Monday, August 30, 2010

Foggy goggles on Mt. Ruapehu

Beautiful Ohakune in the middle of the North Island was our destination for last weekend's ski trip on Mt. Ruapehu. Apparently the town is pretty proud of its ability to grow vegetables. And why not?

I appreciate how Wikipedia doesn't make any crazy claims. "This is reputedly the world's largest model carrot."

Ohakune (pronounced oh-uh-KOON-ee, I think) is a great home base if you're wanting to hit the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, and lots of other cool activities like waterfall hikes and hot pools. The two main ski fields are Turoa and Whakapapa.

Luckily I had the opportunity to check them both out over two days. Jake was only able to hit the slopes on Sunday because he came in late on Saturday from Raro. What's Raro? Oh, that's Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, where they sent him to "work" for a few days last week. Yep, he has it pretty rough. Photos coming soon.

But I wasn't going to wait for him. I wandered around and found a lift to the slopes with a colleague of his. This is Simon and Sanja, who were nice enough to let me tag along for the day and even fed me snacks. Thanks guys!

The weather on the mountain certainly left something to be desired. It was cold, windy, raining at times and the visibility ranged between 200 meters and "where the heck am I going?" The photo above may give you an idea ... now imagine seeing this through my foggy goggles.

The weather cleared up rather well on Sunday afternoon and I found my bearings, although I can't say it improved my snowboarding skills. In contrast, Jake's so good at snowboarding he needs to wear a helmet.

We've been to Colorado several times, and while it's not fair to compare the two destinations after such a short visit, I'll do it anyway: There are no trees on the mountain here -- quite different from Colorado. But there were also no long lines for gear rental or lifts (honestly we never waited more than a minute), which in my mind makes the tradeoff more than fair!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A weekend full of rugby

Our gorgeous Saturday afternoon was perfect for the annual accounting firm rugby tournament in Kilbirnie Park. You may remember this event from last year when Jake's promising rugby career was cut short.

With the four top accounting firms competing, they call this the "Firm of Origin", which is a play on the name of the Australian "State of Origin" series. This may not mean much to our American readers, but I think it's probably a pretty clever name if you're from here.

The pitch (field) was pretty muddy, and more than once I saw big chunks of mud and grass flying through the air when the guys tackled each other. Jake didn't play but several of his KPMG colleagues did, and they ended up in second place out of four.

We gathered for a few drinks after the last game before the guys headed to the stadium to watch the Wellington Lions play some rugby, and the girls went out for dinner. This arrangement seems to work out rather well for all of us, since I think the girls had seen enough sports for the day.

After such a long Saturday, we made it home at a decent hour and Jake brought home this Lions huggie (coozie). Thought I'd snap a shot of it along with some common NZ beers -- Tui is your typical stadium beer, and not that great but I'll drink it if that's my only option. I think we both prefer the Monteith's series.

Jake was up at 8 am ready to head over to a mate's to watch the All Blacks game. I guess the All Blacks (NZ's national rugby team) played in South Africa sometime in the middle of the night because of the time difference between here and there. So the boys are watching a replay of it now.

I don't want to ruin the surprise for Jake, but I read in the paper this morning that the All Blacks scored a dramatic last-minute try against the Springboks to claim the Tri-Nations title.

Almost springtime in our harbour

You may have seen other photos of the harbour that we've shot from the deck (here and here and here), but I will never get tired of them. We've had some beautiful weather in the past week or two as we approach spring here, and we've seen a bit more boating going on.

This one we took with our new camera -- I'm pretty excited about how far it can zoom. This is the Interislander ferry that goes back and forth between the North and South Islands a few times a day.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Bob who?

In a meeting at work today, someone casually slipped "Bob's your uncle" into the conversation. I've read about this little gem of Kiwi slang, but never heard it out loud. Made my day.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

No TV, no worries mate

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I took on a great adventure. It was scary and uncertain, and for a while we weren't really sure how things would turn out. But we've adjusted well and today I can honestly tell you we've never been happier.

No, I'm not talking about moving to New Zealand (although it's similar). I'm talking about living without a TV.

That's right. I was skeptical at first but now I think it's fabulous. To be fair, we watch a few bits online here and there and of course we rent movies to watch on our laptop.

Sure there are some (tons of) conversations that make me feel a bit out of the loop. And for a journalism major, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I feel guilty not having one eye on the news at all times. But it's a relief to let it go. One minute Diane Sawyer is complaining about the folks who lost their jobs from the gulf oil spill. Then next minute she's complaining because it's been (hopefully) fixed and the clean-up crews are getting laid off. I've grown tired of the constant "who's screwing us know?" talk. And I'm pretty happy to avoid all the political ads this time of year.

On our trip to the States last month, I sat up late watching TV several nights while I waited for my jet lag to pass. Some of it was worthwhile but most was pretty stupid. Okay, I admit I was watching the less-than-educational 1-4am shows, but it was really bad.

I'd like to think I have more time to read, plan our travel, blog and be a good housekeeper, but it's probably not the case since I spend so much time on Facebook and news websites. But it's a pretty incredible and liberating feeling to go without. I invite you to try it for a day or a week and see if it's right for you.