Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New couch and bookshelves

When we got home from the Epic our new couch had been delivered. We ordered it a month ago and were able to to choose the style, colour and even had the arms widened slightly. It is incredibly comfortable and I look forward to actually having some time to enjoy it.

New couch

The last couple days I have been painting the bookshelves I made in my last round of woodworking classes. I decided to paint them because we have lots of wooden things in the house and we needed a bit of colour. It really like the colour we chose. It reminds me of eucalyptus leaves, which goes with the eucalyptus floorboards.

New bookshelves

Mifi helping put stuff on the new bookshelves

The house is starting to feel rather homey or homely depending which version of English you speak.

The Wellington Epic

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Riding in Rotorua and Taupo

Last weekend Dave Osmond flew over from Australia for a week of mountain biking and hanging out in New Zealand. He arrived late on Saturday and we left Wellington early on Sunday morning to drive up to Rotorua to collect Dan Mackay who was arriving in the afternoon.

After collecting Dan from the airport we went back to our palatial accommodation at the Rotorua Thermal Resort. This place was super close to the Redwoods and was really cheap. It was good, but we might splash out for a fancier cabin next time.

Dan assembled his bike and we headed out to stretch our legs and get acquainted with Rotorua mountain biking. The riding there is quite different from Wellington or Canberra. The volcanic soil makes for much smoother trails that have infinite amounts of grip. We spent about two hours riding some of the inner trails before deciding it was time for some ice cream. After ice creams and showers we headed into town for dinner.

Monday we decided to head out to the "outback" trails. There we found the wonders that were Split Enz, Pondy New and Corners. Corners seemed to defy physics in that it felt like it took longer to ride down that it did to ride the fire trail to the top. After about 5-6 hours of riding, including riding some trails three times, I finally managed to coax Dave out of the forest with the suggestion of more ice cream. This time we followed ice cream with a dip in the hot springs that give the Rotorua Thermal Resort its name.

After the hot pools and showers we headed into town to find dinner. I had seen in a brochure that there was a Latin American restaurant in town. Dave was given the map to navigate and he led us straight to...a kebab shop. We just assumed that the brouchure was out of date and ended up with Indian food.

Tuesday was pretty much the same with Dan and Dave taking a slightly more difficult route to the top of Split Enz this time allowing me to save a bit of energy. The only difference was we managed to find the Latin American restaurant this time, because I got a little lost trying to find a place to park and ended up stoping right in front of it.

Wednesday we left Rotorua and began the journey back to Wellington. We stopped in Taupo to have a spin around the Craters of the Moon. It always amazes me how quickly time disappears in this forest. By the time we got back to the car it was nearly 2PM. We went down to the lake to eat lunch and go for a quick swim to wash off all the sweat and dust.

From Taupo it was about a five hour drive back to Wellington. We passed the time with Car-aoke and a kebab in Bulls. We arrived home safe and sound to a very wet Wellington.

To be continued...

Dan and Dave at the end of the Dipper

Dave and Aaron on "the fun track"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

House warming and Thanksgiving

This weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving by having a housewarming. The house isn't finished - but it will probably be another 6 months before it is completely done and after a successful Thanksgiving last year I braved cooking another turkey (although it isn't the easiest thing to get hold of in New Zealand at this time of year). So we had turkey and stuffing, but it is the middle of summer so we mixed it with a range of salads. For desert we had traditional pumpkin and pecan pie and of course pavlova!! A real mix of American and New Zealand cultures.

The star of the day

The weather was perfect to show off the house. It was the perfect day, sunny, warm, with a very light breeze. We completely opened up the house and set up the hammock out the back so that the kids could play. Aaron also very graciously allowed them to play with his lego... but he is now rather traumatised as they mixed arctic lego with space lego - outrageous!

Aaron and Mifi testing the hammock

It was a great day with far too much food..... in the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Thank you everyone who came to share it with us.

The day after we even managed to get out for a bike ride to help burn off all the yummy food.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

After a hectic few weeks of work and lots still to do around the house, I needed to get away and have a break. So I took a long weekend tramping with a friend, Kareen. It is early tramping season, so it was nice and quiet on the track with only a few other New Zealander's and very few tourists. Although I don't think that Lake Waikaremoana is on the main tourist route anyway.

The track goes 2/3 of the way round Lake Waikaremoana, so you need to take a water taxi to the start and back from the finish. We went around the lake clockwise, so you start the tramp by going up the spectacular Panekire Bluff. The weather was great so we had amazing views out across the lake from the bluff. The forest along the tops is quite spectacular - Lord of the rings/ "Goblinesque". The first hut is on the top of the bluff.

The water taxi dropping us off

Kareen and Helen at the start of the track

Views over the lake from Panekire Bluff

Helen standing on one of the sandstone outcrops along the top of the bluff

Goblineque forest - with the infamous orange triangles that mark the track

Panekire Hut along the top of the bluff

The second day you head down off the bluff and spend the rest of the walk around the Lake, with a few ups and downs over peninsulars. The vegetation is very different lower down around the lake and unfortunately a few too many feral pigs have also been making a bit of a mess by digging up the sides of the track.

Evidence of pigs digging up either side of the track looking for tubers

It was also relatively warm so we took the opportunity at lunchtime to go for a dip in the pool by the Korokoro waterfall - very refreshing. We also had a very quick dip to rinse off our hot and sweaty bodies when we got to Maruiti Hut at the end of the second day after about 7 hours of walking.

Korokoro Falls

Maruiti Hut

Lots of tree ferns in some of the gulley's

Day three was a lot cooler and it was misting with rain all day. This significantly reduced the views back across the lake to the bluffs. However, it was great for walking in and nice to not get hot and sweaty knowing we had a long drive back to Wellington. It also gave the Lake, peninsulars and islands a very mysterious look.

Rain and cloud hiding the bluffs

We had a very early start - leaving the hut just after 7am and we reached the pick up for the water taxi at 12pm, after 4 1/2 hours of walking a couple of stops.

The water taxi pick up point at the end of the track

It was a great weekend and despite the tramping and now feeling a little stiff and sore I mentally feel a lot better after getting out of Wellington and having a break from everything. The first tramp of the summer - hope to get a few more tramping adventures in over the next few months.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New fence and more work in the garden

Low end of the fence

Straight opposite the deck

The top of the backyard with the old tree reduced to a bushy stump

We are having our house warming in a couple weeks. We thought it would be a good idea to print out a few pictures of what the place looked like before we started. I found the picture below which I took from the top of the fence by the corner of the garage. I went out and tried to take one identical just now to compare, which is the one below.

September 2007

November 2010

The garden is growing




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Garden weekend

This weekend I was busy in the garden. Owen is going to build a fence so I spent most of Saturday clearing out the wild bit of garden between us and the new path. The fence will give us some much needed privacy from people walking up the path.

The cleared garden next to the new public access way that goes past the house

Helen spent the morning in town doing some shopping, but in the afternoon took out her frustrations on the tree in the back yard.

The destroyed bush at the bottom of the bank - just a few stumps left!

Sunday we got a jack hammer to break up the concrete in the front.

Most of the path is gone - it took 6 hours of work!!!

Not the most fun weekend, but we are slowly making progress.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beautiful evening

Tonight was a beautiful evening so we opened the house up.

The lounge flows out onto the deck

Still some work to do outside

Helen at work in the kitchen

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Water tank and splashback

The splash-back turned up on Thursday. It looks really good. We weren't super happy with the colour at first - it is kind of a non colour. But, it is growing on us.

The water tank has been installed. Due to several crappy days it is nearly half full all ready!

The massive pile of dirt in the backyard is nearly gone.

The bottom of the extension is turning blue.

The west wall is nearly finished which means the main room is nearly done as well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Renovation update

Things are happening pretty slowly these days. We have been doing some painting lately and the long awaited water tank arrived this week.

The kitchen got another coat of paint on the walls and the trim was finished thanks to Elizabeth and Helen. David worked on the banister giving it a nice coat of blue to match the doors and the existing house. Elizabeth had a go at staining the rough-sawn boards beneath the extension and deck. We weren't very happy with the stain we chose - it wasn't very dark. We found something Saturday which looks like it will work though.

Kitchen trim mostly done

New blue banister

The long awaited water tank

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fun day

Finally we got to enjoy a nice Sunday in Wellington, instead of spending the whole weekend working on the house. (Still plenty to do.... but we figured we deserved a day off.)

David and Aaron were dropped off with mountain bikes is Johnsonville to ride the Skyline track, and Helen and Elizabeth took the kayak to Petone to kayak over to Somes Island.

Cake Tin and CBD from the summit of Mount Kaukau

David negotiating one of the many descents

Helen paddling with Miramar Peninsular and the city behind

Looking through a hole in the rock towards the city

A beautiful day in Wellington. Bring on summer and the end of renovating.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Kitchen island with pendant lights and grano-diorite bench top

Grano-diorite bench top

Stained deck - little orange!

Shifting the mud, filling in behind the retaining wall

Slowly reclaiming the back yard....