life on a south pacific island

the biggest surprise for me about our move to nz has been how much i enjoy living on the coast and spending time at the shore.

i’ve never been a big ocean person before despite living over 20 years in boston. and i still have no interest in going to the beach to lie down on a blanket and get a tan – but most of the nz coastline is too rugged for that anyway and is great to walk along. the rock and tides make it a new experience every time. and something that i can’t explain is that if i didn’t know better i would swear that that water was fresh and not saltwater. previously i always felt sticky and gritty as soon as i got out of the water – but not here.


just a few blocks from our house is island bay with the local fishing fleet. island bay is one of the oldest settlements in wellington and founded by italian fishermen. unfortunately there’s not much evidence of the italian culture left in town (i’m trying my part to reverse this with my italian scooter). you can see in the 2 photos below the island bay shoreline is a mix of clear and rocky areas. during the warm weekends there is always a group of local kids swimming and having a great time in the surf.

gromit has become quite the ocean dog – scrambling over the rocks and wading through the surf. his favourite activity is fetching the tennis ball that we throw just a few feet into the surf. what amazing me is how he immediately knew how to time waves and that if he waited the ball would come to him. in the gromit-has-his-long-list-of-issues camp, after we’ve had our fun at the beach and everyone is quite wet, gromit totally cowers in fear of getting rinsed off with the hose. running in the ocean, timing the crashing waves, scrambling over rocks – no problem. a bit of water from a garden hose – no way.

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a bit to the west is siren rocks – a very popular place for snorking and kayacking. we take our beach chairs and hang out whenever the weather is good. gromit is on high alert when i’m out snorking.

notice the

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the map below shows island bay. near the top of the bay you can see the fishing fleet and counter-clockwise around the bend the pier and then the first rocky bit of our shore. further down where the shoreline bends to the left is siren rocks. the island right off shore is taputeranga. it is the small island visible some of our shoreline photos and movies.

island bay shoreline.tiff

the hills in the distance of many of our photos is another part of the lower north island – on the right in the map below.

lower north island.tiff

i’ve added some mini-movies of our times at the shore on the media page.

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island bay surf

high tide

howdy neighbors

island bay beach is closed to dogs from 9 am to 7 pm during daylight saving time so our new weekend ritual is to head off a bit before 8 and spend the early morning at the beach. at 9 it’s time for everyone to wash their feet / paws. we then stop for a coffee and egg&bacon pie.

a bit east of island bay beach is princess cove. a really fantastic place to spend some time. you’re on a bit of a peninsula with lyall bay to your left and the cook straight directly in front.

today we shared all this with one family + dog and a classic group of pensioners having a picnic out of the trunk of their car.

but by far the highlight of the day was clear sky giving us a clear view of the south island and the snow capped peaks of the southern alps. unfortunately my pocket camera that has served me so well didn’t capture the view very well.

this is where we live

yesterday and this morning jackie and i went for a walk with gromit down to the beach.

a quick few blocks and we’re there.

(click any for larger image)

the coastline reminds me of portland – wild and rocky in places, calm beaches in others.

gromit was a bit skeptical about the whole ocean thing but then all of sudden decided he liked it. today he went for two swims.

(“I’m not so sure about this” / “ok – i like it”)

(the local fishing fleet / i guess even dogs can get caught with their eyes closed during a photo)

( digging to china spain / waiting for breakfast from the bakery)

this is from a month back but one of my favourite views is looking down on the city and harbour from the botanical gardens. on jackie’s first day here i made sure to take her there for the view. there are a few images that continue to strike me. this is one of them.

each time i experience them i say to myself “this is where we live!”

parole hearing

yesterday marked gromit’s 30th day in quarantine – and after a final check by the maf vet he was cleared to go.

one more big milestone. we’re all together again.

2 weeks until final milestone – container arrival.

(let’s go!)

after we arrived home gromit gave the place a thorough inspection and declared that it would do. an hour after arriving he was asleep on the bed.

(surveying the new neighborhood)