The House sitting New Zealand story continues as we travel to Whenuapai as international house sitters to explore and live in a semi-rural Auckland suburb. We drink beer, visit black beaches, work online and battle to get our phones to work. Importantly we continue just living the dream as international house sitters.
Whenuapai (pronounced, fen- u-a -pie).
Before I get into the house sitting story or the beauty of New Zealand, lets just clear one thing up. Whenuapai, right. Go on, have a go at pronouncing it! . . . . . . Now put on your thickest Australian house sitting New Zealand voice and picture a pronunciation. Maybe not the prettiest sight going around, but that’s what happened!
OK, so Whenuapai is pronounced fen- u-a -pie. As simple as that as soon as you realise that when you see a “Wh” in a word it is actually pronounced as an“f.” Apparently the “Wh” that sounds like a “f” stems from Maori dialogues, and it is actually seen all the time in suburb and street names.
The story continues – House sitting New Zealand
We are still here and we still love it House sitting New Zealand is something special. As you may have gathered by now, yes, we are international house sitters and we are House sitting New Zealand. This is a run down of our second stop following our first stop in Wellington (You can read about that here!)
How’s about that ride in?
I have never been more worried about a flight in my life. We travel a bit and fly pretty frequently so why would I be worried?
Ummmm I don’t know, maybe the 50km winds I woke up to on the day of our flight! Seriously, I woke up to what felt like a massive storm. Rain smashing down, wind trying to launch anything that wasn’t tied down. Here I was staring through the window thinking….. Well this is going to be fun, I might hold off on eating before our 2pm flight.
Get to Wellington Airport, have a beer (Monteiths Black), board Air New Zealand flight (great airline BTW), fly to Auckland, not a bump. This flight was as smooth as water in a lake on a still morning! They do have some massive still lakes in New Zealand after all, but anyway back to the story. We were shocked, it was still and made for a perfect flight.
Basically our day was looking up.
Meeting strangers in a new city
One of the best thing about being an International House sitter and House sitting New Zealand, is meeting new people. It’s great and we love it. However, there is always something a weird and nerve racking about meeting a new home owner, a stranger, in a new city. It has 2 dimensions. One, well….. they’re a stranger, and two your in a new city, which is hugely exciting but can be scary all at the same time.
Now picture this, you drive for about 30min in a place you have never been. Ever seen that movie Taken? You desperately try to remember land marks and navigation points as you hustle your way through the city highways. Thinking, I have no freaking idea, and that the best bit. It’s all a little exciting. I know what you must be thinking. Are these guys serious? They just jump in a car with a stranger? Didn’t they ever learn about stranger danger in that dark caravan, at school, from a Giraffe, looking back happy Harold was a little weird….
Serious? You jump in a car with a stranger
Well to answer your question, yeah we have. We also spend time getting to know these people a little before we accept a house sit as well. As international house sitters we often don’t have the luxury of meeting home owners before we accept a house sit. Instead, we just use skype and our intuition! Lots of communication and if we get even the slightest bad feeling we have no hesitation in rejecting the house sitting job. You must be comfortable at all times! You can read more about how we house sit in our house sitting guide.
After our drive we both were looking forward to this house sit as we knew we would love it. Why? It was a semi rural location. As we left the city, we were soon surrounded by green pastures and the 5 acre lifestyle blocks that often transform the a City edge. As a real estate agent would describe it Semi rural living!
The property was great, a 5 acre lifestyle plot. The house was beautiful and the family that lived there were welcoming and extremely inviting! However BEST of all was our new best friend: Murphy Brown.
Meet Murphy Brown
This puppy was just the cutest! He is one of the gentlest dogs we have ever had to do a house sit for and kept us very active. Why so active? Well he had the best set of sad eyes you have ever seen. We just has to walk him twice a day or the guilt would eat us up from the inside. But we didn’t mind because he was a great dog to walk with and it helped us to get active and kick off those 2018 goals!
Murphy Brown – Hey Human you’re missing something
Animals are funny, it doesn’t matter if you are House sitting New Zealand or House sitting Australia, one thing is for certain. If you mess up an animals routine, they are going to let you know! Some animals will even tear the house down, but not Murphy Brown. He would just calmly come and place his head on you lap. Sometimes you wouldn’t even notice he is there. Seriously, we would be working away and look down and BOOM, Murphy brown’s head on your lap with those sad eyes staring into your soul! It was hilarious, and you knew it was 6pm was to the second (aka Murphy Brown’s dinner time).
An overall feel for our Whenuapai house sit
This house sit was a quiet one for us. It was great to have a little time to really settle into the new year and get some solid work done. It was all about us and settling into health, work and personal goals. We walked twice daily and reformed our habit of going to the gym, which can be hard to do when your house sitting New Zealand. Most of the time was spent at home, working, and settling into the year.
Time away from home –House sitting New Zealand, Exploring and Beer
I better start of with talking about exploring, and let me tell you, there was a lot of exploring to be done. From the estuary not 500m from the front door. To the black beach and rolling hills of Muriwai Beach, Whenuapai was close to it all. Let me just quickly take you through a couple of the highlights.
Whenuapai air base
Whilst house sitting Whenuapai, it was clear that the air force presence in the community was a big thing. RNZAF personnel everywhere, massive communications towers scattered around the suburb and a massive base. The Base has over 1,000 personnel and is the largest RNZAF Base, and let me tell you it was huge. We did a large walk around it one day, 10km we strutted along this thing, but it was a cool walk. Complete with attack dogs, helicopters and great view onto the base to see the massive Hercules and Boeing 757 resting near the humongous hangers.
The Muriwai Beach, on the west coast of the Auckland Region in the North Island of New Zealand was recommended to us by the owners as a cool little destination. They were spot on! Let me just say that as international house sitters we get to see some cool things. This place was one of those things. A black sand beach!
We went for a small drive through the rolling hills with Murphy Brown asleep in the back! When we got there it was weird. I have never seen a black beach and coming from the pristine Australian beaches it was weird to see a black as black beach.
It was hot under foot as you would expect I suppose, but I was just more weirded out about the black sand. Weird, but cool.
Once we got over the hot black sand we went for a huge walk and soaked in the sun. A little swim in the surf and a long walk with the dog made of an extremely pleasant day. Reminding us of how lucky we are as house sitters, to be house sitting New Zealand and having time to explore the country.
Forest road walking track!
You guessed it, it was in a forest. It’s always cool to go walking through a pine forest, and in a small way it reminded me of back home and the rural Tumbarumba region of Australia.
This was a popular dog walking area as Murphy Brown made friends with all the other dogs returning from a small, flowing, water hole nestled amongst the huge pines.
We decided to go deep into the forest following the track, following what seemed to be an access road. Then it happened, and probably something that you don’t want to happen. Boom, Boom.
“MMMMMM, are those gunshots??,” Rachel asked.
Well yes they were, but we didn’t know it at the time. We just kept walking. I figured it must have been a fair distance way based on the echo through the woods. I must say I was a little nervous though. The gun shots were frequent and loud. Was shooting in the woods allowed? Did I miss something? Could people be hunting? Maybe we were living out a real life tomorrow when the war began, and soon, rather than house sitting new Zealand, we would become a rebel force. Teaming up with locals to overcome an invasions attempt. Yes, I really did think that, I have a vivid imagination.
SO did we turn around……. NOPE. We just kept walking closer to the sound of gunfire. What did we find???
People firing guns! It was a gun range and we were perfectly safe. However, it does get you thinking….
Is it really a smart idea to identify the sound of gunfire and continue to walk straight towards it.
The beer, sweet delicious beer.
As you may know, I like beer, I have written about beer in the past, and I like tasting craft beer from local brewers. This story is no exception. However, I probably should be talking about while as Whenuapai has many wineries not even 5 minutes away. That’s enough about wine, but if you do like wine, check them out!!
So I did drink a lot less beer on this house sit! Unfortunately we were only able to visit 2 pubs/breweries at a nearby town called Riverhead. First, a place called The Riverhead. A historic pub overlooking water and apparently New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern.
Secondly, Hallertau a small local independent brewery.
If you like going to a gym stay away from Whenuapai. The just didn’t want to take our money or let us train. Seriously.
A big problem when house sitting, especially international house sitting is finding a gym and weight training. I will write a blog post about it, but the short story is it costs a tonne as gyms try to charge drop in visit rates. As high as $20 per visit, to which we quickly reply, piss off.
Moving on, in Whenuapai we went to 2 smaller independent gyms as these guys are normally heaps better in cutting a deal and making a short term membership. Not this time.
I literally walked in with a fist full of cash and asked for 2 people to have a 3 week membership. The response, sorry we can’t do that, or my manager isn’t here. Seriously. Having worked in gyms for over 3 years I know it’s not that hard… Anyway.
We ended up going to Anytime Fitness in Hobsonville, talked to Brad and grabbed ourselves a gym membership. He was more than happy to help us out, take our coin and let us throw around some heavy things. THANK YOU Brad, you are a champ, even though you made fun of our accents, let’s not talk about how you say SEVEN 🙂
So the gym was back on our daily schedule and we are back into weight lifting for the year! It feels good to be back!!
This place was nice and had a heap of potential. It was clearly an old establishment and a popular watering hole for New Zealand residents and travellers. The place had character and a clear bikie history with motorbike memorabilia displayed around the front bar.
With a quick stop at the bar to collect a Monteith’s black (A beer I have described in this blog), we made our way to the
riverside area. It was great, and people seemed to enjoy it. It had a view and a lot of atmosphere. The staff were nice and busily cared for all the patrons. Howeve
r, one thing was a miss: that was the band! They consistently ruined cla
ssic after classic. It crushed it for me. Seriously, if you are going to have a crack at Led Zeppelin, Stairway To Heaven please at least do the song some respect and practice it once together before presenting it in public….. Classic after classic, destroyed… lol…. I love live music and this was a deal breaker, but check this place out if you have some time, just not on a Sunday.
I walk into this place and the first thing I see and smell is this bad boy! A huge smoker! Now this is what I am TALKING ABOUT. I couldn’t wait to try the beer as aesthetically, the place nailed it. I was excited and this is a huge perk to House sitting New Zealand.
The beer just as good. The beers didn’t have names originally, but they were numbered. Weird but cool. It turns out they now they have names but the numbering system is still the preferred method of ordering. My number “the number 4 “Hallertau Deception Schwarzbier. A delicious beer really but it did leave some questions.
What is a Schwarzbier
So I googled it and broke copyright laws by providing you a description.
Schwarzbier, or black beer, is a dark lager made in Germany. They tend to have an opaque, black colour with hints of chocolate or coffee flavours, and are generally around 5% abv (IBU range: 20 – 30, ABV range: 4.4% – 5.4%, Malt: Carafa special ii, Crystal, Munich, Pilsner, Yeast: Lager)
So, there you have it a Schwarzbier, now just to learn how to pronounce it.
The number 4 Hallertau Deception Schwarzbier, lived up to the name as well. A dark beer that was full o
f warm coffee flavour with a touch of sweetness. Devine. So much so I ordered a bottle for home and also tried on of the breweri
es seasonal beers, the …… I cant remember the name but, whoooooo it was strong and dark, not my cup of tea but still a nice drop
if that’s your flavour.
Stay tuned to out House sitting New Zealand