Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sparkling Auckland

Here we are again at last! As you can imagine the Rugby World Cup is taking up a lot of my free time at the moment, but I have some time today before our next guests arrive for the weekend.

We have had some lovely guests over the past few weeks all from different areas of the world. We have loved having them stay and they have enjoyed their time with us we are glad to say.

A little moan now! Some of the guests have mentioned that they have no idea of what to do whilst on holiday in Auckland. The tourist guides are all very keen to get you out of Auckland so don't promote Auckland as a destination, when in fact just about everything you can do in other parts of New Zealand  you can do here - yes even  snowboarding!www.snowplanet.co.nz. So over the next few blogs I am going to take you on a journey through Auckland and outlying regions to show you the fun you can have just a short distance from Haven Homestay.

Back to today however. We are nearing the end of the Rugby World Cup now and the excitement is building towards the first semi final on this weekend - fingers crossed for the mighty All Blacks. Auckland has done a super job of hosting this tournament and the visitors from around the world seem to be having a wonderful time. It will be kind of sad when its all finished!

So, I must get back to the baking now, perhaps some lovely banana bread for the next guests.............

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Northcote Point

Last night was a big one for our team the Warriors so we thought we would go and watch it live on TV at one of our local pubs only a stones throw from Haven Homestay.

Rumour had it that the Northcote Tavern had a new chef in the kitchen and that recently the food had received a 4 out of five from the NZ Herald, so we thought we'd better give it a go to see if the review was true.

The menu has a range of pub food and also a blackboard menu of weekly specials. My lovely husband opted for the fish and chips, which came wrapped in newspaper-it was an enormous package of food, with three large pieces of fish as well as homemade style chips  and at only $17.50 was jolly good value. I on the other hand went for the cheaper option, only $12.50 and had the beef & guiness pie with mash. That too was substantial - so much so I couldn't finish it - I think the waitress was a tad disappointed with me! Both meals were to coin a phrase "a tiny bit marvelous" and great value for money.

The pub has a lovely atmosphere reminiscent of an English pub and seems to have a wide ranges of ales and a good wine list. In the summer there is a lovely beer garden and it seems very popular with the locals.

We had a lovely evening, watched the Warriors win and went home greatly satisfied.
We mustn't leave it too long before our next visit.........

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deep Mid Winter

Dragged us out of hibernation on Saturday and went for a nosy to somewhere we'd never been before, even though we have lived here for thirty odd years-shame on us really!

Thursday night we sat a watched a really lovely locally made film called The Insatiable Moon. It was set in and around Ponsonby and Herne Bay, two suburbs that are not more than ten minutes drive from Haven Homestay.

At Herne Bay there is a park and outdoor swimming pool, known as Pt Erin, which is really lovely (sorry girls that we never took you there when you were little!). The photo above was taken from Point Erin and shows a different look to the harbour bridge, one we certainly had never seen before. In the film this shot was used in one of the scenes and it brought Pt Erin to our attention. 

Herne Bay and Ponsonby are lovely areas with quirky shops selling all manner of different things and boasts some of the best eateries around. Its very easy to walk around. We discovered lots of little reserves that go down right to the waters edge (when the tide is in of course) and walking around the streets it is so interesting, looking a people's gardens and lovely old properties.

When you are tired of walking there are many cafe's to go to and have a really good coffee.

It made us realise that even in deep mid winter we really should get out more, and so I must go and consult the map and decide where to venture to next.....................

Friday, June 17, 2011

June - deep winter

Hello again from Haven Homestay. Today finds us deep in winter - although as the picture will suggest the Hibiscus refuse to hibernate!

June is our month of birthdays - 5 in all - and with the impending birth of a great nephew the number will increase to six. Two of our family members have the same birthday of 25 June and we are all hoping(?) that the new boy will also be born on that day. 

We are slowly receiving booking for September and October for the Rugby World Cup but I admit some bookings prior to this event would be a good warm up for us.

Auckland has some awesome events happening before the RWC, for example the Auckland Food Show, which is a much anticipated event on the winter schedule, and well worth a visit.

We are busy cooking new and exciting cakes and breads at the moment, which I hope to serve to our guests when they arrive.

Speaking of arriving, my lovely husband, whose birthday it was yesterday - has just arrived home from a long day in the car so I'd better go and give him some attention...........

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Where did May go!

Yoghurt coconut cake with passionfruit icing
Well what did happen to May?? Time seems to fly past so quickly these days - I'm told its because I'm getting older!!Enough of that sort of talk.

 What a cake that turned out to be. It is as yummy as it looks. Now the bookings for Haven Homestay have started to come in I am starting to think of new recipes to delight the visitors with and I think this will definately go in the "to do" pile. Its very tropical with a hint of rum.

Apologies to family members who are not in Auckland you will just have to look and imagine.

Speaking of bookings we have been getting quite a few enquiries through Tourism Auckland which is so encouraging for us especially my lovely husband who spent sooo many hours building the website and trying to get it listed properly.

My next challenge is to gather together a repertoire of yummy NZ style food to tempt the visitors with so they can stay at "home" to eat if they feel a little jaded after a full days sightseeing in Auckland.

Speaking of dinner its time to go and look in the fridge to see whats on the menu for us tonight................

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easter Break

Autumn Glory at Eastwood Hill

Easter this year as you know was a little later, properly into Autumn. So we took the opportunity to visit one of our favourite places in NZ at this time of year, Eastwood Hill Aboretum in Gisborne. It goes without saying that it was gorgeous. All the deciduous trees that have been collected from around the world were all in their Autumn glory and we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon walking around and taking many photos.

Gisborne is a lovely place to visit and well worth the trip if your itinerary allows you the time. It is a great wine growing region and there are many lovely wineries to visit for a tasting or two. It is the first place in the world to greet the new day and in summer is a glorious place to visit for its clean ocean beaches and relaxed atmosphere.

We try and visit Gisborne every year to experience some rural life, peace and quite and some lovely farm fresh lamb. Our dear friends have a farm just out of Gisborne, farming cattle and sheep as well as a couple of alpacas  Well thats brief summary of our lovely Easter break, now we must start planning the next one.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A lovely cuppa!

Those of you who know me well know that I love a good cup of tea that coffee is not my thing at all. So it was great to find a coffee shop that actually serves tea in a proper tea cup!

Today I paid a visit to the Hinemoa Street Organic Cafe here in Birkenhead and treated myself to lunch. The owner is a young lady who is dedicated to good service and wholesome organic food and I must say it was delicious... and.... the tea was in a proper cup. So any visitors to Haven Homestay will be encouraged to try out this cafe - I am sure they will enjoy their visit. My fellow customers were tucking into the likes of yummy muffins, steak sandwiches, lovely looking wraps and salads and soup which was what I decided to try - and very nice it was too!  Above all it was very clean and the staff most attentive.

Today is another glorious Autumn day, very warm and still. The trees are just starting to turn to red and orange a sure sign that winter is not far away. So I must go outside now and rake up a few leaves...............

Monday, April 11, 2011


Well Saturday was a day full of positive vibes. The day was a gorgeous Autumn day warm and still and as I was eating breakfast by myself (that tale follows) I heard a strange wooshing noise over my shoulder, I turned around and there just above the trees was a hot air balloon just hanging like a ghost! After taking many photos this was deemed the best even though it was taken into the sun-I think it looks quite eerie.

The reason for my solitary breakfast was that my lovely husband had set off early fishing and for the first time caught his legal limit of 9 snapper-he was so chuffed, as was I, friends and neighbours! Yum fresh fish. Hopefully when we have guests they too can have freshly caught snapper for dinner - what a treat for them.

The third and most important event of the day was the launching of the website for our B&B,
www.havenhomestay.co.nz. Now we have an official address we are able to list in various tourism publications and websites. Yay at long last we are ready for action.

Well I think that all the news for now I must go and do a little in the garden while the sun is still shining..............

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fall has Fallen

Hi again, its been awhile but finally its my turn to use the computer. The reason for the delay is the impending launch of our website that my lovely husband has been slaving over for the past week or so. Its looking really quite professional and we are very pleased with the look. Will let you know more later!

Yes fall has fallen with the turning back of the clocks on Sunday. Always a time of wistful melancholy as the nights all of a sudden close in. However Sunday was a really beautiful day and I set off early to the monthly Coastesville Market. It has increased in size over the past few years and I think everybody in Auckland was there. The stalls are a wonderful array of artisan foods and quality crafts, I always come home with a bagful of goodies. This time it was vanilla extract, a lovely sultana loaf (so cheap and yummy it would have been silly to make one myself), organic cheeses and a lovely piece of clothing for the autumnal days. Anyone visiting Haven Homestay at the beginning of the month will be advised to visit the market for a lovely experience.

I have been out and about with my trusty old camera taking shots of our local attractions and will be posting more of them soon.

Today is chilly, windy and occasionally wet - not pleasant - however I think an evening for some homemade pasta is in order -  so I'd best get cracking ........ till next time

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Birthday Week

This last week was my birthday, and, as luck would have it I came down with a nasty virus! As people who know me well I don't "do" unwell - so my day wasn't the best.

However now I am over it and did a spot of shopping today with my birthday present from my lovely mother-in-law. Ladies who visit Haven Homestay will be thrilled to learn that shopping in the Birkenhead area is fab!. We have the loveliest gift shops with out of the ordinary items to buy. My current fav is Crave. Jude the owner has the most divine taste! Todays purchase (with my birthday money) is the pictured Eelskin coin purse. I have been coveting this for some time and every visit to the shop I hold it and wish it were mine-now it is.

Enough now I must go and stir the Tikka Masala as my lovely husband has just come home...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gone Home!

Well our lovely guests have now left for home!
Hopefully, in fact, I am sure that they have left with many memories of the great time they had visiting New Zealand.
The week before their departure we managed a trip to Rotorua. We stayed on the shores of the lake and managed to cram in many sights and even a tattoo from the Living Maori Village. I am sure it will be displayed with great pride. The little girls had a great time and saw lots of our wildlife and enjoyed a trip on the famous luge, which was a highlight for them.
The day before leaving we took them on a journey up the East Coast beaches as it was a lovely bright sunny day. They were stunned to put it mildly that we have so many empty clean beaches literally minutes away. We ended up at Long Bay for a last swim and sunbathe before their departure.
We had a lovely time being B&B hosts for the first time and hope that our business will take off in a very short time.
Now its time to change the linen in preparation for the next guests...............

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Lovely days outing

Saturday February 26 was another lovely day. We woke early and were out of the house by 9am- quite a feat for us!
We headed northwards, travelling for about 45 minutes to Matakana. A small settlement renown for its Saturday Farmers Market and Morris and James Pottery. We were there quite early so it wasn't too crowded and we managed a good look around the market, sampling yummy things as we went. After collecting a few things for a picnic we carried on up the road to Leigh.. Ten minutes later we are down at Goat Island, a marine reserve just teeming with fish.
The little girls were very excited about going out on the glass bottomed boat, and it turned out to be a lovely trip. A few days earlier there had been some unsettled weather which had churned the bottom up so our view of the fish wasn't as awesome as it might have been, but we still saw plenty of marine life. After our picnic we set off again to our favourite beach at Tawharanui. We all had a marvelous time in the surf and returned home happy and hungry.
We are so fortunate to have these beautiful places on our doorstep, we musn't forget to go more regularly,
Anyhow better get on and get the guests fed.................

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Silly Me!

Bay of Islands-Wow!!
Just realized, my very first blog didn't post so you probably don't know what the heck I am on about duh! So I will start again.

The renovations have finally finished and we are now open and ready for business.

We have had our very first guests arrive at our Home-stay last Thursday. My husband's niece, her husband and their two little girls are staying with us for three weeks intending to see all the sights we can fit in over that time. As they are our first guests they are acting as guinea pigs, so to speak but as they are family they don't mind a bit.

We are having a couple of breaks out of Auckland, to Bay of Islands and Rotorua. Both places are an easy car journey from The Haven. There is lots to see and do on the way to the Bay of Islands, and our base in Rotorua is ideally situated to all the attractions and also relatively short journeys to Mt Maunganui and Taupo.

Will let you know how it all goes.......

A Week later!

At last! a minute to sit down a record events of the week - so many of them too!

What a lovely young family we have staying with us at the moment - they have made themselves totally at home and are lovely company to have. The children, aged 3&7 have made good use of my girls' toys and games that I had in storage for such an occasion. Due to weather being warm and sunny they have played out in the garden quite alot.

The B&B side of things is going well, my lovely husband keeping me in check with my haphazard table setting - there is alot to remember and think about constantly - but I will get the hang of it I am sure.

Very glad we bought a new washing machine before the visitors arrived as it has been in constant use!

We had a short trip up to the Bay of Islands, we all had a marvelous time. Our accommodation was basic but clean and reasonably priced and in a good situation for walking to cafes etc. A day was spent on a trip to the hole in the rock and on the way we were privileged to see many dolphins.

Better go and hang out some more washing, till next time......

ps. will try and attach some photos!