Art Like No Other

A couple of years back we visited Gibbs farm.  Gibbs Farm is privately owned and is located near the Kaipara Harbour, the biggest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is here at Gibb’s farm that a few artists get to showcase their sculptures on the 1000 acre farm.

The farm is only open monthly to the public by prior appointment, where you get to walk around and view each sculpture. There is no fee to enter the farm. They offer a few dates where they take bookings but be quick!  Spaces book out so you  need to book in advance.  We visited in Spring, and there was a lot of rain!!  The walk around the farm takes a good 3-4 hours, and trust me it is long, not sure how, but our girls managed to walk the whole way without complaining.  Until that time when Miss C needed to do a wee and there were no toilets near us, so we had to find a tree pretty quick smart!

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You can take younger children but the roads are a bit rough so not that great for strollers unless you have one of those heavy-duty 4×4 prams that can go off roading.  Even though the weather was pretty shit, it didn’t stop people visiting.  The only time the farm is closed is during the winter months.  There are plenty of animals about too, Ostrich, zebras, giraffes you name it.  The cool thing is you can get up close and personal with the giraffes and feed them.

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In summer it would be even more amazing, as you can pack a picnic and sit down anywhere really and soak it all in.  If you are going in wet weather, definitely pack a spare set of clothes to change into once you have finished your visit.

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Both our girls loved the freedom of exploring, and the sheer size of the sculptures where breath-taking!

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We had a great time visiting and it wore out the kids too…hooray!  If you would like more information on Gibbs Farm, click here.

To make a booking to visit, click here for the reservations form.

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Enjoy!

Ronell x

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Secret Swimming Hole No More!

There isn’t a New Zealander that I know who doesn’t like a bit of adventure and anything that involves swimming.  So I thought I would share with you one of the “secret swimming holes” as listed on The Urban List many times that we frequently visit over summer.

Travel just 45 minutes north from Auckland towards Warkworth and you will come across the The Mahurangi Cement Works aka “Old Cement Works”.  But first, a little history lesson about the place.

History

The founder of New Zealand’s cement industry, Nathaniel Wilson (1836-1919), emigrated from Glasgow with his family when he was 6 years old. Nathaniel initially trained as a shoemaker, but in 1864 he purchased a small piece of land adjacent to his parents block south of Warkworth village.

Close by, John Southgate had been making lime since 1851 by burning local limestone in a kiln. With limestone deposits on his land Nathaniel decided to give it a go too, building his own lime kiln in 1866. With this he started manufacturing Roche lime, used in plaster and mortar.  After many experiments, by 1885 Nathaniel and his brothers, John and James, began trading as J Wilson and Company. Theirs was the first enterprise to commercially manufacture Portland cement in the Southern Hemisphere.

However, early production was challenging because of the variability of the local limestone. This was eventually overcome, with advice from Mr Pond, by adding pipi shells from the Mahurangi River, and later from Clevedon, to increase the lime content.

Although Wilson’s invested heavily in new machinery and processes, by 1918 the company was voluntarily wound up and amalgamated with the New Zealand Portland Cement Company, whose works were at Limestone Island. It was there that most of the cement was then produced, while the Mahurangi works focused on hydrated lime. By 1926 the closure of the works was imminent and machinery was transferred to Portland (near Whangarei) before the Mahurangi works were closed in 1929.  Source:  Google

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There you go,  now history is not for everyone but places like this I love researching into what it was before and then looking at what’s left behind.

The swimming hole is filled naturally with fresh water. The surrounding edges of the swimming hole are lime stone so you will need to be careful as it is slippery.  It gets very deep very quickly, so if you are not a confident swimmer I would suggest taking a flotation device.

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The water is pretty cold but perfect on a hot summer’s day.  At first it does look like something you would find in a horror movie, like something is lurking under the water (hope I didn’t scare you) but just jump in, I did!  The place does fill up with lots of other families so it pays to go a little early.  After enjoying a swim, walk around the grounds and have a look at the ruins of the cement works.  Some areas of the ruins are fenced off due to it being dangerous with falling rocks.   There are toilets on site and plenty of car parking space.

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Hopefully you will visit this amazing place soon, and even if you don’t swim head on down and go for a wander around the grounds.

Enjoy

Ronell x

Clip n Climb – North Shore

Every parent knows this scenario well! It’s the weekend and is pissing down with rain, the kids are fighting with each other or bored or who knows what! We parents are thinking, “Please god save us!” 

Well we were saved this weekend that has just gone by. Auckland received one of its heaviest downpours, however we braced the weather and took the girls to the new Clip N Climb in Albany, North Shore. 

The set up was pretty amazing. At the entrance you will find a huge picture showing the height of some of the tallest mountains in the world. 


Once we entered the girls were quickly and efficiently harnessed up and were ready to go. But before climbing you are taken through a quick safety briefing which the guys make pretty fun for the kids. 


The girls got to climb for an hour. There were so many different walls for them to try out they loved it. We went to the first session in the morning so it was pretty empty however it does not take long to fill up. It’s also a very popular party destination. 


They did so well it took them a few times before they worked up the courage to go all the way to the top. I bet it isn’t easy either! I’m yet to give it a go myself! 

The girls cooled off afterwards with a well deserved ice cream! It’s fair to say we had a quiet afternoon as they were pretty tired from all the climbing. It’s a win win situation! 

If you would like more information about Clip n Climb check out their website here. 

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Happy climbing! 

Ronell x

Whoa Studios..is totally Whoa!!!


Whoa studios is the new family entertainment place to be in Auckland.  You can find the studio’s in Henderson.

They put on amazing shows for the kids. So if you are heading to the studios, there is no entry fee to go into the grounds.  If the kids just want to play on the playground then you only buy a pass for that, or if you are seeing a show then you pay to the see the show. The general admission cost is $25 for the show, child ticket holders also receive complimentary pass to the playground.  If you don’t want to watch a show then you can pay $10 for a child over 3 for an all day access to the park.  Under 3’s are free with a paying sibling. Then you sit back and buy a coffee and relax.


The park is great and our girls loved the Whoa Web, which is New Zealand’s only crocheted play net.  We tried to convince them to go check out other parts of the playground but nope they didn’t want to!


So whilst the kids are playing you can grab a coffee from The Grounds Restaurant/Cafe. The Grounds Restaurant is owned and run by Executive Chef Ben Bailey, and it was great to see him in action in the kitchen.  I love that you can see all the way through the kitchen, and it was busy, lot’s of hands on deck.  The reason for this is because everything is made in house fresh everyday, including the array of ice creams which include vegan ice creams as well.


The idea behind the restaurant is based around family eating so you order a few dishes and share, now don’t be mistaken in thinking that because it says “family” you will find chicken nuggets and chips on the menu…oh no!  There is no trace of that sort of meals anywhere, which I was rather pleased about.  You can order kids bolognese, cheese toasties, chicken tenders, etc.  It’s homemade wholesome food.


There is also a lovely little toy store in there, where you can buy merchandise and other toys and great seating areas inside to relax in.


It’s a wonderful place and we will certainly be back again!

Ronell x

Meet Charlie – Our Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tradition

First of all I needed to make sure there were no kids around when writing this post, or else the secret is out!!!

The story behind Elf on the Shelf, when you purchase your elf, you can choose either a girl or a boy, and since our household has a lot of girls we thought we even it out and chose a boy, and you can choose an elf with either light skin or dark skin.  Our Elf arrived with a book which explains what his job as a scout elf is, and the kids get to name the elf as well. Our elf is called Charlie Shera.

The Elf is sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. Each day the elf keeps an eye on the children and then at night he returns to Santa to report back on what he has seen during the day, which helps Santa make his naughty and nice list.

Each morning, the elf returns and is usually in a different place each time. My girls love to wake up and race around the house looking for Charlie each morning.

It’s great because I often remind the children that Charlie is watching and if they are bad, he is going to tell Santa all about it!

The first year it was all gun’s blazing, I even brought out Charlie a few days before 1/12, I had so many ideas as to what to do with him each night so the kids can try and find him in the morning.  Here’s a snippet of Charlie’s first year with us.

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The thing with traditions is it’s something that when you start, you have to keep doing it each year after, so that it sticks.  By the second year the novelty for Adam and I dropped a little because we used to forget each night, and then at about 9pm we would be like, “shit!!! we need to find a place for Charlie!”.  Then off course we are scrambling around the house trying to figure out something funny to do, and at that time at night, not a lot of inspiration is happening.

Below are some photos of what Charlie got up to during his second year with us!

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With Christmas almost upon, Charlie will surely be making an appearance this year, however I’m thinking after about day 3 he just might have a Dr’s certificate with him, putting him off all Elf duties for a bit!!!

I would love to hear about any Christmas traditions that you have started as a family, and if you do have your own Elf on the Shelf, then please help me with some inspiration!

Ronell x

Countdown to Fiji

I can’t believe that this time last year we were mid way through our holiday in Fiji.  This year we are going a bit later so we still have 4 weeks to go. But no harm in starting the countdown early, and life is so busy that before we know it that 4 weeks will be here! We are staying in the same place that we did last year the Radisson Blu Resort

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We love this resort, it has everything you need.  It’s the only resort on Denarau with a climate controlled pool so it’s perfect for the kids (and myself), as I hate the water being too cold.  The pool area also has a hydro slide which the kids love!  The resort offer’s many amazing restaurants too. The good thing we found staying on Denarau, is you have the option to walk or catch the Bula bus to all the other resorts where you can eat at their restaurants, or visit the eateries at Port Denarau, so plenty of food choices. One of our favourites is  Mamacita Mexican Restaurant at the Wyndham Resort. The kids love the Kids Club at the Radisson Blu, we usually spend all morning and lunch with them, then at about 2pm we go and drop them into kids club and they get picked up at 5pm, total bliss!

If you can I would suggest staying in a one bedroom suite, especially when travelling with kids. There is plenty of room so you don’t feel like you on top of each other, it comes with a full kitchen and laundry, I hate bringing back dirty washing so the fact that I can wash and dry all our clothes makes the unpacking much easier.  Also having the two sleeping areas is great (especially if you husband snores, you can kick him out to the next room), sorry Adam!

Right time to work on getting all our essential stuff ready for when our trip comes around, we have learnt a few things from our trip last year.  This time round we will be packing much less clothes and more snack food.  Seriously I packed an outfit for each day, like what the hell was I thinking!!!

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It was a good thing we checked our passports because both girls have recently expired in the same week!! I love that passport applications can now be done online at New Zealand Passports you can even take your passport photo using your smart phone, there are guidelines on how to take it and the size required, which is great as it saves spending money on getting them done at a pharmacy.  Both passports have now been renewed and on their way back to us.

Some of the things that I love, are definitely my Havaianas you always need a good pair of jandals!  I always buy mine direct from the website, for the girls because their feet are still growing and they usually wreck shoes quicker, I just get them jandals from either Kmart or Cotton On Kids.  Sunblock you can never have enough of this when going to Fiji, I love the  Le Tan sunblock.  It smells amazing, it’s like being on holiday all the time.  The Warehouse had them on special a couple of months back so I grabbed a few bottles.

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Any parent travelling with kids know that you basically have to pack a whole freaking pharmacy with you, I swear most of the crap in our toiletry bag is medicinal stuff! Anyway, did you know that you can carry dry antibiotics with you (if you are travelling elsewhere, best to check first before taking it with you according to the countries laws).  The dry antibiotics unmixed lasts for two years, once it is mixed up it lasts for the standard 10 days. We take a bottle for each girl.

We all have our own net laundry bags, which I got from the $2 shop, they are not huge but big enough to fit everyone’s underwear in, and then we just throw it in the suitcase.  Don’t even start talking about suitcases, we need to desperately start investing in some good ones, we usually just borrow my parents. Now the sandwich maker, yes that’s right a sandwich maker.  Last year we travelled with our friends who had packed their’s and everyday at lunchtime after spending all morning in the pool, we would head back to our rooms and make loads of toasted sandwiches for lunch, which was easy, cost-effective and the kids enjoyed it. So I went and bought one for myself this year for a bargain, $10 at Kmart.

I think we are pretty much ready to go now, just a few bits and bobs to get, but other than that we are set.

We had the best family time last year and we can’t wait to do it all again….BULA!

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