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.


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.


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.  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.


The melodic songs of exotic winged creatures.

barefooted children

Barefooted children.


Pohutukawa trees.

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



Kebabs, dance parties, and surfing the South Pacific

While our visit with the Schmitts is drawing to an end, we can look back on the past 3.5 weeks and see that many fun times were had, and incredible memories made.  Having already mentioned our trip up north to Opononi, other highlights of our time with the Schmitt Fam include:

1. Visiting Tane Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree in NZ.  On our way back from up north, we drove through the Waipoua Forest, which is home to NZ’s largest Kauri tree.  Tane Mahuta, whose name translates to “Lord of the Forest,” stands 51.2 meters tall with a girth of 13.77 meters.  Its exact age is unknown, but it is estimated that Tane is between 1250 and 2500 years old.

2.  Paying our first of many visits to Master Kebab, the new kebab shop that just opened behind our place.  We were so stoked when we found out a kebab shop was going in… we couldn’t wait to try it out as soon as it opened, and were definitely not disappointed.

3.  Taking in the splendor and ruggedness of the West Coast out at Piha.  It wasn’t a sunny day, but we still had fun racing on the beach and admiring the powerful waves of the mighty Tasman.

4.  Friday Night at Bethells.  With our new favorite raggae band, Box Juice, pumping out the tunes that beautiful Friday night, and the light fading from the sky, a dance party was just getting underway.  We joined in the fun, and got our raggae groove on.

5.  Hiking the Tongariro Crossing.  Brendon and Craig ventured south to hike the Tongariro Crossing, a stunning 19.4km track in the central part of the North Island.  As you can see, the tramp takes you across a variety of stunning landscapes, passing over the volcanic terrain of the multi-cratered, active volcano, Mt. Tongariro.  The boys also hiked up “Mt. Doom,” from Lord of the Rings.

6.  Surfing at the Mount.  Nicole and I took a surf lesson in Mt. Maunganui!  Our German instructor, Hendrick, gave us some great pointers, and we both caught a few great waves. 

A lot of great times were shared with Nicole, Craig, and the kids over the past three and a half weeks.  Wyatt started walking while he was here, and it’s been neat seeing what good friends Luke and Naomi have become.  We will certainly miss the Schmitt Fam when they head back to Red Deer!

Our Mountain down the road

People of all ages flocked to the top of Mt. Eden recently to show their love for their Mountain, in lieu of

Mt. Eden is a cinder cone volcano that stands 196m above sea level, with a spectacular bowl-like crater that is 50m deep.  As the highest natural point in all of Auckland, Mt. Eden offers stunning 360 degree views of the city.  With its last erruption being over 15, 000 years ago, Mt. Eden is currently in a dormant state.  Thankfully, because of the type of volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field, it is unlikely that Mt. Eden, nor any of the other existing volcanoes in the area, will erupt again.

Mt. Eden, or Maungawhau, is a site that is significant to Maori history within the Auckland area.  In Maori, its name means “Mountain of the Whau tree,” and in English, the name pays tribute to George Eden, the first Earl of Auckland.From about 800 years ago, the Maori people built a pa (fortified village site) on the Mt. which was eventually abandoned in the 1700’s.  With its historical significance, Mt. Eden’s cone and crater are protected by law.  Signs ask people to show respect for the sacredness and geological signficance of the area by NOT climbing down into the crater.

While we are fairly well acquainted with our mountain and visit it regularly, a new experience for us was a visit to the Garden of Eden.  I had seen a photoshoot done there on NZ’s Next Top Model and was very excited to finally snap some pictures in there myself.

Tucked away on the side of Mt. Eden, Eden Garden is one of Auckland’s hidden treasures.  While the Garden was not as extensive as I thought it might be, it did have some lovely koi-filled ponds, along with a stunning waterfall.

We admired the lush vegetation and vibrant fleurs.

Eden’s Garden is home to some lovely birds, including the most majestic pigeons,

and a chicken.

There is a cute cafe amidst the garden’s lush vegetation that would make the perfect setting for a mid-afternoon tea.

A nude statue amidst bushes satisfies the biblical imagery of the garden’s name.

Quiet, peaceful, and full of rare and exotic sights… Eden’s Garden is the kind of place that I know our grandmothers would appreciate, and would be neat to explore together. Luckily, Brendon’s grandmother and mother will soon be on there way here, so we will have the chance to stroll through and enjoy these lovely gardens with both of them.

We have enjoyed many a picnic atop Mt. Eden, taken many a photo, caught many a sunset, and done many a trek up and down this dormant volcano.

We do love our Mountain.