Monday, April 30, 2012

Cool bananas

True Justice: Steven Seagal
So how are we spending our time?  Walking, running, biking, water sports, reading lots of books, eating pies, looking for a job (got an interview at macpac), programming project in c#, and trying to learn why their television is so fascinating.  Their tv and roadside PSAs are scary as hell.  TV stations: music video channels, a track (horse racing) channel, maori channel, 2 chinese channels, 1 movie channel (where Steven Seagal doesn't do a movie, he does an entire season/series; True Justice), 3 sports channels, and a history channel.  Their sport channels show soccer (sweet as), rugby, darts, netball, jet boat racing, triathlon, biking, and cricket.  I'm sure I missed something, but for the most part there is nothing on the sports channels that resembles anything back home. Road sides are littered with these
So you'll probably notice that I will use some funky language in the blog from time to time.  Everyday I hear heaps of different figures of speech.  There is heaps or a lot.  There is sweet as or awesome.  Not to be confused for sweet ass.  Cheers instead of thanks.  I get called mate instead just hey.  The weather forecast is always fine or becoming fine.  I just assume that it means sunny.  We are in the area that supposedly gets 2200 hours a year of sun, while the average in NZ is 2000. 

Toys galore

Our place is packed with toys.  In our short time here, we have purchased 2 bikes, 2 surfboards, and a stand up paddle (SUP) board.  Our guest room plays the role of storage for all the boards and our front hall has both bikes.  If I felt good about it, I would leave some stuff on the deck, but it would be really easy to get up there and take it in the middle of the night.  Beth was also looking at a kayak.  I can just imagine where we would put it.  Probably across the living room floor!  We have also started to accumulate books.  Glad we can get credit at the bookstore when we bring them back.  Should get a library card.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ANZAC Day: Kiwi day of rememberance.

Today marks ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day here in New Zealand where they kicked off the day at 5 am with a parade.  We were entertained with about 2 hours of bagpipes followed by and aerial display of vintage planes rolling and swooping over the park a block away.  By the time I got the camera, the pilots were working their way farther down the beach.  For more info:

I was joking with my friends that I didn't have to work today as its a National Holiday.  This message was quickly followed with another stating I still don't have a job yet.  Anyway, Beth went out with Tina, a friend of a friend from back home, last night.  She pointed out some places to Beth that we should try and introduced her to the owner of the bar on the corner.  Today we met up with Tina again and was introduced to Nicole.  This could be a fun introduction as they own a 26 foot sail boat that moors at the end of Commons, which is one of the streets that our apartment resides on.  We have been invited to go out sailing.  Beth had mentioned last night to Tina that I completed several sailing courses last year.  I just excited to use those skills.  I was walking around the boat getting a feel for where everything was today and it needs a little work on the mast before going out tomorrow.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spinning Cassettes

Tuesday morning, I woke up before the sun and donned my kit.  I pulled a cold water bottle out of the fridge and slide it into my holder on my new Cadent.  I slipped on my jacket as it is 11 degrees out and wont warm up until later.  We are expecting it to be a fine 21 today.  I grab my shoes and gloves and give Beth a kiss as I carry my bike out the door.  I sit on the steps out front as I pull the straps to my shoes tight.  The darkness is punctured with my flashing lights and overhead by the streetlights, but I'm not expecting sunrise until closer to 7am.  Right now its 5:50.  I head down Maunganui Road towards redbike.  It is the quietest I have heard the street since moving here and all I can hear is my spinning cassette.  I find this noise to be very soothing on an early morning ride before the rest of the world has woken up and fired up their engines.

I get to the shop in a couple of minutes as it is very close.  I'm the second to arrive.  I was actually following another rider for a couple blocks.  I ask what to expect on the ride as its my first.  I fire off a couple questions, but he responds that he is from Auckland and that he is delivering bits and pieces for the store as he works for a bike distribution company up there.  Another couple riders show up and nobody has been on the ride before and the shop employee hasn't shown up yet.  Finally a guy shows up that has done the ride before so we head off a little past 6 am.  I wont lie, I have no idea where we are going so I stuck to the wheel in front of me like glue.  We head back towards Tauranga with a loop of Te Puna in mind.  I hear its approximately 35km.  That is good for a short morning ride before work.  Wait I'm not working yet.  So its just a good morning ride.  We are 5 guys with blinking lights riding on the left-hand side of the road.  I sit back and listen to the different hubs in spinning and the occasional gear shift.  Brings back images of the Omnium Bike Shop group rides I participated in last Spring.  We are cruising on the shoulder of Highway 2 buzzed by trucks and cars.  Nothing new if you have ever ridden with Aaron! 

We headed back towards Judea, the location of the gnarly cottage that we stayed at for our first week in the area.  I recognized this place as I spent a couple early mornings running.  Being in a new location I have to pay very good attention to my surroundings or how am I going to get back.  We picked up another rider at this point.  We are clipping along at roughly 34kph and we are in a tight line.  We had gone about 17km when I feel my back wheel go squishy.  I knew I had a flat.  I had to fight to get back up to the group, as I noticed the flat on a hill, where I said "I got a flat" and pulled off to the side.  I saw them slow and look back while I was unclipping from my pedals.  When I was flipping my bike over and getting my spare kit out I looked up again and they weren't there. 

Great, I'm in an area I don't know at all, but I'm pretty sure I can follow the route we took here and get back.  But what fun is that.  Rides are supposed to be an adventure.  So I'm in the process of pumping up my tire when a guy in a kit rolls up.  He asks if I got what I needed.  I say yes.  I call out if he is trying to catch the group ride.  He is.  He also is the shop employee, James, we were supposed to leave with this morning.  I get my bike back together and set off to find the group.  Since they are doing a loop in Te Puna, we go in reverse and find them after about 15 minutes of riding.  We then link up and cruise back into town.  My rear wheel is not at its recommended 110 psi.  More like 80 psi and a fellow rider says it looks like I got a flat.  I responded I had a flat earlier in the ride and had to stop to fix it.  My small bag pump wont get to 110 psi so I have to ride it at a lower inflation than I would like. 

This morning I put in just over 37km on my first group ride and I popped my rear tire.  The distance is very doable, but I am hoping that the flat was a fluke.  I don't like changing tires while others wait or don't wait in this case.  I hope Thursday's group ride goes better.    

The Mount's bounty

This past Sunday we went over to the weekly Farmer's Market to see what they had to offer.  The market is open from 9-1, rain or shine.  It is located in a parking lot that is maybe 4 blocks from us.  Upon walking up we were greeted with a food stall selling Cornish Pasties.  They had 2 varieties: the "regular" standard spices and filling (beef, onion, potato) in a flaky pastry or "kiwi-style" spicy spices.  I opted for the "kiwi-style" and it really made for an awesome snack.  The heat started off subtle and then grew to maybe a medium heat.  It was just enough heat to let you know that you weren't eating a regular pasty. 

We made our way from stall to stall tasting the vendor's goods.  Ok I did most of the tasting.  There were probably a dozen or more stalls.  Including a dude signing to 80's classic rock underneath a canopy.  A stall that both Beth and I enjoyed was Cellarman's cheese.  She had many varieties of cheese to select from, but Beth enjoyed the Kaimai Red.  The ranking on the NZ flavour metre was tasty.  The other options are mature and extra tasty.  Many of the other cheeses were smoked and aged for 24 months.  I particularly liked the Smoked Gouda, but opted to buy it on some other weekend.  There is no reason to go all out right away.   Next to Cellarman's was the one of two baked goods tables.  Beth thought that I should just go into business making my baked goods and selling at the farmer's market, but we don't have an oven.  I also don't know what policies they have in place about selling goods out of your house or if you need to use a commercial kitchen.  I could always research this and start making choco-pucks and a variety of cupcakes and bars.  Seeing the amount of bakeries and what they are offering, my offerings would be unique and could possibly get an audience here. 

After the baked goods comes the corner of produce.  The deals here were awesome.  The variety and price couldn't be beat.  We filled a bag full of produce for under $20 and it will most likely last us until next week.  It is almost like we are participating in our CSA back home, but we get to select what we want each week instead of being handed a box of random goodness.  I wonder what goods he will bring with him next week.

The next bank of stalls included the smoked fish, Indian Samosas, Sour Dough Bread, Venison Salami, a few small produce tables selling basil and avos.  We purchased something from the 1st 4 vendors.  The spicy venison salami is very good as well as the multi-grain sour dough bread.  I haven't broke into the smoked tuna yet, but I was thinking of having some of it for lunch.

In the center there was local honey vendor, which I plan on making a purchase this week as I love toast and honey in the morning.  Next to the honey stall was a guy selling chili sauces ranging from sweet and mild to tangy and spicy.  I tried probably half a dozen different sauces before I realized I already have 2 bottles of spicy sauce at the apartment.  Maybe when we run out I'll make a purchase. 

This farmer's market is small in comparison to the Downtown market I grew accustomed to on my weekly trip for cinnamon roasted pecans, but it has the same feel as the market set up in church parking lot on Johnson.  I'm glad that this is available to us because of its close proximity to the apartment and we our helping out local community instead of a nation wide chain of grocery stores.  We also made our first stop at the local butcher and the selection was pretty awesome.  We had some fillet last night and it was so tender and rich in flavor.  Also got some free range chicken breasts for dinner tonight. 

We will hitting up the market each weekend and we may even venture over to Tauranga on Saturday for their market.  I would recommend you to check out your own farmer's market as you might also find "vacon" or venison bacon.  It was too expensive for me as you only got 2 thin slices for about the same price I paid for a half a log of salami.  Maybe when I get a job I will splurge a little bit.  Oh wait, we are already splurging a little here and there on tasty pies and Tim-Tams.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photo Albums

A quick link to the photo albums can be found on the right menu bar, but I'll post it here as well.
Over there -->

(Of course I'm always looking for Ramen that matches this bowl, but avast I haven't found Ramen in Tauranga.  Yet)

All my photo albums can be found here: Kaleb Photographs

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Settling in

Welcome readers.

We are settling in to our place in the Mount.  Beth is starting work at around 5 am Tues - Sat.  I am getting up at that time as well.  I generally start with some toast and tea.  Before heading out for a quick run.  Tues and Thur morning there is a group ride that leaves a couple blocks from the apartment.  From the flyer they ride about 1.5 hours, so I think I'll join up for a few rides to see how it goes.  I want to get a few kilometers under my belt before joining the Sat group ride as its a bit longer.  I don't have my legs under me yet as I didn't get the long rides under my belt back home.  You know the snow and all.  I am still looking for employment, but I have been in communication with one HR administrator about an opening they have.  They are working on their short list.  Hopefully I can make the list.

Everyday we have been busy exploring the Mount and surrounding areas.  I went out for a 30km ride to see more of the area.  I found a lot of cool little things that I will show Beth once she acquires a bike.  Otherwise, we spend a lot of time walking around trying to familiarize ourselves with the town.  Its not uncommon for us to explore this way.  As we walk we talk about past trips where we would wonder all day waiting for the next overnight train, ferry, or bus to take us to the next area for our exploration.  We have yet to take public transportation, but there is a bus system that circulates around the Bay of Plenty.  

A quick breakdown of what I sure will be our main staples are:
Nearest grocery store is about 2.5km away.  Along with a fruit/vege market and 2 more bike stores!
Farmer's market in the park a few blocks away open every Sunday, rain or shine. 
Post Office/Bank is about 4 blocks away
One Tree Bakery is about 6 blocks away.  Tasty treats and even tastier pies.
Butcher is about 7 blocks away
Bike store is about 6 blocks away
Beach less than 2 blocks away
Mauao is about 3 blocks away
Used book store is about 9 blocks away

This isn't to say that everything is peaches.  There are some complaints.  We are waiting to get our internet set up.  Beth needs to be connected on a reliable line for work.  Right now we are on the apartment complex's wireless and reception is about 1 bar and pretty unreliable.  Beth has been getting yanked around by the providers staff.  We don't know exactly when it is going to get installed.  Sometime between Tues and 7-10 business days from Thursday.  Awesome.  Our furnished place came with only 1 knife and it is dull.  The microwave pulls triple duty.  Microwave, conventional over, and grill.  Still trying to figure out the other two functions.  Minor complaints in the grand scheme of things, but I like to eat and I like to communicate in a consistent manner.

For those that want a post card send me your address. 
For those that want to send us anything, email me and I can give you our address.
For those that have questions, post them up.
For those that have recommendations, post them up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fit for a spin?

We will be traveling a little heavier from now on as I purchased a bike from Koop's Cycling.  Phil over there helped me out a lot and even "lead" me on a ride as I'm still learning the streets.  We did a short 10k in his approximation.  I would guess even less.  The bike is meant for long endurance rides so it has a more relax geometry, but it still has some mad acceleration power.  It fit very well and I was tossed in a bit of extras for the asking price.  I got pedals, a cage, a bottle, and a kit with bag.  I then added on shoes (discounted 20%), helmet (discounted 20%), lights, and a computer.  I wont post the price, but it seemed like a good deal.  He is also going to box the bike up when I'm ready to return so I can get it shipped or fly with it. 

I was invited to join their Tuesday Night Sweat Fest known to the locals as their winter trainer ride.  Phil greeted me with a smile and pointed to the trainer I would be using.  I set up my bike and he joked that he was going to put the resistance at hard so he could make me work.  The group was made up all different ages, abilities, and styles of bikes.  My first impressions, I'm going to enjoy riding with this group on the trainers and on the road.  I set up next to a friendly woman Marla, who offered to give me a ride home each week as the New Zealand drivers don't really respect bikers and it can get crazy dark even with lights. 

For the training session, we did ladders last night incrementing with time and resistance.  Phil kept checking in on me and commented that I was already sweating on the warm-up.  For those who know me, I tend to sweat a lot.  During soccer games, I would get the salt lines on my face and jersey.  We listened to hits from the 70s to 90s and I sang along to a few of them.  Marla joked that I wasn't working hard enough, even though we were on our 2nd hardest gear of the night and spinning at 100 rpm.  I would just count my rpm during the 3rd and 4th hardest gear as I moved down most of my cassette.  It felt really good to get out and interact with the locals.  I'm sure I'll be riding with them soon enough on the road. 

Today my legs are in need of some TLC.  I need to stretch really good.  I wish I would have brought my foam roller.  I'll make do with Beth's lacrosse ball for the places with lots of tension.  In the last couple days, I put on some good miles running and my first intense riding since last July when I hurt my hamstring.  FYI: As everything is in km here I will be posting in the future in kph, But for the initial post I will calculate it back to mph for your sanity.  I rode about a mile last night at 54 kph (33 mph) and held steady for the rest of the trip about 3 miles, other than hills, at 40 kph (24mph). 

Phil also said I was welcome to join in on the weekend festivities of group rides.  Saturday is their hard day with a much longer distance and I'm guessing we get to hit the hills we have been winding down and up with our adventures inland.  Sunday is more relaxed with about 2/3 the distance.  Both days have an 'A' and 'B' group.  I'll play it safe and take the slower day as I haven't put much distance on my legs yet this year.  Phil will probably move me up to 'A' as I beat him up a few hills on my test ride. 

Here is to safe riding and learning the streets of Tauranga and the rest of the Bay of Plenty.

Moving day

Moving day forecast?  Fine.  We are going to get settled into our new place today.  We have to pack up our stuff and head out of the gnarly cottage we have been calling base.  Running around the neighborhood, sitting on the deck drinking tea, and reading books has been fun, but Rolf was continually working on the backyard and underneath the cottage.  He is in the process of building his man cave, a place to put all his tools and get away as he claims.  It will be nice to be by the beach starting tomorrow morning for my run.  This has been a pretty sweet rental.  Lets hope the next treats us good as well. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Plans for staying active


I'm still looking for a bike.  I am going to test ride with Phil of Koop's Cycling tomorrow.  They sell Avanti and Scott bikes.  The other shops sell Specialized, Lapierre, Merida, Trek, and Giant.  The problem I'm facing is do I get a bike just to get by or do I buy a bike to bring home?  If I get a bike to bring home, I'm kinda of a bike snob so I wont fork money out for crappy components and the bike has to ride awesome.  Also why would I go around the world and bring back a bike I can easily get from a local dealer?  I would rather support local here and represent when I return.  Just have to find a bike that works.  Guess I'll be logging some test rides. (On a side note, while looking for the image above I found there was at least one Pugsley in NZ).  My buddy Skog and I want to ask Surly if we could represent them by touring around Japan and possibly the World on decked out Pugs.
Tauranga has a road cycling club that meets on both Sat and Sun for rides.  Then on every other Wed they have a MTB ride on the walkways throughout the town.  Phil said he would take me out to show me the town.  The Specialized store has an early morning  Wed ride that I might be able to squeeze in as well.  Aaron, you are missing out on what I expect to be epic rides.

May 6th: Cycle for Life
It is up in Auckland, but they have a 120km - 46km - 26km courses.  I would love to get to bike in Auckland as it looked pretty challenging.  I might have to read


A good way to see my new city is by pounding the streets.  I packed a pair of shoes, a couple technical shorts and t's, heart rate monitor, and my fuel belt for longer runs.  Today (4/16) marked my first run in New Zealand.  Temp was mid 50s also known locally as fine.  My run was 4 miles stopping at benches and at my turn around point to do dips and push-ups.  It was a sweaty affair.  I might have to invest in a tank.  My plan is to continue doing the body weight exercises and if I come across a playground I'll be doing pull-ups and hanging leg lifts.  Tomorrow I'll be doing the full 9k Waikareao Estuary.  On Wed after we move to our apt, I'll have about a 5k from our place and around the base of the hill. 

For further motivation, while looking for events in The Mount, I found this:
June 3rd: Hlaf Marathon I'll be signing up as its $20 and it will give me something to train for.

 Surfing & SUP:


We are surfing TradeMe (cross between Craigslist and Ebay) for surf boards.  We were out bid on a board yesterday as we were in the dreaded roaming/no service part of the island.  SUP is stand up paddling for those not in the know.


We have tramping (hiking) through the National Parks.  We went to Mordor on 4/15.  It doubles as a Ski resort in the Winter instead of a place to destroy.  Well that could be a year round attribute depending on who you ask. 

We have 2 beaches so swimming may happen.  The water temp might require the use of our wetsuits, but hell we brought them along for a reason and not just to get to the 50# airline weight minimums.

We are looking to hire kayaks from time to time to explore the coast and the close laying islands.

I haven't even touched on scuba, sailing, para-sailing, or any other tourist type of activity that we may participate on.  I was sticking to the ones that we'll do on a consistent basis.

Living arrangements!

We got this sweet as 2 bed room a couple blocks right on the main strip.  Lets be honest.  This is probably the most I have ever paid for an apartment, but at least we get maid service weekly.  That is right, we'll have someone clean up after our raging keggers.  We found this place on Saturday in an apartment/holiday complex called The Atlas.  For our monies, beside the 2 bed rooms, we get a little deck for morning toast and tea, no oven (so no baking until I get back), a small range, and a microwave that has a grill option.  As Google shows, we are only a couple blocks from 2 beaches, my new training partner, and a Sunday Farmer's Market (rain or shine).  There is also a butcher further down Maunganui Rd that I will be a patron of.  We still have to figure out where to buy groceries other than going over the 4km bridge into Tauranga or out to Bayfair (see mall with 90+ stores). 

Our second bed room doesn't have bunk beds or even 2 singles.  It will allow our guest(s) to have some extra room.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mount Maunganui Information

We are looking to live in the Bay of Plenty, more specifically The Mount as the locals know it.  We have been busy looking for a furnished rental.  We are using TradeMe and a bunch of reality companies in our quest to find a place to set up.  Some of these ads have been for a flatmate (roommate) which would be cool as you get a built in person who knows some of the local stuff already.  We have also inquired at a few apartment complexes, which isn't going to work unless the unit has a phone line and direct broadband access.  Um, one of us has to be connected constantly to work remotely.  Then there are heaps of houses that we have looked at from 1 bed rooms to 3 bed rooms.  Some of these have been sweet as (local slang) and if you come to visit you could crash in the spare bunk or twin bed.  All of the places, even though they are close together, are really private.  Most have a fenced in yard with a small patio.  Only one place so far had a grill.  If we get a house, I want to build a smoker so I can make some BBQ.

According to our lonely planet book: The Mount was named after the hulking 232m hill called Mauao, which translates as "caught by the light of day".  This is a pretty swanky area of approximately 18k + 2 that has the trendy feel of Uptown mixed with small town main street and the smell of a laid back surfer.  For those that know me, I like to eat.  The food choices here are very international, but also have local cafes.  I have seen one food stall, Crazy Chicken!  Which I must try.   

For instance, Beth had Swiss food and I had Japanes (intentional spelling) yesterday for lunch.  The area is a vacation hot spot for many people from Auckland during the summer.  A store I was very interested in was the Specialized bike store as I'm looking for a bike.  They also host  many group rides.  A good way to meet like minded people.  The road rides look pretty awesome from their posted sweet rides.  There is also mountain biking to be had in the area which looked tempting.   Rotorua, which isn't that far away, is known for their mtb rides so I might have to go up there and hire a bike as I can't take a bike on the bus unless it folds.  The elephant in the room is the beach!  The beach is never far from any place in The Mount and it has a 100m artificial surf reef not far offshore, which we plan on utilizing as we learn to surf.  We walked part of the beach last night and it is very fine volcanic sand.  I'm going to guess that they water was about 65 degrees yesterday as I dipped my feet in.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Working yet?

No job yet, but I've taken a few steps in the right direction.  Some key milestones have been realized in my quest for employment.  I should almost treat this experience like an Xbox 360 game and give myself those ultra valuable achievements.
  • I attended the mandatory IEP orientation yesterday.  Only my opinion: A boring 3 hours that could have probably been consolidated into about 30 minutes for veteran travelers, but this program includes everyone.  I just sat there and ate Kiwi chocolate and it was tasty. 
  • We got our mobile phones up and running on the 2 Degrees network.  Pretty cheap, $19 for X # of calls, X # of texts, and X # of MB of data.  We can top up at grocery stores or the conbini.
  •  I applied for my IRD number which allows me to be taxed at 17.5 percent instead of 45% and I should get that number in 2 weeks.  This is similar to your social security number in the states.  
  • I also opened up a bank account today which will allow me to get paid as most employers only do direct deposit.  They are also very keen on the use of ETFPOS (Electronic Transfer of Funds Point Of Sale).  It works just like a debit card.  Scary thing is I have never had a debit card.  I have only ever had the ATM functionality until now.  
 Achievements Unlocked:
Listen here rookie -> 35
Can you hear me now? -> 10
Nah Nah Tax Man -> 20
Can I get paid now?? -> 5

Not a hostel...A gnarly cottage.

So we opted out of staying in a hostel while we searched for a place to live in Tauranga.  We are looking to rent a furnished place or be flatmates with some understanding individuals.  Beth will be working early to accommodate the US time.  Its like putting in a half day in the office with her as she'll work the afternoon and after people go home.

We got this nice 1 bedroom cottage with a gnarly backyard.  When entering the living room there were two nice and ripe avocados on the dinning table.  I ate one for breakfast and it was probably the best one I can remember eating and I eat them a lot.  If I had an oven and eggs, I would bake the eggs in the seed pit.  Even better than getting only two of these bad boys, the owners said if I find them on the ground in the backyard I can eat them.  The owners have quite the green thumb going on.  I'm sure they could put on a clinic in landscape design.  For instance, you get to gaze upon this and while listening to the birds chirp. 

 In the backyard, there is a chicken coop with a few chickens, a peacock pen with 7 of them, a koi pond with my sushi, a man cave for late night reading, a hot tub for relaxing, a couple of love seats, a few benches, a few raised platforms for getting up, a lot of produce from gardens, the beginnings of an orchard, and a lot of love.  They must spend a lot of time out here and if I lived here I know I would as well.  Its at the end of a secluded cul de sac and then down a long drive way.  Without GPS, I don't think we would have found it.

For all the images of the backyard follow me: Gnarly Tauranga Cottage

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Google: Find me a job in New Zealand

A lot of sites pop up don't they?  I've been cruising forums and job agency sites for a couple months now for a lead in some sort of employment.  There have been some favorable interactions and  I'm working with 3 different recruiters in 3 different cities to find me some sort of contract work for a Business Analyst or developer.  This would be close to what I have been doing for the past 5+ years and I know it would pay the bills.  I also know it wouldn't allow me all the time to have some fun in this new land.  So I have also been applying for more fun roles like an on-call Postie (deliver mail daily by bike!), kayak guide, and a baker.  Most of my searching was done while still back in the States, but now that I'm here, I've noticed a lot of signs up for random type of jobs.  I have my mandatory orientation tomorrow for the work program and maybe there will be some more insightful tips.  Right now I might have better luck getting a bike and riding around looking for postings on storefronts instead of the internet.  As the internet is pretty impersonal even though I have been using Skype for some initial get to know you meetings.

Do I have to resort to this?
I would have to have my cosplay gear sent over and that would probably cost more than I would make.  I saw some pretty talented people at it last night.  There was a girl doing opera.  There was even a guy in a donkey mask playing the clarinet.  I will find some way to make some money to cross off things on the NZ bucket list.

Bucket List for NZ

These are things I think I have to do and the list can grow.  They are in no specific order. 
Find some sort of job (This list may be a full time job!)
Find a place to live (besides out of my backpack)
Find a bike
Eat lamb
Learn to surf
Swim in Sea of Tasmania
Swim in Pacific Ocean
Explore the South Island
Visit Australia
Go snowboarding
Find BBQ or make my own
Finish my coding project
Go tramping on one of the multi-day walks

Bike the Otago Trail
Black-water rafting

If any of you have something you want me to do for you and take a picture, I may be willing to accommodate you.  There are things I wont do like heights or amusement type rides.  So for those who think of zorbing, I'll puke before I start so that is a no go.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

All the cool kids jump over the date line

Beth will be joining me tomorrow.  I've been busy exploring the city.  I've tracked my walking and its about a marathon since I started to explore the different neighborhoods.  I've done CBD, Mt Eden, Ponsonby, New Market, Parnel, and a few others that I don't recall their names.  Each little nook has its own feel.  Right now if I had to make a decision, it would be Mt Eden, mainly cause of the awesome hills it has and I'm a gluten for punishment on the bike. 

Talking about bikes I will have to wonder over to the second hand bike store tomorrow and see what they got.  I have found 4 other bike stores of which only 2 were open.  When I walked into both of them, it was like a swift kick to the berries.  I own an expensive bike already, but these just look to be your run of the mill road bikes but the price tags claim otherwise.  I think the cheapest bike I saw was a couple grand and then upwards of 8k for a frame and fork.  On these bikes I saw a mix of components but mainly 105 and only some with red.  I can't see myself dropping close to 4k for 105.  Also helmets are mandatory here and they cost about as much as my ACL reconstruction.  I've seen them for as cheap as $200 and as expensive as $500.  I could probably blow my entire savings on a bike before Beth even gets here.  This makes looking for a job even more important.

On the job front, I have been working with 3 different recruiters in 3 different cities.  It has been interesting as I was meeting on Skype and emailing over the past couple months, but now that I'm here I'll have to go pound some pavement to get something rolling.  I'm pretty sure I can pick up some odd ball jobs as that is what most travelers do, but I want a fun job.  Maybe I can talk someone into letting me use their house for the next big thing.  Close quarters paintball with real hostages! 
My Random Photos Like My Thoughs of New Zealand

Saturday, April 7, 2012

So much randomness for a single day

This post is going to be chaotic as I'm super tired and I only slept a couple hours on the 3 legs of my trip.  Leg 1 was uneventful and I read 2/3 of my book.  Leg 2 was uneventful until we were deplaning.  I was in the last row and I started to chat up the flight attendant.  I ended up scoring a lot of treats and a couple sprites (bad idea when you have to go back through security as Qantas flies out of the international terminal).  I would estimate $35-$40 based on airline prices walked off the plane in my bag.  The last leg, I was asked politely to let a husband and wife to sit together, little did I know that I would be sitting to a woman who would spill into my seat all flight long.  She was really nice and apologized right away about her size.  I watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes, The Sitter, 50/50,  and some movie with Method Man and Katherine Heigl as a bounty hunter and the main dude from Life on Mars.

I blew through customs, well not really.  They had to inspect my hiking boots and running shoes and I packed them on the bottom of my top loading pack.  Glad I did an awesome job packing as all my stuff was rolled and rubber banded.  Made repacking a snap.  Had a fun conversation with the guy looking through my gear.  He asked if that was enough for 6 months.  I said I have a credit card if its not.  He just chuckled.  I exchanged some money and went to grab the express bus into downtown.

The bus ride into town was about 30 minutes and the entire time all I could think of was Hawaii.  There are a lot of similarities between the 2.  The atmosphere seems to be the same and the slew of little shops on the bus line really did it for me.  However, I was looking for dives to eat in.  I saw a lot of interesting places, but my food for today was a surprise to stumble upon.  More on that in a little bit.  I got to the hostel and tried to check in, but its not allowed until 1pm.  I was 9:30 am.  I had a lot of time to kill.  So I dropped 2 of my 3 bags in a "secure" location and started on a nice walk.  I headed toward the bay and looked at awesome sailing vessels.  I don't even want to know the cost of these as they were professional grade racing boats.  The standing tandem winches were something else, but the 2 massive helms were glistening in the sun and I really wanted to offer my help as a deck hand, but you have to pay for that opportunity on these things.  I continued my walk down the bay and stopped off to read in the sun for a couple hours.  I finished my 1st book and slammed half of my 2nd book down.  I'm reading Jeff Somers "The Electric Church" and "The Digital Plague".  Before I left, I noticed he had 2 more books in the series,, but I wanted to re-read these before starting the new books.  After reading until about 11:30 I started to stroll again as I was hungry.  I had only eaten breakfast on the plane at 5ish.  I happened across a food stall/radio station free concert next to a park.  There were a lot of choices for such a small affair.  I'm guessing there were about a dozen stalls set up and some were t-shirts and the like.  For food there was paella, waffles with sweet toppings, South Indian Vegetarian, Hungarian Fried Bread, Wieners, Wood Fire Pizza, Pretzels, and Ice Blocks (aka popcicles).  I choose to eat a fried bread with walnut pesto.  The inside was nice and spongy and a golden crisp outside.  The walnut pesto was good, but I would have put garlic in it.  I also at a seafood paella.  It was amazing.  The mussel was giant and super sweet.  The shrimp was extra juicy and it popped in my mouth.  However its a three-way tie for the most awesome part.  First the fish.  It melted in my mouth, but it held firm on my fork.  The calamari was super tender and it exploded in my mouth upon first chomp.  Then there was the rice, it absorbed all of the flavors and it had a good amount of heat to it.  I then walked back to check into the hostel and took a shower.

Off for another walk in a different direction.  Let me tell you that I don't have a map or a smart phone and I was just wandering aimlessly through the streets without the slightest notion of where I was.  I ended up taking photos of intersections when I found something cool.  I ended up coming down a ridiculously long hill and saw a couple track bikes on cement in a park.  I thought it was a track at first, but as I got closer it was bike polo.  I went and started to chat the players up.  Asked about the bike culture in NZ and where to find a cheap bike.  Trademe was recommended, NZ version of ebay.  Then an actual store not too far from where I'm staying.  I might try to walk there tomorrow or Monday as I have nothing to do until Wed.  I lurked around there for probably an hour talking and watching their bike handling skills.  They were riding a mix of bikes from a bmx with longer seat post to modified mountain bikes.  I then set off to find my way back to the hostel and on my journey I spotted the katakana for ramen on a small store front so I stopped in to see if they had Tonkotsu Ramen and they did.  I ate a bowl.  It was meh.  The broth didn't have the rich pork flavor.  The pork tasted like it was cooked in a pan that had been burnt.  The spinach was very bitter.  The only attributes I enjoyed were the sesame oil and seeds added to the ramen.

I then started to wonder home and stumbled across a little book store.  I was browsing their wanderlust section, yes it is a real thing.  When a guy was looking at books 2 sections away.  He had pulled one off the shelf and was reading the jacket.  When I noticed that the book next to the one he just pulled out started to fall.  I made my best attempt to grab the falling book but it was just out of my reach.  He promptly said to me "Maybe you should be more careful with the books."  I responded "I was looking at this book here (and pointed to my wanderlust section).  The book that just fell was from where you pulled your book from.  I was just trying to prevent the book from hitting the floor."  He then apologized, but I almost beat an old man today for sassing me.  I think I need some sleep.