I have been absolutely awe-struck by the natural beauty in New Zealand. One of my favourite scenes is either the sunrise or the sunset. Both are just miraculous. Amazing that it happens every single day, and that each day it is breathtaking! The sunrise is the hardest to see as it requires being out of bed and out of the house before 6am. However, I was feeling very ambitious and somehow that rubbed off on Luke and yesterday we set our alarms for 5am! It's helpful that in our current home we are simply steps away from the beach, so we took advantage of that. With our beach blanket in hand and sleepy, groggy faces on, we flippy floppied over to the beach and settled in. Wow... was it ever worth it! I was simply flabbergasted! (that one's for you Dad, heehee). Enjoy the photos Luke took!
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Walking to the beach
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The amazing sky
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Just unbelievable
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Here comes the sunshine! Look at that reflection!
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The most amazing golden yellow
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A truly blissful moment
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I wanted to play!
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Breathtaking
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Mezmerizing!
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Just a sunrise beach walk...how romantic
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W.O.W

xoxo
Sweet Dea

 
 
I have been living in the mount for over four months now, and since the very beginning I have been saying, constantly, that I want to hike up the mountain to see the sunrise. I asked friends to join me... but that involves coordinating schedules and everyone waking up to their alarms... so that one never prevailed. I asked Luke if he would go with me, and being the loving and supportive man that he is, of course he said, "mayyyyyybe", but it would be up to me to push us to actually do it, and somehow, that task seemed too challenging. I considered just going on my own, but... that takes a bit of self-motivation, discipline, and well... sounded a little lonely. And thus, over four months passed with no early morning sunrise hikes to speak of. 

Finally I decided that enough was enough. Everyone knows how annoying it is to hear someone talk about something over and over and oooover again, without actually taking any action. I realized that I was doing this, and I was beginning to annoy myself. So... I did it! Alone! Go me!

Last night I did as I always do when preparing for an early morning, I set out my "morning hike" clothes in a little accessible pile, I put my necessary items in a pack - cellphone, camera, keys, flashlight, tiny piece of candy :o) - and I set my alarm for a bright and early morning. Well, I guess dark and early for me! 

When my alarm went off this morning, I was awake and ready for my solo adventure. Bring on the brilliant photos and self-reflecting moments! I got dressed, grabbed my pack, made a thermos of green tea and honey and was on my way. It is Spring time here, not yet summer, so when I felt a few rain drops lightly dropping down on me as I began to ascend, I wasn't too bothered. Especially when I looked up and genuinely could not see any clouds that the drops were coming from. Hmm...
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The dark morning sky as I began my hike up the mount
I began my hike up, feeling the burn in my thighs and feeling proud of myself for getting up early, being active, and doing it all with my own solo motivation! As I wandered my way up, slowly taking off layer after layer, letting my thoughts float around wherever they wanted to go, I considered the thought that the rain drops seemed to be getting just the tiniest bit heavier... but I pushed the thought of my mind. 
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part way up the mount - the sky is getting lighter
As I huffed and puffed and pushed myself further and further up the climb, rounding the corner closest to the top, feeling very triumphant as I was al...most...there... 
KAAAAABOOOOMMMMM!!!!!
- FLASH -
Thunder. Lightening. Downpour of rain. Oh...My...God...
The thunder really shocked me to my core, as I was really not expecting it at all. And the lightening - terrified me! Being up on a mountain, it just seemed so much closer. I genuinely squealed, jumped, turned around and just RAN! 
As I was running, a little common sense popped into my head and reasoned that maybe running down a slippery, wet mountain side was not the best use of my time, and I slowed down to a quick walk. I passed a few people heading up as I was heading down and noticed that they were all clearly prepared for this storm. They were wearing hats and rain jackets and all looked quite happy and content as they huffed and puffed. Me, I was wearing a fleecy sweater, not so water-proof vest and a headband. Woohoo not being prepared! As I continued with my quick-paced descent, leaving the slightly protected and covered tree area of the trail and entering the clearing part, the skies simply emptied. It felt as though a massive bucket of water was being dropped directly onto my head. There was so much rain that I could barely see as it was flooding my eyelashes and dripping down my entire face. 

With many of the steps on the trail, they are gravel as well as a bit of wood. Well... wood sure gets slippery when its wet. Just as I was going down a particularly long and steep set of steps, I glanced up to see a couple of hikers coming my way. Just as I glanced up, I slipped on the wet wood and BAM - CRASH down I go. Onto my butt. On the wet steps. In front of lovely strangers. *sigh* I was convinced they knew how scared I was and how I desperately wanted to be running down, but clearly I do not possess the graceful footing required for that sort of feat. 
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resembling a drowned rat while I looked down on the storm-filled beach
Then, as luck would have it, just as I got down to the very lowest part of the mountain, into a big open clearing, the rain began to dissipate. Optimistically, I glanced back up the mountain and for a split second thought "should I..." then quickly brought my awareness back to the slish-slosh of my wet socks in shoes and how my headband was pasted to my head, turned around and carried on down.  My home is only a few minutes walk from the base of mount, but of course, as soon as I stepped off the hill and onto pavement, the skies unleashed their worst yet! Again I couldn't see as the rain was so heavy and dripping into my eyes. When I glanced down I could see the rain bouncing off the pavement, jumping back up to the sky. If I attempted a look ahead, I could see the wind sweeping the rain all the way down the road before it even hit the ground, somewhat resembling ghosts flying through the semi-dark streets. The wind was whipping my stringy, wet pony tail into my face, a very unpleasant feeling.  And all I could hear apart from the hiss of the wind was the slish-slosh-slish-slosh of my soaking wet feet, reminding me of many rainy soccer practices I had as a kid.
All in all, after I arrived home, warmed up in the shower and had a nice think about the situation I was just in, I had a wonderful morning. Perhaps it was not the morning I had planned for myself, but it made me laugh and feel good just the same! And now I am enjoying my thermos of tea and honey while cozy on the couch, looking out my window and noticing that the sun has finally made its way out. 

xoxo
Sweet Dea

 
 
Capture The Colour is a travel blogging contest hosted by Travel Supermarket encouraging travel bloggers to showcase their beautiful photos in five colour categories; Blue, Yellow, Red, Green and White. I love this idea! Thank you to Bobbi at Heels and Wheels for nominating me for this competition. Enjoy the photos!

Blue.

If there is one thing that my eyes have been absolutely enthralled with since stepping foot on New Zealand soil, it is the sky! The way the clouds dance around the sun and each other, creating so many beautiful and colourful scenes is amazing! When those jaw-dropping skies are combined with sun rays sparkling down and glistening on the ocean water... absolutely inspiring! 
This moment brings back such blissful memories of being relaxed, rested and revelling in the beginning leg of our trip. Sitting by the ocean in the tiny laid-back surfer town of Raglan, feeling absolutely blessed to be able to witness such natural beauty and capture it on film...perfection.

Yellow.

Witnessing a sunrise is a beautiful experience at any time... but after hiking up to the summit of a mountain in the pitch black early morning and listening to the birds awake the world before the sun graces you with its presence...that feels like a miracle made only for you. This photo represents the struggle I faced to get my partner out of bed in the wee dark hours of the morning, throw on some runners, grab the camera and hike 45 minutes to the top of Mount Pukawhakataratara on the Coromandel Peninsula in the dark. As we reached the summit I could only think to myself "he's going to hate me" as there were so many clouds I didn't think it was possible that we would see anything rising, let alone the sun. As the world does, it surprised me! As the sun rose above the mountains and shone its golden glow on the valley below, we learned that a misty, cloud-filled valley is the perfect canvas for a morning worthy of gold. 

Red.

Love For Daniel. A year ago a wonderful young man with a zest for adventure and an ear for beautifully played music was brutally killed in Victoria, Canada. Daniel was a good friend of ours. He was 20 years old. Many individuals sport this bracelet that says "Love For Daniel" to show ongoing support for what an incredible young man Daniel was. Luke and I brought him along with us on our New Zealand trip. This photo was taken during a blissful hike in the Coromandel Peninsula. It had rained all morning and this was the first glimpse of sun we saw all day. We like to think it was Daniel showing his appreciation for the hike.  

Green.

Our number one concern in Taupo was finding a free place to sleep...what we didn't account for was this miraculous scenery being our backyard. Reids Farm Free Campsite is home to this technicolour of natural visions. With my jaw-dropped, I continuously asked myself, "how can one river look so refreshing, so clean, so peaceful and so multi-toned?". I chose this photo as it amazes me that so much natural green can be found in the usually so crystal clear blue water.  

White.

As a true west-coast Canadian, when the weather turns rainy, windy and stormy, the Canadians turn to their rain jackets, hot coffee in a thermos and the closest point to the massive, crashing waves. We ventured out to Moturiki Island in Mount Maunganui and hiked all the way out to the closest point to the waves. The raging white caps and white foam flowing all the way in to our toes was breath-taking and exhilarating. A beautiful moment during a so-called bad weather storm. :o)

I would like to thank Bobbi from Heels and Wheels for the nomination. I myself nominate the following travel bloggers:

xoxo
Sweet Dea

 
 
When the usually sunny and warm Mount Maunganui gets hit with a blustery, windy, cold and very rainy day, what do the two kids from Victoria, Canada do to entertain themselves? Go for a rainy, windy trek to the point closest to the massive rolling waves of course! 

Moturiki Island has been a point of interest for Luke and I since we moved here two months ago, and yet, we had yet to adventure out to it. It is the beautiful"island" just down from Mount Maunganui main beach, a very popular spot for travelers and tourists to explore. I guess we figured since we're now locals, we'd wait for the perfect opportunity to trek out and see what Moturiki has to offer. Clearly we waited until the rainiest and windiest of all days to explore it! 
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Moturiki Island from the Mount Maunganui Summit (on a sunny day)
The trek out was lovely, a very easy stroll along a well-kept path with beautiful natural scenery. We were lucky that parts of it were sheltered from the wind, as once we got out to the tip, closest to the big waves, we had to stay low and step very carefully to avoid being blown into the ocean! 
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The fantastic scenery on our trek on Moturiki Island
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Having a spot of coffee at the tip of the island, a safe distance from the crashing waves
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Luke demonstrating the strength of the wind
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Mount Maunganui from the tip of Moturiki Island
The best part of the entire trek was, it made us appreciate the weather instead of complain about it! Sometimes the only thing you need when the wind is blowing and the rain is pelting down is to step outside, geared up in appropriate attire, and just experience the weather. You'd be surprised by how much you can laugh while being blown around, laugh while trying to see through a torrential downpour and become awestruck by the colossal power of the waves!
 
 
Yesterday Luke and I enjoyed another day of constant sunshine with a different view of our favourite mountain. We drove out to  Papamoa to hike the hills. The hike up was a good steady climb in a beautiful foresty area that teases you with small glimpses of sunshine through the trees. It was ever winding so you never quite knew where you were headed or where the summit was. which is helpful to "trick" yourself into thinking the summit is "just around the corner"
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Luke and The Tall Trees
After our 45 minute hike up, and many many "hellos" "howsits" "howyougoings" and "g'days" from a friendly group hiking down, we saw our summit! A beautiful grassy top with 360 degree views of the Papamoa hills. 
PHOTO OP!
After our much quicker hike down to the carpark and toilets, we decided to head back to downtown Mount Maunganui for a delicious treat!! Anywhere at the base of the mount is a great place to get a delicious treat! From freshly made waffle cone engulfed ice cream, to lattes to fresh and hot fish and chips. And all treats can be consumed while looking at the beautiful ocean view or looking up at the monstrous Mount Mauao!  
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Main Beach, Downtown Mount Maungaui
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Main Beach, Downtown Mount Maunganui
Luke and I opted to enjoy the rest of the afternoon down on the beach, a few km's away from the busy and bustling Main Beach of Mount Maunganui. This activity is beautiful, comfortable and free! There is plenty of people and dog watching, wave watching, friendly conversations with passerby's and a chance to catch up on that book or some well-deserved snooze time!!
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The beaches best accessory: hunky man + guitar
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Bliss.
 
 
I have felt a sudden energy change among my network of wonderful friends and family.. even from afar. There is more talk of low spirits and less energy. Each reason is unique to the individual, but I often find that low spirits do come in waves; like a social phenomenon. If you have a few friends who are down, they're telling you about it, describing why their down, or what is bringing them down, and then maybe you start to think about those things and realize that they bring you down as well. Then suddenly, everyone is having a pity party jam-packed with ice cream, cookies, a little extra wine and reality tv shows...(or maybe that's just my cure)

It's got me thinking.. what do I do when I'm feeling down in order to bring myself back up? 

These are some of my favourite things to do when I feel down.  Maybe you'll try some.. maybe you won't.. but I wanted to share them just incase they make at least one person smile. 

Allow myself to wallow - sometimes all I need is a good wallow in self pity.. sure my life isn't that hard, I have a LOT of privileges, but sometimes I just need to let go of every single responsibility, stop smiling and have a down moment. These are the times that Luke says "you have absolutely zero expression on your face" and my response - "I'm replenishing!"

Endorphins!! - Exercise makes me feel wonderful, and yet I often find it very hard to commit to actually doing the deed. When I haven't done anything physical in awhile, and I'm feeling down, I know there is a correlation. If I'm so down I can't find the motivation to go to the gym because I know I will simply stare at the machines.. I go to a high-intensity class!! This way no thinking is involved, there's a set time that I have to make it there by and if I skip out halfway through.. people will see!!

The Library! - Being over here in New Zealand and only working a few hours a week means I don't have a lot of expendable funds. My new favourite way to combat the money blues.. stroll down to the library. I allow myself to feel like a millionaire in there! When I look through the aisles, I know that I am allowed to leave with any item I choose! And not only that.. I can choose 3, 4, 5, 10 items!! Suuuure I don't read every single item I take home.. but I feel good not having to limit myself! (and I've recently learned I can take out my trashy magazines...FOR FREE!! major score when their price tags are around the $5 mark!)

Write a letter!! This is one of my all time favourite activities to do when I am feeling a bit low or secluded or unsure of myself. Sending love to a friend means you will be putting a smile on their face when they check their mailbox. And as I begin writing, I find I'd rather find anything/everything positive in my life to write about as I wouldn't want them to open up a letter just to hear me bitch and complain. And suddenly, I am focusing on the positive pieces of my life instead of those silly little pieces that were bringing me down before. Instant smile.

Empty the closet!  - Don't feel like facing the world? Then don't. Stay in. Sometimes that is exactly what I need.. goes with the lack of expression on my face. Sometimes I need to wear sweats, have greasy hair and stare off into space in silence. This is when I usually go through my closet, my drawers, my cupboard, anything, and just take stock on the many "things" I have in my life. Most things I don't need, in any way, whatsoever. So those get filtered out and passed over to a second-hand store. And sometimes I can't part with any item. Those days I just re-organize, make everything clean, tidy and create a mental checklist. Life gets cluttered, why should my home be the same?

My New Zealand Favourite Mood Booster - Walk the 4 blocks to the beauuutiful beach here at the Mount. I always take my camera, even though I'm sure I have every unique photo possible already, as I am simply stunned and amazed at the natural beauty, that requires zero human interaction to be so beautiful. I stand there thinking, "I have done absolutely nothing to create this, this has zero to do with me, and yet, here it is, allowing me to appreciate it". 
I find it very humbling, energizing and inspiring!! It's amazing how close nature can be when you need it.. its just a matter of finding your way to it. Its usually closer than you think and less effort to get there than you imagined in your mind. 

xoxo
Sweet Dea

"Just the simple process of letting go of negative thoughts will allow your natural state of healthy to emerge within you. And your body will heal itself." - Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

"Experiencing what you don't want helps you work out what you do want." - Mia Freedman, Mamamia

"You are aware of where you want to go, but you honour and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment"  - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now 

Photo Inspiration

 
 
The sun was shining, the rain had stopped. It was a glorious new morning as Luke and I enjoyed a cup of coffee in Ahipara, the first town bordering 90 Mile Beach. Neither of us felt like eating our cereal for breakfast (not the cereal's fault, although I'm sure that it's pretty stale after two weeks of wwoofing, but I had been too lazy to put our milk in the fridge the night before) but we knew that we had a big day ahead of us. We drove to the teeny tiny petrol station and browsed our options. Final decision: $3 cheapest loaf of bread, $3 tub of peanut butter, a $2 steak and cheese pie(yum), a $1 bag of gummy candies and $50 of petrol (which really gives you next to zero gas due to the massively inflated petrol prices..but.. when in New Zealand...) Breakfast of Champions! As we happily nibbled away at our warm steak and cheese pie at 9:30am, Luke drove us to the drive-on entrance to 90 Mile Beach. We had found this entrance late the night before (late being 6:30pm... it gets dark early) and when Luke saw the tire tracks on the sand, he happily reverted back 10 years! A very giddy young boy, enthused by the prospect of driving on the beach. Now, I was the first one to point out that we had an old Toyota Camry, not exactly Luke's F-150 from home. Nor a Jeep - beep beep. And the sand was quite deep and soft. So, out of the car we go, walking through the sand to determine if we can make it. Being a little city girl who seems to often find herself in the company of non-city kids, I am well-versed in the art of asking probing questions instead of actually adding any useful information to the situation. Example: Luke says, "Pretty sure if we drive in these tracks that have already been made, we'll make it." My response, "Are you suuuuure Luke?" aka, just making him reassure himself that it's a good idea and he actually believes it could work.
Back in the car, seat belts on (safety first!!), decision made, we might as well give it a try! ZOOM - and we're on the beach, driving!! The little Camry really made it onto the beach! Woohoo!! Luke was in HEAVEN, zooming along, steering like a madman, or no steering at all... nothing in front of us but sweet sweet freedom.
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Can Camry make it on? I'mmm not sure!
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"I'M DRIVING ON THE BEACH!!! WOOOHOOO"
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Yup! Sure Can! Just driving in the ocean..NBD
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I LOVE BEACH!
Being that the name of the beach is 90 Mile Beach, and after a brief glance at the map, we decided to drive the whole 90 miles on the beach instead of the highway... clearly much more enjoyable scenery! We were already headed that direction anyway! Life just seemed to fall into place. So along we went, zoom zoom, "woohoo", munch munch on gummy candies, life was good! After about an hour of driving, we figured we should be getting somewhat close to the end of the beach. I was quite happy about this as I had been a very good co-pilot and had paid diligent attention to the continuously closer and closer incoming tide. As it made its way in and began to cover some of the tire tracks we had previously been following, I would comment to Luke, attempting to hide my true scared feelings. I mentioned that we should maybe keep an eye out for a way off the beach, and so we did. But funny thing, there didn't seem to be any... hmmmm