Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Won't you take me to Arrowtown?

The most exciting Christmas present I got arrived on December 27th and came direct from San Francisco. Oh happy day to have Mal and Johnny here.

We spent their first few days bumming around Auckland and it's surrounding areas.

A trip to the Matakana Farmers Market, a hike (tramp) at Tawharanui Regional Park, dinner in the city, and the much loved Sunday long lunch at Poderi Crisci on Waiheke Island.

The Sunday long lunch evokes this kind of feeling -

After some time in Auckland with us they headed to the South Island to do some exploring on their own. We met up with them at the end of the week in Queenstown on Hazel's birthday. That's right, she is no longer zero.

And to no one's surprise she likes cake.

The day before we left though, we got to go to the ASB Classic tennis tournament and see Venus Williams play against Ana Ivanovic in the final.

This also goes into the corporate perk category. It was incredible to be that close, the stadium was so small there wasn't a bad seat in the house.

It was an exciting match and Ana took the trophy... but back to our trip and reuniting with the Walkers. We flew into Queenstown, but stayed in a bach in Arrowtown, 20 mins outside of town. Such a neat property and in a gorgeous setting. We had been before, but it was nice to return.

Hazel liked it too.

We had a great time exploring Central Otago and the Lake Hayes region. Nothing says Happy Birthday baby like a trip to the wineries. So off we went. Some of the stops we made were Chard Farm, Peregrine, and Mt. Difficulty.

Not too shabby Mt. Difficulty, not too shabby at all. NZ is so freaking kid friendly that they have toy boxes in all the tasting rooms, or cellar doors as they are called here.

I mean I still can't believe Hazel is 1. Gulp. Tear. More on that another time. Perhaps I'll do a special motherhood edition so people can find out more about things like how to read the same book a gazillion times and feign shock at the end or learn about the copious amounts of different poo styles out there these days.

Anyway, seeing as the 1st birthday is really about the parents celebrating their first year of survival I carried on like it was my day special day. I mean what one -year-old wouldn't want to watch their parents go wine tasting and stand in line at Fergburger? Don't tell me that that high five I gave you after you first started walking didn't count as a party.

So much good food and wine down this way. We had an amazing meal at Saffron one night and the chocolate croissants from Bonjour are not to be missed.

It was pretty sweet because the lady who owned the bach, her daughter babysat for us one night at the steep rate of $7 an hour. My standards for babysitting are this: keep alive. Mission accomplished.

One of the most scenic places we went to was Rippon Vineyard on Lake Wanaka. I thought the wine was only meh, but who cares look at the setting.

The last day it rained so  the owners of the place we were staying took us on an impromptu farm tour on some property they owned down the road, which was pretty cool. One thing I learned: there is a big export business in NZ in the form of velvet antlers. Velvet antlers, named so because of the stage when the male antlers are covered in soft fuzz.

I had never heard of them, but apparently Asian people have. These are used in traditional Chinese medicine and in the West as dietary supplements. Huh, who knew?

And as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end so we had to say goodbye to our bosom buddies. On their last day, Adam was back at work, but Mal and Johnny and I went Stand Up Paddle Boarding. I have literally been wanting to try it since I moved here and since last summer I was with child I decided this summer without child was the time. Did I get up? yes. Did I fall down? yes. Would I do it again? yes.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Rocking Out in Melbourne

Literally the day Chris flew out, we flew to Melbourne. While in the airport by the way, I realized this was Hazel's 3rd international flight before the age of 1. Ay-yi-yi. Yes, despite what they teach in school Australia is a separate country from New Zealand.

Normally I wouldn't schedule back to back trips like this, but it's not every day that you get an opportunity to fly to Australia to see Bon Jovi.

Yes Bon Jovi. It's so random and yet so something we couldn't pass up. These are the perks of being married to someone in the corporate sector. In my last job in San Francisco, the kind where you actually got paid in money, not giggles and hope, I couldn't even get an office. I did however learn to pop lock and drop it and do therapy in hallways and stairwells. Talk about livin' on a prayer.

But I digress, back to the good life. So yes, because of Adam we got to go rock out in Melbourne. Luckily we had a dress rehearsal a few weeks prior.

Despite looking this good we did not wear the above outfits to the show. We did wear them to a Rock of Ages costume birthday party. This was back in November so Adam was also doing Movember at the time. Don't hate on me ladies that my man looked that good. Btw, did you know Movember started in Australia? Tons of people do it on this side of the world, to actually raise money and awareness for men's health issues not just to be ironic.

Melbourne is a fantastic city. You can walk everywhere, they have a great food scene, and lots going on.

We went last year, but I was happy to be back because my friend from college, Alicia, recently moved there. Score! It was so wonderful to catch up and fun to see some different neighborhoods and meet her wonderful hubby to be.

Definitely one of those, if you had told me ten years ago that we would be here I never would have guessed it, moments.

Our last day in town, Adam had to work and it was pouring rain, so Hazel and I headed to the Melbourne Museum. We caught a great exhibit called Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style.

I simply made a deal with my little munchkin that if she was good while I was in the adult exhibit that I would be good while she was in the kids area. It worked. This time.

After those two trips, we were happy to be back in Auckland for the holidays and get in some R & R before our next set of visitors. We did manage to squeeze in one day trip up to a friend's bach in Martins Bay.

So fun to be on their boat out on the water and eat scallops fresh from the sea. We docked at the Kawau Island Historic Reserve, for an ice cream, but I'd love to go back another time and see the Mansion House and explore some more trails.

The holidays are a hard time to be away from home, but the salt, sand, and sun help. And of course seeing Hazel experience so many firsts.

May this kind of Christmas joy be with you throughout the new year.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Nelson, Cain, and Abel Tasman

Greetings fair people of the land. The past couple months have been very busy here at the homestead, full of visitors and trips, and babies turning 1, namely ours.

In my mind, I was writing blog posts along the way, but it just didn't happen. I guess the same way that in my mind the inside of my car and my trash can don't look the same and my lounge clothes are more like Olivia Pope from Scandal and less like something Kimmy Gibbler from Full House might wear to a sleep over at DJ's place.

But alas here we are, and no time like the present. In order to catch up to the present though, we gotta go back, like 2013 back.

My brother Chris came to visit right after Thanksgiving. It was so great to have him here. As soon as he arrived, we hopped on a plane and headed to the South Island. I assured him it would be worth it. It was:

Where in the world is Chris Cope?

From the looks of that tiny spec - far, far from Crossfit Knoxville.

The Nelson region is stunning. We hit up the Morrison Street CafĂ© in town, a great find and Chris got introduced to what was the first of many flat whites.

 Next was the famous Nelson market.

Make no mistake about it this is not Adam and a random. This is Pic of Pic's peanut butter which makes our favorite pb. This guy told us he wants to dominate the world in the form of peanut butter with this stuff. It's that yummy, for his story click here (http://reallygood.co.nz/). This was basically like meeting the Mr. Gummy* of gummy bears.

Despite the charms of Nelson proper we headed out of town to our cottage. The first night we stayed in the Upper Bronte Penisula area, about  20 minutes away from city center. It was a fantastic location to explore the area before actually heading into the Abel Tasman National Park, our main destination. We went to a couple wineries, Wollaston and Neudorf.

Both were worth visiting, but Neudorf was the clear winner because not only were the wines delicious, but they had a sand box. Pre-baby I would simply see a box of sand with some toys in it or more like likely not notice it all. Now I see a mansion on a hill, the Mary Poppins of my dreams, a brief real vacation in the middle of my already happening vacation.  You get the point. It's the small things.

We went for a walk on Rabbit Island and had fish and chips at the Smokehouse and beer at the Golden Bear Brewing Company. Both spots are located in the Mapua Harbour, which had an easy, time stands still, what year is it anyway kind of feeling.

After a day down that way, we forged onward to Kaiteriteri, where we rented a bach.  One of the beaches we could walk to from our place.

We did some driving and exploring throughout Golden Bay, with a few stops along the way.

One stop was Anatoki Salmon, "a unique freshwater salmon experience," which is code for we have a lot of fish in a small space so you will not go home looking like a fishing loser even though everyone knows if you could really wish you wouldn't be here. Adam caught our lunch and they smoked it on the spot. Hazel loves her some smoked salmon.

Our trip to the actual park was great. Abel Tasman is known throughout New Zealand for it's white sand beaches a sparkling blue water. It didn't disappoint.

You can only get into the park by boat, water taxis will drop you at one spot and pick you up at another, depending on how long you want to hike for. It's great because you could stay in the park for 5 days or go for an afternoon, clearly we opted for the latter option. It was a beautiful hike and the perfect distance to do with a baby. She loved the boat rides.

 Another hike worth checking out if you are in the area is the one at Little Kaiteriteri beach. We just stumbled upon it and had awesome views.

Overall, Nelson was definitely one of our favorite places we've been. Thanks to Chris for coming out to visit us.

And, before I end this post I want to mention Tony and Allison Schlake. Tony and I went to college together and I didn't even know he was living out here until I met his wife, and their lovely daughter Maggie, at my local playground a couple months ago and we put it all together. While our time together was short, it was certainly sweet. They moved back to the States recently, but apparently it's a small world after all- even if you live in New Zealand. They are missed!

Next up....our trip to Oz.

*There is no Mr. Gummy