Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Lions, Tigers and Penguins... Oh Yeah!!!

We have now been living overseas for two whole weeks and feel like we have contributed to the local economy immensely. We've rented an apartment, drank the local liquor stores dry, eaten everything in sight, and tried to be as touristy as possible. Yesterday was no exception. We decided to hit up the Auckland Museum followed by the Auckland Zoo.
The weather yesterday was some of the best we've had. It was 20 - 22 degrees with clear skies, we started the day by slathering on sunscreen and planning our attack.

First up was the Auckland Museum.

The Museum was awesome, it is filled with heaps of local Maori stuff as well as a war memorial and an floor of taxidermy, volcanoes and dino stuff. We toured around there for a couple hours then grabbed a taxi to the Zoo.

The Zoo is modern and, other than some uncooperative Giraffe's, the animals were accessible and pretty easy to get some shots of.
The first shot is of the most dangerous animal there... Jess.

Up next: Cock two ways

The rooster refused to answer why he was crossing the road.

The big cats were super lazy and basically just laid around.

The battle of the big beasts was won by the Hippos, we caught them at feeding time and the actually chomped like "Hungry Hippos". Is was crazy to see them swimming around and then lumber out of the water.

After they stuffed their faces with hay they washed it down with some hose water.

The Rhino was sleeping when we first got to his enclosure, he then got up and mooned us... Cheeky Rhino!

On the topic  of butts these guys had the most interesting. There was a baby baboon that kept trying to get into trouble so his mom would just hang on to his tail.

The Blue Penguins are little Nerf ball sized birds that primarily huddled in the shade. When they decided to go for a swim they ran for the water like border jumpers escaping Mexico.

The Zebra would truck around their enclosure aimlessly but stayed in formation for most of it. They favoured the "Flying V" from the "Mighty Ducks" movies.

Our favourite animals were the Monkeys. They could have provided entertainment for hours. They would huddle up and be friendly one second then freak out and start swinging around like maniacs. They are kept in their enclosure with a moat and showed true fear of water. It took a full apple for a couple of brave ones to wade out for the prize.

We enjoyed the Museum and Zoo and can only hope that the rest of Auckland is as exciting and entertaining.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Food Finds

I finally had my first kiwi fruit of the trip. You can't travel to New Zealand with out eating one, or so people say. It was very tasty and I have been noticing more and more kiwi-type products as we explore the stores. I saw this one, and had to try it. Overall we decided that the chocolate was great, but the jelly-kiwi pieces inside were not. Worth a try anyways...

If you look close you can see the green jelly-kiwi.

Islands, Scooters, Pigs, Beaches and Such

We figured that we were living a pretty stressful existence with the downtown apartment cramping our free-spirited lifestyle so we decided to do what many Aucklander's do... go for a little island living on the beautiful island of Waiheke.

Waiheke is a 30-40 min ferry ride from Auckland. It is littered with wineries and beaches. It obviously took little convincing to get Jess on the ferry. Armed with a modified map from a friendly guy on the ferry we were a little worried that the weather was not going to be too cooperative. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to avoid the rain for the most part after the first night.
We stayed in a backpacker lodge that had accommodations for us and our pet Derek. The lodge also had a playmate for Derek named Oscar/Scrumpy.

Scrumpy had no problem evicting people from anywhere they were sitting and was definitely running the show.
After we checked in we decide to brave to monsoon and walk to the near by town with a stop at Little Oneroa Beach

After picking up supplies we decided to enjoy some drinks until the weather let up.

On the second day we rented scooters to tour the island. This was, in my opinion, the best way to get around. Our gang also looked super cool with the golf ball helmets so we decided to keep them on so that people would know we were together. Derek and my scooters were not pleased to haul us around all day with their mighty 50cc engines; Jess's scooter was so excited about getting a light person it tried to impress her by doing a wheelie for her... she was unimpressed. All in all no scooters or people were hurt in the making of this vacation.

After stopping at Palm, Little Oneroa, Oneroa and Onetangi beaches we had lunch at an ocean side restaurant and headed inland to check out some of the wineries. We didn't do any tastings because the wine is available everywhere. The vineyards were beautiful.

After poking around the vineyards it was time to drop off the scooters and head to the hostel for a much needed nap.

A good night of meeting new friends and we were ready for the beach the following morning. It was the perfect opportunity to show off our acrobatic prowess and ability to make Canadians look crazy as we ran through as many sweet tricks as possible.

Waiheke reminded us of Hawaii mixed with Napa Valley. We plan on going back to see some more sights. It was the perfect vacation from the perfect vacation and is a stones throw from our backyard.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Home Sweet Home

We lasted a whole week living in a hostel before we decided that locking all of our possessions up every time we left the room was a pain. It was not very economical either, so we bent our own rubber arms and decided an apartment was the best way to go. After touring 5 places we settled on a studio apartment in downtown Auckland. Our apartment is located on 35 Hobson Street in the Heritage Hotel complex.
I'll take you on a photo tour starting with the gourmet kitchen/entry way:

As you can see there are all the modern conveniences within can even start cooking as you walk in the door.

Up next is the Spa quality bathroom. This includes a soaker tub, standing shower, and large vanity. This is actually twice the size of the bathroom in our house. The shower takes forever to warm up and the shower head only comes up to chest level. The plus side to this is that we will have very clean chests.

The main living room has a desk, two chairs, a small couch, coffee table, and a TV with all 4 of our favourite Kiwi channels.

The bedroom is separated by a large wooden slider. The room is well lit from the natural light coming through the large wall of windows. The bed is comfy and the sheets will be disease free after a run through the laundry.

The most appealing aspects of this apartment are:
  •  Proximity to the harbour (3 blocks)
  • Access to two pools and two gyms
  • House keeping
  • Affordability
  • Ability to store our things
  • Kitchen
  • Within the CBD/Bar districts/public transport
We'll let you know if it ends up being hell on earth... so far it's heaven.