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Archive for 'Auckland'

A Research Visit to Barista Cats, Auckland, New Zealand

Barista Cats

These days, many families live in rental accommodation or high-rise apartments are unable to keep pets. Enter – a business opportunity. Barista Cats in Queen Street Auckland is one of the new cafes where animal lovers can go to have a coffee and get their pet-fix without having the responsibility of a full-time pet.

Barista Cats has fifteen cats who live at the café and mingle with the café patrons as they chill with a tea or coffee. All the cats are ex-SPCA cats, and all have had tough lives, so they lap up the attention and care they receive at the café. One is deaf while another is blind. One or two of the cats wobble as they walk or climb, but all are healthy and happy.

Barista Cats Cafe

A visit to the café must be booked online beforehand, and only children over the age of fourteen can enter the premises. They must be with a guardian.

Hi Cutie

A Barista Cat

On arrival, all visitors are introduced to each cat, and the rules are explained. The cats have loads of toys and different bedding, but most are happy to plop down and enjoy a stroke or two from their visitors.

Each session is one hour, and the café hosts special sessions with kittens. They also have yoga and movies several times a month. You get to do yoga or watch a movie with a cat on your lap.

Dinner Time at the Cafe

Want to chill out and destress? If you’re a pet-lover without a pet, this is definitely the place for you.

Military MenI enjoyed my visit, and some of my experience will go into my current, as yet unnamed work-in-progress, which is part of my Military Men series. Watch this space!

The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, New Zealand

Whenever we have friends visiting from overseas, we take them to the Waitakere Regional Park. A short drive from the inner city and you’re in the middle of nature. The views from the visitor center are gorgeous, and it’s an interesting place for kids of all ages!

Waitakere View from Lookout

This is the view from the lookout at the rear of the visitor center. On a clear day, you can see for miles.

View of Auckland

It was a little hazy on the day I took this photo, but you can make out the Sky Tower and the other highrise buildings in the central city.

Native NZ trees

These are some of the native trees. The punga ferns were striking and pretty this day.

About the kauri tree

A Young Kauri Tree

A young kauri tree. This native tree is in danger from kauri dieback. It’s incurable, and currently, many of our tracks in the park are closed in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

The bush and river

Another view of the bush and the river.

Maori carving

Maori carving

Maori carving

These are some of the Maori carvings at the visitor center.

Shelley at Waitakere

And finally, this is me hamming it up with a view of the bush and sea behind me.

I’ve used the Waitakere area in my book Black Moon Dragon, and the heroine lives on the coast at Piha, which is not far away.

I highly recommend a visit to the Waitakere Ranges if you’re a visitor to Auckland. You won’t be disappointed!

Exploring Ponsonby, Auckland

This week, I decided to do my writing session in a different place. I ended up in Ponsonby.

Ponsonby Road

Ponsonby is an inner-city suburb, around 2 kilometers from the city center of Auckland. The origins of the name Ponsonby are a bit murky, and my search didn’t produce a definitive answer on how the place got its name.

Ponsonby is one of the original suburbs of Auckland. In the 1950s and 1960s, the area was a low-cost housing area, but these days, things are very different. It’s a thriving suburb with expensive property and lots of cafes and restaurants.

Huge mature trees grow on the grass verges, casting shade while the pedestrians get glimpses of the harbor and the Sky Tower. I particularly loved the wooden bungalows and villas that lined some of the streets—a reminder of an earlier time with their white picket fences.

Row of Bungalows

Wooden Bungalow

Bungalow

Mature Trees

The mature trees that grow in the area are beautiful and the shade is welcome during the hot summer.

Old wooden church

This old wooden church is a Samoan church these days.

View of Sky Tower from Ponsonby

The Sky Tower is visible from many parts of Auckland. This is the view from Ponsonby.

I had a fun morning exploring Ponsonby, and I managed to get lots of work done too. Win-win!

A Stroll Up a Dormant Volcano #Adventure2019

Adventure 2019

The city of Auckland is built on and around a field of volcanoes, which I think accounts for my fascination with volcanoes. One day, I will use volcanoes in a romance. Somehow.

I’ve been lucky enough to see most of our New Zealand volcanoes, including the more active ones farther south of Auckland. (White Island, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, Tongariro)

On one memorable trip we visited an active volcano in Guatemala. It was almost dusk and we stood next to the glowing lava flow. The conveyer-belt glide of the molten lava, full of rocks and popping gases, and the heat that came off that shimmering ribbon lives with me still, despite the passing of years.

On Auckland Anniversary day, we had friends visit from Winnipeg, so we marched them up to the top of one of our dormant volcanoes—Mount Eden. Mt. Eden is interesting because it has a perfect crater and the view of the sprawling city below is fantastic.

Auckland weather was on its best behavior and the views were stunning. From the summit, it is easy to see the other dormant volcanoes that stud the landscape. One Tree Hill, Mt. Hobson, Rangitoto Island, and Mt. Victoria to name a few.

Mount Eden, Auckland

The crater as seen from the top of Mount Eden.

Auckland harbor bridge and Sky Tower

View over downtown Auckland. Spot the Auckland Harbor Bridge and the Sky Tower.

Rangitoto

This is Rangitoto, which is the youngest volcano in the Auckland region. It erupted around six hundred years ago.

Other dormant volcanoes

The grassy hills are also dormant volcanoes. These ones are visible from the top of Mt. Eden.

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is yet another volcanic cone.

Drinks to rehydrate after our sightseeing

Drinks to replace the liquid lost while sightseeeing. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

If you ever visit Auckland, this spot is the perfect one to get an overview of the city with 360 views. From here, you can see both coasts (the Manukau and Waitemata) but a warning—if the day is windy. Hold onto your hat!

Rangitoto, Auckland. The Youngest Volcano #travel #newzealand

This year we’ve had lots of overseas visitors, which means we’ve been reacquainting ourselves with the sights around Auckland.

The city of Auckland is built on on a field of volcanoes, and Rangitoto Island is the youngest one – a mere 600 years-old. The island is pest-free (a big deal for our native bird populations) and is a short ferry ride from the central city.

The fascinating thing is that the silhouette of Rangitoto looks the same, no matter which part of the city you’re viewing it from.

Auckland_RangitotoFullView

Auckland_RangitotoDevonport

Auckland_Rangitoto

These photos were taken on different days, from different parts of the city.

We didn’t have time to do the walk to the summit, but if you visit Auckland for a few days, I highly recommend it since the walks are easy and the view back to the city is beautiful.

For more information on island walks and details of travel to the island check out the Rangitoto Govt site.

Fishing in the Hauraki Gulf #travel #NewZealand

A favorite activity – for hubby, at any rate – is to go fishing. We’re blessed with many choices of fishing spots in Auckland. Usually hubby tags along with his brother and they go fishing somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf.

Fishing

Here are some friends that decided to tag along.

Fishing dolphins

They like to play and take a good look. Must be a spectator sport…

Fishing scenery

When they overnight on the boat, they tuck into sheltered bays near one of the many islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

Fishing mooring

Lots of neighbors to chat with…

Fishing Allen

Then there is the fishing. The ones that got away…

Fishing Paul

And the ones that didn’t.

Do you like to fish? If so, where is your favorite fishing spot?

Y is for Yachts

Y

New Zealanders love their boats, and particularly those who live in Auckland, which is also known as the City of Sails. There are several marinas around the city, and we have some excellent boat builders who are based here. They make huge super yachts for wealthy people who like to sail around the world.

We have many champion sailors who have won medals at the Olympic Games and also world championships. At one time we held the Americas Cup. We contested for it last year, but unfortunately didn’t win.

Below are a few photos taken last year when hubby and I did a day trip from Auckland Harbor up the river to Riverhead.

Auckland Harbor Bridge Boats

This is one of the marinas. In the distance you can see the Auckland Harbor bridge.

Auckland Harbor Bridge

Yachts

Shelley CBD Sky Tower

And this is me with the main city center in the background, including the Sky Tower.

Trip to Riverhead

Yachts were even moored in the middle of the river when we cruised up to Riverhead.

Unattended Children

I have to admit that although I enjoy day trips on boats and I love cruising, I have no ambition to own a boat or yacht.

What about you?

S is for Sky Tower

S

Sky Tower is an Auckland icon, and the tower can be seen from all over the city. Here are a few facts:

1. The tower is a telecommunications and observation tower.

2. At 1076 feet (328 meters) it’s the tallest free-standing building in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. There are two restaurants and a cafe at the top. One of the restaurants is revolving. There are observation decks, and you can also bungee jump off if you want to get down quickly.

4. It took two years and nine months to build the tower.

5. The tower is built of 15,000 cubic meters of special high performance concrete, 2000 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 600 tonnes of structural steel.

6. The foundations go down more than 15 meters and are specially designed in order to spread the force load.

7. If the day is clear you can see the view for around 51 miles (82 kilometers)

Auckland city and harbor

Sky Tower

Do you like to visit the high spots in order to get a good view? Do you have a good head for heights?

(Sources: Wikipedia and Sky Tower website)

O is for One Night of Misbehavior

O

Titles are hard things to pin down—at least I find them difficult, and I can ponder and panic about finding the perfect title for a book for weeks. Titles also don’t begin with an O, but bear with me.

Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale. I guess it’s the romantic in me, but I like the idea of a prince searching the kingdom for his special woman and finding her in the most unlikely place. When I wrote the book that became my first self-published title, I decided to take the tale of Cinderella and give it my own special New Zealand spin.

And that’s when my title problem rose up like a many-headed snake. I thought and wrote lists, I pestered my husband for ideas then promptly said, “no, no, no,” because none of them were right. For a long time I called my story One Night With Zorro, which I really liked, but I worried about the Zorro part of the title and copyright.

Then, one day it hit me—the perfect title.

One Night of Misbehavior.

Here’s the blurb for One Night of Misbehavior, my Cinderella inspired romance, which is set in New Zealand.

One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

What is your favorite fairy tale? And authors out there, do you have trouble with titles?

F is for Fishing

F

New Zealanders love their boats and fishing. Fishing is a reasonably cheap activity since you don’t need a licence, except if you want to fish for fresh-water fish such as trout.

My husband’s family are all very keen fishermen. Me—not so much. I think the sport is cruel and I always feel very sorry for the fish. Not that my feelings stop hubby’s interest in the hobby. He goes out as often as he can. All of these photos were taken on the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland.

Hammerhead Shark

This is a hammerhead shark, and it was released after this photo was taken.

Baby shark

Another shark—a different variety this time—released again after the photo.

Hubby Fishing

Busy fishing. The island in the background is the dormant volcano, Rangitoto. It’s an Auckland landmark.

Hubby with Fish

Hubby with some of his catch.

SIL Fishing

And my sister-in-law with her catch.

Do you like to fish?