New Zealand

New Zealand

The Big Move

Hey friends and family. We thought a blog would be good way for everybody (who is interested) to keep up with how things are going.

A Long Time Coming....

The Big NZ MovePosted by Rasmus Overgaard Jensen Wed, February 01, 2012 09:30:08

Well it's been so long since we last updated that I can't really remember what we've done! Needless to say our furniture finally arrived, the same day as Lars and Signe landed from the UK. The positive side of that is that we had a bed, bed linen, towels and of course things to sit on, on the down side it meant that we had not had chance to get things unpacked and a bit more welcoming before they arrived so the first few days of their trip were a bit chaotic, cardboard and paper played quite a large role! For all our dissatisfaction with the moving company we at least have to give them they didn't stint on the packing paper, we offloaded all we could with the delivery men and still have a pile in the garage to try and cram into the recycling bin. Freya probably has enough paper to scribble on for at least the next two years, I've even considered redecorating the house with it. Who knew that tupperware needed to be wrapped in five sheets of paper to protect it from the equally well wrapped spoons. Most things arrived undamaged with just a few casualties, which were obviously things we actually cared about, rather than the tupperware but I guess that's sods law!

The weekend after Lars and Signe arrived we all travelled up to the Bay of Islands for a few days holiday, staying in Russell. Our lovely little house was right on the beachfront and it was great to wake up and see the sea from the bedroom window. Unfortunately the weather wasn't consistently good enough for us to get out on the water, we though it was probably best if Freya's first experience in a boat was on calm waters! Lars and Signe both managed to get on a boat after we had left, on a fishing trip and walking trip respectively.

We did a little bit of exploring and made our way to Puketi Kauri Forest where we had a little walk among the massive trees. We also visited the cunningly named Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 by Maori Chiefs and representatives of the British Crown which established a British Governor of New Zealand, recognised Maori ownership of land. The treaty house itself was just a regular cottage which had been made into a small interesting museum and is one of New Zealands oldest and most historic houses. Te Whare Runanga is a fully carved Maori Meeting House which represents all the Iwi (regional tribes) in New Zealand and was very beautiful and a lovely place to spend a few minutes examining all the carvings and enjoying the cool tranquillity, or at least as tranquil as things get with Freya around!

Lars and Signe got back from their extended stay in the Bay of Island just in time for Christmas. I don't care what anybody says Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is just wrong! It might not be as weird if they fully embraced Christmas in summertime and didn't still have 'Frosty the Snowman' , 'White Christmas' and other general snowy songs playing all the time, Christmas cards and commercials all still have snowy scenes on when quite clearly the chances of it snowing are substantially less than in the UK which is saying something, all very odd indeed. We had the best Kiwi Christmas we knew how with a BBQ in the garden with friends and family, and a lovely day even if it didn't feel a bit like Christmas. We spend Boxing Day on the West Coast at Muriwai which is one of the black sand and big surf beaches, where we took the opportunity to leave Freya with her Farfar and Auntie Signe while we went for some serious jumping into waves fun.

For some reason, we had thought that New Year was a bit of big deal in New Zealand, maybe from the Sydney fireworks displays, needless to say there is a reason why they televise the Sydney fireworks and not the Auckland ones. Maybe they overspent on the World Cup. However, due to the fact that it had been the wettest December on record, it was probably a good thing as what fireworks there were in Auckland were hidden behind low cloud. We stayed at home and had friends over for Fajitas thinking we would watch the countdown on TV and then go outside and see if we could see the fireworks. The fajitas were great, the wine was great, the countdown was minimalist – quite literally one programme ended (Dave Dobbin in concert in case you were interested), there was a digital countdown from ten on the screen and then James Bond started. After a few moments of stunned shock, we headed outside to watch the fireworks, there was silence, no whooping, no cheering and certainly no fireworks, so we came back inside and had another glass of wine.

The new year started with some unsettled and dreary weather, so while Signe and Lars enjoyed the sunshine of the South Island, we made use of our zoo passes and paid another visit to the monkeys and alligators. Freya loves the zoo as she can pretty much run around as she likes, she especially likes the 'Outback' area with the kangaroos, wallabies and emus, the new New Zealand Native Aviaries and the underwater viewing window for the seals and sea lions where she 'Ooohs' every time one swims past.

The weekend after Lars and Signe went back to the UK, we appeased Freya with a trip to Butterfly Creek with Alex and Katie. I think Freya was more impressed with the leaves than the butterflies but were quite impressed (freaked out) with some of the massive butterflies, like many things in New Zealand, a lot of them were brown (Kiwis, Kakas, Wekas, Wetas, Kakapo etc, ok so some are a sort of greenish brown but brown is the predominant colour!), but there were a few really pretty colourful ones. Freya was much more impressed with the farm area and stroked a rabbit and a goat and got her fingers snuffled by some piglets.

Last weekend was a long weekend for Auckland Day and for once the sun came out and stayed out. On Saturday we visited the Seafood Festival at the Viaduct Harbour. Ras (and Freya) were pretty much in heaven with seafood stalls as far as the eye could see, interspersed with the occasional wine, beer and champagne stall. We even got to meet the Mayor of Auckland, albeit by accident as Freya walked in front of him while he was having is picture taken for the local news. On Monday we went to the Joseph Savage Memorial Park which is on top of a hill, to watch the Auckland Regatta in the harbour. It was a great atmosphere up there with lots of families picnic'ing and enjoying the sun, the regatta and the fly pasts. We had a great time, Freya made it her mission to try and play with everyone else's ball other than her own, it's a good job kiwi's are a pretty chilled out bunch!

So that pretty much brings things upto date. Ras is still enjoying his job, and me and Freya are enjoying the more settled weather and looking forward to our music and swimming classes starting again next week. We are planning a trip back to the UK at the end of (UK) summer and will keep you updated and details get finalised.

House Guests, Birthdays and Still No Furniture!

The Big NZ MovePosted by Rasmus Overgaard Jensen Mon, December 05, 2011 08:34:03

Yes you read that right, we are still furniture-less! In a peak of optimism we did rush out the other weekend to buy a new TV cabinet, thinking that the rental table we were using to stand the TV on would shortly be being returned, needless to say that's what I am resting on to type! However just having one extra piece of furniture has helped make things more homely so we can't wait until we finally take delivery of our container. The good news is the ship has docked, our container has been offloaded and inspected by MAF, we are just waiting for Customs to inspect it now before it can be delivered. Fingers (toes, knees, eyes etc) crossed that that happens before Lars and Signe (Ras' dad and sister) arrive in mid December.

Dave, a work colleague of Ras' from Nottingham Uni has also joined Lanzatech and is staying with us until he finds a place of his own (or until Lars and Signe arrive, whichever comes first) so we have been showing him some of the sights of Auckland. The first weekend he was here we took him to Cleveland Agriculture and Produce Show, I do love a good country show and this was no exception. Who wouldn't love Ba ba sheep racing, sheep shearing competitions, axe chopping competitions, chainsaw wood carving, sheep dog trials, marching bands and horse training? I think Ras was more impressed by the food and beer stands not to mention the vast array of farm machinery and Bbqs all gleaming to be purchased. Not sure what Dave made of his introduction to New Zealand but we had a good time. We followed it up the following weekend with a trip to Auckland Highland Games so Dave could connect with his Scottish Heritage (and I could enjoy burly men in kilts). Lots of Highland Dancing and Bagpipe playing but sadly no caber tossing, I was most disappointed. We still managed to have a good wander around, a cream tea and Freya managed to come away with Angus the Highland Bear (thanks Uncle Dave).

Siteseen have also included trips to the beach both local and the west coast beaches (black sand beaches) with a little detour via Karekare waterfalls.

St Heliers Beach

Karekare waterfall / beach / picnic area

It was Freya's first birthday on 25th November and we celebrated by going out for breakfast and a quick walk along the beach before Ras and Dave had to go to work. We managed to spread the opening of presents over two whole days. Freya is very pleased with Nessie the big green furry rocking horse/dinosaur (thanks again Uncle Dave), her little pink trike, pull along duck and furry monkey and we are all very grateful for the new books! Thanks to everyone that sent cards, presents and birthday wishes, they were all very gratefully received and made her first birthday away from 'home' very special. We had a 'birthday picnic' at Auckland Zoo on the Saturday with some friends from Lanzatech, silly hats, party blowers and birthday cake included.

On another Freya note, the little Munchkin is getting very adept at walking, which is great as we no longer have to mix our own drinks.

All in all there is not much to report, the weather is getting warmer and sunnier, and the days of rain further apart. Now we are just looking forward to the Christmas season as a few days off to enjoy some family time. So long for now and lots of drool from Freya.

First Steps, New Car and Lots and Lots of Rain!

The Big NZ MovePosted by Rasmus Overgaard Jensen Mon, October 17, 2011 09:47:27

The reason they call Auckland 'The City of Sails' is because every second person seems to own a boat, or at the very least a wind surfer, a kayak or a kite board. I'm beginning to realise that this isn't because they love to get out on the sea, it's because when the next 'Big Flood' happens it's going to happen here and they want to be prepared!! It rains ….. a lot!

A couple of weekends ago we braved the rain in the foolish hope that it might stop, borrowed a car and went exploring to Huia via the famous Titirangi Market. The rain was pretty heavy when we arrived in Titirangi which made the market pretty bleak, either there was more market indoors which we missed, we were too late or maybe the rain had put people off but it was a little underwhelming. We'll try again on a sunny day and see what all the fuss is about! We travelled on through what we can only imagine was stunning scenery but the low clouds, driving rain and mist made for a pretty grey landscape. We got to Huia down a steep gravel track and arrived at a deserted beach with nothing but a long pier and a few hardy fisherman. Beautiful in it's own way but I'm sure even nicer in the sunshine. We braved the drizzle for a quick walk down the beach and then got back in the car to try and find some lunch.

We travelled on through the Waitekere Ranges to Cornwallis which looked on the map to be our best bet of civilization only to find it pretty much deserted. As we were driving into the village a loud siren went off, after a few moments of concern that the car was about to explode we parked in the museum carpark to review our options, we were a little bit alarmed / relieved to see that we were in the 'Tsunami Safe Zone'!! As there was no subsequent massive wave, we assumed it was just a test and headed (swiftly) back to Titirangi for a sandwich.

We've now bought ourselves a car so we are able to get out and about and see a bit more of Auckland, and much to Freya's delight, go swimming! We are now the proud owners of a 'well loved' Honda CRV which still smells a bit of wet dog! We're hoping it's going to serve us well and we have already been on a few day trips in it, most recently to Long Bay on the North Shore which unsurprisingly is a really long sandy bay. Perfect for a picnic and a paddle on a warm sunny day, Ras even went for his first swim in the sea, it was still a bit too chilly for me and Freya though although Freya was quite happy paddling up to her knees and would have toddled out to her neck if we'd let her!

We've been exploring the local area a bit more too with trips to Cornwall Park (big farmland with sheep and cows in the middle of the city with One Tree Hill in the centre), Auckland Domain (bigger version of Wollaton Park with Auckland Museum in it) and discovered, with the help of Sandra, another local nature reserve / bird sanctuary called Tahuna Torea Reserve which is just ten minutes drive away and perfect for feeding the Ducks and Pukeko and late afternoon strolls through the mangroves and sandspit. Freya and I have also discovered 'Wriggle and Rhyme' sessions at the local library which Freya loves and we're hoping to go to baby music class at the Community Centre if we ever manage to be awake at the appropriate time! We've also managed the odd Sunday Brunch at the waterfront cafe and lots of early evening walks/sits on the beach. Freya's collection of shells, seed pods and random flotsam is growing by the day.

Freya is changing so much now, she is toddling about by herself now, just a few steps at a time. I think the expression 'Pride comes before a fall' was specifically aimed at toddlers. Freya is so proud of herself once she walked half a dozen steps she promptly falls over. Lots of bumps and bangs to come I'm sure. She has even finally started to crawl properly now, although she still prefers commando crawling to the more traditional hands and knees approach. Her two top teeth have this weekend just started to come through which means we're expecting some ferocious eating to follow. She already likes nothing better than 'sharing' apples, pears and bananas with us. The sharing seems to be we get to hold it while Freya gnaws away with her two good teeth!

Next weekend is a long weekend for Labour Day and the Big Kiwi Day Out, a free event at Auckland Domain with bands and performers etc, so assuming it doesn't rain (ha ha) we will probably check that out, we'll let you know how it goes.

All our possessions finally left the UK last week so at least now they are on their way, with any luck they should arrive before Freya's birthday. They are due to dock on 17th November but that only leaves a week to clear Customs etc. Can't wait until we can get rid of the hire furniture and start making our house a home. The good news is that at least our stuff isn't on the ship currently sinking off the coast of New Zealand!

Hope everyone back home (wherever you may be) is well and rest assured we are thinking about you, even if we haven't managed to Skype / Email / Talk to you yet!

Second and Third Week

The Big NZ MovePosted by Rasmus Overgaard Jensen Wed, September 14, 2011 10:35:19
Right we try again, after our lovely internet connection let us down last Sunday and decided to crash just as the blog was about to be saved, you can be "treated" to a two week blog. More fun for everyone!
So since last we updated, we have discovered that there are native wild parakeets called Keas (we think) and that a couple seem to be breeding in our neighbour's garden. Very pretty and colourful. There also seems to be a couple of Tuis breeding in the Tea Tree just outside our bedroom windows. Tuis are best described as the magpies (Skade paa dansk) larger slightly scruffy cousin, that are the life and soul of the party for their ability to immitate things, like car alarms, mobile phones etc and in general just being loud..... at about 4.30 in the morning. Luckily we do seem to be getting used to it and don't notice SO much anymore.
On the work front things are going well, I still have to ask where everything is and get used to all the new equipment and different kits, AND get used to the fact that we are NOT in a country with a massive scientific community so a lot of things need to be shipped from The States, Australia or wherever the nearest supplier / werehouse is. It's all good though and i'm getting used to it. The company is taking good care of us with free group lunches about every two weeks (ish) and Friday beers every friday in the coffee/tea room. Also when I don't get around to packing a lunch in the morning the choices in the neighbourghood where LanzaTech is situated is truly great, not just your dry sandwich from the Students Union or Boots.
On the social/ sightseeing front we have had a couple of good outings. Last Saturday (the 10th) we went with my work group out for lunch in a lovely little organic cafe on the North Shore and afterwards drove up to a place called Wenderholm Regional Park, which is a lovely little recreational area about an hours drive north of Auckland, where we had a nice walk along the beach and the river.

Sunday we went into town to buy the last of the absolute essentials .... a TV so we can watch the world cup :)
As usual the work week started quicker than anticipated and before we knew it it was Monday and my first cycle to work down here, nice bike, nice route so all good should be in shape in on time.... besides the fact that on Monday evening we all came down with a noro virus like thing and I don't think we need to eleborated on that. Besides that we are finally all back to normal now.
We also had some firewood delivered on Monday to see us through the rest of winter, and here is a lesson to you all; if firewood is sold for about half the price there probably is a reason for it, like it not being dried out ......... yea, we are having lots of fun trying to keep the old fire going!

Friday finally arrived and work finished at 14.30 (with a few beers at 14.00, of course) so that people could get home or get down to the harbour front to see the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup. We had planned to go down and see the 20 Waka's (long Maori canoes) and the 600 man Haka (Maori war dance), BUT.... a certain young lady decided that crying is lot more fun than sleeping, so those plans were quickly revised. As it turned out it was quite lucky that we did not go to the harbour front. They had expected 100,000 people but 200,000 showed up so most people couldn't see anything and it was VERY crowded, not really a place for Freya. Instead we had plenty of time at home before we walked down to Tamaki Yacht club ('s parking lot) to watch the massive fireworks display over the City, which was very cool and very beautiful. On the way there we stopped in Mission Bay for a lovely Mexican meal while overlooking the sea. Freya's facial expression when the mariachi band came to play for us was priceless, a kind of "WHAT ON EARTH IS THIS" type face.

Saturday we just spent at home enjoying the sunshine and doing bits around the house (what turned out to be some of the last of the sunshine for awhile). On Sunday some sort of weather front must have hit (and not left again yet) because it was a proper torential downpour. After the broadband man had been and gone (without much success, it is however working now) we decided that we weren't going to sit in and look at the rain so we went to Kelly Tarltons Underwater World. Kelly Tarlton's is a brilliant aquatic zoo type place. They have a great sub Antarctic penguin "room" which is a huge room where they keep the temperature and the light conditions as they are in the sub-Antarctic and have a fairly large colony of King and Gento penguins. You get driven around the colony in a little "snowcat" replica on tracks. Freya LOVED it and just stared out at the penguins the entire time. The rest is divided into the stingray bay, the shark tank, oceanium and fish alley. We saw the short tailed sting rays get fed, DAMN they are big and very graceful creatures. The Shark tank and the Oceanium are linked and you go through it on a conveyer belt so you see everything through underwater plexiglass tunnels, very cool to see sharks and other fish just swim all around you. Fish alley is just a number of tanks with various fish in them, including a large tank with the largest lobsters I have ever seen in, looking like something out of Aliens. All in all avery lovely day out finishing off with a walk along the windswept beachfront, before we got forced (by yet another massive downpour) into a Moevenpick shop for an icecream and a cup of coffee.

So all in all a couple of good weeks (if we decide to ignore the 3-4 days of feeling crap). We hope everyone at home (UK, Denmark, wherever you are) are doing well.
Hopefully more adventures to follow soon."

Travel and first week

The Big NZ MovePosted by Rasmus Overgaard Jensen Sat, August 27, 2011 09:43:35
We have finally managed to get some sort of internet connection so here come the beginning of the tale of the Jensen-Allens adventures in New Zealand.

After what turned out to be a stressful morning and drive from Nottingham to Heathrow (including a queue on the M25, yes that was fun) in an overloaded Astra, we arrived at the check-in in Heathrow. We managed to wangle (courtesy of LanzaTech) Premium check in.... what a difference a couple of minutes make. Everything got checked in (all 110 kg of check in luggage), we got our seats moved so Freya could have a bassinet. Through security and just time for a snack and a gin and tonic before we made our way to the gate.

On board we had loads of space on the floor in front of us so Freya could sit and play until we started taxing to the runway, and pre-take off drinks were served. When we were in the air a three course meal was served with a lovely Pinot Noir (Soho or something like that). Oh yes and cheese and port. A bit into the flight Freya fell asleep and slept pretty much until afternoon tea was served (approx 2 h before landing). As Freya also wanted a little snack we asked if there were any bananas left, which it turned out there was... the co-pilots... Hope he didn't go hungry.

LAX...... what is there to say? Immigration control took 2 hours (where Freya managed to do the impossible task of making an American Immigration Officer smile), the people we had booked to come and store some of our luggage took quite a bit longer than they said but finally 4 hours after disembarking the plane (11 pm local time) we were checked in to our lovely hotel room and we all got some well deserved sleep in real beds. Unfortunately Freya decided that 3am was a good time to wake up and play. So we did:

Fortunately she was sleepy again after an hour of play and a spot of food.

The next day we just spent in the hotel (mainly the room) sleeping and relaxing. and then it was time for the next leg of our journey. We decided to check in nice and early again to try to get a bassinet for Freya, which we succeeded in again. But after security, where Freya yet again managed to pull off the impossible by making a TSA agent smile this time, LAX reared it's ugly head again. The terminal was pretty much two bars, a tax free, a coffee shop and one or two more shops and some seats. So 3 and a half hour here was hmmm not exactly inspiring. Any airport that make Heathrow seem luxurious should be torn down and rebuild.

The flight again was a nice experience, Freya slept most of the way and we had a lovely meal with wine, watched a movie and again managed a bit of sleep.

Finally we landed in Auckland where both Immigration and Customs were no problem but they had some difficulties getting the luggage off the aeroplane which took awhile. Stephen from Auckland Homefinders was on hand to pick us up and after driving us to our new home in St Heliers he made sure we had the necessities and later took us shopping for plates, pots, pans etc in a very cheap shop, and the quality is there after but it will do us till our own stuff arrives. After a day of feeling very jet lagged and trying to just get the basics sorted (like getting the house to a temperature that is bearable and renting a car so we can get around and do some more serious shopping) we went down to St Heliers beach for a little walk and accidentally caught the sunset.

The rest of the week has been spent sorting things out and generally spending a scary amount of money. Setting up household is not cheap, but luckily TradeMe (ebay for kiwies) has come to the rescue with (what we hope is) some great second hand deals. Washing machine is in the garage (plugged in) my bike arrives tomorrow and the fridge freezer will be delivered Monday or Tuesday. So now we "just" need to sort out phone, internet and TV (including buying a TV).

Yesterday afternoon at 4pm I went into LanzaTech to have Friday drinks with my new colleagues, which apparently is a reoccurring event every Friday at 4. The company is located in the basement of an art college and is a very different set up from what I am used to. Looking forward to starting on Monday.

Since we had spent all week doing serious things we decided we needed a day out. So today (Saturday) we went to Piha one of the West Coast beaches through the Waitakere Ranges, which is a small mountain range covered in rainforest. Here we stopped at the Arataki Visitors Centre, which is a lovely Centre with platforms in the tree top canopy and stunning views over Manukau Harbour and the Tasman sea

AND the Pacific Ocean and Auckland. Here we also went on a small walk in the forest mainly consisting of Tea Trees, Tree ferns (Silver and Black) and several tree types which seems to have only Maori names I can't remember.

From here we went on west to Pahi with it's black volcanic sand and great surf making it very popular with surfers. We made do with dipping our toes in the Tasman Sea and letting Freya have her first barefooted walk on sand. She also fell in love with a rock (sand) pool and was not happy when evil mummy and daddy wouldn't let walk in to the deep middle or sit down in the water.

After a LOVELY day out we are now enjoying a nice glass of Pinot in front of our wood burner while Freya is fast asleep in bed. Until next time....

Nottingham 19th of July 2011

The Big NZ MovePosted by Rasmus Overgaard Jensen Tue, July 19, 2011 14:35:36
Right this is the first of hopefully many posts on this blog. So far we have ticket booked for the 20th of August arriving in Auckland on the 23rd of August including a one night stay in L.A. Btw flying Premium Economy baby...

Besides that the movers have been booked for the 19th of August, just need to fill our insurance stuff in case Mearsk decides to throw our stuff in the ocean. If that happen some poor scavenger on some beach somewhere in the world will be sorely disappointed when he / she crack open the container.

We also seem to have finally sorted out most of our little foray to Denmark and are very much looking forward to seeing friends and family again. Lets just hope the danish summer weather doesn't let us down. PLEASE!

Right I'll sign off for now, happy reading to all of you. smiley