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BEN! the Kiwi Beckons

little earthling photography, bellingham photographer, fun teen photosSo, just what is Iris whispering to BEN! in this photo taken this summer? I’m not sure, but maybe something about our trip to New Zealand next month.

That’s right, Iris and I are headed to New Zealand mid-December to meet BEN!‘s family and see his stomping grounds.

If you are a new blog reader, you may need to catch up by reading about how BEN! and Iris met on their Teen Missions team to Honduras, how BEN! and his brother, Aaron came to visit in September 2012 and how BEN! surprised Iris with a visit this last summer.

They email daily, Skype each weekend and  talk on the phone. You can read a bit more about BEN! (and why I type it that way) here. Iris had been working like crazy and saving money until she, at last, had enough for a ticket to New Zealand. She found an awesome deal back in May…Chuck and I weren’t going to send her by herself, at age 17, and in the end, Chuck decided I would be the one to accompany her. Chuck will be taking the time off of work (construction is usually slow right around Christmas) and will be here to care for our other children.

I will have 2 weeks in New Zealand with no children to care for…I’m still a bit stunned at the idea. I am nervous about leaving Apollo for so long…but he is in good hands with his daddy. I am also bit concerned about being able to keep up with Iris and BEN! as we hike, swim, go horseback riding and snorkel…but at least I’ll be able to sleep undisturbed at night.

This will be a low-budget trip…just the cost of a plan ticket has strained us. But we’ll be staying with BEN!‘s family and just being in the country, hiking and swimming will be a huge adventure. And best of all, it will be summer in New Zealand!

I am working on getting a few great guest posts for while I’m gone…and I’ll have a few posts written ahead of time. I’m not sure how much of an opportunity I will have to get on a computer while I’m there, but I certainly won’t be able to share my photos until I get home. If you blog and are interested in writing a guest post, feel free to email me.

Any readers in New Zealand? Anyone have suggestions for  what I *must* do or see while we’re there? We’ll be on the north island, near Hamilton.

{Edited to say I will be near HAMILTON…I accidently typed Auckland because that is where we are flying in to.}



  1. Vivian

    i am so happy for you, really, you will have a wonderful time and of course rest is the icing.
    i can’t wait to see what happens with these two wonderful kids…marriage, children, grandchildren…
    what a blessing for you and Chuck!!!

  2. Heather

    Ok so I live in Australia, but I’m kiwi and I’m from a town about two hours from Auckland. I would suggest you go to the Coromandel for a few days. While there, go to hot water beach (as it describes, you dig under the sand and the water and sand get HOT). Coromandel can get quite full during summer so I recommend you book a camp ground soon and pitch a tent for the NZ summer feel.

    What about booking a DOC (dept of conservation) hut and doing some hikes into them. There are someone nice ones in the Kaimai’s.. There are walks that are as little as two hours to reach a hut. You should find them easily by googling, ‘DOC huts Kaimai Mamaku.’

    Try to find a place to buy hangi. It is a meal cooked entirely underground in a Maori style. If you want to go on a road trip, head to Rotorua where the entire area smells like rotten eggs (it is geothermal). There are geothermal areas you can see for free (like boiling mud pits).

    Make sure you get to the supermarket and try some of our yummy icecreams and biscuits (cookies). Pies are a bit of an Australasian specialty. You can get meat, seafood and all sorts of others for reasonable prices. Buy fish n chips and eat them on the beach. Try to find a water hole on a farm (you should be able to figure this part out lol) because the water there is the most refreshing thing you’ll ever feel-swim, swim, swim! Take some old clothes and get the boys to make you a mud slide.

    Take a warm top with you. Evenings can cool down sometimes in summer. Make SURE you are wearing sunscreen SPF 50 because NZ has a big hole in it’s ozone layer. The average burn time is about 7 minutes (the news each night should tell you how long your grace period is the next day). Even my Indian friend got sunburnt in NZ!

  3. Sally

    Hobbiton is not too far from Auckland, but I think it comes complete with crazy tourist prices. Actually it might not even be open until the Hobbit films are finished?

    Kelly Tarlton’s (in Auckland) is, I think, small compared to other underwater aquariums, but it was the first in the world.

    There is way more than two weeks worth of scenery to see here though, that only costs a bit of fuel! By the time you’ve spent some days with the family, some at beaches, some at rivers, some tramping, and Ben has found some adrenalin rush activities (Bungee jumping off Sky Tower? Okay, that one would cost money.) your trip will have zoomed past.

  4. Michele P@Family, Faith and Fridays

    Oh my goodness, I am so excited for you two! What a wonderful experience and a lifetime of memoriesto be made! Cannot wait to hear every detail. Have a wonderful adventure~ the other kiddos will be in great hands with daddy!

  5. AfricanKiwi

    How awesome!You’ll LOVE it here. I’m sure Ben will have you visiting all the “must-see” stuff anyways. Kiwis are the best when it comes to showing off this beautiful country 🙂 And be sure to to try ALL the chocolate biscuits, you won’t be disappointed 😉

  6. Lisa

    My Mom was born in New Zealand, I have A LOT of family in NZ and Australia, I can ask my Aunties what is fun. What is Ben’s last name, maybe the Aunties may know him or his family.

  7. efeeder

    Yay, so excited you are coming to New Zealand. It is so beautiful here at that time of the year. Im a kiwi and we live 5 mins from Hobbiton near Matatmata on a farm, so definitely recommend going for a look at Hobbiton, if you are into Lord of the Rings. Some others have mentioned the Coromandel, its well worth going there to see the beautiful beaches. Rotorua is not far from Hamilton to see all the geothermal mudpools, Rotorua also has gondolas and a luge – which is huge amounts of fun, but can be a little pricey. And don’t forget to see some native kiwi wildlife – at rainbow springs, or you can trek to Mount Maungatautari in the evening to hear the kiwis in the bush, its beautiful and not far from Hamilton. Waitomo glow worm caves is a popular tourist spot too. A lot of things cost money, but there is just as many activities for free too. Im sure Ben will know all the great spots. You will have a fantastic time, will just be hard to pack it all in to two weeks. Have fun

  8. modeejae

    I still love that when you talk (type?) about him you call him BEN! 🙂

    I’ve never been but I’m guessing you will have an amazing time! Can’t wait to see the beautiful pictures I’m positive you will come home with!

  9. Penny

    Oh how exciting!!!! I can’t wait to read all about it! I’ve never been to NZ but it looks so beautiful. Say hi to BEN! for all your readers!

  10. Amanda

    Raglan is really close to Hamilton and beautiful- might be a good place to eat those fish and chips on the beach 🙂 Great camping ground there too.

  11. Suzan

    I love New Zealand and want to return often. I am an Aussie. It is a beautiful place and the people are friendly. I am sure you find a lot to see and do. Hikes, beaches, resting, bush walking, sticker shock at the stores as it is an island nation and much is imported. Enjoy your break and I am sure each day will take care of itself.

  12. Professor Snape

    I’m from Auckland. I’m personally not a huge fan of NZ because it’s very slow but the scenery is beautiful. Try some of the beaches like Piha or Muriwai, jus a wee way out of Auckland. There’s hobbiton, the Coromandel, sheep, fish and chips and gumboots. I think you’ll love it!

  13. Heidi Wilson

    How I wish it was in your budget to duck over to Sydney as I would LOVE to meet both you and Iris but alas I will have to be content to know that you were almost here! I can hardly wait to hear all about your trip and see your photos once you are home! I have flown in and out of Auckland on my way back to the states but that is it… someday I hope to see NZ as well as it is beautiful!! Have a wonderful time and I’m so excited for whatever the future holds for Iris and BEN!!… be that friendship or something more… their relationship is obviously special and I love reading whatever you are able to post about them!!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Heidi- I wish too! I’ve been to five of the seven continents and it has been a goal since I was a teen to visit all of them (except antarctica). I am comforting myself with the idea that New Zealand is technically part of the continent of Australia. I’m sure I will be traveling to NZ more in the future and I *will* make it to Australia on one of those trips.

  14. Cate

    Would definitely suggest hiking up Mount Maunganui (Mong-ga-noo-ee) a volcano in the Bay of Plenty (Eastern North Island). Tauranga (same city as Mount Maunganui) is a gorgeous city with amazing eating spots – the best “fish and chips” I’ve ever had comes from a place called “Fresh Bobbies” a open air fish market where you pick the piece of fish you want (caught that day or the day before) and bring it to you on the pier where your table is. All up – you’re guaranteed to have an amazing trip – the sights and the friendliness of the people will be enough to change your life forever! I’m speaking from experience on that one, been living here 14 years after leaving the US of A, married a kiwi boy and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Enjoy your trip! it’ll be great any way you slice it!
    Link for Fresh Bobbie’s –

  15. Catherine

    Ohhhh exciting!
    The Coromandel Peninsula is a great place to spend a few days – and not that far from Hamilton. Neither are the Waitomo Caves (glowworm caves) …. there’s heaps to do here in NZ! I’m sure you’ll have a blast!!

  16. Abigail Wilson

    This is WONDERFUL news!! What a perfect much needed break for you… Having spent 3 years of my life in NZ ( though mostly on the South Island since I went to school at Otago), I can safely say you can do know wrong in NZ in the summer… Can’t wait to see the pictures and have a little homesickness 🙂

  17. Aurora

    Wonderful! I´ve my family would not live in Europe, NZ would be my home for sure. It´s stunning.
    Please make sure to see the Kauri-trees, there are huge and incredible.
    I was at the Hobbit-Farm 2 years ago, so I might have seen Ben – the world is really small. Enjoy your stay!

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