Sorry for the LONG break. I’ve been working on this post on and off for months and just haven’t had the motivation to edit this. Grammar is one of the things I like least in the world.  Seriously. I’ve had a couple of other posts in the making as well, and I’ll hopefully catch up this week so I can start fresh now that winter is rolling around.

Best surprise EVER! Several Fridays ago, after work, I walked out to my car to see my husband! A nice surprise, he had come back into town for the week. But why? I soon found out! Behind my colleague’s car hid two of our closest friends! I had NO IDEA that were traveling from the east coast USA to New Zealand! And more importantly, I had NO IDEA my husband could keep a secret this well! It is moments like these that I am reminded what a lucky woman I am with friends and a husband who would surprise me, in groucho glasses no less!

Pat bowlingMe bowlingBut of course, after some time to cool down after a long work week and a shocking surprise, my initial panic set in! I hadn’t planned a thing! And I’m a planner! Fortunately, as with good friends, the most important thing was just hanging out and catching up. Gossiping, complaining, joking, laughing. And the weather cooperated! Catching the end of a cyclone, the weather was pretty brutal! So much so, that one day we resorted to bowling to escape the rain! Plenty of time to stay indoors and leaving no one with regrets about doing so.

But there were bright spots in the weather! We went up north and visited our favorite cafe on the hillside! And then, since we wanted to try something new, we picked a park. Mimiwhangata Bay was not too far and looked like a big beach on the east coast! So we went. I was driving for a while, but the narrow, twisty, unpaved, steep-graded roads made me nervous! I could handle the corners myself, but the constant worry that another vehicle might come barreling from around the next bend at me was too much to handle! Andrew expertly navigated the remaining turns and we arrived at the beach. Some fishermen were just taking off, and we discovered a vacant beach on this beautiful day! Now, by beautiful, I mean it was a tad bit chilly, and without lifeguards we didn’t want to venture into the water, but a large tide pool area and oddly shaped/formed rocks kept us entertained! On our way back to Auckland we stopped at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. Sadly, the cyclone had all but destroyed the visibility in the water at what is supposedly a fantastic snorkeling spot. We’ll have to check it out another time.

Mimiwhangata aw


neat Tide pools and boulders

Hi Pat!

Hi Katie!

Herro? Friends! Pretty

Monday morning we got in our swim things and headed back to Waitomo Caves for a little more black water rafting! I just can’t get enough of this! Auckland wasn’t as excited about it though, since despite being St. Patricks Day, most bars were closed by the time my friend and I hit the pubs for some girls night out gossip, but we were diligent. We found an open tap and drank and discussed to our hearts content, or, uh, until it got a little late and I had to crash since I had to work the next morning.

Still Mimiwhangata


CommuteOur friends took off for some adventures south of Auckland while I got back to work! And even caught a pretty snazzy sunrise on the way to work! (Andrew drove me one day, I did NOT take this photo while driving.)

PavlovaAfter a couple of agonizingly long days at work, our friends returned and the catching up continued along with the eating and drinking. We even made the most New Zealand dessert, pavlova! With kiwifruit, passion fruit and feijoa. The following weekend we headed south and east to Coromandel. Sadly, I didn’t feel too well a bit into the trip, and we turned around after everyone indulged in some mussels, and I a ginger beer. MusslesBut some fresh air couldn’t hurt, so we swung up to Mount Eden to check out the view from the highest volcanic outlook in Auckland. A beautiful and jarring scene with the huge crater, and the magnificent city built around it.

Yummy Mussle time

The final day we hit up a couple of wineries just outside Auckland and found a new favorite, Westbrook. MMMmmm. And what goes better after a day of drinking than a rugby match? This time we got lucky and the players were doing all their warm up exercises just off the field closest to us. Mmmm, yes, stretch it out boys!

Wine tasting Awww, sappy goey Wine plants!

All in all, it was a much needed week of girl talk and good friends. Nothing is better than time spent with close friends, but of course the gorgeous backdrop that is New Zealand  is a nice touch.