More New Zealand

Mt Eden view of the Sky Tower in Auckland

Just before the Tongariro Crossing, we spent an evening climbing Mt Eden and watching the sunset over Auckland and then having an awesome dinner with Kate and Marcos.

Golf in Havelock North

We then spent a few days down in Havelock North, visiting Tom, Lili and Alex. We went on lots of walks and one day went on a 20km bicycle ride to the ocean and back, through vineyards and rural views along a fantastic bike pathway that has been developed all over the Hawke’s Bay area over the past few years and is apparently going to stretch the entire length and width of NZ soon.

Biking to the back, Havelock North

Other than doing walks and runs and cycling around, we mainly chilled out, drank good wine and caught up on the past year or so since we’d last been together. Visiting George and Sue was also great, it was really nice to see them again and hear about George’s budding photography career!!

Sheep in the vineyard at Hawke's Bay

On our way back up north, we spent an evening with Sam, Bronwyn, Ben and Todd who we’d met in Laos; they told us to come and visit them next time we came to NZ, so we did and had such a fun night. Todd and Ben were pretty much our first customers in the shop after we opened the bar, and they got their friends Sam and Bronwyn who were visiting later in the year to stop by as well and ended up staying for New Year in Luang Namtha so we all had a great time catching up again.

Matakana Kitchen with Karen's parents

In the last week it was the usual rush to see everyone before we left; we spent a night at Brian and Vicki’s house with Jiggy and Brooke, had a lovely dinner out with Karen’s parents, another lovely dinner with Tim and Jillian, a lunch with Karen’s grandparents, and spent some time excitedly watching our little nephew Storm starting to learn to walk with his toy wooden truck.

Storm walking with his truck

It has been really cool to be back and see him grow so much even before our eyes, just in the few weeks we’ve been here he has gotten taller and learned so many new things.  It will be amazing to see him next time, so much more grown  up!

Karen's sister and nephew, Jana and Storm

We then spent a couple of days with Dre’s mum, walking around Gulf Harbour and then Shakespeare park and eating yet more yummy food.  Our final day on the way to the airport we had lunch with Kate and also visited an art gallery with paintings of NZ’s iconic people which were so amazingly life like.  We don’t know the name of the artist, but he/she is awesome!

Gulf Harbour walk with Dre and his mumThe photos of the rest of our NZ trip can be seen here.

Tongariro Crossing

Tongariro Crossing

We couldn’t have wished for a better day to do the Tongariro Crossing.  Before we came to New Zealand we decided that we’d love to do this walk as long as the weather was right for it.

Dre on the Tongariro Crossing

We mentioned to Kate and Marcos that we were doing the walk and they decided to come along too, and managed to score us a batch in Turangi as well so it worked out very well!

Walking the Tongariro Crossing

The walk itself started of fairly level, but quickly turned into a series of stairs up the mountain until eventually we had amazing views of the surrounding area and the crater.  The view of Ngauruhoe along the first half of the walk was stunning and made so much better by the beautiful blue day.

Tongariro Crossing

Crater on the Tongariro Crossing

One of the cool parts of walking on an active volcano was the geothermal activity we saw, with hot steam rising from the ground in several places and the beautiful Emerald lakes near the crater.

On the way down the Tongariro Crossing

The way down from the top was the most treacherous, with one section being quite steep and slippery, but overall the entire walk was really well formed and we were quite amazed after being in Asia for 2 years to be reminded of how well-made and safe everything is in New Zealand.

Emerald Lake, Tongariro Crossing

No sooner were we saying that it would be nice to be walking in the NZ bush, than the trail started going into the forest so we felt very lucky to have scaled a volcano, walked up and down rock formations and seen mineral lakes and also spent a bit of time walking in the forest.  The 20km adventure was well worth it and we’d definitely do it again!  Our photos are here.

Tongariro Crossing

Julia and Sam’s Wedding

The main reason for our visit to NZ this time was to attend Julia and Sam’s wedding.  In the week leading up to the wedding we had fun at their respective hen’s and stag nights, and helped them to organise the little last minute details for the wedding.

Julia looked absolutely stunning to marry her perfect match, local farmer Sam.  It was awesome for us to see another couple happily married, especially when they are so clearly made for each other.  The wedding was in the same beautiful setting that we got married in; mum and dad’s garden.  It was so cool to be a part of Sam and Julia’s style, with John Deere tractors as the wedding vehicles which drew crowds of people tooting and waving at us all when we drove between photo locations and the reception venue.


The reception was also great with good food, wine, and company and we quite happily danced the night away.

Congratulations Julia and Sam, we can’t wait to see you grow old together!  Some photos of the day are here.

New Zealand


Our first couple of weeks in New Zealand were spent mainly visiting beaches, national parks, and catching up with family.  We started by visiting Omaha Beach for our first taste of the ocean in 9 months and Dre braving the water for his first ocean swim in about a year.

We spent a day walking around Tawharanui regional park through the bush there and around the coast too.  We stopped for quite a while to watch some Tui’s playing and singing to each other and overall had an awesome day.

Tim came to the beach with us the next time, and this was followed a few days later by the three of us going kayaking together at Whangateau.  This was another fantastic day out with weather that we were really thankful for.  We also accepted Tim’s invitation to join him at his bucket racing practice day where Dre got to ride for several hours on the track – a real highlight of the trip for him!  During the day Kate came to whisk us away to collect Jillian from the airport and after briefly catching up we returned to the track for Dre to ride until the petrol ran out.

The following 2 days we caught up with Jillian for dinner and then lunch, and went for a long walk along Orewa beach.  A couple of days later we then caught up again with Jillian and Tim for another awesome day walking around the coast of Leigh and Goat Island.  Again the weather was just perfect and much appreciated!

The rest of the week was spent playing with our gorgeous nephew Storm, hanging out with Karen’s family and on wedding preparations for Julia and Sam’s wedding; photos of this will follow!  To see the photos of our NZ adventures so far, click here.

New Zealand

For the past month we have been in New Zealand, visiting family and catching up with some friends.  We timed our visit to coincide with Karen’s sister Jana having her first baby, and it was so nice to be there for baby Storm’s first few weeks out in the big wide world.  He is a very chilled out, strong little boy who was lifting his head and pushing off his feet from the time he was born and will spend hours just looking around the room quietly and contentedly.  Both of us (especially Karen) have spent a lot of time having cuddles with him and just enjoying watching him grow so much already.

We also spent some time down in Havelock North with Dre’s dad and family, where we did a far bit of walking and had an awesome lunch at Mission Estate.  It was so nice to catch up with Tom, Lili and Alex, as well as George and Sue.  We did a lot of walking around the area, and just generally spending time with family.

Dre’s sister Kate and her partner Marcos came to stay, and we went on a walk to Pari Karri park and to the Warkworth Cement works and generally just had a great weekend.  We were lucky enough to be invited to ‘flat dinner’ at Kate’s also and broke out the Lao-Lao which somehow didn’t seem quite so normal outside of Laos!

We went for a fantastic dinner at the Engine Room with Tim, Jillian, Kate and Marcos and the food was to die for.  On top of that we caught up with Tim a couple of times and Jillian many times, going for walks with her dog Susie, attending her school play and just generally hanging out.  Time flew and we were both sad to leave our families again.  It was so nice to spend time with our families after so long, and being there for Karen’s Grandad’s 85th birthday reminded us that we miss out on so much of these things when we’re away.  It was hard to believe that we were there for a month, it just didn’t seem long enough.  We hope to visit again soon!  Our photos are here.

Dinner with Dre’s family

After spending the day with Tim, and then the morning with Jillian, we met up with Kate to see her new place and then went to our last dinner in NZ for this trip.  We had some yummy Thai with Kate, Anita, Sean, Jillian and Tim before checking into our airport hotel for our early flight.  So, the adventure begins….

Dre’s mums

View our location map at  Dre’s Mums

We are currently spending some time with Dre’s mum.  Yesterday we went for a lovely walk with Jillian and Susie (her dog) along the coast, and had a very nice visit with Grandma.  We were lucky as Jillian made a delicious fish tagine for dinner.  Today we are hanging out with Tim… more pics to follow.

Arrival in New Zealand

View our location map  SYD – AKL – Havelock North

After a very early start in Sydney, we flew to NZ and had lunch with Dre’s mum and sisters before embarking on a 6 hour journey to Dre’s dad’s place.  We were grateful that Anita and Sean drove us down to Tom and Lili’s so that we could catch up on some sleep on the way.  On the first day we all took Tom, Lili and Alex out for lunch at Elephant Hill to celebrate Tom’s 60th birthday (which isn’t until October, but this will be the only time this year we are all in Havelock North together).