Wednesday, November 28, 2012

antarctic centre christchurch

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Hobbits come to town by plane

Here's Air NZ's Hobbit plane which just did a low sweep over the red carpet in downtown Wellington. I took this photo from my apartment.

Check more photos from the Hobbits Artisan Village (here in Wellington) over on my other blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Suicide grief - book reprinted (also for e-readers)

Surviving Suicide: a mothers story - by Heather Hapeta

20,000 words - written by a kiwi mum and therapist

  • A practical guide for people who have had someone die by suicide – and ideal for friends who want to support others who have had a suicide death in their family.

  • The first half is about a son’s motorbike accident at 15 years old, then his suicide at 20.

  • The second half offers the family many helpful tips for surviving this grief and also shows friends of the bereaved ways in which they can help each other during an extremely difficult time.

Unaddressed suicide grief often leads to more suicide deaths … learn how to lessen this risk (Kindles & all other e-readers, Kobo, Nook etc.)

Also available as paper copy for $20 - directly from Heather Hapeta ( when posted to a NZ address. (Direct credit or PayPal )

Friday, September 14, 2012

Paradise Shelduck ... colouful ducks

These duck are the only birds to have increased their numbers (native - New Zealand) since first seen by Captain Cook ... he called them the "painted duck'. (see photos of adults here) One of the amazing things about these territorial creatures is that they often nest ( and roost) in trees .. the ducklings are pushed out when only a day old .. to live on the ground until they too can fly .. I love them!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A simple guide for Christchurch NZ .. a local recommends

When in Christchurch, make sure you see the Canterbury Museum and right beside it, New Zealand's oldest Botanic Gardens.

While here, your food choices are wide, from Indian to Japanese, from Thai to Greek, and many, many, other ethnicities, and of course lots of upmarket caf├ęs.

Your choices for dinner at night are huge too: my recommendation would be to combine Maori culture with your meal. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, is only 15 mins from the city centre - if you combine it with Kotane, the Maori Experience you will have an evening with a uniquely New Zealand flavour.

While there,( Willowbank) you will also be able to see our native kiwi in natural surroundings – this flightless bird is only found in New Zealand and we locals call ourselves kiwi too.

Make sure you visit the the multi-award-winning International Antarctic Centre: Christchurch has long been the jumping off place for Antarctic exploration – from Robert Falcon Scott right through to today. This will take the entire morning as you experience an arctic storm, learn about the Antarctic, take a ride on a real Antarctic all-terrain Hagglund vehicle, and spend ages with the very cute, rescued, penguins in New Zealands first indoor-outdoor penguin viewing area.

Another must-do is to take a guided bike tour! I can well recommend Christchurch Bike Tours for a two-hour trip from the city centre to Mona Vale. Christchurch is also called the City of the Plain so no hills and very comfortable retro bikes to travel on.
one of my favourite native birds .. the pukeko - part of the Christchurch coat of arms

 After burning up some energy, how about a kiwi favourite for dinner tonight? A New Zealand staple - fish and chips with tomato sauce are not low fat but something we really, really love as a treat. Eat them out of the paper wrapping, with your fingers and you will know another reason why we love them – no dishes to wash, just crunch up the paper and throw it in the rubbish. Enjoy your days in my old city.  See more tips for travel (worldwide) on my other blog

Bellbird (native NZ bird) arrives in New Zealands capital: welcome!

Female bellbird by Steve Attwood
Female bellbird by Steve Attwood

Just received this news alert from Zealandia and thought it was worth reproducing in it's entirety -Heather Hapeta 

A female bellbird from an offshore island sanctuary has made a surprise journey to mainland sanctuary by the city Zealandia – turning up right under the nose of the Conservation Officer who originally banded her.

One month after Matu Booth helped transfer 60 bellbird from Kapiti Island to Mana Island for their Restoration Plan (a partnership between DOC and Friends of Mana Island (FOMI)) one of the birds he had attached leg bands to made a surprise appearance 25km away in Karori. Booth was doing his rounds last Friday at Zealandia when he noticed the newcomer.

“I immediately noticed the unfamiliar leg band combination - you do get very tuned in to those colours over time. There was a lot of interest from the resident males, they were chasing her and singing to her. I went into a bit of a tizzy and as soon as I got back to the office did a check on our database then emailed DOC and the Friends of Mana Island, who confirmed the bird was from their recent transfer. I helped set up the aviary for that transfer and banded nine birds myself – I’ve just checked my records and this happens to be one of those nine.”

Zealandia staff hope the new female will stay and add genetic variation for the local bellbird population. Conservation Manager Raewyn Empson was happy to hear about the sighting.

“She’s just in time for the spring breeding season so it would be absolutely fantastic if she sticks around. We have observed a high rate of dispersal with bellbird that makes it difficult to establish a population here – we see our birds, especially juvenile females, leaving the safety of the valley each year, often not to return. We’ve also seen the reverse - unbanded bellbird with different song dialects coming in to the sanctuary to breed; we know they’ve come from outside but we can’t know where from. It’s wonderful to get this information about the distance they can travel – she’s made a good choice if she decides to stay.”

Mana Island is closer to the mainland than Kapiti Island and Kapiti bellbirds are not banded. Banding gives conservationists useful information to track the success of translocations and resulting populations. Two of the birds from the same Kapiti-Mana transfer fell prey to mammalian pests on the mainland, one in Titahi Bay.

Although occasional single bellbirds were seen in the Wellington area before the sanctuary in Karori was fenced there was no breeding population – meaning they were functionally extinct. Bellbird are found naturally in forest parks including the Rimutakas and Tararuas but are at risk in unprotected areas from mammalian pests.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Swimming with dolphins?

Dolphins are some of the earth's most fascinating creatures and in the Bay of Islands they’re there all year – except the day I went looking!

The weather is overcast as we board the Great Sights Dolphin Eco-Experience boat and, despite this area having the warmest waters in New Zealand, I don’t have my swimming gear for swimming with the dolphins even though this tour includes a free swim with dolphins!

NOTE: In New Zealand, swimming with dolphins in the wild is subject to the Department of Conservations’ rules and regulations and the skipper’s discretion.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Take a road trip in New Zealands far north

My finger follows the Northlands Twin Coast Discovery route on the map. It’s been fun planning this trip to the ‘far north’ and now, behind the wheel of my rental, I’m off - first stop the coastal village of Tutukaka.

Waking to sunrise it’s not long before I’m checking into A Perfect Day get on their boat with a snorkel, fins and wetsuit ready to visit the world famous marine sanctuary, Poor Nights Island.

Once there the views above and below the water are breathtaking.  Schools of fish divide as they swim past me, while others carry on feeding on the food they have trapped up against the islands volcanic cliffs which continue straight down to the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

After exploring the world’s largest and beautiful sea-cave, Riko Riko and other islands which are part of the reserve and watching the gannets diving into the sea helped make this, for me, a ‘perfect day’ just as the company is called: over the next two weeks water and history feature high on my to-do list.

I visit the birthplace of New Zealand – the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It’s not only historic and beautiful but also set in lush native bush and has guided tours and cultural performances night and day

 Soaring skywards with the Flying Kiwi’s parasail, New Zealand’s’ highest, has my adrenaline flowing. The take-off and landing was smooth and gentle and the views over the Bay of Islands was great despite my fear of heights and that I was flying single, not tandem or triple.

Still in the bay, I went dolphin watching but saw a pod of Orca, killer whales, feeding - no wonder the dolphins where hiding. However, it seems their genetic warning system about this top-of-the-food-chain mammal, has not caught up with the fact that, in New Zealand, orcas prefer sting-rays.

This was the first area settled by Europeans from the end of the 18th century and The Duke of Marlborough in Russell is the centre of this history.  

My days fly and with a I-must-come-back-and-do list, I set my GPS for Kerikeri where I stay in eco-cottages nestled in the award-winning Wharepuke Subtropical Gardens and later arrive at Cape Reinga. It’s called Te Rerenga Wairua in Maori, this is a special place, culturally and ecologically, and many visitors from around the world reduce their carbon footprint by planting a native tree there.

Back down the twin-coast highway my next stop was at a Hokianga hotel right on the waterfront and within sight of the heads that the great Polynesian explorer, Kupe, sailed through many generations ago. If the Bay of Islands is the cradle of Pakeha history, this whole area is the cradle of Maori history.
A young girl joins her mum and aunties on the stage

Two of the activities here celebrate both nature and Maori culture.  Footprints Twilight Encounter was very special and even Lonely Planet rated it highly (Code Green Experience of a Lifetime).  One evening I joined one of Kupe’s descendants, and six other travellers, on a guided walk to the two largest kauri trees in the world. Being in the forest at night was very special for sounds and sights. 

The next day another of Kupe's descendants stood with me on top of the giant sand dunes on the opposite side of the Hokianga Harbour regaling me with stories of the past with its intrigues, wars, deception and fun – even better, only three people fit in the dune buggy so it’s an exclusive trip!

Further south on State Highway 12 is the Kauri Museum.  This had been given such great press by travellers I’d met along the way that it had a lot to live up to. One of the amazing things I find about this world-class, award winning, museum is that it is administered by a charitable trust. Showcasing the very best of the Kauri Coast, it not only has amazing pieces of Kauri gum arts and crafts but also magnificent antique furniture and working machinery - whatever your interests, social history, art, nature, science, furniture, jewellery, machinery, culture, the Kauri Museum and its history of the beautiful golden amber gum will keep you occupied for hours. Tell them I sent you!
For more stories about New Zealand, and the rest of the world follow travel my blog as well as this one!

Blue skies, blue sea, great views

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Food writers event next week

Saucy words and seductive pictures

Join food writer David Burton & photographer Murray Lloyd for an hour-long feast for the eyes and ears

Murray will deliver les hors d'oeuvres – a PechaKucha style slide show illuminating the fine art of food photography

This will be followed David’s recipe for becoming a food writer, after which we’ll give him a good grilling about the sticky bits (open Q&A: BYO questions)

 Time: 6pm, Tuesday 17 April 2012
 Place: Agostini Room, 4th floor, Museum Hotel, 90 Cable Street, WELLINGTON, New Zealand

 Cost: Travcom members $10, non-members $20, includes a welcome drink and nibbles

Register with and send cheque to: Helen Davies, Travcom administrator, at 2B Pukehana Avenue, Epsom, Auckland 1023. Ph. 09 624 5707 or email:

This event has been organised by the Wellington branch of the Travel Communicators’ Association. For further information, please contact one of the local committee:
Judith Doyle (judith.doyle AT
Heather Hapeta (heatherhapeta AT )
Sarah Bennett ( sarah AT )

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New suicide grief book

My long-awaited, long promised book on sucicide bereavement is now available for e-readers - hard copies are available directly from the author - Heather Hapeta

Have just been sent this " Heather, you were born to write this book. Tears have been rolling down my face for the last hour, but I've also been cheering. For you, for your courage, your persistence, your bossiness, your in-your-face-ness. I'm so glad you wrote the book, and I hope that others will be comforted and strengthened by reading it."

Buy this book from Smashwords (all formats) here.  It is also for sale here from  Amazon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Life in upper Cuba St

Bubbles are always fun!

 Thought a very house-proud neighbor had moved in!
When I come home I find the veranda had been painted.