3 of Our Favorite Hiking Trails, Auckland Region

Fall is right around the corner here in Michigan… which means New Zealand is heading into spring! James and I are planning our next trip to NZ and it’s got us thinking about our favorite hikes. James lived in Auckland most of his life, and I lived there for 4 years while at Uni. There were many weekends when we couldn’t manage a weekend away to Rotorua or elsewhere, but needed to bust out of the city and into the the outdoors – going on a hike was typically the answer.

The Hillary Trail through the Waitakere Ranges was our favorite hiking trail in Auckland. According to the Auckland Council, the full Hillary Trail is about 77kms and would take about 4-6-days to complete. Here’s a map from Auckland Council of the full trail, and their site also has information about accommodation  and safety if tackling the full Trail.

James and I have never done the full route, though it’s on our bucket list, we have done pieces of it. We’re not professionals. So maybe you don’t have 4-6 days to set aside, but you’re looking for a good day-hike. Here are three day (or few hour) hikes, which are pieces of this beautiful trail.

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DIY Two-Sided, Hanging Wooden Sign

I told you fall gives me DIY-vibes! Wooden signs are really having a moment, aren’t they? I love them. I think they are so warm and rustic, and add a personal touch to anywhere. I’ve wanted a wooden sign (or five) for our house for some time, but I thought, well, I can probably make one!

I’ve been staring at this metal post below all summer. Does it need a hanging basket? Should we just take it down? Maybe add flowers? James and I were brainstorming one day and we thought of it – a two sided, hanging, wooden sign with the name of our new home and property.

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How The Girl Met The Kiwi – Our Love Story

Going through photos of us in Rotorua the other day made me reminisce about our love story. We have quite the tale to tell, so I thought I’d share our story!

It started in January 2010. I was 17. I was ski instructing at the Otsego Club & Resort in Gaylord, Michigan, and the Vancouver Olympics were right around the corner. The whole club was buzzing with excitement because we had snowboarding teams from all over the world coming to train at OUR ski club!  It was pretty exciting, and our parents even took us out of school (I was in my Senior year of High School) for a long weekend.

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7 Adventures Not to Miss When in Rotorua

Rotorua is located on the North Island. James earliest lake memories are catching rainbow trout off the boat with his dad at Lake Rotoiti at their rented cabin. Now, James family has a cottage on the lake and when we lived in New Zealand we’d travel there basically every other weekend for lakeside adventures. James even proposed here, high on a cliff over looking Lake Rotoiti. When friends visited us in NZ, Rotorua always made the trip itinerary.

Rotorua is a geothermal area – you know when you’re close cause it might smell a bit of rotten eggs, but this is just the bubbling mud! It feels a bit like Jurassic Park.

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8 Painting Tips to Save Time & Money

Fall is in the air in Michigan! And with fall gives me all the DIY-vibes. (Seriously, as I’m writing this I have paintbrushes in the sink, concrete mix on the driveway, and a wood sign drying in the barn). In the summer I just want to be outside wandering in the sun or by the lake. But in the fall, I tend to want to cozy up and get elbows deep in hot-glue, yarn, wood, fabric, or paint.

In the last twenty four months, James and I have bought two fixer uppers. The first one a small bungalow and just as the paint dried, we bought a bigger house in the country. EVERY ROOM in both those houses needed painting. And we did all the painting ourselves (with the help of my family, of course). So, I learned a thing or two about painting in the last two years.

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7 Reasons to Visit Gaylord Michigan

“Up North” is a Michigan way of life. It doesn’t refer to a single city, county, or lake, but rather anywhere in the northern part of the state. For us, Gaylord Michigan is our Up North.

My family (Brooke’s family) has had a cottage in Gaylord for as long as I can remember. Before that, my mom and dad travelled to Gaylord as kids. It’s also where I met and five years later married James.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Northern Michigan, there is a good chance you’ll find yourself passing right by Gaylord. Here are 7 reasons you don’t want to miss Gaylord:

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