Apparently while living in New Zealand, I had a thing for birds.
Pukeko! My favourite Kiwi bird
I love the pukeko: they’re gorgeously coloured and incredibly awkward. Flightless, they tumble around on massive feet as fluffball babies (I once saw a family of them tumble ass over teakettle into a ditch along the side of the road), and grow up into gleaming blue adults with yellow butts and bright red crests. They live in the marshlands, where as you might suspect they do not blend in seamlessly with their environment. It’s a good thing New Zealand doesn’t have any predators, lest these birds go the way of the Moa (more on them below).
Chickens and roosters
I’m not quite sure why, but outside the main entrance to the Auckland Zoo is a robust family of chickens and roosters. They aren’t cooped up, and are free to roam around the parking lot and lawns. I can say without a doubt that these are some of the most spectacular looking chickens I’ve ever seen.
A chick outside the Auckland Zoo
Glorious fowl outside the Auckland Zoo
Strutting outside the Auckland Zoo
You guessed it, outside the Auckland Zoo
These next feathery fellas lived on what I think was a mountain bike (or possible ATV?) course north of Auckland. A friend of mine was playing at a bush party, and the owners of the land lived on site; these were their chickens. Being the urban girl that I am, I’d never seen chickens in person before so was pretty excited about the whole thing. I also remember thinking how damned scenic it all was — no coops or factory farming here!
Domesticated chickens somewhere in the North Island
A black swan comes to say hello at Lake Taupo, North Island
The first time I saw the black swans was during a road trip my friend Katherine (from Kapcha the World) and I took along the west coast of the South Island. We were up near Farewell Spit, and there were dozens of them along the shore. I cant recall why we didnt stop for pictures, but I remember it raining a lot around then so it could have been we just couldn’t be bothered.
This swan came to say hello while I was sitting near the shore at Lake Taupo, on the North Island.
Being an island nation, New Zealand has more than its fare share of gulls . These first two photos are from a flock of seagulls (ha!) on 90 Mile Beach in the far north of the North Island. I’d taken a day trip out of Paihia (highly recommended!) where we drove our bus along the sandy beach. During low tide, the beach becomes a “highway”, although it’s only accessible to vehicles with special engines, no cars allowed. As our bus raced along at around 80kph (!), we watched as the tide slowly came back in (which was a little harrowing but exhilarating also). These birds were hanging out at the top of the beach where we were able to get out and explore a bit.
Gulls hanging out on 90 Mile Beach, the Far North
Seagulls in flight on 90 Mile Beach, in the Far North
I’ve always loved this next photo: it’s of a flock of seagulls chasing after a handful of chips that someone had thrown.
Gulls in Mapua Wharf, Nelson, the South Island
One day while working at the backpackers’ in Nelson, a bunch of us decided to take a day trip out to Te Waikoropupu Springs to see the super clear water. We’d been told it was a gorgeous drive and that the protected park it was in wasn’t something to be missed. It took several hours for us to drive there, and only about 15 minutes to walk around the spring. Some of the folks I was with were annoyed, but I thought it was a great afternoon of exploring somewhere I’d never been before. This bird was serenely flying over the springs.
Taking flight at Te Waikoropupu Springs, South Island
These alpine parrots will eat your windshield wiper if you aren’t careful. Kea are notorious for breaking into unattended backpacks, cars, coolers (sorry, chilly bins) — anything and everything they can get their beaks on. This plucky guy was defiantly mooching for food at the Otira Viaduct lookout in Arthur’s Pass on the South Island.
Do not feed the kea, Arthur’s Pass South Island
Clearly someone didn’t read the sign.
The moa were hunted to extinction by the Maori around 1400. This unlucky bird was found in a cave in the Oparara Basin, in Karamea on the South Island. Katherine and I were spending the day on a guided tour of the Oparara Rainforest and Honeycomb Hill Caves
Moa bones in a cave, Karamea South Island
Despite it being the national (and quite iconic) bird, it’s very rare to come across kiwibirds in the wild. Not only are they nocturnal, they’re endangered, so the best way to see them is at a conservatory. I was lucky enough to see a few of them at Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park in Rotorua on the North Island. However it was nighttime, and we were asked not to use a flash, so this is the best photo that I got.
There’s a kiwibird in there somewhere, honest.
Introducing Shifty the Wonderbike
At long last I’ve replaced my mighty steed, Miles, with a new set of wheels: Shifty the Wonderbike.
Naturally, the first place we went together was to see the cherry blossoms in bloom at High Park.
The weather has been so chilly that the blossoms are a bit later than normal, and this week’s rain has already taken it’s toll on the sakura. Still, there were plenty of trees in bloom (and a manageable amount of people admiring them) when I went tonight after work.
Lots of great information and history about the High Park Sakura can be found here.
As for Miles 2.0, he’s a Norco Yorkville and the new love of my life. I commute to work by bike roughly nine months of the year, and need a dependable bike to get me where I’m going. Miles 1.0 was a gift from my very thoughtful friends about a decade ago, but the time has long since passed for him to be put out to pasture (aka donated to a bike repair workshop place). In the hour that I’ve ridden it, I’ve come to realize that there’s a but of a learning curve from the 3pd Breezer Citizen and the 21sp Yorkville; half the time Im convinced the chain’s going to fall off, and it makes this really discomforting clanking sound when shifting gears. Also, I’ve not yet figured out how to best ride up hills, or what the difference is between the 3 gears on the “left” and the 7 on the right. I’m not too concerned though, I’m sure that by the end of the weekend I’ll have it sorted!
I bought Miles 2.0 at Bateman’s Bicycle Company, and wow! What a fantastic experience it was. From going in last weekend to test ride a few bikes, to putting on all the bells (literally) and whistles (figuratively), these guys have been the best. Not once did I feel like I was wasting their time or asking stupid/obvious questions, which I’ve sadly come across in other shops around the city. They really do deserve being the Now Toronto bike shop of the year last year. Need a new ride? Go see these fellas!
Ambitious little thing
I’ve been on a bit of a health kick the last few months: I’ve been eating better, drinking less wine (sigh), and trying to be more active. One of the more surprising habits I’ve picked up is a shiny new tea addiction and I’ve definitely found I prefer one brand over all other: Tealish on Queen Street West wins hands down for the best variety of flavoured teas in the city. Sure, David’s Tea can’t be beat for convenience (those guys seem to be everywhere), and Teavana has gorgeous accessories, but for the tea itself? Tealish.
Today’s mini haul:
Tea descriptions yoinked from the Tealish site
Queen West Blend – The gorgeous banner photo is of this tea, tell me you don’t want to steep the hell out of that!
“A cheerful black tea blend with loads of colourful ingredients! Blueberries, cherries, raspberries, oranges, blackberries and cranberries are combined with blossoms for a taste that is as unique as Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, home of Tealish. A fruity black tea with a smooth finish.”
Winter Blend – Caffeine-free
“Fight winter and get warm and cozy with this tasty herbal tea! Spice notes of cinnamon and clove embrace you, while comforting notes of vanilla, rosehip and apple protect you from the cold outside.”
Dulce de leche
“This oolong tea is a special treat with a dreamy caramel aroma. Premium Formosa oolong tea is blended with caramel pieces and marigold blossoms for an infusion with a smooth body and creamy notes of caramel.”
TLC Tea Loves Coffee
“Black tea, coffee beans, cocoa bits, brittle pieces, chocolate chips and yogurt granules come together for a unique full bodied infusion that will have you forgetting about coffee in no time.”
So! What’s your favourite tea? Anything piquing your tastebuds?
PS! They give generous sample sizes, the smaller bags lying down are the freebies. Win!
PPS: this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really love their tea and wanted to share it with you all
I can’t believe I’ve not shared this video with you guys! Taken in late June 2009, I’d gone on a weekend trip to Kaikoura with a group of CouchSurfers out of Christchurch. We’d gone up to go whale watching, but one night while watching the rugby at a local pub we heard about a baby furl seal nursery along the coast.
I wasn’t sure what we would find when we reached the end of a 10 minute walk through the bush, but a waterfall completely surrounded by rock with 20-30 seal pups frolicking in the pool at its foot completely blew my expectations out of the water. Easily the most magical experience I had while in New Zealand!
Snail shell on the beach, Kaikoura
Lolling adult fur seal
The magical waterfall
More lolling about
Kaikoura’s raw coastline
This sign gave no indication of what was ahead
Setting the table
It’s been a few years now (four to be exact, sigh, how did that happen?), but every year when Easter rolls around I think of New Zealand and the time I passed the holiday in Nelson on the South Island. I know I’ve written about this before, the post was lost when my site died last year so I’ve the chance to reminisce once again!
I’d been working at a Tasman Bay Backpackers for a month or so, and the other travellers working there with me and I decided we should do a nice dinner: the couple from Finland made a beautiful roast lamb, the other Canadian girl made a desert, I made a delicious salad, and the German did the dishes. We all bought boxes of cheap wine to wash it all down from the local grocery store.
Wine for everyone!
Memories for everyone, too
Hanging outside after dinner.
It was a fantastic dinner and I get all nostalgic and kinda teary eyed just thinking how special it was. Moving to New Zealand for that year was hands-down the best thing I ever did in so many ways.