Tales of {NZ} Travel: Auckland

Tales of NZ TravelNew Zealand’s largest city (and its inhabitants) gets a bit of a ribbing from the rest of the country, and indeed, on my first visit to Auckland (and the North Island), I wasn’t a fan. It was big, and it was busy; it bustled and it moved at twice the speed of any other city I’d been to, and it took so long to get anywhere. However, landing there after almost two years in England, my thoughts were completely different. I liked it; it seemed small, slow and quiet compared to London, Paris, Barcelona and the other large cities we’d seen, but familiar in its size and spread.

Wynyard Quarter Auckland

On that first visit, I merely passed through, stopping briefly at an outlet store mall making our way up the country to much, much quieter climes.The second time was while staying with friends in Hamilton; we went shopping and had lunch in the big smoke before almost missing our flight back to Dunedin.

IMG_7636

On the third visit, Tall and I were on our way back to Dunedin to get married, stopping for a few days to attend the sun-soaked wedding of his best man.We stayed in the centre of the city and travelled to beautiful Kumeu for the wedding; we strolled the waterfront, stared up at the Sky Tower, and did a spot of shopping on Queen Street. We gorged ourselves on snapper and other fresh seafood, and celebrated Valentines Day with an impromptu meal at an upstairs restaurant overlooking the city centre. We soaked up sun, caught up with friends, and enjoyed a few days of relaxing and getting reacquainted with the kiwi accent.

Elephant Auckland Zoo

On our fourth visit we stayed with the aforementioned married-two-weeks-before-us couple during the Rugby World Cup (mere days before I got pregnant with Pickle!), so Tall could attend a game with his dad and sister. We took Tiny and our friends’ oldest boy to Auckland Zoo, and Ambury Park – a regional farm in walking distance from their house. We explored Queens Wharf and played around the fantastic Wynyard Quarter; we visited The Cloud, and caught up with a dear friend I’d worked with in London (who had, funnily enough, gone to kindergarten with my husband, in a tiny, tiny little village in the ‘Naki. Yes, you read that right. I met her in London, and she knew my husband. Small. World!). We ate at Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ Buffet, which was….an experience, and watched Tiny and his new friend ride bikes on the driveway.
The Cloud Queens Wharf Auckland
I may be one of the only South Islanders who actually likes Auckland, but I do. I truly do.

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It’s gold, it’s shiny, and it’s OURS!

My heart spent a fair portion of 80 minutes somewhere around my oesophagus last night, and my hands and legs had an unusual twitchy tickle about them.

Then, for the last nine minutes, I actually thought I was going to throw up.

Luckily my heart was blocking the way.

When the clock ticked over to 79 minutes, I watched that last minute tick away as slowly as a comatose snail, and only then did my limbs become still and my heart slipped gently back into my proud kiwi chest.

When the whistle blew, and Tall leaped from the couch in ecstatic relief, I think I breathed for the first time in over an hour.

And when Ritchie McCaw held aloft that beautiful, shiny gold cup, I felt as though my grin was about to split my face wide open. I shed a few tears….and secretly, I think Tall may have too.

Welcome back, Mr William Webb Ellis. It’s been a long time, but it’s great to have you back where you belong!

~Well done, All Blacks – you have made your country proud!~

Things I’m Loving

Just a handful of things I’m loving about this week….

Loving Mac’s Feijoa and Pear Sparkling Fruit Drink. It’s just like drinking a feijoa – yum! Super-refreshing….I think I’ve found my summer drink.


Loving food that brings new meaning to the phrase: It’s what’s on the inside that counts. I made a new brownie on Monday and even though it looks helluva-ugly, it tastes aMAzing. I also learned a valuable lesson: when a recipe calls for a 23-inch square tin….a 20-inch square tin really isn’t going to work!


Loving ‘The Help’, which I inHALed. It lived up to all the hype, and now I’m desperate to see the film. Loving that while Tiny slept on Wednesday, I lay in the sun streaming into the lounge, turning page after page until I was finished, while the dishes stayed dirty and the laundry stayed in the washing machine. Loving that I didn’t feel guilty about neglecting the housework so I could lose myself in such an inspiring book.


Loving impromptu coffee-and-cake catch-ups with good friends, and early morning swimming fun with more good friends (mine and Tiny’s).

Loving that the All Black’s are playing in the RWC final this weekend! Loving how everyone – rugby fan or not – seems to be buzzing. We need this after such a tumultuous year, and it’s awesome to see everyone so enthusiastic in their complete faith in our boys in black!

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Linking up with PaisleyJade:

Things I’m Loving

Just popping in quickly to join up with PaisleyJade‘s weekly round-up of things to love – off to catch a plane to Auckland later this morning….which is a nice segue to….

~ loving that we’re catching up with friends in The (Teeniest) Big Smoke this weekend, and meeting their two gorgeous little boys for the first time. Loving that I’ll get delicious 6-week-old cuddles. Loving that Tiny will have a slightly older buddy to cause chaos with. Tall’s loving that he gets to go to a couple more Rugby World Cup games, while I’m a bit jealous that I’m on baby-watch!

(Not our actual aeroplane....I hope....)

~ loving afghan biscuits. Whoever thought to mix cornflakes into chocolate batter was a genius!

Deeeeelicious!

~ loving this delightfully-misspelled message:

Sponsor a bogan

~ loving that I can now put a super-padded reusable nappy on Tiny at bedtime, and he’s not soaked through come the morning. Loving that he finds us calling him “Pumpkin Bum” hilaaaaarious. (NOT loving that he’s got a nasty nappy rash, which would probably clear up faster if he was back in disposables for nighttime…gah!)

Pumpkin Bum

~ loving that I’ve been for two big walks, one run, and have done yoga and some light resistance training at home three times this week – my exercise mission is off to a good start!

Happy Friday!! xx

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Linking up with PaisleyJade’s

Weekend in Pictures

What a brilliant weekend we’ve just had! Here are a few pictures to prove it…

It was hot and sunny and we got to spend most of the weekend outside.

Waiting for Graham Henry's call...

We made a fort...

...and read stories.

We took the train to the inaugural Port Chalmers Seafood Festival. The train ride was great, the seafood was delicious and from the number of people there, I’d say the whole event was a huge success.

On the train

Arriving at the port

Checking out the boats and looking for fish

Hot smoked salmon + Mt Difficulty riesling = divine!

Tall and I went to Otago Stadium for the Ireland vs. Italy Rugby World Cup game. One word: spectacular! You’d be forgiven if you thought you’d suddenly developed the ability to teleport – we were amongst a sea of green, and it was as though we were deep in the heartland of Ireland. The atmosphere was electric, and at times, the sound was deafening. Brian O’Driscoll said he didn’t think he’d ever played in front of such a huge crowd of Irish supporters, outside of Ireland. It was amazing….even though we were cheering for Italy and they lost.

NZ Army Band's awesome haka

Italy vs Ireland

The powerful scrum

A sea of campervans

Next weekend, we’re off to Auckland to meet up with Tall’s dad and sister, so they can go to the quarter-final matches….having been to last night’s game, I’m now a bit jealous that I’m not going to Eden Park!

Things I’m Loving

A little bit of loving to end the week…

Loving my new cooktop. Goodbye, crappy old Shacklock with your horrid ceramic surface. Hello, Fisher & Paykel with your beautiful gas-on-glass and wok burner.

(not loving the smeary fingerprints on the glass!)

Loving that I had my first massage in over five years…blissful. 17 months of breastfeeding had taken its toll on my shoulders and neck, but just one hour soothed it all away.

Loving Annabel Langbein‘s Quiche Lorraine. Leeks, bacon and pastry = choirs of angels singing.

Tastes even better cold.

Loving another weekend away, this time to see Tall’s family in the ‘naki. Tiny doesn’t get to see his Nana, Pops and Aunty S very often (apart from on Skype), and they’re all so excited about seeing him. Loving that he has a Great-Gran and Great-Gramps who are looking forward to seeing him too.

Loving that Tiny’s “cuck cuck” has suddenly become “cuddle”, and that the words “gentle”, “kind” and “sharing” form part of his vocabulary. My boy is showing himself to be quite compassionate, empathetic and sensitive.

Finally, loving that the Rugby World Cup starts tonight, and how busy and vibrant little old Dunedin is right now. Loving the flags and party atmosphere, loving our new stadium, and – of course – loving the All Blacks!

Tiny's ready for the games to begin!