Thursday, April 28, 2011

Livin' for the city

We’re now rounding the corner of our final moments in this fine country and I’m desperately willing time to slow down. The past few weeks have been fairly low key as we’ve been hanging with friends, enjoying this awesome city for all it has to offer, and putting the stepping stones in place for our journey home. Two weekends ago – clear skies and sunshine galore; perfect for an afternoon party and BBQ. Probably the last of the season as the cold is starting to settle in and the clock has officially fallen back an hour. So we made the most of it.
Happy chef
Catching the last of the sun
Deep post dinner discussion
Out on the town

Last week – WWF’s all-staff hui (* A Maori term meaning to congregate, or gather together). The quarterly meeting itself was… well… a meeting. But on the second day of the meeting we visited the Nga Manu Nature Reserve – 13 hectares of protected, preserved land sandwiched in between endless fields of farmland and urban centres. It is home to over 700 different species of native plant including grasses, ferns and 400 year old kahikatea tree. It is also home to over 56 different bird species including kiwi, tuatara, tuis, and fantails that come and go around the wetlands, bush, and surroundings.

Nga Manu Reserve visitors' centre

WWF-NZ team in the kaka bird enclosure
A kaka bird (a NZ parrot)
Fun educational tools throughout the woods

This lake used to be swamp land. After 30 years of protection and responsible management, it's good as gold!
checking out the view from the treehouse
The WWF-New Zealand crew
Beautiful flowers on a pohutukawa tree (one of NZ's best known and most loved trees)

This past weekend – grey and rainy days; but we still made the most of it. On Saturday, we joined some friends and headed to Petone. Located across the harbour from home, Petone was the first European settlement in the Wellington region. It’s cute shops and cafes are what attract many weekenders looking for some time away from the central city. It’s also home to the beautiful Dowse Gallery. I’d really wanted to check out YIELD: Making Fashion Without Making Waste. International designers from London, New York, Mexico City, Auckland, and San Francisco collaborated to create a zero-waste fashion exhibition (ie. garments that are created with zero or minimal fabric waste). It was quite surprising to learn just how much fabric gets wasted with everyday clothing design and production.Lots of people are starting to explore this idea of sustainable fashion and it seems to be catching on.
Possibly (nope. definitely) the strangest installation I've ever experienced
Say wha?
Thumbs up if you dig this installation (ps - 2nd strangest)

A fountain that sources fresh, clean water beneath the valley surface from a local aquifer. The sculpture represents a 'water oasis' and provides access to the free water supply for the town's inhabitants.

The rest of our time has been spent relaxing, going for bike rides, running along the bay, and booking flights. I can’t believe we’re at that point, already! While I’m starting to get really excited to see everyone back home, meet my new nephew, and pat my canine and feline on the heads, I’m still going to find it difficult to step on that plane in June. Good thing we’ve got one last kick at the can for adventure before we return home!
After some weeks of chatting and organizing, it looks like our travel plans are officially as follows:     

NZ – Borneo – Thailand – Cambodia – Vietnam – Laos – Nepal – Tibet – Abu Dhabi - Home. 

… If that doesn't help cure the farewell blues then I don’t know what will! In all seriousness, though, I am really going to miss this incredible place. And I am worried that if I blink, I’m going to miss it all.

So what am I doing typing away right now at this blog? I’m off to hit the beach!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A new member of the Piller clan

Forget the barbecues and beautiful beaches we hit up over the past few days. This past weekend was all about BABIES!!

No no – not my own (!). My incredible brother and sis-in-law had a beautiful, healthy baby boy on Saturday, April 2. Matteus William Piller came into the world at 7 lbs 15 ounces and all legs. I couldn’t be prouder or happier for them.

So instead of regaling you with the events of my life here in New Zealand, I thought I would dedicate this post to them and simply let the stunning photos of the little man show off the most exciting thing that really happened this past weekend.

Yup. Five toes.

Lara was so excited to meet her baby cousin!
Pure gorgeousness.
A very proud papa. Not quite the type of marathons you're used to, eh big brother?!
Soaking it all in
Grandad meets the little one
Ok fine. He's pretty cute. He can stay.