bay of islands christmas cruise

well, my first NZ warm weathered christmas has come and gone.  my parents flew across the globe to come spend the holidays with me – which meant i was lucky not to have to miss out on spending time with my family during the holidays, and also prevented any tear stained five page long entries in my hand written journal.

to celebrate christmas, my mom was nice enough to organize a trip for us up to the bay of islands to take an overnight cruise.  we took a bus ride up which took about three hours, which actually felt more like three days as unfortunately we opted for the “commentary” version of the bus ride. our tour guide, peter, had a real knack for uttering information that was either obvious (“and on the right we have some cows..”) or related to only his life (“we’re about to pass a school i once attended”), and usually repeated everything he said between three to five times. he also yelled at people for talking, which was actually kind of awesome.

eventually we arrived at our ship where we were greeted by a photographer in a santa hat who eagerly took post three hour bus ride photos (photo not included in the blog - obviously).  we cruised around to see a few of the islands of historical importance in the area, and then stopped on a remote beach to have a few hours to relax, explore, or kayak in the coves. pretty sure it’s not hard to guess what i chose to do…

our ship - the ipipiri 

just casually cruising by some of the most beautiful islands IN THE WORLD

the beach we stopped on. that i laid on for 2 hours.

 2011 virtual christmas card?

anyway, after the beach we had a nice christmas dinner, drank a few glasses of wine, and watched the sun set from the ship.  pretty perfect way to spend christmas – even if it felt a bit strange to be half sun burnt.

my mom and i before christmas dinner. a little windblown, a little sun burnt, maybe even a little drunk.

christmas eve sunset

on the way back

nz christmas tree

you’ll be shocked to learn that i have not tampered with  the saturation/exposure/etc of any of these photos.  the water, sky, and land really are the same colors in real life, if not more vibrant. i want to make a joke about how if you’re on crazy drugs the colors might be different, but all the jokes sound lame so i’ll just leave it at that.


addicted to attack

hi, my name is amanda and i am addicted to attack – a class offered here at my gym, les mills.  to most of my friends this may come as a shock considering my historical relationship with the gym, but perhaps re-reading a few dozen blog posts on fast food and booze could have been a partial influence.

according to the experts (lesmills.co.nz), attack is a "sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina - a high-energy interval training class combining athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises."

probably doesn’t sound too severe, but it’s one of the most intense work outs i’ve ever done.  the first time i went, i could hardly keep up and just barely finished the class (this doesn’t include a few pauses to “catch my breath”).  but after only a few weeks of going to class, i’ve moved from the back of the room to the middle and i even have a few favorite routine songs (party rock) and moves (half running man and superman) that allow me to proudly show off that i regularly attend attack classes. badge. of. honor.

most accurate results from googline "attack class photo"

in case you stumbled across this blog googling “addictions” and this is your first post reading i should mention that i don’t have a car here in NZ, but no obstacle is insurmountable when it comes to getting my fix.  when i can’t make an after work class, i’ve gone as far as to wake up at 5 am, throw on clothes, and walk up to 45 minutes away to make a 6:30 am attack class.  if it’s one of mark s’s classes, i might even get up to make a 6:10 am class.

this includes partially-drunk friday mornings. back in new york, i reserved this sort of behavior mostly for dentist appointments (insert joke about “breathing fire” here), which usually shocked my co-workers.  but lying down in a chair early in the morning knowing there is a bagel at the end of the tunnel and getting up to run around like a maniac are two totally different levels.

my place of attack business.



waiheke is a small island about 45 minutes away from auckland by ferry that’s a pretty popular place to escape for a quick weekend out of the city.  it’s so popular in fact, some people even move house for the summer to the island and commute the 45 minutes there and back every day. sounds crazy - until you’ve been there.  think i’ve moved house enough this year, but maybe something to keep in mind.

with my parents in town, we decided to take a weekend trip to the island to visit some of the vineyards it’s so well known for. unfortunately, it had been raining for most of the week - pretty uncharacteristic for december which marks the beginning of summer in NZ.  this didn’t hold us back though as our plan was “if it’s pissing we’ll just get pissed.” don’t pretend like you don’t know the alternate meaning there, sickos.

anyway, the weather actually turned out to be nice, but get “pissed” we still did as we made our way around a few of the wineries that offer to 8 tastings for $15.  based on recommendations I got from a few friends here, we made our way to mudbrick and cable bay vineyards, which both managed to live up to high expectations for beautiful views, and of course great wine.

cable bay vineyards

looking out from the tasting room

the tasting room

the restaurant at mudbrick

soaps made from mudbrick wine that i somehow managed to resist from buying

the tasting menu

the iconic chandelier

liquid lunch

we stayed at mudbrick to sober up eat some lunch.  attempting to make good on the massive amount of wine calories we had consumed throughout the day, my mom and I each got a side salad and split a cheeseboard for lunch with the “chef’s choice” of cheese range and accompaniments. this included a side of honeycomb, which could be one of the best things i have ever tasted in my life to date.  i’m usually pretty partial to the whole sweet and cheese combo on cheeseboards, which might give the honey a slightly unfair advantage, but i’m pretty sure it would have been difficult not to be impressed by the deliciousness.  the comb was packed to the brim with honey that was so fresh i’m pretty sure there’s a kiwi queen bee somewhere stomping around her hive demanding where her dinner is (i mean, because bees eat honey right?).

yeah i pretty much just wrote a whole paragraph about honey. man, i’m interesting.



so, probably some of you may already know this, but i have moved house yet again since arriving here in july. yep, that’s right – i’ve moved three times (four if you count the move from the airport to the hotel) in 6 months.  i was almost afraid to write about the move, as it might make it seem like there is something wrong with me that makes me repel roommates, but i’m completely in love with the new house so it was too hard not to share.

i moved out of the apartment in grey lynn, and into a house just down the road with an american girl i met here and three kiwi guys. i know what you’re thinking – it’s just like friends, but with accents. well, kind of minus the overplayed sandwich jokes, mom jeans, and hopefully no one ends up pregnant with another flatmate’s child.

the house is really great.  it’s a two-story house on a beautiful quiet street with trees hanging over the road. i live on the top floor across the hall from my fellow american flatmate, and the boys live downstairs.  kind of like a frat den. the backyard is insanely huge, so i’m sure we’ll be hosting a few bbqs as summer approaches. and it’s still just about the same amount of time to walk to work (though i’ve begun to dabble with the idea of getting a scooter…). i haven’t really taken many photos of the house, and don’t feel like it would be appropriate to do a rerun of cribs (don’t they do enough of those already?), so here’s a picture of the front of my new house…

anyway, promise i’m not pretending like i have more readers than i do here, but i feel like i should let you know that december is likely to be a light month post-wise.  i’m sure most people are in the same boat here balancing working like crazy to wrap up 2011 with holiday parties, shopping for gifts, and visiting friends and relatives, but in case you’re at home sitting at the edge of your family’s computer chair for a new update, maybe it’s time to take a little break as i’ll be doing the same. for the most part – then prepare yourself for a recap of my trip to thailand which is sure to produce multiple posts.


the lights of franklin road

the holidays are on their way and despite the warm weather, the christmas spirit isn't lost here in NZ.

every december, all the houses and businesses on franklin road cover their porches with lights, reindeer, and baubles to get everyone ready for the holidays. each house does something a little different, and the summer-during-christmas thing inspires decorations that bring me back to christmases in florida (i.e. santa's on surfboards, etc).

anyway, it's much easier to show than tell - so on that note, let me take you on a photographic journey of franklin road at christmas time (cue mariah carey - all i want for christmas feat. justin bieber)...