New Zealand 19 – Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend

Okay. This weekend I tried really hard to get some non-work photos for the blog, but I admit it was hard. I lied at the end of my last post, I never left Christchurch. First & foremost I’m here to work, and if a settlement (aka the owner & insurance company will come to a monetary agreement) is going to happen soon, we are going to try our hardest to make that occur as smoothly as possible.

Friday night I honestly don’t even remember what I did. I think I cooked some pasta, drank a glass of wine, and set my alarm for early on Saturday.

Saturday I was on site in the morning–going over damage conditions with our client and determining if we agreed with the owner’s engineer’s report. Until later that evening I spent organizing my notes and producing some repair sketches. Came home, decided I needed to go run, ate pasta leftovers. (my weekend is starting to sound really exciting right?)

Sunday I showed up at work again; however, I did give myself some personal time in the morning to have breakfast and a flat white at a new cafe, photo proof —

Ground Floor Cafe perfection

Then… get ready for it, for lunch I did the one non-work related thing all weekend — drove to KNITWORKS. A few coworkers mentioned wanting to check out this store. Knitworks is literally on a farm. They have their own sheep & alpacas and produce custom sweaters and other apparel on-site.

Sheep’s wool (and alpaca) headquarters

I caved and bought possum socks (remember the New Zealand 6 post?), then I REALLY caved and bought…a sheep-skin rug. Don’t ask me why, I think it may have been work overload, just because it was so soft, or because I pictured it being a great conversation piece back in my & my husband’s Maryland apartment, but either way I ended up with a ridiculous(ly awesome) sheep skin. I’m going to come home with a sheep skin, throw it on the living room floor, and I can only imagine what kind of confusing conversation my husband and I will have. I’m sure I will have to trade some wall space for another Boston Celtics poster as compromise for the random small furry rug gracing our floor.  However, for now, it definitely helps turn the hotel room decor up a notch —

To conclude, I found out at the beginning of the week our hard work did pay off and the ball is rolling on a settlement. Seeing some significant progress definitely made the work weekend worth it.

And as my final photo of this week’s post, I’d like to share my favorite find at Knitworks — a knit, high visibility sweater. My new side-mission at the New Zealand office will be to convince our safety officer that these are necessary.

Only $100 more than our branded safety vests…

Cheers.

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New Zealand 10 – The A-Team does Auckland

Cold has overcome Christchurch. July 4th cannot come soon enough just for the chance to experience a few weeks of summer back in the States! It’s luckily not “Massachusetts cold,” but just cold enough that I have to utilize my electric blanket (New Zealanders don’t believe in central heating).

I had the “fun” experience of being in a red-carded (=can’t be occupied due to damage) building during an earthquake this past week.  Everything ended up being fine, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all inspecting a deteriorated structure when a >4 magnitude earthquake hit. Last night we missed a 4.9 while flying back from Auckland. Earthquake magnitudes really don’t mean too much when it comes to what the individual feels. It all depends on how deep the origin is and how far away you are from it along with a few other factors. Apparently this 4.9 last night was just enough to make a few coworkers debate for a few seconds if they should jump underneath their desk, but ultimately they just rode it out where they were standing.

EARTHQUAKE LESSON – if you ever find yourself in the middle of an earthquake, PLEASE “duck cover & hold”–this means jump under a desk/table/chair and cover your head. Don’t go running out the door or to the stairwell. Unfortunately this is how several people died in Christchurch. They had the building exteriors/canopies fall on them upon exiting or the stairs fell down.

On a less morbid note – let’s discuss Auckland! What a great getaway weekend! I flew with 3 other coworkers that we quickly dubbed the “A Team” (A for Auckland) to the biggest city in New Zealand.

Geographic Representation

We arrived in Auckland right around dinner time Friday and headed to a very quaint bed & breakfast owned by a sweet German couple. The night was packed — we headed to Ponsonby Street for dinner and actually ended up with a burrito. We’re in a constant battle to find good Mexican food in New Zealand and it is not an easy task. We luckily found a NZ version of Chipotle that produced fabulous burritos! Afterwards we headed to Parnell for dessert – an upscale suburb of Auckland with several cafes and designer stores. We stumbled upon an AMAZING chocolate cafe.  The night was young which left us to follow the lights and end up on top of a hill at the grand-looking Auckland museum. I liked the quote along the top of the structure, so here it is for the record:

The whole earth is the sepulcher of famous men, they are commemorated not only by columns and inscriptions in their own country but in foreign lands also. By memorials graven not on stone, but on the hearts of men.

DC look-a-like

Afterwards we headed to the center city and found ourselves underneath the giant, tourist-trap sky tower. Originally we thought it would be a good idea to go grab a drink at the top, but it was going to cost us $25 just to ride the elevator up and the restaurant was closing. Not really worth it if you ask me!

The next morning we caught the first ferry to Devenport. Here we sipped on coffee in a local cafe and checked out the local shops.

City view from Devenport

After coffee we hopped on the ferry once again to Rangitoto island (I’m slowly getting used to all the native Maori names across the country). Rangitoto is actually a dormant volcano–one that was formed only 600 years ago. Auckland is a city literally SURROUNDED by volcanoes! They are dormant, but most scientists warn to watch for eruption in the future.

Chilling out in the lava rock

Smiling despite hanging high over the edge of the volcano cone

My attempt at a panoramic photo from the top of Rangitoto, just another moment where I wish I had my dream Panasonic Lumix LX5 camera 😉

After Rangitoto we ferry’d our way back to the big city, showered, & headed out to dinner at the Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe. We made friends with our Swedish waiter who told us his story of traveling to NZ for a working holiday, met his girlfriend, they moved to Sweden, and then she eventually made him move back to NZ with her. He recommended a Belgian blond beer called “La Chouffe” — it was fantastic.

Once dinner was done I found a Dunkin Donuts. Considering I can rarely even find Dunkins in Washington DC this really made my trip.

Our night ended, and the next day started with breakfast in Parnell, a visit to the Auckland museum (where we learned everything we wanted to know about Maori people, Kiwis in the World Wars, NZ dinosaurs, & volcanoes), for lunch we grabbed some fresh fish from the harbor fish market, & then begun our journey on Tamaki Drive. We timed this just right considering the sun was going down.

Looking over Auckland

We had another hour before arriving to the airport. So what do we do? Find another Mexican restaurant. I finally found a somewhat decent margarita in New Zealand!

Overall, a wonderful weekend spent in the big city!

This upcoming week is looking like another busy work week, training for the 10k race I signed up for on June 3rd (so soon!), enjoying a bowling outing, and brainstorming what the next weekend adventure will be.

As always, Cheers!