Posted by: annie | July 29, 2011

what an egg!

I’ve been doing my placement at a high school in one of the small towns in my area. The whole school has about 600 students. I’m working in the student centre (check out my NZ spelling) with the social worker, student advisor, and nurse. All really nice women. I’m having a good experience working with the students and co-facilitating groups. One weekend I went out for drinkies with a group of teachers after work in what might be the only bar in town which they opened early so the teachers could get in there for some drinkies (yes I used it again cause I think it’s funny)

Spending so much time in a college (high school) exposes me to lots of new zealand sayings, slang, and teen speak. Some of them not appropriate for sharing on this blog. College used in place of high school has been one of the harder ones to get in my brain. I’ve made heaps of references to college in the last year and a half that I don’t quite remember so who knows how those got interpreted. There might some people out there who think I had a pretty wild time in high school. I think being called an egg is so silly, I can’t pick this one up either. An egg is the equivalent of an American dork. Lots of the kids I work with are just hoping that they’re not big eggs. Here are some things students have asked me for:

some ream


a viva

a felt

a plaster

Oh and they call me Miss first. How cute. I  love being called Miss. “Miss, can I have a plaster?” I had no idea what any of those things were and the kids never knew the american word so they’d have to try to explain what loose leaf paper was (a ream), white out (twink), permanent marker (viva), regular marker (felt), and a band-aid (plaster). It was pretty funny. Them thinking I was a little slow and me trying to figure out what the heck they wanted.

It’s midwinter here and I started feeling like all the winter holidays should be right around the corner. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. The grocery stores started selling midwinter christmas treats. I came across a magazine article discussing the current trend of hosting midwinter holiday gatherings. My place is way to small for that, so I just made pumpkin pie for the ladies at work. They don’t have canned pumpkin here so they were made from scratch. A few of my co-workers had their first piece of pumpkin pie. It was a big hit and even those who scrunched their faces in confusion over the idea of a sweet pumpkin treat were won over.

Months ago I took a road trip with Sarah and her friend to Coromandel which is a few hours drive east from Auckland. I was most excited about Hot Water Beach. Here’s why: “An underground river of hot water flows from the interior of the earth to surface in the Pacific Ocean at Hot Water Beach. “Two hours either side of low tide visitors flock to the usually deserted Hot Water Beach to find hot water bubbling through the golden sand.  Families, kids  and couples can been seen digging their own spa pool in the sand to lie back in and relax while the steam from their hot pool envelops them.”

YAY! Hot Water Beach (I loved it here):

we were jealous of these guys. great idea

The other big attraction is Cathedral Cove. A filming site for Narnia. Here are two pics from the hike.

a tui bird

After walking the lovely trail that leads to the area on the beach which is Cathedral Cove we found this

I didn’t feel like climbing down there, it was muddy and seemed a little dangerous. I can go back another time. Sarah’s friend from England was really excited get down there so I can show you her photos.

Ok, well that’s it for now. I have more pics from this trip that I’ll get up next time. Hopefully, I won’t take so long to post again. My placement is ending soon so I’ll have more time for blogging as I try to avoid doing my school work.

Posted by: annie | May 4, 2011

All is well

Hi everyone. just a quick note to say all is well. The tornado that hit in New Zealand was actually in Albany which is where my school is and where I lived when I first arrived. It hit the grocery store that I used to shop in all the time which is pretty much next door to my school. Luckily, I wasn’t in town that day. I checked in with Tracey and Brittney (my old housemates) and they and their home are fine, just a little shaken up. It is very rare for a tornado to hit anywhere in New Zealand.

Posted by: annie | April 16, 2011

Back To School

Hello again. Looks like I haven’t blogged since the middle of summer which was about four months ago now. I wish I could say it was because I was so busy, I just didn’t have the time. The truth is, I had a lazy, sunny,beachy summer and it was hard to accept its end.

In fact, I was so engrossed in a free-flowing carefree summer that I somehow forgot to enroll in the final year of my degree. In my defense, I did not receive a reminder email from the school. I had a hazy idea of how or when or where I had to be at the end of February, but turns out I was wrong about most of that and going back to school was a bit jarring to my body, mind, and spirit. I’ve been charging through the last 7 weeks of classes and assignments that have been decidedly less interesting or engaging than last year mostly due to my nonexistent interest in anything to do with research (which is the primary focus of this year). I am also struggling with what I’ll just call a personality conflict with the main educator of the year. Luckily, all that has ended for the time being and I’ll be starting a placement in a nearby high school after a 2 week break because the kids are on Easter holiday.

And by the way, you should see the size of the Easter candy these kids will be getting. It’s all giant, giant chocolate bunnies and eggs and various other giant things. It looks like it all came from Costco. At least it’s mostly all made by Cadbury which is a descent chocolate.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the severe PC bias in this country, but in my class I’m the only one with a Mac and I’m sure when I mention it, people look at me funny. There is no official Apple store in New Zealand and it is difficult to even find the very few stores that sell Apple products. So when I had my first computer related trauma: the hard drive crash, it made it all the more stressful. At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering if I backed up and the answer is nope. One of those things on my list of things I’ll do someday, which at this point of course I do having learned my lesson. In fact, one of the Apple employees said “a person should expect their computer to crash within 3 years”. If that’s true, I think they should put some kind of warning label on the box. It took about 3 weeks and some really crap customer service to get it all sorted and fixed and I ended up losing everything on the hard drive.

Luckily, I didn’t keep anything important on my computer, well other than photos and music. I was gutted (common NZ word) to lose those. My only solace was the burned copy of Mumford and Sons I had recently made for my neighbor. If that was the only music I owned for a while (well aside from a few CDs and an ipod I transferred a small selection of songs to), I was content. It has easily become the one CD I’d take on the island. If you haven’t heard them, here’s a sample:

I have started putting a music collection together using the library ($2 per CD), the second-hand stores, and Sarah’s itunes library (lots of Latin grooves!). It’s actually been pretty fun.

 In neighbor and exciting horse news, we’re getting a new roommate in the front house and she’s a horse owner! She’s offered to be my riding teacher. Needless to say, I am very excited.

I was able to take a little sight-seeing adventure with Sarah and her friend about a month ago to Coromandel. I’ll save all of that for a later post, but I’ll share some photos of a closer to home day trip to Goat Island. I wasn’t aware of this marine reserve until recently which is a bummer because apparently dolphins hang out there and little blue penguins live out in the caves of the island. It’s known for snorkeling and diving because of the fish and marine life. We went on a fairly rough sea day so my attempt at snorkeling was a little comical as I spent most of my time swimming against the strong undertow just to move a couple of inches.  Here are some pics:

The most exciting event of the day was the visit from this little guy or girl:


This is about the most adorable thing I’ve seen in New Zealand. The little penguin stayed right in the safety of this tree all day long. We had our spot on the beach right next door and kept an eye on it. He/She moved very rarely.

*I’m adding these two new penguin pics from the friend I was with.

I’ll have more on my trip to Coromandel soon.

Posted by: annie | January 6, 2011

Are you all right?

Happy New Year.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  I had a nice time enjoying my first summer Christmas season.  It was weird and different in a kind of fun way.  Christmas is celebrated here in much the same way as it is in the U.S. from what I could tell, certainly in terms of decoration, presents, shopping, and lots of food.  The food is more in line with British traditional Christmas meals which feature turkey or ham  and British puddings (desserts) which I saw in all the stores labeled as christmas cake or pudding.  Whatever you’re having for dessert, I’m pretty sure you’re meant to put custard on it cause everyone was buying that and it was prominently featured in all the stores.  I could not find any egg nog and I blame the custard.  Lots of people receive a big old ham from their employers for Christmas.  Sarah brought one home on her last day at work before Christmas which she cooked and was nice enough to share with me.  I gave them some of my lasagna in return.  What they do have that is different is Boxing Day.  The day after Christmas which traditionally was the day people opened their presents/boxes.  It is really the same as our day after Thanksgiving.  A huge shopping day filled with sales and bargains and loads of people.  I stayed home.

What I think is really nice for people here is that pretty much everyone has at least a week or two off from work.  Many businesses close for about one to two weeks if not more.  Two days after new years day I went to the local grocery store and it was the only place open in a strip mall of about 15 little shops, food places, and stores.  New Zealanders by law have 4 weeks of vacation per year, some people get more.  It does not have to be earned, it is yours the day you start.  Lucky New Zealanders!!!  Many of them do have to use some of that during this time of year if they want to be paid during the time their office is closed, but I wouldn’t be complaining about that.  It’s the holiday season and early summer, a beautiful time to be on a forced vacation.  Of course, that means everyone is on vacation at the same time so popular places can be a bit crowded.  It didn’t affect me much, my local beaches have plenty of room.  It’s a nice atmosphere living in a country on vacation, every one is more relaxed; they smile more.  Even the people who are at work seem more easygoing, it’s still that holiday feel when no one is really doing much.  Here it lasts much longer that it does in the U.S.

I’ve been living here in the country with my British neighbors for about two months now and I only recently (a few weeks ago) deciphered the meaning of their standard greeting “Are you all right?”.  Sarah likes to say “Are you all right, lovely?” (an endearment which I have totally embraced).  I really thought for some time that they meant what we Americans would mean asking that question and I started getting concerned about their concern about me.  I also probably over shared many times trying to explain how all right I was.  Because all they are saying is hello, maybe how are you?  They’ve also explained the British love of custard.  They do put it on everything: pie, fruit, crumble, ice cream, cake.  I recently made a strawberry rhubarb pie and shared it with them but we had ice cream with it.  I decided to also try the custard. Here’s a pic of the pie, the custard and the custard pie.

It was actually very tasty. I’m in favor of custard.

Shortly after New Years, I walked out my front door and discovered this wonderful surprise in the fields:

I have no idea how they got there, whose they are, or how long they will be here.  Steve (the owner of the property) didn’t bother to inform any of us about this development.  So, I don’t even know if they have names.  They just make me happy so I will enjoy them while they’re here.

One of our trees came into bloom in the last few days and I think it is so pretty.  I’m not sure what the name of it is, but have a look:

Posted by: annie | December 7, 2010

goodbye sheep

Last week I had been going for walks to the nearby park intending to stop by and say hello to my new sheep friend, but wasn’t able to find him in the paddock.  I thought maybe he was hanging out by the trees and I couldn’t see him, but after a couple of days of never seeing him out there I started to become concerned.  The other day Sarah came by to let me know that she and Marc were heading out-of-town for the weekend and offered me use of their house and the BBQ.  They have the big tv, movies, cable, and the Wii.  Before she left, I asked her if she knew where the sheep had gone off too.  Sarah told me that she and Marc had decided to have the sheep killed.  I was shocked because I hadn’t heard anything about this and I couldn’t imagine why they would do that.  Sarah explained that Steve (the owner mentioned in the previous post) had told them when they rented the place that the sheep was theirs.  He pretty much came with the house.  Recently, Steve had been telling them horror stories of what might happen to their sheep if they weren’t taking the necessary steps in keeping the sheep healthy.  Sarah started talking about the possibility of worms eating him from the inside out.  Steve wasn’t willing to help them with the sheep even though technically it was his and he does have sheep on his property that he cares for.  Sarah and Marc were left to worry about the time and cost etc of caring for the one sheep that Steve had randomly made a part of their rental agreement.  I don’t know why they decided to kill him, there are many places out here that may have taken him, and I don’t think they looked into how we might have been able to care for him or make trades or find someone in the neighborhood to help.  I wish they had talked to me about it, I would have tried to find a way to make it work.  I wish I had gotten the chance to save him.  He was such a friendly little guy and I was really happy to have an animal friend around.

I was pretty angry about it, most of my blame was directed at Steve.  It was a strange and unfair situation he put Marc and Sarah in and I have a feeling he was happy to have them get rid of the sheep for him.  I was also unexpectedly really sad about it.  I guess I was more attached to the sheep than I thought.  I had a good cry about it that night.  I miss my little sheep friend.

In an effort to cheer myself up, I bought myself a ticket to a rock’ n’ roll show and took myself out on the town last night.  Has anyone seen the doco (documentary) Young at Heart? or seen their show?  The Young at Heart Chorus is a group of seniors in their 70s and 80s from the east coast (in the U.S.) who totally rock!  soul, rock, funk, punk.  yes, punk rock people. these seniors have attitude!

When I saw the documentary on TV the other day, I was so taken with them and moved.  What an amazing group of people and they were having so much fun.  I bought my tickets that night for the next day’s performance.  The TV station ran the doco the night before their show here in auckland.

The show itself was one of the best I’ve ever attended.  It was so much fun.  I was dancing, clapping, laughing, crying.  They did some really lovely songs about memories, loss, and love.  Hearing those songs from people so close to the end of their journeys made them so poignant and layered with lifetimes of emotion and experience. When they sang “there is no time but now”  it took on an urgency that was impossible not to feel.  I was so enamored of their humor, courage, whimsy, and passion.  Those things don’t disappear with age, we let them go.  My entire perception of aging shifted by the end of that performance.  So often in our culture the only messages we receive about aging are fearful and negative.  On the stage last night, there was grace and dignity but also the spirit of rebellion and defiance.  I loved it.

Some of the women had some pretty awesome dance moves, shaking their hips and gettin down.  It reminded me of my own grandmother who is turning 90 next year.  She would have been amazing up there.  One of my favorite memories of her is her singing in Italian, “O Sole Mio”  and the other is her teaching me the Charleston.  My grandma has the moves and so did some of those women on stage.

If you didn’t see the movie when it was out in the theaters, here’s the trailer.

This scene from the movie had me in tears.  It was a dedication to two members that had recently passed.

Posted by: annie | December 2, 2010

lunch at mine

I had an eventful week in the country during the Thanksgiving holiday.  I hope you all had a great day and enjoyed some good food.  It was sunny and warm here and didn’t feel at all like Thanksgiving.   Things around my little sleep out were bustling and busy.  I hosted a nice luncheon at mine for my friends from the women’s centre, we all made friends with the sheep that lives alone in the paddock, there were people here painting the house, and people outside my window and behind the sleep out all weekend collecting wood.  Not really the peaceful country life I envisioned.  Luckily things have calmed down this week.

I took a few pics of the sheep while we were making friends:

Heather is feeding him weeds which he loved

He loves to be pet.  Isn’t that adorable?

this is where he was hanging out until he saw us and then he came running

After we had gone back to my place, I heard some kids yelling outside.  When I looked out the window, I saw a bunch of kids gathered at the fence at the end of the sheep’s area yelling to him.  When he saw them at the fence, the sheep went running across the grass toward them.  When the kids finished their visit with the sheep, he followed them as far as he could down the path.  So cute!

We all felt sad for our new sheep friend as we realized how much he seemed to enjoy  company.  He must be lonely out there all alone but we also wondered why the owner of the property put him out here. Was he a bully?

The following day Steve (the owner) was here and I got the story of why our sheep friend was ousted from the flock to his solitary paddock.   Steve told me that the sheep was raised by another family as a pet and when they bought him, he didn’t enjoy being around the other sheep.  Apparently, there’s a little stream on Steve’s property and the sheep would swim himself across it and then stand on the other side making a lot of noise.  Steve would go out, tie the sheep’s legs together, put him over his shoulders and cross the river to bring him back to the other sheep.   The third time the sheep got himself stuck on the other side of the stream, the sheep peed on Steve while he had him on his shoulders and that was the day he was transferred over here to his very own paddock where he much prefers the company of humans.

I really appreciate this story for the peeing on Steve part because Steve was here that day with his chainsaw and when I went back into my sleep out he started cutting down the beautiful trees right behind me.  I was sitting inside listening to the noise of the saw, then the creak of the tree beginning to fall, and finally the shaking of the ground as the tree fell to the earth.  After a few of those, I started getting really angry because he just kept cutting and more trees fell and I could feel it vibrate through me when they hit.  It was really sad.  I went out to ask him just how many he planned on cutting.  He said, “every one”. Unbelievable!! He complained that the needles were getting on the roof and he would have to clean them too often.  How he thinks needles are coming from the trees that line all the way down to the end of the paddock is beyond me.  He ignored my pleas to save some of the trees and cleverly deduced that I was a “greenie” which he said with very clear disdain while he informed me that he was practical.

Ugh, can you tell how much I dislike this man?

Well, here’s some photos of the offending trees:

there were trees all the way up to the house

here are the trees that were cut down

Luckily Steve has some respect for the guy that rents the house in front and was persuaded to save the bulk of the trees that he hasn’t already cut down for the practical reason of privacy. Marc and Sarah were as upset as I was about losing the trees.  They figured he was going to make some money for the wood.

on a lighter note:

look at what’s growing on my citrus tree:


The answer to the slang quiz:

My shout = my treat

so I’ll shout you some chippies = I’ll buy you some french fries.

Jen was the closest although Joelfre’s guess sounded more fun.

Posted by: annie | November 16, 2010

I’ve shifted house

Hello again.  I’ve been absent from the blog for a while, mostly because it has been a busy time for me.  My school year recently ended and I’ve been moving (or shifting house as they say here).    I’m officially on vacation for the next 3 months or so.  So far it hasn’t been much of a vacation, I’ve been working my ass off moving into this little sleep out ( a separate studio like living space on someone’s property) that needed a little work put into  it before and after moving in.  For some insane reason the previous owner had painted the walls and floor gray.  Ugh! ugly and depressing.  I decided to paint it a light yellow color and had the unpleasant discovery at the local home depot type store that paint  is, like many other things here, shockingly expensive compared to the U.S.  I’ve made an effort to stop asking employees how much things are because of my embarrassing open-mouthed stunned expression whenever they give me the answer.  I also can’t help following that up with what I’m sure is an annoying U.S. price comparison.  For example, the 2 litre (not even a gallon) (metric system, I’m slowly adapting) can of paint I bought to paint my space was about $90 (NZ).  The tiny little can of white I used to paint the door was $25.   It was worth it. The yellow walls look lovely and cheery.

There were some things I needed to live on my own again since I moved over here without any household items etc… The couple I rent with furnished the place with some things and most of the kitchen.  They are a really nice couple around my age from England that have been here since April.  They rent the front house and we share the laundry.  They actually had all their stuff shipped over here from home, furniture and everything,  even a Wii.  we were playing the sports game the other night.  I lost at both bowling and tennis.  Sadly, there is no rock band.  They do have the best hoover (vacuum) I’ve ever used, made in Germany.   Anyway, I’ve been running around shopping all over the place including the op shops (opportunity shops/second-hand shops) that actually have some really great stuff.  The shopping part of this move has been fun, the really not fun part was what I spent this last weekend doing – carpet installation

On my first night in this little sleep out, the evening was pretty cool and as the night progressed, I could feel the temperature around me steadily falling.  I added layers, fished out my slippers, covered up with a blanket and  I was still cold.  I considered moving out the next day because I knew I wasn’t gonna make it if it was going to be that cold in there.  The next day I decided to try to make it work. I figured I’d try to do some insulating with heavy curtains and possibly some carpet.  Summer is coming and I should be warm enough at least for the next few months.  Tracey let me borrow her little heater as well.   A few days ago, I got someone’s old carpet from trademe which is sort of like a cross between craigslist and ebay.  It had been removed in strips so I had to clean it and then piece it together and fit it in my space which was hard work. It doesn’t look that great, but it seems to be helping with the cold at night.

I forgot to mention that I’m now a country girl.  The country is about 15 miles or so west of town (auckland) close to the black sand beaches of Bethels and Muriwai (the one with the birds) that I had pics of here in older posts. I live near lots of wineries and horse stables.  There are sheep living next door and the land outside my window is home to one sheep that the owners left out there on his own.  The owners said he may be joined by either more sheep and calves or horses.  I’m hoping for horses.   And according to my dad who likes to check out my locations on maps, there is a fireworks factory nearby.  I’m thinking with all these horses around, I may start taking riding lessons.  I’m also on the look out for a little part-time job.

I took some pics of my new place

the driveway

the front house rented by marc and sarah from England.  we’ve already had two barbecues on this deck.  Kiwis love to bbq.  I think Kiwis might be more into their bbq’s than midwesterners.  but it’s a tough call.

my sleep out

the view from my window

here are some things in the yard

The pohutukawa tree is also called the New Zealand Christmas tree because they bloom around Christmas time and they are red like holly.  They’re all over.

a close up of the crimson flowers.  On my first day out here, I stuck my head right into one of those getting out of the car.  I think the whole flower came off into my hair.  I had those little sticky threads falling out of my hair all day. It was a painting day so there are actually a couple painted onto the wall. ha ha……

one of our water tanks. we’re on rain water

marc and sarah’s gumboots. a must in the country 🙂

citrus tree. i’m not sure what these are. they look like mandarins but taste more like grapefruit.

a little fun:

I’ve got a Kiwi slang quiz for you if you want to play.  One of my friends said this to me.

“I’ll shout you some chippies.”

What is this kiwi saying to me?

I’ll have the answer in the next post.

Posted by: annie | October 9, 2010

I went to the music awards

I have been working hard (well sort of),(ok not really) at my placement for the last month or so. In fact, the other day we spent most of our time at the beach for some creative strategizing. I was there mostly for support and for the trip to the beach, is there a better place for relaxing and creative thinking? We’ve gone there enough to have a bit of a routine. I bring my camera for any photo ops, we stop for a lunch of fish and chips, coffee, or some locally made creamy ice cream (sadly they do not import Ben and Jerry which means no more Cherry Garcia so this stuff will have to do), and we visit the birds to see how they’re coming with mating season. I’m anticipating the birth of the little ones which should happen around November or December. Yay!!

Here are a couple of pics of the sheep that roam the rolling green hills of the country side on the road to the beach. I figured I ought to have sheep pics considering there are more sheep in New Zealand than people.

this mum had her eyes on me the whole time I was snapping my photos

here’s a couple little ones

On this day, I had been invited to go along with my co-workers and some of the young parents we work with to the New Zealand Music Awards that were going to be broadcast on television.  We had been given free tickets  so I figured it would be fun to see the performances and have a night out.  I have become somewhat familiar with popular New Zealand artists through the radio and tv.  The local channel does a little spotlight on New Zealand artists in place of a commercial sometimes which I think is cool as (you can just say as after descriptive words to emphasize them) this was sort of annoying at first, I was always thinking as what??  why don’t they finish a thought?  ha. now I’m saying it.

I actually had a favorite nominee.  Stan Walker is a former Australian Idol winner.  He’s a Maori New Zealander/Australian ,sometimes referred to as a Mozzie (Maori Ozzie) and is played on the radio really often. I was happy to see him win for people’s choice, international achievement, and highest selling single.  I would say of all the artists that got a start on Idol, he’s my third favorite after Adam Lambert (I think NZ loves him too because they play him on the radio all the time) and Kelly Clarkson.  If you’re curious here’s some Stan Walker:

I also really like this song by Brooke Fraser. She wasn’t nominated for any awards this year but check out her catchy song.

The awards themselves were actually a pretty good time.  It moved quickly, the host was entertaining, the performances were good, and the speeches were short.  Annoyingly, it seemed everything was corporate sponsored.  This included the awards themselves: “The Vodafone NZ Music Awards”, and some of the individual awards like:  the “Mazda Best Female Solo Artist”, and the “Steinlager Pure Best Group”.  I found it odd and distracting. I was also distracted by a young man sitting behind me who would create a mantra of the artist he wanted to win at every category announcement and repeat this mantra until the winner was announced. He had a particular favorite that was nominated many times throughout the night. “Dane Rumble”, “Dane Rumble”, “Dane Rumble”  He was wrong 99% of the time.  I hope he didn’t have any money on it.  The one time Dane Rumble won, was the one time in the night this guy wasn’t even there to chant his mantra. Ha! Sorry guy 😦

I have no photos worth posting, but I’m going to upload some you tube videos of some of the artists if anyone wants to sample some Kiwi music. I found one photo just to give you an idea of where we were sitting.  By the way, if you ever wonder what’s going on during commercials at awards shows, based on my experience, it’s nothing.  It is kind of entertaining to watch the cameras zooming around the stage and audience and the camera guys scrambling around the stage.

here’s DANE RUMBLE, Best Male Solo Artist:

this is Gin Wigmore. She was the big winner of the night.

The Phoenix Foundation, Best Group:

Anika Moa, Best Female Artist: (she was one of the highlights of the night, a beautiful voice and a hilarious woman)

Kids of 88, Single of the Year:

David Dallas, Best Hip Hop

did you know these guys were from New Zealand?? I loved this awesome 90’s tune:

And finally, I don’t think I can do a post on NZ music without mentioning this song. If you watch anything, watch this one. I love it. I think you could say it’s a NZ anthem. It was originally released in the 80’s and recently was featured in the NZ film “Boy”.  This video has clips from the original video and the movie.

here’s The Patea Maori Club with Poi E:

Of course, this is a little sampling of NZ music. I hope you found something you enjoyed 🙂

Posted by: annie | September 9, 2010

west coast beaches

In my last post, I shared some pics of Bethel’s Beach on the west coast of auckland. Recently, I finished my west coast beaches tour and have some pics of the other two golden sand beaches over there, Piha and Murewi.  Piha is the more popular and well-known beach.  It’s one of the major beaches for surfing, hosting national and international surfing competitions. Piha is also one of the most dangerous beaches in New Zealand.  Almost everyone I’ve talked to have a story of someone they know that either died or almost died swimming or surfing there. There’s even a helicopter landing pad in the parking area for emergencies and a local TV show about the rescues that happen there.

you can hike up that rock

While Piha may be the more popular spot, Murewi is definitely my favorite of the west coast beaches. It is just gorgeous and quite a photogenic beach. I took tons of pics hoping to capture the beauty and  somehow transmit the feeling of being there ( I don’t think I succeeded)  I was there during a gloomy day which heightened the moody, wild feeling of the rough open sea colliding with the rocky cliffs and rolling hills.

As beautiful as the beaches are, the drives to reach them can be quite stunning as well.  I drove about 20 minutes through the dense greenery of the rainforest on either side of the narrow roads climbing steep cliffs and navigating sharp bends in the road.  There were many homes hidden behind the trees down steep driveways that appeared intimidating. There were no opportunities to pull over for photos since the road lacked a shoulder.

Murewi is also the home of the only gannet colony in New Zealand.  I was visiting them during mating season. There are some adorable pics of some good old-fashioned courting. I’m excited to go back when the little ones are born.

gannet lovin

Things have been going well here. We’ve had some lovely sunny days between our steady gray rainy ones recently promising warmer, sunnier, springier days in our near future.   I am probably the most excited of anyone in New Zealand because I have had one year of winter. I’m a hibernating bear having her first spring in a whole year!! My liver is super excited and sometimes I feel like I could run a mile. And I don’t run people, but my body wants to, so I do a little jog/walk thing around the neighborhood.

All of this extra exercise made me think I could reward myself by making my signature dish (ok, it’s probably my only dish) which also happens to be one of my favorite foods: Lasagna!! I was apprehensive because I would be using unfamiliar ingredients (in terms of brands) and I had to make my own italian sausage which actually was easy enough and may be a good idea anyway. They don’t have prepared italian sausage here. Actually, the sausage in general in New Zealand leaves a lot to be desired…… a lot. It’s highly processed and more like a hot dog than a sausage. Anyone want to move to New Zealand and start a sausie company?  I also had to sample all the ricotta cheeses to find the best one before I would make a lasagna. I was surprised to find a pretty good one made here. I did the same with the parmesan.  Jeez, I just realized I’m pretty particular about this.  So after the research,  turns out, I still have the magic lasagna touch. It was delicious. I invited Tracey and Brittany to eat with me that night and they thought it was the best. From what I understand about lasagna making here, they put some white sauce in theirs which I’m skeptical about so that would be quite different to (they say to instead of from here) mine. I’m just happy, I can make a good lasagna here.

Posted by: annie | August 28, 2010

netball anyone?

Last weekend I was invited to watch Zee play netball.  It was the championship game for her team.  I thought it would be fun to attend the game since I had never witnessed the game of netball being played, although I have driven by the courts and wondered why the basketball courts looked so weird here. Here’s an example of how the courts and the basket look.

Zee talked a lot about training for netball and the trials and tribulations of her team in the weeks leading up to this game.  I hadn’t been out to see it earlier because they play outside rain or shine and the last few weeks have been gray rainy days.  I wasn’t that interested in netball.  Honestly, I zoned out during much of those conversations cause I just didn’t get it, having never seen the game.  I did gather it was a lot like basketball but with some adjustments.  Netball is mostly played by women and was derived from women’s basketball.  There is no dribbling of the ball, it’s a pass and shoot game, and the girls take their time positioning themselves under the basket to shoot.  The basket is closer to the ground. I don’t think you can try to steal the ball from someone, and the ladies play zones so they don’t run the length of the court.  I guess it’s fairly popular in the Commonwealth Nations, it is played quite a bit here.

I arrived late for the game having missed the exit off the motorway and making a couple wrong turns trying to get back on.  When I found Zee’s game they were tied.  I was able to pick up what was going on fairly quickly and started cheering the team on for the win!  By the last quarter they were still tied but Zee’s team managed to make some good plays and come out ahead in the end.  They were really excited to have placed first.  Here’s some more pics:

this was a younger girls team

Since we’re talking about Zee:


“I’m munted today”

(really tired/wornout)

This afternoon Tracey told me tomorrow was inorganic rubbish collection day and asked if I had anything to put out.  I might have answered if I had any idea what she was talking about.  She said  you can put out anything you don’t want anymore and they’ll pick it up.  This explained the many trucks and vans driving around the neighborhood that morning with odd appliances and furniture and also why there were mattresses, tables, desks, carpets, etc… out on the lawns of the neighborhood.  I spotted a nice looking mattress down the road and made my way down there to test it out (mine isn’t as firm as I would like) It wasn’t much better so I left it for someone else.  I couldn’t help taking a little drive around town checking out what people were putting out.  Tracey thought the recession was definitely affecting the quality of inorganic rubbish this year.  Apparently, in previous years the offerings were much more exciting.  I think some of you would really enjoy this day (Joelfre) and probably would have found some real treasures.

I had some time after the netball game last weekend to visit one of the beaches on the west coast of Auckland.  Bethel’s beach is a black sand beach which is kind of cool and the beach area is really pretty.

quicksand ????? I steered clear of here

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