We rented a batch (a kiwi cottage) in Waiheke over the christmas holidays for a bit of rest and relaxation. I don’t think there is a better place so close to Auckland to unwind. Ive first went to Waiheke for a day my first year in NZ and then for our staff Christmas party. Both times after returning back to the ‘main-land’ I thought ot myself that I needed to rent a batch out there! This past holidays we just did that.
In the car on the ferry, ready for Waiheke!
If you are not familiar with Waiheke, it is an island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, located about 15km from Auckland. It is the second-largest in the Hauraki Gulf after Great Barrier Island and has nearly 8,000 permanent residents plus another estimated 3,400 who have second or holiday homes on the island. The island has a very strong arts community, which you can tell by all of the artsy/craft shops. We decided to take the car with us as it allowed us to take food/booze/bags/bike/paddle boards, which meant we had to take the Sealink. So like last Christmas we were once again on a boat with our car on our way to our holiday destination.
Upon arrival to Waiheke we headed straight to the batch we rented. It was a bush batch located a long the side of a hill in native forest. It was surrounded by trees, fauna, bush and birds! Even though there were neighbors on either side, all of the trees and bush provided a lot of privacy giving you the great secluded feeling one wants when heading to a batch. The batch was all windows, which seemed trick a lot of the kings fishers and Tui’s! They kept flying into the windows – no birds were hurt. It was your typical old kiwi batch though! It had a nice big deck from where you could see the ocean, a fire place and a tonne of books from the 50’s, old uncomfortable furniture and more than enough room for the two of us…perfect.
By the fire, relaxing in Waiheke!
After unloading we cracked into the beers, made dinner, had a fire and just relaxed. The cyclone was in full force by now, so it was all rain and wind. No better place to be then in a batch, by a fire, with good company, listening to some Neil Young. Life is good.
This was my second summer Christmas and like the first it doesn’t quite feel just right, but I still managed to celebrate… was there any doubt! It started with the 12 bars of Christmas. On Friday the 23rd of December some mates and I decided it would be a good idea to visit 12 bars where we would half-hour to have a beverage… beer, spirit, shot… it doesn’t matter.
Prior to the bar crawl I was at work where my avro consisted of drinking about 6 beers and playing office cricket with hand made paper/tape balls. Yup, I was hard at it! Looking back it wasn’t the best idea to pre drink for the 12 bars of Christmas, as I only made it too 9 of them. Bwah! I must say Congrats to my mates who made it through all 12 bars… you are legend!
I am actually pretty glad that I did only make it too the 9 as the next day I was not in hangover hell (all my mates were), so I have to thank Michelle for being the voice of reason and getting my drunk ass home. It was a hell of a binge and thankfully it only comes around once a year.
I totally recommend gathering all your mates together and doing your own 12 bars of Christmas. Make sure you have a schedule, a set time limit and of course a couple shot bars as well. Also make sure someone takes a camera or has a smart phone so they can take a photo of the carnage at each bar. If you have played this game or are planning too, please let me know how you do. Hopefully you can make it too all 12 unlike me…
Bar #1 - The Playhouse
Bar #2 - The Darby
Bar #3 Bluestone Room
Bar #4 - Rakinos - I am taking the photo hence me not being in it.
Bar #5 - QF Tavern
Bar #6 - Right Track - That is my arm... Michelle took this amazing photo of me
Bar #7 - Fort St Union
Bar #8 - Fat Camel
Bar #9 - The Brewery - Goodnight Mike...
I know I have been a bit slack on the blog lately, but I have an excuse. Ive moved house! I am no longer living on Queen St in the midst of the downtown core. I now live in a garage that has been converted into a 1 bedroom apt. It’s better than it sounds eheh.
We started looking for a new place while back, but were pretty picky on what we wanted. There had to be an outdoor space, big kitchen, lots of natural light, washing machine and parking space. After visiting and applying for a few rentals we finally got one that checked all the boxes!
The new place is located in Eden Terrace, which is a short bus ride or ½ hour walk to work, which is located in Auckland’s CBD (central business district). Though I keep saying that I now have a new excuse to get a new bike for the commute to work – hello dirt jumper!
Our place is conveniently located near a grocery, fruit, dairy and liquor store – I must have the essentials close by! Best of all we have security in the neighborhood, meaning; we live around the corner from the Hells Angels Motor Cycle Club Auckland. You can’t beat that security. They don’t shit in their own back yard, so I don’t really expect any trouble and really who is going t fuck with the Hells Angles. You can always hear the roar of their bikes when ever they are coming or going. The club house looks pretty cool; high stone walls, what looks like a nice house and two huge garages… though I won’t be going over to take a closer look.
The flat is all windows – two sky lights! We have French doors on two sides of the house allowing for the cool summer breeze to act as our air condition, a nice court yard at the side of the house with a bit of yard where we can hangout (re bbq and get on piss) and front area with clothes line and did I mention that I have my own driveway. Pretty sweet! House warming party to come… bring on summer.
I just heard that New Zealander’s based in Auckland experience some of the top rated quality of life in the world! Oh yah.. no wonder I love this place so much. (Don’t kid yourself though, Canada always ranks near the top too!) NZ held 3rd spot on the Mercer 2011 Quality of Life Survey for the 4th straight year and taking the highest ranking in the Asian Pacific region… take that Australia. The researches considered 39 pieces of criteria including economic environment, health, education, transport, housing, personal freedom and recreational factors like restaurants, sports facilities and cinemas. Out of 221 cities Auckland took third place… suck that Wellington! If you don’t know there is a bit of competition Wellington and Auckland… not really surprised to hear this as NZ has a pretty chill lifestyle. If you don’t believe, come down and give it go!
This is a new anti-drink driving commercial that NZTA has put out! It is GREAT!
The ALL BLACKS WIN!!!
I returned from my trip back to Auckland on Saturday for one reason: to be in Auckland when the All Blacks play France in the finals of the Rugby World Cup! The game was to take place on Sunday night, so I flew home on Sat night from Queenstown to ensure the I would have a good nights sleep and that I would be ready to party when the All Blacks WIN!
Sunday there was a nervous buzz in the air! Today the All Blacks would once again be play for the rugby world cup. Up early to prepare – grocery store to get food for next day (i.e. hang over food) and stalk up on beers, plus get some all blacks gear and tattoos to look the part! By noon we were ready to go. I had an All Blacks flag, which I used as a cape, Michelle was rocking her jersey and our faces had tattoos! Go the ALL BLACKS!
We had a couple drinks at our place and at 3pm it was off to the Bluestone Room to meet up with some mates watch the game. We had watched a lot of the RWC games here and figured it was only right to finish off the drive for the championship at the pub! The game didn’t start until 9pm, but everywhere was getting packed out early! The place was packed full of fans – both NZ and France. We had a bite to eat and many a beer to warm up for the big match.
At 9pm it was standing room only. The pub was at capacity – ive never seen it so busy! The All Blacks drew first blood with a try and the French were being held at bay by their amazing defence. It was a tense game to say the least, in which the All Blacks pulled out the narrow victory. The bar erupted in joy! Everyone was high-fiving, hugging, kissing, up on tables, chugging beers… it was pandemonium! More beer and then to the streets to celebrate!
Downtown was packed full of fans. No cars, just a see of All Blacks fans! Joyous is the only way it can be described. The All Blacks had finally brought the cup home! We ended up at another bar for a couple more beers and then Michelle and I called it a night. What an amazing experience to be in NZ when the ALL BLACKS win the Rugby World Cup. This was definitely one of the most exciting times Ive had in NZ! Congrats to New Zealand and the All Blacks!
ps.. this video is fuck’n halarious! This boy has written a song to inspire the All Blacks to WIN… well it must have worked. I can only hope he writes a song about the WIN! Good on ya kid!
The tracks in the morning were closed since it rained last night, which didn’t really bother me. After riding a full day prior a half day up the hill was sounding pretty good. The morning consisted of eating day old Indian for breakie, cleaning and checking my bike and finishing my book. Nice chill way to start the day – let the body rest before thrashing it again!
At 11:30am we headed into Queenstown to grab a lunch at Bob’s Weigh – my favorite café in Queenstown. You will also get a good coffee and feed at Bob’s! All fuelled up off to the skyline to huss some tracks.
We got out first ride in around 12:30 and managed to get 12 runs in throughout the half-day. Same as the other days; we rode everything. I did manage to have a pretty good crash on Rock Garden. Somehow I went over the bars and head first into the ground. I was pretty lucky not to hurt my neck and am now considering getting one of those neck braces for riding DH – probably a smart move. Our plan was too meet up with a mate at 5pm who was willing to show us a bit of the Fern Hill Loop. You can access it from the trails with a bit of pushing the bike. We met at the bottom of the track at 5pm and hit up a couple of runs together. There were 4 of us, which was pretty sweet. On a couple of tracks we all broke off and headed different routes which pretty cool seeing all these guys rolling together and then all of sudden they flick off in different directions – it reminded me of a bike movie. We waited until the last run up the skyline to head up the Fern Hill Loop. This way we would have an extended day of riding, which is always good!
The push up was about half-hour and being that it was the end of the day it felt like an hour. There was even a river crossing in the middle. The track was steep, rooty & rocky – similar to craigieburn. It was all native bush so lots of beach trees, which means a tonne of roots and slippery ness. Walking up it and seeing what I would be riding back down left a happy/nervous feeling in my gut – it will be fun but there is potential for a good crash ehehe. The thing with roots is they can spit your bike out from underneath you very easily. To ride them you want lots of speed and to be light on the bike so you sort of just skip a long the top of them. Fun eh! After the exhausting push up we had a bit of a breather taking in the amazing view and then it was time to ride. Helmet on, goggles in place, drop in and start hussing. All the apprehension that I felt walking up was instantly gone. My bike was just skipping a long the tops of the roots and the suspension was getting a full work out as I tried to keep up with my mates. A couple of times the back of my bike went sideways, but I always managed to stay on it and keep rolling. Exhilarating! What an amazing trail. I think it is better then some in the park. Definitely worth the push up.
Once back at the car it was time for a beer and then we headed off to Fergburger for a feed. This time I got the Cod Burger… good as! Definitely give it a go! After the feed it was back home for a couple more beers and then bed. Another exhausting, but epic day!
Before I even arrived in Queenstown I was a little apprehensive when it came to camping. When I flew into Queenstown there was a cold front coming through and it was snowing/raining, but thankfully that first cold night I was in a hostel. Last night though was my first night camping and luckily I managed to stay nice and warm in my tent. I had the thermals and was rocking a toque as well, which kept me nice and cozy all night long.
I first awoke at daybreak to the chirping of birds – as you do when you are camping! I grabbed my ipod and tossed on some tunes allowing me a couple more hours of sleep before getting up for good! I crawled out of my tent at 9 am ready to go. We cleaned up the bikes, loaded the car and went into Queenstown for breakie. After a quick bite to eat we hit up the skyline at 10:30 am to start a great day of riding.
The weather was a bit overcast and there was a chance of showers, but the rain seemed to hold off for the most part and when it did rain it just made the tracks sticky! There wasn’t a track we didn’t ride! I ended up hitting some tracks that I didn’t really mean to hit. I thought they were a bit above my ability but I pulled through. Basically I was just following my mate and then all of a sudden it was drop after drop after drop through narrow trees… there nothing I could do but ride it out. There was no where else to go but down so I just rolled with it. When I came to the end of that track there was definitely a smile on my face – I survived ahah! After that it was game on for all the tracks; Vertigo, Hammy’s, Shit Sandwich, Thingymajig, Armageddon, Rock Garden, Drop Garden, Ants, Grundy.. it was steep and gnarly. Fawk yah!
We had a lunch break at 1pm and then back up the skyline. We rode until the days end and managed to get in 20 runs and we weren’t even going that hard. It was a casual 20! Everyone we spoke with thought we were completely mad for doing so many runs in one day. I would say on average people will ride 8 runs… smoked them all. When you are visiting from out of town you def want to make the most of your time.
At the end of the day we definitely deserved a beer! We headed into town to grab some Indian for dinner and then out to the house to drink some beers and play some ping-pong. My body was feeling pretty good; the only thing that was sore was my hands. It was an early night to bed as I was rinsed. The rained and wind picked up throughout the night, but it didn’t matter I managed to keep warm and sleep through the lot! Another epic day of riding! My riding has improved ten-fold… man I love this place!
This weekend I was out ripping around at Woodhill Bike Park have a pretty goodtime. Usually when I see someone on the trail Ill bust my ass to catch up and pass them, just a bit competitive I guess and it keeps ya pushing yourself.
Well this weekend some dude passed me and I thought, not today buddy. So I get off the saddle and catch him staying on his back wheel. He’s fast and a good rider. We have a bit a chat as I follow, just the usual; where ya from, what are you doing in NZ, have you been to Canada ect. He is a pretty chill dude, but a hell of rider. So I ride out to the trailhead on his tail and he just breaks into another track, no break/water just riding. So I follow suit and ask him if he minds me riding with him. He’s keen and we are off.
As we ride he tells me that he is an ex-pro tri athlete and that he is training for a couple races. That explains the speed and super fitness – this isn’t a ride in the forest it’s a race against time. Buddy would sprint for 4 minutes and then ride for 4 minutes and then back to sprinting – yikes! I ride with him for an hour and we hit a tonne of tracks. We end up at the back of the park and I am done. I need a water break and I know buddy is not stopping, so we part ways.
It was a great ride and really pushed me. I hope to catch up to this guy on the trails again so I can try and keep-up. That is what it is all about, meeting someone who is better and just trying to hang. It only makes you better I guess, though it did make me feel like I was going to puke ehehe.