Getting excited for our trip. It’s the kids first time out of the country and we are going to New Zealand! The Land of the Long White Cloud! The place of adventure- Mountains, ferns, beaches, the shire, \240Maoris, kiwis and rugby! Come along with us and share in our adventure!

And we are headed to the airport!

0900 21Feb2019 Hawai’i 🌺 time

0800 22Feb2019 New Zealand 🇳🇿 time

So thankful for the USO! John is dropping car off and we have a nice place to wait!

Getting ready for take off! And a quick stop for coffee.

Kia Ora!

Long flight. Kids cuddled.

We are here!!!!

Had to come to NZ for the kids to eat at Denny’s. 😂


Amazing godwit birds fly from Alaska to New Zealand for 8 days straight! It was amazing to see them and pied stilts, ducks, herons and other birds. Kids also found some other creatures too.

A jeweled cicada

Lil crabs.

A mud crab in the shell.

Godwits taking flight.

a white faced heron

Headed to Whitianga and stopped in Coroglen and spent time playing on the Waiwawa River. They used to use the kauri trees for their “gum.” But after the ability to create a fabricated resin became popular, the industry died off. The Waiwawa River was used to transport the huge trees down off the hills.

A gorgeous lookout area.

Berries in the forest at the lookout.

Sibling love.

Waiwawa River

“Wai” means water in Hawaiian and Maori!

Photo creds: JoJo

Daddy teaching Josiah how to skip rocks.

Whitianga: \240Staying with my lovely host family that I used to live with in the 90’s!

What was supposed to be a rainy dreary day. Was a beautiful 20 degree day!

Here is my host family and us!

Simpson Beach

Whitianga, New Zealand

Did some boogie boarding and sand play.

This is Juno. The kids’ new best friend.

Went to a beautiful white sand beach-Otama, not far from where we are staying.

It was windy today, so we switched where we planned on going.

It was morning tea time when it was time to hit the road. So we stopped at Coffee LaLa-quite a crunchy little place.

Stopped at a gorgeous overlook.

Us with the bright sun in our eyes.

Otama Beach. Photo creds: Lynette


Chilly all wet and in the wind.

Birds photo bombing

Holly Noelle caught a lil sand hopper.

Found a fun swing on the beach.

Lovely Muter’s. ❤️

Lunch was at a pizza place called, Luke’s Kitchen. Mussels were super fresh.

Triple P pizza-pepperoni, pesto and prawns! It was aaaaamazing!

Had to stop for ice cream.

A puriri tree. Look up what the moth looks like! It’s a pretty cool green color. Endemic to NZ!

We walked along the shore in Kuaotunu and played all afternoon, watching birds, finding treasures and even a sea star.

Had to try out another swing.

A pohutukawa tree. It is an evergreen tree but these red flowers usually only show themselves in December.

I forgot the name of this bird. It starts with a d. They will act lame to get you to follow it away from their young.

Played endlessly on this beach in Kuaotunu and collected heaps of shells.

Found a sea star!

Headed back to the batch (beach) house, but made a stop on the way.

Stopped at a knife forger.

He had all kinds that he made himself!

Here is the skinning knife John chose. It is from a kauri tree.

Hot Water Beach

We made it a bit later from low tide than planned. But we’re still able to dig up a trenc and enjoy the hot hot hot water!

The only beach where all the adults have the shovels (spades) in hand and not the kids.

My Johnny loves.

Tuesday, Part 2

Went down the street to Hahei. The area was absolutely gorgeous. We went for a hike and then played on the beach.

Had a coffee and chai at Hot Water Beach. There’s something bout the chai here. Maybe it’s because we are vacationing. But it tastes spicy and gooood.

An oystercatcher.

Lots of ferns in NZ.

Gemstone Beach.

Saw some quail along the way.

This morning’s amazing sunrise. God’s glory on display. No filter.

We were greeted with an amazing sunrise today.

I hollared at the fam to come watch.

God’s paintbrush. Just gorgeous. (No filter.)

This is the info center i sight) in Matamata.

Stepped inside a Hobbit house. There was absolutely nothing inside.

Every ticket had a different pic.

Kids found a caterpillar along the way.

There were tons of butterflies.

And Holly Noelle was trying to catch them.

The party tree.

They glued fake looking moss/algae to all the fencing. And also put yogurt all over the fence to speed the process up.

A pukeko

The color red was associated with nobility and power by Māori in New Zealand, so the bird was held in high esteem and held as a chiefly pet because of its red beak and legs.

John was pretty stoked.

This is at the Green Dragon where we all had around it drinks.

A beautiful treat: pavlova by Jude.

Here is my dear host family and my master teacher, Jude, when I lived here, with her husband.

Holly Noelle was drawing pix for everyone.

After clearing out their beach (batch) house, they headed to their home in Hamilton and set to host dinner for us and my master teacher. It was a fabulous night of reminiscing and sharing. (John was putting kids to bed during the photo.)

This was a second cave: Ruakiri Caves. Supposesly

But first, eggs. Look how fresh these eggs are. They are sold on a shelf in the store-not in the cooler.

We took a boat ride through the cave but were unable to take photos. It was like looking at a constellation of stars above-from the gloworms’ bioluminescence.

This was a second cave: Ruakiri Caves. Supposedly a Maori saw 2 dogs emerge from the caves, but the chief ate them.

The Maori actually believe that there is a darkness in the cave that takes your spirit when you die. So this “cleansing” of the water was for “protection.” Of course, we know the real Protector.


This one looked like cauliflower.

This one looked like dried pig skin.

We actually got to take pix of the glow worms.

Glow worms are very interesting worms. The bioluminescence is their waste. They are hanging with their mouth down and they make a saliva that is the long string you see here. The insects come along and then the glow worm sucks it all up close to his mouth. Then he bores a hole in the insect and injects it with something (I forget what) and then sucks it all into his tummy. They are only alive for 48 hours as adults!

God’s amazing design.

Nice picture. \240

Crazy picture.

A scallop fossil.

This was looking up. I think the guide said, 43 metres up.

The owner of the land above the cave was the first person to take others down through the cave. There was a tussle over property rights between the Holden family, NZ government, Maoris and maybe others. The Holden’s put up this sign during that fight.

Stopped at an amazing park. That hole is actually a trampoline!

A zip line.

Even daddy tried it out.

And today was Colin’s birthday! So we topped the day off with birthday cake!

Busy day ahead!


Rainbow Springs

Skyline...All 3 places I visited in 1996!

A stop for some morning tea. We got off on such an early start we had breakfast in the car.

There was an artist that made some interesting things here! This is an “i site” info center.


At the Agrodome: JoJo was amazed at the wool.

A rabbit in his hiddey hole trying to run from Holly Noelle.

This guy wasn’t so lucky. He got tightly loved by her.

Here is the sheep show. This sheerer sheered this sheep in about one minute. Afterwards, they put him out in the paddock, where his wool will start growing back in a few days.

Holly Noelle diplaying the wool that was just sheared.

He asked for kid volunteers and here was the first one.

She got to feed the baby alpaca some milk.

Here are several of the types of sheep there are and his kuri (dog) \240jumping across their backs.

The one the kuri is on is a merino-an amazingly thick coat that is trés cher!

This guy is real!

Check out those horns! He’s real too. They actually cross breeded him with another kind to get rid of those ginormous horns.

Holly Noelle with one of the kuri.

Petting the baby alpacas and sheep.

I don’t remember what the alpaca did for JoJo to have this expression.

Kids loved the cheezles.


This was a beautiful place with little pathways to see reptiles and birds, as well as play areas for the kids to pretend to be the various animals.

Stopped at a pond to feed fish, but the ducks were more appealing to Holly Noelle.

These were ways you could “see” like the animals. Holly Noelle is in a weta. It is a really big and ugly insect. I really don’t know how they see. It’s a bit like looking through a kaleidoscope.

A tuatara.

These spun and were meant to mimic a kiwi egg.

They had a cool area where you could pump water from an aquifer.

Daddy explaining how this worked.

Pumping. Pumping. Pumping.

Rainbow trout and some others. Female trout are called, “hens.”

An extinct Moa statue.

Here is a kaka. See his cross cross beak?

A moorepok!

A close up of kauri tree.

A cabbage tree.

A noisy tui.

An eel in the river.

Holly Noelle in a giant kiwi egg.

A close up of kiwi feathers.

Holly Noelle learning about kiwis.

We went on a hatchery tour and saw a baby kiwi! But we weren’t allowed to take photos. Kiwis are at risk of extinction so this agency is taking the eggs and raising them-an incubation of 75-80 days. Then, after they hatch, they are nursing them and placing a tracking device on them and then releasing them where they found the egg after nursing them and ensuring their health is good. If you’re worried about imprinting and the parents’ reactions, I will tell you that the mom leaves the egg and the father incubates them. And they don’t imprint like ducks. And they are hatched at a large size, ready to go forage for food on their own.

There was a fun water ride too.

Holly Noelle was stoked to find a koru! This unfurls and becomes a new fern.

Crazy kids.

A beautiful mute swan.


First, a trip up the gondola.

A nod to Vegas!

Cruising down a luge.

We all loved it.

Took a lift back up each time.

Great view up top of Rotorua Lake.

Saw some deer on the way down.

Today was a day about distance. Driving•flying•driving and at 2230, we are finally in Hokatika-the west side of the South Island of New Zealand.

Kids excited to be watching tv shows. 🙄

Beautiful view over the South Island.

There were seats open behind the kids so we snuggled up for a little.


The rest of the photos are driving over Arthur’s Pass to get from Christchurch to the west side. In many places it made me think of northern Nevada. Additionally, the sun was setting and it was a fantastic view all the way through!

And here is my reward for spending an entire day traveling!


We arrived late last night and laid both kids in bed, asleep, from the long drive. They awoke and were able to enjoy the big tub for a bath as well. I have had a migraine since yesterday, so all that traveling wasn’t the most fun. Still recovering today.

We had a rumble in our tumblies so we went out to eat for breakfast in Homitika.

Another lovely spiced chai.

The kids were pretty happy with their pancakes that were topped with berry compote and whipped cream.

I have never had eggs benedict so good!

We explored the beach and looked for greenstone.

They have a competition with driftwood and I guess this one is still standing.

I’ll have to ask my sis what this is...a lily? It was growing wild along a footpath in a dell.

This fern looks fake.

Soooo many different ferns!

I went grocery shopping and John took the kids to a kiwi centre. It had all kinds of activities: feeding eels; catching crayfish, watching kiwis! There was even a section that you could peer into the kiwi enclosure with no glass!

Feeding the eels beef heart.

They even got to touch them!

A real rainbow fish.

A tiger oscar fish.

Kids trying to catch crayfish.

Holly Noelle proudly displaying her certificate. They both caught crayfish.

They had baby eels too.

A Sengal Bichir are noctornal predators from Africa.

The tuataras they had in captivity laid eggs!

On the road to Franz Josef:

Stopped at Lake Ianthe-it empties into the Wanganui River.

Pano of Lake Ianthe


John found an Air BnB for us.

They immediately started exploring and found berries to eat.

We made it to 2 different hikes. One went to the bottom of the Franz Josef Glacier. The other went along the other side of the glacier.

Trail head.

There was this huge long area along the footpath that was covered in shamrocks!

A shot of the glacier. It used to come to where we were standing in 1908.

JoJo found some quartz.

We have lived in Hawai’i for almost 2 years and the only waterfall the kids have seen was on a long arduous hike. They were pretty excited to see so many today.

Holly Noelle especially liked the fresh water.

One of Charlotte Mason’s fundamentals are creating habits. When we go on a hike for school, I have the kids bring their field notebooks and sketch something interesting. Today, Holly Noelle brought her NZ notebook and sat down during lunch, all on her own and began to draw the glacier.

Here is her glacier and she drew herself and Josiah too.

Lunch on a rock selfie.

Our lil rock hopper.

We were able to get so close to the falls!

Kids found a dragon fly.

And some kind of cricket.

Holly Noelle was being our tour guide and explained about fern spores. (Something we had learned about before we left for NZ!)

Peter Lake-named after a 9 year old boy who was camping out here on his own and found it.

Photo creds: Holly Noelle

Photo creds: Josiah


We found a big koru all in its own.

Do you think those “hairs” are soft or bristly?

We were all stoked to come to a swing bridge!

It was only able to hold 5 people at a time.

Came across lots of running water. So beautiful and peaceful.

Headed back across the bridge.

Another type of fern.

And back at the lake again. It was made from the glacier melting.

We came back to our Air BnB and made some lamb and brusses sprouts. You wouldn’t believe the price here for lamb! We have had at least 5 meals with lamb. The meat is so fresh and smells so delicious-even before it is cooked!

Grapes growing on the land of the place we are staying at in Franz Josef.

Made it to Lake Matheson. Between Josiah and John is Fox Glacier. And between Holly Noelle and Jihn is Mount Cook.

Lake Matheson is named after Murdoch Matheson who ran cattle in the area of the Cook River Flats in the 1870’s. He opened a store and butcher shop about 15 kilometers away for all the gold miners.

We were able to cross a suspension bridge.

Holly Noelle was showing her excitement.

Here is the white pine-“kahika” in Maori. It is the tallest tree here. It provided timber for spears, weapons and, canoes.

The clouds were moving in and you cannot see the high peaks behind them.

Always in the search for koru. It’s where a new fern unfurls. It is also a sign of rebirth.

The red pine.

The red pine’s red fruit cup that has the seed is edible. The gum was bitter and used on wounds to stop bleeding; the leaves for healing wounds; and the inner bark fir burns.. The seeds are only produced every 5-6 years!

Found a bench to eat lunch.

Look how still the water is!

Finally made it to a good spot to see the beautiful reflection everyone talked about. It did not disappoint-even in a cloudy day, mid-afternoon.

This is a picture of the Kidd’s reflection in the water! See Holly Noelle’s hair to the right?

Obligatory selfie.

We all got in a reflection shot. That’s another pic of the water!

Holly Noelle taking off after big bro.

The parents.

Holly Noelle found these amazing berries. This photo is not edited! They are bright purple. I have no idea what they are though.

This fern’s name is “The Prince of Wales Feather.” It is flat on the bottom, but the top is almost feather like!

The kids saw this foam in the water and had to investigate. When leaves, twigs or other organic substances fall into water and begin decaying, they release compounds known as surfacants. This interaction breaks the surface tension, which in turn allows air to more easily mix with water and creates bubbles. These bubbles congregate as natural foam.

Washing off in the fresh stream.

A cloud covered mountain view with the trees reflecting.

Flax: “harakeke“ in Maori, was used for clothes, fishing nets, rope, baskets (kete) and even rafts!

Ponga-“whekī” in Maori is a very common tree fern. It was used for temporary shelters and the hard slivers were used as spear points.

Found some amazing mushrooms.

I don’t think I have ever seen a mushroom this color blue The pic is not edited.

And mommy found a necklace. It’s two koru.

Looked up some road signs that we didn’t know. Imagine that, they allow people to use common sense when driving.

And this one means no stopping.

We stopped in Ross to do some gold panning. We were there for about 2 hours. John and I didn’t want to leave. But the long drive ahead beckoned us to move on.

A small scale water mill recreated for the area.

Holly Noelle holding the pans. \240

Josiah on the old sluicing pipes for gold mining.

It was a little drizzly, but a short walk to the creek.

Johnny set to work.

It was tedious, but fun.

You can’t even see the gold flecks in the vial. I promise they are there.

The kids enjoyed playing in the creek more than gold panning.

John liked his spot. He kept finding small bits there.


A few flecks and small pebbles that had gold flecks on them.

Daddy in the gaols.

Checking out what a jail cell looked like.

And then...driving about 3 1/2 more hours through Arthur’s Pass. The scenery was beautiful and reminds me of Nevada.

Made it to Christchurch at another Air BnB. Holly Noelle helping with dinner.

We have tonight and one more night here in Christchurch, then we are flying back to Auckland.

Before we left for NZ, we studied about Sir Edmund Hillary-the first person to hike to the top of Mount Everest and he was a kiwi. He also was the first person to take equipment out to the Antarctic. So, when we were told about the Antarctic Centre, we had to go!

The first thing we did was see the huskies. Holly Noelle was drawn to them instantly.

They were all very docile. We were told they are rescues.

He threw up shortly after this pic. 😬

Me posing and Holly Noelle genuinely enjoying the dog.

She went from dog to dog. She visited all 4 of them.

Next, a ride on a Hägglund. They are designed by the Swiss.

There was no snow in Christchurch, so they made up a fun track to show its abilities.

We tested out an Antarctic storm. Even in the igloo, Holly Noelle and I left.

JoJo braved the storm of -8 F.

Johnny showing off that he can hold his arm in ice water longer than a minute.

They had all kinds of displays.

JoJo pretending to be eaten by a seal.

The blue dot is where we are-on the South Island of NZ. The red dot is McMurdo Island. There is someone from NZ who is studying this area of Antarctica.

A closer view of the area.

And here \240is a sample of some of the ocean life found. Look at how they lack color. I was surprised to see sea stars too!

The sea urchins are very colorful!

A supply sled and a tent that is made of all synthetic material, used in Antarctica.

A ventifact is a stone that is shaped from the wind passing over it. (Thousands of years though, not likely.)

Lake Vanda-Where that ventifact is from.

They had little blue penguins.

They were such cute little guys.

All of them were rescued for some reason or another.

One had his foot wrapped, because he stepped into a camper’s fire.

A little afternoon tea-lovely chai tea latte.

I’ve got Johnny hooked now. He’s asking for chai, instead of coffee!


Back to the dogs.

And a parting photo.

Look at this sibling love.

Came back to our place and then walked 2 minutes to the beach.

It was windy, but kids were happy to be there.

She insisted on swimming.

A pano of the area.

Josiah doing epic battles.

I was trying to get a shot of the waves coming up.

Bright flowers on the little dunes by the beach. I think it’s a weed.

And someone had a full lime tree growing in their yard.

Our time is getting short. We fly back to the North Island tomorrow.

Fun fact: NZ is 23 hours ahead of Hawai’i. So, we are currently about a day ahead of everyone.

Also, so baffling how NZ has hardly any trash cans anywhere, yet it’s so clean everywhere you go. And if there are trash cans, there are usually 3: landfill, recycling and compostable waste. The US has trash cans everywhere, yet there are places that trash is all over the ground.

A rainy, chilly and windy day in Christchurch.

Hanging at the airport, playing giant checkers and sipping a delicious chai latte.

Praying for my Pops. He has a major, 7 hour surgery happening right now. Cancer in his jawbone with 1 1/2” being removed and replacing it with a splint and bone from his shin.


Flying from the North Island to the South Island and back made me compare how we fly in the US. first, flying on a domestic flight-no one ever checked our ID’s-I only scanned one passport when checking in to print bag tags. No person ever checked our ID. Additionally, we went through security check and didn’t need to remove our shoes or pull the liquids into one bin. It felt like flying used to be in the US, pre-911. When boarding was the only time we needed our boarding pass. And we scanned our own and got on the plane. Also, on board, you are expected to listen to the safety briefing. Those with ear phones or looking down at phones were politely asked to remove the ear phones and look up.


Made it to the North Island. It’s been a very cold and wet day.

Drove a little outside of Auckland for our last night in NZ. And when we arrived, the rain stopped! The kids ran and ran and played ball with the owner’s dogs.

The kids cut down some amazing grapes. They taste like Welch’s juice!

We were told that if you tell the dogs, “walkies,” they will take you on a hike. And they did! They led the way!

The dogs left us and we were on our own.

There’s one...swimming in the algae water.

And the other brought us a treat. Poor bird. 😞

Kids weren’t too sure about walking among the cattle.

They got over it.

And Holly Noelle began mooing like a cow...I thought that one was going to walk up to her.

Lots of fruit trees on their property.

And Holly Noelle picked one. Our lil Dorothy. 😂

The dogs were so fun. The kids absolutely adored playing with them and the dogs just sat at our door waiting for them every time they popped in

Tomorrow is the end of our trip and we are headed back to Hawai’i.

Fresh milk from the farm.

Homemade yogurt from the farm. They added strawberries and it was deliciously sweet.

A lil family selfie before we left.

Are these figs?

Headed to an aquarium and shopping.


Kelly Tarltan’s Aquarium in Auckland:

We picked a poor day to go. Not only was it Saturday, but it was pouring down rain. So everyone else was looking for indoor famiy activities as well. However, we had a great time exploring this aquarium that even had a moving walkway!

There were several memorabilia there of Scott, who who was in Antarctica.

This “ice” rolled like a funhouse. The kids loved it, but it made me want to puke.

They had a few different penguins

Pretending to be riding a snowmobile.

Josiah was in awe at the actual size of a giant squid.

They had these cards that scanned at lil spots that took you through the process of rescuing a turtle.

Here, Holly Noelle is looking at an x-Ray and healing the turtle.

Here they are weighing.


Tagging before a release.

And then the release.

They really liked this kart. They each did it about 4-5 times.

They had a fun play area too.

They had an aquarium where you could walk under it like the one in Virginia. But this one was a moving walkway that went around in a circle.

There were sharks!

And longfun eels. Holly Noelle was disappointed she couldn’t touch them.

Pointing to a puffer fish.

Amazed at the size of these lobsters.

They had a ranger pack and the kids liked the paper watch and badge.

When we were done, so was the rain!

Then we went to the mall and had to buy another piece of luggage to bring back all the books we bought.

And had dinner at the airport, but look at the size of these fish!

We had an easy flight home with lots of leg room on an almost empty flight . We left at midnight, 10March and flew back in time to arrive in Honolulu at 9:20 AM, 09March.