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these are a few of our favorite things

January 26, 2011

We are two very excited people these days, as we have something very exciting to look forward to. Two of our friends from Nashville (that we know through Exodus Health Center and Grace Center, two of our favorite things back home) are coming to NEW ZEALAND!!

here's the beautiful couple looking cute as ever, dancing at our wedding!

Yes folks, in just a matter of days, Drew & Lori Winter will be leaving the U S of A to embark on an adventure in New Zealand.

Though many of you may read our blog mainly because you are family or friends, if you are into travel blogs, or actually, if you are even remotely interested in reading about  travel, be sure to check out their blog- There and Back Again: A Modern Hippie’s Tale. It is sure to be a fascinating and exhilarating read!!

We are the lucky folks who get to pick up these gems from the airport, and get to spend the day taking them around the city. Another thing we wanted to do for them was put together a list of our favorite places/things to do. Though there is tons to see and do here, these things were ones we wouldn’t want to miss if doing our trip again, and thus, were deemed a few of our favorite things.

These are a few of our favorite things (in city order from N to S):


Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri

-The walk to Rainbow Falls is short but incredibly picturesque

-classes with Louisa Potter at the kerikeri yoga centre are the best we’ve ever experienced!

-the most unique “veggie” burger ever can be found at Millie Jeanz Cafe & Takeaways





taking a spill at Bream Head Scenic Reserve

-the most beautiful walk we’ve been on, the Bream Head Scenic Reserve Bushwalk is a  5-6 hour walk that begins(or ends, your pick) at Ocean Beach.


Revive! Vegetarian Restaurant on Fort Street. Our favorite restaurant in NZ!

-a great place to crash while in the city, K’Road City Traveller’s Backpackers, has Free WIFI and FREE Breakfast



Ohope Beach is a stunningly beautiful beach, with a lovely strip of cafes and shops  across the street

-The rarity of Free Unlimited Wifi can be found at the Turkish Kebab Restaurant on the Main Strip, plus very yummy hummus!

Mount Manganui



-The walk up Mount Manganui is lovely!

-Hanging out in ‘the Mount’– a town with tons to do!





Wellington Writer's Walk

-We loved exploring the Te Papa Museum, most of the exhibits are free!

-we happened upon the CityGalleryWellington by accident, and i’m sure glad we did! Besides having a delicious lunch spot inside-the Nikau Gallery Cafe– the exhibits were wonderful, and free, with a donation option.

– the French Art Shop is awesome to see, and fun to buy stuff from 🙂

-Beautiful wooden, gothic architecture you will find at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was amazing!

-the Beehive in the government section of the capital city is not architecturally stellar, but it is fun to see as its name aptly describes what it looks like! Plus there is an amazing lawn on which you can lounge on a sunny day!

-the Wellington Writer’s Walk is a neat thing to see, never had seen anything like it!

Paper Bag Princess Thrift Store has tons of good finds!



hiking the Queen Charlotte Track

-while there is not much to do in Picton, the Library has free WIFI, so you can check your email and such 🙂

-the quaint and picturesque Villa Backpacker’s is a lovely place to stay.

-the Queen Charlotte Track is beautiful, so long as you have good shoes!





-the World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum is so exciting!

Cocoa is the most delectable chocolate and other treats shop to be found!

the Great Mistake recycled clothing boutique is a great place to stock up things you realized you meant to bring :P!

-Instead of sand you find pebbles at Cable Bay Beach, a beautiful spot you won’t want to miss!

Pomeroy Tea & Coffee Co. is a very cute shop that i just know Lori will love!


Golden Bay/Takaka:

-the Wholemeal Cafe has the most yummy hot chocolate, as well as delicious cafe food.

Lollokikki Boutique Art Gallery is an amazing shop where everything inside is made by a husband and wife team. Also check out The White Room inside!

Takaka Organics has coconut oil and almond butter IN BULK!- fun to peruse and remember your grocery trips back home, or to buy if you are low on something!


The Drive down the West Coast:

Pancake Rocks are a lovely sight to behold, and a great place to stretch your legs!



The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House is worth checking out- community table seating and delicious food!

-By far, the best budget accommodation we’ve found in NZ is the Reavers Lodge, ensuite, huge kitchen, and spectacular views!

-NZ has expensive outdoor stuff, but the deals at Small Planet Outdoor Co. Outlet are better value for money than in the US!

-Onsen Hot Pools is probably the best thing we’ve done! Get the pamper package, it comes with dark chocolate!

-Walk in Queenstown Gardens for a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.



-If you are traveling from Queenstown or Wanaka to Lake Tekapo, Poppie’s Cafe in Twizel is the perfect road trip break spot!


Lake Tekapo:


Church of the Good Shepherd

-Though you’ll want to sit by the lake and take in the views all day, make sure you get over to see The Church of the Good Shepherd, a small chapel on the lake’s edge, absolutely stunning! Plus, if you are there on a sunday it is a working church!


-The sights, the knowledge, and the hot chocolate all make the late night trip to the Mount John Observatory worth your while! The Stargazing Tour struck our fancy, but there are daytime options as well!



Exhibit at the Christchurch Art Gallery

-Though a lot of damage has been done to the city, a walk in Queen’s Gardens will bring nothing but beauty to your eyes!

-The Christchurch Art Gallery is wonderful, and known for having world class exhibitions on!




-The Makana Boutique Chocolate Factory was like a miniature Willy Wonka experience. Okay, so not quite that elaborate but the Macadamia Toffee Crunch is scrumptious!


We hope that you guys (Lori & Drew) have an amazing time here and get to explore even more than we have! Happy travels!!



a & j


a season for everything

January 22, 2011

i believe i speak for both of us when i can say the Lord is bringing us into a whole new season with this new year.

As I mentioned in our last blog post, Justin and I have decided for this year that we would both like to seek the Lord, infinitely better than we have ever before, and more specifically to seek His discipline, both as a couple and as individuals. We began by spending most of our time reading our bibles, meditating, praying, contemplating- and a million other verb words- about what the Lord’s discipline can look like.


After all of these things, and each of us seeking the advice of a few friends whose walk we look up to, we think we have a pretty good idea of what we are in for. Also, reading Job, the OT, and Hebrews (specifically chapters 11 & 12) helped to shed some light on the subject.


We have been encountering many trials as of late, and are eagerly seeking guidance on  what step to take next. Justin’s job fell through, so we are trying to figure out our next step!


Luckily, we are in a beautiful place outside of Auckland called the Aio Wira Centre, a retreat centre that caters to groups coming for fasts, bodywork, meditation and yoga. We are spending most of our working day here cooking, with a little bit of cleaning, with plenty of time to reflect and study.






We are very excited about what the Lord is going to bring in this year, and hope for all of you the He does some very awesome things!




What a busy summer its been!

January 14, 2011

Hello family and friends!

We had quite the busy beginning of summer here! We traveled around the South Island, changing location every few days and seeing many exciting sights, camping in the great outdoors along the way. We enjoyed the spontaneity and excitement of it all, but are now happy to be settled for a bit we hope.

We spent a couple of days in Wellington upon returning from the South Island, then spent two days driving up to Auckland. We are staying outside of Swanson, a 45 minute train ride away from the city, at a lovely place called the Aio Wira Centre, a vegetarian retreat centre with different groups every few days. Right now we are doing remodeling and cleaning, since the group here is on a fast. The director asked us to stay on and help cook for the next group coming, which we are very excited about!! 😀

Justin starts his first gig with Oceania, an Auckland sound company, next Wednesday, and we are hopeful that this will be a great opportunity for him, as well as helpful financially.

We are very excited about 2011, and for this year are seeking discipline from the Lord. Finding particular encouragement from Hebrews 12. We hope and pray that this year is great for all of you, and look forward to seeing you this year! 🙂

a & j

Check out our latest video:

Our Christmas Miracle

December 27, 2010

As most of you may already know, we have had quite the time of it the last week or so. Sometime during the night between the 20th and 21st of thus month, most of our things were stolen out if our car. We had packed up and moved the car down the hill from where we were staying, as we were leaving he next morning and heavy rains were expected. We woke up to find that all we had was the clothes on our backs, our rain jackets, computer and video iPod, toothbrushes, and thankfully, our wallets with our credit/debit cards, cash, and passports. It was a vey surreal experience. Fortunately, we were staying with the most lovely couple who helped us out considerably by getting us some clothing and basic toiletries. They also let us stay a few extra days, and if you’d seen this accommodation set-up and tasted the delicious meals, you would know what a huge blessing this was.

Fast forward a few days and we have driven down the West Coast of the South Island and arrived in Queenstown for Christmas. Upon checking the Internet we are overwhelmed at the news that my new sister Alison has set up a financial support drive via social networking for us, and we have been blown away by the support received from family and friends, even from people we don’t know! We are so grateful for the prayers and support shown us, we are humbled by this experience and thankful for the life lessons.

We are traveling around for the next few days but will be stationary to ring in the new year- per the itinerary I posted last :P.

Many thanks and much love to all of you,
And may your lifes be as richly blessed as ours have been.

Talk soon,
a & j

Kia Ora to the South Island

December 11, 2010

Justin hiking the Queen Charlotte Track

Kia Ora, or Welcome. The locals call the South Island, the “real New Zealand”, mostly because it is less developed, has more variation in its scenery, and is as some have said “more beautiful”. We were skeptical of this seeing as how we’d loved everywhere we had been on the North Island! With limited time available before contract work started for Justin in January, we decided to do a whirlwind tour of the South Island, seeing as much as we could in about 40 days.

Our first adventure was to tackle the Queen Charlotte Track, a multi-day hike through the Marlborough Sounds. The gist of it is that you hike 20-25km a day, camping along the way, or if you have the money, you can pay for lodge or resort accommodation a little off the path. Obviously, we camped. It was quite the experience! We took on the challenge in our Vibram Fivefingers, and though Justin came away with just a sore, albeit painful, shin, Ashley sprained both of her ankles, and as we woke on the third day, realized that I couldn’t walk the rest of the way. We took in an early boat, a little embarrasing but keeping our spirits (and chins!) high. We enjoyed the experience even with the injuries :P. To see video of the experience click here.

We are now staying with a lovely couple just outside of Nelson. Their home is up on a hill with incredible views of the bay and the Abel Tasman National Park. We even have our own little eco-cabin to stay in! A little romance on our rugged adventure 🙂 They are great people, like-minded, and had our cabin stocked with issues of Good, New Zealand’s sustainable living magazine , of which i’ve read all cover-to cover. I did have two days in bed recovering to do it. They also have a huge stack of Australia’s ReNew magazine, an alternative technology/building magazine. Justin is on his second issue as I type :). Needless to say we are very happy here and are loving the views, the conversations, and the rest!

During my time of recovery I managed to pull together the rest of our time in the South Island (for those that read our blog post about LifeLanguages, Justin said, “Ash, your Shaper is getting pulled up!”). It is so planned out even my most organized friends would be proud! Here is a look at what we will be doing this holiday season:

Dec 12-20 Based out of Nelson, we will be working on this couples lifestyle block, as well as taking days off to explore the city of Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, and Golden Bay & its principal township-Takaka.

Dec 21 We will eave this area and start our journey down the West Coast, driving 5 hours to a Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite for the night.

Dec 22 Driving more, stopping for photo opps, and camping again at another DOC campsite.

Dec 23 The West Coast is home to Glacier Country. We will be exploring Fox Glacier this day.

Dec 24-25 Arrive in Queenstown and stay at a lodge, enjoying our first Christmas as husband & wife 🙂

Dec 26 Drive to Wanaka and visit Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World. Camp at another DOC site.

Dec 27 Drive to Twizel and walk the Kettlehole Track, then continue on to Lake Tekapo where we will be until the 29th.

Dec 30 Drive to Dunedin where we will camp 🙂

Dec 31 Spend the day in Dunedin exploring the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, the Scottish Shop, the Octagon, and Baldwin Street (the world’s steepest street with a 35% grade!). Celebrate NYE similarly to last year 🙂

Jan 1-7 Stay in Christchurch with a host, with days off to explore the city (and take Justin on an early birthday suprise!)

Jan 8 Drive along the East Coast to Kaikoura, where we will swim with dolphins (if we can afford it!) or just take in the beautiful views. Camping along the beach!!

Jan 9 Justin’s First Summertime Birthday! We are driving to Blenheim where we will visit the Marlborough Farmer’s Market and Makana Boutique Chocolate Factory! YUM!

Jan 10 Leave Picton via a Cook Strait ferry to Wellington

Ta da! Back to the North Island!

Hope everyone is with someone they love this holiday season, and no worries, we will work on our tan while its cold there! 😉

All our summertime holiday love,


Queen Charlotte Track


December 3, 2010

We are in Wellington at the moment, and we love it here! The city is so beautiful and energizing and lovely! Love, love, love it!

We are learning quite a bit about love here in NZ. Of course, being newly married and on an adventure together is quite the refining fire. We are learning how to be and how to love each other as best as is possible=equipped by the Lord and His love. This is not the kind of love I want to tell you about, however.

The love that we are learning about that I want to talk about is how to love our neighbor. Being the holiday season and having the family and friends that we do, it has been difficult to not see or talk to them often. We both love to love those we love. Being away from everyone and living with other families and encountering their families and friends, we have been challenged to love those were with. To be honest there have been times when I’ve vented to the Lord how I do not understand why I am having tea with this host, and not by best friends back home, or why I am playing with a stranger’s kids, and not those of my cousins, or why I am helping a host decorate for Christmas, and missing out on doing the same with my mom.

When I finally took a break from my complaining, I was led to this passage in Luke: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is it to you? or even sinners do the same.” Luke 6:32-33. Now it is clear through the surrounding text that this passage is talking about loving your enemies. I’m not saying that we have enemies here, not in the least. But if we take that passage in the broader sense, it is easy to love those who are like us, look like us, act like us, believe like us. The real challenge is to have love for every single person we encounter.

This is no simple or easy feat, as we’ve come to find, and it is impossible on our own strength. To love, we each need to be filled by the Father’s love, thus enabling ourselves to be vessels overflowing with His love to those around us. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that people feeling His love for them when I talk to them or engage them would be very satisfying.

I hope that this holiday season is finding all of you, our beloved family and friends in great spirits, and I pray that you are filled with His love and that the Spirit’s moving fills our lives, not just this time of the year, but all year, every year, and that we are able to share His love with the world!

we LOVE You!



and she will be called Blessing!

November 19, 2010

Well, friends. These past four days in Auckland have been crazy busy! We originally were only planning to stay two days, hoping to find a car in that time, but after our first attempt at buying a car nearly failed its pre-purchase inspection, we knew we needed more time. We scrambled to find a new hostel to stay in, as the one we were in was booked for that night and the next. We ended up coming back to the hostel we stayed at  on our first night in New Zealand, The K Road City Travellers. It is by far the best hostel we’ve stayed at thus far. We love it! They even have free breakfast in the morning!!

Today we purchased our mode of transportation for the rest of the year (claiming it! that’ll she’ll last). She is a white 1992 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, and we aptly named her Blessing. Blessing Burns!! How cute!? 😛

this is what she looks like! 🙂

So now we are recharging for the night, looking forward to a skype date with my sister, (the birthday girl!) Brittany Hamilton, maybe some pizza?? and definitely a chocolate bar. 🙂 Tomorrow we are driving four hours to Tongariro National Park, where we will camp for the night, and then the next day are driving another four hours to Judgeford, a little town about 30 minutes away from Wellington, where we will be doing a stay before we head over to the South Island.

All in all we have had a hearty helping of learning to lean on and trust the Lord for His timing and provision to be perfect. And tada! Now we have Blessing. 🙂