Monday, December 29, 2008

Matapouri - I mean, Goat Island

We've been dying to get out of Auckland into the wild, beautiful, back country of NZ - spend a couple nights in a cabin, explore the area on some hikeletts, enjoy a little roadtrip.  But, we never plan ahead for going out of town over Christmas holiday.  We just leave it to the last minute which usually means we don't go on a roadtrip over the Christmas holiday b/c, since it's high season here, everything is expensive and booked up (we may not attempt to plan over Christmas holiday subconsciously on purpose because of reason number 1).  But we're still going to get out of town - today we took a daytrip up to Goat Island (~2hrs), which is renown as a dive/snorkeling destination due to great visibility and lots of fish.  We originally planned for a further north destination, Matapouri, but the traffic was totally unbelievable!  We sat still on the highway at least 3 times until we modified our plans and did a U turn.  One of the problems w/ the highway system is that you go from 4 to 2 lanes (total) when you go through these little towns and there are stoplights.  On the highway.  This may have worked fine when the population of NZ was ~1mill, but, we're up to 4mill right now and this system is not so good.  There's lots of construction going on so I guess someone else is aware that this is a problem.   Here are the pics: Babies in the car (notice the lack of motion in these pics - that's because we're on the highway).
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At the beach:
In retrospect, I guess we could have taken some pictures of the beach or sea or Goat Island, but we were focused on the most beautiful things at the beach.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Things I like about New Zealand - #2

Being the holiday season, my mind is drawn to one of the very favorite things I love about NZ (ties-in to reason #1)- you're not expected to work 363 days a year.  You're not even a bad person if you don't work 363 days/year.  In fact, people here might think your priorities are somewhat ajumble if you worked that much.  A previous supervisor of mine opined that the US economy was so nice and strong because, unlike European countries (whose economies were implied to stink, and perhaps they do) we Americans worked hard/continuously (and therefore I should be ashamed to try and take a holiday - what kind of a communist would do such a thing?).  I think we all could have taken a couple more days off over the past few years and our economy would still be right where it is now.  What about NZ's holiday scheme?  The system here is the greatest!  Everyone here, regardless of your job, gets 4 weeks (20 days) personal leave on top of 2 weeks (10 days) of national holidays, e.g. Queen's, Waitangi day, Boxing day, etc.  That's just plain nice.  And, the idea that you wouldn't take all of that leave is quizzical here.  It's suggested here that American's get 14 days off/year on average.  In my opinion, that's not very much, and we don't even take all of it - which was always my experience (disclaimer: the 'study' on vacation days was done by Expedia).  Now, why wouldn't someone take all the vacation time they're entitled to as part of their employment contract?  The answer to that question is one of the reasons the Grammer family finds itself here in NZ.  What do we do with our days off?  We head down to the park and make sure the cows are well-nourished. 



Friday, December 12, 2008


So, I consider myself very un-craftsy, but have had a bit of inspiration from some other mothers lately who are just the opposite and when my own mother held one of these up on skype to entertain our daughters, a little, "Ooh, I could do that...." popped into my heart. So, Chloe and I sat down with a bag of marshmellow, some toffee pops, some gum drops and my personal favorite sour worms, and with the promise of, "tasting time" to come after "making time" had a great time putting these little guys together. Chloe and I have been taking little "fun surprises" to our neighbor's mailbox as a secret santa activity and we popped one into their box today. We took the others to our coffeegroup and handed them around. I think I may be hooked on the crafts thing. We'll see.
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Nan's Blog: Blogworthy

New Zealand from a friend's perspective....Hola to Kim and Mike's family/friends. I've asked the Grammer's if I can post a blog on their spot to ensure my trip to New Zealand becomes 'blog-worthy'. I had a chance to pass through New Zealand on my way back from Australia to the States and visit with my old friend from college, Kimberly. It was so wonderful visiting with her and her growing family and getting to experience this most beautiful country! Everyone should try their hardest to make a trip out here with such amazing things to see and do Here are some takeaways from my experience. 1) Kiwi's have supernatural skin. I was freezing even while wearing three layers of clothes and everyone else was running around in shorts. 2) Kiwi's LOVE all things involving water. Every place I went there was something with water. Hiking by the water...diving in the water (14C!)...glow worm the water...they even recommended zorbing in water (I decided to pass and stay dry). Prior to a trip over there I would recommend standing in a bathtub of ice water to prep your feet so your toes don't turn blue when you get there! 3) Sheep, rocks, just works. Each day I would drive 2-5 hrs and the time would just fly by taking in the sites. Sheep are cool. 4) Kiwi's are super friendly. Everywhere I went everyone offered suggestions and were so helpful wanting me to have the best time I could there. 5) Good friends are hard to come by and should be treasured. Kimberly is a great friend of mine and in retrospect I'm a bit shocked to realize just how easy it was to slip into our camaraderie even after not seeing each other for four years and then being met at the door by Kim's boob (she was nursing when I showed up). Thanks for the visit Grammers; we'll have to do it again sometime!!! --Nancy

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