Archives for category: Auckland

Waiheke Island is in the heart of the Hauraki Gulf, several miles due east(ish) of where we live in Murrays Bay. I won some business for my company, and as a reward we received a weekend away somewhere of our choice. We chose Waiheke as we had heard wonderful things about it, and also because it is just a 30 minute ferry drive from Devonport, which is not too far from our flat.

I had had a very busy week at work, but once we got on the ferry and started heading out towards Waiheke, all thoughts about work started to fade. This is Waiheke – SO close to the city, but a million miles away from the city in almost every aspect -a haven for the city weary. Several years ago it was populated by a large proportion of hippies and lifestylers, people looking to live a different life to the rat race in the city. Those hippies and lifestylers are still there, they are just a little older now… (and there really seemed to be some characters). The rest of the island seems to consist of holiday makers, Aucklanders visiting their weekend baches, and vineyards.

We stayed in a delightful bach, which backed onto Obsidian and Casa Mistro vineyards. On the Saturday, we went to Obsidian to do a wine tasting. There are LOTS of wines to taste, and we did wonder where to start. We are not, and do not even pretend to be wine conisseurs. However, The Obsidian folk were fantastic, they answered our questions, guided us through different aspects of the wine making process and through each type of wine. There was no wine snobbery at all, these folk were pleased we were interested and probably quite pleased we were not part of the inebriated wine bus tour folk. Saying that, they were still kind and endearing towards those folk who from what I could see were effectively on a wine crawl. Another plus, was that there was no pressure to buy. In the end, we bought The Obsidian, a classic Bourdeaux-style red wine, which is aged in a French oak barriques. The other wine we bought was The Weeping Sands Merlot, which was a delightful little number. We had a lovely time; Obisidian is a must visit vineyard.

Other fun stuff we did on the island included paddle boarding, eating tapas at a vineyard, swimming, running, and generally chilling.

Waiheke is truly wonderful, we highly recommend visiting this little gem of an island.


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Fiona (Liz’s sister) and James came to stay on Boxing Day. After we picked them up at the airport, we headed to Mt. Eden as we had heard that going somewhere high after a long flight can help with jet lag.

Mt. Eden is situated about 4 kilometres (sorry, I dont’have a clue what that is, in miles) from the centre of Auckland, and maybe half an hour or so from our flat in Murray’s Bay. Mt. Eden is a dormant volcano, whose summit at 196 metres is the hightest natural point in Auckland. The crater itself is about 50 metres deep. The volcano itself erupted about 28,000 years ago… erm, dormant? Yup, I know… but let’s not think about that.

We had a lovely walk up to the top of the volcano from the car park. On the way down, we saw a field full of sheep (in the middle of the city!?), and also a marriage proposal from an old romantic (good effort. whoever you are… check out the pic below).

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If you get to Auckland, this is a trip I would highly recommend. I’ve honestly never been anywhere quite like it.

Yup, so I am REALLY behind on my blog posts, but I am catching up…

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, we had no plans for Christmas Day initially, but lots of kind folk invited us over. In the end, we had breakfast with Ruth and James Jit, and lunch with the Benecke family (and thank you Heather and John for your warm invite). It was a truly lovely day. The weather was grim (actually it wasn’t, it’s just the sun was not shining. It was still lovely and warm, and folk were swimming in the sea).

We had breakfast with Ruth and James and we were full at that point (thank you Ruth and James). Afterwards, we went to the Benecke’s where we had a feast (The Spaniel too). We also played Monopoly, I was winning (for the first time ever), but Douglas caught me out with a smart move (I’m not surprised he is going to study Psychology at university – he’s a smart cookie  REALLY smart cookie).

Today we met Ruth’s daughter and son-in-law (lovely folk), and Ruth’s daughter mentioned that people who move to New Zealand often get adopted by Kiwi families. From our experience, this is true. We have been adopted by the Jit’s and the Benecke’s, and we are truly thankful.  We are moving to the South Island soon, and although I was a big driver in this, I will be sad to leave our lovely adopted families. On the plus side, we’re not going that far, and we will be doing everything we can to entice them to “‘The Mainland”.

The Benecke’s and the Jit’s – THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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Yup, this has to be my most imaginative blog posting so far…

The main purpose of this blog is to give friends and family a taster of our life in NZ so they don’t feel left out. So that includes EVERYTHING. Even the 60 minutes or so I had to kill before my work Christmas bash. Mrs. E couldn’t make it, so after dropping me off at the ferry terminal at Devonport I had literally about 60 minutes to get the ferry and travel across the harbour to the restaurant where our work bash was.

The journey from Devonport by boat to the ferry terminal in downtown Auckland is not long, so I had a bit of time to wander around the buzzing restaurant and bar area at the viaduct, by the harbourside.

p.s. To protect their identity, I couldn’t take any pics of work colleagues. Instead, you have picture of me with my roast snapper dish, as well as my whitebait fritter, which is a lot tastier than it sounds.

p.p.s. I have had a blogging break, but I’m now back on it, and I have a backlog of posts to add, so watch this <<              >> <——–(space)

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p.p.s. I’m thinking of saving up for a ”fancy” camera, as I’m beginning to enjoy taking photos. I’m not sure what to get, something reasonably priced but good enough for a complete novice like myself to produce some considered shots. Thoughts anyone?


To you and yours, wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Family and friends from home: we love you, we hope you have a fabulous Christmas and look forward to FaceTiming, calling, Skyping you over the next few days. You are ALWAYS in our thoughts. Some of you have had an awful year, our thoughts prayers and hugs go out to you. Do drop us messages or try and call us, we are here until the day after Boxing Day.

Readers of this blog: hey, you’re our friends too, wishing you a fabulous Christmas for you and yours!

And now, a few rambling thoughts…

Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas until we went to church yesterday when we sang lots of carols and the Christmas message was given. It was a lovely service. There was a hilarious moment in the service when the congregation was blasting an adaption of Cappeau de Roquemaure’s O Holy Night, when Mrs. E nudged me and pointed to my left where I saw a little boy sat looking miserable
with his hands over his ears. Oh how we laughed. In my head I am very tuneful, but the reality may be somewhat different, and although I’m pretty sure the little boy was reacting to the congregation as a whole, I chose to turn my volume down a little… We also sang a beautiful Kiwi Christmas carol, called Te Harinui. The carol commemorates the first New Zealand Christmas in the Bay of Islands in 1814, and the coming together of Maori and Pakeha (Europeans) at that time, when the Revered Samuel Marsden preached from Luke Chapter 2, versus 10. “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The congregation sang this with great emotion, you could feel their sense of pride to be kiwis. And we felt proud of our adopted nation too.

We had planned to have a quiet Christmas on the beach, and we were very happy at the thought of having a quiet day, but yesterday we received lots of kind offers to come round for Christmas Day (thank you everyone). So we are now going to friends for breakfast (thank you James and Ruth), and then we are off to the lovely Bendecke’s (thanks guys) for a South African style Christmas lunch (The Spaniel has a personal invitation too). How lovely is that? I love the openness of Kiwi homes. We will be taking a pavlova, because thats what kiwi’s eat at Christmas, right? We are probably going to be indoors, as the remnants of cyclone Evan are due to hit on Christmas Day. Fortuitously we had not psyched ourselves up for Christmas on the beach! Although I reckon if the surf is good, I may end up at the beach boogy boarding at some point! More of our surfing antics will follow in another post…

We have family coming to visit on Boxing Day, Fi and James. We can’t wait. We are off to the Coromandel and Bay of Islands for a week – whoop! Hopefully, once the storm passes we will be able to hit the beaches and relax. I will take lots of photos and blog about it in due course. So don’t feel left out! 🙂

OK, that’s it for now, and apologies as this is a bit of a rambling post. It is my last day of work today, so I need to crack on. If I don’t blog before, have a lovely Christmas one and all!

Twohoomans and The Spaniel


p.s. the lady who took our Christmas pic, was a complete stranger at the time, but we have bumped into her a few times since. In true kiwi style (I don’t know you, but…) she came round yesterday with these homemade Christmas chocs for us. We were touched. Does anyone know what they are, and more importantly, do you have a recipe? They are delicious!


A while back, I found out that Bear Gryll’s was coming to town to do his Wild Night With Bear Grylls show. I mentioned it to Mrs. E, who later fessed up that she had already bought me a ticket to see the show for my Christmas present. I have a wonderful wife!

The evening kicked off with the  local international comedian Rhys Darby meandering onto the stage, followed by Bear dropping himself down from the arena ceiling somewhere. The evening followed an interview style, where Rhys helped bear take us through his adventures and to even impart some of who he was. At first I thought Rhys was fluffing it, but after a while I realised that was his laid back comedy style. He seemed to bring out the best in Bear, and brought Bear closer to the audience. It almost felt that me, Bear and Rhys were having a good old natter in a pub somewhere near you.

We were taken through various stages of Bear’s life, from his time in the SAS, his Everest conquest through to his time in the foreign legion and even his family life. Bear didn’t seem at ease at times, a little nervous maybe, but that’s what makes him human. A brilliant adventurer, yet human like us all. A hero, maybe yes, but a Dad, family man, and normal bloke. Bear also talked about his christian faith. He was apologetic for being awkard when talking about it, but he wasn’t awkward at all. He was quite eloquent about what is quite clearly a deep faith. The crowd even clapped when he mentioned it.

The highlight of the evening for me was when Bear invited the Prime Minister John Key onto the stage to eat some bugs. The PM was sat two rows in front of us, and promptly got up and walked onto the stage. He took great delight in eating crickets, but I think he struggled when the huhu grub was trying to wriggle back up his throat (see the before and after pics below). As the PM left the stage and walked through the crowds, he was high fived and cheered by everyone. Classic Kiwi encouragement. I can hardly see that happening in the UK. David Cameron, Tony Blair?

It was a brilliant evening, I loved every second of it and I came away feeling inspired. Bear encouraged the kids in the room to ignore the dream stealers and go for their dreams. OK, so I’m not a kid anymore… but I think we all have dreams but too easily others snatch them away. I thought it was a pertinent point for everyone in the room.

You can read more about Bear in his book, Mud, Sweat and Tears.

Thanks Bear (thanks Rhys)

Pics below (click each individual picture to see more clearly)

Unfortunately, we found East Coast Bakery & Lunches driving home from church one Sunday. We’re very good over here and we eat very well, as there is so much fruit and fabulous fresh veg – all reasonably priced. However, today was definitely an East Coast Bakery day!

Boy, do they have some fabulous cakes, pies and treats. A real kiwi favourite is mince and cheese pie (VERY tasty). Lollie cake is another favourite. I opted for a apple and cream apple turnover and a vegetable quiche, and Mrs. E had an egg sandwhich (never let me here you say this blog is full of mundane details…)

Pictures below (it was a very sunny day with lots of reflection). I hope the pics don’t make you salivate too much…

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I love to have a place I can go to, a place where I can run or bike to my heart’s content. A place of tranquility, a place for ”me’ time.

I hadn’t really found that place in Auckland until I found Long Bay Marine Reserve the other week. It sits just at the top of the North Shore on the East Coast, a few kilometres north of our flat in Murray’s Bay.

The coastal aspect contains sandy beaches, cliffs and rocky reefs, whereas inland there are areas of native shrubs, grassy fields, and lots and lots of hills (greating for trail running and mountain biking). Apart from the native seabirds you would expect, there are a wide array of native birds in the fields and native shrub. These include birds such as tui (whoops not the beer, the bird), kingfishers, shags, kereru (quite a graceful pigeon), pukeko, and fantails. I love the pukeko, they are a bit chicken like in their movement, and a little bit bizarre to look at. There is a bird I don’t know the name of, anyone know? Please see the pic below.

It is quite a magical place, and I’m trying to get out there as much as I can on my bike at the moment. If I am in the mood for it, I can cycle there from our flat. Unfortunately The Spaniel cannot come with me due to the bird life (dogs are banned, and The Spaniel LOVES birds in a way that is unhealthy for the bird, not a good combo). Mrs. E hasn’t been there yet, but I am sure she will love it, particularly Granny’s Bay, an idyllic little bay with a beach. We’re actually hoping to go there later today for a picnic, and I am sure I will blog a little more about Long Bay, it’s a place we will visit often.

A haven in the hustle and bustle of city life.

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When you land in a new country you have to make a BIG effort to meet people, which isn’t easy when you have NO history, no friends, nuffin. We’ve met some lovely people who have given us their homes, meals, and friendship, and they have been a life saver in some many aspects. And then we’ve met Daiv and Lisa, two brits, who are down-to-earth and NORMAL! People who it isn’t an effort to be with. There are others (you know you are). Anyhow, I am digressing AGAIN, so lets get back on track… Daiv and Lisa suggested what turned out to be Daiv and Lisa’s Comedy Weekend. When they mentioned it, we were probably going through a little bit of a difficult patch (moving to a new country can be a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs and friggin’ loop-the-loops, and I think we were struggling a little with the enormity of where we were. To clarify, we love it here, we really do. Talking to friend, there are peaks and troughs when sometimes you are grieve for your life back in your homeland, and other moments when you are high on the excitement of all your new experiences. Gah – I’m digressing again.

We were a bit down, and sometimes a belly laugh can work a treat, right?

So – GIG Number 1 …

There were 3 acts, and adolescent who was NOT funny, then another who was ace (I can’t remember his name, but his was good <—–what were you expecting, I ain’t no comedy critic). And then we had Ewen Gilmour (The Westie) who was absolutely belly wrenchingly funny, in a oh-my-goodness-my-belly-hurts kinda way. He was funny, he was a RUDE, in a I-wouldn’t-take-my-mother-to-see-him-kinda-way…. He really was a seasoned pro, who totally interacted with the crowd. He had a VERY VERY drunk heckler, whose speech towards the end was barely legible, who he sorted out. It was a while ago, so I can’t remember much of the content, but I just remember laughing SO much. Ewen’s wife died a while ago, and he even pulled that into his act, albeit briefly – cathartic for him maybe, but respectful and funny all the same.

The gig itself was in an old village hall jst outside Auckland, which was quite quaint and had a school hall feel about it. The gig was a fundraiser, and it was  BYO, bring your own food and nibbles. Some of the contigent did that, but definitely pre-loaded (consumed a lot of booze before going out). Hence, the heckler, a few wobbly folk, and someone collapsing in their seat. I think there would have most definitely been more havoc after we left. There was a game of heads and tails part way through the night, where someone asks a question, you answer by putting your hands on your bo-tom or your head. Last man standing wins. I found this hilarious, that this kind of thing happened in a comedy gig. I found it funny it a good way, chilled out, we don’t care, Kiwi kind of way.

And now Gig Number 2…

This was at the Vic in Devonport at seemed to be a lady-eez night (see the poster here)

First up, Leah Panapa, who was pretty awesome. I honestly, can’t remember much of the content (it was a while ago…) but we certainly got our belly laughs. There was talk of vajazzles and such (don’t look it up mum!), and the audience was constantly engaged and bombarded with good gags. And then (this took me by surprise) this was her FIRST gig! She didn’t seem rough around the edges, but looking back she was grasping a wine bottle on stage…. Anyhow, FLIPPIN MARVELLOUS

Next up, Justin Smith – what a hoot! Her biography reads, “a line with a flicker of the eyes that has been tearing up crowds for more than ten years…” Yup, no surprises there. She a well-polished pro. You could tell no-one dared heckle her, as we all knew (pretty quickly into the gig)she would eat us up and spit us out again. Justin raced through her act in machine gun-rapid style, constantly side-tracked by ad libs and picking on audience members (I slouched in my seat for this one). Hilarious.

And finally, Urzila Carlson (that’s Ursula…). If I’m honest, by this point by cerebral function was waning, there had been too much funny stuff for my brain to cope with. Urzila was good, VERY good for someone who has only been going for 4 years. I’d like to see her again so I can get the full effect of her comedy wrath. Needless to say. Top Notch.

Oh, and then last but by no means LEAST, well actually, in my opinion,the BEST act of the night was Paul Ego who was the compère of the evening. Paul ad-libbed his way through the show, and was frickín’ hilarious. Again, sorry, I can’t remember any of his gags (but I would breach copyright to repeat any right?) Paul has gigged in the UK, and I am sure worldwide, and he is also on very funny TV show over here called 7 days. He was crude at times, yet quite charmingly crude – if that isn’t a dichotomy too far. Before we leave Auckland, we definitely need to see Paul live. I’m hoping he does live gigs… I briefly met Paul before the gig (I opened the door for him….), and although I do have a tendency to get star struck (I had seen Paul on TV so knew he was fairly well known in these parts…), he came across as a very normal bloke and very unassuming. Maybe that’s a kiwi thing.

And that was Dave and Lisa’s comedy weekend… a great suggestion, and a belly laugh of a time with some lovely people and excellent comedians. A great introduction to New Zealand comedy.

Auckland is most definitely my favourite Big Little City.

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I’ve been angling for a good hook for this post. I tried a few… Fishy Goings on in Auckland…  but failed miserably. Oh, hang on, I got one without even thinking of it, “Angling for a good hook…”. Nice work Mr.

OK, so what’s all this talk about fish and hooks and angling about? Well, the other week, Mrs. E and I left The Spaniel behind and popped into Auckland to do some Christmas shopping and chill out in our Big Little City. While Mrs. E read a book and chilled out in a care, I went for a tootle down to the Fish Market down by the harbour in the Wynyard Quarter. Quite a few people had mentioned that it was an Auckland Must Do attraction so I went for a nosey, expecting  a big warehouse full of fish (funnily enough), sweaty fisherman, and chaos as fish auctions were carried out….

WRONG… this place was quite swish, VERY fish swish in fact. The Fish Market building contained  a boutique food market, restaurants, licensed cafes, a virtual wine tasting encounter and the popular Auckland Seafood School. The fish stalls themselves contained a whole host of fishy things. The fish heads were a bit grim, and the baby cuttle fish and octopi where VERY cute. In the end I bought a lovely tuna steak for our evening supper. It wasn’t cheap… but it was very tasty. I also had a nosey round the harbour and had a look at some of the HUGE boats around.

Family, friends, we might just take you here when you come to visit…

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