All posts by BritMumInNZ


Meeting the locals at Wellington Zoo!

The new ‘Meet The Locals‘ area at Wellington Zoo is a lovely space for children and families.

Gumboot climbing frame at the Wellington Zoo.

Gumboot climbing frame at the Wellington Zoo.

The natural landscape has been planted with lots of native tree saplings and vegetation, with the first ‘locals’ to meet being the little blue penguins that populate Wellington’s rocky shores.

Little Blue Penguins hiding under the boat.

Little Blue Penguins hiding under the boat.

There is a slide to speed through, a tunnel to crawl through, a rope to pull yourself up through the bush, a gumboot climbing frame and a miniature swing bridge.

Down the slide!

Down the slide!

A real ‘Kiwi’ style playground populated with sheep, chickens and honey making bees! The chickens had a wonderful roost and were free to roam around too. They were very happy chickens as they laid a couple of fresh eggs whilst we were there.

Alice trying to greet the sheep.

Alice trying to greet the sheep.

The Kune Kune pigs are in a fabulous new enclosure, which makes seeing them and interacting with them much easier than their old enclosure that was near the Zoo’s main entrance. Alice enjoyed helping the keeper to feed the pigs some vegetables.

Kune Kune pigs enclosure at 'Meet The Locals'.

Kune Kune pigs enclosure at ‘Meet The Locals’.

There is a really great indoor education area, where the bees are, giving information about farming in New Zealand.

We visited on a Sunday morning and a lovely Zoo volunteer was coordinating ‘bush art’ with the children.

Alice's bush art.

Alice’s bush art.

The last section of the ‘Meet the Locals’ area opens at the end of this month, on 30 November, with a Kea and Kākā aviary.

This area really as the Zoo describes,

Meet the Locals is our love story to New Zealand, and our way to celebrate our country and the amazing creatures and plant life that live here.

It is a place where we will celebrate the stories of who we are as New Zealanders, and what the land means to us. It is a launching pad for discussion around the New Zealand of the future – a land of sustainable living and harmonious integration of people and wildlife.

I’m looking forward to spending more time here in the future.

After our lovely experience we headed on to see the tiger and sun bears in the ‘Asia Precinct‘. Alice had asked me to paint her face like a tiger over breakfast (thankfully she found a tiger face-paint YouTube tutorial to help me work out which end of the brush was which!).

Alice the tiger meets a tiger!

Alice the tiger meets a tiger!

Tiger at Wellington Zoo

Tiger at Wellington Zoo

We then decided to head up to see our Australian ‘Neighbours’, stopping to say hello to the Cockatoo on the way and wave at the chimpanzees.

Hello Cockatoo!

Hello Cockatoo!

Hello chimpanzees!

Hello chimpanzees!

These chimps have the best view over the city of Wellington.

Home with a view.

Home with a view.

Just past the chimps, there are meerkats and African crested porcupines.

On guard!

On guard!

They were soaking up some spring sunshine on Sunday morning in Wellington!

Hello porcupines.

Hello porcupines.

In the ‘Meet the Neighbours’ section there is a Dingo enclosure, free roaming kangaroos and emus, as well as Tasmanian Devils (safely enclosed). And, like all the areas of this wonderful little zoo, there is an area for children to play and explore too…

Bounce like a kangaroo!

Bounce like a kangaroo!

Whilst, alongside the play, a kangaroo sat watching…



And a friendly Emu was more than content to gently have her feathers stroked…

What lovely soft feathers you have!

What lovely soft feathers you have!

Leaving Australia we headed back into Africa, to meet the baboons…

Hello Baboons!

Hello Baboons!

And feed the giraffes (who weren’t very interested in our offerings, as they’d already had a treat of bananas earlier in the day, so were turning their noses up at anything else).

Graceful giraffes.

Graceful giraffes.

We headed home after that, stopping for a quick play on the safari jeep, and looking forward to giving Grandma & Granddad a tour when they visit New Zealand in a few weeks time!


Linking up with -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

View of Wellington and its surrounds from the south coast hills.

The Prompt | View – Walking in the hills of Wellington’s south coast

Last week, after dropping the girls off at school, I drove back to the south coast, with my dog on my lap, and decided, on the spur of the moment, to do a walk I’d often thought about doing, but hadn’t yet got around to doing. I wasn’t best equipped. I really should have taken water, some food, and a few extras – for safety – in case of a twisted ankle, or any other unforeseen accident, but this wasn’t the Amazon rainforest and there were no poisonous creatures to worry about (just the odd possum living on the wrong side of the ditch).

On the up side, I had my faithful dog, Monsieur Cocoa, and a fully charged phone. I didn’t know the track, but there was a map at the start and I guessed it would take me a good couple of hours. I was only a 10 minute drive from central Wellington – the capital city of New Zealand – but, on the south coast, in the hills, to the west of Owhiro Bay, in the Te Kopahou Reserve, it felt wild – and I didn’t see a single other person for over an hour and a half (which felt AMAZING!).

Starting out on the Tip Track

Starting out on the Tip Track

I set off on the track, taking photographs as I went, repeatedly checking for cellphone reception in case of an emergency. After the first ten minutes I let my dog off his lead, realising the likelihood of seeing another person (or dog) was under 1 per cent (he’s a very excitably young pup – my first dog – and I’m not entirely confident with my leadership skills / aka control of my dog – should I encounter another being!).

Minutes later I spotted a wild hare – so did the dog – off he went… (my dog) chasing the hare! I thought back to the sign at the start of the track, stating that ‘Possum bait is used here’, or words to that effect, and willed my dog to have his fun, but stay on the track and return quickly… thankfully I needn’t have worried, as he acted like a toddler, ran some 50 metres and then turned around to realise I wasn’t running and ran back to me.

'Come on Hooman!'... 'Dog, I'm not running, no matter how much you want to chase that hare!'.

‘Come on Hooman!’… ‘Dog, I’m not running, no matter how much you want to chase that hare!’.

Anyway, moving on… we kept walking, up and up and up, round the next bend, and the next, higher still.

Up, up and up some more!

Up, up and up some more!

The gusting wind made me feel a little chilly if I stopped. I started wondering what I’d do if I twisted my ankle and was stranded for a long time… not much around to make a shelter or keep me warm, but then I could dig a ditch, wrap myself in leaves, cuddle the dog… but I didn’t have any water – a while ago I would have still had breast milk… I checked my cellphone reception and battery life – all good, and picked up my step, thinking, ‘Keep moving, keep warm, watch my footing, stay sharp… ‘ and so my inner voice went round and round as I climbed up and up.

I stopped a couple of times to shout out to nobody that, ‘This is AMAZING!’ and take some photographs of the distant city of Wellington and the main high-points of Mount Victoria, Mt Kau Kau and the Brooklyn wind turbine.

View of Wellington and its surrounds from the south coast hills.

View of Wellington and its surrounds from the south coast hills.

After quite a climb I reached a turning point, where the direction of the track was seaward – and that was reassuring as I was expecting to eventually end up back at sea-level, by ‘Red Rocks’. I turned downhill, with a skip in my step (well, kind of, maybe more of a little spring than a skip, as I was still watching my footing over the loose stones and uneven pathway).

I see the sea!

I see the sea!

After a while the footpath become more grass covered, which was pleasant underfoot after the loose stones, but (to stop me from getting too excited) a couple of hidden indents almost took my ankle out and made me step with more awareness again.

South Coast hills of Wellington walking tracks.

South Coast hills of Wellington walking tracks.

It was at that point that I spotted a possum in the grass ahead – a mere 5 metres or so away. I couldn’t believe that my dog hadn’t scented him out. I picked him up (my dog, not the possum) and stepped closer (with my phone out ready to take a photo). I got as close as a metre – maybe less – before the possum looked up at me, with a look of disdain that I’d dare bother him, and sauntered off the track and into the bush.

Possum: 'What are you looking at?'.

Possum: ‘What are you looking at?’.

I carried my dog for a little while longer, before putting him back on his four-wheeled drive, turbo legs, to scamper along down the track.

Monsieur Cocoa: 'Lovely lush grass, let's go seek out some more wild hare!'.

Monsieur Cocoa: ‘Lovely lush grass, let’s go seek out some more wild hare!’.

It wasn’t long before the track starting to climb up again…


It was at this point that I wasn’t convinced I was getting any closer to sea level and would have quite a few more ups and downs before I got there.

Amazing view over the south coast.

Amazing view over the south coast.

I started to wonder if I was going the right way, but a signpost, a little further along, reassured me that I was only 3km from ‘Red Rocks’ so with that sign of reassurance I picked up my pace and got going (trying to ignore the slightly dehydrated dry feeling at the back of my throat, whilst looking at my little dog, loyally panting alongside me, with a touch of worry and guilt, ‘Maybe I should carry him a while?’ I thought, but then he looked at me with a determined spark in his eye and I knew he’d be fine).

3km to Red Rocks (providing I can follow the right path!)

3km to Red Rocks (providing I can follow the right path!)

The track kept following the best possible contours of the land, leading me in a twisting path toward the coastline. At one stage the track ran along the cliff top, from where I could clearly see the red rocks beneath me. The wind at that point was gusting so strongly that it was a struggle to remain upright – even my four legged friend was struggling!

Crazy windy... not a glamour photo! Ha! More o a sky diver's look (hence why I didn't dare open my mouth!).

Crazy windy… not a glamour photo! Ha! More o a sky diver’s look (hence why I didn’t dare open my mouth!).

I was surprised, shortly afterwards, to find myself taking a track leading away from the coast. The sign seemed to point down and the alternative was up and to an unknown place – without climbing up to see – though granted it was in the direction of the sea. I decided to follow the downward path, even though it led inland.

It was a narrow, switch back track, for mountain bikers and walkers. It eventually led down to the valley and followed a stream leading to the sea.


I felt quite swallowed up by the hills as I descended from the open cliff top to the valley gully. For a while I felt quite exasperated that I’d ever get to the coast, but eventually there was no doubt and I started to pick up my pace again, dodging rocks, skipping through waterways, balancing over stepping stones…

Hopping over stepping stones, smelling the close proximity of the sea!

Hopping over stepping stones, smelling the close proximity of the sea!

… and over a little bridge, until finally, finally, I saw open water, the sea and PEOPLE! I quickly put the lead back on my dog and walked out into the open, with a feeling of relief, but also a twinge of regret that my quiet adventure had come to an end.

Red Rocks and finally I am at sea level once more!

Red Rocks and finally I am at sea level once more!

I knew the way home from this point.

Map of the area I went walking in.

Map of the area I went walking in.

It was along the wild coastline toward Owhiro Bay, from Red Rocks. The gusty wind was still whipping up a few sand lashings, but other than that, it was easy going.

On the final leg...

On the final leg…

No more hills, just sand and pebbled terrain, till the final stretch of road from the Red Rocks visitor centre back to the car. My dog and I intermittently jogged and walked, stopping to exchange greetings with walkers.

An amazing walk with spectacular scenery. I felt like I was in the middle of no where, but the city of Wellington was always there – on the distant hills – and what a very special and unique city it is – to be set in amongst hills of such mixed terrain, with so many protected town-belt areas, dotted with tracks for walkers, runners and mountain bikers. This city really is one of action – in the way it moves everyone and everything – with its weather (mainly the wind!), its arts and cultural richness, its coffee and craft beers and its phenomenal scenery. I am never short of a breathtaking view in Wellington.


Linking up this post with ‘The Prompt’, where this week the theme is ‘View’


Halloween with a difference with Robbie Williams in Wellington!

For the first year, in many years of parenting, hubby and I got to do our own thing on Halloween this year! Having spent the Saturday decorating the drive-way with cobwebs and chalk drawings…

Halloween decorations on a spring evening in New Zealand!

Halloween decorations on a spring evening in New Zealand!

My hubby and I left the children (two of them, the third was staying over night at a friend’s house) with a trusted friend, and walked into Wellington city to see Robbie Williams performing at The Basin Reserve.

Walking into Wellington city to watch Robbie Williams on a beautiful Saturday evening.

Walking into Wellington city to watch Robbie Williams on a beautiful Saturday evening.

It was a beautiful evening (not something that can be guaranteed in Welly!) and we were amped to see our first outdoor concert together in over twelve years!

Whilst our two youngest children had fun trick and treating in our friendly neighbourhood (not that they needed too many ‘treats’, having had a brilliant time at the local school fair – filling up on candy floss and lollies!), our oldest daughter had a blast dressing up and enjoying her own Halloween fun with her friends (she was thrilled to have won a ‘brain cake’ at the local school fair to take along to her friend’s house!).


Enjoying the local school fair.

There’s nothing like the peace of mind in knowing your children are happy when going out on a date night. Dan and I felt so relaxed and loved the walk to the concert (we could actually have an uninterrupted conversation and hold each others hands for a change!).

We arrived in time to see New Zealand band, ‘Avalanche City‘ play and then on came Robbie Williams…!


The crowd was filled with people of all ages, though many were of similar age to Robbie – having ‘grown up’ with his music. There was a touching moment when his Dad came on stage to sing a song with him.


Robbie and his Dad.

And Robbie’s friendly banter and chat with the crowd was on top form…

He really is an all round entertainer, that still has the moves. Hubby and I definitely got our ‘groove’ on too!

Getting our groove on!

Getting our groove on!

He enrolled the help of one of his warm up acts – Lawson – to sing a few of the ‘golden oldies’ from his ‘Take That’ days and the 12,000 crowd sang along like a mass choir, filling the hills of Wellington with music. This video is from his performance in Sydney, singing with Lawson – as he did in Wellington. Wonderful.

It was a wonderful venue for the concert (and the local residents enjoyed the free concert – switching their lights on and off in appreciation when Robbie asked them for their acknowledgement).

The last time we saw Robbie and his band was 12 years ago, at the Wellington stadium, known to locals as ‘The Cake Tin’. The sound just didn’t seem to carry, in the Wellington wind, across the large, open-air, venue and for most of the concert I remember feeling annoyed at the sound of a group of girls singing next to me!

This time around the weather gods (and in particular the wind!) played ball and the smaller venue of the basin seemed to work better to carry the sound and create an amazing atmosphere.

After an amazing evening we walked back toward home, stopping for a quick night cap, before hopping on the bus (our dancing feet felt a little too weary to walk all the way home).

Thanks Robbie for visiting Welly! Come again soon!

Thanks to our friend Frances for looking after our two youngest and thanks to the parents, of our oldest daughter’s friend, for having her to stay and enjoy such a great night of Halloween frights and fun!

And after an amazing night, we woke up on Sunday morning to the All Blacks Rugby World Cup WIN!



Linking up with the wonderful Jaime at ‘The Oliver’s Madhouse’ with her ‘Magic Moments’ link-up.


Lochmara 1/2 Marathon in Queen Charlotte Sounds, Marlborough

I’m always looking for the next challenge to keep me motivated to get outdoors and exercise (especially given the Wellington wind can often make that less appealing!). Over the past winter I have felt the most upbeat I’ve been in years (given that my three daughters now sleep through the night, and my eleven years of, near continuous, breastfeeding are behind me, it’s not surprising I feel like a new woman). So, in the midst of winter, when the days were at their shortest, I started looking for a spring challenge that would keep me motivated – and that’s when I came across the Queen Charlotte Classic web-page and read about the inaugural ‘Lochmara 1/2 Marathon‘.


There were two things that attracted me to this event – the first was its location. I adore the Marlborough Sounds region. Ever since I first landed on New Zealand soil, way back in 1997, and walked the Queen Charlotte Track, it’s been a favourite place for me to visit. There is something about the region that makes me feel instantly relaxed and a visit always leaves me feeling revived (even a 24 hour whirlwind one, as this one was to be).


The magical Marlborough Sounds

The second attraction was the terrain. This event was over trails, through native bush, and overlooking the spectacular turquoise waters of the Marlborough Sounds. I’d previously ran mostly on road and quite flat terrain, completing three half marathons, along with hundreds of other people. This event was a small one, with under 100 participants.

Also, I’d been taking to trail running with increasing enthusiasm over the winter months (as they provided more shelter from Wellington’s gale force winds and my dog appreciated the softer terrain underfoot). I enjoyed being closer to nature and amongst the native bush and birdlife. So, when I saw this event it was meant to be!

I mentioned the event to my neighbour – an amazing single Mum who pretty much single-handedly raises her wonderful daughter and son. She frequently jogs and walks the hills of Wellington too and I thought a break away would be a lovely treat for her and a nice early Birthday present before the crazy pre-Christmas season (her Birthday is actually on Christmas Eve!). When she agreed and I booked our places for the event, as well as flights on Sounds Air to Picton and a night’s accommodation, I hadn’t anticipated the level of elevation the course of the 1/2 marathon would entail! This was to be my friend’s first ever 1/2 marathon experience.

So on Friday 6th November, we boarded a little ‘Sounds Air’ flight (all of twenty minutes in duration) from Wellington to Picton. We were thankful for perfect weather and the views were incredible.


Crystal clear view over Wellington city as we departed on our 24 hour whirl-wind adventure!

The plane only held about ten passengers (one of which sat next to the pilot).


There were no security checks and our boarding passes were laminated pieces of coloured paper – wonderfully #oldschool – just the way we like it.


There was no need to turn off our mobile phones, as the pilot was flying visually, and we chatted away to our fellow passengers with open ease. Everyone on-board had a story to tell. One passenger was travelling to see her Mum and made the flight quite frequently. Another was travelling on from Melbourne, along with his wife, to visit his youngest child, of four, who had made her home in Blenheim, as a viticulturist.

We landed at Picton Airport, basically a tarmac strip in a big field, surrounded by countryside.


The passenger who was off to see her Mum took a cake tin from the luggage under-belly of the plane, another lady retrieved her dog, which had flown over in a pet-carrier. The gentleman from Melbourne was met by his daughter and grandson and was quick to bundle up the smiling babe in his arms.

My friend and I hopped on the little shuttle bus to Picton feeling incredibly free and excited.

We checked in at our overnight accommodation, the Picton Yacht Club Hotel, and before we got carried away with our temporary, no child, freedom, we got organised with essentials – breakfast for before our run (we had to be ready to board the Beachcomber boat cruise at 7.15am the next morning) and some energy snacks for the run.

Having done with our organising we quickly found a bar, ate dinner and enjoyed a few drinks, whilst admiring the bikers and wondering what it would feel like to run away and tour the south island on the back of a Harley….! Vrrrooooom!

Then I spotted a couple of Lochmara wine barrels and grabbed a moment to do some yoga for the #liquidspine and #coreofgratitude yoga challenges on Instagram.

Finally we got to bed – before 11pm (I think), having downed a couple of glasses of water.


Friday evening on Picton foreshore.

I didn’t sleep much – kept rolling over every couple of hours – and woke before my alarm (which I’d set for 6am). My friend had threatened to throw me in the hotel pool if I didn’t wake up in time – perhaps that was the reason I didn’t sleep well ;) hee, hee!

We were down at the Picton foreshore for 7am and eyed up the ‘competition’ (particularly those carrying proper cups of coffee… as we’d made do with instant in our hotel room and the caffeine hit just hadn’t made it through the veins with sufficient oomph!). The event wasn’t really one packed with serious contenders (though there were a few amazing athletes in the mix). The majority of people were there to participate for a good cause (Bread of Life Trust) and enjoy the gorgeous setting of a 1/2 marathon through a part of the Queen Charlotte Sounds, finishing at the spectacular Lochmara Lodge (with a scrumptious array of food and a fully licensed bar to look forward to). There were a mixture of runners (the category I entered) and walker/runners (which my friend entered) and a great mix of all ages (from a couple of juniors – aged 15-18 – to ‘Vintage’ men and women over the age of 60).


Departing Picton on Saturday morning.

The atmosphere on the boat was really jovial and well spirited. I grazed slowly on a banana whilst my friend got tips on how to get the air out of her camel pack from a seasoned expert (I wish I’d taken the time to sort mine out too – as I had an embarrassing slosh sound going on for my entire run – apologies to fellow runners and walkers for ruining the peace).

After a beautifully calm cruise along the Marlborough Sounds we docked at Anakiwa. Captain Cook (he’s aged well and obviously isn’t keen to share the secret of his longevity, graced us with his presence… before returning to The Endeavour – or the ghost version of it!).


Captain Cook! Of course it is!

We disembarked and walked to the start line, a mere 1.6 kms away, at Tirimoana – but add on to that the near half marathon distance our feet took us, over some gnarly elevation and terrain, for lunch at Lochmara Lodge, and my friend and I feel it’s essential to add on that 1.6 kms! We have never felt more worthy of a good feed and a drink than after this event (though in actual fact our stomachs took a while to recover and we only managed a Powerade – thanks race organisers – we were as glad to see that bottle of rehydrating drink as much as the medal), a Latte (we finally got our decent coffee) and a carrot cake (there was a runner’s BBQ on offer, but the sugar fix was more appealing!).

Anyway, the run itself…  it’s only taken me ‘1,216’ words to get to this point! A half marathon is deserving of a half marathon style blog post after all… (I’m sure my friend will agree – after all, she developed blisters an hour into it and persevered to finish in 3 hours 17 minutes).

Chantel at the finish line!

Chantel at the finish line!

We set off along a track from Tirimoana toward Davies Bay. My friend set off half an hour before me, with the walking/running group. I caught up with her about an hour in, when the continuous ascent, though gradual, started to tire my legs (I’ve walked many hills in my time, but running up them is something I’ve only recently started). She was doing really well and didn’t let on that she was suffering blisters at that point.

I was in awe of the local women, many older than me, that had such strength and stamina on the hills (but then if I lived in such a beautiful place I’d be wanting to run those trails as much as possible!). After about the 4 mile mark I started to take some walking breaks between the running (to take photographs of course, ahem… any excuse!). But seriously, that scenery is far too good to run past in haste!


Simply splendid.

I was relieved to reach the downhill section after the long, gradual ascent. I am quite used to dodging tree roots and jumping over muddy puddles at a pace downhill (as my dog – Cocoa – loves to put his four legs into serious four-wheel drive motion and leg it down the Wellington trails). There was a delightful head-on, cool, breeze to wick the sweat away (just realised how gross that sounds!).

As I neared the end of the downhill section (not that I knew it was the end… I hadn’t studied the trail map before – which was just as well, as I may have had second thoughts – and my friend would have probably tried to drown me in the hotel pool!) I nearly went arse over tit (not that I have much of the latter to talk about) when a fella dressed in a shark outfit shouted out at me! I quickly recovered and asked him to give me his best grin for a selfie. He then told me, in shark speak, to proceed up hill… I asked him more than twice if he was sure… unfortunately, he was!


The Makos Mascot

What started as a mere inclination and a water stop, with entertainment from Elvis (I tell you, the air in Marlborough keeps everyone young!), proceeded to be a hill of some magnitude.


Needs no caption – it’s Elvis, of course!

One of the strong fellas in front of me turned to ask if we were going the right way. He asked me three times!

I walked up most of the way – but thanks to all my downward dog yoga posing managed to stride out long and strong, keeping quite a good pace. Half way up the sound of bagpipes started to tease my ears and I wondered if I was taking in enough oxygen. Thankfully some downhill walkers reassured me that I wasn’t imagining things and there was in fact a bag-piper at the top of the hill – question was, ‘How far away was the top of the hill, EXACTLY?!’.

When I finally reached the top my hands self-propelled themselves in the air with rapturous applaud at the Ringo the Bagpiper (who managed a wink in response). I felt the presence of my Scottish Grandfather patting me on the back and willing me onwards (there was alcohol at the end after all!). I would have stopped for a selfie with the Ringo, but I didn’t dare stop moving for fear of my legs refusing to go any further!

The rest of the run was mostly downhill – well, pretty much, all downhill (but any tiny ascent was perceived by mind and body as something altogether tougher!).


The view as we made the final descent to Lochmara Lodge.

By the 10 mile mark my Garmin watch, and it’s on the mile beep, started to fill me with simultaneous relief and dread – eleven miles down, two more to go… wait, what’s that, that sign up ahead, it reads ‘Lochmara Lodge’, but my watch hasn’t beeped at the 12 mile mark yet!

It turned out the half marathon wasn’t quite a half, but with the elevation I’d just ran I was quite content to realise the end was near.


Me at the end of the run / climb / walk / tumble down hill!

My Garmin Forerunner 220 watch read 11.6 miles [18.7 km] at the finish point (but another runner’s Strava feed read 11.9 miles [19.2 km], so I’ll trust his distance more than mine – because it felt like longer than what my watch read!). Regardless of the finer points of distance and time, the event was amazing. The organisation incredible. The welcome at the finish warm and wonderful. The Beachcomber Cruise boat was moored up with our bags (containing the all important change of clothes, sweat rag and deodorant!), there was a band playing, cold drinks on offer and a beautiful bay to dip the tired legs in. My finish time was 2 hours 10 minutes and I was chuffed with that (given I’d taken time to enjoy the scenery and take selfies with a shark and Elvis en-route!).

And the medal… I’m at 2050 words and haven’t even mentioned the medal?! Here it is…


Bling for our efforts!

Not just any bit of bling, it’s also a torch (and rechargeable too!). Win! Win!

After chilling at Lochmara Lodge for a couple of hours it was time to board the Beachcomber once more, for a gorgeous cruise back to Picton.


Beautiful Lochmara Lodge.

The sun was beaming down on us and it was a lot warmer than the crisp start to the day we’d experienced (where removing my jacket to put on the race bib was quite an effort, especially having not consumed a real, hard-core, coffee!).


Before the event and feeling the chill on the top deck.

We lapped up some rays on top deck, arriving back in Picton around 2pm, leaving us a few hours before our return flight to Wellington.


Coming into land at Wellington Airport

The lovely lady at the Picton Yacht Club Hotel said we could take a dip in the hotel pool, even though we’d checked out at 6.45am that morning. We could have kissed her!


Picton Yacht Club Hotel

We spent the afternoon soaking our limbs, rehydrating (still on soft drinks… I know, I surprised myself even!) and had a feed at a local cafe – salty chips all the way.

The flight back was a beautiful one. Flying over the Marlborough Sounds, the Cook Strait and Wellington on a fine day is something well worth doing.

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

The scenery was breathtaking.


South Coast of Wellington

We landed early and walked to the pick-up area to be met by my hubby, two of my children and my friend’s daughter. Back to reality, but with a satisfied smile – and a few blisters for my friend (can’t believe she’s still my friend… that was a pretty hard-core first half marathon! I’m so proud of her. Cheers Chantel!).

Lochmara 1/2 Marathon Course

Lochmara 1/2 Marathon Course


Linking up with…

Running in Lavender

First rock concert, with Miss 12! Maroon 5 in Auckland, NZ.`

Maroon 5 played repeatedly in the car of our VW Convertible, as we whizzed along the highways of southern California, soaking up the rays and enjoying the sunshine beaches.


The year was 2013 and whilst our New Zealand friends, in Wellington, were battling the wild winds of winter, we were basking in an endless summer.

When our fifteen months of Californian living came to a close, in October 2014, we returned home to Wellington, leaving our VW convertible in the sunshine state.

We timed our return to New Zealand for early spring. Summer beckoned and we slowly readjusted to the ‘four seasons in one day’, unpredictable nature of weather in Wellington.

Come the 2015 New Year we heard Maroon 5 were touring Asia and would be visiting Christchurch and Auckland, in New Zealand. The memories of that endless summer and rocking in the car (mostly on the way to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags or Santa Monica beach) came flooding back.

Our oldest daughter was due to turn 12 at the end of June and with Maroon 5 hitting Auckland at the beginning of October the timing seemed perfect for her very first rock concert.

Hubby and I are both fans, but someone had to stay home and look after Miss 5 and Miss 9  (though they would have loved to have gone to the concert – given half the chance!).

Hubby surprised me, out of the blue, just before Miss 11 turned 12, telling me he’d booked flights to Auckland to see Maroon 5! I was absolutely blown away with excitement and anticipation! Over the next few months Miss 12 and I revisited our favourite Maroon 5 songs.

Concert weekend arrived. Miss 12 and I were dropped off at Wellington Airport, aka ‘The Middle of Middle Earth’, and boarded our first flight ‘one-on-one’. We had a beautiful day for flying and a great view of Wellington city as we soared up in the sky on our way to Auckland.


We arrived around lunchtime and caught a cab (shockingly expensive – should have hired a car for the two days or got a bus or train… knowledge for next time!) to our hotel – which was minutes away from the Vector Area, in central Auckland, where Maroon 5 would be performing later that night! Eek!

The afternoon was spent meandering along Queens Street and enjoying a little mother and oldest daughter, one-on-one, shopping (had to be done!). We couldn’t wait for the concert to start and took a stroll to the venue around five o’clock to check out the scene.

There were people gathered in wait for the best position in the ‘general admission’ (aka ‘mosh pit’), but we had seats – so didn’t need to line up early. We dined on some scrumptious food at the arena cafe/bar/restaurant and then took a walk back to the hotel, with our Maroon 5 V tour ‘bling’.

When the support acts kicked off, at 7pm, we were ready. We enjoyed hearing, Australian, Conrad Sewell first and then ‘Dirty Loops’, a Swedish trio. We cracked up at the name of this band (which we ended up quite enjoying) and my daughter texted her friend to keep her up to date – with ‘live action news broadcasting’ to say that the ‘Dirty Loops’ weren’t actually that ‘dirty’!


She also caught a forty something chap in the stand opposite us getting into the groove and enthusing the crown, well before Maroon 5 hit the stage, which in true 2015 style shared a clip of on Instagram!

Look what I found at Maroon 5 😂😂😂😂😂😂😃😃😃😂😃😂😃😂😂😂😂😂😃😂😂😂😂

A video posted by Charlotte Lee (@webofcharlottes) on

I was glad we had front row seats so close to the stage –  I felt close enough to get really into the concert – but also take a rest if my forty-something self needed to – HA! In the end, the people all around us were totally into the groove and barely used the seats they’d paid for. We stood up for most of the time Maroon 5 performed and seriously got into the music (much to my 12 year old daughter’s amusement; watching her Mum head banging and hair swishing!!).


The atmosphere was incredible and the sound fantastic (and I didn’t need to use my ear -plugs… yes, I did put some in my granny bag, just in case!). Prior to Maroon 5 I really enjoyed hearing Conrad Sewell sing. There were a couple of heart touching songs that got everyone turning on the flashlights on their phones and swaying in time to the music (a new experience for me at a rock concert – used to be lighters in my day, hee, hee!).

I really loved sharing the whole experience with my daughter. I haven’t seen many rock concerts in my life and one-0n-0ne time with my oldest daughter is very special to me (and rare). I loved watching her face and seeing her get into the groove, as Maroon 5 performed.

Caught me red handed, literally my hands were really red from clapping. 📷😯

A video posted by Charlotte Lee (@webofcharlottes) on

Seeing a rock band live is incomparable to listening to them on a home stereo, or even cruising the highways of California – though that’s a pretty swell vibe – especially in a red hot VW convertible!

Hearing the drummer let rip on an improv. solo, the guitarist have an instrumental spotlight and the main man, Adam Levine, electrify the crowd with his vocals was spine tingling.

There were magical moments of crowd participation, as everyone sang along together, illuminated under spectacular laser lighting.

Absolutely amazing night with my daughter at her first concert! Maroon 5 were mind blowing. 👏🏻💕

A video posted by Sarah (@britmuminnz) on

The concert left my daughter and I feeling happy and floating away on a rocking high (cliche much!). We watched till the final moments, after the encore and the lights ceased to illuminate the stage. I was impressed with my daughter’s stamina and, beyond a doubt, she was definitely read for her first rock concert!

We strolled back to our hotel, buzzing.

The next morning, with our return flight not until 3pm in the afternoon, my daughter suggested we visit the amusement park of ‘Rainbows End’. It took her half an hour to persuade me and in the end, given that it’s so rare we share one-on-one time together, I could find no reason to say no… Normally I have my five year old in tow, as my excuse to avoid the scary rides… but not this time! I actually ended up having a great laugh and really enjoying the rides (thankfully my stomach wasn’t too flummoxed!).

We headed off to the airport soon after lunch and enjoyed a fair weather flight before landing in Wellington.

An amazing, whirlwind, night away with my oldest daughter. Maroon 5 at the Vector Arena was definitely the best first rock concert experience I could have wished for, for my 12 year old daughter.

Next time they visit NZ, it’s hubby’s turn.

Thanks Maroon 5 (and thanks hubby!).



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The magic moments that make a holiday – snippets from Taupo

As a family, on holiday, we tend to have a day of all action, thrills and spills, followed by a quieter day of simple fun. Whenever I look back on holidays those simple activities, and smaller side-trips, are often what stay in the mind more than the action packed days.

Tongariro Crossing Sculpture in Taupo

Tongariro Crossing Sculpture in Taupo

As a Mum it’s seeing my three daughters getting along happily and enjoying each other’s company that really makes my heart sing, as well as one on one moments with my children – or quietly observing them at play (and often in rapturous laughter) with their Dad.


Here’s a few of the magic moments from our holiday in Taupo:-

A game of chess in the park…

Chess in the park, Taupo

Chess in the park, Taupo

Feeding the ducks at sunset…

Alice feeding the ducks, on the shore of Lake Taupo, at sunset.

Alice feeding the ducks, on the shore of Lake Taupo, at sunset.

Running around a geothermal walkway, with thunder booming over head, with the feeling that a heavy rain shower was imminent, or maybe an exploding fumarole (well we were exploring Craters of the Moon)!

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

As it turned out we made it around the craters of the moon, past the bubbling mud pools…

Bubbling mud pools

Bubbling mud pools

and smoking geothermal outlets…

Craters of the Moon, geothermal walkway.

Craters of the Moon, geothermal walkway.

 – without getting wet.

But, as we approached the car (thankfully we’d jogged around the walkway – as if we’d walked we would have been only half way around) the heaven’s opened and down came a torrentially heavy hail shower!

Tree pose in a hail shower - why not!

Tree pose in a hail shower – why not!

We could have stayed dry in the car – but the appeal of a quick run around in a hail storm was too much for us (crazy family!) as the video shows…


Feeding animals at a local petting farm…

Petting the guinea pigs at Lilliput Farm.

Petting the guinea pigs at Lilliput Farm.

Feeding time!

Feeding time!

Playing around at a local swimming baths as a family…

AC Baths Taupo, swinging on the 'Tarzan Rope'.

AC Baths Taupo, swinging on the ‘Tarzan Rope’.

The AC Baths in Taupo are amazing, with two water slides, a large swimming area, wading and paddling pools for the little ones and fun rope swings to do your best ‘Tarzan impression’ (sadly for children only – alas!).

Exploring the local park and riding on a little train…

Playing board games together, swimming the hotel at the apartment, leisurely meals together and relaxed mornings, enjoying the sunsets and doodling for pleasure, all these things and more are the magic moments that make up a holiday.

And finally, driving home together, after a wonderful holiday…

Desert Road (SH1), central North Island, New Zealand

Desert Road (SH1), central North Island, New Zealand

Marvelling at the scenery and fascinating rock formations along the ‘Desert Road’,
along the SH1, central North Island, New Zealand -

'Chocolate cake' layered rock on the Desert Road.

‘Chocolate cake’ layered rock on the Desert Road

Making pit-stops to photograph the incredible volcanic rocks in the Rangipo Desert

Volcanic Rock, Desert Road

Volcanic Rock, Desert Road

and Mt Ruapehu…

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu

Stopping off for food at amazing little places, in the middle of no where, like the Flat Hills Cafe & Maze

Flat Hills Cafe & Maze

Flat Hills Cafe & Maze

Driving the highways in New Zealand...

Driving the highways in New Zealand…

Before finally seeing Wellington harbour and knowing we were nearly home…



and going to see our beloved Monsieur Cocoa!

Monsieur Cocoa

Monsieur Cocoa


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