Fern Walk, Pohangina Valley


Yesterday, I spent two and a quarter hours hiking in the Pohangina Valley, on the search for some local native orchids.  While my flower search was fruitless, the hiking was quite stunning and peaceful.  The air was so refreshing, with no one else around it felt like I’d stepped back in time… I found myself imagining what it must have felt like for the original settlers of New Zealand to inhabit and clear this bush for settlement and farm land.

The emerald coloured fern, covered the forest floor and ancient Rimu and Totara trees towered above creating a dark dense walk.  If you’re in the area I highly recommend you check out this wonderful track.

Snowboarding at Mount Ruapehu


We rose early, stoked the fire, dusted off our snowboarding gear, gave Wesley some kisses and gently left the house to drive two hours to the nearest mountain: Mount Ruapehu.

On a clear day this mountain can be seen from the end of our quaint little road, beyond the chrysanthemum farm, dairy farms, pine trees and sweeping fields.  It’s vast peak has been slathered with snow most of this winter, and staring at it from a distance was really fuelling our need to strap into our boots and hit some snow.

Mount Ruapeh is 2797 meters tall, and is actually an active volcano.  It last erupted September 25, 2007.

I was three months postpartum.  I’d been running daily and doing leg exercises to get my strength back (my arms however are like steel guns lifting our heavy boy each day – no need to work on those!).

It was just before sunrise when we left. The morning light made for a beautiful drive.

We’d waited for this day for a few weeks, and the anticipation of getting onto the mountain was pretty high.  Slowly we journeyed forward… The mountain gaining height every moment we caught a glimpse of it.

We arrived.

The lines were long.  Very long.

Being a clear blue sky day, just about everyone from the North Island had turned up to enjoy the snow like we had.  Eventually, we boarded a lift and made our way up to the highest point.

It then hit me.  I did not feel confident… I felt wobbly and completely out of my depth, when I skid over some ice.  I caught my balance only to hit another patch and land very hard on my tush.  I lay down and cried.  It was like a car had slammed into me. It hurt so badly.  My right bum cheek was aching and sending pain up into my spine.

Not looking forward to the journey down the rest of the mountain (I sobbed to Mike) that I didn’t want to do this at all.  There was no other option but to keep moving down the hill.

I thought, perhaps it would pass and that I’d be ok in a few minutes.  We took a break at a cafe in the middle of the hill.  Mike headed out to do a few runs while I enjoyed the view and tenderly sat on my tush.

An hour had passed, and Mike returned – telling me he had only managed one run as the line had a 40 minute wait.  Yikes!

During the hour, I noticed the vibrating pain did not lessen at all.

It took me an hour (and a few more tears) to get down the rest of the mountain.  Afterward we took our time and enjoyed a scenic drive home, and I braced my body against every bump on the road.

It’s been 6 weeks since that day.

And while I can actually sit down now and stand without too much discomfort, it’s definitely still sore and I will probably always think of my tail bone and that insane pain when I see that beautiful snowy mountain in the distance.


Whitebait Fishing in New Zealand

What is white baiting?  It’s a national fishing season that I’ve only ever come across in New Zealand.  Though I’ve read today that it can also be done in Italy, the UK and China…

I’d heard of whitebait fishing from a few friends and family over the years before we moved to New Zealand.  They talked of streams, incoming tides and millions of small clear juvenile fish that get tossed into fluffy fritters.  It sounded like a relaxing, rewarding and delicious time to be had.  Mike had never been out to catch whitebait before so, we were both going to experience something a little exotic.


Here is Mike eating the ceremonious first catch raw…

The past two weekends we’ve headed to the ocean to try our hand at it and hopefully taste a little fritter as a reward of our efforts.  First up was Foxton beach, but it was too late in the day to properly give it a go – so we did a little beach walk and people watched instead.

Yesterday we found ourselves in a quaint little town called Waikanae about 40 minutes North of Wellington on the coast.  Waikanae translates to “waters of the yellow eyed mullet” from Māori.  It sits on a backdrop of ranges that have been partially cleared for farming and residential spaces.  I was so stoked to see there was plenty of native bush around, and hope to head back one day to have a hike and see what’s beneath the canopy (I’m talking wildflowers!).  The town itself is quite beautiful, and I exclaimed a few times that I’d be happy to live in a little place like it.

We met up with some friends from Wellington who had already prepared some nets and were in the thick of fishing by 10am.  They had pulled about two handfuls of whitebait from the frothy ocean already, and we were all glad to have made the journey.  Mike jumped in straight away and added another 36 little fish to the harvest.

He was so thrilled to have pulled some from his nets, it was a joy watching him.  I’d not properly dressed but got soaked within minutes.  Wes also enjoyed the view from under a rain cover and seemed to be content in the fresh ocean air.

Most people eat the whitebait scrambled with some eggs and a little salt and pepper as light fritters.  That’s how we tried them…and honestly they were really nice.

The season runs from September to November, and we already are addicted to the thrill of fishing – and I know we’ll be back out again this year.  It really was relaxing and such a great way to spend time out on the ocean.

Our darling Wesley.


Wesley Peter Cresswell

Born: June 3rd 2016

We are so smitten with this little man.  Words cannot express the explosion in my chest when he looks at me, or when I see Mike holding him close.

I never really understood what motherhood could feel like – but wow…it’s powerful.

Those cheeks!!  That gorgeous red hair, curious blue eyes, the cute little sighs when he sleeps…ugh I’m totally in love.

We’re home now, after a week in the hospital.  The birth was kind of traumatic and perhaps I’ll write about it at some point here, but for the mean time I think I’ll leave it and talk to some professionals and see how to cope with the memories.  Despite it being difficult and scary – the joy and relief that Wesley is healthy and safe with us diminishes the fear.

His Papa Rick is here now all the way from Canada to meet him, and he’s met a large portion of the Cresswell family…including his great grandma Isabel, nannie Annie and grandad Brian.  We’ll be introducing him to more family soon!

He was 2 weeks past his estimated due date, and upon seeing him in the hospital – one of the midwives exclaimed he was big enough to be going to kindergarten.  He weighed 9lbs…which is massive.  The support we had in the hospital post surgeries was amazing.

The health care system in New Zealand is truly wonderful, and I am thankful we were here to bring Wesley into this world.  Over 20 midwives helped Mike and I care for Wesley and came each night to take him away for cuddles.  They each gave us tips and tricks for raising a new born – and I’ll forever be grateful for thier advice.  I’ve likened it to having about 20 mums on board to help us cope.  With this knowledge our transition home has been very smooth – and while I still have about 6 weeks to recover – I’m pleased at how we’re travelling so far.


Holly, Mike and Wesley

The humble crocus.

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When I was young, I lived in a little white house with my sisters and parents.  There wasn’t much life growing around our home apart from a couple of pine trees, and withering old maples.  There was also a large rosebush that covered the entire expanse of the back fence…it was a thorny jungle and that image sums up the minimalist landscaping efforts – it was a wild world out there – we truly never bothered to tame it.

One sweet little memory I have was of the little flowering crocus that had some how seeded themselves into our barren front lawn.  They were small and light purple, with slender little spiked leaves that poked out at their base.  Each spring I would get excited to see them open on our yard.  To be clear here – there were never many maybe no more than 5.

Well, one year I took notice as the spikes were beginning to sprout from the thawed yard.  I was able to identify them by the slender white line that ran along the length of the centre of the leaf.  My dad too noticed the grass, particularly that it needed mowing.  He mowed over the lot of developing flowers, and I’ve not seen them since.

That is… until this weekend when Mike’s grandma was showing us a catalogue of spring bulbs that she ordered from as gifts to her daughters and son in law.  I noticed the page of crocus and my memories came flooding back.  They are such dainty beautiful little flowers.

I told her and Mike in the moment – of my memory (and naturally of dad massacring them) and thought nothing of it.

Last night – a package arrived… A brown paper bag of mixed crocus bulbs for us to plant in a container that we can pull out of the ground and replant when/if we move.  It was so thoughtful, and I’m so pleased to be able to see some sprout for us this spring.

The image above is the mix – though they look like little onions, they are so much more!

Basically this is one of the sweetest gifts I’ve ever received.  Some of the varieties that should sprout up are: Prins Claus, Cream Beauty, Sunkist, Purity and Firefly.  I think I’ll find a nice pot to plant them in and keep them close to the entrance of our house.

Do you have bulbs in your garden?  What flowers do you love seeing in spring time?

Desert Sound Colony – The Way I Began

Desert Sound Colony – Fire Egg

Desert Sound Colony – Signals