Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday 9/23

We’re rather embarrassed to say we STILL haven’t done any farm work – the storm rages on, and Tony and Sharyn would rather we work indoors. We think we could handle working outside. We’re pretty tough!
And Tony does farm work outside each day.
But they’re really nice – and I dunno, maybe they don’t want sick workers. :) So we stick to the house work and baking.

Today we stripped the wallpaper from Tony and Sharyn’s bedroom walls – and next week we’ll probably be re-pasting some wallpaper back onto the walls.

This evening the band members came back over for one more practice. Sharyn pulled out some pictures albums of her and Tony for us to look through. The two of them met here in Waitara when they were 14 years old at a New Years Party on the beach (it’s Summer here for Christmas and New Years!) and started dating right there and then, even though Sharyn lived on the East coast in Napier. They got to see each other about 3 times a year after that and could talk on the phone for 10min/week, so they mostly wrote letters. They waited to get married until they were 21. We’ve loved learning their story, so it was really fun getting to look through at the pictures of them growing up from when they were really pretty young. Sharyn still has a scrapbook she started when they first met, which is so cute to look at. Hearing their story reminds me a lot of my little brother Jonathan and his girlfriend Rosie. :)

Wednesday 9/22

Today we vacuumed, polished the floors, and cleaned out the indoor swimming pool, which was filled with icky dead worms and spiders.

One of the calves died today and another is very sick. Calves and lambs all over the country have been dying from the storm because of flooding and then just the bitter cold. It’s been pretty devastating for many of the farmers on the south island – they’ve been having all kinds of snow as well. I think it’s just really sad, especially for the people in Christchurch. With the 7.4 earthquake that occurred shortly before JP and I arrived in NZ, many of the people of Christchurch have lost their homes. There have been aftershock earthquakes almost daily since the 7.4 one, most of which are quite large. It must be very difficult for the people there because they can’t quite start rebuilding and the storm just makes things worse.

Tuesday 9/21

I (JP) woke up this morning at 630am to join Tony and watch one of their cows get slaughtered. We had a bit of coffee and drove down just past the pasture in front of their house, and we met the two men who Tony hired to slaughter the cow.  Tony first had to convince the cow to walk toward us, confirming once again the cow’s aloofness (as we were all standing behind the closest fence, one of the men holding a scoped .22), and then the man shot the animal perfectly between the eyes.  I was surprised how suddenly it dropped, its legs contracted and the dead weight fell quickly to the ground.  Immediately after it fell, the two men ran over and started to cut it apart.  First they cut off the head, with buckets and buckets of blood flowing onto the muddy grass.  They were considerably accurate with their knives.  

I didn’t expect it when the butcher stuck his knife sharpener down the cow’s now fully exposed throat and thrusted it back and forth for about a minute.  I wasn’t sure whether he was causing the heart to beat more rapidly or whether he was rubbing the rod along the spinal nerves, but whatever he did was causing the cow’s body and legs to spasm violently. They proceeded to cut off the feet (which was to avoid getting kicked in the face) and then to completely skin the cow.  They used the lift on the back of their truck to raise the hindquarters of the cow into the air for easier access.  After about 20 minutes the cow was cut into two halves, the feet, head, tail, and entrails were piled on the ground, and they drove the two hanging halves back to their trailer for storage.

I feel like I handled the whole event pretty well, the only parts that I had a difficult time with were the slimy intestines (which were expanding and contracting all by themselves), the tons of blood, and how the body continued to quiver and spasm even after is was fully dismembered.  Oh, and one of the kidneys was really bloated looking so I asked the guy if it was a tumor, but he said it was just filled with fluid and he popped it with his knife!  Luckily I jumped back in time to keep the fluids from getting in my gum boots J

For work today we drove with Tony and Sharyn out to their rental house – about 45 minutes South – to clean it up, while Sharyn met with potential tenants to show them around. The house was freezing and the wind was crazy strong – so we worked fast. We basically just gave everything a good scrub over, along with Sharyn, while Tony was Mr. Fix-it, replacing broken appliances.

In the afternoon when the boys got home, Tony took JP, Jesse, and I out on the motocross track with one of his big rickety trucks. Umm, it was terrifying. :) Before we went on the track he drove right up to this ledge, overlooking the track – and I thought we were gonna die… or at least I thought the truck would somersault over the edge. Oh good lord. Both JP and I were terrified. Umm, but somehow that didn’t happen, and we spun around and went down to the track. A lot of that area was inaccessible because of flooding from the storm, but Tony took us over a couple of jumps – and yeah, like I said, it was terrifying. I don’t know why I was such a wimp. I love going on crazy rides and roller-coasters.  Maybe it’s because rides are so well controlled… whereas it felt that it wouldn’t take much at all for us to spin out of control and nosedive straight into the ground. I don’t think I’m cut out for four-wheeling. :) I’d at least never take the wheel.

We got stuck in the mud once on our journey back, but Tony safely returned us back to the house. JP, Jesse, and I then joined Corban in feeding little CJ and we enjoyed frolicking around the farm with him. He’s so cute… he’ll just follow you anywhere – so close to your feet, you have to be careful not to trip over him. And if you kneel down and call to him, he’ll come running right into your arms, and start butting you with his mouth, in search of your udder. He’s convinced I have an udder under my knee.

Later on, enjoyed a fun couple 2 or 3 games of Carcassonne with the boys. First game, Corban, the youngest, beat us. And he aaaaaaaaaalmost did the 2nd time.
We haven’t taught Sharyn and Tony yet, but we will. :)

Monday 9/20

This morning JP and I woke up to what we thought was one of the boys yelling, “MOM! MOM! MOM!” And when it didn’t cease, we finally ran upstairs to find out what was happening. But the sound was coming from out the door in the mudroom and was actually just little CJ bleating desperately – so we ran out to comfort him. He was trembling – and had peed in all of JP’s shoes. :) He’s warmed up to people really fast and spent the whole day trying to come inside. We’ve had so much fun playing with him and feeding him. He’s just so darn, freaking cute. Little lamb.

Today we washed the windows  - from the inside as the storm beat down on them from the outside – and then we baked cookies and chocolate crunch bars… all of which disappeared quite quickly. Yum! Haha  I love it. I’ve noticed that instead of saying, “it’s really good,” they’ll say, “it’s quite nice,” and instead of saying, “it’s delicious,” they say, “this is really yum!”
Yeah its not a big deal. I just like the way they talk.

Sunday 9/19

Last night Tony and Sharyn invited us to go out to their friend’s house with them for drinks. So we drove through the stormy night over to Donna and Andrew’s house and joined them in their garage along with another couple. Tony drove separately so he could bring his band equipment and went right to work setting it all up. Andrew and Donna are dairy farmers and told us we’re welcome to come any time we want to milk their cows – but warned us that the cows stand so close to one another that they have to be milked from behind – so there’s a significant danger of being crapped on – and then the group of them went on to sharing stories throughout their lives of cows pooping on their heads.

Once all the band equipment was set up, Tony pulled out his guitar and started playing. They made JP jump on the drums and Sharyn began singing some of the songs her and Tony have written – which were REALLY good! She’s quite the performer. She gets really into it. :) And it was sooooooo good seeing JP on the drums again. He’s so cute. He never thinks of himself as very good, mainly because I think he compares himself to people who are better than him. But he’s really good! And everyone there was really excited to have him on the drums and kept making him play drum solos.
Then they forced me onto the microphone – and I reluctantly got up. :) I haven’t sung in forever. Flipping through their book of songs, the only one I know well enough to sing was “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillout! Haha so I sang that one with Sharyn on the guitar. And it was fun.
This morning Sharyn took JP and I to a Presbyterian church her friend goes to and we really enjoyed ourselves there. It’s always awkward when you don’t know anyone – but the people were really friendly, the teaching was good, and we knew all the music they sang – which always helps J. We met some people after the service including a couple called the Finers who said they’d like to take us out within the next week to prove to us that Wangara is the gem of NZ. :)

Today after lunch Tony and Sharyn had their band members and their spouses over to practice their music for the muppet party and we had a lot of fun getting to know them, listening to their band, and then doing karaoke later on… and yes, I FINALLY got JP to sing karaoke with me – and he loved it. We sang probably 3 songs. 2 of which were CAKE songs, of course.  :)

Later in the evening Tony went out on the farm and found that one of the sheep had given birth, so Tony brought the little lamb back to the house for us to meet.

I can’t even describe how in love I am with this little lamb. Oh wow. So he officially belongs to Corban and will be his lamb to compete with at school. Corban names him “CJ” J - after his own initials. 

Saturday 9/18

This morning JP woke up early to the sounds of an emotional cow outside our bedroom window. But for me, as usual, I managed to sleep like a baby, completely unaware of the crazy cow.

Turns out – she was in labor! And the Jury’s now have a new baby black calf … who hasn’t quite learned how to nurse yet and keeps sucking on her mother’s armpits.
There are 3 other calves that were born before we arrived, but there’s one more pregnant momma cow, and a couple of pregnant momma sheep. We (JP and I) have found this to be VERY exciting.


When the Jury’s first emailed us to inform us we could stay and work with them, they invited us to go to a muppet-themed party on September 25th. We weren’t sure if that meant dressing up as Muppets… as in the kind of Muppets we used to watch as kids, or if “muppet” had some other sort of meaning down under.
Our very first day in Auckland, before we could check in to our hotel, we had gone for a walk to see a bit of the rainy city – and in passing noticed a pub with a sign outside the door stating:
“No Minors
No Drunkies
No Muppets
No Solicitors”

Aaaaaaand to say the very least, we thought that was pretty weird – and were starting to worry about what the heck “muppets” indicated. All that day we considered asking people we encountered what a muppet was – but were worried that maybe it was something really crass or awkward.
As we became more comfortable with the Irish desk lady at our hotel, I finally asked her about it. She didn’t know of any special meaning except that in Ireland people would refer to an idiot has a muppet.
We felt more at ease about the subject, because she had been living in New Zealand for a year.
When we arrived at the Jury home and asked them, “Now what kind of a party is it you’ve invited us to??” and told them about the sign they saw, they cracked up over it and explained to us, yes, it is a Muppet party – as in the puppets – and they have no idea why that pub had a sign like that.

So cool. J
Apparently their friends Mark and Kelly throw parties at their house a couple times a year – and always with some sort of a theme… which I love – reminds me of the Wooden Castle. J
The last couple of parties they’ve held were things like, “what I wanna be when I grow up,” “superheroes,” “opposites,” “things starting with the letter ‘t’,” etc.

This morning Tony and Sharyn got up and began collecting ideas for muppet costumes. Sharyn’s going to be Dr. Teeth. Tony will be Count Dracula. JP wants to be Gonzo. And I’m going to be Janis – the bass player in the band… I feel like that one’s a bit of a cop-out … but I didn’t really bring a ton of costume ideas with me… and her’s seems pretty easy to dress up as. I’d much rather be the Manamana guy J or the Swedish Chef… or one of the pink manamana doo doo do do do singers…. Or Animal J -----but whatever. J

So today Sharyn, JP, the boys, and I are gonna go to the thrift store and to the “$2 and $5 store” to look for bits to contribute to our costumes.

Friday 9/17

Last night the Jurys informed us that a massive storm the size of Australia would be visiting us this week – so a lot of our work would probably be indoors.
And sure enough, the rains came pouring buckets last night and all of today.  The wind and showers are pretty out of control and we are thankful to be warm (relatively) and dry.
So today we began spring cleaning with Sharyn, and cleaned out the pantry! Whoo hoo.
We’ve begun to very much enjoy the kiwi tradition of having hot drinks 3-5 times a day. Wowza. But yeah, that might end up becoming a rather difficult habit to break when we leave.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waitara. 1st Work Away Experience. The Jury Family.

Thursday morning we woke up at 6am at the Jellick's home so we could have an early start for heading back to Auckland and returning our beautiful rental car we'd grown so fond of. Once our car was returned, we would rush to the airport - hope to God that we'd be there in time to catch our bus, which would take us  to another town, where we'd anxiously wait for our next bus, that would take us to Waitara where we would stay with the Jury family and work on a farm. :)

So, it's about 6:15am in the morning and the Jellicks come to knock on our bedroom floor to make sure we're awake. Such nice people.
6:30am, we're all packed and dressed and we come out to the dining room to find that the whole family has gotten up early to prepare and eat breakfast with us.
Right before we left, we took a couple of pictures with the family, said our goodbyes, and Lenore gave us a cooler with snacks she'd packed us for the road! these people... wow.

Jump ahead 12 1/2 hours, through some of the most incredible sights you've ever seen, and over to the West coast, JP and Ashley get off the bus and are welcomed by the lovely Sharyn Jury, who is surprised by the amount of luggage they intend to lug around with them for an entire year - and takes them to her home.

Here is Waitara (just referencing the map... not the weird page behind it).

We're surrounded by shire - full of cows, alapacas, and sheep, with 2 dogs, a cat, and a goat. We got a lovely view of the ocean, and when the clouds should choose to part, one can see the heights of the grand Mt. Taranki. :) it's similar to home when you think about being near the mountain and water.... but it's different.

The Jury family is composed of 4 members:

Tony - husband / father / beef farmer / landlord / manly man / wedding photographer / lead guitarist in his band. :)

Sharyn - wife / mother / home-maker / farmer / human resources lady in town hall / Maid Marian in the local Robin Hood play / song-writer and singer

Jesse - 9 year old son - going on 20 / Rugby player / incredible singer / spitting image of his father / academic achiever / down-to-Earth / new fan of the board game Carcassonne

Corbin - 8 year old son / Rugby player / fastest cross country runner at his school (even faster than the big kids) / freaking adorable / new owner of the 5-day-old lamb, "CJ" / also new fan of the board game Carcassonne

the Jury's live at THE top of the hill - overlooking Tony's mother's property, Tony's brother's farm, and all the other farms in Waitara. They own 200 acres of land - and over one of their hills - past where we can see from the house they own a race track, which Tony made himself, where they hold an annual motocross race to raise money for the local school.

Our first evening with the Jury's, the evening of Thursday the 16th of September, we enjoyed TACOS! for dinner, spent some time talking with the Jurys, met their cat, Scooter, and set up house in our very own bedroom in the basement. They've pretty much given us the basement to ourselves - which has been awesome. It's very cold down there - so we spend most of our time upstairs with the family.

We'd completed our first week in New Zealand and felt certain we'd made a good decision in coming. :)

Wednesday 9/15

The next morning when JP and I woke up, Kelsey had already left for school, and Lenore for work, but Derrick hadn’t quite left yet – and he’d prepared breakfast for the two of us: toast from bread he’d made himself in his bakery, eggs from their chickens, and bacon from a wild pig he’d caught hunting with his dogs.

We’d arrived past dark the night before – being that it is early Spring here and still gets dark quite early – and were amazed to see the beautiful splendor they lived within! Their farmer neighbors on one side of the house owned loads of cows! And the neighbors to the other side had a field full of sheep! We spent a couple outside in the sunshine taking everything in  - and bonding with their chickens and dogs. They own 12 dogs – all for hunting. And six of them are new puppies. Good lordy they were so sweet.

Derrick invited us to swing by the church at 11am to visit the old ladies who were having their weekly craft day – so we showed up for tea. I drove :) (sorry, I’m still pretty excited about driving stick shift…). It was great. There were so many ladies there – and they were all very friendly. J Each of them were working on crafts with some sort of a cause. They’d knitted together little garments for new babies born with AIDS in Delhi that they were about to send over.  Most of them were working on individual projects though.
….I – want to have a weekly craft group with my friends now! ..once we get back…J anyone interested?? J any takers??

We told Derrick we’d return that evening for the Wednesday night service. So with the couple of hours we had, we headed over to THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH I’VE EVER SEEN in Matapouri.

I can’t wait to post pictures of it – we’re gonna hold off on posting pictures for a while tho… Remember how we mentioned that New  Zealand had missed the free wi-fi memo. Well we found out why. New Zealand hasn’t gone fiber-optic yet – so they’re limited in the amount of wifi they can provide and furthermore most household cannot download more than 1gig per month – and we think that uploading pictures also takes up some of that space… SO – to respect the limited amount of space our hosts have – we probably shouldn’t do any downloading or uploading…. And we haven’t really figured out an alternative thus far.  :/

Whelp… anyway… we walked on the beach for about half an hour and took cool pictures on some interesting rock formations. It was awesome. It was like trekking through Point Defiance down at Owens Beach – but the ground was really muddy. We sort of had to pull our way up the hill by grabbing onto trees, roots, and brush – otherwise we’d just slip all the way down. It took us a while, but when we reached the top, it was a gorgeous view. We had a tough time finding a way back down – so we ended up pretty much doing the same thing – which was comical. We got some pretty hilarious videos of ourselves slipping and grabbing onto vines and things to save ourselves.
It looked exactly like the jungles of Jurassic Park in there – and the whole time we pretended there were dinosaurs after us…. J

That evening we had dinner at the church and met a lot of really sweet people. In New Zealand a lot of the churches go through a bible study program filmed in the UK called “Alpha.” The purpose is to invite non-believers to join for dinner and discussion – and after dinner, the group watches these videos, 1 each week, that go through the basics of Christianity – through different topics. And then afterwards everyone splits into smaller groups and discusses the video. The leaders of the group are not supposed to really guide discussion but to allow people to express their opinions and process the material naturally, whether their interpretations or expressions are biblically correct or not – just allowing them to learn and sort things out without Shepparding. Apparently Alpha has a pretty high success rate with nonbelievers finding Jesus by the end of the 9-week course.
We liked it a lot and thought it was pretty beneficial for people who are already Christians as well.
JP brought his board games for the teenage girls and their friends to play with while all the adults were doing Alpha. And they loved him for it. They all played an intense game of Carcassonne. J

That evening we went back to Pastor Derrik’s house one more time and the whole family gathered around the camp fire and we all talked late into the night. They are such a beautiful family.
We ended up on the topic of evangelism – and how imperative it is for Christians to be sharing the gospel. Derrick was talking with us about how nowadays everyone pretty much assumes that others are sharing the gospels – to the extent that almost no one is. :/ Learning Derrick’s views on evangelism was very touching for us. We pretty much got a training session on evangelism from him. He even gave us a book that he said changed his thinking on evangelism and urged him to take it up with more passion. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuesday 9/14

Originally we planned to drive north to the tip of the northern cape on a tour bus that would drive on the beaches and make stops at some of the most beautiful points. This north area is known for it’s gorgeous beaches and we thought it’d be a lot of fun to ride on a bus that could actually drive through the best of the beaches and even go in the waves.

We didn’t do it though. We didn’t make the arrangements the day before, as we should have. We also didn’t want to have to check out of our room at 7am to rush over and be at the bus in time. So instead we checked out at 10am when we were required to and then wandered back down to Paihia’s stunning beach and went into the little town…..aaaaaaand….. played Carcasonne at a cafĂ©…. where JP enjoyed the best muffin he’s ever had in his life. :)

We’ve had to learn a couple new terms for ordering coffee. A “long black” is pretty much an Americano. A “short black” means you’ll get just two shots. And a “flat white” is 2 shots with a bit of foamy cream. I love it. They have “tea” here all the time…. but coffee is always one of the options…. And in the evening, “tea” means dinner? – I believe.

After JP beat me at Carcassonne by viciously stealing my land, castles, and roads (he never gives me a break!), we went on our way for PLAN B for the day.
JP had stopped in earlier at an info center and discovered that Paihia is a prime spot for wine tasting. We were given a map of the 4 best places to stop, all conveniently located within close range of one another. 
Here are a few shots from our drive:

The first winery we went to, “Aki Aki” felt rather awkward  - we tasted a few different kinds, and bought a tasty port.

The next spot we went to was awesome though. It was called “The Fat Pig Winery.” The man running it was super friendly and funny. He reminded me a lot of JP’s boss, Brian. The winery was at his house, surrounded by a gorgeous vineyard. He was familiar with both of our hometowns from travelling as a professional golfer, which he claimed isn’t as fun as one would expect. As we talked with him, we played with his new brown lab puppy, “Mollie,” who was given as a birthday gift to his wife by the new “gay boys” down the road. He said they’d given it to them as a sort of “thank you” because he’d been helping to build their vineyard. He tried to give us the puppy. J He had no desire for another dog. But as cute as she was, we had to leave her behind…. She was a bit nippy – aaaaaand I’m not about to start our new married life with a travelling dog.

Lastly we went to Marsdon, where there was a beautiful outdoor patio in the vineyard, and we stayed for an A-mazing meal. We started out with a cheese platter, and then JP ordered a leg of lamb and I ordered a cheese and spinach soufflé. YUM.

Afterwards we spent some time at a beach – exploring caves and such… and then  headed back towards Whangarei to stay with the Jellicks, who had invited us to stay a night with them before returning to Auckland.

We had SOOOOOOOOOOO much fun.
JP and I have really been missing our families – and it felt so good after wandering around for nearly a week, to stay with a family. They received us with coffee and baked goods and we sat around chatting it up for quite a while – and Kelsey presented us with a beautiful design of our names that she’d spent 6 hours on! We absolutely loved it.

Then we taught the family Carcassonne!!! J haha (go figure). It was Derrick, Lenore, and Kelsey Jellick playing with us, and they picked up on it quick. Shortly after Peter, Rose, and Teresa Bradley (another family we’d met at the church) showed up and hung out with us. Derrick is the pastor of the church we went to – and he smoked all of us!
And then we taught them liar’s dice – which was a blast – and Derrick smoked us all again! J wow. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 3, 4, & 5ish: The Northland: Whangarei and Paihia


So today's blog will cover me and Ashley's Northland adventures, coming to a dramatic and suspenseful halt on the eve of our adventurous day tomorrow.  Oh and just for your information, we are not only traversing the globe 11000 kilometers away from the US, but we are also in the future.  Our today is your tomorrow.  Keep that in mind.

We left the city.

Personally, I had been looking forward to this time for years.  The majestic sheep-filled grasslands of New Zealand have wandered in my dreams ever since I saw the Lord of the Rings.  And now Ashley and I were driving through them...  It was particularly amazing how GREEN the grass actually was, from a distance the hills look like well manicured lawns.  Up-close, however, the hills looked almost as if they were covered in grassy ripples about 1-2 feet apart. Weird, but cool. I really regret not bringing my car adaptor for my Ipod...  our brief meanderings through the hills were unfortunately not filled with light-hearted music from the Shire (the music was playing in my heart though).

As expected, the hills were filled with sheep.  And cows.  I've seen plenty of both through my driving experience within California and Washington, but I get the impression that the sheep in New Zealand are pretty lazy.  It surprised me how many of the sheep were sitting down.  It was hard to keep from laughing because sheep are pretty funny looking as it is.  But seeing seated sheep is much more entertaining.  

When planning our first week in New Zealand, I thought it would be kinda cool to leave a night or two open so we could adjust our schedule as necessary and maybe even spend a night on the beach in our tent. Unfortunately, it rains a lot in New Zealand. I left a night open between our hotel/hostel reservations in Auckland and Paihia, so I figured we would stop somewhere in between. 

We landed in the Whangarei* cafe/information center around 3pm and finished watching a Harry Potter movie from the night before.  NOTE: their cappuccinos are typically very wet and have chocolate powder on top.  Whangarei is about 45 min south of Pahia and is the biggest city in the Northland, so we figured it would be a good place to stay for the night before heading to Paihia the next day. After losing Ashley's purse, which contained both of our passports and all her credit cards and drivers license, we eventually found a place to stay at a holiday park on the north end of Whangarei. We looked at two different places**, and when we asked about the pricing for their tent campsites both receptionists looked at us like we were crazy (given, it was after dark and raining).  

*(In New Zealand the "Wh" is pronounced like a "ph".  phonetically: "fung gar ("g" in good) eh (like in canada)) 
** I should also note that as you drive north on Motorway 1, backpackers lodging and holiday parks are extremely common.  It's hard to go more than 20 minutes without finding a place to park your campa (campervan) or grab a bunk-bed.  

After setting up our new tent and getting relatively situated, we got in our swimsuits and excitedly headed for the hot tub which turned out to be a balmy 80 degrees F.  Other than the cold hot tub, the place was very accommodating and the hosts were extremely nice. 

The night was quite rainy, but we stayed very dry and comfortable in our new Marmot Limelight 2 (thanks to the Thayers!!).

God was very gracious in our stupidity, and we found Ashley's purse back at the information center un-touched.  We realized later that it was such a blessing for us to have lost her purse because otherwise we wouldn't have stayed where we did and went to this amazing church!  We were 2 of the 35-or-so people in the small church, and we were welcomed like family.  We stayed for tea and cookies after the service and ended up staying and chatting for almost 4 hours with the pastor and his family (the Jellicks) and another church family (the Bradleys) who were both incredibly friendly and giving.  We enjoyed a lunch of baked goods from the pastor's bakery while talking and laughing about our cultural differences.  The Jellicks were awesome enough to invite us to stay with them on our way back down to Auckland, so we'll be staying there tomorrow night.  

[[[ So instead of dreading writing the rest of this blog like I would a research paper the night before it's due, I'm going to be significantly more brief.]]]

We eventually made it up to the youth hostel in Paihia and it is very nice. 

The Bay of Islands reminds me of Stillwater cove in Pebble Beach and the San Juan Islands mixed with a little Hawaii.  Pretty awesome. We walked around the main streets last night and had dinner at this cool pizzeria, and played Carcassone at the dinner table (an addictive habit).  

Today we woke up and worked on the blog for awhile, and then went for a sweet hike on the beach.
"Isn't it weird to think about how each of those is a little animal that has a life.... And lives here ALL the time?!"


Tomorrow will be cool, we're going to the northernmost tip of NZ.

Ok I'm done.  Oh yeah, one more thing... The food is SO expensive here.  What the heck?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mailing Address

Up until October 3rd we officially have an address to which we can receive mail... but after that point it will be changing... :) just so ya'll know...

Jonathan & Ashley Post
133 Stockman Road
RD 43
Waitara 4383
New Zealand

day 1 & 2: Auckland, New Zealand's Little Big City

We can’t believe we’re here. This is just freaking ridiculous. J
13 ½ hours after flying out of Los Angeles we landed in the Shire – 2 days later. That Thursday morning from the plane we saw the most incredible red sunrise filling the sky – which of course lasted 3 times as long as normal sunrise, since we were flying West right along with it. Shortly after we arrived on a strip of land, adjacent to green, rolling hills on one side, and the stormy Pacific on the other.

The flight, the Auckland airport, - all around a good experience. As we’d heard, the Kiwi people are extremely nice. Getting out of the airport took a while because the New Zealand government is very protective of their environment and we were screened through bio-security – and had the dirt cleaned off from our hiking boots for us. J

Our itinerary began with 2 days in Auckland. We picked up our cute, little rental car. JP would describe it as, “generic, sub-compact, 5-seater with more room than it would appear – kind of like a Harry Potter tent.” It’s a manual…. We’re both used to driving automatics…. And the driver’s seat is on the right side…. And yes, in New Zealand you drive on the left side of the street.

To be continued…… We’re actually pulling over right now so JP can teach me how to drive this little car!! …heh.


Sweet. JP gave me an A- on my driving lesson. Yeah, I stalled a couple of times… but mostly I got it. The only thing I didn’t get was reversing. However,  I was reversing on a hill, back around a corner, on a gravel road – not to mention on the WRONG side of the car. So those variables may have had something to do with it.

K, back to Auckland. Auckland is definitely a big city. We sort of felt like we were in Seattle again. Auckland even has it’s own space needle called the Sky Tower. 

The people dress REALLY trendy and I felt a little intimidated in the outdoorsy clothes we packed, but as JP reminded me, out of the whole year we’ll be here, we have a whopping 2 days scheduled for Auckland. Observations from the city:
·      * pretty dang expensive
·      * birds appear to be allowed to fly around and eat leftovers in cafes…
·      * pedestrians fill the entire intersections, going every which direction directly through the middle – during the free-to-walk lights
·       *Most of the people are in pretty fit condition
·      * There are a lot of Asians and Indians in the city – mostly students
·      * No free wi-fi, but a LOT of internet cafes – it seems that there’s free coffee everywhere – but you always have to pay for internet
·      * A lot of cafeteria-style restaurants
·      * Cars look the same, and many of the same stores and fast-food restaurants (I’ll admit shamefully that we’ve actually been to a McDonalds twice at this point… first time for milkshakes, second time for chicken nuggets…)
·    * Gas prices are consistent throughout the North Island - $1.73/liter

The hotel we stayed at, Jucy, was in the middle of the business district – it was definitely more of a hostel, but we really enjoyed it. It felt good to have a place of our own as a home-base. The people there were really nice. The employees seemed to all be travelers. The girl we talked to the most, Eleanor, was Irish and had recently travelled throughout most of East Asia.

Our first day in Auckland, we were very sleepy and went to bed just a little after 6pm, but the next day we got out early on foot to survey the city. Eventually we went back to Jucy, grabbed the car, and started driving. We loved everything so much more the second we got outside the city. The beaches are to die for, and the water – filled with beautiful islands. The grass here is SO green. It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of Ireland. JP kept saying how much it looked like Hawaii to him, though. We drove for a long while along the beach and through little towns and neighborhoods. We definitely found where the wealthy live near Auckland. The houses were ridiculous. And pulling into a supermarket, we encountered many of the “trim,” fashionable housewives from the area.

This supermarket was pretty awesome though, because the grocery baskets had long handles and wheels! I was very impressed. We bought a lot of kiwifruit and enjoyed discovering how yummy the peels actually are. J

Ashley just beat JP at Carcasonne (their newest fave boardgame) and is gloating horribly
Red wins again!
Jonathan Post driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, happily drinking his ginger beer - sold EVERWHERE in New Zealand!!!

We went out later in the evening to get a view of Auckland’s nightlife – and while we had fun, we confirmed once again, that we felt ready to leave the city.