Point Reyes

Today is rainy day in San Francisco, so why not relax at home and get another blog post up?

Last weekend we had some amazing weather so we decided to take a short drive north to go hiking at Point Reyes. We had picked out a (12 mile trail 😶), packed our backpack with multiple bottles of water (we made the mistake in Abel Tasman of running out of water), a few snacks, my camera and 300mm lens.

Once we arrived to the parking lot, we ran into a couple of locals and their horses who recommend another trail to us. It’s pretty easy to change our minds when all the trails around here are so amazing.

First we hiked down to an amazing beach. It was still early, desolate, and incredibly peaceful. We threw down our towel and just r-e-l-a-x-e-d.

The trail we picked was called Muddy Hollow trail. After all of the rain the area has been getting, the name of the trail defiantly fit. I can’t count the amount of times that I got water and mud in my shoes. Needless to say, we need to invest in some hiking boots.

The locals told us that the trail lead to an area where Elk were typically seen. Ironically, on our drive up Chad was talking about how neat Elk’s are. So of course he wanted to go that way. We head in the direction where the Elk were suppose to be, slowly winding up the steep hill. We got to the top, took in the views, and starting making our way down the other side of the hill. We were reallyyyyy hoping to see some Elk, but no luck. At this point it was getting late (and we were running out of snacks.) We turned around and head back. We will try for the 12 mile hike next time when we got some proper shoes.

7.5miles later, one sock change, a few blisters, and a few splinters later… we were back at the car. I never said I was a great hiker, I just said it was beautiful 😉.

 

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Vegan/Vegetarian meals

This post is a little follow up on my previous post “This nurses thoughts on nutrition.”

Learning about Nutrition sucked me in. I couldn’t just stop with one documentary and TED talk. I’ve watched almost every documentary I could find on the benefits of a plant based diet, and I even started reading “The Starch Solution.” I am hooked. Chad has been doing an awesome job with eating plant based 80% on the time (if not more!) and 20% indulging in meat products. I did that for about a month, and I found that I don’t really miss meat. Therefore I have been eating primary plant based meals. To be honest, I feel great! I feel like very light, healthy, and I have a ton of energy. Stayed tuned for more on our dietary adventures.

I wanted to share a couple plant based recipes that we have been loving. Most of them are low fat, high carb, and plant based.

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Vegan: Mexican stuffed peppers

A few Pro’s that we have noticed:

  • Less preparation. We don’t have to defrost and marinate meat anymore.
  • We can eat M O R E food. Plant based foods have high levels of nutrition but are not as calorically dense therefore we can eat mo’.
  • We have become more conscious, and use less fat’s for cooking.
  • We have so much fun cooking new meals and being creative with our meals.

Con’s

  • Limited options when we go out to eat. Eh. This is a minor con.

 

 

Hey, have you checked out Lake Taupo?

Our first experience with Taupo (pronounced Tow-Paw in Maori) was when we were driving back from Wellington to Auckland. On the 8 hour drive home, we drove by the lake and pulled over to admire how scenic it was.

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Can you tell we were getting tiered of the driving?

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go back to lake Taupo with Chads Parents. Normally we are huge beach people, and we weren’t expecting the lake to be as awesome as it was.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls that drain lake Taupo. This is one of the prettiest sights in New Zealand. The water is a spectacular aqua color. If you wanna kick it up a notch, you can do the Huka Falls Jet and whip around on the water.

Maori Rock Carvings

Another big attraction in this area is the Maori Rock Carvings. These carvings are the remains of an ancient Maori village and they are only accessible by water. We did a 5pm pizza and beer cruise with Sail Barbary. We highly recommend it. The sail was very tranquil and the mountains in the backdrop created a wonder ambiance.

After the sail we picked up some dinner and watched the sunset. Can you think of a better day? I can’t. Spending time on the water with family, this is my idea of a perfect day.

 

Thermal Springs (Otumuheke Stream)

We drove out to the Spa Park and took a short walk to the stream. There we saw an abundance of people relaxing in the water and steam rising from a few areas. One of the most unique things about New Zealand is the thermal activity. There are many man made pools throughout the island that are naturally heated by the earth and a few nature made springs which have thermal activity. This was one of them. The temperature and levels of water vary according on rainfall, but trust me, it gets H O T!

 

Recommendations:

  • Don’t miss out on Taupo.
  • Huka Falls is absolutely beautiful, worth seeing.
  • Thermal springs, also worth seeing.
  • The Maori rock carvings were really neat, but we enjoyed the Sail itself the most. We would recommend Sail Barbary a hundred times over.

 

Thanks for tuning in to check out our latest adventure!

The city of Wellington

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Wellington was on the top of our list of places we wanted to visit. We have read such wonderful things about this little city from a fellow blogger, the Young Adventurous.

A little bit of background on Wellington:

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Wellington is the capitol of New Zealand. It is located on the most southern end of the north island. It is located in the Cook Strait which causes strong winds to funnel through the city and give it the nickname “Windy Welly.”

Our first visit to Windy Welly:

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Our first trip to Wellington was a couple of days after Christmas. Wellington is about an 8 hour drive from our home here in Auckland. The weather was  UNREAL. We got really lucky and got a couple of days that were beautiful, sunny, and not windy at all (apparently this is very atypical).

We made it a point to explore as many of the Young Adventurous’s recommendations as possible. Click here to check out her blog post.

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Coffee at Fidel’s Cafe. Note that is coffee I am drinking from that bowl.

 

Fidel’s Cafe: Best coffee in New Zealand. I had a bowl of coffee. Yes. A small bowl. I’m really going to miss all this yummy coffee so easily available in NZ.

Chow: If you are in Wellington and don’t check out Chow, shame on you. This restaurant serves fresh asian cuisine. We stepped out of our comfort zone and ordered: Mussaman Curry, Red duck curry, Vietnamese Pho, & an array of appetizers. May I add that all this food was over two separate visits, although Chad probably could have eaten it all in one sitting. When we found out we were going to get another chance to visit Wellington, we were most excited to go back to Chow.

Havana bar: This bar/restaurant has a really awesome environment. They serve tapa’s style food, which was very  delicious but a little on the pricey side.

Basque bar: If you are in the mood for some unique sangria on the rooftop deck, make sure to check out this bar.

The Library bar: a bar modeled after a library. Books everywhere. May I add that they have two for one deserts (on Tuesdays). Defiantly worth checking out.

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Dirty little secret: This bar is slightly difficult to find, but totally worth the search. This rooftop bar has such a great view of the city. 

DreamWorks exhibition at Te Papa Museum

I don’t know if I have ever had so much fun at a museum. Being a lover of all things animated, this was so up my alley. I blended right in with all the little kids.Classics such as Shrek,MadagascarKung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon became an exhibition. Need I say more? We had a blast spending the morning in the museum.

 

Up next: The Famous Cable Car

When in Wellington…. you must ride the cable car. It’s the iconic thing to do. It was originally created to serve as a connection between the Lambton Quay (the main shopping streat) and a suburb in the hills called Kelburn. When the cable car drops you off at the top, there is a nice long windy trail that one can hike back down to the bottom. There is also a botanical garden and an observatory. We didn’t end up doing the hike, we just relaxed and enjoyed the views.

 

Our second visit to Wellington:

Chad got the opportunity to work in the Wellington office of his company for a few days at the beginning of February. So back to Wellington we went! Without any complaints.

While Chad was at work, I took a ferry across the harbor to Days Bay. I rented a bike and found a beautiful trail that was right along the coast line. On my adventure I saw some sweet little billy goats, and then it terminated at a lovely little lighthouse. It was a really awesome way to spend a Wednesday.

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Extra pictures:

Nelson: Abel Tasman

 

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Last week we had the privilege of being able to explore the lovely little town on Nelson, NZ. This was our first time to the south island of NZ and we were very excited. The rumors are true: the south island really is majestic.

Our flight landed a little after noon on Saturday. We rented a car, checked into our hotel, and did a little bit of cruising around before dinner. We stopped by Tahuna Beach Reserve and took a little walk on the beach. So romantic 😉

Abel Tasman

Sunday we booked a kayak tour to explore the Abel Tasman National Park. There was a ton (at least ten) companies that offered kayak tours, I’m sure they were all very similar, but we loved Sea Kayak (just in case you were looking for a recommendation).  The Abel Tasman is know for its beautiful secluded golden beaches, world famous coastal hiking trail, and granite cliffs. The hiking trails range from a couple of hours to a couple of days (I like hiking, but no way would I even be interested in a couple day hike.) To check out the trails offered click  H E R E.

Our tour started with a three hour sea kayaking adventure through small little caves, and around Adele island (aka Seal Island in Olga’s mind). Our go pro was acting up and we couldn’t get close enough to the seals to get a good picture of them. We saw a few little seal’s bathing in the sun, and a little family with four little baby seals. It was so sweet. Can you tell I like seals?

After the kayaking portion of the tour, we docked our kayak at the Watering Cove to have lunch (included in the tour we purchased). After lunch we went for a swim and lounged on the lovely little beach. After we were done bathing in the wicked New Zealand sun, we started on our 3.5 hour hike back to Marahau. The weather this day couldn’t have been anymore perfect, a little on the hot and humid side. The hike through the brush offered some shade from the sun and a nice little breeze to cool us off. Of course we ran out of water half way through our hike and felt like a cartoon character stranded in the dessert. We had plans to meet with some friends for dinner, but right at the end of the trek was a perfectly positioned wood fire pizza place (talk about a perfect marketing strategy). Needless to say, we apologized to our friends for bailing on them while we stuffed our faces with the most delicious pizza known to man.

Blenheim/ Marlborough

Day three we spent exploring the Marlborough wine region. I’m sure those of you following our blog are starting to think that we have an obsession with wine. Yeah, we kinda do. New Zealand is a very new wine growing region, but their wines are to die for! Marlborough is the top wine producing region in NZ, soooooooo we had to do a few tastings.

The vineyards we visited:

  • Allan Scott Family Winemakers: The property is very homey and Spanish inspired.
  • Fromm Winery: The whites were all very tasty, reds were not too impressive.
  • Seresin Estate: Every single wine was unreal. Favorite: Chardonay
  • Te Whare Ra: A married couple of winemakers own and operate this vineyard. Loved every single wine. They are very talented & you can taste that in their unique wines.
  • Nautilus Estate : First time trying the “Albarino” grape. Super tasty.
  • No 1 Family Estate: All champagnes/sparkling wine. They were very good, I’m just not a fan of sparkling wine.

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After our wine tastings we head to a bar to watch part of the Super bowl. Both teams were so awesome it was hard to pick a side. Congrats to the Denver Bronco’s.

From here we head to Picton and caught the ferry to Wellington. More to come on those adventures 😉

 

 

 

Bay of Islands

A little background:

The Bay of Islands is an enclave located on the North East coast of the north island of New Zealand (that’s a mouthful). This enclave encompasses more than 140 subtropical islands. This area is know for its warm climate, beautiful undeveloped beaches, fishing, and diving.

We stayed in a beautiful bach (short from Bachelor Pad aka holiday home) in the little town of Russel. Once known as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific” and the first capital of New Zealand, Russel is now a beautiful small town with a population of about 800 residents. We loved the character of the town and the locals were very sweet.

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The view from our bach (Kanuka Loft)

Our adventures:

We had a little bit of a black cloud following us on this day. We arrived to the bach early Friday. The weather was hot and humid with pouring rain. We drove into town, picked up some Thai food, and head back to take shelter from the rain. There was not much to do, so we resorted to a good old fashion game of scrabble, and we had a blast!

The next day we had much better luck. With the weather on our side (only a little gloomy), we booked a sail around the islands. After much research, we found Dave and “She’s a Lady.” Dave was an excellent skipper, very informative, and a great guy. We made some wonderful friends, one of them being Captain Lexi. All the girls onboard commandeered the boat and were very keen on sailing. We docked at Stingray Bay. Here we were able to do some kayaking, hiking, and swimming.

This day there was a sailboat race. We did not participate in the race, but we did participate in the afterparty. After we came back from the sail, we head home to shower and to the local Yacht club for the celebration. After they declared the winners, it was dinner time. Dinner was a traditional Hāngi. A Hāngi is a traditional Maori meal which is cooked in the ground.

Multiple times we had heard that the Bay of Islands is THE place to go diving. Obviously that put it on the top of our “To Do” list. I wish we had more footage from our dive, but to be honest, I was a little nervous. I did not have the multitasking skills to focus on learning to breathe underwater while focusing on recording. Sorry guys, you will just have to take my word for it.

The dive was i n c r e d i b l e. We did a P.A.D.I dive, which is the worlds largest recreational diving membership. The courses range from minimal entry level to advanced. We did the discover scuba diving under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor. This allows you to dive a maximum of 12 meters with an instructor. For our first time diving, this was plenty deep.

I was slightly nervous until we actually went underwater. An extreme calm immediately took over. Being surrounded by the surreal quiet, the reflection of the suns rays, and the multitude of friendly fish. We got to the ocean floor, knelt down, and the fish swarmed us from left and right. The fish were so friendly that they would let us pet them. This was the first time I’ve ever gotten the opportunity to pet fish! Should I repeat my self, I pet a fish, like you would pet a dog. How cool?! We were also able to break open sea urchins and feed the fish. We loved this experience.

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We had the most amazing trip with Mr. Don & Mrs. Denise and we wouldn’t have done anything differently!

Recommendations:

  • Bay of Islands is a MUST DO!
  • Sailing: Defiantly recommend “She’s a Lady” with Dave. Call him!
  • Go diving. You will regret it if you don’t. We went with Paihia Dive, two thumbs up for them.
  • Russel vs. Paihia? We liked Russel. Paihia was cool too but in our opinion Russel had more character.
  • Don’t be afraid of a Hāngi. Its a really cool way to experience the Maori culture.

 

Extra pictures:

Hot Water Beach and Coromandel.

How we first found out about Coromandel:

When we first decided we were moving to New Zealand, I didn’t know what to make of it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to resemble the Caribbean, or Hawaii, or Australia. So what did I do? I went to google! I typed “N E W  Z E A L A N D” into my google search bar and clicked on google images. This was the image that caught my attention:

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Photo credit: Google (obviously)

My initial reaction was “WOW!” We’re moving there? I can’t wait to go there!

Our first visit to Coromandel:

The first time we went to Cathedral Cove was when Chad’s parents came to visit. I was so excited to take them there and show them how magical New Zealand really is. When we arrived to the location, we all quickly realized that it was a 45 minute hike to actually get to Cathedral cove. At the time, Chad’s dad was recovering from a knee injury, so we didn’t want to aggravate his injury by forcing him to make the trek.

 

Our second trip to Coromandel:

This past weekend we head back to this beautiful place, ready to make the hike. The hike was a bit of a trek. We hiked down the hill, then back up a hill, then back down a hill, then down a ton of steps! Once we got to the beach we were ready to go for a swim.

Cathedral cove was just as majestic as I had imagined. This was a surreal moment for me. I stood at the base of the cove, sweaty and hot, and thought to myself “Wow, we really made it. We made it to New Zealand.” WE MADE IT TO NARNIA! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this!) Accept, there were a lot more people there than in that clip. Cathedral Cove is a tourist attraction, so obviously there is going to be more people there than we see in the photos. What we’ve learned is that even the touristy things in New Zealand, aren’t as crowded as touristy places in the U.S. (accept Hot Water Beach… but more on that later.)

Recommendations:

  • Bring a pair of sneakers & a water bottle for the short hike. Flip flops will do as well.
  • There is an area here for snorkeling, so bring your gear!
  • We found out that you can do a boat tour to see Cathedral Cove if you can’t make the hike.

Hot Water Beach:

We heard great things about Hot Water Beach. A beach where you can dig a hole in the sand, which then self fills with hot water, and you can relax in this self made spa. Sounds great, right? Well, it wasn’t exactly like that.

The hot water is produced by cracks in the earth that remain after volcanic activity that occurred there. Even though volcanic activity is no longer prevalent, the cracks below the surface still exist. To access the area where these cracks are, you have to come two hours either side of low tide. If you can find one of these two cracks (don’t worry, there will be a ton of tourist marking the spot), then you have to find an area to dig. The only area we found that actually produced hot water was so close to the ocean that the waves kept breaking onto it. Another con was that there were SO MANY people digging holes, that it was hard to find a spot. Most of the holes didn’t produce hot water either.

Therefore, Hot Water Beach was somewhat of a letdown. It was way to crowded for our liking. It was pretty neat to feel the warm water, but that was enough for us. We found a little nook under the mangroves further down on the beach where we planted ourselves and had a nice picnic.

Although the hot springs portion of the beach was slightly lame, the beach itself is absolutely breath taking. Also, the current at this beach is very strong and dangerous to swim/surf in. Just an FYI if your planning on visiting

Recommendations:

  • It’s not the most compelling thing to see in NZ. If you don’t get to see it, oh well.
  • Bring a shovel!
  • One of the cracks on the beach is located directly in front of the big rock in the water. (You will know it when you see it)
  • GO DURING LOW TIDE! When is low tide? Click here to find out!

More on our New Zealand adventures to come…..