Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix

This past Sunday we were tipped off to an awesome event happening in our area. The 2015 Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix. Fifty teams were put up to the challenge of creating the most innovative non-motorized trolley to race for a grand prize of $10,000. The stakes were high and all the teams brought their A game.

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Before the race’s started, I was able to snap a couple of pictures of the trolley’s:

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Hakuna Matata

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Tank You Santa

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Turbo Toolbox

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The Rolling Thrones

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Sharknado

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The Hoonag “Bat-Mobile”

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Sinking Sensation and  Team Anchorman

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The Intergalactic Ilabb Wagon

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Project X

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Last but not least, the WINNERS: Red Stag Hunters

No event is complete without a live freshly shaved sheep:

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How we spend Saturday mornings: Matakana Farmers Market

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We finally got our car situation figured out! Now we’re able to start exploring the Northland.

Our first pitstop: Matakana

Matakana is an adorable small town that we stumbled upon on our way to Tawharanui. This town had the most perfect little restaurants, surf shops, and the friendliest people! The surrounding areas include multiple vineyards, beaches, and hiking trails.

The major event that draws visitors to Matakana: The Saturday morning farmers market.  It’s open from 8AM-1PM every Saturday.

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How cute is this little “dog parking” area?

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A newfound hobby of ours has been tracking down all of the local farmers markets. We love buying local goods directly from the locals and trying all of the authentic food. This farmers market was one of the best ones we’ve ever attended. There were stands set in little shacks selling: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, cage free eggs, locally made honey, hand crafted chili sauces, smoked salmon, locally grown olive oil, macadamia nuts, all sorts of nut butters, jams, fresh baked breads, cheeses, and the list goes on! One of our favorite parts of farmers markets is all the stands that show off their cooking skills. This is a great place to grab a cheep delicious lunch!

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This is the best candid picture the Go Pro snapped. We tried a steamed pork bun (soooooo good), and Vietnamese spring rolls. I was super excited for the spring rolls! Except, when I took a huge bite out of it, all I got was a mouthful of cilantro (yuck!). I was so disappointed because then they were ruined for me. I know it sounds bizarre, but to a certain percentage of the population (up to 14% of the population) cilantro has a very bitter overwhelming taste. Some say it takes like soap to them, I think it tastes like crushed up stink bugs, ugh. Moving on, Chad seemed to enjoy them so they must have been delicious!

We ended up buying a container of olive oil and honey roasted macadamia nuts. Not much because we already had a cooler full of food in the car!

Tawharanui Sanctuary

Camping is a huge thing in New Zealand. Which means, we needed to get a tent.

We did some research and picked Tawharanui as our first camping location. This place was unreal!
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Tawharanui is a regional national park that is about an hour north of Auckland. The park has some of the most incredible white sandy beaches and blue luminous water.

 We stayed in the camping only portion of the state park. The camping grounds were protected right behind the dunes. There were no showers here, but there were compostable toilets and fresh running water. The first thing we did was pitch our tent and head to the beach!

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picture is worth a thousand words:

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Seriously, this is why people come to New Zealand.

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After we took a nice long walk on the beach, we went back for some meatball subs.

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Next, we head back to the beach to drink some wine and do some relaxing.

Tawharanui is an animal sanctuary that integrates conservation, recreation, and farming. The peninsula has a ton of great hiking. We went on the two hour ecology trail, which was 3.8km. Boy was I excited that we went on this hike.

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First the trail went through what looked like a mini rainforest. All you could hear were five or six different bird chirps that all came together to make a song. Next, the trail required a bit of a hike up hill. Totally worth it. It lead out to a cliff that overlooked the top of the peninsula. To our surprise, there were also a herd of cow right on our trail.

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The views from up there were unreal. I wish I had more adjectives to describe how beautiful it was.

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After our hike, we watched the sunset up on another hill, surrounded by sheep. The sunset was followed by dinner and a coma. I was so tiered that I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

The next morning, after brushing our teeth and a change of clothes, we headed back to Matakana for brunch!

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Sausage rolls and Eggs Benedict.

An update on our life in the city

The past couple days have been extremely busy for us.

Our task this weekend was to buy a car. We drove around to some dealerships and looked into buying something small and old to explore the country. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the perfect car within our budget. Instead, we found city hop. City hop is a service similar to zip car. It takes all of the headache out of car ownership without worrying about buying a car, buying insurance, or reselling the car after our five months. Now that we have a mean of transportation, we will be back to exploring shortly. Next weekend will be our first time going camping, yikes.

Besides car shopping, we’ve just been spending a lot of time FaceTimeing with our family and friends. I’ve had virtual wine dates with my best friend Natalie back home, and virtual dates with Chad’s little goddaughter Charleigh.

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We’ve also been doing some exploring in the city. Chad took me on a lovely date to a Spanish restaurant on the water. We had all you can eat Tapa’s for the first time and sangria. I never though that little plates could manage to fulfill Chads appetite, but apparently enough of them can.

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Aside from car shopping and date nights in the city, we have been spending quality time together. We’ve been going on runs, exploring local bars, and planning our upcoming trips. There is so many incredible places to see here that we’re having a hard time planning a trip that will let us see them all!

  Besides that, we have been enjoying being a normal couple and having a normal life.

Here’s a non-climatic video to supplement our non-climatic blog:

Halloween in Waiheke

Happy Belated Halloween everyone! We are loving seeing everyone’s pictures from Halloween.

Although we are bummed that we could not go out and celebrate Halloween with all our family and friends in costume, we did spend our Halloween in a very non-traditional way. We took a trip to Waiheke island and did some wine tasting.

Waiheke island is about 17.7 km off the coast of Auckland, easily accessed via a short ferry ride. The island has many hills which makes it an ideal geography for growing wine grapes. The climate is slightly warmer then in Auckland which made for a beautiful sunny day in paradise! We ran into a friend who worked on the ferry and invited us in to the captains quarters where I then commandeered the ship!

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Once back on dry land, we started our exploring with trekking up the hill to “Mudbrick Vineyard”, our first stop of the day. Mudbrick has a very homey classic feel, with a ton of outdoor space and mahogany wood.

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The views were down right spectacular.

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We got to the vineyard a little ahead of schedule so we took the opportunity to take some selfies =P

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At 10:00AM we had our first wine tasting! Yay! Who doesn’t love wine first thing in the morning? It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? All the wine at Mudbrick was phenominal, we ended up buying a bottle of Syrah.

The next event on our agenda was “Cable Bay Vineyard”, which was a short walk from Mudbrick.

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Cable bay was really neat and super modern. Our favorite wine from Cable Bay was the Sauvignon Blanc, which is what New Zealand is known for. Our favorite part of the vineyard were the outdoor bean bag chairs that you could relax in. Who doesn’t wanna drink a glass of wine in a comfy bean bag chair facing this view!

Our next event was the main highlight of the day. I found a vineyard that had some awesome activities on site, “Wild on Waiheke”. Their main activity: Archery. I was super excited that I got the last booking available, and I wanted to surprise Chad. Unfortunately, I’m the worst secret keeper because I blew the surprise (by accident) within a couple of hours of making the booking. To see some footage of our first time doing archery, see the video below.

Archery and wine tasting at “Wild on Waiheke” was our favorite event of the day! Although it’s hard to pick one event since every place we went to was special in it’s own way. After archery we had lunch on the property. We have not eaten at a restaurant where the food wasn’t top notch, but this place in particular was “niebo w gebie”, which in polish means “heavin in your mouth.”

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Chad ordered their version of a meatball sub with a fried jalapeno. I ordered a bread and spread platter with salmon spread, hummus, and olives. As a side we ordered beer battered onion rings and beer samplers. Who goes to a brewery and doesn’t order the beer sampler?

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All the beers were tasty, our favorite was the non-alcoholic ginger beer. We’re figuring out that ginger beer is a big thing here in New Zealand.

During lunch, the sun came out and created the most perfect weather: slightly breezy with the warmth of the sun on your skin. I know we were warned that New Zealand does not have an ozone layer, but with us being professional beach bums I was sure that it wouldn’t be an issue to us. Boy was I wrong, thirty minutes in the sun and the spots where we didn’t put on sun block were turning nice and red. Luckily, the restaurant provided all it’s patrons with free sun screen.

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The next place we went to is called “Stonyridge Vineyard”. We didn’t do too much research on this vineyard before going there, but we were thrilled we had the extra time to go to this one. The environment was so laid back, and everyone there was in the mood to relax. We really enjoyed the scenery, the atmosphere, and the little amber doodle puppy that came to play with us!

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Seriously though, how cute is this puppy butt?!

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 This view…. woah.

After Stonyridge we were spent! From here we head straight to the beach for some serious relaxing. We planted ourselves in the sand and laid back to watch the sailboats.

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We then head back to the ferry and back to Auckland!

P.S.- Here is the aftermath of the battle wounds I obtained during archery.

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Leave it up to me to find a way to injure myself, typical. Thank goodness I went to nursing school, right? To manage to care for myself, haha.

Back to adventuring: Mission Bay, NZ

Monday, October 26th was Labour Dar here in New Zealand.

Since we had a day off, we decided to venture out and learn how to use the Auckland metro system and AT HOP card. This pre-paid card enables us to use the cities buses, trains, and ferries for a 20% discount. We caught the bus to the beautiful little seaside suburb of Mission Bay, New Zealand. Immediately upon exiting the bus we noted that there was a craft and food market happening.

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The moment we walked into the market, we ran into the “Pukeko Bakery” which is known for making handmade artisan breads. You guys know that anything that has to do with food has Chad’s attention immediately. We sampled (and bought) beat-root ciabatta bread with pumpkin seeds, and capsicum ciabatta. From there on, we moved onto a the booth next door which was also selling baked goods. We bought a hazelnut tart from them! Can you tell I was excited about that one?

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Wish we had more pictures of the incredible art work and crafts, but most artists asked not to be photographed. You’ll just have to take our word for it and trust that each stand was unique and enticing. There were local artists displaying their paintings, photography, woodwork, cuisine, and clothing. This was by far the best way to spend our Labour Day!

After we explored everything the market had to offer, we made our way to the short board walk and beach area.

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Every time we get near the water I am truly astonished with how greenish blue and clear the water is. Here we spent a little bit of time sitting on a bench and watching other patrons walk by with their friends, family, puppies, or children. Every single person we saw that day had a smile on their face. How could you not when you have great food, pleasant company, and phenomenal weather.

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After we spent a little more time just wandering around town, we head back towards the city center.