decided to give kiteboarding a try while I’m down here in NZ. I’ve done two lessons (2-3hrs each) and things are moving along pretty nicely. For those new to kitesurfing, the first lesson is spent learning to fly a trainer kite and graduating to a bigger one. Once I got the handle of the little one, we went to the water and I learned to fly the full size one. It was a good day to learn with winds around 13-15knots. Did some body dragging which was probably the point that got me hooked…definitely great feeling being pulled around by the kite!  I’m taking lessons from Tony, an awesome dude who runs a great business down here around Auckland teaching people how to kitesurf (http://www.blueadventures.co.nz/).

Day number two, I did more bodydragging and then Tony thought it would be time to get the board involved. That led to me taking some huge falls but nevertheless I was able to get up both directions though I wouldn’t last too long. Hoping next session I should be able to get that board going and be cruising along! Here’s the pics of the beaches that we hit up for the lessons. Would’ve taken pictures myself except I was busy getting my ass kicked as I was falling all over the place!

Orewa beach. Site of my first kiteboarding adventure.

Orewa beach. Site of my first kiteboarding adventure.

Point Chev. 5km from our place in Auckland. managed to take some huge falls. but up on and walking today!

Point Chev. 5km from our place in Auckland. managed to take some huge falls. but up on and walking today!

December 1-2, 2012 (Coromandel Peninsula)

This weekend we took a 2.5 hour trip out of Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula, which is where all the Aucklanders go to hang out at their bach (e.g. cottage). No idea where this word “bach” comes from. Anyways, it was a beautiful weekend and fantastic scenery. Here’s a few pics from the trip. This was our first stop on the way, about 1.5hrs out of Auckland. Weather was fantastic – sunny and 20 degrees.

Tairua. My attempt at being an artistic photographer.

Tairua. My attempt at being an artistic photographer.

As we headed up the coast, we found Cathedral Cove. A beautiful beach that requires a short 2km hike from the carpark. The weather was amazing and as you’ll see from the pics, definitely worth the walk.

View from our Hike to Cathedral Cove

View from our Hike to Cathedral Cove

Had to capture Steph in mid-stride during our hike to the beach

Had to capture Steph in mid-stride during our hike to the beach

Water looks a little warmer than it actually is. But did get in for a quick  swim

Water looks a little warmer than it actually is. But did get in for a quick swim

Cathedral Cove! A beautiful beach where we spent a great afternoon.

Cathedral Cove! A beautiful beach where we spent a great afternoon.

Chillin on the beach after a refreshing swim

Chillin on the beach after a refreshing swim

The quintessential pic standing in the "cathedral cove". Booya.

The quintessential pic standing in the “cathedral cove”. Booya.

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After our trip to Cathedral Cove, we headed to Hot Water Beach. This beach overlies a geothermal spring so the hot water comes up to the surface…all it requires is a little digging to make your own personal bathtub. The locals have made a bit of profit by renting out shovels to people like us who need something to do the digging.  After renting our shovel, we made the trek to join the masses. The picture below shows you what we were up against. I told Steph, I wasn’t afraid of hitting someone with a shovel if it meant we would end up with a sweet pool!

the craziness that is Hot Water Beach. Based on the crowds, we didn't spend long looking for where we should dig our hole!

the craziness that is Hot Water Beach. Based on the crowds, we didn’t spend long looking for where we should dig our hole!

Like any good husband, naturally I took to digging us a sweet hole. And the answer is "yes" if you're at my biceps...I do workout.

Like any good husband, naturally I took to digging us a sweet hole. And the answer is “yes” if you’re at my biceps…I do workout.

Enjoying the fruits of my labor!

Enjoying the fruits of my labor! if you look closely in the background, there’s a dude in a blue shirt that thought it would be great to wear a tiny thong…one that would be considered small even around the Playboy Mansion. Best part is, he was just flaunting it like nobody’s business!

After a night in Whitianga, we spent the afternoon at this amazing hot springs/spa called “The Lost Spring”.

The Lost Spring

The Lost Spring

Step doesn't exactly hate tropical drinks.

Enjoying a daquiri

Enjoying a daquiri

November 24, 2012 (Karekare Beach) 

Trip to Karekare Beach. Ever wonder where the movie “The Piano” was filmed? Or more likely, last time you watched “Xena, Warrior Princess”…you thought…”if only I knew where that beach is”. Well, you’re welcome…the next few pictures are from that beach. It’s a beautiful spot about 50 minutes from our place in Auckland. Steph and I headed out there for a walk along the beach and a picnic. In NZ, people call going for a walk “going for a tramp”…but back home in Canada, this may be confused with us finding a prostitute. Which isn’t exactly what’s happening here! From here on in, any “tramping” we do in NZ will continue to be referred to as hiking.

heading out towards the beach from the carpark
didn’t exactly have to fight for picnic space….
Steph was trying to escape the camera
amazing. not much else to say
lovin life!

November 23, 2012

This blog has all been started since I’ve been in NZ. I moved here for 6 months with Steph (my wife) and we’re living/working in Auckland until April. Most of what’s up here is work related stuff…and it’s really been unbelievable all the exciting things that have been happening. For someone who is NOT a big a fan of heights…getting winched out of or jumping from helicopters wasn’t exactly what I would have planned on doing – but every experience has been awesome!

Anyways, I’ve posted a few pics from a recent trip to Rotorua – the geothermal centre of NZ…maybe an overstatement since I think the entire country is over top of some serious volcanic/earthquake potential. Anyways, Steph and I went to Rotorua for her birthday. I’m not sure it was exactly what she had in mind…haha but nonetheless it was an experience!

It’s interesting that the Kiwis call it Roto-Vegas. We have NO idea why they call it this…because while Las Vegas is well known for its ridiculousness, massive parties and just general debauchery, Rotorua would certainly be a far cry from that. Local bars, tumble weeds and some geothermal hotsprings are most of what the city has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, tons of stuff to do outside but definitely NOT anything close to Vegas, NV! Anyways, we did hit a beautiful wine and food festival along with a Maori war dance and village tour. We checked out some of the amazing geysers in the area and then capped it off with some great relaxing hot springs.

Steph enjoying a nice glass of NZ white wine! At the wine & food festival in Rotorua.
30m geyser at Rotorua. Amazing!

View from the hotsprings

Steph at the hotspring. Beautiful spot!

And for those looking for what our place looks like…our view…and where we head out at night!

walking around Auckland at night. Just across the harbour from our place.

Inside our apartment.

view from the balcony…once you look past the construction happening on the side of our building, its a pretty awesome view!

4 thoughts on “Personal

  1. Pingback: New post from our weekend away on the Coromandel Peninsula | Sim and Choppers

  2. Pingback: Kiteboarding session! | Sim and Choppers

  3. Pingback: Pics from our wine tour in Matakana | Sim and Choppers

  4. Pingback: Sweet day on the Hauraki trail | Sim and Choppers

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