A Travellerspoint blog

Kaimai and all that jazz

semi-overcast 23 °C

It was a regular-ish week for us filled with routine, airline-induced stress, and cascading water. Let's begin.

Bronte's first soccer practice went off beautifully on Wednesday night. Most of the other girls on her team also attend the same school as Bronte, so there were some familiar faces. It was nice that this activity has started, as with the end of the first term in school, Bronte's Tae Kwondo lessons have also concluded. Having some way to go before we start calling her sensei around the house, she still did really well and enjoyed learning this martial art. We all feel that little bit safer with Bronte around, but have given the nunchuks back to her instructor.

Meanwhile, Jack attended his end of term school disco at Maungatapu Primary. Following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Jack stood with his hands in his pockets looking his best while the party raged around him, thankful that no young kiwi approached him to dance!

Wednesday greeted Tim with some minor airline hassels as he dealt with arranging our return dates (hey, it's only 10 months away!). After issuing a string of explentives to the otherwise empty house, he got the travel agent on it and we're confident good things will happen.

To put some spring back in our step, we set to baking Wednesday night for Bronte and Jack's end of term class parties slated for Thursday. Tim assisted Jack in assembling some peanut butter cookies, while Jenn guided Bronte in the creation of scones. You can see the end result in the photo gallery, but to get a taste you'll need to jump on a plane - just don't change any of your dates after booking as it creates a lucrative revenue-generation opportunity for the airline!

Friday finally arrived and we all rejoiced that the two week holiday had begun as we all need a rest. OK, maybe Tim doesn't need a rest, but the rest of the family certainly does. To celebrate, we jumped in the freshly lubed Capella and headed out to hike along the trail to Wairere Falls. Tim had previously done some recon for this trek, and it turned out to be our favourite. You can see the area overhead here. While not terribly long, the trail to the lookout lead us through lush forest and across very well constructed bridges. At various points along the trail, water dripped down the rock face - it was absolutely gorgeous. The trail climbs steadily upwards, and the final bit just before the lookout was a series of stairs that made us thankful New Zealand society takes their outdoor activities so seriously as to make it easily accessible. Here are some photos followed by a brief video of the trek:

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Saturday morning started a bit earlier than ideal, because Tim and Jack headed out to Tom and Deb Smith's place to joing them for a morning on their boat. We departed from Omokoroa Beach and made the short jaunt over to Matakana Island where we hung out on the beach. The afternoon took us downtown to The Strand, where the New Zealand National Jazz Festival was being staged. Winding our way through the sea of people we paused to watch a band do a really good rendition of The Yardbird's "Can't Judge a Book by its Cover". Here it is, happening before your eyes:

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That brings us to Sunday. We had the benefit of gaining an hour sleep as Daylight Saving Time just started this morning (in New Zealand the clocks go back by an hour while in Canada you recently put them ahead). It was a day of mild activity for us as we get set to leave for Auckland tomorrow for a few days. We headed back down highway 29 and did another short hike - the Kaimai Summit Loop. The actual loop ended up being pretty short, so we walked further up the trail for a bit before returning to the carpark. Here's a couple of shots:

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We're very excited to be picking up Jenn's Mom at the airport - a familiar face is always nice! After seeing some things in Auckland, we'll be heading further south, so forgive us if the next update does not arrive at its usual time. We actually miss some of you back home (no, really!), but we're still having the time of our lives!

Posted by tcrons 00:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

From Beach Bum to Iron Man and back

sunny 25 °C

The past week unfolded with precision, and resulted in more thrills, at least one spill, the pay-off from hard work, and of course, more tasty food.

After mailing out birthday cards and such, Tim scurried around Tauranga hunting down bargains on girl's soccer garb as Bronte is now signed up. She'll be playing on an all girls team and is pretty excited about taking the valuable things she learned from Kelly and Chris last year and putting them to work on the Waipuna pitch. Tim has counselled her to appropriately blame her St. Marys coaches should the need arise. Meanwhile, Tim and Jack finally got onto a real tennis court and had a blast chipping away at the ball for a bit. The dose of sport was good, for Jack's soccer practice ended up being cancelled later in the week.

By midweek, Tim felt that he needed to provide less nutritious fare for the family, so he put down the photography book and set to work. By the end of the exercise, there were a few less bananas in the house, a bit more of a mess, and a half-decent self portrait as you can see here:

Self-portrait-with-muffins

Self-portrait-with-muffins

The muffins were a good way to celebrate the spoils of parent-teacher interviews as well. Tim and Jenn got to meet the teachers of both Bronte and Jack, and to hear that Bronte & Jack are both doing well and that despite questionable parenting, they seem to be turning into nice people.

On Friday, Tim raked the lawn and took a quick trip over to Mt. Maunganui to test out another camera feature. Here's the result:

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Friday night we celebrated the end of the week by allowing our kids to enter the modern pop culture world by finally showing them Star Wars - yes, the first one, for the first time.

Saturday started out with Skyping with Judy to wish her Happy Birthday. We also had the opportunity to try something new. The fruit is called a Feijois. It looks like an oblong lime, but tastes somewhere between a kiwifruit and toothpaste. Here's a video of the trial:

Saturday afternoon, we decided that it would be a beach weekend as the temps were forecast to hit 26 (we think it'll likely be the last time we see that for a few months). So we set off in the gleaming Capella (Tim had washed it in the morning) for the beach at Mt. Maunganui. The sand was warm, the water was cool, and the waves were small, but this didn't stop a boogie boarding and surfing fest! Only Tim was left bleeding after sanding his skin down to the dermis when the surf board wouldn't respond to his mind control efforts. Here's a photo of Jenn relaxing just prior to picking up the camera to shoot the video that follows:

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Following the water action, we went for a stroll along the base trail of the Mount. It's absolutely gorgeous! Here are some photos to demo the point:

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We wrapped up the day with an early dinner at Zeytin (Mediterranean food at its tastiest) before heading home to watch a bit of American Idol.

On Sunday, all the training Jack has been doing over the past few weeks came down to one event - the Weet Bix Tryathalon. They argue that this is the single biggest sporting event for kids anywhere in the world, but we haven't the time or the inclination to fact check that! Suffice to say that there were a lot of people there! And to show you just how seriously the kiwis take sun safety, they even had people wandering through the crowd with sheep drenchers filled with sunscreen! Here's one of them:

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Jack's team consisted of Liam in the water, Alex on the bike, and Jack on his feet. They had a great time, and were really happy with how they did. Here's some photos:

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Afterwards, Bronte and Jack gave the All-Blacks blow up training race thing a try. Here's what that looked like at the start:

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Weetbix-Tryathalon-Bronte-&-Jack-racing-rugby

The NZ sun was strong all morning, and it felt like another beach day. So off we went in the afternoon back to Mount Manganui for a small stroll and swim.

Now we're just counting down the days until Jenn's mom comes for her visit April 6th for 10 days. Jenn's counting down until the two-week holidays period.

Posted by tcrons 20:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Hobbits, Penguins, and Snapper - oh my!

sunny 24 °C

Our week didn't get any slower following Bronte and Tim's outing to Waimarino (described in the last post)! On Wednesday, Tim made banana muffins and meatloaf (sorry, no photo). Things picked up even more on Thursday as Tim made pizza dough! While the dough was left to rise, Tim headed down the street to Jack's school where he helped two other parents and a gaggle of students prep the school's new music room. It was a craft-fest with painting, cutting, and eventually lots of great things with which to adorne the walls in an effort to coax out the talent out of the future users of the space. It was off to soccer after dinner where Jack practised with his team, the Waipuna Strikers.

Tim went for a scouting drive on Friday and visited the Wairere Falls trailhead, site of a future Cronsberry outing. From there he headed over to Hobbiton, one of the movie set sites for the Lord of the Rings. Not being enthralled enough to fork out the entrance fee, he instead marvelled at the beauty of the landscape and stopped in various places along the road to grab some shots of The Shire, including these:

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Lunch on the summit overlooking the Matamata Flats made for a nice end to the morning. After everyone assembled at home at the end of the school day, we went down to the harbour to partake in Bobby's Fish and Chips again.

On Saturday morning everyone got up at 5 am to help get Tim ready for his morning of fishing with Dave Ballard (remember him from an earlier BBQ). There were Cronsberries cheering and waving as Tim and Dave set out at 5:30. Wait - reality check - Tim did leave at 5:30 am but everyone else was asleep. Dave piloted his ship out of the Tauranga harbour and into the unforgiving, shark-infested waters of the South Pacific. Here's a photo of the scene that met us out on the ocean:

Fishing-off-Papamoa-sunrise

Fishing-off-Papamoa-sunrise

The drama mounted as they reached "the spot" and the lines were baited with rubber fish. Tim had to wait until approximately his second cast before hooking one. The fish just kept coming after that. Here's a photo of the result and a link to exactly where the specimen was caught Fishing-of..Snapper.gif. For the non-ichthyologist reading this, the fish is a Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus), and boy are they tasty! By 9:30 Tim and Dave were content with their haul and they headed back to the safety of land. The trip back in was slow as the weather started getting rough, and the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the spirit of the fearless crew the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost. On the way back, some Little Blue penguins (Eudyptula minor) were diving not far from the boat. They're fast little buggers. Back at the house some time later, Tim set to cleaning the Snapper. Not long after this exercise began, he could be heard doing a shout out to Todd Hanson - Patron Saint of sharp knives. Tim's cries were to no avail though, as it ended in a hack job that would leave Bob Izumi considering a career change.

A short time following the end of the gore-fest, the family headed off to climb the Papamoa Hill and to visit the Maori Pa site (remember this place from a previous post describing an earlier Bronte field trip). Along the way we called in at Jenny and Malcolm McNichol's to provide them with a portion of the morning's fish harvest. Climbing through the Papamoa Reserve was great exercise and as always, it felt great to reach the summit. Tim pointed out to the rest of the family the spot where he caught the Snapper hours earlier. Here he is on top of the world (well, actually only about 240 metres above sea level):

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Sunday we opted to return to Rotorua for another volcanic adventure. We blew the quarry dust off the Capella and struck out for Waimangu, touted as the world's "newest" geothermal area owing to a significant eruption in 1886 which destroyed one of the natural wonders of the world at the time - the Pink and White Terraces. You can see the area overhead here.

We hiked the 4km trail from the entrance to the shore of Lake Rotomahana, and saw some amazing things along the way. The area has a different feel than Wai-o-tapu (described in an earlier post). There's plenty of steam and angry boiling sounds at both places, but Waimangu was more lush and colourful, as you'll see from these photos. The first stop was Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake. From the lake bed bubbles up hydrogen suphide and carbon dioxide, giving the appearance that the lake is boiling in places. The tall rock that you see in the photo is the Cathedral Rocks with steam rising out of their fumeroles.

Waimangu-Frying-Pan-Lake-&-Cathedral

Waimangu-Frying-Pan-Lake-&-Cathedral

At the other end of the Lake, the water at about 50 degrees C flows down a stream through and around strange formations The water in the stream is joined by the water sputtering up through several mini geysers.

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Next stop was the Inferno Crater, for which the photos do not do justice. The water in this small crater is an amazing shade of blue. The water can reach temperatures of 80 degrees and has a pH which dips to 2.1. If it were anywhere else, you'd want to dive right in!

Waimangu-family-by-inferno-crater

Waimangu-family-by-inferno-crater

We continued the trek and ended up on the shore of Lake Rotomahana. This lake grew in size by twenty times following the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886. In this photo you can see the volcano on the far shore.

Waimangu-family-with-Tarawera-in-distance

Waimangu-family-with-Tarawera-in-distance

You can see a video clip of bits of the above right here:

Opting to take the bus back to the starting point, we relaxed for a few minutes before heading back into Rotorua for lunch at Cafe Relish. It was tasty! We then headed over to the Rotorua Museum:

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The museum was not huge, but interesting nonetheless, with one of the exhibits titled "Taking the Cure" which chronicled the building's former use - a place where people could bathe in the soothing waters of Rotorua and soak away their ills. Finally, we called in at Lady Jane's again for some ice cream before heading back to the house in Tauranga to BBQ the fish.

Posted by tcrons 19:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Taking to the water at Waimarino

sunny 21 °C

After an amazing day on Tuesday that saw Bronte go to Waimarino on a class trip (with Tim providing a sliver of parental supervision), we just had to do another post!

Waimarino is within Tauranga and sits on the Wairoa river. You can see it overhead here.

The trip started off with some discussion of rules, which Bronte and her classmates were clearly paying close attention to:

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After the boring stuff, we took to the water in kayaks. There was instruction on righting a capsized boat, and various other manouvers designed to get the kids eventually ready for bigger water. Here's Bronte piloting her craft to the precipice:

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Following Bronte's successful rescue of Tim from the murky depths, everyone got out of the boats and had lunch. Exploring the place after lunch was a treat. There was a rope course, which Bronte loved:

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A hydro slide that you could even ride a kayak down, and The Blob. This is a giant inflated pillow on the water onto which you leap from an elevated platform and in the process you catapult whomever is sitting at the other end several metres into the air and then into the water. Here's Tim in mid-flight:

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Now Tim is applying heat to his neck and back and wondering why he can't simply get joy out of watching other people do things!

Posted by tcrons 01:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

The Quarry down under

sunny 21 °C

G'day! It's been a week of sport, overcooked cheese, another BBQ, and of course another stunning view.

While Bronte's Tae Kwondo training gave her the ability to run up walls like a latter day Keanu Reeves, Jack's feet stayed firmly planted on the soccer pitch. After being asked to practice with the local premier soccer team on a trial basis, Jack also thought that he'd try the inline hockey. He quickly learned that the puck doesn't quite move the same way and was often left wondering what happened as he glanced down at his empty stick, the puck having been left several strides behind. In the end he thought he'd leave hockey alone and stick to the occasional Friday evening skate with Bronte. Following the inline experience, we all headed down the road a bit further to The Mount, where we relaxed in a park and watched paragliders slide gracefully off the peak. Tim is anxious to try that!

On Tuesday, Tim held the first session of Tim's Tryathalon Training Tuesdays at Jack's school. The school's sports coordinator asked Tim to hold a mini training session before school for those kids who are planning on participating in the Weet-Bix Tryathalon later this month. There was a good turnout, if only for the amusement the kids experienced listening to his accent. Also on Tuesday, Tim visited the Tauranga Hospital where he met with the infection control lead to have a bit of a chin wag about similarities and differences in the field. Not surprisingly, the infection control issues in New Zealand appear to be similar to those in Canada, as are the approaches to addressing those issues. Tim was happy to have made the contact, as it served as a reminder that eventually he will need to go back to work when we return to Canada. Jenn's week was great too as she sculpted the young minds of the TBC students and introduced them to more "Canadian" terms.

Friday eventually arrived and that meant a social outing. First though, Tim needed to prepare dessert for Saturday's social outing, and this time the decision was made to go with cheesecake. Pulling any ole' recipe off the internet isn't always a good idea though, and despite following the instructions closely, the first attempt ended in burnage! Needing time to regroup before another effort, Tim and Jenn arranged for someone to watch over Bronte and Jack, and then set off for the house of Jenn's Principal who was hosting a small gathering for the new staff. After that, we went to La Barca for dinner. It was pretty tasty and much better than the usual stuff Tim has been preparing for dinner.

Saturday brought with it a successful re-try of the cheesecake challenge, and we were all set for the BBQ we attended that evening with Grant and Liana and their kids. Also in attendance was another Canadian, Tommy from Calgary, and his wife Vickie from England.

Sunday started off with a semi-traumatic haircutting experience at the local mall, but after an intervention involving a more experienced stylist, Jack's coiff turned out alright in the end. We decided that a closer-to-home experience was in order, so after checking the steering on the Capella, we headed off to the Te Puna Quarry, which you can see overhead here.

It was fab. There's a walking track that goes throughout the former quarry, which has interesting sculptures scattered throughout. Up at the highest point, the views were the usual splendour, as you can see here:

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Also up near the top of the track was a "Butterfly Terrace" planted with things that must have been pleasing for Danaus plexippus and his friends, because those Monarchs were flocking (or is it rabbling?). Other pollenators were getting in on the action too as you can see here:

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Finally we descended and took one last rest before heading back to Tauranga.

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Soon after returning to the house, we were off again to pick up Lindsay Marcaccio from the bus. Lindsay is a fellow Canadian (from St. Marys even!) who is travelling around New Zealand. We treated her to pesto and prawns, and she gave us travel advice based on what she'd seen thus far. On Monday, Tim dropped her off at the bus once again on her way to the last leg of her Kiwi trip.

Now with a new week stretched out before us, we slip into our day to day routine and plan for the next weekend outing!

Posted by tcrons 21:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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