Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sky Tower

The Sky Tower is one of the major tourist attractions in Auckland, at least if you read the literature. it's also expensive to get to the top. My thought is that the free view from the top of Mount Eden is just as good, if not a little better, unless you really like boats.

But when we landed on two for one entry, we went for it. And it was a good view from the top, no doubt. Worth it at half price, for sure. Tricky to take photos though. The way it's lit, there is a lot of reflection on the glass from the interior lights.

This guy is about to jump off. It actually looks kind of fun, except on windy days when they have to let you dangle and settle before you fall.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rangitoto Island

Not quite as long ago, Shannon and I took a ferry over to Rangitoto Island. It's an extinct volcano in the middle of the harbor, about 25 minutes by ferry. It was last active ~600 years ago. It's set up for day trips at this stage, but back in the day, there were batches over there and a bit of a settlement. Now it's just a nice place to hike around for the day.

You can walk around about half the island easily before going up to the peak. It's all volcanic rock along the way, and I think the only thing that I've ever been to that resembles the big island of Hawaii.

We happened to steal a trip over on what turned out to be the best day of winter, as far as I'm concerned. Sunburns were the big worry of the day.

Moisture burning off in the morning sun. It's really extinct.

Something that is really cool about this island is the network of old lava caves that you can walk through. Some are bigger than others, some go nowhere, some go through. It's a mixed bag. I suppose you could probably play around in there for quite a while. We walked through one and I stuck my head into another. We saw some Canadians that took a rope and went deep into one of them. Pretty cool stuff to explore.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brown Ale

New batch of brew is in the fermenter, a brown ale this time. It's slowly starting to bubble...

This is a much more involved method than last time. The fridge smells like hops...

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Continuing the catch up... writing this is much more difficult working in an office.

A while back, our friend Ashley came to visit. As a guilt trip to everyone else, I'll suggest that she's the only non-family member to make it out to see us (exclusion to those that have tickets booked)... But unlike her trip to Australia, this time, she brought a friend and we all got to hang out and see some of greater Auckland region sights as well as just catch up.

We made it out to Piha and Kerekere beaches, two of the local black sand surf spots. Lovely as usual, even midwinter.

We also took a trip out to Waiheke Island, which tends to be a crowd favorite. For the middle of winter, it wouldn't have been possible to have better weather. We did a little wine and beer tasting (sampling the island goods) and spent a little time on the beach, eating delicious fish and chips (or just chips) and drinking the local brews. Not a bad way to spend a day.


The following Monday was a day off so we could continue taking advantage of the amazing weather and head out to the Coromandel Peninsula. We went to Cathedral Cove for the bulk of the day, which was a lovely place to lay in the sun and drink a bottle of wine. Believe me when I say that it beat the hell out of working.

It's a pretty small little beach with a rock tunnel that is now closed due to falls (Shannon says it's legit) and a waterfall on the other side. Pretty nice spot. I'd love to go back with a kayak.

We took the very long way home, which not only afforded us a lovely sunset on the west side of the Coromandel, but gave us the chance to stop at Waiau Falls on the way.

Sadly, after that, our guests were away. But good times. Always nice to see a familiar face down in these parts.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Auckland Transit & RWC

The Rugby World Cup is being held in New Zealand this year. There are matches all over the country, and it's generally a good thing. Auckland is where the final, and a number of big games are going to be held.

I worry about all the visitors.

Transit here isn't geared up for the volume of folks that will be coming. Shannon and I commented about how full a bus was one recent Sunday afternoon. Weekend transit is pretty thin.

A couple weeks back, we took a cab, and the driver didn't know where one of the major train stations was. Not a good look for a country showing off to the world how they can handle big events.

There are a few weeks to go. I hope that the city can shape itself up to move all these people! I also hope that being as close as we are to Eden Park doesn't make this place insufferable for six weeks.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tongariro National Park & Central Plateau

Continuing with the catch up...

A while back, over Queen's Birthday long weekend, Shannon and I went down to the Tongariro National Park, despite knowing what the weather was supposed to do. The plan was to do some hiking - possibly the Tongariro Crossing, possibly some day hikes.

Despite a fairly pleasant drive down, it turned into mostly a washout by the time we got there. Over the course of the weekend, we never saw any of the three mountains there (Ruapehu, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe), even driving halfway up one. But, on Saturday, before retiring to a lovely fireplace and wine, we managed to swing a run out to Tawhai Falls during a break in the weather.

After a lovely evening at the fireplace, we did try to go for a more substantial hike. It was absolutely pissing down for the duration, so we didn't go as far as we had planned, but did make it to Taranaki Falls before deciding that coffee was more interesting than a march in the rain.

It's funny how fast the weather can change in the mountains. You can probably speculate where we had been before crashing these people's lunch, and the weather was just fine.

Onward to the town of Turangi, where we stayed in a fairly eccentric fishing cottage. The whole area is apparently great for trout fishing. Lovely rivers to go stand around in, if nothing else.

This also allowed us to get a quick stop at the south end of Lake Taupo, which was quite lovely.

On Monday though, we most likely hit the best part of the journey, most unexpectedly. We wound up at the Tokaanu Hot Pools. Now, while there is a commercially developed set of pools, there is also a DOC area right behind it with a little loop through some pretty active geothermal areas. There is tepid water, bubbling mud, tar pits, and even little geysers. Our understanding is that this land is still owned by local Maori tribes, and someone has built a rather sweet tub system fed by a geyser.

I'd try to describe it more, but I really think the video will do it better justice.