Wellington is a wonderful place to live. I love it's people, it's energy and most of the time, I love it's weather too. But every now and again it is lovely to get out of the city. It gives you a chance to refresh and put a new perspective on everything. This Summer Matt and I had Christmas with his family in Greytown. On Boxing Day, we hit the road. It was my first road-trip driving myself. As a Wellingtonian who walks everywhere, I am still on my learner licence at 26. Trust me, it is not for lack of trying - I must have set some record of not passing my drivers test five times! One, I still maintain, does not count because I didn't get to sit the test due to unforseeable circumstances (read: I couldn't find my licence on the morning of the test). So, with Matt by my side as a fully licensed driver, I was free to get ahold of the wheel. Wee!
The mountains gleamed, still snowy in Summer.
I drove the first leg from Wellington to Taihape. Matt then took over. He drove through Taupo and up to Auckland. My own family usually take the National Park route (they swear it's quicker) so I was excited to peer out the window and see the mighty Lake Taupo. It looked like a dream. I was so disorientated by taking a different road, I asked Matt, stupidly "Are we by the sea??".
The low point of the drive was probably Burger King in Tokearoa. Not only because it was maybe one of the most depressing small towns we had been through, but also a fatal crash happened just outside the town, closing off SH1. This made me feel quite scared. Matt also was spooked. We called our parents just to let them know we were ok. It had only happened an hour before. I kept thinking you can just be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It is so important just to drive safely. Who cares when you get there, as long as you do, right?
Finally we made it (I took over driving in Auckland again), in roughly 12 hours. Because it was Boxing Day, the roads were very quiet. After a lovely meal, and a cuddle with Timmy, we fell into bed, shattered.
The next day, I took Matt to see some of the beaches I have grown up with every Summer. This one is called Matapouri. Our top celeb spotting tale is that Mum once saw Carol Hirschfeld (former TV 3 newsreader, now at the beloved Radio NZ) there. Matapouri has lots of baches. It is a real holiday makers spot. But the beach is so huge there is definately room for everyone.
Although I love the beach in Summer, I also love it in Winter, when there is no one at all to be seen. The golden sands though, and the crisp blue sea and lapis coloured sky are heavan. I think if you are going to be staying on the east coast, and you can only take someone to see one beach, it would have to be Matapouri, or Whale Bay (around the corner). We are so lucky in New Zealand to have access to some of the most amazing beaches in the world.
For the rest of the time, we chilled out, took walks and played games. Matt is really good at 'Connect Four'. I don't mind playing chess with him, but I refuse to play 'Connect Four' with him now because he beats me - every single time! So while I sat out and kept you lovely readers entertained, checking out your Instagram pics (bad holiday person, I know), he played every member of my family (and mostly beat them). He has a secret strategy that he offers to tell people - but my family didn't want to know what it was because we want to work it out ourselves (which we did not manage).
The days were lazy and long. Mum cooked incredible meals. We swam in the sea each morning. New Zealanders really are so lucky we can go from sea to snow, without ever having to drive more than 5 hours.
One of the best things about being on holiday is getting to relax. But I still wanted to take some pictures of the new skincare from Tailor which I used over the Summer break. I like to change my skincare so it doesn't get bored and Tailor kindly sent me a mini-pack to try and review for The Residents. However, someone also decided they liked Tailor Skincare. Timmy, my parents dog, was very keen on the Oil Face Cleanser. He kept on coming over to my arrangement, putting it between his teeth, and then running away, like it was a very fun game. He is so cute, but so naughty! I love dogs lots, but it looks like this one loves skincare! Well, at least I know he loves Hazelnut oil and Coconut oil (Tailor's products are all vegan so I am pretty sure there is nothing meaty based in the product that attracted Timmy).
I got onto Tailor because I've hear great things about their Skincare. Sara Quilter, who makes the products is a big believer in holistic health, and blogs about health and wellbeing on the Tailor website.
As far as I was concerned, the little blue bottles were perfect for a Summer break, because they could just slip into my luggage. I just adore how they look too, especially for a holiday trip - blue skies, blue sea, blue bottles from Tailor.
On holiday, or in everyday life, I have to admit tend to carry stuff around with me alot, whether it is to the pool and then work in the mornings, for weekends at my boyfriends family place in Greytown, or just going to his place on the weekdays. Also, I am always walking, not driving (see above) so it has to be light! I hate feeling like I don't have my own stuff with me and I have to used some scummy soap or leave my makeup on when I go to sleep. The little tote bag provided with the pack of mini Tailor products was ideal. I could just slip them in my handbag and go. Small sizes of your skincare are perfect if you don't like being weighed down with heaps of stuff (ie laptop, hairstraightener - who needs big bottles of skincare on top of that!).
Oil cleansers are clearly a thing that I am late getting on the band wagon for. But much like the awesome products by Wiki Skincare, I really liked the Oil Cleanser. It gave me a norished and soothing clean after a long day of being out in the sun. I felt I needed extra hydration, with all the time I spent outdoors over the holiday, even just walking around. Of course I used unblock, but I definately found I wanted something that put back goodness into the skin and the hazelnut oil and coconut oil in this product delivered.
Also great was the Hydrate - an oil free gel, sort of feeling like aloe. Lots of people love gel, and for summer this was a great, light boost of moisture. The Hydrate product contains a powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) found in green tea. Tailor's website says this "effectively halts oxidative stress caused by environmental factors, providing skin with an effective line of defence". It also has Kowhai and calendula to help to sooth dry irritated skin and provitamin B5. I found this was really good just to tap out of the bottle and put on and go, as it dries on your skin really quickly. I would use this when I need to get made-up fast, and don't have time to let a serum or oil seep in.
I also enjoyed the Dry Cleanse, but to be honest used this product the least (I have normal skin, which can dry out in summer). I found that for the end of a long Summer day it provided a nice exfoliation type treatment when popped on my hands and rubbed with water. However, due to the heat, I tried not to overdo it and make my skin too raw. I do love anything that exfoliates though and this had a beautiful clay-like smell with mid-notes of essential oils wafting through (oooh la la).
I LOVE A MASK. Masks are just one of the best things in life that make you feel like nothing else matters! So a made sure that as a treat at the end of a hot day in the sun that I popped on my PJ's and slathered some of the detoxing facial treatment. It sets really evenly and gives you a wonderful "detox-y" feel, like it is pulling all the imperfections from your skin. With a cup of tea and a headband, I might not have looked all that glam - but hey - on holiday who cares. I got Matt to put some on, but, sadly, he wasn't a fan (he didn't like that facemasks make your skin tight - boys!). One mask set did both of us - Tailor mini's have a really good amount in them, which is nice.
Also, check the gorgeous art-work. It makes me want to get myself some watercolours and paint.
I haven't really used lipbalms much over the years, not since the days of Blistex in high school. But I am going to make a new year resolution to hydrate more, starting with my lips. The Tailor Lip Balm is really good - as I said above, Tailor's products are all vegan, with the exception of the lipbalm which has bee's was in it. Also contains coconut oil and cocobutter, which is lovely, simple and soothing. For just before bed on my lips, or around my cuticles or scratches (read: anywhere) this is a lovely balm.
Finally, Tailor's moisturing cream went down a treat, especially with my mum. I used to sell Aesop skincare (I think I mentioned this in my last beauty post). Back then, Mum got addicted to the Camelia Nut moisturising cream. One night, after our face masks as I was putting the moisturiser on (while we were all sitting around in our PJ's and watching a documentary about Woody Allen's films) she remarked "What's that smell??". Now mum has used lots of skincare in her time, and is very fussy about what she does and doesn't like. I passed her the Tailor moisturising cream and she sniffed it approvingly. It looks like mum has found a new alternative then to Camelia Nut - in it, it has NZ grown hazelnut, grape seed, blackcurrant seed and kiwi seed oils. It is also a much better price - $39.50 for 50ml compared to Aesop's $83 NZD. Where I like to mix oils as a moisturiser (I love using more than one) and the also sometimes creams, my Mum is of the generation where cream's are her preference. I would certainly get this as a present for her in the future. She is all about smells, so I know she will love it.
Apart from Timmy's naughty antics, and slathering moisturising lotions and balms all over myself (whenever I tried to sneak off to photograph the skincare, something needed doing, like the dishes, and I got into trouble with Mum and Dad for not helping out - Family Holidays eh?) the highlight of the trip away from Wellington was definately checking out the 'Perfect Day' cruise.
The 'Perfect Day' cruise was done with 'Dive Tutukaka'. I had asked Mum to sponsor this as mine and Matt's Chirstmas present (at $169, it was expensive, but completely worth it and great value for what you get to do). Basically, 'Perfect Day' is a day trip out to the Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve, where you can snorkle, paddleboard, and kayak - and you get fed yummy sandwiches for lunch too! How great is that??! They even have a small bar if you want a beer on the way home. I have been coming up to this area of New Zealand for over 10 years, but had never done the trip out to go snorkelling. So I was pretty excited!
It was a busy day on the boat when we set off from Tutukaka Marina - there were lots of people on board, including this beautiful blonde sea urchin.
The crew were also excellent, and had amazing customer service - although also some interesting methods of driving the boat. Typical Kiwi's. The people from other countrieson board must have thought were are crazy!
The mainland of New Zealand was so much further away than the islands seemed - 12 miles would be a long way to swim! We made sure we got back on the boat in good time.
This is Riko Riko Cave, the largest sea cave in the Southern Hemisphere. It has great acoustics so Neil Finn and other New Zealand musicians have played there (also recently, Auckland Jazz musician Nathan Haynes).
Apart from doing the 'Perfect Day' cruise, you can also dive at the Poor Knights Islands. But you can't go onto the island at all because it is stictly protected by the Department of Conservation. Jacques Cousteau, the most famous diver of all time, named it in his top 10 diving spots in the world.
People took advantage of all the activities on offer. Matt, as a ginger, does not partake in sunbathing, so we stayed in our wetsuits or our clothes most of the trip. We snorkled for about an hour and a half. It was incredible to see so many fish! I would highly reccomend this. I loved snorkling and exploring the coats of the islands. Truly magic! Actually, the perfect day...
After our snorkelling time was up, we drove into the cave. It had the most amazing echo when you yelled out (we ere encouraged to do this).
The edges of the cave have bright orange sealife growing off them. Next to the blue water, the colours are truly insane!
The boat left Riko Riko and we continued around the island some more, looking at all the archways. The Poor Knights islands were truly beautiful to look at. They have a magestic, haunting feel. Such a great summer day-trip!
We slept so well that night.
For New Years even, we hit the road again and stayed at our friend Holley's farm. Holley is from Whangarei, so is a true local. Surrounded by her Whanau, and some of our friends from Whangarei who made the trip up, including one of my longest best friends Maria, we had a great night enjoying the real New Zealand.
I had fun hanging out with the kids!
The morning after - on New Years Day - I was woken up in a small bunk bed by the rain pouring down. Although we wanted to stay longer, me and Matt hit the road again in fear of the dirt road down to Holley's farm getting washed out.
The rain didn't let up. So after getting home safe we decided the next day to pack on up and head back down the country, from Whangarei, staying at Matt's sister's place in Auckland.
We weren't the only ones. It took 4 and a half hours to get to Auckland. It should have been 2 and a half! Matt and I tried not to go crazy but being bumper to bumper in traffic was really boring.
When we made it to Auckland, we drove through the village in Mount Eden. After dumping our stuff at Matts sister's place, we went to check out a place I had seen driving through called 'The Garden Shed'. The decor was all themed like an English country garden shed. I loved this so much - and also worried that I was already starting to turn into my mother. New Zealand Home and Garden Magazine, here I come!
We had the best bowl of fries ever - they were almost as good as the ones from Floriditas. Insanely crispy and salty and delcious. They sure beat the soggy chips we had had at McDonalds on the way through Welsford. We went home and watched Once were Warriors that night on Netflix (which I had never seen). Matt had to hide in all the horrible bits, which I thought was funny (not the film - that's certainly not funny). A truly great New Zealand film. I couldn't believe I had never watched it before.
The next morning we couldn't resist stopping at one more delicious Auckland cafe. I tried to go to the Little Bird Unbakery, but sadly it was closed. Instead, we found 'Petit Bocal'.
Everything on their menu was divine, but I went with the tinned Sardines and boiled egg. Lots of delicious fishy, oily protien.
If possible, the drive back from Auckland - Greytown was almost as bad as the one from Whangarei to Auckland. I mis-directed us out of Auckland (thanks google maps), my phone went flat and we had no charger (dumb), and we got lost around Palmerston North (and had a bit of a hoo-ha in Fielding which was hilarious in retrospect - not so much at the time).
However, we finally made it back safe and settled in with a good movie and lush dinner.
I also decided to share my Tailor facemask with someone who would appreciate it more!
At this time of year, I love that the hydrangas are out - I had to take a quick, glorious snap of the ones in Matt's mums garden before we drove back on Tuesday morning (the Monday was a public holiday). Blue skies, blue sea, blue flowers...
Back it was then to Wellington and to work. Summer might have been brief - but there was sun, sea and surf (and skincare). Then to the city of Auckland (which I would love to visit again this year - I haven't been properly for ages). And yes, Wellington had chosen to turn off her good weather again, which everyone else had seemed to experience while we had been away.
Looking forward to a lovely 2016 in Wellington. More stories, more adventures, and hopefully at least one more holiday.