Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pohutukawa Christmas: Part 3

Uncle Casey, I like your sky couch better than Air New Zealand's.

Just in case you're worried that New Zealand has morphed into the Williamsburg of the South Pacific, here's proof that some things never change.

The Great Kiwi Road Trip wouldn't be complete without a KFC pit stop. Even Sauron has a soft spot for extra spicy.

Here's the solution to Auckland's housing crisis. Why didn't anyone think of this before? It's not like you've got a shortage of paddocks. Or shovels. Just remember to leave the gumboots outside the door.

We could use skills like that out at Big Bay, there's some gorse that needs cutting.

The Shire is what everyone outside of New Zealand thinks it actually looks like. On second thought, they're not wrong, throw in a couple of chickens and it could be a Manawatu lifestyle block...

Peter Jackson's attention to detail is legendary, right down to the honey pots that appear on screen for less than 10 frames. Although in the Director's Cut they probably get 10 minutes.

The only house in New Zealand without a Sky dish. Whatever did those hobbits do during college football season?

To put the finishing touches on Bag End, Bilbo's hole, Jackson had a fake oak tree constructed above it, right down to the individual plastic leaves that had to be glued on by hand one at a time. Perhaps Weta's server farm was too busy rendering Legolas skiing down an elephant.

Finally, that Pre-War apartment you've been waiting for! Hang on, when you said Pre-War you didn't mean the Battle of Helm's Deep?

Looks like Samwise Gamgee already got his hands on the cheese. You mean to tell me you had your hands on the One Ring to Rule Them All and all you did with it was raid the cheese monger? No wonder the 30-Day Mordor Starvation Diet failed to yield results.

Just like the never-ending ending of Return of the King these Shire shots are dragging.

Did anyone actually see this in the movie? There's a reason it didn't make the cut. Luckily the footage was recycled in the straight-to-internet Return of the J00ster.

Even the classic Kiwi road-side stall has gone all hipster, complete with combi van and handmade organic fruit ice cream.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Middle Earth, Ryan is enjoying a day out at Auckland Zoo. Which way to the Ent Enclosure?

Yes very tall. You might get there, depends on whether Mommy's genes are dominant.

Looks like Daddy may have won this round of yum yums. Xi'an Cumin Lamb or a cold leftover spaghetti noodle?

Ryan is already an old hand at this whole cafe culture thing. Luckily there's an Aussie cafe right around the corner from home on, wait for it, Lexington Avenue.

The sharks know a juicy morsel when they see one. Don't worry, Daddy studied fluid dynamics and he says this cylinder is the optimal shape to spread the weight of the water. Too bad he got that question wrong in the exam.

Continuing the tour of bays that aren't Big Bay, we present Mission Bay. It's got sun and sand and Pohutukawas, but it's missing the A380 on short finals.

At least the fish and chips shop hasn't been priced out of Auckland yet. That means it's not a bubble, right?

Cousins cruising in Ponsonby.

The best thing about owning a bach under the flight path is you check on it without having to drive 1.5 hours.

When you're tiny every seat is lie flat.

Times Square at 30 minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve. I know it's not the Sky Tower or anything, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you've got.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pohutukawa Christmas: Part 2

Aotearoa, The Land of the Short White Cloud! Finally Auckland lives up to the glowing reviews it receives in all those click-bait Top 10 Places to Flee a Trump Administration articles. Speaking of click bait, read on.

Daddy, all this pollen is swelling my head!

Son, it could be the cats. Or the cabbage trees. Or the flax. Or the Pohutukawas. Or just New Zealand in general. Yeah, let's just go with that.

Forget Davos, the real power players are gathered right here in this room. An international consortium of financiers slips into Auckland to sign on a transaction shrouded in secrecy. Could it be Kim Dotcom's mansion? Perhaps Key really is moving out of his Parnell palace? Or is Bill English kicking off another round of asset sales by flogging off Steward Island? All we know is the code name is Big Bay and the players are Big Time.

Remarkable, still no rain. Someone double check we're actually in New Zealand.

A birthday two weeks before Christmas is always a bit unfortunate but luckily Grandma and Grandpa remembered to double up on the swag. Plus it could be worse, you could be born on the 25th like Mommy. Luckily for Daddy, nothing times two is still nothing.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even an ant. Except for Ryan, who won't go to sleep.

It's a bay, and it's big? Could this finally be the elusive plot of land that sent deal-makers in three time zones and two currencies scrambling for the coveted lead-left on the prospectus?

Another false alarm. The twisted trail of Houston oil money wrapped inside a mysterious Manhattan real estate LLC is proving impenetrable. Peter Thiel isn't the only one who can carve out a slice of NZ from right under their noses.

Daddy, is this the Foxton Beach from the story? No son, see that yellow ball in the sky? We call that the sun.

It's present time! Technically it's Ryan's second Christmas, but since he was 9 days old for the last one it's the first time where he's not the present. Unwrapping stuff is much more fun than being unwrapped from that cozy swaddle so strange big people can poke you.

Grandma, tell me the story about the Big Bay far away, over the hills where the fishes play.

Ryan picks next year's Christmas destination. It looks dangerously close to the South China Sea and that troublesome nine dashed line. Luckily Trump is going to fill in those dots... with the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Get used to it kids, it's not the last time your going to be embarrassed by your old men.

Actually BK is already used to it after her Daddy capitulates by round 10 of the Cahan Cup.

Big moves for someone whose best chance of finding the end zone is a safety. Thank goodness for those giant slaying Wyoming Cowboys.

Last year's champion bows out on a high note. In fact a note that sounds suspiciously like a chicken parm jingle.

But wait, there's one more. Or rather four more. What's in these Big boxes?

Congratulations to the proud owners of the brand new Cahan Beach Bach! Ok, it's not really brand new. And now that you mention it, it's more of a garage than a batch. And they're not all owners, one smart fellow here just picked up a free slice of paradise. And a free hat.

Shame about the TPP, this could be last American export for a while.

That's the Hudson Bay, which admittedly is quite big, but also suffers from the Foxton problem, namely icebergs.

Real estate is all about location, location, location. In which case, why are we still driving?

Sold, to the highest bidder! And, ahem, the only bidder.

There it is! A certified Top 3 World View! Welcome to paradise folks, where the wifi password is... oh wait, no wifi.

Cahan Beach Bach comes with its own private path down to the beach. Even Peter Thiel doesn't have that.

Time to dig up some paua, eh bro?

Hopefully the first of many reunions in Big Bay.

A Pohutukawa swing! Now if that doesn't require Overseas Investment Office approval nothing will.

Looks like someone who's used to having one in each arm.

In hindsight this might be how he got his splinter. All the more reason to accelerate plans for the new architecturally-designed eco-bach.

Apparently Big Bay has height restrictions since it's right below the flight path into AKL. Mei is quickly given the all clear.

I wonder if Auntie Whit can see how many pennies I have in my helicopter?

That looks suspiciously like his No it's Not Bedtime face.

Daddy always wins in the end.

The hip new Wynyard quarter completes Auckland's hipsterfication. Now that TPP is dead there's a lot more containers where those came from.

Nothing says hip like hanging in the shadow of an old silo. Looks like the perfect vessel for roasting some single-origin coffee beans.

I doubt raising the drawbridge is going to keep the hordes of haven-seeking American billionaires out, they tend to fly right over in their Gulfstream 650s. Now a rocket launcher at Big Bay would be a different story...

Anyone have a clogged sink? Good choice son, Kiwi tradies are killing it installing panic rooms for all those American hedge fund managers hiding out down here. Just remember to leave a little hole for the Bloomberg cable.

A choo choo that actually takes a stroller? Daddy, this isn't the 4/5/6 line is it?

Who's ready for some yum yums? Cafe Hanoi in the bustling Britomart district wouldn't be out of place in the East Village. Auckland has come a long way from days of being a one Queen Street town. Welcome to the world.