Welcome to the Jungle…

We started our visit to Costa Rica in the capital, San José (concrete jungle). Our airbnb is south of the city and has good views of both the CBD and volcanoes in the background from the fifth floor. Unfortunately, Kadin caught a bit of a head cold (probably from the plane, airport, or change of climate). But we have 3 nights booked and plenty of time to recuperate. Our apartment building has 2 swimming pools; one with 2 hot tubs on the 21st floor (roof-top) – it was pretty windy up there though! We spent most of our time relaxing but venture into the CBD on the last day. It’s pretty hectic with lots of people trying to sell you something. We didn’t buy anything but just people watched (many were watching us too – apparently, we must have been rather interesting to them). Some of the stares were pretty uncomfortable – but we didn’t take any valuables with us (including jewellery) and at least ‘no’ is the same in English as Spanish, so used that when people tried to give us items. That was one of the popular tricks; people holding balloons would put them right in front of a child’s face and then if they grabbed hold of it, they would start arguing with the parent to purchase it. Overall, we don’t rate San Jose highly, but you don’t really go to Costa Rica to visit the city…

On Wednesday, we spent over six hours travelling by mini-bus from San José to Manzanillo on the Caribbean Coast (East, Costa Rica). The shuttle service was delayed due to bad traffic in San José. The roads were extremely windy and narrow. We then were stopped for about 30 minutes (due to an accident, we think). When we finally reached our destination it was 2pm and we needed lunch. Our airbnb host (jungle trek guide), Peter, met us near our drop off point, stored our bags in the boot of his car and took as to a local place for lunch. The food was pretty plain but we needed to eat before commencing our trek into the jungle for our nights accommodation. Peter drove us to the entrance of the jungle, sorted us out with a pair of gumboots each and a walking stick. We then started our 45 minute jungle trek. He stopped regularly to show us different frogs, spiders, lizards, insects, plants and animal tracks. It was very muddy and humid but plenty of wild life to spot along the way…

We finally made it to our accommodation… Peter’s magnificent treehouse suspended 25m up in the tree. He explained to us how he was an engineer and an avid rock climber. There weren’t many rocks around to climb so he started to climb trees instead. He wants to show people that you can build around trees without damaging them. His tree house contains no nails – he could remove it and the tree would continue to grow without any sign of the hut ever being there. He also explained that from 25m height people can easily observe most of the wildlife. Once we were rested from our trek, he harnessed us up and we proceeded our ascent. It was actually quite hard work, but the views were incredible. You could see right out over the rainforest to the ocean. Peter left us to take a shower and get settled while he fetched our dinner from town. When he returned later, we pulled dinner up with our climbing rope, coiled it all up and he left us to experience our night by ourselves in the treetops. We saw a few toucans playing around, were mesmerised by the fireflies dancing as darkness came and were kept awake by the howler monkeys. The following morning, Peter returned, we threw him the rope and he ascended with our breakfast, which he prepared for us in the treehouse. After some more stories and spotting wildlife we geared up for the descent (slightly more scarier than going up – 25m suddenly looks rather high when looking straight down and jumping through the floor!). Peter put me at ease, and we both really enjoyed gliding down the rope to the forest floor…

On the way back, we were treated to the slightly longer trek and were once again filled with information about the Costa Rican flora and fauna. Kadin quickly volunteered to have the jungle creatures crawling on his body when possible. He especially loved it when Peter gave him a poisonous dart frog… but it jumped away before I could get a photo. Overall, this was the most amazing experience and if anyone (who enjoys the outdoors) is intending to visit Costa Rica, you should look into Peter’s place: https://www.natureobservatorio.com/

After we had checked into our next airbnb, a cute cabin (also in a jungle setting), we walk into the nearby seaside town of Cocles for lunch. We find a cute little restaurant and share a pizza. We spend the afternoon walking along the beach and roadside. Along the way we see sloths in the trees and hummingbirds (but they’re super fast and hard to capture on camera – we’re working on it though)…

 

The following morning, we headed down to the animal sanctuary to get up and close to some of the jungle animals. It’s pretty packed but it gave a good overview of the Costa Rican animals…

After 2 hours of animal observing we continued walking south. Eventually we found a beach access route, that Peter pointed out to us earlier. This takes us to a beautiful and somewhat secluded beach. We continued strolling along the coast for about 4kms, spotting monkeys in the trees along the way, until we reach the popular beach of Playa Punta Uva. Here we had lunch at a beach bar and enjoyed a swim in the Caribbean Sea…

Next, we hired a kayak each so we could go up the river to spot more jungle animals. We spotted three sloths high up in the trees right near the start. Further up we saw turtles and a cool bird of prey. The river was super calm and the jungle on either side made for a stunning and peaceful 1.5hour paddle…

The next morning, Saturday, starts off real slow (and continues that pace). The rain is pouring down around our cabin. It breaks just before lunch, so we walk into town to have lunch. During lunch another downpour surrounds us. When it eases, we continue further up the road to a chocolate shop. We order chocolate drinks and desserts and the rain pours down again. After we are all chocolated-out and the rain eases again we head back to our cabin and relax, spotting toucans from our balcony. Kadin makes crepes for dinner and we get ready to leave for northern Costa Rica.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

L.A de da!

So we made it to Hollywood… We landed into LAX Airport just before midnight in a downpour. The next morning, we are starving, it’s still pouring down outside and when we look at google maps the closest eatery is a 30-minute walk away. So, we treat ourselves to French toast for breakfast, delivered to our door by Uber Eats (it’s the airbnb equivalent to room service). We decide to head out to the Natural History Museum as the rain doesn’t look like it wanted to give up anytime soon. We spent a few hours wandering around the museum – the sets for the animal exhibits are so realistic and the dinosaur skeletons are really impressive. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, we find a whole section for rocks and minerals…

After our museum afternoon, we head outside into the rain and walk to a supermarket located half-way between the museum and our airbnb. The supermarket itself was a real experience as pretty much everyone shopping there and working there were Spanish speaking. We do a large enough shop to cover all meals over our next four days.

On Thursday we head to Universal Studios. The rain had eased off, but the temperature was still a cool 16 degrees. It was an awesome experience at the theme park. We just wandered the whole time – not really knowing what we were doing. The first thing that happened in our aimless wander was we ended up going into this building which suddenly started to look a little eerie..  turns out this place is the Walking Dead exhibit and we have to walk through this zombie filled room for 5 minutes. Kadin got a real kick out of my reactions! We get out of there (quite quickly) and then find ourselves beside Hogwarts express. We spend a few hours milling around Diagon Alley. The best part was entering the Hogwarts Castle. We had to stow away our things in lockers and then we joined a crowd of people and begun walking through the corridors of Hogwarts. It was pretty cool, with the talking portraits and all things Harry Potter… but we’d keep seeing signs warning about some ride, so I remained pretty uneasy because I am not a fan of roller-coasters. Sure enough, we get to the end and I find myself getting pushed into a seat and locked into place. It was a 4D rollercoaster – so it didn’t move quite as fast and there were no big loop-de-loops, instead the curvy screens all around you made it feel like you were really in the movie and flying on a broomstick with Harry. It was epic!!! Later, we find ourselves in Springfield meeting some of the characters from the Simpsons. We finish our day with the studio tour. It was pretty cool seeing some of the settings for well-known movies and shows…

On Friday, we head out to Santa Monica Pier. It’s super busy with many interesting characters performing or trying to sell you something. We watch a couple win a giant stuffed flamingo on one of the games – the competitive Gemma comes out… so we have a round of Ring Toss. Luckily, I don’t actually win because there’s no way the giant stuffed toy would have fit in my backpack! We walk along the beach to Venice Beach. Again, people watching is one of the best things about this place. It’s super packed with people until you go back a street and then it’s very quiet. We stumble across the canals which are bordered by beautiful homes.

On Friday night we go out to our first NBA game – LA Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (we’re backing the Thunder, or more importantly Stephen Adams the kiwi). Our tickets are pretty awesome, we get to sit right up the top of the stadium… It was a real surprise when we finally reached our seats, I go to sit down and there’s a sign that reads “You’re a winner…” We have a bit of time before the game starts so we go to find our ‘prize,’ the lady seems a bit disappointed when she realises we’re not local and gives us a pair of clippers glasses (I think we were suppose to sign up for an annual membership). The game was pretty awesome. Although the four 12-minute quarters takes about 2.5 hours due to all the time-outs. But the entertainment in between was a lot of fun. Only thing that would have made it better would be the Thunder executing more of their shots, but the home crowd left happy…

At the end of our streetOn Saturday, we enjoy a lazy day at home. Watching a bit of Netflix and catching up with our travel planning. In the afternoon, we go for a walk around our neighbourhood. The houses all quite different (some streets more posh than others) and so many churches in such a small area. It’s also very cool to look up and see that big Hollywood sign in the background.

 

We pack up and get ready for our next destination… Costa Rica, here we come…

Have fun at work!

Gemma

Lava Lava

On Thursday we leave Kona and head for the east side of big island via the Hawaiian Belt Road, which wraps around the southern tip of the island. We stop at this one-man operated bakery; Big Rob’s Bakery and Cafe. He made an amazing BLT sandwich, which we saved for our lunch later in the day and the best Malasada’s (Hawaiian donuts) which we enjoy in the car. We follow the road to the most southern point of the island (also the most southern point of USA) and find an easy park in the busy carpark at Kaulana Bay. It’s from here we have to either go by foot or pay a local $10 per person each way to take us on the back of their beat-up 4WDs to Papakolea, a remote green sand beach (1 of 4 in the world). We chose to go by foot. It’s a 5km walk which is quite confusing due to no signage and several tracks – all being used by these dilapidated 4WDs. There are several other travellers out walking too – and you can hear some arguing about which track to take at the various intersections; it’s kind of like being on an ultimate pick-a-path. We eventually make it to Green Sand Beach – it’s quite a drop down from a cliff to actually get to the beach. We enjoy a swim to cool down from the heat and wash the dust from the trail. We splash out on the $20 return 4WD trip. It was well worth it too; the truck felt like it was falling to bits the whole time…

We make it to our next airbnb, our host takes us around his section (a rural lifestyle block) telling us all about his plants. This was the longest check in ever – it took 90 minutes before we managed to get our bags into our room. But his yarns were pretty interesting, and this repeated many times during our 3-night booking – I’d hate to put him and my Aunty Kathryn in a room together! He’s a super interesting person who fought in the Vietnam war, built a house from scratch (and also built our cabin room), writes lyrics, has an eclectic taste in music (which we learnt from the CDs he loaned us for our day trips which included his own pirate record), he studies the life of pirates, dresses up as a pirate, is a professional Santa Clause too and foremostly a green thumb. His garden had many interesting fruits -unfortunately many weren’t ready. We did sample the guavas and an orange. There were also plenty of lizards and birds to take photos of. Each night we would sleep to the sound of the Coqui Frogs (who get their name from the sound they make – it sounds like they keep asking for a cookie)…

Our accommodation was about 6 miles away from the destruction of last year’s eruption and our host gave us detailed instructions on the roads we needed to take to see the lava flow and fissures. The drives were incredible – some houses/streets seemed completely unaffected while houses 50 metres away were buried under lava rock. Many streets had signs warning against trespassing which we were adhering to, standing just outside the cordoned off areas. Until, while taking a photo I hear suddenly “You can go over the fence… I’m a local…” Before I know it this Hawaiian lady is taking us on a guided tour right up to the lava flow…

We also found ourselves visiting a beautiful black sand beach. It was a bit of climb down to this spot and it was quite busy. Probably 100 people… and at least half of them were nude! (See the photo of Kadin below…)

Further up the road we found another black sand beach. This one is the newest beach in the world. It had just been formed from last year’s eruption. Here you could see the lava flow reaching the sea. The road in was built up and over the pahoehoe (lava flow). The black lava pebbles also made the water look black – made for an awesome spot to swim…

Just down the road from our airbnb was a nice lookout spot where the waves crash onto the rocks. We sat there for a few hours. Apparently, sometimes you can see whales from there. We saw some crabs and a local boy catch a fish from the rocks…

On Saturday we went to the Volcano National Park. Unfortunately, there was no active lava during our visit. However, there was plenty of gas and good walking tracks. The lava rock was very sparkly and we wanted to take a few pieces – but apparently if you do you will have really bad luck. We don’t risk it and just take lots of photos instead…

We kicked off our Sunday at the local farmers market where we bought these delicious banana/choc filled pancakes that were shaped like fish. We also get some more little bananas and a big juicy pineapple. I also treat myself to a coffee… they taste real good here -because they grow their own. Feeling full we head north to Hilo. Here we visit the gardens and rainbow falls. At the falls there is this amazing tree – we think it may be even more spectacular than the falls themselves. The town is almost completely closed, being a Sunday, but we find a local Japanese sushi shop and enjoy the fresh ahi – (tuna) fish on our sushi rolls. Another hour up the coast (it’s a spectacular drive around many ‘gulches’ – ravines) we end up at our airbnb where we settle on a free pasta snack (from the pantry) for dinner…

The next morning our airbnb hosts offer to give us a lift down into the nearby Waipi’o Valley in their 4×4. So, we head up to the lookout in our rental, park up, then jump in with them. It’s an intense road in, only accessible by 4×4 or by foot. But with all the rain (which there’s plenty of at this part of the island) the road looks very slippery and the hikers we see don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves as the descend. The road drops 800 feet (244m) in 0.6miles (0.9km) at a 25% average grade. At the bottom there is a black sand beach with a spectacular view of many waterfalls cascading from both sides of the ravines. Our hosts usually go surfing there – but the waves were a bit rough, so they put a hammock up instead and chill for a few hours. We hang around for a bit …thinking it’d beat the walk back. After an hour and a half, we decide we should start walking back – and maybe our hosts will spot us during our ascent (or we could put a thumb out and grab a lift with another 4×4). On the trail back out we see a crumpled car rusting away and stop to take a photo. A local calls out from behind us “the driver survived…” he then walks alongside us for about 10 minutes explaining the history of the area and sharing how he lives in the valley. Someone had burnt down his house (hut) the other night so he was trekking out to get some more supplies. He shows us a fresh water spring as he refills his bottle. Further research after this encounter revealed that there are at least 50 free-spirited hippies that live in the valley and it’s not uncommon for them to torch one another’s dwellings during disagreements (the police don’t get involved). As we part ways, he tells us to go down the side road to see the tallest waterfall in America. The twin waterfall is beautiful and worth the quick detour. We then start walking the ascent up to the top. It’s pretty steep – I’m sure if it was any steeper, you’d be rock climbing and need a rope. Our hosts end up picking us up when we’re just past the half way mark – perfect timing on their part…

We spend the rest of the day on the sunny part of the island. It’s amazing how the climate is so predictable. You can look at the map and see exactly where you need to drive if you want rain or sunshine. We find ourselves on a beautiful sandy beach until the sun begins to set, and we head back for our last night in Hawaii. On Tuesday we have a couple of hours to fill in between check out and going to the airport, so we head back to the sunny side and enjoy another beautiful sandy beach while we eat leftovers for lunch…

Next stop – Hollywood!

Have fun at work!

Gemma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snorkelling All Day and All Night

On Sunday we boarded our plane in Honolulu, O’ahu to travel to Kona, Big Island… but just as we were about to take our seat the pilot announced that we all had to get off as the plane was leaking fuel. So, we went a few gates along and boarded another plane (identical to the original plane but minus the fuel issue). We soon took to the air and were treated to beautiful aerial scenes of Waikiki, Honolulu and the other islands before quickly arriving at our next Hawaiian destination, Kona.

Waikiki Honolulu Oahu Hawaii

Our airbnb in Kona came with an amazing host who scrawled all over a map the many things to do and see around big island. He also offers for us to tag along with him the next morning when he goes paddle boarding, and we go snorkelling, so that he can point out where a family of sea turtles live. The next morning, we don’t travel very far… the beach is only 100m from the house and the turtle spot another 50m along. It’s a bit tricky getting in past the breaking waves but our host on his paddle board points us in the right direction and we find ourselves snorkelling alongside 4-5 turtles!

That night we head out for a real unique experience – night snorkelling with Manta rays… Our tour boat departs the marina around 5:30pm. We see a humpback whale breaching the water on our way out. Then we see the manta rays on the surface eating plankton… they do this all day long. The sun finally dips below the horizon and it quickly becomes quite dark. Our tour guides throw a floating plank overboard and turn on the massive lights underneath which starts attracting the plankton. There are also another 3-4 tour boats doing the same thing beside us. Suddenly we see a manta come near our board, so we get the go-ahead to jump off the boat and hold onto our board. Within 10minutes the 24 passengers on our tour have surrounded our floating board, snorkel masks on, laying on our tummies. But no manta-rays… just lots of plankton and greedy fish. After a few minutes (which felt much longer) a big shadow appears from below and as it rises you can see a massive open mouth scooping up the plankton as it glides towards the surface. This beautiful creature is so graceful. Just like a ballerina (and I’ve got a few friends who know all about my sudden new-found love for watching ballet) – The manta-ray glides all the way to the surface flipping over itself. This manta-ray only comes for a short performance. We’re left floating, waiting for more. It’s about then that I realise how cold it is and I begin to think how silly it is floating out in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night. Kadin is right beside me also hanging on tight and shivering too. So, I can’t help myself from calling out to him “Jack… Jack…” Unimpressed by my Kate Winslet impersonation, we continue our wait. It felt like an eternity, but the wait was well worth it. This time we had two manta-rays performing and they just kept going and going. They would glide so close that you could feel the power in the water pushing against our bodies. One of the two was easily over 10foot wide -the gigantic size made them appear all the more majestic. Watching the pair made me forget about being cold and I was disappointed when the guides called to us to return to the boat. Back on board and wrapped in our towels I quickly forgave the crew when you realised the timeframe in the water was probably well calculated. The return trip provided us with a great display of stars in the sky.

On Tuesday we headed south stopping in at another coffee place. The free tasting cups are almost as big as a cup I’d buy back home. Feeling I got my caffeine kick for free I bought a traditional Hawaiian Lilikoi (passionfruit) Cake instead which was a great morning tea treat. Our southern destination for the day was a visit to the City of Refuge, a sacred Hawaiian site that acted as a sanctuary for those who broke the law. Hawaiians would make a dash to these grounds by land or sea and on entering would be blessed by the priests and could then go back to their normal lives. Walking around these grounds reminded us a lot of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in NZ -several wood carvings and huts. Although lots more lava rock.

Right beside the City of Refuge was a well-known snorkel spot, Two Step. Our airbnb host had given us the heads up about this place so we had come prepared with all our snorkel gear. The waves were a bit surgy against the rocks and you had to time your entry and exit carefully… but the coral and sea life made it worth it.

Gemma Sit Down Paddler

The next morning, we headed into town and hired 2 stand up paddle boards. We headed straight out of the calm bay and into the choppy water (regularly being churned up by the many boats zooming past) …so stand up quickly became a sit down paddle board. Nevertheless, we paddled out toward a group of boats gathered together with snorkellers crowded around. The main attraction of course being a pod of spinner dolphins. Kadin attempted to join the snorkellers but it’s quite choppy and they move around quite a bit. At one point the pod surfaced right next to my board …but we soon felt that the whole situation seemed a bit full on for these creatures and get ourselves out of there.

Gecko chilling at our airbnbWe spent the rest of the morning chilling at our airbnb. Eventually we find our way to the farmers markets in town. Kadin buys an awesome Hawaiian shirt and I get a pair of turtle earrings. We then head north to a beach recommended by our airbnb host, Kua Beach. It’s a surfy spot for body borders and we set up camp between the lava rocks with our fruit drinks from the market, watching all the action until the sun sets.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

Aloha, Hawaii!

So we left New Zealand on Wednesday 20th around midnight and landed in Honolulu, Hawaii on… Wednesday 20th! This time it was 9am – Lucky us, we got to have a day twice (without a sleep between – yipee).

This was our first time coming to America… the airport security was a real experience. Definitely the biggest queue we’d ever been in. After taking all our prints, we were cleared and then joined the next big wait at baggage. Feeling rather groggy after the red-eye we made our way to the rental car company and Kadin found himself once again on the wrong side of the car and in control.

Having a bit of time before check-in. We decided to head to the Pearl Harbour Memorial. We didn’t spend too long there -you definitely could if you wanted to join the crowds and read your way through the exhibits. We just strolled along the waterfront and looked at the battleship and submarine moored in the harbour…

The rest of the day was spent organising a sim card for data, wandering around American shops like Walmart, having Taco Bell for dinner and having an early night in our airbnb.

The next morning our airbnb host sorted us out with beach chairs, snorkel gear and an umbrella. We headed north, straight up the middle of O’ahu – stopping at a coffee plantation and then Dole plantation to see where all our pineapples came from. We spent over an hour here looking through the massive shop, taking a train tour through the fields, having lunch and pineapple whip (ice-cream) ending with a quick walk through their maze (apparently the world’s largest)..

Further up the island we reached the coast. We stopped at several places along our way. First we went to Laniakea Beach, known for sea turtles. We saw several turtles swimming in the shore break and a couple chilling on the beach. Later up the road we stopped off at Sharks Cove which was basically a giant rock pool…

To wash off the salt we headed for Waimea Falls. This was a beautiful 3 mile walk through botanical gardens ending at the base of the falls in which Kadin went for a swim…

Our final stop on our northern adventure was at Kuilima Cove. We took our beach chairs (which you can wear like backpacks – super cool invention) and sat on the beach as the sun started to set. We also got our sunset photo on our way back down the coast, quickly pulling over to capture the moment…

For dinner we ventured back down to Honolulu and caught up with my cousin who happened to be in Waikiki from New Zealand at the same time. We also checked out her awesome hotel room overlooking the beach. Our airbnb was 40mins north in suburbia.

The next morning, after eating far too much at IHOP (international house of pancakes -delicious sounding menu, disappointing in delivery), we headed north along the west coast for a day of beaching and snorkelling. The first stop was ‘electric beach’ – right in front of Hawaii’s power station. The power plant uses salt water for cooling and releases the heated water back in the ocean via the pipe which draws in plenty of tropical fish and Kadin even spotted a turtle. At this spot and another swimming beach further up the road we noticed very strong currents in the water – suddenly pulling you out. When we saw flags on the beach we naturally swam between them, after we were pulled along the beach a fair way we jumped out and closer inspected the flags to find out they were really just advertising the rips! Whoops…

Further up the coast the waves increase – so we enjoy time on the sand and battle with the waves to cool off. Kadin got a great shot of me getting pummelled by a wave – make sure you click on the photos… see if you can spot Wally in the last photo…

The next day we woke at 5:30am and headed to the southeast of the island. We arrived at Hanauma Bay for the sunrise – but most importantly, beat the rush and gain a free entry, as the ticket box hadn’t opened yet. We set ourselves up on the beach for the morning. Kadin had some fun snorkelling with the GoPro while I relaxed under the umbrella with my book…

Further up the road we visit the Crater Botanical Garden. Here we see some cool plants and birdlife. A true highlight was when we saw a chicken had laid an egg on the roof of a car in the carpark…

We travel up the east coast for lunch and enjoy more swimming at the beautiful sandy beaches. Then we head back through the mountains to our airbnb. Our four nights on O’ahu went so fast. We are now ready to start our ten day adventure on Big Island. Mahalo!

Have fun at work!

Gemma

Returning Home

So it’s been about two weeks since we’ve last checked in… We’ve been enjoying our time catching up with family and friends in our home towns.

Kadin the florist

First off we made it to Kadin’s house in Tauranga. Here you can see Kadin in his parents plastic house where they grow beautiful alstroemeria flowers.

Only disappointment was that most of the many fruit trees in the orchard weren’t quite ready to be picked!

We enjoyed a full summers day at Mount Maunganui. Here we caught up with the newly weds from Adelaide who had chosen our fantastic country to spend their honeymoon. Our day at the Mount included some time at the iconic pink batch (pink house), taking a stroll around leisure island out to the blow hole and of course a mission to the top of the Mount for a spectacular view, followed by a well earned ice-cream from Copenhagen (a must do combo when visiting… hike and ice-cream). We also enjoyed a quick dip at pilot bay, dinner with some of Kadin’s friends from primary school and watching the sun set over the harbour…

On Sunday it was still super hot. Kadin’s brother and his fiance took us out to McClaren’s Fall to cool off…

On Monday we hit the road again and headed north. We took a small detour to visit Goat Island Marine Reserve. You can walk out on the rocks and usually see plenty of fish swimming in the clear water. However, the swell made it a bit difficult to see anything. But the coastal views were worth the drive…

After a full day driving we reached my parents beef farm in the Far North. We spent a few days enjoying farm life…

A highlight of visiting the farm is always going down to our river for a swim. As the weather continued to be amazing, we visited a couple of times and enjoyed the refreshing clear water. On one occasion we had to help move the stock on the way back from our swim. My mum thought this gave a whole new meaning to ‘lifestyle farming’…

We also spent several days at the family batch (beach house) in the heart of the Bay of Islands. We love staying in Tapeka because there are two beaches about 200 metres apart; a beautiful sandy beach which is perfect for swimming and rocky beach which is covered with shells and stones which are very therapeutic to look through.

Of course, being at the beach also means time for fishing. We had two great days fishing with perfect weather conditions. The first day resulted in 6 Snapper and the second day 11 Snapper for the dinner table. Of course there were other fish caught and returned (due to their size) the best being Kadin’s Kingfish which measured up 10cm too short. The Bay of Islands has more than 140 islands – so you can always have a beach to yourself. We enjoyed a picnic and swim on our own private beach. It’s a tough life…

On Saturday, the four of us; Mum, Dad, Kadin and I, hired eBikes from Opua to ride the coastal train track trail to Kawakawa and back (11kms)…

We had a great time catching up with many friends and family members (especially the free accommodation) before packing our bags today and heading back to Auckland, ready for our flight to Hawaii.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

Boomeranging Across The Ditch

Hi everyone… It’s been a little while since the last update on our travels. Since our return from our South Island adventure we have been to Whanganui, Adelaide and Hamilton (NZ-Australia-NZ; all in one week).

Our first three days in Whanganui were relaxing with family again. We enjoyed a lovely morning strolling along Kai Iwi Beach – which has that awesome west coast black sand. There was a great playground there too. Another afternoon we enjoyed a walk around Virginia Lake, feeding the swans and ducks. Kadin also had a couple of rounds of tennis with his family.

Our next big stop was (r)Adelaide for a long weekend… the purpose to watch our beautiful friends tie the knot in the hills just out of Hahndorf. We had a wonderful time and caught up with several friends. After all the wedding activities we spent another day catching up with family/friends in the Barossa.

Monday saw us re-boarding the plane for New Zealand. This time landing in Auckland and heading south in our hire car to the Tron (Hamilton). We spent the rest of the week (including Waitangi day – New Zealand day) catching up with friends and family. We wandered around our University, reminiscing the good old days at Waikato – the place we met over 10 years ago now. Always a highlight while visiting H-Town is the Hamilton Gardens – there were a few new gardens since our last visit, two years ago…

We found lots of swan plants in various places during our adventures throughout Hamilton and managed to capture the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly for your enjoyment…

On Friday my sister took us to the Hakarimata track (her usual Friday ritual) – pretty intense climb through the beautiful native forest. I only made it half way before running out of juice – but Kadin got some shots from the top too…

We’re currently in Tauranga and on Monday we head up to Northland to spend more time with family and friends. Probably won’t update again until we depart NZ on the 20th while we’re sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to Hawaii.

Have fun at work!

Gemma