Northland Beaches: Pataua North

Several weeks ago we spent a Saturday at the beach. It’s still a bit chilly for swimming but we enjoyed relaxing on the sand. We love exploring Northland beaches and finding new gorgeous spots!

It was my first time at Pataua North and it was amazing! We parked at a small gravel lot then walked up a grassy hill and BOOM there’s a gorgeous beach view!

Abel is (was?) learning not to put every single thing into his mouth so I could relax a little more and not worry about him eating sand all the time. That was a couple weeks ago. Last week I took him to the park and he started eating some random sandwich crusts he found. Bark. Leaves. Etc. So I’m not sure if he’s actually improving. Regardless, this day at the beach his mouthing things was minimal!

After spending a couple hours at the beach, we drove a few minutes away to where you can walk on a little trail and bridge across the water to Pataua South – which otherwise you can only reach by driving all the way around Whangarei and through Waipu.

I’m really looking forward to more beach days this summer! Check out this post for some of the beaches we visited earlier this year.

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Beach Days with Family

In January/February, my dad and Apollo came to visit us in New Zealand! Judah came as well, a bit later, and their stays partially overlapped. I haven’t posted all the photos from their visit so I’m catching up! A bit later Kalina came to visit too, and ended up staying through our month-long level four lockdown.

The whole spring/summer I’d only been to the beach once or twice. With my family visiting, we went seven times! It was beautiful, warm, sunny, and we had lots of fun. One of my favourite beaches is Waipu Cove. We also love Sandy Bay and Ocean Beach.

We hiked up Mount Manaia, which I was regretting from about five minutes in. It’s really steep. Imagine stairs. The entire way. For like an hour. It’s the best leg workout I’ve done, I’ll give it that. I’ve been up Mount Manaia twice in the almost three years I’ve lived here. That’s often enough for me. 😉

We had to go to Whangarei Falls as well, of course (not a beach but a river/waterfall)! It’s absolutely beautiful.

Are there any other must-visit beaches in Northland? Let me know!

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Life Update!

A little bit of a life update! The last few months I’ve neglected posting as we’ve been very busy, and going through some things as a family.

After Christmas, we spent a few weeks travelling around New Zealand to visit our friends and family! We spent several days in Hamilton at a family camp, then went on to Rotorua to visit our friends there, and then down to Masterton to see my sister.

Shortly after Christmas we found out we were expecting our second child, and in the beginning of February I suffered a miscarriage.

In January/February, my dad, Apollo, and Judah visited, and in February, Kalina came for a visit!

Now that we are back to ‘normal’ I want to get back to posting but it’s always weird trying to figure out what to say after being gone for so long.

So for now I’ll just share some photos I’ve taken recently!

At the Redwoods in Rotorua!

At Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre in Masterton with Adalia, Percy, and Monty!

We were all shocked when we arrived in Masterton to find that Monty, who is two months younger than Abel, is BIGGER than him!

I took family photos for Ben and Adalia. The colours were beautiful and somehow their outfits perfectly coordinated with the landscape – forget coincidence, let’s just say that Adalia planned really well. 😉 Of course, taking photos of toddlers isn’t always easy… Percy saw the trampoline and set his mind on jumping. He was pretty upset that we made him take a few photos first. After Ben got home from work we took a few more photos with him!

If you’re interested in family photos let me know! Check out my photography page for some other examples of my work.

That’s all for today… I better go take my husband some lunch and then come home to fold the piles of laundry on my couch…

A Visit to Auckland Zoo

A visit to Auckland Zoo.

Last week, Jared, Abel, and I went down to Auckland to look at a few used cars and we wanted to do something fun as well! We spent the morning and early afternoon looking at cars and buying one, and then headed to the zoo.

I just love going to the zoo and learning about all the different animals!

It’s amazing how much variety there is in God’s creation! So many different animals and plants. I loved watching the elephants’ graceful trunks, imagining coming face-to-face with a rhino in the wild, and seeing the meercats lounge in the sun.

One thing I love about going to the zoo is watching the animals just enjoy being an animal. Does that make sense? They eat, roll around in the dirt, splash in the cool water, chase each other, relax in the warm sun… can I join them?!

Currently there is construction at the Auckland Zoo to build a few new exhibits and buildings. While we only had two hours at the zoo, we really enjoyed seeing Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South America, and Australia. We’re already looking forward to the next time we visit Auckland Zoo, and hopefully arrive earlier in the day so we have more time!


Which zoo do you live near? When I was still living in Washington, we would visit the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle!


To see some photos from my visit to the Australia Zoo a few years ago, check out this blog post!

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Botanica Whangarei

Botanica Whangarei – a variety of gorgeous plants

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Botanica Whangarei is a gorgeous little spot here in Whangarei. The horticultural complex (how fancy does that sound?!) is home to several different sections with a variety of different kinds of plant life – the fernery, a moss room, japanese garden, dessert area, and more! It’s really fun to walk around and look at all the different plants. Who knew there were a million different types of ferns?! With free entry, be sure to visit next time you’re in Whangarei!

A Nice Easy Walk

There’s a trail that leads between Botanica, the Rose Garden near Domino’s Pizza, and the Whangarei library – which has a cafe INSIDE it so it’s pretty much the greatest library. It’s called No 7 Espresso and it is GOOD!

The trail is paved and mostly flat so it’s a really easy walk, and so beautiful and enjoyable! It’s not long but like I said, there’s a coffee shop in the library soooo you know what to do!

Next time you’re in Whangarei and want to enjoy nature, make sure to visit Botanica, and of course walk the trail to the library so you can get a delicious coffee!

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Brisbane and Sunshine Coast: Things to Do

Things to do in Brisbane and Sunshine Coast, Australia

Things to do in Brisbane and Sunshine Coast, Australia

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I’ve always wanted to take a vacation to Australia, especially because I love the Crocodile Hunter, not to mention the thrill of thinking that you could die at any second due to all the poisonous animals. (It didn’t take long for me to realize that people in Australia don’t live in fear of dying every second, and we never found our lives in imminent danger).

Three years ago I moved from the United States to New Zealand for six months. While here, my sister and I decided to take a vacation to Australia. We were so close and who knows when I would be back in this part of the world, so why not?! Adalia found a holiday package that included airfares, transportation from the airport, and accommodation, and we planned our trip for the end of January (summer here in the Southern Hemisphere).

Travel and Accommodation in Sunshine Coast

Emirates

We flew with Emirates and honestly it’s the best airline I’ve flown with! This is coming from a girl who’s been on over two dozen airplanes. It was a really enjoyable flight, with spacious and comfy seats, free entertainment on your personal screen, and good food. I was actually sorry for the flight to be over.

Glen Eden Beach Resort

We stayed at the Glen Eden Beach Resort in Peregian Beach, where we had our own little townhouse complete with a kitchen and laundry. The sliding glass door in the lounge opened to the backyard, with a trail leading through the trees to the beach. A pool and hot tub were at the resort if you preferred that over the beach, and at the office there were dvds, games, and books you could borrow.

Things to do in and around Brisbane and Sunshine Coast

noosa farmers market

Adalia and I bought bus cards so we could get around while we were in Australia, and we took the bus to Noosa a few times. We decided to go to the farmer’s market on Sunday morning. While we were on the bus, we heard a few other people on the bus mention the farmer’s market and then get off the bus. We were only a few stops away so we decided to get off as well, and just follow them.

Well, we got lost. Finally we stopped at a corner store and asked for a map. We found that wandering around for ages isn’t as fun as it sounds. Eventually we found out where the farmer’s market was and made the (long) walk there.

We found lots of fun things at the farmer’s market! Fresh fruit and veggies including lychees, passionfruit, and figs, as well as fresh crabs and camel milk.

Exploring Noosa

We took the bus into Noosa several times just to walk around and explore. There are lots of stores and restaurants and touristy shops there, and we really enjoyed it!

Epic Ocean Adventures Kayak Tour

Adalia found this kayak tour place and booked us an adventure! All the gear was included; we just showed up in our swimsuits. We were hoping to see dolphins on this tour. Instead we saw two rays, a couple schools of fish, and a shark – which would be the reason we didn’t see any dolphins! Read this blog post for the full exciting story of the shark. Sean was our guide and we were with a group of five or six other people. We had a really great time!

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Australia Zoo

A dream come true for me, we visited the Australia Zoo! I spent two days at the zoo and still could have spent so much more time there seeing and enjoying everything.


If you ever visit Brisbane or Sunshine Coast, be sure to check out these places! Have you visited Australia before? What’s your favorite place or thing to do there? If you haven’t traveled much before, check out this blog post on 5 tips for successful travelling!

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5 Tips for Successful Travelling

Originally published February 2018

Alaska. Texas. Colombia. Malawi. New Zealand. Australia. California. Hawaii. I’ve been a world traveller since I was fifteen years old, and have flown on airplanes dozens of times. I’ve learned a few tips for staying calm, stress-free, and comfortable while travelling!

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I am so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to travel. I was born in Canada. My mom is from Alaska so my family visited there a couple times when I was young. We moved to the States when I was a baby. I accompanied my parents and youngest brother to Texas to have his heart surgery done when I was fourteen. At fifteen, I flew to Colombia with my grandparents to visit missionaries they know there. The next year I went to Florida and then Malawi with Teen Missions Int’l. And at eighteen, I hopped on a plane to spend 6 months in New Zealand, a country I’d never been to. While there, my sister and I flew to Australia for a week and thoroughly enjoyed our girly vacation. A year later, after returning to my home in the States (where I got to be in my best friend’s wedding in California), I now call New Zealand my home.

1 Don’t Stress

In total, I’ve been on over 30 airplanes. So many airports. And I’ve learned a lot about travelling.My first rule is, don’t stress. I always feel like I’ve forgotten something when I travel. To ensure you do remember everything you need, make a list that you can refer to when packing. But when you’re at the airport waiting for your plane, don’t worry about ‘did I remember to pack pajamas?’ At that point there’s not anything you can do about it.

Make sure that you have the most important things: Passport, boarding pass, wallet, cell phone, glasses or hearing aids, etc.Funny story- I almost forgot my passport when Jared and I returned to New Zealand after our wedding. How do you forget a passport when you are literally moving to another country?! I don’t even know. I didn’t even know exactly where it was- I didn’t think of it until the day after our wedding, and a few days before our flight. Smart. Thankfully my mom saved the day and brought me my passport, birth certificate, and glasses, all of which I had forgotten to pack.

Those are important things. But if you’ve forgotten a sweatshirt? It’ll be okay. You can get a new sweatshirt if you really need it, but it won’t ruin your trip to forget it.

2 Leave Plenty of Time

Leave plenty of time. My parents always make sure to leave the house with plenty of time to get to the airport and get through security with time to spare. It takes away a lot of stress as well, as you’re not thinking about the traffic and the minutes ticking away. Another story from when Jared and I got married: Our flight was at 8am. We got up at 3am and we finished packing, loaded our car, and headed to the aiport. We had a rental car so we had to fill it up with fuel before we dropped it off, and it took us a while to find a fuel station because we didn’t know the area well. Once we dropped the car off, we had to get ourselves and our big bags on a shuttle to the airport. Once we found the place to check our bags, it was about 7am. Bag checking closes 1/2 hour before the flight. The line was long. And when we finally neared the front, there was a lady ahead of us taking an extremely long time to fill out some paperwork that she could have done ahead of time.

As the minutes passed, I kept glancing anxiously at the tv screen displaying the time, and fervently praying that we would make it to the front of the line before 7:30. Finally the line started moving again, and we made it with minutes to spare. Phew! After we left our bags, we went through security. The line wasn’t too long and we got through without any problem. We headed straight for our gate, and when we got there, the plane was already boarding. Talk about cutting it close… at least we didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes before boarding out flight though! However, I don’t recommend this method of travelling.

3 Bring Entertainment

Especially if you have a long flight ahead of you, or flying makes you nervous, it is really nice to have something to keep you occupied. I have been on a 17-hour flight before and it was incredibly boring… for your own sake, please bring something! A book, music, or a game. If you have an electronic device that you plan to use, like a kindle or smartphone, bring your charger. Some planes, especially for longer flights, have USB ports so you can charge your devices. Many also have screens on the back of the seats that you can listen to music or watch movies on. Often you have to pay for them, but I’ve found that on longer flights they are usually free.

4 Dress Comfortably and Weather-Appropriate

When you’re practically undressing to go through security (God bless America), waiting for hours in uncomfortable seats, and then sitting in tight quarters on a plane where you can barely move, it is way better in comfy clothing. And I don’t know about you, but I am almost always freezing cold on airplanes. It used to irritate me until I realized that the air outside is actually way colder, so it could be worse, and the air in the plane is intentionally kept cool to lower the risk of spreading bacteria in the air. So I do appreciate that we don’t all get the cough that one guy on the plane has.

That being said- bring a sweater or jacket in your carry-on just in case. Also make sure that you are dressed right for the climate of your destination. When I first went to Florida, as soon as I stepped off the plane the heat and humidity just hit me. When I returned to the States from New Zealand in March this past year, I knew it would be cold so I wore warm clothing.

5 Find Your Gate and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.

When my brother Judah and I flew to Florida to Teen Mission Int’l, my mom advised us to get to our gate as soon as we passed through security. Every time I fly, I go straight to my gate before getting food, looking around, using the bathroom, or anything else. If your boarding pass doesn’t have the gate on it, find an electronic screen displaying the departures. It will have your flight number, time, destination, and gate. And if all else fails find an airport employee and ask for help. That’s what they’re there for!

What is your dream travel destination? Where is your favorite place that you have been?