Wednesday, 14 December 2005

Earthquake hits Wellington

This isn't something new to Wellingtonians or even New Zealanders but it definitely is to me!

Vera and I were sitting by the rumpus downstairs looking at presents to buy for Christmas on the computer. This was about 9 at night. All of a sudden without warning, there was a rumbling noise for a few seconds and then it started again and went on for about 15 to 20 seconds. That is when we realised that it was an earthquake. A picture frame on my table fell. We were literally shaken despite the fact that nothing was damaged.

We went upstairs to take a look at the kids, who were sound asleep and then we went out to see if anyone was awoken. It looked like we were the only ones looking out as everyone else went about their business and no one was outside. While the rest of Wellington went about their lives, we were sitting watching each other.

This morning's newspaper reported that the earthquake hit near Porirua (near where we live) at 9.09pm and it apparently measured 4.5 on the Richter scale. The earthquake was 30km underground and was felt as far as 100km north of the capital.

Geonet has details of earthquakes in New Zealand.

The last earthquake I felt was when I was in Indonesia. I was asleep then and I thought that a truck was passing by until I read about it in the local newspapers the next morning.

This really puts things in a different perspective. All this time I was growing up, earthquakes were something that was far away and only watched on TV. I have never previously known anyone having experienced an earthquake. We have now come to live in a place where earthquakes are part and parcel of life. And the New Zealand fault line is just 10km from where we live and about 1km from where I work. This is real! This is not some National Geographic documentary! Schools teach children what to do in an emergency. Disaster recovery and business continuity are major risk factors in doing business in New Zealand.

Spooky isn't it?

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Rimutaka Forest Park

After the Makara, we drove to the other side of Wellington, east which was about 49km away to the Wainuimata where the Rimutaka Forest Park was located. We wanted to scout this place out for that camping trip we are planning during the Christmas holidays.

The camp sites were really good but the rivers were somewhat drying up. Not sure if there would be any water left in the river in 2 weeks times.

Just as we were leaving, we could not resist another bush walk. This one was made to suit the elderly and disabled. So, I was pretty sure we would make it without breaking a sweat. This track was coincidentally named the "Tawa Grove". And we discovered that Tawa is a tree which is pictured below.

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P.S. Tawa is the suburb we live in.

Makara weekend

The weather was supposed to be cloudy with rain but Metservice was wrong! The wind took a turn and the weather changed for the better yesterday evening and this morning was bright and sunny.

After the bbq last night, we decided to venture into the waters. Makara is on the west of Wellington and the drive there was absolutely stunning passing farmland and miles and miles of pines. The sea was not really one that was suited for swimming as there were lots of rocks but was mild enough to play.

There were about a dozen cars when we got there about 10.30am and a few trampers for 8km of beach.

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The sea was like the rivers we used to go to back in Malaysia. Crystal clear water with fish everywhere, corals, slugs and shells still very much alive.

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Later, after soaking up the sea water and filling up the belly, it was time for some New Zealand bush walking. We went like 500 meters and it was starting to go up hill so we decided, that's it!

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Saturday, 10 December 2005

BBQ Buka Kedai

In case you are wondering what that title is all about, it literally means "open shop" in Malay. The weather was finally warm enough to open our barbeque set that was sitting on the deck. And coincidentally, the bank I work for gave all its employees a set of bbq utensils as a Christmas present.

So with the sun at 23C, bright blue skies and little wind, we were off to the Mad Butcher to get sausages, chicken, lamb and pate for the night.

Barbeque New Zealand style!

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Friday, 9 December 2005

Anil's Christmas Disco

As Christmas is approaching everyone's having Christmas lunches and dinners. Even schools are not spared. Anil tonight was going to attend his very first Christmas Disco.

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Man is he dressed to kill!

Thursday, 8 December 2005

The tree is up

We just had to get a tree! How else would Santa know where to deliver those presents Anil and Ashwini have asked for?

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The kids had fun decorating the tree. Some of the decoration on the tree was made by them in school. Can you guess which one?

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Vera's New Zealand driver’s license

Our Malaysian driver’s license is only valid for one year in New Zealand. The one year starts from the first arrival in New Zealand, regardless of when that maybe. If we had arrived in New Zealand as tourists 10 years ago, our license would have been useless by now, but since we came here in March last year for the first time, our licenses are valid until March 2006. After which we can't drive legally. My having an Indonesian driver’s license in addition to a Malaysian one was of no help. How can they not recognise an Indonesian license? If one could drive in Jakarta, anywhere else on earth would be a piece of cake!

I really don't understand the logic behind this at all. If we are allowed to drive here without being supervised for a year, don't see why we need to sit for a practical driving test to convert the license. Well, being a normal person as I am, I will not bring it up until I have my name printed on a New Zealand driver’s license.

Since Vera does most of the driving here she started with the process of converting her Malaysian driver’s license to New Zealand driver’s license. If one holds a drivers license from the UK, Australia, US or South Africa, all one needed to do was to pass a theory paper. But if the license was issued elsewhere, one had to go through a theory paper plus a practical driving test.

She passed her theory paper with flying colours in one go but her first attempt at the practical test failed miserably. She was quite sure it was the tester's fault and not hers. Each test costs $70.80 so to minimise the damage, she went for a "refresher" course and then sat for the practical yesterday.

The result? Passed!!!!!

We had a celebration of sorts yesterday to honour her passing her driving test the second time around, first being in Malaysia many, many moons ago. The celebratory meal included bow tie pasta with "porcupine" meat balls prepared by Anil. Go figure that one out.

Now it’s my turn to start mugging for those dreadful tests! How I hate tests!

Saturday, 3 December 2005

North Pole calling

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Christmas takes a whole new meaning here in New Zealand, especially for Anil and Ashwini. First they received a letter from the North Pole. Next they went for a pajama Party with Santa last week. And then there was the never ending Parades all over the city.

And this morning Vera discovered a new way of getting the Santa experience. There is a website hosted by iHug ( and you could send an email to Santa, write a snail mail letter to Santa and you could even speak to Santa. That last one was something different so we tried that.

Ten minutes later, the phone rang and it was a "long distance" call from the North Pole for Anil and a few minutes later for Ashwini. They were speaking to Santa himself and telling him what they want for Christmas. And they send the wish list to us by email.

Now it's time to get that Christmas tree and gifts! They have heard from friends in school that Santa comes down the chimney after they sleep on Christmas eve. With the size of our chimney, Santa would need to go on a diet! But, we'll see...

Thursday, 1 December 2005

Have wheels will travel

After 6 months in New Zealand and after 6 months of being driven around by Vera, I decided to get my self a set of wheels. I did not want to spend a lot of money on a car and neither did I want a car that will fall apart when I shut the door.

I went on a search for that car all over Wellington. Most were either beyond my reach or would not take my weight! Finally I stumbled upon this 1990 Ford Laser 1.6 Hatch. It looked reasonably tough (Ford Built Tough immediately came to mind) and was not going to burn a hole in my pocket. After test driving it and getting the green light from the local AA and the other half (more important than AA), I decided to get it.

And here is the $650 car!

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The whole process was amazingly simple. Since this is my first purchase from an individual, I wanted to be sure I was not taken for a ride. I called up the Land Transport Department (LTSA) and was given a detailed walk through with what to do.

I was told that the seller would have to inform the LTSA online about the intention to sell and I as buyer would also do the same online. I decided to do it in person just in case something went wrong. It took me all of 5 minutes for the change of ownership, and the cost? $9.20! And all I needed to show was my driver's licence, which by the way has yet to be converted!

That night, the seller drove my new car over to our place and I sent him back.

Next was insurance! For that price did not want to get a comprehensive. So went for the third party cover. All I needed was the details of the car for the cover, no need for proof of registration or anything else. I am now covered.

That was it!