Stand-up Paddle Boarding in Okahu Bay.
This weekend ended up being quite full-on! Friday night my office went out for a drink(s) at the new bar in the CBD called the Country Club. It’s located at Britomart and I would say has the best patio in Auckland’s CBD. It is a pretty cool spot, filled with tables on fake grass and lost of greenery. The patio is covered with a canvas canopy giving you shade on a hot day. It had a beer bar in the middle of the patio and uses old shipping containers for the bar, small kitchen and bathrooms. Being that the patio just opened a week ago it was pumping with people out for after work drinks. Good spot to check out! From there we hit up the Steamship on the Quay. Been there many times – Mac’s beer bar – highly recommend it.
I woke up at 5am on Saturday morning for some reason so Michelle and I decided to hit up Mt Eden to watch the sun rise. It was funny walking around at 5am. You’ve got heaps of drunks out from the bars/clubs – so it was very amusing. We got a coffee at Esquires and cruised to Mt Eden. The gate was closed so we walked to the top and found a spot to watch the sun rise.
Once the sun was up we headed home and picked up our weekly groceries a long the way. We had a big breakfast and then I headed off to the Whitford Forest for a bike ride. I had a great time riding some new tracks.
After the ride I picked up Michelle and we headed to St Heliers beach for some fish and chips. I had a swim, which allowed me to clean all the mud from the ride off of me. Semi-clean we headed home where I took an hour nap and then it was off to a flat warming party. The party was great! Lots of bbq’s, beers and good company. It was a pretty heavy night filled fueled with tequila.
On Sunday I woke up around noon, feeling ok surprisingly. It was another gorgeous day so Michelle and I headed down to Fergs Kayak rentals to try stand up paddle boarding. Neither of us have every done it before so we were keen to give it a go. Being that Ive surfed before and canoed a lot back in canada I picked it up quite easily. After 15 mins Michelle had it down! We paddle for an hour – pretty fun. Not overally strenuous but I could see getting a board. I think it would be great to ride bikes in the morning and surf or paddle board in the avro. That would be living the dream!
On the way home from paddle boarding we decided to have a game of mini golf. Once again Michelle kicked my ass at mini golf. I suck.
Back home and exhausted it was off early to bed. What a weekend!
The weekend I ended up heading out to the Whitford Forest Bike Park. It was the first time Ive been out there so I really didn’t know what to expect. The forest is about ½ hour outside of Auckland, so much closer then heading to Rotorua! You need to pick up a trail pass for $5 at the Howick information center. The tracks are about 6 km outside of Whitford and can be found once you hop the gate and ride down the dirt road. There is a trail map, which could be replaced, as it was pretty faded and hard to read. I couldn’t find a map online, so I just took a look at the map and then headed off into the forest. The tracks were pretty decent. Lots of single track, plenty of roots and off camber sections. There are also some tight and technical sections. They also have a couple downhill tracks and stuff with jumps, drops and north shore structures. I can’t remember the names of the tracks I rode, but they were enjoyable. I was able to ride for 3 hours and didn’t many different tracks. The trails do need some love and attention. Some of the jumps and structures have seen better days. It is a pine tree forest so the tracks are littered with pine needles – pretty easy to wander off the trail. They could also put up some new trail signs, as the ones they have out there are really faded and almost impossible to read. I ended up getting lost, getting found and getting lost once again. The forest isn’t so big that you can’t find your way out. Overall it’s a fun place to ride and I would give it a 7 out of 10. Definitely one of the better spots in the Auckland area.
If you havent heard the city of Christchurch has been hit with another massive earthquake and this one has been more devasting. The first quake in September was bigger on the ricter scalel, but it was deeper in the earth. The quake this past week was only 5km below the surface, meaning more destruction and carnage. The quake happened mid day meaning people were out for lunch, at their office, on the bus – pretty much just right in the danger zone. There are photos of buses crushed, the cathedral in the city center lost its tower trapping people inside the building.
At the moment they have roughly accounted 100 dead and another 200-300 are missing. The CTV building collapsed with over 120 people. It has been awful. Now I am not in Christchurch, but I can tell ya that everyone in NZ is mourning for the city. This past year the city has already been through so much and now it got another ‘kick to the nuts’ while it was already down. There are stories of people having limbs amputated so they could escape the rubble of buildings. There are photos families learning that they will never see there mother again. It is truly sad and unimaginable. This is the largest natural disaster that has ever occured in New Zealand.
I was in Christchurch just days priror to the quae. I had dinner with 2 engineers that fly down weekly to work. The city was trying to rebuild. Now who knows what the next step is. There are still after shocks occuring. There is this one weather pychic that has succuessfuly predicted the last 2 quakes and is predicting that a larger quake will occur in March. Good lord I hope he is wrong.
Air New Zealand is flying who ever wants to leave out for $50. Support is pouring in from around the world – which is an amazing thing to see. If you wish to help the people of Christchurch please donate to the NZ RedCross. People from around the country are opening their doors and offering their spare rooms to strangers. People are sending Gum boots down for those who dont have any.
If you wish to see what the quake has done to this beautiful city please visit http://www.3news.co.nz/National/ChristchurchEarthquake/PhotosBeforeandAfter/tabid/1495/Default.aspx It allows you to scroll across the photo – before and after. If you wish to learn more about this awful event visit http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
I have only been in New Zealand for 10 months, but one thing I can tell you is that they are resilient people. They dont tread on the past or get down in a direr situation. They just pick themselves up and carry on with life and get on with whatever they have to do!
So yesterday I went to take my car for its Warrant of Fitness (WOF) and found that someone had attempted to steal it – they violated Pricilla. I opened the front door to find the ignition ripped out and the plastic molding smashed. The wheel lock was still on. They obviously couldn’t get the wheel lock off and left once the figured that out. Fuckn crims! So I called my mechanic to let them know I would not be in for my WOF and that my car had be broken into. They said I could try and use a screw driver to start it so I could take it to them to repair. I went home to pick up a screw driver and returned to see how I would make out as a criminal. I really don’t think I should make a career change, as I couldn’t get it going. Funny thing is a couple people walked by as I was attempting to start the car and didn’t mention a word to me even though I was using a screw driver. Since I couldn’t get it to start I called a tow company to come and take my car to the garage. While waiting for them I called the police and got in contact with my insurance company. To be honest I wasn’t pissed off or upset. I just dealt with it. The mechanic quoted me at $400 for the fix and that was with used parts from the wreckers. So Pricilla is at the shop getting getting repaired and then will get a WOF. Im hoping she passes because at this time I dont need another bill!
The Chinese Lantern Festival in Auckland is worth a visit. There was lots of lanterns.. though this is the only photo i took as my camera battery died...argh!
It was another great weekend in NZ! I had drinks after work at the office. I find that there is big difference between Canada and NZ office culture. Back in Canada a lot of the time everyone just wishes each other a great weekend and they all head there different ways come Friday. Here in NZ everyone will get together for a few drinks. It just seems a little friendlier.
Saturday I was up early to go to Rotorua. I wanted to get down early to get in as much riding as I could between 9:30 and 2:00. On the road by 6:30 only stopping for a flat white in Matamta I was on the trails by 9:30. Instead of just hitting the shuttles I decide to ride up (for a change) to get to Hot X Buns. It’s a fun, steep, flowing track that has a couple drops.. but nothing to scary. I hadn’t ridden this since last year and it is def worth the effort of the ride up. Coming out of that track I rode Pig ______. It’s a nice short track that takes you back to the road so I could start doing shuttle runs.
First run down after riding the shuttle up I rode corners. Just a super flowy, bermy track with more corners that you can count. It criss-crosses with the jump track so there is lots of options when riding. I haven’t started back on hitting the bigger jumps. I’m still doing phyiso once a week trying to get my shoulder back to full strength. It’s only been maybe 6 weeks, so it will most likely be another 2-3 weeks until its fully healed – so i am told. First run pure enjoyment.
At the bottom I meet the shuttle and toss my bike on the back of the trailer and like always make sure I secure the tye. On the bus I chatting with a few other riders, discussing other tracks in the area.. nothing unusual. At the top I jump off the bus and go to grab my bike… it’s not there. WTF. I take a double look.. confused.. worried.. where’s my baby ahaha. I look at the tye and it is now frayed and broken. My bike is somewhere on the road! So i jump back on the bus and started down the road looking for my bike. Well there she was half way the road, some other cyclist must have moved her to the side of the road. I jump off the bus, give it a once over. The handle bar and break levers are scarred with rock gashes. It is functional, just not as pretty as she once was. Not a big deal.. I can eventually part it out later on. I was just glad I could continue riding and that it was only cosmetic. I was able to ride another couple hours before having to head home for the rugby match that night.
Once at home I hit the showers and then grab a beer. We caught the train to Eden Park at 6:00. The train ride is free with your ticket – sweet deal. Plus we got tickets for the Canterbury Fan Zone – 2 tickets for $16! Score! Yes we are in the opposing teams fan zone, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I decided that I would cheer for Canterbury. It was a great game and Auckland ended up winning.. which is a huge surprise after seeing them last year. It was definitely the best game I’ve seen live, which made the atmosphere even better. 8 beers later the game is over and it’s time to go home. So much fun and I am hoping to score some more tickets for the Super 15.
Sunday was chill. Groceries, lounge around the city and that was pretty much it. Ive been trying to edit some video and I have been struggling. Hopefully I will have something up soon. In the evening we went to Chinese Latern Festival at Albert Park for the Chinese New Year. It is was pretty cool! A lot of people would be an understatement! I am not one for huge crowds, but I was totally worth it. The latterns were pretty amazing and looked great amongst the huge trees of Albert Park. Unfortunately my camera died pretty much as soon as we got there. Note for next time.. check the battery before leaving the house. I got maybe 2 pictures ahaha. There was heaps of yummy food stalls. After a bite to eat it was back home and to bed as I have a busy week at work.
This has been a whirled wind week so far. I have been out of the office for work. On Monday I headed to Christchurch to host an info evening. I ended up late for that because of Jet Star and a flight delay – 2 hours. (hence the rant about Jet Star in my previous post.) The info evening was ok, just felt uneasy as everything was so rushed. Not a good feeling! I spent the night in Christchurch and caught a early flight to Wellington.
Tuesday I was in Wellington. Luckily this flight was booked on Air New Zealand so I had no issues with luggage weight and delays. Wellington was nice for once! It was all blue skies and sun. This is the first time I have been in Wellington and had nice weather. Unfortunately I didn thave a lot of time to enjoy the city as I had to prep for my presentation. The evening went well with lots of interest and a decent turn out – 25 people. I felt presentation went a lot better than in Christchurch as I wasnt so rushed.
Wednesday I spent another day in Wellington. I have to represent work at the a Canadian High Commission Info evening. There I will be speaking to anyone who is interested in going to Canada. Ive been to a couple these events in the past year and the turn-out has been hit or miss. Hoping it will be busy, so time flys! The funny thing about the Canadian High Commission evenings is that I am the only Canadian there – representing! I stay the night in Wellington and then I am back to Auckland for Thusday and Friday.
I love being out of the office and on the road for work. In the coming months I have quite few work trips. In March there is nothing, but in April I will be in Wellington, Christchurch and then spending easter weekend in Queenstown with some mates. May I will be off to Dunedin and Christchurch for some University fairs, which I will be tying in some riding with. I am also planning to spend a week in Queenstown in March to do ride some mountain biking with some mates from down south. Lots of travel to come… stoked!
Jet Star is one hell of a crap airline!
A little tip to anyone who is going to be flying around New Zealand. Avoid Jet Star. Yes, sometimes you the flights are a bit cheaper than Air New Zealand, but the service is not nearly as good. I would pay an extra $50 to know that my flight will leave on time, I wont get dinged with a huge over weight fee and checking it wont take twice as long as it should.
Everytime I fly with Jet Star they are delayed, their check-in machines are broken, staff are never helpful and overall it’s just a painful experience. Air New Zealand will charge roughly $15.00 for a bike, where I believe Jet Star will charge +$100 and they will not gaurantee that your bike will make it on the aircraft – wtf! Air New Zealand will let you away with being overweight, compared to Jet Stars flate rate of $75.
Once on the plane it is night and day. Air NZ offer you coffee, water, snack and even a beer/wine (when flying after 6pm). Jet Star will charge you for all of the above.
Jet Star = Shit Star! You dont have to take my word for it, just join the facebook group – I shit on JetStar or check out surf chat board. If this isnt enough proof of their shite service just google “‘review jet star.’
A great weekend in Rotorua at Raggamuffin.
This weekend I was off to Rotorua and it wasn’t for the usual mountain bike riding. Annually there is a reggae festival called Raggamuffin and this would be my first reggae festival! Now I listen to lots of different kids of music, but to be honest I don’t own a lot of reggae. Ive got your typical white guy collection – bob marley. I may not be the biggest fan in the world but I am always keen from something new and music festivals are always good, so I was stoked!
We were on the road out of Auckland by noon and in Rotorua by 2:30. We had forgotten to book accommodation when we got the tickets and by the time we realized that everything was booked out. I was thinking I would drive home after the show, but luckily Michelle’s got a friend who has a house and we were able to crash there. We dropped the car off and had a bit of a visit with Michelle’s mates. At 3pm we decided to head to the festival. It was being held at the Stadium in Rotorua and the acts were MARY J BLIGE, JIMMY CLIFF, MAXI PRIEST, THE ORIGINAL WAILERS, KY-MANI MARLEY, CHE FU & THE KRATEZ, NESIAN MYSTIK, 1814 & SONS OF ZION. SEAN PAUL was supposed to play, but cancelled a few weeks before the show.
As we entered the venue there were heaps of stalls selling everything from Jamaican food to fake weed to all the Rasta clothing one could ever want. We checked out a couple stalls and then got some beers and headed into the stadium to listen to some music.
It was gorgeous hot day – perfect for a festival. It was definitely a smoke friendly – go figure eh! We kind of hung around the outside of the field where they was much easier access to water, toilets and beer! We basically watched one act, then got more beer, watched another act, then got more beer… that is pretty much how the day went.
The acts were all good! I think my favourite acts were Ky Mani Marley, Jimmy Cliff and lastly The Original Wailers. There was only one stage, so you didn’t miss any of the acts, which was nice. It’s not as big or as mainstream as Big Day Out, which I also like. The crowd was very friendly – maybe it was because the all the smoking, maybe it was the reggae, either way it’s a show worth taking in while in NZ. It was all about one-love and you cant go wrong with that.
Renewing your passport abroad is a pain!
My passport expires in March so after returning back from vacation my first priority was to renew it. To get a passport in another country is a bit of a pain in the ass. Now that I have done it I would tell anyone to renew it at home back in Canada as the process is much easier, with less paper work.
My first issue was that I needed to submit my birth certificate with my application. See I don’t carry my birth certificate with me and didn’t bring it to NZ. Why would you? So I had to contact my mom to go through the documents I left with her to find it and then courier it to me. I wouldn’t send it regular post, as it is not very reliable and slow as hell. So $75 later I have my birth certificate.
My second issue would be that I needed a declaration of official: someone who has known me for a minimum of 2 years to sign my photos and passport. Being that I have only been in NZ for 9 months I had no one to sign my photos. I had to submit a Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor. So I then had to track down a JP to get this done. This was of no extra cost, thank god, but a pain in the ass.
Then I had to get a hold of my mates in Canada as references. I needed there contact details and to give them a heads up that they would be contacted by the Canadian government to verify my identity. Argh!
Once that was done I then had to submit all my docs to the Canadian High Commission. After I posted everything I realized that I didn’t submit the $100 cheque. Dumbass! So I then had to send a cheque.
Now I just have to wait 8-12 weeks to get a new passport. After that I will have to get on applying for my new work visa. So, to anyone reading this blog.. make sure your passport doesn’t expire while you are overseas. Get it renewed while in Canada, save your self the hassle!