Family Reunion

It’s Gonna be a Good One

The second week of November brought with it two sets of parents from the other side of the world. Joel and I ventured Auckland-way to fetch our newest Canadian arrivals, and began to introduce them to ‘our’ New Zealand.

We had spent the night before their planes touched down at a hotel near the airport, to be as fresh as possible for our 5 am wakeup call. We were particularly grateful to be close for this early morning, since our previous nights sleep was interrupted by a tsunami threat and a 2am evacuation (thanks again to our friends who woke us up and rushed us to higher ground for the night).

The Lindoff’s were the first to arrive and after a little refresher, we were back at the airport to retrieve the Klettke’s.

Knowing we’d return to Auckland for several days, we decided to start towards the Bay of Plenty. As we travelled, we made a number of stops.

Maccas for coffee (we figured we’d have lots of opportunities yet to enjoy some of NZ’s quaint cafes, and found it more important to be quickly caffeinated), Paeroa for some monkey business and Katikati for our beloved, Busy Baker to stock up on all the gluten-freedom treats.

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We had a quiet, rainy afternoon in Papamoa and tried to keep everyone awake long enough to fight their jet lag… but that didn’t last too long. After a quick supper, the crew was mostly out by 8pm! Recharging for the busy days ahead.


Welcome to the Bay

Wednesday morning started with a barbecued breakfast to fuel our days activities.

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Despite the grey weather, Joel and I were determined to show off the things we love about our area. A natural place to start was walking around the Mount. We chanced the rain and were pleased to have a break enough to explore – stretching the legs and taking in the ocean air.

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We think they liked it!

Once we’d toured the crew around downtown a little bit, we headed for Fashion Island for all our bargain shopper moms, and came away with a load of Cotton On clothes (those sales tags, though).

We came back for a light lunch on the patio in the sunshine before piling in the car once more. #selfiequeen


Rockin’ Rotorua

We didn’t have too much planned for Rotorua, but thought it would be a fun stop for the parents. We were able to get to Te Puia geothermal valley with a couple hours before closing, and were content to wander.

The parents dropped in with a guided tour (my dad seemed to find a couple he was interested in joining, really) and we wandered around for a couple hours taking in the sights and trying not to be annoyed by the other tourists 😛 (we’re still getting used to the increasing crowds as the weather warms).

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Once we’d had our fill of thermal wonders, we headed for supper at a Thai spot that’s impressed me with it’s amazing lamb curry in the past and it didn’t disappoint on a second trip! We feasted and then headed towards the Polynesian Spa to enjoy the therapeutic spring water for the first time in the daylight.


Having walked, eaten and warmed ourselves… folks were feeling pretty cozy and it didn’t take long after we’d arrived home to have everyone in dreamland once again.

The Third Day

Thursday was supposed to be the day my dad and I had our White Island tour, but it was cancelled due to weather and sea conditions.  It took a little wiggling to figure out an alternate day, but we got it sorted. SO instead of being awed by volcanoes, we enjoyed indulgent Southern Hemisphere coffees and celebrated Papa Chuck.

Our day started slow and grey, chilling out around the house and catching up on our electronics.

By lunch time, we were ready for something more stimulating. We grabbed a cafe lunch at Tay Street where the eggs Benedict made a lasting impression on the birthday Charles.


From there, we drove out a little ways to bask in the beauty of McLaren Falls. The parents seems quite impressed, and we enjoyed some time rock jumping and strolling along the stream-side pathways.

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With our walk done, we headed back to town for some birthday joy – Charles chose a Swanndri for himself and we got some lamb to BBQ for supper. Another quick stop for coffee at Pacifica brought us back home to rest up and have some food before an evening out.

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Joel was hoping to share his love of BBQ lamb leg steak, and we were able to give Charles a pretty reasonable birthday dinner in the end 🙂


Even though the birthday boy continued to insist it wasn’t really his birthday, and the following day, his Canadian birthday, would be the more acceptable time to celebrate…we got him out of the house for some dessert.

We were especially pleased to have Britt and Aaron join us at the Mount. We bundled up to check out Moturiki Island. Even though we didn’t see any little blue penguins like I was hoping, we spotted a Tui and were able to again enjoy a little more of the great NZ outdoors.

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We wandered a little ways before treating ourselves to dessert at Dixie Browns and finally heading home for some R&R.


We had just one full day left before our great exodus, and the weather seemed to cooperate. The morning was used to do laundry, basking in the sun, catch up on work for Joel and for everyone to start setting their minds on the road ahead.

Joel and I had some packing and downsizing to do, and we had some decisions to make about what items go where, so it was nice to have some down time to figure that out.


The first time we met Aaron, he mentioned he worked in kiwifruit and anytime we’d like to come tour an orchard, he’d be happy to have us! For a fresh group of Canadians, we really thought that would be a cool experience. Sadly, Brandon and Stacey had to leave before we were able to coordinate a time for the 4 of us, so thought we should try to fit this in for the parents.

We set a time with Aaron, and while we waited, we had some mean burgers at James St.

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We love kiwifruit.

Aaron was very sweet to take us all around a couple different orchards and our parents Loved. It. We found it really interesting to hear about the growing process, and especially fun listening to such a passionate tour guide!

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Our last evening at the beach house was bitter sweet, and still quite busy as we continued to get ourselves packed and sorted. I am so grateful that Joel slowed us down a little bit to enjoy the sunset and to just be in our place for the last time.

Our beach house was the perfect spot for our first seven months, and it really ticked all the boxes. We couldn’t have asked for a more lovely home to recharge in every evening, and it provided just what we needed for our kiwi adventure.

We ended up living in our beach bach for as long as we’ve lived in our Calgary house, which is crazy to consider. It will certainly hold a special place in our hearts!

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Saturday morning brought with it a boatload of chores and last minute errands. Our friends were so helpful to not only house our largest bags for us while we’re on the move, but also to help us use up the last bits from our fridge.
Our parents were simply wonderful to help us do a final clean of our house, and they’ve volunteered to take back random bits of baggage that we’ve had trouble fitting in our luggage – which is sweet as. The rest of Saturday morning was spent signing papers, doing a walk through with our realtor, dropping stuff by Aaron and Britt’s and making a final run to the transfer station to be rid of our last bag of garbage and bits of recycling.

After packing a couple of vehicles full, we left Papamoa with mixed emotions. Saddened to be closing such a powerful chapter in our lives, but excited to see what’s ahead on the journey.

Ra Ra Raro!

It All Started with a Surprise

We kept hearing about Rarotonga (the largest of the Cook Islands) here in New Zealand as it’s a very popular vacation spot for kiwis.  iIt’s an easy 3 hour flight and their currency is still mainly NZ dollars, more importantly… it’s a really beautiful place. The entire island is surrounded by a reef, making the shoreline calm and crystal clear (mainly shark-free, too- which is a bonus for this prairie girl).


Joel had a plan to surprise me with a getaway, as a kinda celebration trip for my birthday and our anniversary. He had been working on an end-of-October deadline so, despite having to be away when Brandon and Stacey flew home, Joel booked for a time he knew he could be away from work and an internet connection (which is tricky to find on the island).

On October 31st we headed for the airport, saying goodbye to our sweet friends/housemates and readied ourselves for some killer downtime in paradise.

Friggin’ Buses

We arrived in Raro after dark, and therefore, weren’t able to form an accurate judgement of the place.  Mainly flying by the seat of our pants, having put very little research into the area – we had few expectations. We were greeted by the hotel shuttle and ushered around part of the island to our resort where we settled in and rested up for our official introduction.

We eagerly slid out of our beach bungalow the next morning, ready to see what the fuss about this place was. It took no time to jump onto the bandwagon.

We had breakfast on the beach, with sand beneath our feet and sea breezes sweeping through our… my hair. With one look at our infinity pool, we set plans for our first morning.

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We took things fairly easy for the first part of the day, with a plan to head into town, maybe getting a scooter license and wheels for the afternoon. We stopped for more sunscreen at a nearby store (getting our first glimpse of the Rarotongan coins that supplement the New Zealand change circulated), I started reading ‘The Hobbit’ (like a good little New Zealand tourist), Joel was reunited with his true love- salt water pools and I discovered the need to have a chat to him about not looking dead when he practices holding his breath underwater (although, I suppose I’m fairly lost to the world in the photo below as well).





Eventually we headed to the reception desk to to receive instruction on catching the bus. A helpful staff member explained how easy it is- having a stop right on the main ring road at the end of our hotel’s laneway! We were waiting at the ‘stop’ (although, we didn’t notice any marked pull-outs, so simply set ourselves up in a visible area) and waited. The bus came around shortly after it’s expected time, and with our exact change in one hand, we gave a little wave to indicate our hopes to board with the other… and the bus zoomed past us!

Strange, but we took it in stride- taking the opportunity to walk across the road to ask a rental company the licensing requirements for a scooter- discovering our need to stop at the police station for the proper qualifications. Cool, we thought, we’ll do that when we take the bus to town!

Back to our hotel we went to grab some lunch and await the arrival of bus #2. More sun, some food and quiet time passed before we got ourselves together once again waiting by the main road for our ride. Again, prepared we were now- with the correct fare in one hand and our (grander) waving arm at the ready. Here comes the bus again, fairly close to on-time.

We waved politely. We both wave our hats at the bus, that again doesn’t appear to be slowing… and once more watched as it zoomed by us! Now having only seen our resort all day and the time now nearly mid-afternoon. Ugh. Annoying. We went back to chat with the receptionist to be sure we weren’t somehow missing the trick to catching a bus, but with her confusion and apologies, we ended up leaving the front desk and venturing across the street yet again- this time for a car rental.

Melting, annoyed and hoping to just be slightly mobile, we ended up getting ourselves a little Toyota for the remainder of our trip.

We ventured into the nearby town and walked around a bit before deciding to drive around and see what’s to be seen. One interesting view we caught was that of an old shipwreck just off the existing harbour. Kinda neat to even see from land, but there are lots of boats and snorkel tours that will drop you off near the wreck to have a look.


It didn’t take long before we’d reached our hotel again (it takes about 40 mins to drive the whole island) with several ideas for stops over the coming days.

That evening, we checked out a beachside bar and enjoyed some cold drinks as we watched the sunset. After which, we were thoroughly tired out and grabbed some great takeaway pizza to enjoy before crashing.

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A Magical Mystery Tour

Tuesday morning we planned to join several other hotel guests (the average age being about 65 and again reminding me how much my activity choices are more suited for such a range) on the manager’s **Mystery Tour** (OooOOOooooo).

This tour consists of a van full of either pale or burnt tourists that squeeze themselves together and sweat along the countryside admiring the sights with the appropriate insertions of “Ooo” and “Ahhh” and “Oh Sue, you hilarious vixen, you”.

This tour was actually fantastic, we had a chance to hear stories of the area, we drove by the jail and the hospital and moved on to some more exciting stops- a spot serving snacks and coffee, a coconut oil company (run out of a fellow’s garage essentially), and then Muri beach- where 13 boats left for New Zealand, 7 made the entire journey and were able to set themselves up there.

It was a good day and it allowed us to gain a better understanding of the island- which was great.

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Once back from our tour, I was able to start my afternoon routine of enjoying a coffee or tea on our porch and reading for a spell. I started craving that quiet time with the shade a cool breeze rustling the green around me- quite peaceful and lovely!


That evening, we caught our first glimpse of the hotel restaurant in the evening, and planned to come back. The night we were able to eat at our hotel was really lovely- the lights created a whole new ambience and a local artist construction some really beautiful music with just her voice, a guitar and a loop pedal- it was wonderful.


But back to Tuesday night, when we decided to put our car to use and went to town for supper. We ate at a place right on the water and enjoyed ribs for Joel (we’d been told the pork in the area is exceptional) and fish for me while listening to the water gently lap against the beach. Great food and atmosphere overall 🙂


Muri Beach and the Fish Sandwich to Remember

Wednesday we had booked ourselves in for a night Stand up paddle board (SUP) tour in the Muri Beach Lagoon. We had been told that depending on conditions we could be shuffled to another evening to ensure a good experience, so we decided to head over early, wander the area and check in on our booking so we could save everyone a drive later on.

We started on the Northern point of Muri beach, and stopped for a while to admire the breathtaking water- for as long as we were there, the colour of the ocean continually impressed me.

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Our tour continued on to The Mooring Cafe, which is notorious for pretty mean fish sandwiches and fruit smoothies. The cafe has some amazingly fresh fish; also running fishing charters and serve their own catch. We weren’t quite ready to commit to the sandwich on our first stop in, but had an amazing vanilla-coconut milkshake and travelled on, promising to be back once our appetite caught up with us.


We stopped in to check on our SUP booking and found not only were we the only ones signed up for that evening, but the water conditions didn’t seem like they’d cooperate. We happily switched our booking over to Friday and hoped for the best!

Further on down the road, there was a local brewery who we’d heard offered some very interesting tours that run twice most days. My beer-loving husband and me, the seeker of all speakers sharing their passion, were eager to check this out.

We found the Matutu brewery with ease, tracked down some lush grass to park our wee Toyota and waited with the handful of other tourists who’d found their way there. It was funny, as this was the first time we started to see the same tourists doing the activities we’d chosen for the day- that’s what ya get on an island destination with an area of only 26 square miles 🙂

The tour was an hour long, set in a tiny brewery where we sat in one spot and could see the full production. The host was one of the 2 owners who had come from New Zealand with his family several years before, originally moving to continue as a teacher (my kinda guy). He says the brewery came about after his wife would comment how teaching had driven him to drink.

Matutu has been successfully running as a always-fresh, preservative-free micro brewery for over 10 years now. We learned a little about the owners, the history, some of their struggles and all about the depth and thoughtfulness that surrounds their design and labelling.

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They’ve overcome some interesting bumps along the way, but have since gained recognition and seemed to have found their niche. We were able to sample all 3 of the beers they craft, and enjoyed not only the brews, but the story of this quaint stop. We had fun, and were even treated to a couple labels with our niece’s name on it! Maeva is a Maori word for celebration, and we noticed it a couple more times before we left, although in the Cook Islands it’s pronounced MY-va


With full hearts and empty stomachs we trekked back to the Mooring for lunch. We were completely blown-away. Fresh, fabulous, filling…FISH (ha).  What a win. Crumbed Mahi Mahi with lime mayo on the fluffiest bread around- delish.


We had a little visitor at lunch and I didn’t mind a bit- look how cute! There are lots of roaming dogs on the island, but few that captured my heart like this guy:


Then, away we went! Back to Joel’s happy place:


All the *Culture*

Thursday I woke up already a bit sick of our hotel’s continental breakfast, so we went on a coffee expedition! We had heard that one of the best coffee spots on the island was Cook Islands Coffee Company, and we went to find out for ourselves.

The cafe could easily be missed, in fact we drove past it on our first go-around. There’s a little coffee-themed road sign and a pylon to mark the entrance, and the coffee is roasted and served from a tiny little counter off the owner’s main house (which is a pretty sweet gig, if you ask me). I appreciated the charm of the place, but kiwi coffee has definitely spoiled me and though I enjoyed our little trek, I wasn’t wild about the brew.

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Most days the coffee spot also serves fresh croissants, but not on Thursdays. Sad. So after our beverages we headed for breakfast and found a spot with fruit smoothies and eggs- all ya need, really 🙂 we ended up sharing the patio with a women’s rugby team- there for the International 7s that were running while we were in Rarotonga- kinda neat.

Once properly fed we were up for yet more culture- this time… mini golf (woot!).

There’s a mini golf course located just up the road from our resort, and we thought it would be fun to check it out. The place seemed very new and well-kept. We had a great time enjoying the tropical air and working our way through the course. Mini golf is one of those things that just makes me happy- we discovered this on a particularly grumpy day on our honeymoon (good to know).


We went back to our hotel for more beach/pool time, and eventually got ourselves freshened up for our evening out at Te Vara Nui village for a buffet dinner and a show.


Our evening was planned for us, but we figured we would check out a few places on our way to our reservation. We took our time as we drove towards the village, and had a walk on the beach part way. We ended up being early still, so we drove on and stopped by a cool looking church. We took pictures and enjoyed the scene that was enhanced by a choir practice happening across the road.

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We looped around, scoped out an ideal parking spot and headed in to find our table. The village was built up atop an old taro swamp and the show took place on an overwater stage set in the wetlands, creating a very interesting ambience.

The show was a true tourist spot- maybe a bit kitsch, but we ended up having a fabulous time! The food was great, we had lovely company sharing our table, the music was live and vibrant and the dance was really entertaining. The whole production was clearly a well-oiled machine and it provided a fun night out for us.

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Onward We Wander

By Friday we had only a couple days left and just as many plans for our time left. We had fully immersed ourselves in vacation mode and didn’t feel any rush to get anything done.

It was rainy and grey, so we headed to town and walked through some shops and a cafe. There was a record player in the corner of the cafe where you could freely choose an album to enjoy. There was a book nook, with my lady, RGJ, represented and they had a lovely covered patio that allowed for fresh air and shelter from the tropical rains all at once.

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We drove for a while, checked in with our SUP booking and found our way back at a mini golf place. This time we tried Coco Putt, which has great food/drink and golf combo deals. We were soaked a few times as we completed our 18 holes with the rain coming in waves, but we had fun just the same. We compared and contrasted, and figured our first putt course was our favourite!

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We had planned on grabbing some dinner at the night market right near our SUP spot, but when we arrived in the evening we discovered it didn’t run on Fridays! Too sad… although the burger joint we ended up at wound up being a gem. Both Joel and I refuelled to prepare for our evening on the water with Muri burgers, which had pineapple among other tasty toppings.


We were grateful to have had such a great meal, because our next activity was just about too cool to handle!


But, really. We were finally able to night SUP and it was SO. AWESOME.

The boards are each equipped with LED lights on the bottom, you can choose different colours and as you paddle you’re able to see all sorts of interesting corals, sea cucumbers (which actually should be called sea poos), puffer fish, needle fish, star fish (you know… a variety of fish and such fine sea critters). We had a real small, chill group and we all had a blast!

We didn’t want to bring our cameras along- to be cautious, but here are some photos that were shared on their Facebook page- so also… Kite SUP in Muri Beach is a great place and highly recommended if you ever find yourself in the area (also JUST in case the fella on our tour isn’t into being on my post I fuzzied his face out, ha- he was great fun, though).

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Saturday in the Park

Saturday we hadn’t planned much apart from soaking up our last bits of Rarotongan sunshine. We got our bags somewhat organized before going for breakfast and planned to hit the Punanga Nui market where we’d been told most of the island shows up to each Saturday.

We had some amazing weather for our last day and enjoyed our time strolling up and down the stalls at the market, wishing we had more of an appetite to sample the amazing looking food that surrounded us- fresh fruit, hot waffles, made-to-order crepes, all sorts of fish, and more things than I would have imagined in one spot. We ended up soaking in the atmosphere and then chilling in the shade with some homemade ginger lemonade before driving around the island one last time.

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Joel was hoping to take our time as we drove and was great at taking pictures of those things that we had thought were really cool, but hadn’t actually captured in photo evidence. It was a lovely little scavenger hunt and we were able to remember quite a few neat sights to re-visit.

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We topped up the gas tank in our little Toyota and made our last trip before returning it.  We found ourselves back at our top choice mini golf course. I kept thinking it was kinda like when you have 2 kinds of pizza and you have to have one of each, but once that’s through and you’re still hungry – you go back to your favourite to let that taste linger. Yep, that’s what we did. Snacks and golf at the course!

We dropped our car off, walked back to our hotel and spent our last few hours before our flights poolside. We swam and chatted with the other guest, read, relaxed and finally enjoyed a delicious supper before flying back to Auckland.

What a lovely surprise. I feel blessed to have such a thoughtful husband who is dedicated to sharing such memories and experiences! We were happy to have that holiday time as well, even though we came back to a quiet, empty house as our friends had gone back home while we were away. We also came back to some loose ends needing to be tied in our last 2 weeks in our beach house.

This time next week, we’ll be visiting with our parents! Both Joel’s parents and mine will be visiting and travelling with us for a month. And then, before you know it, we’ll be sitting on a couch trying to fight the jet lag as our hearts are filled with joy and our Canadian Christmas commences. What a wild ride. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just a Couple Canadians Left

BFF-NZE [Best Friends Forever- New Zealand Edition]

As I sit to type out this post here, Joel and I are in the Auckland airport, awaiting our flight to Rarotonga for a belated anniversary/30th birthday trip. We were up early this morning to get ourselves sorted so Brandon and Stacey could drive us to the bus.

That was our last road trip (teeny as it may have been) as a kiwi family of four.

By the time we’re back in Papamoa, Brandon and Stacey will be visiting with family and revelling in an Alberta autumn.


Not even a year ago we started dreaming of an extended vacation on the other side of the globe, and were thrilled at the thought of our friends being able to join. We all four committed and bought our tickets and so began a pretty unbelievable trek.


No one could have imagined the things that this trip had in store. Our housemates and ourselves have lived a lifetime in the past 6 months, having sorted out buying vehicles, groceries and rent together. Finding a dream home by the ocean and living each weekend with the goal of seeing more and more of this beautiful country.

We had a lot of happy times and some tough ones, too- but we are beyond grateful to have been able to weather the storm with these two incredible people.


Sayin’ See Ya

Our last full weekend together was one we tried to make a bit special. Stacey’s friend Justayne had been visiting in the week+ leading up to it, and their little crew of 3 were able to see some great things and check a few more ‘must dos’ off their list- which was great.

So as they were off in Queenstown, I started doing a little research about how to spend our time. We ended up trying to book some last minute hotels, which was a bit tricky as that weekend was New Zealand’s Labour Day long weekend, too. Things were booking up quickly in this bach nation.

We decided to check in with our number one kiwi couple-friends and were able to combine our weekend fun as we were invited to hang out together in Hamilton and later stay with Brit’s parents in Cambridge- which was amazing. We all thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

We headed out on Saturday, hoping to catch the tail end of he Cambridge market (where donuts, gluten-free treats and all sorts of treats await), but unfortunately arrived soon after it had been packed up. Instead of market treats, we headed to downtown Hamilton to get our second taste of Vietnamese food since arriving. It’s certainly not as common here as it is at home, but that didn’t stop this restaurant from impressing us thoroughly.

When downtown we were able to learn about the Rocky Horror Picture Show/NZ connection as a big Bronze statue of Rif Raf (design by the great Weta Workshop) sits in a spacious square in front of a theatre. Apparently in the theatre (watching late-night movies and such), the Rocky Horror playwright was inspired to create Rif Raf and there came the show’s start. Interesting!


After a hurried attempt to hit the elusive Swandri outlet store (which evidently no longer exists- or is only operational when surplus is available?), we finally made our way over to the Hamilton Gardens to scope out a popular spot and to meet up with our pals.

The Gardens were quite beautiful and we couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was shining and we were able to see loads of different things there before having an ice cream break 🙂

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When our garden adventures were complete, we headed back to Cambridge to meet the most lovely family and to enjoy a feast for the record-books. I’m pretty sure Brandon is still having vivid dreams about the barbecued meat prepared for us that evening. We ate well, visited, played some fun games and rested up so we could have breakfast all together before church duties early the next morning.

Rollin’ On

Brit and Aaron needed to be back to our church to organize set-up, etc. and we were headed the other direction to see what the fuss about Raglan was.  Grateful to have had such quality time together, we parted ways.

We had heard a little buzz over Raglan- which is a little surf town that’s quite popular with Aucklanders and Hamiltonians largely due to it’s famous surf break and nearby location (just 30-ish minutes from Hamilton and just shy of 2 hours from Auckland). We thought we’d check it out.

It was soon obvious, even at 9am, that we were not the only crew to descend on this quaint little slice of heaven. We spotted at least 2 walking tours- little herds of grey haired folk and visor-clad explorers- and saw more and more people fill cafes and restaurants in the area as the day went on. Though the town was busy, the charm was not lost.

We had a wander downtown, checking out cute shops, had some great roasted-daily coffee, stopped for a little bite and asked where the best spot was to see the surfers doing their thing.


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With some new knowledge and appreciation for this west coast town, we headed across the estuary to see the surf. We were again greeted by the others who had ventured out for the weekend and sun, but found ourselves a spot to spread our towels and chill as we watched the experienced surfers show off their skills.

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Our next stop was Bridal Veil Falls, which we meandered our way to through backroads, as the crowds had started blocking the main access points. After some unsealed roads and lovely farmland views, we arrived.

A short walk brought us a to a beautiful outlook and we were able to walk all the way down to the bottom- gaining different vantage points as we went.

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After the day on the coast, we ventured back East and were able to catch a little food festival/family activity day at the Hamilton Gardens. They had a whole bunch of food vendors available, and we partook in some amazing wood-fired pizza, Vietnamese salad rolls, one real sad venison burger, and the redemption of real fruit ice cream-yum. Again, we couldn’t have asked for a better day and atmosphere, although… the 90s cover songs performed left something to be desired.


Final Days

Our last days together were graced with sunshine and sheep costumes.

The Saturday before Joel and I departed for Raro, we wanted to be sure Brandon and Stacey could soak up all the bits of NZ sun possible- so we started the day with a BBQ breakfast on the patio (which is always a house favourite), then headed to a new beach (with some of the most powdery sand) and on our way stopped for some wonderful real fruit ice cream (once you start, you can’t stop).


That evening, we had been invited to a costume-mandatory Halloween party. We had run through some different ideas. Joel and I had hoped to do something ‘Back to the Future’ themed, but in the ended started brainstorming as a group. We thought through Canadian themes and ran through several ideas before deciding upon something a bit more kiwi.  Sheep.

We all played our part as we shopped for supplies (individually and together) and we each added different elements of flare as we went.


Several bags of cotton balls, a couple headbands, some felt, 2 shower caps and a couple bottles of glue later… we were a herd.



We had fun chatting with friends new and old, and we had to stop the dog from eating all our cotton balls while trying to clean up after ourselves as our make-shift costumes were obviously not meant for the long haul!

Sunday was a busy time of getting our house closer to it’s original state- working as a crew to remember what we could. We went to church, then enjoyed poutine and burgers at James St. Burger (a local fav).


Joel and I had to work on our packing for our trip, as our bus departed the Mount at 7:30 Monday morning. It came down to the wire a little bit. Thankfully our thoughtful friends pulled us away to celebrate our last evening as a NZ family.

We made dinner, watched Mad Men (as per tradition), the guys shared a fancy beer and we went out to Post Bank to enjoy dessert, drinks and fellowship. What a time!

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6 Months- Added Up

Together we shared:

1 perfect beach house,  the meanest Honda Stream on the road and the arrival of 1 niece and 1 nephew

2 explored islands (and 2.5 if you count Moturiki-which we probably should) and 2 new tires.

3 lighthouses

4 anniversaries and the creation of 4 of the funniest sheep costumes

the discovery of a handful of beaches, caves and marvellous sea creatures

7 days a week of grand adventures

8 Canadian visitors

9 (at least) small-scale model ships

10 waterfalls

thousands of kilometres driven

15 000 fish dishes

Countless hikes

Some of the very best cafes, one killer gluten-free bakery and the trip of a lifetime.

It’ll be weird going back to the house- that was once bustling with bloggers, artists, videographers, designers, chefs, BBQ masters and copywriters- to see it in a new light.

We are certain that our last weeks here will fly by, but we also know they’ll feel oddly hollow as we think of the couple who made this adventure complete.

Thanks, Brandon and Stacey for putting up with me and Joel. We know we have our ugly moments. We’re grateful for you both, and that you reminded us to be kind, made some amazing food, lifted us up, prayed with us and, in general, that you were the cherry on top of this time down under.

New Zealand won’t be the same without you two, and we’re already looking forward to our Canadian reunion.

Lots of love- see ya soon!