In between shooting weddings on weekends and work this summer we’ve been busy with something that’s been in the making for the last year, and we are so excited to say it has finally happened. As of last weekend we are now living in Auckland, New Zealand!
It is really a dream come true, and a dream we have fought for so long. Now that we’re here we will make sure to enjoy every moment and work hard to build on what we’ve fought for so long. A new adventure has begun.
This weekend we craved to see the ocean so bad and decided to do a trek with some friends from Auckland. Thanks to Epic Little missions we found a suitable trek just 45 minutes from the city.
Forming part of the Hillary trail, the Te Henga walkway boasts some incredible coastal views. The track varies and can be rutted and steep in parts. Tracks become slippery after periods of rain so this is not for the faint-hearted.
As this is not a loop track you will need to organise a pick up or leave a car at the other end. We decided to walk halfway and then return back to Constable Rd near Muriwai to save some time.
From Constable Rd the Te Henga Walkway crosses drops down a steep valley and continues out to the windy cliffs, to reveal amazing view of the surrounding coastline. It was a beautiful sunny day and behind a sand stone cliff we found shelter from the wind to have a Swedish fika.
It is amazing how fast you can get from Auckland to places as beautiful as this, we are hooked on you New Zealand!
During last Christmas, we went on an small adventure. We left Auckland and the big city like many other New Zealanders. We drove as far north as we could get. Through the winding roads and pastures. Here a grocery store is not easy to find, or for that matter a neighbour. But the nature is breathtaking. We past by so many beaches we lost count, we even drove our car down one, that was a first one and a great feeling of freedom. Not the best treat for your car with all the salt water though. (Remember to wash it directly afterwards if you are doing it). We climbed sand dunes and ran down them again feeling the sand hitting our legs and the wind blowing in our hair. The sand has blown all the way from Australia to this spot.
Every smaller town we stopped in people were so friendly, like almost all kiwis seem to be, they ask you about your day, how you feel and if there is anything they can help with before wishing you a merry Christmas.
At Cape Reinga, the most northern point in New Zealand you would see two oceans meet, the Tasmanian sea and Pacific ocean.
“The ‘Te Rerenga Wairua’ component of the name in Māori language means the leaping-off place of spirits. The ‘Reinga’ part of the name is the Māori language word meaning the underworld. Both refer to the Māori belief that the cape is the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld.”
There are so many treks to choose from here in New Zealand, it feels you’ll never run out of new paths to walk.
All of them are marked clearly and the signs are kind enough to tell you how long you have left if you’re walking in a normal pace. For people like us, who like a good challenge this is a perfect trigger to try and beat while getting a good workout at the same time.
A few weeks ago we went to Piha to do short part of the Hillary Trail. We walked along the cliff edges to the sea, went past old antiquities where indigenous people a long time ago had cattle and overlooked small secluded beaches that you could only reach by sea. There is however one beach that we could access from the trek, Karekare, the same black sand beach where the movie The Piano was filmed. It is possible to get to the beach by car as well but we really enjoyed walking the coast line to get there. Once we got down it started to drizzle slightly and a mystical feeling spread over the beach. Fortunately there was no major burst but more of a refreshing splash on the way up the hills again and back.
The walk took around 2,5 hours for us to do, a perfect sunday activity just 45 minutes away from Auckland!
Last weekend we went for a short roadtrip to Rotaroua. You can really tell when you are getting close to the town because of the smell of rotten eggs. The smell is not that pleasant but just a 25 minute drive from the city you will find Wai-O-Tapu that is considered to be New Zealand’s most colorful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. Also listed by Trip Advisor as one of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World. And yes it feels a bit surreal when you are walking around the park, seeing all the different pools, all in the same area, so much variety in just an one hour walk. Some of the geothermal springs are orange, others yellow or toxic green! There are boiling mud pools and a geyser there as well. So you’ll see gas pouring up from underground all over the area, just like people has been lighting fires in the forest… but it’s all from the springs around the area. If you are around the area you should pay this place a visit. It is well worth it, but make sure to be there just when they open, at 8:30 in the morning to get the place for yourself and avoiding all the tourist buses that will get there just in time when you’re finishing up.
Just a short ferry trip from Auckland you will find waiheke island, a paradise on earth and a great escape from the city life. Waiheke island definitely gives you the island vibe, no stress, no need to keep track on time, mostly you just embrace the fact that you on some parts of the island almost have 360 degree ocean views… around 25 percent of the population on the island commute to Auckland every day. There is a lot of artists living on the island and there is a lot of great wine being produced here as well. If you’re just visiting Auckland during your stay in New Zealand, Waiheke is a must visit, not only for the great wine but also for the great atmosphere and the ocean breeze.
One of the vineyards worth a visit is Man O War a short car ride from the ferry, the drive alone makes it worth it as you venture through vineyards, and as a reward you will get to taste some of New Zealand’s classic wines. The winemaking team here is working with the broadest possible palette from which to blend world class wines that are unique expressions of Man O’ War. And don’t forget to order their cheese plate as well, it goes well with the wine tasting.
If you want to get a European touch you will have to visit Casita Miro. It is a perfect place to stop for lunch and get your energy boost from their renowned fine dining and wines. Sit down in their garden under olive trees while you’re sipping on a glass of wine… a day on Waiheke definitely makes you feel replenished.
Kate and Sherman is a lovely and truly inspiring couple that we met during our time in New Zealand, we just have to share their story with you.
Kate’s originally from Boston and Sherman from Philadelphia but just after they got married, when people around them expected them to start a family and buy a house, they moved from the states to New Zealand. What was suppose to be a one year working holiday turned into three years and a blooming photography business.
Sherman early got a good job at a advertising agency in Auckland. Kate started off as an employee but with too little time for her personal projects and to develop her own creativity she decided to go solo and start her own business. Today she is an established New Zealand Wedding Photographer that shoot weddings all over the world. Because the wedding season in New Zealand and most other parts of the world are so different, she goes to the states for their summer season and when it’s winter in the states, wedding season starts in New Zealand. She also inspired us with her food photography by showing us her latest work for a cook book with colorful bakery and yummy cupcakes. Now we are looking into finding a similar project, photographing a themed cook book would be a dream come true.
We first found out about Kate when goggling around to find photographers in Auckland. Her work is lovely, she has her own style. We set up a meeting at a local café and it turned out that we had so much more in common than just our passion for photography. The coffee that we had led into a glass of wine, then drinks, dinner and a evening out all the four of us. Neither of us wanted this new friendship to end so quickly, we had so much fun hanging out, but the day after we had to leave Auckland with our rental car. When we left Auckland it was with the feeling of happiness that we just found amazing new friends but we also felt bad about not spending more time with them. We wanted them with us on our trip, imagining how much fun we could have had together! So we decided to meet again when we got back to Auckland.
10 days later we drove into Auckland again to meet up with Kate and Sherman. Fredrik hadn’t tried the New Zealand surf yet, so the boys went to a good surf spot just 30 minutes outside of Auckland. The girls had a nice picnic on the beach while playing with their cameras. The surf was good, and hanging on the beach also. After the beach we stopped by a local brewery on the way back to get some food and tap beer before calling it a day.
Our idea was to sleep in the car somewhere around Auckland our last few days, but we ended up getting invited to stay with our new friends in Parnell. We couldn’t have asked for better friends in the city, thank you so much Kate and Sherman for everything, meeting you really made a difference, we miss you guys. All the best of luck to you with your projects, until we meet again.