Tag: New Zealand

Happy Birthday To Me…And My Blog #3

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St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Passau

So it’s my birthday…again! This time of the year seems to come around faster and faster every year. (It’s freaking me out, but more on that later.) It’s also the third anniversary of this blog, which means it’s time for the annual let’s-stop-and-see-where-my-life-is-at post.

The Big Move. I left my heart behind in my beloved Passau at the start of this year and made the big move back to New Zealand, after being overseas for more than two years. It was a devastating and triumphant homecoming in equal measure. Devastating because I was leaving my other half behind on the other side of the world, and triumphant because I was coming back to do something that I loved, something that I felt was in my very bones.

My bones turned out to be dead on: coming back to study was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I took to it like a duck to water. The only side effect was that I missed my Passau life so much, much more than I’d ever let on. Passau was where I lived in a place where I didn’t know the language or people and I built up my life there from scratch. I grieved that life for months after coming back, it took a while until I wasn’t crying every other week. But it did get better.

This time last year I was celebrating my birthday in Innsbruck, Austria. What a trip that was! I miss travelling around Europe too, the ease of it, the different countries at your fingertips. But I’m determined to go back very soon! Japan, Taiwan and Australia are on the cards for me this year and I’m especially excited about exploring Taiwan – a new realm for me.

Thank you as always to you, for reading this, for taking an interest and thanks to my family, friends and darling Schnucki for the constant love and support! I am truly blessed to the moon and back to have everyone that I know in my life. Let’s keep striving to be the best that we can be and keep chasing bigger dreams!

 

Love,

Amy ♥

 

 


Thank you again to everyone that has been following and supporting me so far!

Here’s to another epic year of travels, art and happiness!


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Hobbiton: The Movie Set Tour Of The Shire

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Bilbo’s hobbit hole in Bag End

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to tag along with my Schnucki and his parents to the Hobbiton Movie Set whilst on our road trip around New Zealand – and what fun it was! This was somewhere that I’d wanted to visit since its completion and I was so excited to finally go there. So let me take you on the grand tour of Hobbiton!

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The Shire’s Rest Café

The Hobbiton Movie Set is located on farmland nestled between the rolling hills of Matamata in the North Island. Driving into the tiny township of Matamata, you would never guess a world famous movie location was nearby until you’ve followed the signs and turned a corner on a hilly country road and then BAM! You’re suddenly faced with a noisy explosion of tourists, buses and cars out of the middle of nowhere.

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What many people don’t realise about Hobbiton is that you can’t just waltz in there on your own terms – you have to book a tour time in advance. The tickets are surprisingly expensive at $79 NZD per adult and $39.50 NZD per child/youth, but well worth it if you’re a big Lord Of The Rings or The Hobbit fan.

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The Hobbiton village is built on private farmland which you can’t enter unless you’re on the movie set buses, so you’re expected to wait for your bus at The Shire’s Rest Café, which is a café/restaurant in a converted wool shed. The souvenir shop was also located there, which was packed full of official LOTR and The Hobbit merchandise.

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Once it was time for our tour, we hopped on our big green bus which took us across the road onto the Alexander family’s 500 hectare property, which they have owned since 1978. Peter Jackson and his crew found the farm during their location search for Lord Of The Rings and after getting permission, built a temporary film set there in 1999.

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The fishmonger’s outdoor work table

The original film set was made out of plywood, scaffolding and polystyrene and was taken down after filming was finished. In 2011, Peter Jackson and his crew were back to start filming for The Hobbit trilogy and this time the set was rebuilt using permanent materials. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand.

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The beekeeper’s honey

Our bus drove through farmland and gates for 20 minutes while the driver told us facts about the set and then we were finally dropped off in Hobbiton. A tour guide was waiting for us as we got off and took us and about fifteen others on a walking tour through The Shire, telling us behind-the-scene facts and stories along the way.

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Matching front door and letterbox (cute!)

The Shire was spread out and took up a lot more land than I expected, but the real stars of the show were of course the hobbit holes. Every hobbit’s home was designed and painted differently with everything aged and faded to look like it had been there a long time. The whole village was overgrown and bursting with flowers and vegetable gardens (the proud work of the Hobbiton full-time gardeners), with props abandoned as though the hobbits had abruptly left to hide from us Big Folk.

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Everything was small, cute and so homey. It was all set up for practical and  comfortable living – nothing was overdone – exactly the sort of humble life hobbits would live. The landscape was beautiful and so peaceful that I could imagine myself happily living in a cosy hobbit hole in The Shire (I’d be small enough for one too!).

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My favourite hobbit hole

The attention to detail and design really blew me away. You could tell the occupation of hobbits by the props outside their doors like fish of the fishmonger, cheese of the cheesemaker, honey of the beekeeper and sculptures outside the clay maker’s place. Every letterbox, garden and gate was of a different design – I really envied the set designers that got to make this world come to life. It would be so much fun!

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My favourite letter box

We started off at the bottom of the hill where the ‘poor’ hobbits were said to live and their hobbit holes were plain with not much decoration. The further up the hill we went, the hobbit holes had more detail and more luxuries, with the biggest and most luxurious hobbit hole at the top of the hill of course belonging to Bilbo Baggins.

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Samwise Gamgee’s hobbit hole

We also got to see Sam’s hobbit hole – the one that is in the last scene of the last LOTR (although this one is a reconstruction). Some of the hobbit doors can be opened but even if they do, there’s nothing inside (sorry to shatter your hopes).

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We went on a lovely Summer’s day in January, which was in their peak season that attracts a lot of tourists – I could hardly believe we were in rural New Zealand with the amount of people around when we went. Autumn or winter would probably be better times to go, in terms of crowds and people walking into your photos. It took real effort and timing to take photos with no one in them!

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The famous ‘no admittance’ sign

After getting photos taken in the human sized hobbit hole which we could pose in, we were finally at Bilbo’s hobbit hole. I bought a replica of the classic ‘no admittance’ sign ($20 NZD) at the souvenir shop, which is hanging up in my room right now.

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Bilbo Baggins’ home

Unfortunately, the front gate was as far as we could go in front of Bilbo’s hobbit hole and our group took turns getting photos taken in front of it. The oak tree above Bilbo’s home was man-made (which you would never have guessed by looking at it) and the leaves were shipped in from Taiwan and put on the tree one by one.

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The lake and the water mill

After Bilbo’s, it was time to go down the hill and across the lake and water mill to The Green Dragon Inn. This was a fully functioning pub with food and drinks, which sold South Farthing beer – an original Hobbiton brand. This was also where our tour ended and we got a free ginger beer on arrival and a place to sit down and relax.

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The Green Dragon Inn

The Green Dragon is a replica of the one used in the films and behind the building was a huge marquee tent that was based on the one at Bilbo’s birthday party. The tent seats over 200 people, and can be used for events, functions and even weddings.

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The party marquee

Just imagine having a wedding in The Shire! (I’m sure it would cost megabucks to hire the place, but still, how magical would that be.)

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The Hobbiton tour lasted about two hours and after resting at The Green Dragon, we were free to meander back to our bus in the car park.

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All in all, the home of the halflings was a picturesque, magical work of art and I’m so glad I got to see it! I think one visit is probably enough (especially with that price tag) but I’m happy to wait for the day where there will be a human-sized Hobbiton village where I can live in my comfy and warm little underground home with a round door.

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Map of Hobbiton

So, did you enjoy my Hobbiton tour?

Is this somewhere that you would like to visit?


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New Zealand: The Famous Beaches Of The Coromandel Peninsula

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The Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand is known for its beautiful beaches and stunning scenery and it is naturally a destination where Kiwis and tourists flock to during the summer. So here are just a few of the most famous beaches  of the Coromandel we got to visit during our great NZ road trip!

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Hahei Beach

Hahei is a small town on the Eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula and it’s only two and a half hours away from Auckland by car. We stayed at the Hahei Holiday Resort, which was a campsite right beside the beautiful Hahei Beach.

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We rented bikes in Hahei and rode them up to the car park where the pathway to the world famous Cathedral Cove started.  It was a hot and hilly 50 minute walk through bush to get to Mare’s Leg Cove, which has the famous cave tunnel leading through to Cathedral Cove beach.

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Cathedral Cove and Te Hoho Rock

If this scenery looks familiar to you, it may be because you’ve seen it in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (0:42) or in the music video for Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton (3:38).

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Cathedral Cove Beach

This area is all part of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and it is a popular place for swimming, kayaking, boating, surfing and even snorkeling/diving. The latter can be done at the neighbouring Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay.

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Cathedral Cove cave
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Watch out for falling rocks!
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Sphinx Rock in Mare’s Leg Cove

After getting back to the campsite, we decided it would be a good idea to bike to Cook’s Beach, which is the next bay over from Hahei and where we were meeting my relative at her bach (holiday house). This turned out to be NOT a good idea. The road there was much longer than we anticipated, with steep slopes and dips and we were biking dangerously close to the trucks and other traffic on the road.

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The friendly Hahei shuttle service

When we finally got there all in one piece, everyone was shocked to hear that we had biked all of that way (moral of the story – don’t do it, guys!). After resting and dining at the Eggsentric Restaurant, we decided to call a local shuttle to take us and our bikes back to Hahei (although my Schnucki was determined to bike back alone and did…until he got a puncture halfway home).

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View from the Cathedral Cove carpark

An amazing eatery I have to mention was in Hahei at a restaurant called The Church. The restaurant was in a pretty little church which also had accommodation out the back, and they specialised in Mediterranean style tapas. The old church, the candles, the whole atmosphere and the food was just so good. Plus, they played Ed Sheeran all night, which was perfectly fine by me.

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After leaving Hahei, we made a stop at the famous Hot Water Beach. The beach gets its name from the natural underground hot springs that filter up through the sand. At low tide, you can dig a hole in the sand which fills up with hot water to create your own hot pool or ‘spa’.

Be warned though, this attraction is very popular and bus loads of tourists get dropped off every low tide to be a part of the fun – so there’s a lot of digging in the same small area of the beach!

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Hot Water Beach
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Fish and chips at Waihi Beach Hotel

After Hot Water Beach, we headed south to Waihi, which is a small resort town at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula. We had dinner at the Waihi Beach Hotel and the food there was so nice that we went back to eat there the very next night. (Get the classic Kiwi dish of fish and chips or the haloumi salad!)

Plus, they had The Store gelato next door (also located in Britomart, Auckland), which had the best ice cream flavour I have ever tasted. Lemon curd and yoghurt flavour – it was pure heaven in a cone. (I went back the next night for more, naturally).

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Strawberry and lavender soda

We went swimming at the nearby Waihi beach while we were there, but we were also determined to find the elusive Orokawa Bay, which rumour has it, has one of the best beaches in New Zealand.

We went on a mission to find this mysterious place and we found the start of the trail at the northern end of Waihi beach. It took an hour of trekking through bush to get there and when we finally did, white sand and blue water was waiting for us. We ran straight into the waves with glee…only to be forcefully spit back out again.

What we didn’t know until then was that the gradient of the beach was so steep that the waves crashed into the sand with a lot of force. Enough force to knock over fully grown men. The beach was indeed beautiful…but could be quite deadly if not careful.

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Waihi Beach

So, did you enjoy the famous beaches of The Coromandel?

Would you like to visit them for yourself?


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21 Important Life Lessons I Learnt At 21 (As A Recent Graduate)

Looking out over Auckland from Rangitoto Island, New Zealand

At 21, I was a bright eyed and bushy tailed recent graduate who was ready to take on real life and a full time job in the ‘adult world’. But as it turned out, the ‘adult world’ was equally ready to squash me and my naïve soul flat into the ground.

Here are 21 things no adult ever tells you about breaking into ‘their’ world:

 

1. Getting qualifications doesn’t equal a good job

I don’t know why this always comes as a shock to us recent graduates, but studying for years and finally getting your qualifications does not guarantee you a great full time job afterwards. Somehow we expect employers to be fighting over us as soon as we cross the graduation line but that is usually not the case. If anything, we are fighting to get just one call back, or get noticed at all.

2. You may be unemployed for quite a while

Congratulations, you have graduated! If you’re part of the majority of people who don’t have a company taking them on prior to graduation, trying to find a full-time job is now your new full-time job. And it’s not going to be easy. Prepare to spend a lot of time sending out C.Vs and E-mails and a lot of time of waiting for one reply.

3. Connections are more important than you think

Everyone says that the best way to get a job is through connections and they’re probably right. Employers are much more likely to hire you if they know about you already from a trusted colleague, friend or family member. So sift through your contacts and ask around if anyone knows someone that’s hiring.

4. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is

When a job description sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Exercise caution when job hunting!

5. Minimum wage is still your pay

I know you studied all of those years so you don’t have to earn minimum wage anymore, but the truth is that most employers will still only pay you minimum wage at the start. You have to show your ‘worthiness’ to the company to finally get a pay raise and even then, you may have to fight for it.

6. People will use your age against you

In two completely different job interviews for completely different positions, I was basically told that I was too young for it. I mean, what was I supposed to with that? Was I supposed to go away and gulp down an ageing potion like the Weasley twins?

Sure, they probably wanted people with more ‘experience’, but there could definitely be older people who lacked the right experience that they were looking for too. No need to blame age for it.

7. All they want is experience

One of the most frustrating things about job hunting was that everyone wanted ‘experience’ from you. How was any recent grad supposed to have one or two years work experience prior to the job? The best you can do is apply for and/or work internships whilst studying but sometimes that isn’t even enough ‘experience’ to satisfy them.

8. A lot of bosses are not good leaders

I think this image pretty much sums it up:

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9. Given the chance, people will take advantage of you

Since you’re the young rookie at work, people will dump extra jobs on you that you will take on because you don’t know any better. They will also keep you in the dark as long as possible about the higher wage that you should actually be getting paid but are not – because you don’t know any better.

10. The work force can be full of sad, angry adults

One thing you have to remember in life is that the way someone treats you is a reflection of their character, not yours. With my stint in full-time work, I came across a lot of sad and angry adults.

These adults were stuck in a job that they’d been too long at, stuck somewhere where they’d never envisaged themselves being. They hated the job and they hated themselves for not getting themselves out of it, which lead to this hate being released on other people – mainly the staff that worked under them, including me.

11. Sexism is very much alive and well

This comes as no surprise to most women, but sexism is still rampant in workplaces. The boss would shout at me from the other side of the office to make his tea and other drinks and personally deliver them to him, as if he couldn’t do it himself (what was this, the 1950s?!).

He would also go around the young women of the office and massage their shoulders every morning (yes, it was as gross and as creepy as it sounds). So let me state this: no man or woman anywhere should be touching any other person without consent and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES is ANYONE allowed to touch you without your permission – especially not disgusting, misogynistic bosses older than your dad.

12. Workplace gossip can be ruthless

I thought I had left all of this petty gossip and backstabbing behind in high school but boy, was I wrong. The majority of the staff gossiped about the other members of staff like you would not believe. Especially if new staff members started, the more ‘experienced’ staff would relay all of the mistakes they had made, laugh about it and even rate who was best at the job so far.

13. No, you haven’t left high school behind – or kindergarten

I was also shocked to find that some of the people (high up in the hierarchy) sometimes acted like children in the workplace by shouting, throwing tantrums and picking favourites among the staff. They acted like children but they were so much worse because kids don’t know any better, but these fully grown adults most definitely did.

14. Not being able to trust your workmates is bad…really bad

Since there was so much gossiping and backstabbing going on, I had trust issues with the other staff. I couldn’t sincerely trust any of them because I never knew if they were relaying things I did or said to the other staff. This was a problem because I started to get paranoid and read too much into what they were saying – or not saying.

15. Some people will not treat you like a real person

Some people that are older than you and higher up the food chain will cease to treat you like a real person. One manager I had would use shame tactics when she told off new members of staff. Instead of taking me aside and telling me one-on-one what mistake I had made, she shamed me in front of all of the staff members and humiliated me. There is a vital difference between constructive criticism and point blank insulting.

16. Hypocrisy and double standards are everywhere

This was the last straw for me in my last job. I always try and stand for equality and fairness in all situations, but I didn’t find that in this workplace, at all. There would be a lot of things that managers told us never to do, and then we’d turn around and they would be the ones doing it – with no punishment, of course.

There was also shocking double standards where I would do something that I’d get told off for, and then another more favoured staff member would do exactly the same thing and not one word would be said.

17. No one wants to be the scapegoat

At one of my jobs there were a lot of situations I was deeply unhappy with. No one spoke up about any of it and no one tried to change it. Everyone avoided confrontation because no one wanted to be the scapegoat. Was this the way adults acted in ‘professional’ environments? Were we supposed to just put up with this all day, everyday? In the end I couldn’t take it anymore and I was so sick of staying silent…so I confronted (and quit the next day).

18. Make sure you know all of your rights as an employee

This one is really important. Before you even begin a new job, make sure you know all of your rights as an employee. Make sure you know your employee rights according to what country you’re in and make sure you read through your new job’s Employment Contract properly before you sign. You should be allowed to take it home and look over it without any pressure to sign it right away. And make sure you GET an Employment Contract too! (I worked at a law firm and I was’t even given one – this is against the law, ironically enough. I used this fact against them in the bitter end).

19. You are allowed to say NO

I know you’re at your new job and you want to be setting a good impression to everyone, but just remember that you are always allowed to say NO. You are not Jim Carrey in Yes Man – if you’re already swamped out with too much work, you can refuse to take on more work an older colleague is trying to dump on you.

You can also say no to jobs in interviews – there is no job that you have to take, no matter how much the employer is trying to pressure you into it. You’ve always got the power (cue ‘I’ve got the power’ scene from Bruce Almighty).

20. Never ever ignore your gut instinct

After the first training day at one of my jobs, I already knew deep in my gut that I didn’t want to take the job, but I did anyway. I still wish I could go back and undo that decision. Your gut always knows best, so don’t ignore it.

21. Your own happiness and health is much more important than a ‘great’ job

If the worst comes to worst and your job is badly affecting your health and state of mind (like mine was) – QUIT IT NOW. It was the best decision I ever made. Although it may not seem like it, there are a lot of other jobs out there and no job is worth trading your health or happiness for. This is precious time in your life that you’re never getting back – make sure it’s worth it.

 

To all recent graduates:

To all recent graduates, or anyone for that matter, I just want you to remember that you all have a choice. You always have a choice. Do not let other people or what you are ‘expected’ to do ever get in your way.

When you’re choosing a job, take your time and be careful. Ask questions, always. Challenge ideas that you think are wrong, no matter who’s ideas they are. Don’t stay silent and let it crush you, like it crushed me.

I wish I’d never had to experience these awful jobs, but I know that I learned a lot of important lessons from them. People write about relationships and heartbreak all the time, but no one ever talks about how a job can break you.

We’re all taught the tired old mantra of superheroes saving the day since we’re little and we believe it, to an extent. But in real life, sometimes there’s no one there to realise you’re in trouble. You can be in too deep for anyone to hear your cries for help.

Sometimes, you have to be your own hero.

Finally free!

Has anyone else been through/going through this at the moment?

Do you have any other things to add to the list?


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New Zealand Music Artists You Need To Listen To Right Now

May is known as New Zealand Music Month and there has been a lot of amazing talent coming out of the NZ music scene in recent years. Here are some awesome Kiwi music artists, besides Lorde, that you need to know about, stat.

Kimbra

Kimbra

One word to describe Kimbra: majestic. You may remember her from Gotye’s hit song Somebody That You Used To Know, but she is so much more than that. Kimbra is one of those rare artists who touches your soul and takes you away into another realm whenever she performs. I am spellbound by her every time.

Kimbra is from Hamilton and is now based in Los Angeles. She’s won a lot of awards, including two joint Grammys with Gotye for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group performance. She has released two albums to date – the first called Vows (2011) and the second called The Golden Echo (2014).

This is my favourite version of her song As You Are, by far. I don’t know how she does it, but this video tore me down and built me back up again in the space of seven minutes.

Favourite songs: As You Are, WithdrawSettle Down and Two Way Street

The Official Website of Kimbra


Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra singing at the 2015 Cricket World Cup opening ceremony in Christchurch

Hayley Westenra is from Christchurch (yay!) and she is a classical crossover artist who has sung songs all over the world in over ten languages. She released her first album at age 16 called Pure (2003), which reached number one on the UK classical charts and has sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Hayley has released more than ten studio albums to date and she is also a UNICEF Ambassador who has helped various charities worldwide. Do you need any more reason to fall in love with her? I don’t think so.

I’ve always loved the way she sings this Māori love song called Pokarekare Ana. She has the voice of an absolute angel.

The Official Website of Hayley Westenra


Broods

Caleb and Georgia Nott from Broods

Broods, the sibling act consisting of Georgia and Caleb Nott from Nelson are making electropop waves in the music industry at the moment. They won the Smokefree Rock Quest music competition in 2011 as part of a band called The Peasants. It was there that they met and started collaborating with music producer Joel Little, who also produced Lorde’s 2013 hit single Royals. They released their first album called Evergreen in 2014.

Favourite songs: Bridges, Mother and Father and Never Gonna Change

The Official Website of Broods


Benny Tipene

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Benny Tipene is from Palmerston North and got famous from the first season of New Zealand’s The X Factor, where he finished third. He released his debut album in 2014 called Bricks and it is one of those albums where every song is good – there’s not one song that I don’t like on it and that’s pretty rare.

I admit I’m a bit of a Benny fan so I may be biased, but you should definitely check out some of his songs. His latest single is called Lanterns.

Favourite songs: Lonely, Step on UpOpen Ending and Make You Mine

Benny Tipene Facebook Page


Brooke Fraser

Brooke Fraser is from Wellington and is one of the most popular recording artists of all time in New Zealand. Her first album was released in 2003 called What to Do with Daylight and debuted at number one on the charts. I’ve always loved her music since her first album and I’m still really fond of her older songs, although her new stuff is good too.

Brooke has also helped a lot of people through World Vision as an Artist Associate since 2001. Her second album called Albertine (2006) was based on her experiences in Rwanda. Her latest single is called Kings and Queens.

Favourite soungs: Lifeline, Saving the World, Deciphering Me and Albertine

The Official Website of Brooke Fraser


Six60

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Six60 is a five piece band who formed in Dunedin while studying at the University of Otago together. They named the band after the street address of their house they lived in together. Their self-titled first album was released in 2011 and debuted at number one on the New Zealand charts and was certified gold within the first week of release.

Favourite songs: Only to Be, Don’t Forget Your Roots and Forever

The Official Website of Six60


Gin Wigmore

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Gin Wigmore is from Auckland and her claim to fame came when she wrote a song tribute to her father called Hallelujah, which won an international song writing competition in 2004. She went on to release two studio albums called Holy Smoke (2009) and Gravel and Wine (2011) with her third album Blood to Bone due to be released in June. Gin’s voice may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, but I’ve always been a fan!

Favourite songs: These roses, Hallelujah, Too Late for Lovers and I Do

Official Website of Gin Wigmore


Beau Monga
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Beau Monga is from Manurewa and was the winner of the second season of The X Factor New Zealand. His parents are part of a music group called Ardijah and Beau himself can sing, beatbox and breakdance. His winner’s single is called King and Queen.

In Beau’s first audition he did a version of Hit the Road Jack using a loop pedal and it was just awesome.

Beau Monga Facebook Page


Ginny Blackmore

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Ginny Blackmore is from Auckland and is most well-known for her 2013 hit single called Bones. She has previously written songs for Christina Aguilera and Adam Lambert and was the opening act for One Republic’s New Zealand concerts. She has an upcoming album called Over the Moon due to be released this year.

Favourite songs: Bones, Holding You and Sing for Me

Ginny Blackmore Facebook Page


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So, did you enjoy these awesome acts from the New Zealand music scene?

Do you have any favourites?


 

New Zealand: Some Basic Things You Need To Know

If all you associate New Zealand with is Lord of the Rings and sheep, here are some other things you need to know.

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Paihia, Bay of Islands

1. We are not Australia

We may have been attached to Australia way back in Gondwanaland days, but that is ancient history to us now. Do not, and I repeat, do not under any circumstance refer to us ever being Australia or part of Australia because we will probably get angry. Very angry. Our national flags may be similar but that does not mean we’re the same!

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New Zealand Flag

We have little brother syndrome when it comes to them – Australia doesn’t really care if they’re grouped with us but we care a lot if we’re put under their shadow. Plus, they still claim Pavlova and Pharlap as theirs! Pfft, Aussies. *Note: bickering about Australia is all in good humour and is not to be taken too seriously.

2. Three Official Languages

Our three official languages are English, Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. If you have no idea what Māori is, keep reading, my dear friend. If you have no idea what English is, well, I can’t help you there. Regarding our English though, we speak and write in British English – that’s why we spell things like colour, neighbour, harbour with a ‘u’ and organise, appetiser with an ‘s’ instead of with a ‘z’ like you would with American English.

3. Māori Culture

Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and make up around 15% of the national population. Māori culture is synonymous with New Zealand culture and we are mighty proud of it. Māori place names are everywhere and we even have a Māori channel on television. We used to learn Māori songs and a bit of the Māori language at primary school, along with famous Māori stories and legends. Aotearoa is the Māori word for New Zealand and means ‘land of the long white cloud’. If you want to find out more about Māori culture, click here.

4. Three Main Islands

Our country comprises of three main islands: The North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of Māui), The South Island or Te Waipounamu (the waters of greenstone) and Stewart Island (Rakiura). We also have other little islands dotted around the three main ones which are mostly uninhabited. Some are used as wildlife sanctuaries.

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5. Three Main Cities

We also have three main cities in our country: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Wellington is our capital city where the parliament is located. The city is also known for its art culture…and strong winds (‘Windy Wellington!’) Auckland (where I’m living at the moment) is regarded as a super city because it has so many districts and is the most populated city. It’s also known for its harbour with a lot of boats, which lead to the nickname ‘The City of Sails’. Christchurch (my hometown) is the biggest city in the South Island and is known as ‘The Garden City’ because of its many gardens and greenery.

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Viaduct Harbour, Auckland

6. Erratic Weather

We are an island nation, which means we get battered by all forms of island weather. It can be fine and sunny one minute and cold and blustery the next. We can quite literally experience four seasons in one day. Using an umbrella is futile because when it rains here, it is also really windy. We probably only get a few days over 30 degrees (Celsius) a year and the rest of the time the temperature goes up and down. The South usually gets snow in Winter, and the North usually doesn’t.

7. Cute National Icon

The Kiwi is our national icon. Kiwis are a flightless bird endemic to NZ. They are nocturnal, shy and really cute…but also very endangered. They live in forests and on islands where their numbers are closely monitored and where they can be protected from introduced animals like stoats, cats and dogs. You can also see them in Kiwihouses at various zoos around NZ. The word Kiwi is also an informal term used to refer to New Zealanders.

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8. Plastic Money

We use the New Zealand Dollar here and yes, our notes are made of plastic, not paper. I know that may sound strange if your country still uses paper notes, but I feel like plastic makes much more sense because it doesn’t matter if it gets wet and it can’t rip as easily. The rest of the world should just catch up already.

9. Laid Back Attitude

Us Kiwis are generally known for our laid back attitude, and this gets more noticeable the further you get away from major cities. We have what’s known as a “She’ll be ‘right” outlook on life, which means we just choose to believe that things will be alright, even if it doesn’t look that way at first. It’s a pretty good outlook to have.

10. Sporting Nation

NZ is mad about sports – especially rugby which is our national sport. Other popular sports include netball, cricket, hockey, cycling, rowing, sailing, soccer, tennis, skiing and snowboarding. We’re also famous for our extreme sports like bungee jumping, white water rafting and rock climbing/abseiling. Our national sporting colours are black, white and/or silver.

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Our national netball team, The Silver Ferns

Some Famous New Zealanders


Ernest Rutherford – The father of nuclear physics, he was famous for ‘splitting the atom’. He appears on the New Zealand $100 note.

Kate Sheppard – Suffragette who made New Zealand the first country to grant women the right to vote. She appears on the New Zealand $10 note.

Sir Edmund Hillary – Mountaineer/explorer and philanthropist most famous for being one of the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He appears on the New Zealand $5 note.

To read about other famous New Zealanders, click here!


Recent pop culture icons:


Sir Peter Jackson – Director of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and praised for putting New Zealand on the world map. He is the reason so many tourists flock to NZ.

Lorde – Singer/Songwriter made famous with her single ‘Royals‘ and her album Pure Heroine. Winner of two Grammys, four NZ Music Awards and the APRA Silver Scroll Award.


Popular YouTube Personalities:


Jamie’s World – YouTube vlogger

Shaaanxo – YouTube beauty guru


So, did you learn anything new about my country?

Did anything surprise you? Let me know!