Wellington Weekend

New Terrain

Despite having been to New Zealand on previous trips, neither Joel nor I have ventured too far South. Joel spent most of his time with his cousin who lived in Mount Maunganui at the time. While my travel buddy, Allison and I were able to do a short 5 day road trip around the North Island, only venturing as far South as Turangi (about half way down the Northern chunk of the country).

I had only ever heard fabulous things about Wellington. We had read that Wellington has more pubs, restaurants and cafes per capita then New York City, it’s also the capital city of New Zealand and has a reputation of being an arts and culture hub.

Food, coffee, craft beer, art and more… yeah, we were looking forward to our trek down South! In fact, there’s far more to see then could be completed in one weekend- so we plan on seeing it again. Maybe not too soon, though…


Hittin’ the Road

Early Friday morning, we loaded up Crumpy and grabbed coffee for our 6.5 hour drive South. Brandon was a trooper and drove the entire trip there (which was greatly appreciated).

We have all been doing research on this tiny country we’re temporarily calling home, but nothing really prepared us for the beauty of New Zealand.

We drove just over six hours, but in that stretch we drove along lush, prehistoric-looking forests, expansive lakes, open plain that hosted desert-like plant life, snow-covered mountains, trout fishing towns and more. It was as if North America had been shrink-rayed to a space roughly the size of the United Kingdom. Wild!

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TGIF Amiright?!

We arrived in Wellington just before dusk and were immediately drawn in. I would describe the initial appearance of the city to be a mix of San Fransisco and Seattle. There was a very urban-ocean vibe to it, and I was surprised to see how built up the city is.

We wound our way up steep, switch-back city streets to reach our AirBnB. We really found a hidden treasure in the city in terms of accommodations. We were hosted by a lovely, animal-loving family who recently bought their victorian-style garden home after living in Australia for more than 20 years, having run a cafe among other things there.

Wayne, the home owner, was a warm, generous and hospitable guy who made us the best coffees of the trip. We loved going up to visit with him 2 of the 3 mornings we were in the city.

After checking in with Wayne and dropping our bags off, my attitude told me it was definitely time for food. I tried toning down my hanger long enough to go grab some dinner in the CBD.

It was the quintessential Friday night in Wellington- along Courtenay Place and Cuba street, the pubs and restaurants were humming with activity. We had looked into a couple restaurant options, but tried our hand at getting a table at Chow- which, divinely had had a cancellation just before we arrived. Rather than the usual 40+min wait, we were ushered right in!


Joel and I ordered a few small plates- which included peking duck lettuce wraps and mushroom and leek dumplings among others- while Brandon and Stacey each enjoyed their own dishes- lamb curry and a spicy pho.

Surprised by how close things were downtown, we happily walked a couple blocks to reach our next destination, The Fringe. The Fringe is a cozy bar with friendly bartenders that hosts all sorts of live events each week. The Friday we went, it was standup.


Joel and I are fairly new to seeing live comedy, but have really enjoyed it (although, we’re both careful to be inconspicuous to ensure the minimum amount of audience-participation pointed at us).

The evening had a slower first half, with only 2 of the comedians being able to properly engage with the (tough) crowd. The second half, however, held much more success for the comics who performed. Jerome Chandrahasen was the headliner that evening, and he did not disappoint- he had everyone in stitches.

We walked the main strip a bit before deciding parts of the CBD were best toured in daylight, and called it a night.

Saturday Stroll

Saturday was a day of city exploration. After coffee and some suggestions from Wayne, we headed toward Te Papa on the wharf. We parked and started our walking tour.

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The wharf had been set up for a noodle festival, so there were these cool paper lanterns dancing in the sea breeze as we walked. Lots of really lovely mixes of architecture were all around as we drank in the city views along on the water.

In a parkade just off the water’s edge, there was an art and design market. We wandered the stalls there and found lots of fun treasures including jewelry, bean-to-bar chocolate, and handmade soy candles.

Our time at the market wrapped up with a hunger for brunch, so off we went. While still in Papamoa, I had researched a few food and coffee spots to check out in Wellington, and I had read that Ti Kouka could do most of their menu items gluten free. We discovered it was within walking distance, and were impressed by our experience there.

Indeed, most things were able to be made gluten free, and the waiter was happy to accommodate Stacey’s sensitivities- being careful to share her needs with the chef. Stacey said her potato rosti with wilted greens, poached egg, bacon and hollandaise was the best breakfast she’s had! Awesome.


Wellington is another one of those cities with this incredible mix of history and reclaimed buildings right along with modern architecture and amenities. We had a lot of fun wandering the city streets checking out churches, shops, and more.

Here’s Joel at the Wellington Chocolate Factory, where we sampled a few tasty truffles.

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From or brunch stop we headed toward Cuba street, which is a street with a pedestrian mall part way through it. Cuba street is a hipster-area along the lines of Whyte ave. in Edmonton or 17th in Calgary. Lots of neat secondhand book stores, op shops (thrift stores), cafes and boutiques lined both sides of the street.

After wandering about, we decided it was time to head back to our first parking spot to move our car to a better location for the All Blacks game.

The All Blacks are the national rugby team, so they don’t have one set location, instead their games are played all over the country and are always wildly popular. We were sure parking and traffic would be tricky, so we decided to be proactive with our parking choices. Using Wayne’s recommendation, we found a parkade just on the other side of the train tracks from Westpac Stadium and hunkered down there for the evening.

One cool thing was, with time to burn, we ended up seeing a new side to the CBD. From our All Blacks parking spot, we were able to see the parliament buildings nearby.

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We had tried to visit The Thistle Inn Tavern, which is one of the oldest public houses in New Zealand, but we were met by All Blacks crowds- even three hours before the game was due to start. It was cool to see inside the tavern, just the same. Many of the pubs around the stadium were set up with private events or game-specific menus, so we ended up at good ol’ Maccas (along with several other groups of game-goers we noticed). After a quick break to rest our feet and feed our stomachs… we were on our way to Westpac Stadium!


All Blacks vs Wales

Two hours before kick-off we lined up with the other rugby fans to get into the stadium as soon as the doors opened. We had tried to study up a bit on the rugby ways, but still didn’t know what to expect from the experience. We were greeted by a bank promotion and were happy to label ourselves as All Blacks fans (Stacey’s also practicing her Haka face as she displays our bank swag):


As we waited in line, we listened to the Stadium announcements which included reminders of how to be gracious and considerate fans as well as a brief note on what to do in case of an earthquake. These announcements were nestled amongst visual projections and amp-up videos played on the stadium itself, dragon sound-effects and the chatter of more and more people readying themselves for the game.

We made our way through the ticket scanners and bag check to trek around the stadium to our seats. We were pleasantly surprised to see we were quite close to the field, and that- with the evening chill setting in- we were near the coffee kiosk, too!


Selfie-city, population: me.


I loved having this new experience. From the national anthems (sung mainly in Maori for NZ and Wales being entirely in Welsh) to the exceptionally polite crowd (reminded after the first try again, via loud-speaker announcement, to be cordial and respectful fans) and throughout play- I was quite taken with rugby. As good little Canadians, we only really had professional hockey games to compare our sporting event attendance to, so that was eye-opening.


(I really like when they lift each other up to catch a throw)


We enjoyed the quick-pace of rugby, and I was interested to note the way injuries were dealt with. I don’t think there are any other sports out there where several medics are on the sidelines, at the ready to run on field to help- often before the player himself is aware of his own need of medical attention.

Furthermore, teammates aren’t able to involve themselves with on-field injuries. They are more concerned with staying warm and in game-mode. At one point during play, a tackle resulted in one player having to be removed via stretcher and golf cart due to a neck injury. Although, I’m sure the other players cared about their teammate, they waited for him to be removed from the field by running passing drills and being sure their own fitness was maintained for the game to continue. Crazy.

By the end of the game, we were fully involved. It was really cool to have the All Blacks going for trys in our end of the stadium during the second half, too. We had lots of fun cheering the All Blacks to victory!


To Market to Market

After a good rest, Sunday was a day of unexpected treats.

We first decided to venture back to Te Papa for the weekly farmer’s market held there. It was cool to see the car park brimming with all sorts of produce and wares. It was a bustling spot and even as we walked up Oriental Parade afterward, we could see folks with their market shopping bags as evidence of its popularity.


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After a food-truck breakfast and a quick wander up and down market stalls, we strolled up the walkway by the water toward Oriental Bay.

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This area again reminded me lots of San Fransisco, now complete with row-houses among the rolling hills and clear water.

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A picture’s worth a thousand words, which is great- because I’m almost at 2000 of those…

As we left the market, we headed for a cafe which was highly rated and had a cool, retro vibe, but ended up being amongst the most disappointing coffees we’ve had in NZ.


The bright side of that stop was me noticing a family friend living in Wellington had touched base on Facebook in hopes of meeting up with us. Perfect timing!

A Wellington Tour Guide

My oldest brother’s best friend, Karl has been living in Wellington with his family for the last couple years and had made a couple suggestions for us on our trip. To our surprise, our schedules ended up overlapping well with his and we were able to meet up.

At the Weta Workshop we ran into Karl and his two, fabulously joyful kids! It was a lovely meet up. We were hoping to see the workshop (where all sorts of movie magic is birthed through costumes, props and digital design), but had a couple hours to burn while we waited for our tour to start.

Karl was gracious enough to be our tour guide for our in-between time, and this ended up being the highlight of our trip! He drove us around Mirmar and pointed out lots of interesting things we wouldn’t have seen on our own. We even got to see Peter Jackson’s house and I’m 90% sure I saw his forehead through his kitchen window as we drove by- haha!

We did a quick, windy hike up to check out a bunker originally used to watch for Japanese invaders in WWII. It now boasts a wicked view which includes sights of the airport and an interesting vantage point of the city.

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We took in some great sights together and were able to share a nice fish and chip lunch (gluten free, even!) before heading back to Weta for our tour.


Wonders of the Weta Workshop

I didn’t realize how influential the Weta team is on the big screen. We were toured inside the workshop where artists are constantly working to make movies a believable escape from reality.

We were shown all sorts of things- from alien weaponry used in District 9, to fully-functional all terrain vehicles used in the Halo promo movies, animatronics used in Lord of the Rings and full models used in the Narnia films. It was amazing to see the massive amounts of work, time, money and creativity that’s poured into the movies we’re entertained by for a couple hours and kinda just forgotten about in some cases.


We were thoroughly impressed with our time at Weta, and left with a greater appreciation for all that goes into the films we see and have seen!

Rounding off the Weekend

As we left the workshop, we realized how drained we were starting to feel. The busyness of the day and now grey skies were all weighing on us. We decided to drive up to one more lookout atop Mount Victoria in the city centre before heading back for a rest and pizza supper.

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What a beautiful city! We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend away. It was full and worth the trek, for sure.

Monday morning brought our final coffee with Wayne and his wife before their dog feasted on my shoe 🙂 and we started our long drive home.

We ended up somehow missing a turn off part way back home and took a slight detour. The detour ended up treating us to some really cool views we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We stopped in Wanganui for lunch, and then followed the river until we worked our way through the hills, beside the lonely mountain and up towards Lake Taupo.




With a couple of stops- one to stretch our legs at the lake, and another at Pak n Save to set ourselves up for meals and such, we were back home and ready to start the week leading up to our first set of visitors!!

Jamie and Michelle will arrive in about 5 days, and we couldn’t be more excited! Many more massive posts to share, I’m sure.




Away to Adelaide (Part 2)

Hangin’ Out With Ma Honey

Friday was the start of some couple time in Adelaide. It was really fun to show Joel a few spots I’d stopped at while he was in the conference, but even more fun to stop at a few places for the first time together.

We had already booked a food and wine tour for the day to start our adventures out right. In my reading I had heard some about the Adelaide Hills (just inland from the city- about a 20 min drive), but it was really fun to be along with some locals to hear more about the area.

Eat Drink and be Merry

Just after 9am we were greeted by our friendly, Aussie guide for the day, Danny. He arrived with a full-sized van, a warm welcome and sturdy handshake. I liked him right away.

We eventually found out Danny was once a teacher at a tech school in the area, but found it wasn’t his deal. We were grateful to have his gift of teaching to share stories of the past as we drew closer to koala country.

He shared all sort of pearls as we travelled through downtown. All about the history of the city, the things that had changed and saved over the years of Adelaide evolution. We were 2 of 5 passengers on the tour that day, 2 locals celebrating a 50th birthday and one American on her way through a whirlwind tour of Australia.

The crew was cordial, but by the third cellar door… we were friends.

I was really hoping to see a koala bear or kangaroo, as ordinarily we would be thick in their part of South Australia, but we’ll have to save that for another trip. The cute critters were hiding while we headed for the lookout at the top of the hills.  We were able to gain a survey of the coastline from our vantage point. Beautiful. Blustery.

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Dairy Dreams

Our day was structured around food, drink and culture. Our first stop encompassed two of those elements (and culture in more than one way). Cheese.

We got our first glimpse of the oldest German town in Australia. The locals on our tour were eager to inform us (several times) that in South Australia, the people immigrated as traders, explorers and settlers… not criminals. But more on that later.


Udder Delights is a quaint cheese shop set in a sunny yellow character home on the main street of Hahndorf. We were greeted at the front counter by a cheery young lady who passionately offered us a handful of cheeses to taste (but she wore gloves and proper utensils).

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We were impressed with most of the flavours, but really wished we were able to pack some of the dutch gouda back with us. Yum.

Chocolate was up next. Named after Nellie Melba, a famous Australian opera singer who frequented the area to sit for a portraitist years ago, Melba Chocolates features every chocolate-covered concoction one could imagine. We saw chocolate covered coffee beans, every dried fruit under the sun was doused in the sweet stuff, liquorice, you name it… it was there.


We sampled a few  tasty treats, and headed home with the most sprinkle-covered chocolate bar I’ve ever seen and white chocolate coated Swedish berries. Delicious!

Good Grapes

Neither Joel or I are big wine drinkers. It’s just kinda of an occasional situation, generally with friends who are more seasoned in flavour profiles and the like, but the Adelaide Hills are known for their vineyards and wine.

The hills are more recently being recognized as a hub for cellar doors and wine tours, and because of it’s cooler temperatures the region is gaining buzz with their white wines, specifically- sauvignon blancs.

I was a good sport with trying several wines, but the highlights of the vineyards for me were the passionate employees, the views and the history.

I love hearing people speak on their passions, and there is no shortage of such people in wine country. People have beautiful stories of when they drank the perfect wine in the most scenic atmosphere.  Peoples bodies seem to breathe air in differently when they’re talking about the things they love. They come alive-this is such a cool thing to witness.

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One vineyard we visited had this incredible barn with barrels and barrels of wine waiting to come of age. They host weddings and functions amongst the barrels, and this was the first of many times Joel and I noticed how awesome it would be to have your wedding in Adelaide. There are perfectly picturesque spaces all over the city!

Then there were the stories of how wines from the area began to gain interest, and that one of the biggest pests to wine makers there are kangaroos. Very cool.

Lunch in the Motherland

In 1839 Hahndorf was settled by German immigrants who arrived by boat, and hiked up the hill for their piece of paradise. They were able to establish themselves as a self-sustaining community. Most of what they needed was readily available and crafted for use by the population (clothes, food, building material, etc.).

Women from the village would pack up produce and other items for sale, they would leave at midnight and hike all the way down into the city to sell their goods at the central market- which, in spite of being in a new location, is still operational today (I went there and wrote about it in my previous blog post, JFYI).

They hiked through an area that was well-known to be dangerous as robbers frequented it, but there’s no record of the robbers ever bothering the ladies of Hahndorf. My guess is because they were big, tough ladies with arms and legs strong enough to snap their necks like twigs if provoked… but that’s speculative.

The women made the trek to the city several times a week. A 12 hour round-trip hike, where they brought goods down and brought any supplies they needed back home- including 2 large stone each that were used for the construction of the town church.

Anyways… we had fun exploring Hahndorf. Our time in town started with lunch at a german pub. Both Joel and I had the platter of 3 different German sausages with warm potato salad and sauerkraut and a wonderful homemade apple strudel with ice cream was dessert. It was so decadent, we felt we should follow in the Hahndorf maiden’s footsteps to work it all off.

Instead we wandered around town.

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With such a fun, full day, there’s no need to explain this next picture:


Weekend Wanderers

Saturday arrived with the promise of some sun, so we headed out to discover more of the city.

We started off towards the zoo. The walk there was lovely. We took a slight detour in order to go through the botanical garden again on our way to see the animals. Joel was really impressed with the beauty within the wrought iron gates. We made a plan to circle back Sunday to take our time in the gardens.

Joel really enjoyed coming across the free mason hall on our walk towards the zoo as well. It was a massive building on a main road by the university. Pretty eerie!


The zoo wasn’t very big, but had a lot of really interested animals to watch. One of our favourite sights was an elusive little orangutan that we walked by twice; the first we didn’t see him, but read he likes to hide under blankets. The next time we walked by his enclosure, we caught a glimpse of him pop up from under his fleece, adjust himself- being sure to cover his head and then hunker down again like a moody teenager. He held us captive for several minutes as we hoped he would come out again. No luck- but it made us rich with joy and memories.

Joel, of course- loved the giraffes, and I enjoyed making it look like he was in a cage. This tiger was looking rather majestic, too:

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With some rain threatening to dump on us, and my hangry-tendencies looming we headed back towards the city centre for a snack and indoor activities.


We found ourselves at the museum, which was another free stop. I was impressed with the number of activities that are made available for the public in Adelaide: botanic gardens, art gallery, museum… and more. Very much appreciated.

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For something a bit different Saturday evening, we ventured out to see if we could get a seat at a top 5 restaurant in Adelaide, Peel St. We were told all their reserved spots were taken, but it might be possible to catch a table if we stopped in.

We walked over, taking our chances in the first few minutes they opened. Our gamble paid off, and we were able to snag a tiny bar-table that was set up around a brick pillar in the middle of the restaurant.

The place was tiny, but packed. We were happy to have any table at all for this unusual experience. The interior was very simple- exposed brick and ceiling beams completed the raw vibe throughout the space. It was both industrial and inviting- a great mix.


The only paper menus available were the wine lists, the food menu is all seasonal and ever-changing, so it’s described on two massive chalkboards.

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We were told to order 1-2 ‘small’ items and 1 large to share. So we did. Each plate that passed us to it’s intended group looked similar- white, oval platters mounded with greens and veggies. We quickly learned, that the dished may look alike, but each have this fabulous individuality.

Our first course was pork belly and prawns with Asian greens, peanuts, pineapple, chilli and lime. This was our favourite of the three options. The meat was tender and flavourful and the mix of tastes were expertly crafted, balanced and inventive.


Dish two was a parmesan and thyme crusted roast pumpkin with whipped feta, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, capers and tomato salad with walnut and green olive dressing. This was another winner, very interesting and full of flavour.


Lastly we had our main dish, Vietnamese grill beef with onions and curried lime dressing. This was probably the tastiest beef we’ve had since being away from Alberta.


It was fun to be a part of the Peel St. experience. The place bustling the while time we were there, and it had this really cool community-vibe as friends shared family style gourmet gastro explorations.

Sunday Funday (as they say)

There wasn’t much on the schedule for Sunday, so we decided to hit up a breakfast place Joel had been interested in. It was outside the CBD, so we tracked our route on city transit, and went to find Long Lost Friend.

It was a beautiful day to adventure, lots of sunshine and a simple trek to land us at our destination.


We enjoyed a lovely breakfast and coffees before walking a ways and ending up at the botanical garden for a proper tramp around the grounds. Throughout the gardens, it seems like every turn leads to a kodak moment. There are greenhouse with exotic plant species:

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Emergency exits that look like they’re straight out of Jurassic Park:


Manicured water-features and different structures throughout help to accentuate the grounds:

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Joel and I loved the hilariously over-sized doorknobs leading to the waterlily pavilion (Joel maybe a bit more than me):

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It was the perfect place to explore on a sunny Sunday. We took in as many building and exhibits there as we could before heading back for a rest at our hotel.


With our early morning departure, we allowed ourselves lots of downtime on our last full day. Our hotel was the Majestic Roof Garden Hotel, so we thought it only right to enjoy it’s *majestic roof garden*. We order ourselves a cheese board and headed for the roof with our hot tea and laptops (actually, Joel’s laptop kept overheating and shutting off inadvertently… so he had a hot laptop, too). It was a good lazy day.


With many burger joints around Adelaide’s CBD, we thought our last meal there should be burger spot. We ended up at Grill’d, which was about a 3 mins walk from our hotel. It advertised itself as a ‘healthy burger’ place, but I don’t know how true that is. Their burgers were good, and the decor was cute (looking like you’re in a backyard more than a restaurant).


I thought the best part of Grill’d was their initiative to support local charity groups. With every order you get a bottle cap to vote to support 1 of 3 local charities. There are different charities every month, and three jars with their names on them. The jar that’s most full of bottle cap votes by the end of the month get a $500 (I believe) donation and the other 2 get a smaller donation, too. What a cool idea!


We had heaps of fun in Adelaide. It was a blessing to have be able to bundle our adventuring with a work trip this time around. I would definitely make a trip back to South Australia. Joel and I both commented that we needed more time in the city just to experience all the great food options! The city was just cool, though. Easy to navigate and lots to see and do.


On to the next kiwi adventure, I suppose! Tomorrow we head south. Joel and I have both been to New Zealand before, but have yet to see Wellington- this weekend is our opportunity! We are really looking forward to our time in this city of coffee, food and art. Oh- and the All Blacks, we’ve got tickets for their game again Wales on Saturday. Lots to see an do again 🙂


Away to Adelaide (Part 1)

Crippling Creepy-Crawlies

For some time I’ve had this strange and inexplicable fear of Australia. Even before I was warned by one of my 4-year-old art students with, “Courtney, don’t go to Australia- there are like 6 or 10 things that can kill you there.” I’ve been nervous of the 6-10 (but in reality- like WAY more) creepy crawlies that are harmful/just gross in the land downunda.

In my mind, you just get off the plane and a wall of really weird and disgusting creatures kinda of like… attack you.

Turns out… I was wrong.

New Territory

Joel had the opportunity to speak and teach at a conference in Adelaide, South Australia, so we planned a trip!

We have the best friends here with us in New Zealand. There was no doubt before this trip, but you know you’ve got some great pals when they wake up at 4:30 to take you to the airport.

Thinking, like good little Canadian travellers, that you should arrive at the airport an hour before the boarding of your flight- we headed out.

We drove an hour to get to the Rotorua airport, and were surprised to see the airport not only quiet- but completely locked up. We met a kind security guard who unlocked the gate to the parking lot & cheerfully said- I’ll see you inside in about 5 minutes! That’s when we realized Rotorua is not only a small airport…but a tiny one.


The security guard who unlocked the parking lot gates, then went through the airport terminal turning on all the lights and unlocking the door for us.  We had to wait for the gate agents to arrive for their early morning shifts. It was neat to be in a little airport where the waiting area shares space with the flight gates. We walked out onto the tarmac, and didn’t even need to go through a security checkpoint! Just like the good ol’ days…

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Several hours and 3 flights later, we arrived in Adelaide. We boarded a city bus and sought out to settle at our hotel for a few hours.

Adelaide Awesomeness

The nature of conferences are that they tend to eat up a large portion of time. In Joel’s case, there was lots of really rewarding time spent meeting and greetings both before and after his speaking engagements.

He said there were some thoughtful questions, and found most participants to be genuinely eager to learn more about conversion and the digital field, in general. Both insights are a great reward for Joel as his speech lead to the most-attended full day workshop!

While Joel was rockin’ the speaker circuit… I was doing a lot of walking.  It was really fun to walk around the CBD (Central Business District- which seems to be a common term for downtown in both NZ and Aus), and found that my week was almost too short to see all this beautiful city has to offer.

Adelaide’s city centre is built in a neat grid, which is fabulous for any pedestrian traveller. Most roads are fairly easy to navigate, and the only some-what confusing part is King William Street. King William had some-what-intimidatingly proclaimed “I am the King and no one shall cross me”, so all the avenues that run through King William street change names from the west side to the east and vice versa.

Adelaide’s four corners of downtown are intentionally green. Each corner has a beautiful expanse of space- whether a botanic garden, zoo, or city park. I love this. Not only for tourists, but I thought how lovely it is to have that open space for workers downtown. Having the option of a lunch-hour nature walk is lovely.

The city is full of surprising alley ways that were reclaimed into pedestrian walkways with rows of shops and cafes. There are also loads of antique buildings, fountains and cobblestone streets. It’s a wonderful mix of new ideas and architecture with the obvious history that built the city- fountains, hotels, the university. Really lovely.

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Lone Traveller Day 1

I had three days of lonesome travelling. Often when I have too much time on my own I start to live inside my head and get… well, a bit weird. Thankfully! I didn’t experience this much on our trip, and mostly enjoyed my introvert time.

Day 1 started with a quick hotel breakfast with Joel, followed by a stop at a little (and I mean little- scarcely more than a bar and table fit in this shop) stop at Please Say Please, a cafe that boasts barista-crafted coffee and a daily macaron special.

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I caught up on my book for a few minutes and enjoyed my coffee while saving my 2 macarons for an emergency- cherry pie and the daily special, baklava were my flavours of choice.

On to the Art Gallery of South Australia. A few of the exhibits were under construction, but I was surprised (for the first time of many on this trip) that there were no admission costs. I went up to the information counter expecting to pay my entrance fee, and was instead greeted with a very eager middle-aged woman who was thrilled to share all the open exhibits and make suggested routes through the gallery.


I was interested to see some art from Australia and the Adelaide area, as well as a vast array of other piece from Aboriginal artists, to photo exhibits, installations and even a handful of French Impressionists’ work. The gallery was only made more lovely by it’s book store that was full of amazing treasures. Their children’s book section made me wonder how I could fit them all in my carry-on… but I restrained myself, and instead left with some great options to watch out for over time.

After dipping into my macaron stash, I was re-fuelled enough to venture back into the city and wander a bit. I would up and down streets, on the prowl for a lunch spot. Following the crowds, I landed at a spot that made fresh lunch plates as well as coffees and handmade chocolates. With 60s soul music blaring, I soaked up the surroundings and feasted on a spicy chicken sandwich with a interesting (yet satisfyingly zesty) side salad. On my way out, I picked up some hazelnut ‘m&ms’ made in-store to share with Joel when he finished up for the day.

Back to the hotel for a rest and some painting- which I have neglected for all-together too long.


Joel arrived back from his day and we walked the 15 mins or so to Cooper’s Alehouse for dinner and some time with the conference crew. We weren’t aware at the time, but Cooper’s is known by the locals to offer some of the biggest schnitzel around. Little did Joel know as he order this behemoth:


He valiantly tackled what he could, and the rest of the evening was spent trying to digest that beast. Ha…

It was nice to visit with a handful of good people before walking back to our hotel to conclude our first full day on a new continent.

Day 2 Discoveries

Wednesday was a great day for just enjoying the indoors- there was quite a bit of rain throughout the day, so I didn’t venture out as quickly as the previous day. I had read about the Adelaide Central Market, and was informed it’s the oldest market in the Southern Hemisphere! I was interested to have a look.

I set out, and was happy to see the weather hold as I walked. The market is now surrounded with 2 ‘arcades’ on both sides- long hallways packed with shops and cafes. There’s even a food court of one side now. It’s held in this old stone building, and has about 5 long, double-sided rows to explore. It reminded me quite a bit of the market on Granville Island, although… going on a Wednesday morning meant it was far less crowded then Granville- I didn’t mind that at all.

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There were lots of opportunities to sample the different foods, and each row was packed with all sorts of goodies- candy, coffee, cheeses, loads of produce- both rare and ordinary. It was a colourful place that was perfect for spending a couple hours. I saw chai cheese and all sorts of interesting meats- emu, crocodile, kangaroo, etc.

I was happy to grab a beautiful little cappuccino as I strolled and was even more pleased to have an awesome sausage roll for lunch. I kept seeing sausage rolls in New Zealand, and had been kinda waiting to be called to by the perfect roll, and well.. this one did not disappoint! Full of delicious meat- looks like bacon along with onion and other tasty bits, topped with poppy seeds and a smoky, tangy BBQ sauce. Yum!

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I was hoping to get back to the market with Joel, but our timing didn’t line up before heading back to Papamoa.

I often forget that the seasons aren’t what I expect them to be, being a Northern Hemisphere kid, but Adelaide had a wonderful way of reminding me. The path that lead back to the hotel was littered with orange maple leaves the size of my head, and the golden tree boughs would frame some of the ancient churches in such a magical way. Adelaide is the city of churches, and it was cool to take some of them in on my walk.


Joel and I walked down Rundle Mall (a pedestrian street with side-to-side stores and food stops- the first outdoor pedestrian mall in Australia) that evening to grab some supper and ended up down another reclaimed alleyway featuring half a dozen well-rated restaurants.

We ate at Bread and Bone, which mainly features burgers in different styles, and you enter through a hobbit door. We were tempted by several menu items, but (with the waiter’s encouragement) landed some solid choices- a juicy steak sandwich for Joel, and I had the best fish burger I’ve ever tasted. This was accompanied with a dark and stormy, which again… was the best I’ve had.

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Third-day Thursday

After a little running around in Rundle Mall, Thursday was spent attempting to enjoy the outdoors. It had been raining on and off, and I wasn’t sure what all I could accomplish that day. So, once the clouds had parted enough, I ventured over to our second hotel to check-in while Joel headed to teach his 8 hour workshop.

Thankfully, the hotel took me in early and I was able to wait until the next break in weather in a warm, dry locale!

For lunch I weaved in between buildings to find a little Afghani restaurant that had good reviews, and when I walked by I was happy to notice it was also the busiest spot on the block! I ordered a traditional lamb burger and completely revelled in the fresh flavours. Good find, for sure.

Continuing my wander… I found myself at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Again, pleased to have free admission and wonderful scenery. I was happy to wind through the pathways and overcome my fears of critters!

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The rain ceased enough for me to get a handful of good pictures, and then I was forced back indoors. I ventured from the gardens to the mall for a handful of rainy-day materials- a face mask and bath balm!

The theme for the day was green.

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Joel headed back to the hotel to share his workshop news and my dream dinner, room service!


So ends the journey of the lonesome traveller. Joel was able to join me for a few adventures, which was awesome. I’ll share our mutual experiences on another post, since this one is officially the longest of Kiwis and Klettkes’ history!

Courting BOP

Lessons Learned

Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of being New Zealanders (which is insane). It seems like only yesterday we were figuring out how to make our dream a reality. We have learned a lot about being in the country, and we have many more things yet to discover.

We’ve learned you can pay for your library DVD rentals anytime, not just when you check them out. The library kiosks are a bit fussy, too- but I am a proud Tauranga Library card holder!


We’ve discovered the importance of all present parties having their passports at Pak n’ Save if beer or wine is purchased. We have been grateful to know you can, in fact, buy ketchup here, but most often at restaurants you get ‘tomato sauce’.

We now know where to purchase firewood, and that our beach is one that can host fires (even if all the gross sand bugs are drawn to the flame). We’ve been educated in many critter-related prevention plans (robo cockroach repellant cans, sandfly oil, mouse traps, etc.)

We’ve learned that Kiwis are people, fruit and birds and that the people have several similarities to us Canadians, eh.


We’ve learned our coffee orders (Courtney- cappuccino, Joel- mochaccino (even though ordering one with a Canadian accent sometimes proves difficult), Stacey- flat white, Brandon- long black), and that 2:30pm most days is coffee break time.

As I’m thinking more on our lessons, I’m realizing recalling them all could easily be a full blog-post in itself! We are slowly finding our place here, but one big thing I learned this week is that the Bay of Plenty is already a suitable replacement for home.

Falling in Love with the Bay of Plenty (BOP)

The Bay of Plenty is a large segment of the NorthEastern part of the North Island of New Zealand, and includes a couple of good-sized cities. We have everything we might need within an hours drive, really- 2 airports are within that drive time as well.

Home Sweet Home

Papamoa is where our place is, and it seems to be a fairly sleepy community (in the cooler months anyway). There are two grocery stores that are open until 10pm, a couple of pubs who kind of decide when they’ll be open until each day and a McDonald’s drive thru open 24-7 (but only serves coffee until maybe 8pm).  It’s a quiet spot that mainly consists of retirees and young families this time of year.

On a sunny day you’ll see loads of people out walking their dogs and/or babies. Two Sundays a month there’s a farmer’s market hosted just outside the recreation centre, and there are a handful of fairly-busy coffee shops close by. Our local favourite is ‘Henry & Ted’, which is about a 5 minutes walk from our house.


The population being as it is, there seems to be a good number of people to support fun things like garden centres and gift shops.

Stacey and I went to one such stop last week to enjoy the sunshine. We drove to the outskirts of town to Pacifica Home & Garden Store, and were greeted by a bustling cafe and well-cared for gift and greenery areas. Seniors gathered to swap stories, while tiny humans with the cutest knitted toques toddled in between cafe tables and sunbeams.

It was great to be reminded that people live in our town! We enjoyed coffee, a time to journal and sketch and ended up going home with a few starter plants for our yard.

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The Big City

Not far from our little town are a couple busier municipalities. Tauranga is the ‘big city’, there’s a pretty big city centre here, lots of shops, restaurants, a big library and much more industry. too. We are beginning to reach out into the city more.

We’ve visited 2 churches now situated in that area.  One Sunday, I mis-read a church website and showed up as everyone was leaving. SO, we made the best of our day and headed to the Waikareao Estuary down the street. This is a huge expanse of boardwalk and pathways that stretch across parks and marshland. Pretty cool!



We have also tried a few restaurants and cafes in the city. One such coffee shop roasts beans and supplies to several other shops in the Bay of Plenty. Downtown has a handful of quaint stops like Elizabeth Cafe and Larder where Joel and I trialled their fab little cupcakes!


Closer to the waterfront, there’s a trail of shops and restaurants known as ‘the strand’ where we happily indulged in a Mexican feast one evening.

The Mount

Mount Maunganui is a regular stop for us. The main stretch has loads of places to eat, great short walks (along the mount or by the water), there are lots of places to explore and it’s only about a 20 minute drive away. This is where the closest movie theatre is as well as a mall with most things we need. A few times a week, we find ourselves there for a multitude of reasons.

Once a month there’s a lovely market that’s held along the main street. We had a lot of fun in the sun, cruising up and down the aisles with coffee in hand. Mt. Maunganui (or ‘The Mount’ as they call it) is also full of young families, and has resulted in a load of really cool local companies that make kids products (blankets, towels, toys, clothes… you name it). With our niece on the way this summer, it was tough to restrain myself from buying her all the cute kiwi things. I want to buy everything!!!

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I found the same homemade dumpling vendor that was at the night market in Rotorua, which was really cool. We loved sitting on the warm grass and having a little food-truck picnic lunch!


The market is held just one block from the apartment complex Joel’s cousins lived in while they were in NZ for a year. He feels quite sentimental every time we drive by (which is often), and remembers all the good times he had while visiting all those years ago. Here’s a picture:


The weather was cooperating with us the other week, and we got loads of sunshine. It’s tough to believe we were in the first week of Winter!

It seems like all we do is eat out, but we do make the majority of our meals at home. One day the sun was irresistibly warming our living room and patio, so we figured it was a good time to have lunch in The Mount. We headed out to grab some fish and chips to enjoy by the ocean. Apart from being on-guard as seagulls threatened to dive-bomb our festivities, we had quite a fantastic afternoon!

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An Eastern Introduction

Just before Joel and I headed to Australia for a week, the four of us started to reach out of our area of the BOP to another. I had researched some walks that are near by, and found a really cool hike in Whakatane, about an hour east of us.

We didn’t really know where we were going, but we had a handful of guidelines to follow. In kiwi-infested bush we trekked up and around some beautiful coast lines. We knew part of our journey had to be avoided at high tide, but didn’t really know why based on what we’d read. BUT away we went!


We were not disappointed! There were so many beautiful view-points as we climbed. There were lots of moments where the trail wound through deep greenery and jungle, and then we’d reach huge clearings where you could see 360 degree views from hills to town and off to the ocean.

In the photo above, you can see White Island on the horizon (off to the right). White Island is a big active marine volcano that we hope to visit sometime, but in the picture- you can see it letting off some steam.  You can see White Island from our house on clear days, but not in the same way.

Our hiking trail took us on a 3 hour+ trip that went from pastures high about the sea to gravel roads and farm land, but about 2 hours in, we discovered the reason we weren’t advised to travel at high tide.


A staircase leads you to a rocky coastline that isn’t always accessible. This was really neat for a crew of Albertan hikers, we were delighted to travel across the expanse of sand and black lava shoreline and take in the beauty.

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Whakatane is supposed to have a heap of walking and hiking trails all at varying lengths, so we’re sure to visit again.

It constantly amazes me that there is so much to discover in such a tiny country. We have been blessed to have this time away, and are grateful to be adventuring with the best folks.

WELL! Another un-intentionally massive update. So many words to say- we’re loving our new home. Joel and I are in Adelaide, Australia this week, so there’s bound to be another post coming just around the bend. Appreciate all who take the time to check in with us 🙂 so, thanks!