We totally lucked out in the weather department this trip. You've heard me go on and on like a broken record about the unpredictable and ever changing weather, but we had nothing but solid blue skies almost the entire time. Waking up to this view is a guarantee that it's going to be a good day.
We headed back to Auckland and stopped at Devonport North Head to explore the old military tunnels and gun emplacements. It was actually cooler than I thought (meaning, I had very low expectations), the kids loved exploring the tunnels and playing on the disappearing gun. I mean, the views alone were worth it.
I'm guilty of having my kids pose for shots, but this one of these two buddies holding hands was totally unscripted. Be still my heart.
I have a hard time coughing up wads of cash to visit touristy places like the aquarium when we have so many incredible places in nature that we can visit for free. But alas, the kids get so excited about these kinds of things and we had some extra time to kill. And hey, we got to see the Easter Bunny feed the sharks, so ya know, totally worth it.
I passed my camera over to Kylie the whole time and she got some pretty cool shots. I think we have a budding photographer on our hands.
We ended the night with a trip to the ever exotic Pak n' Save and then the temple. I miss having a temple close and the peace that comes from visiting. It's been a year since I have been last and I wish I could have gone in to do a session but it was too late. We did get to watch "Meet the Mormons" for the first time in the visitor's center (totally cried at the missionary mom one) and wander around. It was the perfect opportunity to focus our thoughts on the Savior, the atonement and resurrection during the Easter season.
The next day was Easter. Another unconventional Easter. I wasn't sure how I was going to hide the candy since we were in such close sleeping quarters. The kids were watching a movie and I fell asleep before them, so I woke up around 6:00am to try and hide the candy around the campervan. I went into the tiny bathroom to open the bags of candy. Opening bags of candy is loud. Especially in confined spaces. Jason woke up and wondered what the heck I was doing. Ryder woke up and tried to come in, so I shoved the bags into a compartment and pretended to go potty. Fail. Instead I just passed the bags on to Kylie when she woke up and let her play Easter bunny outside. The gummy candies got all slimy from the morning dew, but besides that, the kids were excited to see that the Easter Bunny hadn't forgotten them.
We had booked a tour of Hobbiton that day. Not very Eastery or reverent, but it was the only day and time that would work. The drive out there did give us time to marvel once again at God's creations, and that in itself is church to me.
By the time we got there the drizzle had turned to downpour, but it provided a dreamy and mysterious atmosphere. I'll be honest, Jason and the boys were like, eh, about Hobbiton. Jason mostly because we spent hundreds of dollars to walk around for 30 minutes looking at hobbit holes. The boys mostly because it was cold and rainy and they kept fighting over umbrellas and getting poked by said umbrellas and stepping in mud. But I thought it was really cool and Kylie thought it made for some great instagram selfies. It is such a picturesque story book setting and I loved hearing the behind the scenes secrets from the movie. Like how the tree at Bag's End was manufactured. Each leaf was hand made and imported from Taiwan, then wired on individually. Once it was finished Peter Jackson didn't like the color of the leaves so they had to spray paint each individual one. That guy definitely was one to pay attention to detail. Like he thought the sheep grazing in the background didn't look like sheep you would find in England, so even though they are barely noticed in the film, he imported sheep all the way from England. And he thought the frogs croaking in the pond were too loud so he made them hunt and catch every single one. Like really, he must have a very patient staff, or he must be paying them a lot of money. That much attention to detail would drive me crazy. But it was fun to learn about and even though we've never been huge LOTR fans, we now want to watch the movies again. If anything, we could all appreciate the beautiful scenery.
The tree below is the one that was manufactured
Ginger beer (like Ginger Ale) at the Green Dragon. Probably the highlight for Jayden
After our not so fabulous experience at Hot Water Beach last summer, I was so excited when a friend told me about this little insider's secret. There's a lesser known geothermal beach on the west coast, Kawhia Ocean Beach, that is just as beautiful (with real legit black sand even) and so much less crowded. Soaking in hot water with my loves while taking in the stunning views and peaceful sunset was one of the highlights of this trip for me. Our attempt later that night to show the Easter clip, "Because He Lives" to the kids didn't work out, we wandered around the campground trying to find a patch of reception, but to no avail. We did have a little spiritual thought and devotional, which was a wonderful ending to our beautiful Easter.