Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy Birthday to Tessa

We celebrated Tessa's 11th birthday in Masterton too!  Lots of words to describe this girl...happy, hyper and hilarious, sweet, silly, and sulky.  

She was so happy with her meerkat, gum, post-it notes and lip gloss.  Easy to please :)

These birthdays have been a bit strange but I must say it's a lot easier than 3 birthdays and 3 parties in 11 days!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Lukas!

A second teenager in the house!  We celebrated Lukas' birthday today in Masterton.  A great place to celebrate with a baker as our host :)  He surprised us with a cake to make the day special.  

Anneke was included on the cake and we added Tessa because she has a birthday in a few days too!

More from Lower Hutt

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay near Wellington in Lower Hutt.  Another beautiful home to stay in with gorgeous views.  Time to see a few of the sights as well as nice walks in the hills, playing at the park and working.

We loved walking in Belmont Regional Park just up the hill from where we were staying.  Conrad went running there quite a few times too.

Melts my heart :)

This picture will remind me of Wendy who introduced me to this drink.  Yum!

 We met up with the family whose AirBnb we stayed in on our two night stay on our trip down to the south island.  Really neat to hear about their travel plans (a lot more adventurous than ours!) and the kids had so much fun playing together for a few hours.

Conrad spent one day at Victoria University in Wellington.  Gorgeous view from the campus!

And one more evening walk before moving on from Wellington...

Celebrating Anneke's birthday

On May 17 we celebrated Anneke's birthday!  So hard to believe she's already 14 and at the same time we love seeing her grow and mature into a beautiful, caring and helpful young lady.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Our first week in Lower Hutt (Wellington)

We're in another beautiful home on a hill - this time with a view of Lower Hutt and lots of hills with native bush.
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Dramatic skies the one morning.  Looked like there was a fire!

This week we went to the Weta Workshop where they make props for movies like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (and many others but those are the ones we know).  Really neat to see how projects go from ideas to design to production.

 My pizza making helper :)

Pictures taken on a hike in Belmont Hills right near where we're staying.  Conrad's been running most days here too.  So beautiful!   

These hills were used to store ammunition during the wars.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Our Hike in Abel Tasman Park

A couple weeks ago Dad, Lukas, and I(Anneke) went on a 4 day hike. We started on Monday with a water taxi to our starting point: Arwaroa Hut. Here are some pictures from the ride.
 Split Apple Rock

 Stone Arches
And Some Stone Formations

I think that the water taxi may have been the best part of the trip. After we had gotten to our destination and shouldered our packs we then had to cross the Awaroa Inlet which can only be crossed at low tide. This is Lukas and I walking through:
Dad thought it would be a good idea to keep our shoes on. It wasn't, but by the time we realized it was too late. 

This was taken from up on one of the many headlands we had to cross the first day. What clear water!

Part of the track was a board walk... covered in grasses

This is a cool rock we saw through the trees;

As it was getting dark the first day I took this picture of one of the bays.

The first day was really long. We had to walk almost 20km. That wouldn't have been too bad because the track was good except that we couldn't start until 12:30. We didn't get to the hut until 7:00 and by then it was dark and we were walking with our headlamps on. To top it all off Lukas burnt his hand while we were trying to make supper and despite all our efforts it wasn't very good.
Day two didn't get off to a great start. We burnt the oatmeal, but after drowning it in brown sugar we set off at a brisk pace on the inland track. The first bit was up Gibbs hill and we had some pretty good views.

The blue markers are showing where some of the traps are set.

From Gibbs hill we had to go to Pigeon Saddle. On the way we saw this Helicopter:

After Pigeon Saddle the track got quite a bit rougher. It wasn't always clear where we were supposed to go and without the orange signs it would have been easy to get lost. Quite often we would have to duck under fallen trees sometime having to take our packs off because they were so low. this is one of the trees we had to duck under:

Here are three pictures of the path we had too follow. The first is one of the best paths we had on the inland track. The second is a good example of how overgrown a lot of the track is. And the third shows how muddy it was in places. I went up to my ankle in mud a couple times.
A great path!

Not so good.

Don't step on the moss, you'll sink!

We did see some pretty cool things while we were walking. Here are some mushrooms we saw in different spots that took our minds of how long it was taking to get to the hut.
We were surprised to see this purple mushroom.

There were quite a few of these small blue mushroom along the track.

This was a classic red spotted mushroom.

I can't saw we saw much wildlife because NZ doesn't have many mammals, and the ones they do have are pests, but we did see quite a few birds. The majority of the ones we saw were weka. They are pretty used to Hikers and can be very friendly as well as obnoxious. Every night for about 5 min they are really loud and then they quiet down.
One friendly weka.

In NZ they are trying to get rid of all the non native mammals. So they have many bait boxes along the trail trying to trap stoats, possums and other pests. The one you see in the background is a good example of them all. Not very pretty but they must work because we passed one that had something inside. It was whimpering and sounded pretty pitiful but we couldn't do anything so we just had to keep walking.
This next picture is the only one I took on the third day. This was another friendly bird that we saw.

The fourth and final day was almost all downhill, which didn't make it any easier. The path was quite steep and even going downhill we took half an hour longer than the listed time. Dad says the times they put on the signs are "ludicrous". Even so we definitely were more cheerful knowing we would be done soon and could clean up and relax.

Our view coming down. 

A neat little waterfall we had to cross.

Coming out of the trees, one of our first sightings of the bay.

The bay is definitely getting closer!

By the time we got to sea level the tide had gone out.

There was a cafe at the end where we sat down to wait for Mom and the other kids to pick us up. To celebrate we all got a burger, they weren't quite what we expected but still very good!

And that was the end of our hike. It was hard and exhausting but we made it and now that it's over I can laugh about it and I will probably go on another one though hopefully not so grueling.