24 January 2015

One night in Boomrock

Back to this beautiful place yesterday. I first wrote about it here and it is now my fourth time at this venue but it never gets old. I was very excited to be returning to see some friends get married and to soak up the lovely food and atmosphere. I won't share images of the happy couple or put up any identifiable images of any guests out of respect for them. I didn't even pull out my phone to take photos of the ceremony; I just wanted to enjoy the service and imprint it on my memory. When all eyes seem to be on the bride, I look at the groom's face.  I love the moment when the groom sees his bride for the first time. It's magical.

Even though the wedding was held here in Wellington, most of the guests had travelled from Australia so it was quite nice to sit and chat with some of them and hear how much they have enjoyed being here for the past few days. They could probably relate to some dry, brown grass. Admittedly the weather over the past week has been incredible, and a city always looks nicer when bathed in fine, calm weather. 
The Cook Strait with the South Island visible in the distance

Having only ever played around with my brother's (empty) slug gun when I was younger, I was quite keen to try claybird shooting. Plenty of guests made it look very easy, and then I stepped up and missed all but my second-to-last shot. I wasn't expecting how forceful the kick back would be on my shoulder. I am sporting a bit of a bruise, but I am pleased I got a chance to do it since I missed out on the experience at my own wedding at this same venue 10 years ago.
See that black dot? Yeah, me neither. I shot one clay bird out of five.

As the light began to fade, my husband and I went for a walk around the hills to take some more images. I don't know when or if we will be back here, so it was nice to have a chance to do this. It's simply a stunning location, I really cannot overstate it.
I've often thought of my own wedding as being un-toppable but this day went very close. We did not know any of the other guests at all and yet being with strangers at such a happy event, it's impossible not to have a good time. I have never laughed or cried so much at a wedding reception, the speeches were off-the-chart good. I could even see the very discreet lodge staff laughing during the hilarious moments (and there were many).  It was such a lovely, relaxed occasion otherwise I would never have been comfortable enough to kick off my high heels and swap them with jandals. I am glad I brought them with me, it was so much easier to navigate the terrain.
The evening was perfectly still, and gave us a good opportunity to try out light trailing. Backstory: Imagine me dressed in my wedding finery, crawling on my hands and knees on the dewy lawn in front of the guests at the lodge hastily scrawling words and hearts with a sparkler while my husband tried to capture this shot. We only had four sparklers so not much opportunity to perfect the imagery. Not a bad attempt, but clearly, we have a long way to go.
Perfect venue, perfect day. Thank you L and K for inviting us to share this day with you. It brought alive so many happy memories for us. The best man mentioned a little known condition in his speech so I thought I'd add that if anyone suffers from the affliction that is termed Inner-Happy-Outer-Grumpyitis, Boomrock would almost certainly be the cure.

21 January 2015

DIY - Small wire basket

Amazing what you can do with some chicken wire, a pair of manky old pliers and ye olde fingertips.

Thanks to the rabbit hutch project which has turned out to be longest wait for a birthday present in recorded history, a small amount of chicken wire was left over and I snaffled it to make a storage basket for my kitchen.

Let's not pretend I came up with this idea myself; having looked online after I made this and seeing how many tutorials there are already out there I decided that the world doesn't really need one more wire basket tutorial. Instead I give you a brief rundown on how I made my small version.

Our roll of chicken wire from the hardware store had 2cm squares. I cut out a shape that resembled a plus sign using pliers, bent the sides and wrapped the tines around the adjoining side to hold it all in place. My completed basket is 7 squares wide, 7 squares deep and 6 squares high (5 squares when the top row is turned down to prevent being scratched or clothing getting caught on the sharp tines).

Now I have something to house my garlic instead of just having them sit dejectedly on the bench.
Misshapen, mine.

08 January 2015

Postcard from {Taranaki} - Tongaporutu

This place. Oh lordy. Tongaporutu is a gorgeous laid-back holiday spot at the mouth of the Tongaporutu River in northern Taranaki. There are amazing views south towards Mount Egmont/Taranaki on fine days. This first photo was taken with my iPhone which isn't very clear but the mountain is there in the distance, wearing a cloud scarf and peeking between the two rocks above.

The Three Sisters were once three vertical columns of rock standing like sentinels out into the Tasman Sea. Now there are only two of them as one collapsed several years ago and only the stump remains. The beach to them is only accessible at low tide. On our journey home from Auckland last week, I mentioned to my husband that if the children were awake/the weather was good/the tide was out, we should aim to stop here. With a solid five hour car ride behind us just to reach this spot, you can imagine what I was up against with tired children, but they were all awake at least, and I wasn't holding my breath for the planets to align with the tide.
We arrived at around 5.30pm and had a high-5 moment when we discovered that we had timed our journey well and that there were still several groups of people out navigating the shoreline, combing rock pools and walking along the beach. I've only ever had a handful of opportunities to travel this way so it was really a dream come true for me to see the sisters up close. What surprised me was seeing the number of shallow caves and a large archway worn through the high sandstone cliffs.

We spent all of our time walking along the black ironsand beach and exploring some caves on the south side of the river. There are also petroglyphs on the cave walls and on the northern side there are plenty of spots that can be explored too.
Three sisters. Profound.
There is also a lookout further north along State Highway 3 which is a great vantage point to take photos back towards the south of the cute colourful old baches nestled along the river. I mention this because I forgot to take a photo of the view so it may spare someone from making the same mistake. It makes me happy to know that there are still places like this that are largely untouched by developers, but as the baches are on council-owned leasehold land, their days may be numbered. I regret not taking a photo of them from across the river.

I am so in awe of this place. I don't bandy about this phrase but there is something much deeper to this place, something quite spiritual, and it left such an impression on me. I would have loved to have stayed much longer. As a child, we would drive this route on infrequent trips to Auckland, and I remember even as a young girl craning my neck to look out across the river mouth and the feeling that this place gave me as we drove past. I know that in Māori, Tonga means south, but I can't decipher the rest of the words. If anyone reading this can speak Māori, I'd love to know the meaning of this place name.
If you have never been to Taranaki, you really are missing out on some truly spectacular natural scenery. It is quite a detour to take if travelling from Auckland to Wellington, but I think it's worth it.

Tongaporutu. Heaven on earth.

06 January 2015

Postcard from {Taranaki} - Okato

Hello 2015, you good thing. Coming back to Taranaki for a holiday does something for me like no other place can - and my soul needed it. This place fills me up and I knew that my tank had been running empty towards the end of last year. It's familiar, quiet, relaxed, everything operates at a much more sedate pace here and those are all good things. I grew up on a dairy farm on the southern side of the mountain and feel such a connection to this land. The majority of my parents' families still live in the region as do two of my siblings so we come back for gatherings every now and again, although the last time I was home was almost a year ago.

Having spent a great few days with family up north in Auckland over the New Year, we headed south to Taranaki to join our extended family for our annual family cricket match, which is played on alternate years in Okato. This is done as a way to honour the memories of my father and his late friend and their love for the game. Now into its 31st year, the match is always played in good spirit (with a few beers never too far away) and provides an opportunity for our children to see some of their extended family and play with their cousins.
My nephew opening for his side with my brother. Cricket, beer, sun - it doesn't get more Kiwi Summer than that.
Okato is a fairly typical small country town with just a handful of mainly convenience stores dotted along the main street. The cricket match was played on the grounds of the local combined primary/high school which is off the beaten path. I think it is a lovely spot and warrants a stop rather than just simply being a place to pass through on the way to New Plymouth, especially for people who possess more of a photographer's eye than I do. Like many small towns, there are hidden gems, like this cute wooden church, with sheep dozing in the paddock.
It was such a beautiful day, after my husband had his turn at the crease, we took the girls down to the local pool for a swim. It is tucked away down a side road which is accessible by car from State Highway 45, but we reached it by parking at the end of Old S Road on the other side of the Stony River and walked across the wooden swing bridge instead. There is quite a scenic walkway along the river although we did not venture too far off the swing bridge this time.
It was late afternoon, the girls played in the pool with their dad and cousins for an hour and it was the perfect way to finish off the day. I think this pool is another hidden gem, sitting there nestled amongst the native bush, although there were plenty of people there at that time of day to make me think the secret is out.
If you ask my children what their favourite part of the holidays were, they would say going to Rainbow's End in Auckland. If you ask me what my favourite part has been so far, easily, it was this day.

I hope you all have had a very restful festive season.  Only four more weeks until our new school year begins so I will be blogging sporadically until we fall back into some form of a routine. I have never been one for making New Year's resolutions, but having seen that I am no further along on my fitness path than I was a year ago, maybe I should start making some!