Matiu/Somes Island, Wellington, New Zealand

Matiu/Somes Island is perfectly situation in Wellington Harbour. From its humble beginning as native Maori land, to a quarantine sight, gun emplacement and research centre, this island has served as a unique piece of New Zealand’s history over the past several centuries.

Getting there

Check metlink.org.nz for the ferry departure schedule, then purchase tickets and board the ferry at Queen’s Wharf in Wellington. The trip was about 15 minutes and although I sat at the top to admire the harbour views, I held on tightly as the catamaran rocked viciously through the choppy waters.

Upon arrival at Matiu-Somes, I received a warm greeting from a Department of Conservation (DoC) Ranger – a welcome contrast to the offending journey.

Arriving at Matiu/Somes Island
The main trail makes for an easy walk, even in your fancy shoes.

Exploring

Once I caught my bearings, I set off on the trails. It was a typically overcast and windy day, which made for an ironically peaceful walk with few other visitors on the island. I’d say that this is a hiking trail for City Slickers: you can wear your fancy new sneakers – and maybe even a pair of dress flats – and you will come out un-scathed.

From multiple viewpoints along the trail, you’ll be rewarded with one-of-a-kind views of Wellington City and the surrounding suburbs, along with the vastly untouched coastal line of Matiu/Somes (my favourite spot is about about 50m from the lighthouse).

The perfect spot to stop for lunch.

If you’re quiet, you’ll be delighted by the island’s friendly birds and may even come across some of the other animal species if you get your timing right. The island has accommodation for large groups and even boasts several campsites if you’re feeling adventurous. The trails are an easy grade, only steep near the summit, and boasts several picnic tables for families to enjoy a relaxing day.

But there’s more to this island than the bright chirping birds, impeccably manicured trails and incredible views. This island has a past – several of them, in fact, which you learn about through the interpretation sites scattered along the island trail.

A dark past

In brief, the land originally belonged to several Maori iwi (tribes) and was then (captured) by European settlers, who used this island to house gun emplacements during WWII. Shots were never fired, and the land was eventually transformed to a high-security quarantine for both animals and humans as they entered New Zealand. And throughout it all, the harbour’s lighthouse, perched on the coast’s edge, continued guided ships into Wellington’s harbour, as it does to this day.

There are still traces of history left on Matiu/Somes, such as a monument dedicated to those who died on the island – generally those who were quarantined with diseases. The gun emplacements also hold a permanent position at the summit, one of many sites throughout Wellington that reminds us of the world’s dark past.

Several things, however, have drastically changed. Volunteers and the Department of Conservation (DoC) have worked over the past several decades to rebuild the land by planting thousands of native seedlings and reintroducing species that were once found on the island. It’s now a research centre and protected land for a variety of animals and reptiles, including the famous weta, tuatara and skink. Red-crowned parakeets and small penguins have also been happy to call this rodent-free island home, and grounds even boast a herd of sheep to keep the grass short.

The section surrounding the lighthouse is now unrecognisable from the past, having been restored from volunteers over several decades. And the recently erected Maori waharoa (monument) has a prominent home at the Wharf.

Wahroa monument at Matiu/Somes Island

To me, the island is about more than just the nature conservation – it’s both a nod to the past and a hopeful outlook to the future. The amount of effort that has been put back into Somes Island is genuinely impressive, and the care taken to preserve this piece of New Zealand’s history does not go unnoticed.

When I first arrived on Matiu/Somes Island, I was looking forward to a bit of exploring and hoped to see a nice bird or two – but when I left, I had learned so much about this island, the history, and the measures in place today, and this island means so much more to me now that I have been here and heard their stories.

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My grandchildren play
Hide and seek

-Nola Borell, 2015

*Credit to DoC interpretation sites on Matiu/Somes Island for the history lesson. And check out http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/wellington-kapiti/places/matiu-somes-island/ for more detailed info.

Freedom camping in New Zealand

Freedom camping is the ultimate budget-friendly option when travelling in New Zealand. Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip or simply looking to get out of town for the night, a little planning goes a long way.

To ring in the New Year, my partner and I headed out to one of his favourite  spearfishing spots: Cape Palliser, which I wrote more about in a previous post. I love this location because of the diverse landscape and seclusion from the bustling city of Wellington. Although the weather doesn’t always cooperate, the stars aligned for us to spend a night on the beach.

We arrived around 6pm, set up camp and made dinner with a cook set that we picked up during a Boxing Day sale. A compact set like this is perfect for both camping and backpacking excursions.

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If you read my previous post about Cape Palliser, you’ll recall that there’s a seal colony in the area, which I’d personally forgotten about until I’d accidentally snuck up behind one basking in the sun and scared the poor thing – oops!

Once we claimed our area on the beach, we turned on some music, popped open a bottle of champagne and settled in the for evening.

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For some people, New Years Eve is about big parties, all-night raves or a night out on the town. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of those evenings, but these days I love to reconnect with nature, experience a peaceful evening and disconnect from my phone and social media.

The feeling I experienced while watching the sun set and listening to the waves crash against the rocks is something that people don’t often have with today’s busy lifestyles. I soaked it all in as the stars came out and the only light was that shining from the lighthouse above.

The next morning we drove up the coast to find a prime spot for free diving. While Brett searched for crayfish, I stayed on the beach, drank a freshly brewed coffee and planned some goals for 2019. We easily had time to walk The Pinnacles before heading back to Wellington, but decided to save that for our next mini-vacation.

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A grey, but warm morning at 20 degrees Celsius.

This trip reminded me how easy it to plan a quick getaway and take advantage of the Summer weather. Even if you “only have one day off”, you can easily leave town after work, set up camp, spend the next day along the coast and still make it home to catch up on Netflix before bed. There’s no excuse not to get out on a mini adventure!

It’s easy:

  • Pick a spot close by (up to 2 hours away)
  • Get your gear ready the day before, including groceries
  • Load up the car after work, and
  • Away you go!

One perk of freedom camping is that there’s no “check out time”, so sleep in, fix yourself a nice coffee in the morning, and take in the scenery before starting your day.

Commit to doing more of the things you love in 2019, disconnect from your phone and laptop when possible, and take every opportunity to explore more of this beautiful world.

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If you’re new to freedom camping in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to check out the website freedomcamping.org first. There are rules and regulations that differ by region, and in this case, we camped at a free designated camping area, which had limited toilet facilities and no specified ‘camp sites’ per-se.

48 hours in Waikato: Rotorua & Waitomo, NZ

You know you’re a powerlifter when you get off work at 1:00pm to avoid weekend traffic, but insist on training before leaving town. Then end up in rush hour at 4:30pm anyway.

Or at least that’s how things go when Brett and I plan a road trip.

After driving 7 hours North of Wellington (including traffic halts), Brett and I checked into our AirBNB (a lovely place called Tui Rest at a fantastic price of $65NZD/night). Regardless of our bedtime, we only had a weekend away and woke up early on Saturday to check out the tourist town of Rotorua in the Waikato region of New Zealand.

Fun fact: Wellington City only has one Starbucks, so I’m not ashamed to say that we made a beeline for Rotorua’s Starbucks on Saturday morning.

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Kuirau Park, Rotorua

Near the shops is Kuirau Park, which looks like a Jurassic Park movie set with its steaming vents and bubbling ponds. I think this is the best thing about Rotorua – only slightly ruined when you get the occasional whiff of sulfur gas.

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Skyline Rotorua

Brett and his family vacationed in Rotorua when he was a kid. And although the pungent smell of rotten eggs didn’t rustle up any childhood memories for me – our visit to Skyline Rotorua did the trick.

Skyline Rotorua is essentially an outdoor “Fun Park” (I made that word up). After a gondola ride to the top, there’s a luge track, swing, zip line and petting zoo (in case you still haven’t seen enough sheep – because I know I sure haven’t!). Oh, and there’s also a massive mountain bike park, if you’re into that crazy stuff.

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We tackled the luge and the swing – both of which were terrifying for a risk-averse person like myself.

Despite my reservations, I went flying (or as Brett would say, “rode the brakes” – I’ll leave you to believe who’s more accurate) down the luge track anyway. I do these things for Brett.

And for the record: If you push the handlebars all the way forward, they essentially act as an Emergency Break. Trust me on this one.

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I’m still laughing at the people who messaged Brett on Instagram asking how long he was in Las Vegas for.

The “swing” was something else. Perhaps it’s best that I didn’t know what was going to happen before I got strapped in, hauled to the top of a giant slingshot, and pulled the cord. I’ve never screamed so much in my life – but I’d do it again!

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This baby goes 150km/hr and swings out over the cliff, overlooking Rotorua below.

After the risky adventures, we made our way back into town, ate some of the worst sushi I’ve ever had, and made a pit stop at the liquor store before heading back to the AirBNB for a mid-afternoon beer and lounging session.

Sulfur Springs: Kerosene Creek

Around 6:00pm we made the decision not to go to Hell’s Gate (mud and sulfur pools), which I had dreamed about since we decided to move to New Zealand in March 2016. But, as usual, Brett made a good observation: We were about to pay $100 to sit in a mud pool with dozens of other people, then going into a giant sulfur bathtub with a dozen more.

So instead, we experienced the “giant bathtub” scenario free-of-charge by making our way to Kerosene Creek, located about 25 minutes from Rotorua (easily searchable on Google Maps).

I didn’t take any photos, but I did enjoy the hot springs and even more so relished in the fact that I experienced bathing with the masses for free.

Waitomo: Ruakuri Cave

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I will no longer go out of my way to do “Bucket List” items that I’m not actually keen on. And when I saw a photo on TripAdvisor of dozens of tourists crammed into wooden boats like sardines in a dark cave – that was the end of my desire for the Waitomo Glowworm Cave tour.

HOWEVER. Upon further (highly technical) online research, I determined that Ruakuri Cave would best fulfill our desires. So on Sunday morning, we hopped in the car and drove 2.5 hours to Waitomo – a very ‘scenic’ route for heading back to Wellington.

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Caffeine pit stop at the Rotorua Farmers’ Market before leaving town.

Unlike the traditional glowworm tour, the Ruakuri Cave is a 90-minute walking tour. And although there are only a few glowworms to be seen, I was seriously impressed by the cave formations, the history of the cave, and the level of care taken to create such an incredible experience. Also a bonus: This tour has a max capacity of 18 people, and allows cameras (just don’t be annoying and blind your fellow tourists with the flash).

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Glowworm threads! Cool but gross.

Arriving at the destination is slightly underwhelming, but I can guarantee that when you leave the parking lot, you won’t stop thinking about the hidden caves you’re passing by on the drive home.

Our tour guide also pointed out the Ruakuri Cave Trail, which is *free*, located directly next to the tour parking lot, and allows you to see more of the caves in the area. I’ll definitely plan for a more thorough exploration the next time we’re in the area.

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In summary, if you only have 48 hours to spare, there’s no reason not to take a quick road trip across the North Island, fly through the air at 150km/hr, chill out in a natural hot spring, and peruse through an ominous cave in the middle of nowhere.

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And we always make time for photos with a giant kiwi bird.

Travelling with a Powerlifter: Sydney, Australia

I spent five days in Sydney while Brett competed at the Fitness Expo in Powerlifting (where he reclaimed his world record total in the 83kg class). I won’t bore you with the details, but expo’s have a cheese factor of 99/100 – and powerlifting is the only thing keeping it from maxing out (pun intended). I’ve also been to the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, USA – which was actually quite impressive. I think everyone should go to at least one – you know, to get it out of your system.

Aside from the competition, I managed to see a fair bit of the city. And instead of the same “Top 10 Things to Do in Sydney” list that every other blogger posts, here are some of my favourite things in Sydney – as un-glamourous as they may be.

City Architecture

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Sydney is a feast for the eyes in a couple of respects. The Cockle Cove/Darling Harbour area is well-developed with countless restaurants and cafes, along with the International Convention Centre being a hub of activity.

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My favourite part, however, is what’s inside some of the older buildings – a unique fusion of old-meets-new and bringing the outdoors in.

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Bondi Beach

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If the weather had co-operated, I would’ve loved to spend a bit more time here. Many years ago I dreamt of moving to Bondi Beach and living in a hostel while becoming a beach bum. These days, I’m not much of an ocean seeker and prefer to peruse the scenic coastline on foot. We did the Bondi Coastal Walk to Tamarama Beach, and I spent most of the time marvelling at the rock formations and multi-million-dollar homes lining the coast.

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** Travel tip: Purchase an Opal transit card and take the bus from the CBD to Bondi Beach. Although the train will get you there a bit faster, I think the bus reigns supreme simply for the fact that you get to see more of the city while in transit.

Hidden Gem

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On the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency is a stunning cocktail lounge, called Zephyr. The drinks are a bit pricy but I bet you’d be willing to pay even more once you see the incredible harbour view from the open-air balcony. The lounge seating is comfortable and they offer warm blankets in case you’re feeling a bit chilled. Dress code is smart (i.e., put on your fancy top). I highly recommend it if you want to have a few romantic cocktails in a chilled atmosphere (sorry for the lack of photos – but trust me on this one).

Best Big Coffee + Cheap Eats

Aurora Café

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On Monday morning Brett was catching up on work and asked me to go find “Big Coffees” (coffees in NZ/Aus are tiny). So I wandered around the Sydney CBD checking out people’s cup sizes (being in a new city gives you the ability to act like a weirdo), and I stumbled upon Aurora Café on Kent Street. They have BIG COFFEES and offer an extra espresso shot and soy or almond for no extra charge. And the girl working at the counter was so friendly and great to have a morning chat with on more than one occasion. 🙂

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Good Life Cafe

In general, I found food service to be quite slow in Sydney – but Good Life Cafe was anything but. Before I could sit down at the table after placing my order, I had a hot egg and spinach breakfast burrito ($6) sitting in front of me. We went back a couple of days in a row here for a quick breakfast, and I highly suggest paying the small amount of $2 to add bacon.

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Legit AF Burger & Wings

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We started off looking for a good sushi restaurant, and by the time we found this place (aptly named “Ribs & Burgers”) we were hangry. Forget the sushi – nothing is better than cold pints of cider, crispy wings with ranch dipping sauce, and a monster chicken burger. Oh, unless you also order a side of sweet potato fries.

Training Space

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When you travel with an athlete – especially one who is nearly always prepping for a competition – you end up visiting a lot of different gyms around the world. In Sydney we trained at City Strength HQ, owned by two of Brett’s (and now my) friends. This gym was just set up in late 2016 and has some impressive (and drool-worthy) Eleiko equipment. There’s nothing like a new Eleiko bar to rip some skin off your hands during deadlifts.

Finalement

Sydney is a massive city with a lot to do, but I’d be lying if I said I was eager to get back there. I certainly missed Wellington and its eclectic vibe while I was away. If and when I travel back to Australia, I’d aim to spend most of my time out of the city, exploring the beaches, hiking terrain and the infamous Outback. It would also be handy to not plan a vacation around powerlifting – but that’s just how life unfolds sometimes.

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Powerlifting has become a huge part of my life since being with Brett, and given me a reason to travel to a few different places I wouldn’t have been to otherwise. And although I won’t be joining him at his competition in Minsk, Belarus this year, I’ll be at home with the Strong Girls cheering him on at 2:00am. There will likely be pizza and chicken wings involved, as there is in all powerlifting competitions. 😊

Oh, and also:

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Favourite Places: Exploring Makara Walkway with Welly Walks

Makara Beach is easily one of my favourite spots around Wellington. Just a short 30-minute drive from the city center, you’ll feel like you’re the only person on the island.

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I’ve been here several times, as Brett is an avid spear-fisherman and the rocky shorelines makes for ideal conditions. The first time we drove to Makara, the beach was dark and gloomy – but I haven’t had a bad day since. Even when Wellington is windy and cold, Makara seems to be in its own world with low winds at beach level, calm waves and clear waters.

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Mana Island is just visible from the main entrance of Makara Beach

Although we are approaching Autumn, this past weekend felt like a summer day – with warm temperatures and not a cloud in the sky. This is how I’ve come to know Makara Beach, and have experienced my best Wellington days out here, sitting on the (rocky – not sandy) beach and searching for shells and sea glass.

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A few weeks ago, I found an iPhone App that lists different walks around Wellington, with Makara Walkway being one of them. So when Brett told me he was going diving with a friend (meaning that I didn’t need to sit on the beach and keep watch) I took the opportunity to explore the hills around the beach.

The Welly Walks app guides you through the hike (which is easy enough to navigate on your own), but also tells the history of the area. The gun emplacements and bunkers near the summit were originally built following the Japanese attacks at Pearl Harbour. Although they were commissioned by the start of WWII, these grounds never saw any action and were de-commissioned in 1944 (credit to the Welly Walks App for the history lesson).

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Mana Island & Kapiti Island in the distance

As with any ocean look-out built during WWI/WWII, the views are incredible, as it was necessary to scout out invaders. The irony is that these grounds have now become a place of peace and reflection for hikers or picnickers – a complete turnaround from the original strategy of their placement.

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To get to this viewpoint you can either hike from the beach or (the most popular route by the looks of it) park near the B2 turbine and take a short walk.

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Part of the hike crosses over farmland, so you’re bound to make some new friends along the way 🙂

The B2 turbine is also a site to see, as it’s the only wind turbine in the area that pedestrians can access up close. I personally find the wind turbines to be very calming and peaceful to watch, and although they seem to always be turning in full force around Makara Beach, there was hardly any wind at ground level.

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B2 Turbine (FYI for you lazy people: parking access is just around this hill)

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Shepherds Gully Fault

Although the app suggests to take the Opau Bay route and walk back to Makara along the beach, I went back down the way I came, for a couple of reasons. The beach is very rocky and somewhat annoying to navigate (which I know from experience), and the views near the beginning of the trail were secluded and incredible, and I wanted to re-visit these places on my way back down to the beach.

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Gun emplacements, with Opau Beach to the left; South Island in the distance

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View from the hike up/down that I wanted to re-vist 🙂

The hike took about two hours to complete, including numerous “photo op” stops. The climb to the top is relatively steep, but worth every aching muscle once you see the incredible views for yourself.

I don’t often repeat hikes (as I like to see as many new things as possible), but I would definitely do this one again and perhaps spend a bit more time relaxing at the top and enjoying the views.

And as much as I loved Makara Beach before, this hike has solidified it as one of my favourite places in the Wellington area.

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Victoria Street Market in Wellington, New Zealand

Since my family is over 10,000kms away (12, 827 to be exact), I have zero Easter weekend obligations. So, forget about Lazy Sundays – I’m all about productivity today.

First on the list was a trip to the Victoria Street Sunday Market. I’ve lived in Wellington for three months now and can’t believe I waited so long to experience this.

After scouring the Internet for opening times (in addition to whether it was happening over the Easter weekend) I’d seen websites indicating it starts at 4am, 6:30am and 8:30am. I decided 8:00am was a safe bet, in order to beat an early afternoon rush and get first pick (pun intended) at the produce.

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In case you’re wondering – yes, I literally plan and research everything. It’s just what I do.

Getting There + Scouting Bargains

Just a short five-minute walk from my apartment, the Market hosts at least a dozen vendors – all with relatively similar offerings. I think the best way to start is to do a walk-around and check out the prices and quality. I ended up getting some great deals and a nice variety of veggies with this approach.

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The one thing on my “wish list” that I didn’t pick up were sweet potatoes – they were the size of a football, and the same vendor’s other produce was also super-sized (I’d never seen carrots so big!). Giant sweet potatoes freak me out. Always have and always will. And they’re a pain to chop. Not surprisingly, I decided to pass on the sweet po’s this time.

The HAUL

My fruit and veggie haul (below) cost a grand total of $9.10. The “Showstopper” purchase today was the purple kale, which was only $1.50. If that’s not worth getting out of bed early on a Sunday, then I don’t know what is. 😊

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Update: My Herb Grave – I mean, Herb Garden

This afternoon I’ll taking another attempt at growing an herb garden. If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I often comment about how my herbs are either dead, wilted, or just plain ugly and inedible… But I am determined to make this work. This time I’ll attempt to grow parsley, peppermint (both are apparently impossible to kill), cilantro and dill. I’m armed with fresh soil, seeds and organic fertilizer… I just need to muster up some patience and I’m all set!

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Back row left to right: Marjoram (oregano), Sage & Thyme   Front: Dead Basil, Lettuce and Cilantro — Guess which box is getting a makeover?

Current Mode

I’m hanging out at the only Starbucks in Wellington (sometimes you just need a taste of MURICA to get your day going), while there’s a Balsamic Glazed Roast Beef in the slow cooker at home. See what I mean about productivity? And you bet I’ve got the Market carrots and onions hanging out in the balsamic juices with the meat (I think I enjoy the carrots more than the roast itself, but this recipe is delicious and very low-maintenance).

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I’m also about to book some accommodation for our trip to Australia in two weeks. Brett is competing at the Sydney Fitness Expo (Powerlifting) and I’m tagging along for the ride. I’ll have two days of “free time” in Sydney, and the Planner in me is just dying to cram every activity possible into those two days. BUT. I won’t. I’m going to plan a couple of adventures and just wing it for the remaining two hours. See what I did there? 😉

Anyway, back to my To Do List now – I hope you all have a Productive Sunday!

48 hours in the Art Deco capital: Napier, New Zealand

The past few weekends were spent lounging around the house, visiting cafes and eating copious amounts of wings and fries. Now, I’m all for R&R but I also get a bit ‘squirrely’ when I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. This past weekend we switched things up and drove four hours up the North Island to Napier for a weekend away from the city. *Note that it took five hours because of my superb navigation skills.

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Napier is a unique city – and much bigger than I’d anticipated. Part of the City Centre was rebuilt after a massive earthquake in the 1930s, and now boasts an abundance of Art Deco buildings from that era. Now there’s your history lesson for the day.

Accommodation

We spent two nights at The Nautilus on Marine Parade. Our perch from the second floor was stunning: unobstructed views of the ocean and Cape Kidnappers in the distance. We were just far enough from the City Centre to avoid the crowds of tourists, but just close enough to walk to dozens of restaurants and the bike shop where we began our wine tour on Saturday morning.

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View from our balcony to the ocean

The Vineyard Tour

I wasn’t initially sold on the idea of biking from vineyard to vineyard, but decided it would be a good idea to burn some calories while drinking a lot of wine. Brilliant, right? So we booked ourselves in with Napier City Bike Tours on the “Country to Coast” self-guided tour. I think this was a great package: we were dropped off about 20 minutes out of the city at 10:30am, bike 16km and stopped at six cellar doors, then we were picked up and shuttled back to the city at 4:00pm.

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View from Black Barn Vineyard

Any reservations I’d had about biking around the vineyards quickly disappeared. This was an excellent way to spend a Saturday: The sun was shining and temps were around 25 degrees all day. Each vineyard was unique and special in its own way – differentiated by their host, scenery, wine offerings, and history of the vineyard. We visited:

Above: Te Mata and Beach House

Our wine choices

We purchased wine from both Te Mata and Akarangi. The funny thing about wine is that there are two types I will always avoid: Shiraz and Chardonnay. They just don’t do it for me (I actually had to dump out my Chardonnay tasting at Black Barn).

However… Our favourite wine at Te Mata was a Syrah (related to the Shiraz grape) and the Chardonnay from Akarangi. The fact that I bought Chardonnay speaks volumes for this vineyard. We learned from the owner that they’d produced wine in previous years, shut down the business for family reasons, and have only just started producing wine again since late 2016. Their wines are currently online and at their cellar door (which happens to be a church, relocated from nearby Clive). Akarangi was certainly my top pick for location, chill vibes and beautiful wines.

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Akarangi Cellar Door

Note: Another bonus of the tour is that you can leave your purchases at the vineyard and the shuttle driver will collect them before meeting you at your pick-up location. That was a much-appreciated perk.

The unexpected highlight

Near Te Mata vineyard is a café called Chalk ‘n’ Cheese. Do not bypass this place. We stopped in for a cheeseboard and while choosing our selection had a full cheese-tasting experience. I cannot recall the exact cheese we decided on but everything was incredible – and the woman conducting the tasting was very knowledgeable. She also had a very dry sense of humor, which came through when Brett remarked that one of the cheeses would “taste good in a toastie” and her reply to me (with an eyeroll) was, “I am so sorry for this Kiwi man.”

We sat outside underneath beautiful, ripe fig trees. I know they were ripe because one plummeted down onto my arm and exploded with fig juice. A man, whom I’m assuming is a regular, looked at me and said “Oh, you got figged on!”.

Yes, yes I did.

Aside from the fig incident, this was the perfect pit stop on our bike tour, and I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone in the area.

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Dining out in Napier

After arriving back in the city we went on an evening bike ride to find some food. Honestly, we just wanted pizza. While we were cycling around the “non-tourist” area of town looking for Hell Pizza, we came across Dough Pizzeria. It looked much more inviting than the mob of hungry takeaway patrons at Hell, so we parked our bikes outside of Dough and went in. The wood fire pizza was delicious and reminded me of a place back in Newfoundland that serves authentic, Italian-style pizza (or so I assume since I’ve never been to Italy). I opted for the Mediterranean simply for the black olives, and Brett ordered a chicken pizza. Both were delicious and devoured in minutes (no joke). I think we went to bed at 9:30pm with our carb coma, and it was so worth it.

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We headed back to Wellington early Sunday morning, and it’s incredible how much we were able to see while in Napier for just two nights. I can definitely see myself heading back there in the summer months to visit more vineyards, bike along the trails and get consumed in the relaxed lifestyle once again.