Thursday, July 31, 2008

Some reflections about NZ...

...on a rainy Auckland day.

- sensible money. NZers have adopted one and two dollar coins - like the Canadians. I like this. But even better than that, there doesnt seem to be tax, and all things are priced in multiples of 20 or 50 cents. So nobody uses pennies (I dont know if they even exist) and 10c coins are somewhat rare to get. So no pockets full of confusing unfamiliar coins. Excellent.

- we've seen a few forts, and they all seem to have cannons with signs next to them that say "never fired in anger". They are quite proud of this, which is sweet.

- tipping. It's not expected, but always appreciated. What the heck does that mean? I need a rule to follow.

- Milo. It's an Ovaltine-type thing, and you see it everywhere. It's not bad.

- Food. I had heard NZ food called 'just like British food, but with a better view'. (that's not really a compliment). However, we've had some quite good meals here (the accompanying picture notwithstanding). nothing fancy, but everything is served with very fresh veggies or fruit, which is locally abundant, even in winter. Auckland has great cafes all over with excellent espresso and hearty sandwiches.

- Mallomars. Well, not really, but chocolate covered marshmallow (sometimes pink marshmallow) in the shape of fish seem to be somewhat of a national treasure. Curious.

- Cleanliness. The streets are impeccably clean here - clean enough to eat a choco-marshmello-fish off of.

- Driving. I adjusted to left-side driving quicker than expected...which was quite easy. The NZers are as polite in their driving as they are in real life. I've jumped a few curbs, but that't it.

- Place names. The Maori-influenced town names are quite cool. Whangarei, Otahuhu, Takapuna, Hapuku, and Rotorua all sound a lot better to my ears than say, Piscataway, Weehawken, or Mahwah.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YAV: Yet Another Volcano

We've been here two weeks now and seen a lot, even though we haven't really left Auckland. Everyone tells us that Auckland is lame compared to the rest of NZ, and that might be true, but we've seen some great stuff. Had a great day on Monday exploring another volcano (this was a big one) and climbing the Sky Tower downtown. Click on the photo below to go to our album on Picasa Web.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


My first block of teaching is done, after 3 straight days of 9-5 lectures and labs. That was exhausting. Yesterday was the last day, and it coincided with the "storm of the decade" here in Auckland, with driving rain and gale force winds. I cut yesterday's class short so people could get home early - no one complained!

When I got home, the power was out, and stayed out for a few hours...thankfully we were able to light the gas stove with a match and hover in the kitchen as C made a big vat of soup. Mercifully the elec came back on before bedtime as it would have been a cold night!

Nonetheless, the weather is pretty dodgy here today so its a good day to head out to a cafe for a flat white (NZ version of a latte) and a mince pie.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

the grind

started teaching case you havent heard about this course, I teach for the next three days, from 9 to 5 each day. Thats a long time to talk statistics. must...sleep......

on the bright side today was our first day without rain...and the girls found a local chocolatier. so life is good.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rainbow City

A few posts ago, I talked about the weather, and how it alternates pouring rain and bright sunshine. It does this all day, every day (as far as our experience goes). You might realize that this creates perfect rainbow conditions, and we see a few of them every day. But these rainbows, that the girls snapped today, really take the cake. Enjoy.

p.s. K is all better now, thanks. She got up to 39.7 degrees, which is apparently quite hot (beats me).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

down time

K's sick with a fever (I guess that is what happens when you chase winter around the globe) and I've been busy prepping for class, so no big adventures today (and probably tomorrow). Sigh. Met one of my students today. Seems like a nice chap.

By the way, we found our manuka honey (it was not too hard, the stuff is everywhere - manuka glazed ham in the deli, manuka candy, etc). So that part of the quest is over -- I kind of was hoping it would be more of a hunt for the stuff. No regrets though...its delicious!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Finally some photos

I posted some photos on Picasa web click on the photo below to get some. They are low res but should give you a flavor of the trip so far.

The weather here is very interesting. The esteemed NZ band Crowded House once had a song called "Four Seasons in One Day", which I now understand. Each day starts out with lots of rain and wind and cold, but at some point in the morning the sun comes out, bright and hot, teasing you into thinking it will be a beautiful day. By the time you get outside, the clouds are coming again, and at some point there is a downpour, but only for 15 minutes, then the sun comes out. It's very confusing! Nonetheless, no complaints, as I've been running every day, and I didnt think I'd be able to do that in winter!

Today we climbed another volcano near our house (North Head) . It was great, and the girls loved it. Tomorrow I'll head to the university and Thursday I start teaching. Later.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

a busy day

Thursday in Auckland...Kids woke up around 4:30, which isnt bad. Another day or so and we'll be through the time change just fine.

I went for a run this morning down by the beach in Devonport. The morning felt very very much like Seattle. It seems to always be wet, but never really raining. In fact, Devonport feels very similar to Seattle neighborhoods we know - Wallingford, Green Lake, etc.

We climbed the volcano around the corner from our house (!) this morning and the kids enjoyed it, despite the wet, cold foggy day (see pic). Explored Devonport and got wet and sandy at a beach with a great view of Auckland (when the fog lifted). We took a ferry into Auckland. Walked around lots. Saw some of the coolest trees ever in Albert Park and had sushi. The kids were wiped but it was a very good day. Pix below if I can upload over my slow connection...whoops, too slow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thoughts from the supermarket

whats the first thing to do when getting to a foreign country? The supermarket of course. It's always a blast to see all the different stuff. We took a leisurely Day 1 in NZ to check out the neighborhood (great coffee shop within spitting distance), and I went to check out the market. Notes:

- surprised at how the fruits and veggies (or veges as they say here) were not really different at all from back home. disappointing.
- loved the yogurt selection. found some with the infamous manuka honey. yum!
- biggest problem: bumping into people. I didnt realize that when people drive on the left side of the road, they also walk on the left side of the aisle. I didnt realize in it, but when I turn right around a corner in the market, I take a tight turn, while when I take a left, I take it wide - just like when driving. So, 3 times I'd take a tight right and bump into some kiwi taking a tight left. Ouch!

I also enjoyed a phone conversation today when the other party signed off "Righty-o!". I like this place. Tune in tomorrow for cute pix of kids....

We made it!

Woke up early this (Monday) morning, threw the kids in Dave's car, made it to the airport in plenty of time, off to L.A., meet up with Aunt C, who drove us to a picnic lunch and playground, visit the tar pits, fish tacos at the Farmers Market, back to LAX, board our plane, we all crash (sleep, that is) across the Pacific, get to NZ, minor snafu with our documents (causing a little sweat), find our shuttle and finally this (Wednesday) morning, make it to our lovely little house. Now its time to explore. More later...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Packed and ready to go

The last day before a trip like this is supposed to be frantic -- unbelievably we seem to have our ducks in a row. There is always something you remember at the last minute, but hopefully we wont be up until 2AM tonight (we leave for the airport at 6:30). Next time we check in will be from the other side of the world!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our first stop in NZ?

CLV was doing some research on our new home in Devonport and found this beauty, apparently walking distance from our home. It claims to be one of the oldest taverns in NZ, and points out that they have on tap some kind of "smoky, vanilla" wheat beer. Now, I'm getting excited!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Welcome to my first blog! We are hoping to use this blog as a documentation of our trip to New Zealand, which starts very soon on July 14. We are frantically trying to get prepared for our two month stay. We very much want to keep friends and family updated on our adventures, and hope that this blog will help you stay in touch and enjoy our adventure with us! Feel free to leave notes or drop a line whenever you can.

The title of the blog is a reference to the manuka plant, from which comes an allegedy very delicious honey (and we are very into our honey these days). Hopefully we can bring some home!
Here are some pictures of the home we will be staying in, in Auckland. We are actually staying in Devonport, which is across the bay from Auckland, and has some great views of the Auckland skyline.