Stonefruit in February and other things we will miss. dearly.

And on to the things we will miss…

North Piha

Kohimarama Beach

Endless beach options.  East Coast or West Coast?  White sand or black?  Busy or remote?  We are truly spoiled for choice in Auckland.

Mt. Eden

Volcanoes to picnic on and watch the sun make its glorious descent.

Vino from NZ’s lush vines.

Nice Blocks.

Nice Blocks.

Palm trees.  Of many varieties.  Just outside our front door.

Really. Good.  Yoghurt.  And cheese.  NZ dairy is top notch.

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Stonefruit in February.

Consumables made in your very own city.  The fact that the hummus you ate for lunch today was made just down the road.

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Feijoas in April.

$5 prescriptions.

Friday Night at Bethells

That soft, enchanting light at Bethells Beach on Friday nights.

Baby Sheep One Tree Hill

Baby sheep on One Tree Hill.

Cheap car insurance.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin.  So abundant and plentiful.  Not to mention versatile.

Movies in Parks.

The All Blacks.  In particular, Dan Carter, Piri Weepu, and Sir Richie McCaw.

Lemon curd frozen yoghurt from The Store.  And Kohu Road Cardamon Ice Cream.  Have I mentioned the dairy here is just unreal?

Bethells Cafe

Laid-back, hospitable locals (on the whole.)

Savoury pies.

Morning tea.

Tui

The melodic songs of exotic winged creatures.

barefooted children

Barefooted children.

Pohutukawas

Pohutukawa trees.

New Zealand, you have surely been good to us! We shall never forget your greatness or beauty.

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Wednesday Night Lights

It was under the lights of the Northland Events Centre up in Whangarei, NZ, a town approx. 2.5 hours north of Auckland, that Canada’s national rugby team took on Tonga at the World Cup of Rugby this past Wednesday. 

Brandon, Brendon, and I were stoked to be able to make an early getaway from the city that day to attend the game and cheer on the Home and Native Land in some live RWC action.  

The crowd was a sea of red and white, or may we say a hillside of red and white, as an excellent turnout of Canadian and Tongan fans perched themselves on the grassy/muddy hillside that composed 70% of the stadium seating.  

The Tongan fans were loud and passionnate, and the Canadians, proud and festive.  From red spandex unitards, to Gretzky jerseys and many a maple leaf painted on cheeks, the Canadians weren’t afraid to show their love for the True North.  A mountie, a moose, and a beaver even made an appearance at the game.  

  

The Canadian Boys were looking sharp, rugged, and focused during warm-up. 

Before the game began, the Tongan team performed a mean-as haka (in All-Blacks fashion) in front of the Canadian lads.  We knew we were in for a battle.   

The sun shone that afternoon as Canada kicked off to Tonga for an epic match in Pool A of the RWC.  Canada was first to score a try, then Tonga, leaving a score of 10-7 for Canada at half-time.  

Tonga came out hard in the second half, and we were a little worried when they pulled ahead, but the Canadian boys had no concept of give up, and rucked and mauled their way to another try, and held out til the end, despite a few questionable calls from the ref.  A final score of 25-20 gave Canada the victory.

Although being close in the world rankings, it is commonly held that teams from the Southern Hemisphere have a distinct advantage over those in the Northern, especially in North America where rugby falls behind in the sporting priorities, and have not nearly as much international experience.

Tonga was supposed to handle the Canadians with ease, and were noticeably upset that no one gave the Canadians this script. 

The Canadian Rugby Team is getting a lot of attention over here for their burly facial hair.  The star of the match was Adam Kleeburger’s massive beard.  Number 13, Chauncey O’Toole, also stood out for his speed, agility, and fluorescent orange shoes.

“I am so proud to be Canadian right now!” boasted the young lad with the hockey helmet, pictured above, after the game. 

While waiting for fans to pour of out the stadium, Brendon and Brandon took a few moments to bask in the glory of Canada’s triumph.

It was really special to be in the company of several thousand other Canadians, (though I have no idea where they all came from), to witness and share in the victory of our rough and rugged Canadian rugby warriors.

Cup Crazy

The Rugby World Cup is well upon us here in New Zealand!

For those of you who didn’t hear about the mass chaos that was the opening night of the Rugby World Cup, let us fill you in.

Over 50,000 people had packed into the city core by 4pm on Friday, 9 September, headed towards the Viaduct, the central hub of the RWC action in Auckland.  The Viaduct, not having the capacity for 50,000 people, quickly became an unsafe environment, as mass pandamonium and chaos resulted on the streets of Auckland city.  Brendon, along with our friends Amber and Dale, had bravely ventured down that afternoon in hopes of taking in a live haka (Maori war dance) and see a fleet of Maori wakas (canoes) arrive into the harbor, but quickly settled for merely escaping alive and unharmed from the unmerciful crowd.  “There were moments where I was a little terrified,” admits Brendon.  The dangerously over-crowded Viaduct meant that ferries couldn’t dock at the terminal, leaving hundreds of people stuck on the floating vessels for hours.  To further complicate things, the Auckland public transport system failed that evening as well due to misconduct of a few individuals on trains.  Trains were forced to stop running early Friday evening, leaving many people stranded on the tracks.  As a result in breakdown of pubic transport, many people missed out on the All Black’s opening match against Tonga.  Auckland City Council has since launched a proposal to compensate those who missed out on attending the opening match.

On a more positive note, things have settled down a bit since Friday, and there is an exciting buzz around the city with the Rugby World Cup upon us.  Everyone is getting into the spirit of the Cup- many a shop and residence are adorned with the flags of participating counties.  Specific neighbourhoods in Auckland have been given a second country to “adopt,” and our adopted country is Australia.  Hence, you will see the shops in Mt. Eden lined with Australian flags.  Though the flag looks similar to the NZ flag, people are very aware that they are Aussie flags, and many say they are prepared to rip them down if there should be any kind of upset.

I’d say New Zealanders have really gotten into hosting and taking part in the Cup.  My school has really taken on the idea of celebrating the Rugby World Cup with decor, themed activity packs, theme days, and an entire day devoted to rugby later this month.  (F.Y.I, I’m in charge of the rugby cheers, so if you know any good ones, please pass them on!)  It’s neat that we get to experience being part of the Rugby World Cup while we are here in NZ. 

We are expecting Vancouver riots x10 in the streets of Auckland if the All Blacks do not win… so let’s hope they do!

Go Canada and The All Blacks!!!

When in Rome…

Through a mutual friend, we were connected with another couple from Edmonton who is also living here in Auckland.   We met up with Jessie and Jarret Wall at a Movie in the Park.

Within seconds of meeting each other, Jessie made the connection that we were certainly not strangers.  Jessie and I had in fact figure skated together in St. Albert back in the days of elementary school!  Meeting up with an old acquaintance on the other side of the world certainly does make Earth feel like a small, small place.

Jessie and Jarret work with Athletes in Action over here, and Jarret invited Brendon out to play some rugby.  The team Jarret is playing with is a semi-competitive league for men under 85kg, meaning that the risk of getting injured from a tackle by a large Maori man is slim to none in this league.  Thinking it might be fun to throw a rugby ball around and get a feel for the game, Brendon accepted the invitation to come out to a rugby practice.

The practice was a definitely a lot more hard-core than anticipated.  The head coach ran the players through a lengthy series of drills and exercises that began with some intense running.  Crunches, pushups, and more crunches and pushups preceded some intricate throwing and catching drills.

From the perspective of a spectator, it was quite difficult to tell that Brendon was a rookie at the sport.  His years of experience and training in football truly leant a helpful hand to make for a smooth transition into the foreign sport of rugby.

One of the last drills, and in my opinion, the most exciting one, was a tackling drill.  Although Brendon was undoubtedly wiped of all energy by this time, he did a great job of taking down the blue bags with strength, skill and vigor.

Here’s Brendon to give us his perspective on the first rugby practice of his career:

My first rugby practice revealed 2 things: 1) I am not in shape by any measure   2) I don’t know anything about rugby.  At this point, I am not entirely sure what kind of commitment I want to make as far as rugby goes, but I think it would be a pretty cool experience to play rugby a place where it is so huge.  Rugby in New Zealand is like hockey is in Canada. So it would be a cool experience. When in Rome I suppose. I did talk to a guy today who was explaining to me that this semi-competitive league is still a good level of rugby usually guys who are too small to keep playing in the higher divisions play in the 85 kg leauge, so maybe I should just watch for a while till i get the hang of it. I guess the last thing I want is another head injury. So I guess I will keep you all posted on whether or not I get drafted by the all blacks!