Sunday, 17 January 2016

Thursday, December 24, 2015, Christmas Eve. 

Trevor, Nichole, Reed and I headed over to the Area Office so they could see where we work and meet some of the people we work with.  We then headed North to Parry's Kauri Park.

Nichole's grandparents had served a mission here many years ago and so there were certain things she wanted to see.  They wanted to see a Kauri tree so this is a great one to see.  It is over 800 years old called the McKinney Kauri. 
 A great shot of a Silver Fern.

 We headed farther North and the holiday traffic was horrible.  It also rained harder than it has the whole time we have lived in New Zealand.  We headed to Matakohe to visit the Kauri Museum. Reed forgot to put the battery back into his camera so we only had Trevors.  The furniture and pieces of Kauri in this museum are fabulous.

Trevor and Nichole sitting in the carved out trunk of a Kauri tree.
We then headed back towards Takapuna and detoured over to Muriwai Beach to see the Tasman Sea and the Gannett Colony.  It kept lightly raining on us but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.
The baby birds have hatched and are growing.  They are very fuzzy and have quite a bit of black on them.

We had a really nice day even though it was a little cool and rainy.  We headed home and stopped at Carl's Junior for dinner.  Not a very fancy Christmas Eve dinner but we were tired and hungry and we did not want to go home and cook.

We went home, talked for a while, got Christmas all out and headed to bed.

December 25, 2015.  Merry Christmas.  When Nada opened the bedroom door there was this crashing noise.  Trevor had decided to reverse roles and he did traps for us.  We were truly surprised.

Trevor had stacked up Reed's wood that he is going to carve with and tied ribbon to them.  He tied the ribbon onto our bedroom door handle so when I opened the door they all tumbled over.  When he heard the noise he yelled at us to go back to bed.  It was fun.
Trevor, Nichole and Nada waiting to open gifts.  Nada is trying to connect with Chrisyt so we can open the gifts from her.
Reed passing out the gifts Christmas morning.
Trevor and Nichole opening some gifts Christmas morning.

I got up and  made our breakfast casserole and had it cooking while we opened gifts and called all the other kids while we opened the gifts from them.  It was so nice to have Trevor and Nichole here with us and not be all alone.

After breakfast we got ready for the day and headed to the Waitakere.  First stop Karekare Waterfall.  You can see the Pohutukawa are blossoming and the red is so vibrant.  This year they did not blossom as much as they did last year during Christmas time.
Nada, Trevor and Nichole at Karekare Waterfall.  There were quite a few people out hiking and enjoying the sun as we were for Christmas.
We hiked down to Karekare Beach.  This was the view along the trail.
Walking along the beach.  Once we got our feet wet the water was not so cold.
Next stop Kitekite Waterfall.  It is about a 25 minute walk/hike to these falls.  You can see the falls off to Trevor's right.

Below Reed and Nada in front of Kitekite Waterfall.  There were quite a few people in the pool at the bottom of the falls today.  It had warmed up quite a bit.

Reed and Nada with Kitekite waterfall in the background.  It was much warmer today.
We hiked out a different way than we went in.  We were glad we went in the other way because there are over 200 steps here and going down is much easier than going up.  It is a beautiful hike.
Last stop of the day was Piha Beach.  We walked along the beach and the tide was way out.  We went to the side of the beach that has always been blocked when we have been there by rocks and water.  There was a cave over there that went all the way out to the ocean.  It was fun.  There were a lot of starfish along the walls and other sea creatures.
Reed went out into the ocean and had us stand in the cave and took our picture with the beach on the other side.  The waves were starting to come in a little farther each time.

Above is Reed, Nada, Nichole and Trevor standing on a ledge we hiked to with the Tasman Sea behind us.  It was a beautiful day to be at the beach.  Here in New Zealand, on Christmas day families meet together and eat but a lot of families go to the beaches together.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day, hiking and enjoying the Tasman Sea.  We headed home to a very nice Christmas ham dinner I had put in the crockpot before we left.

Christmas 2015 in New Zealand was a wonderful day made even better because we had Trevor and Nichole with us and we were able to talk to each of our other children and grandchildren and Reed was able to talk to his Mom.  We are grateful for the birth, life and Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Saturday, December 26, 2015, Boxing Day.  We got up and called all the kids and watched them open gifts from us because today is Christmas Day in Utah.  Then we packed a lunch and headed to Cathedral Cove.  We met the Ahokava's and Tracy, Connor and Marly.  They had never been there.
Reed and Connor getting ready to swim.
We hiked down to Cathedral Cove.  Trevor and Nichole getting their feet wet.  It was a gorgeous day and lots of people were enjoying the beach and the water.
Trevor and Nichole on the other side of the cave.  It is so beautiful here.
 Everybody having a food break.
Reed and Paea coming out of the water after a dip.  Reed kept at Paea until he finally went in with all his clothes on.
We enjoyed our time.  Getting ready to leave.  Nada with a sail boat going past in the Pacific Ocean.
Looking back down as we are hiking out.
You can see how many cars are parked.  Some of them, including us, illegally.  They made a killing on parking tickets, $60 each, that day.  We had a great day.  It is about a two and a half hour drive out to Cathedral Cove but the scenery all the way and the hike and cove when you get there are well worth it.  We were glad to spend time with Paea, Lola, Tracy, Connor, Marly, Trevor and Nichole.  We think this is such a beautiful place and were excited to share the day and sites with them.

Sunday, December 27, 2015, we actually slept in a little bit.  We packed and headed a little early to church.  We stopped at One Tree Hill so Trevor and Nichole could get a great 360 degree view of Auckland and all the surrounding area.
Trevor and Nichole got a little sunburned yesterday.

After church we headed to Lake Taupo to spend a couple of days. 
Monday, December 28th we got up and headed to the wharf at Lake Taupo.  We took this boat out for a two hour ride on the lake to see the Maori carvings.
Reed enjoying being in the front of the boat.  He loves being on the water.
The carvings were done in the 1980's by some local artists.

Reed really wanted to be on a sail boat but by the time we decided to go out on the lake the sail boat was all booked out.  We had a great time anyway.

We left the lake and headed to Aratiatia Dam to watch them release the water to create the rapids
We watched from the dam then hurried to the lookout down the river to watch the rapids.  It really is a powerful site.
You can see the dam in the distance.  The water is already slowing down.  It all lasts about 25 minutes.  We went and saw Huka Falls and then headed to Rotorua.
We went to Te Puia for the Maori experience.  This is the Marae they welcome you to and perform in.
They took us over to where they were cooking the food, Hangi, to let us watch them uncover it.

If they were cooking this in their yard it would be covered with burlap sacks or banana leaves and dirt.
The family comes out and does a welcoming song and dance.
They sing and dance and explain some of their culture to you.

Then they teach the women how to do the poi dance and have the men come up and do the Haka.
Trevor and Reed up learning the Haka.  Trevor was an unwilling participant.
We had a very nice dinner with  music and met some interesting people at our table.  Then we headed to the mud pits.  Rotorua is built on land full of thermal activity like Yellowstone.  This area has their own mud pools and geysers.
This geyser behind Nada is constantly going off.  There was supposed to be a big one but it started pouring rain so we didn't see it go off.
You can see all the steam in the air and smell the sulphur.

We really had a good time and Trevor and Nichole enjoyed learning about the Maori culture.

Tuesday, the 29th we got up and headed to Hobbiton.  Trevor and Nichole were very excited to be here.  It was fun for us to be with them because they had watched all the movies and read the books and knew all about the characters and scenes.
Trevor and Nichole in Gandolf's Gap.  This shot is in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
This was our fourth time coming here and was the most crowded.  We had Sonny, the same guide that we had when Christy and Devree were here.  He does a good job.  He is talking to us about different scenes they filmed here.

This is the only Hobbit Hole you can actually step into.  They are all empty inside.
Trevor and Nichole standing in front of Samwise Gamgee  home.
Nada and Reed on the bridge to the Green Dragon.
They have finished the Mill House and filled the lake back in.  It is very picturesque.  We had such a great time here together.

We left Hobbiton and headed to Waitomo Caves.
We went into the Glow Worm Cave.  They do not let you take any pictures inside the cave.  Just as you are coming out on the boat they let you snap a picture.  We saw thousands of glow worms.  It really is quite spectacular.

We drove back up to Hamilton to attend a Temple session.
We went into the 6:30 p.m. session and the Christmas lights were on when we came out.
They still had the Christmas lights on and the Nativity up for one more night.
Trevor and Nada with the Christmas lights in front of the Visitors Center.  What a busy full day we had.  We enjoyed every minute of it and arrived home very tired.     
Wednesday, December 30, 2015, Trevor and Nichole packed up to get ready to head home.  We had a good breakfast and then took the bus to downtown Auckland.  We walked around and they did some souvenir shopping.  We went up into the Sky Tower.  We did not get to eat because all the reservations were too late for us to get them to the airport.
We went to Elliott Stables for lunch and took the bus back to Takapuna.  We put their suitcases in the car and drove down to Takapuna Beach so they could at least see where we walk all the time.  We arrived at the airport shortly after 5:00 p.m.  We got them all checked in with no problems.  We visited for a bit then walked with them to security and had to say good bye.  It was hard to have them leave.  Only a few tears were shed.  We loved having them here and will miss them so much.
We are so grateful for our family and for their love and support.  We had a wonderful holiday with Trevor and Nichole and are so grateful for them taking time out of their busy lives to come and be with us.  It will always be a wonderful Christmas memory for us.
We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  May The Lord continue to watch over and bless all of us.  We love you.  Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)


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