Chapter 23: Brainy Talk

I have an attention span shorter than that tiny tyrant, my son Ezekiel Napoleon.

I get bored easily, and just as easily excited by shiny new ideas and hair clips.

Which basically makes me a toddler.

If a toddler was an enthusiastic go-getter, and also a little bit of a flake.

Loves the start of a new venture; hates the daily grind of making it happen.

This personality quirk is particularly unhelpful for long-term success, because as any cheese or wine advertiser will tell you, good things take time.

Long-term success requires long-term commitment and hustle, which if you ask me, is a giant pain in the ass.

But – and I mean butt – this blog has helped me turnaround that tendency.

I’ve had to stick at things: regular writing, weekly podcasts, Instagram content, I’ve completed two terms of improv, and I ran a bloody half-marathon.

Through thick and thin, long after the excitement and novelty wore off, I stuck with it. And heck, you can too.

“Dreams won’t work unless you do,” – John C. Maxwell

Psych 121

Have I mentioned that I have a Psychology degree?

I actually totally do, so let’s put it to good use for a hot second.

The human brain is very clever, but it can also be a real jack ass.

I’m talking about neural pathways.

These are the well worn tracks in our mind that have been created through repeated behaviours. They’re the bunches of axons, called tracts,  that have joined up through repeated use – like a well-trodden path through the bush.

These pathways create efficient shortcuts in our mind so we can do things easily and without thinking – like driving a car, or applying contour.

Which is helpful, but also incredibly unhelpful, when that habit or behaviour isn’t a fun or healthy addition to our lives.

What has this got to do with anything?

Homie, it has everything to do with everything, because it means you not screwed.

It means there’s a reason why some behaviour or ways of thinking feels like it comes naturally to you, but it also means you can create a new reality and a new you.

You just need to create a new pathway.

But, howww?

Repetition.

It takes around 66 days to create a new habit.

That’s 66 days of consistently, mindfully choosing a different path.

Which tbh, seems like a long time. But the time will pass anyway, so you may as well be moving in the right direction.

I’m still confused Kate, give me an example

I always wanted to do a half-marathon.

But I’d never trained outside before, and I’d never run more than 10km in my life.

From past experience, my subconscious knew I would give up, because that’s what I’ve done before.

My battle was to not give up, and to convince my brain I wasn’t going to by consistently hacking at that scrubby bush to create a new path.

How did I do that?

Tiny victories.

  • Doing a 15min jog outside
  • Doing a 5km ParkRun
  • Cracking 10km (that was such a good day!)

These were all milestones that continued to prove to my brain that I could do this thing it thought I couldn’t.

And the rest, as they say, is history … See: “Chapter 20: Half-Marathon

Learn more about brainy stuff

Want to know more about neural pathways and changing habits?

I recommend checking out this article. I used it as a reference, and it definitely explains neuroscience better than me!

What habits would be at the top of your to-change list? Or what positive, new habits are you going to try and form? Go on, give it a go – I dare you!

Kate x

Disclaimer: I do have a Psychology degree, but I’m not actually an expert in this field. This is just the Basic White Chick explanation of neutral pathways and habit changing/forming. I recommend you do your own research if you really want to knuckle down and make some changes, or to talk to a professional if you have significant mental health concerns you want to tackle. Much love. 

Chapter 22: Massage

In my experience, self-care is very strongly correlated with not losing your damn mind.

Especially as a mum.

But also just as a human person.

Because honestly, the alternative might be Britney 2007.

But like, right?!

Relaaaaaxxx

There’s something about the term “self-care” that makes me think of white towel robes, single-use slippers, and a good deep tissue massage.

… Man, I love a massage …

Although, do I?!

Because recent memory would indicate that I do not.

Cue: Kate’s Top 3 Weird Massage Stories

*Disclaimer: Spa names have been (lightly) changed because I don’t want them to get mad at me.

1. Summer* – I was recently given a voucher for this lovely jazzy little place in Wellington. I decided on a back massage as I have Quasimodo posture and a small child who uses my hips as a chair.

Cue: a lovely bit of deep tissue to soften and mould my muscles back into their natural order.

Except, she started off very strong.

Like, Terminator strong.

And I didn’t say anything.

I thought: Maybe my shoulders are so bad, being panel-beaten by a small South East Asian woman is the only option?

And also: Maybe this is how I’m going to die?

“How’s the pressure?” she asked, like every masseuse ever

And instead of answering honestly, and saying I felt like I was being slowly pummeled to death, I said:

Fine.

[Narrator: She was not fine.]

I had bruises for two weeks.

Life lesson: Speak up

2. Some Woman’s House: A little while ago, I went for a facial and massage with a beauty therapist a colleague of mine recommended.

Except the appointment was at the therapist’s home salon.

Which was fine.

Until she was sitting behind me, massaging my shoulders and decolletage, and I was like … this might be how I die.

Life lesson: You don’t have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable

3. Cheers – Quite a while ago, my gorgeous husband gave me a very large voucher for an award-winning day spa in Lower Hutt.

It’s not often one gets to have a Real Housewives-level beauty treatment, so I was excited to try something different and e x p e n s i v e.

Casting aside basic white chick options like a mani-pedi or blow-out, I decided to go for a hydrotherapy treatment involving scrubbing, body masks, and water-jet massage.

How daring! How chic!

It all started very well. I was ushered upstairs into a lovely, dimly lit room and given a plush white robe to get changed into.

But when I emerged, things started to take a turn.

For one, my beauty therapist – whom I was about to get basically naked in front of – was a girl I half-knew from High School.

Not ideal.

She ushered me into a dark, tiled, morgue-like room, and I lay down in all my paper-g-string-ed glory.

And then I heard groans coming from next door.

Presumably it was a man getting very vocal about his massage, but I did very seriously wonder for a number of minutes whether the day spa was actually a front for more salacious business.

Then things got worse.

It turns out, the hydrotherapy treatment really is a full-body affair, and I really am a prude.

There’s just something not quite right about someone sugar-scrubbing your stomach …

And to be honest, the mask wasn’t much better. After being painted on, I was wrapped up like a claustrophobic caterpillar, and awkwardly lay there like a sausage for a v e r y long time.

And then came the water.

Sorry, “hydrotherapy massage”, which kind of just felt like I was lying in a bath with the shower on. Except there was also a girl I knew from 6 form there.

S I G H.

All in all, in my ranking of awkward life experiences that are funny on reflection, it sits:

Ah, what a life I’ve lived. 

Life lesson: Theres nothing wrong with a basic white chick mani-pedi.

Love, actually – is a good massage

After a (g)string of wildly unfortunate massage experiences, I actually had a really glorious one not so long ago.

My shoulders and back were basically in pieces from the daily realities of mum-ing, so my loving husband treated me to a massage voucher (this time, not with my high school alumni and a shower, thank God …) but with a wonderful woman at Body Balance Massage in Lower Hutt who had fantastic Google Reviews for sports massage.

She was sensational. And I didn’t even leave covered in bruises or shame.

10/10 would recommend.

But for real, what actually is self-care?

Accurate.

I know I’ve talked a lot about day spas and white robes in this blog post, but that isn’t actually the only definition of self-care.

Self-care should be practiced daily, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or involve ylang ylang scented oil.

For me, daily self-care looks like:

  • Listening to funny podcasts on my commute
  • Wearing makeup
  • Regular exercise
  • Eating lots of fruit, veges and hot cross buns
  • Drinking coffee
  • Bible time
  • Taking time for hobbies (writing, improv)

And avoiding:

  • Comparing myself to others (or the me I “should” be)
  • Eating lots of sugar and fried food
  • Dwelling on negative things.

I know myself, and I know what makes me feel happy and well, and what makes me feel yuck and like I want to karate chop people – and I try to adjust my day accordingly.

As a starting point, I recommend writing two lists:

  1. Things you love doing
  2. Things you do every day.

If List 1 looks very different to List 2, I strongly recommend you inject a little bit of self-care into your day.

Even if it’s just one thing.

Your future self will thank you for it (and so will your partner and kids!). Because self-care is not selfish.

Self-care = a happier you

A happier you = a person more likely to turn up for their life with enthusiasm and positivity, and who has greater levels of patience and grace for others.

The real result of self-care is that you become a person other people feel better for having been around, and my friend, that is anything but selfish.

Do you struggle to practice self-care? Are you a mum? I BET YOU ARE! We’re NOTORIOUS at being Mama Martyr. Go take some time for yourself, babe. You bloody deserve it, and honestly, you and the whole family will benefit. 

Kate x

Chapter 21: Putting Yourself Out There

The past two years have been bananas.

The first year I grew a person.

And the second year I grew as a person.

But not in the way you’d expect.

Becoming a parent is fairly synonymous with becoming immeasurably more selfless, patient and tired than you ever though possible.

That’s pretty much a given (unless you suck a little bit as a human).

For me, the unexpected growth came because I wanted needed something that was just for myself.

ENTER STAGE LEFT: Kate Takes Thirty

From watching Parks and Rec, to writing about it

When I was in my early 20s, binge watching seven seasons of Parks and Recreation over a Christmas holiday wasn’t indulgent, it was frankly impressive.

But when you become a parent, the game doth change, and time becomes the ultimate luxury – both for treasuring moments with your little people (“They grow up so fast!” – everyone, ever), and for treasuring moments with yourself.

What did this look like for me?

Starting a blog.

And one that by it’s very definition, enabled and encouraged me to try lots of different things – like starting improv classes, a public Instagram (@katetakesthirty, get about it) and a podcast – oh, and I ran a half-marathon.

Ridiculous!

And nerve-wracking!

Particularly the bit about putting my face, voice, and writing on the interwebs for people to see and hear and judge, and aggghhhhhhh

But then I remember, WWRHD?

What would Rachel Hollis Do?

She would say:

“YES, SISTER!”

“You dreams don’t work unless you do.”

“Are you humble enough to suck for as long as it takes to get better?”

“What other people think about you is none of your business.”

And other such inspiring, bad ass things.

So I sucked it up, and went for it.

I’ve even started approaching lifestyle news sites to see if they want a piece of this action to take me on as a contributing writer.

I’ve tried three so far, two have knocked me back, and one is still pending.

But again, WWRHD?

She would keep trying until someone says yes, and remind me of the classic J.K Rowling “never give up” anecdote for authors about how Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down 12 times by publishers before Bloomsbury said yes to the dress.

Or she’d start her own news site, cause she’s a gangster like that.

And dang it, so am I.

Just cause you’re a gangster

It goes without saying – but Rachel Hollis, J.K Rowling and I don’t have the monopoly on bad assery.

You too can be a gangster and go after your dreams whole-heartedly.

It’s hard. Heck, every time I produce something there’s a gnawing thought at the back of my mind telling me it’s probably terrible and no one will want to read/listen to it.

But then I think: Nah, boo. You do you.

People will enjoy it or they won’t. The most important thing is that you enjoy making it.

A. Because life’s miserable if you spend it trying to be someone you’re not, to impress people you don’t even like or know.

And B. Because people are smart, and they can tell when you’re being disingenuous.

My advice?

Be a gangster.

Believe in yourself. Find what you want to do, and keep doing it.

Like our girl Rach says, you will probably suck at the start. Lord knows my first podcast episode is solidly “ok, and pretty averagely alright”.

But you keep going. You keep grinding. And you keep smiling.

Because sooner or later that commitment and enthusiasm is going to breed growth and opportunity.

Don’t give up now!

The best is yet to come.

If money was no object, what work would you do for free? If you’re not sure what your dream job is, that’s a good question to start with.

Or if you know what your dream is, tell meeee! Feel free to comment below or hit up my DMs on the gram. I love hearing from you guys.

Kate x

Footnote: Christchurch

I live in New Zealand, and last Friday we experienced the worst terror attack in our history.

Per capita, the loss of 50 lives (and another 50 injured) at the hands of a white supremacist gunman at two Christchurch mosques is comparable to the horror of 9/11.

And that’s what it felt like for me on Friday.

It took me back to 2001 when I had been off school with a tummy bug, and my mum and I had sat stunned as we watched two planes soar into the Twin Towers in New York (over and over again on the news).

I remember leaving the lounge, feeling even sicker, not knowing what to do with myself, but knowing that I couldn’t watch anymore.

And that’s what I felt like on Friday.

I felt sick.

And intensely sad for the families affected, and for Christchurch itself, a city that has seen so much more than it’s fair share of suffering.

And I left the lounge.

I turned off the news livestream. I closed Instagram. And I went and played with my son.

We crawled around on the floor laughing, he blew raspberries on my mum-tum (his fave), and we played with his toys.

Later – still avoiding the news – I watched Queer Eye on Netflix (THE FEELS); and on Saturday, met my mum for a girls’ date of Lime scooting and Captain Marvel.

And it was amazing.

And I felt so guilty, because you’re not meant to have fun when an atrocity happens.

You’re not meant to smile while others mourn.

But even though I’m heartbroken, I refuse to live in fear and darkness because of one man’s act of hatred.

Reliving the horror and hatred over and over again gives him the power.

It’s what he wanted, and it’s why he livestreamed it.

People process things differently, and they feel things differently, and that is entirely ok.

For me, I can’t watch too much because I feel things very vividly. I imagine myself there. I imagine what it must be like for the families who lost loved ones, and the paramedics who had to climb over dead bodies to treat the injured, and I am completely overcome.

And I refuse to give him that power. I refuse to let him make me afraid.

I will cry for those who were lost, and who have lost, but I will not be immersing myself in news coverage.

I will back our country’s response to gun laws (America, take note).

I will go out of my way to be inclusive and kind to our Muslim New Zealand whanau, showing them that we are behind them, and that we are so very, very sorry that we were not able to protect them.

I will celebrate the heroes who fought back the gunman, and the Police, special forces, paramedics, hospital staff and countless others who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way – both physically and emotionally – to help others.

And I will choose to believe that we will rise.

I choose to believe that hope, love and light will win out, and that together this horror will make us a stronger, kinder, and more inclusive nation.

And that despite it all, still we will rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries? …

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s, Still I Rise

My heart is with you, Christchurch.

Love,

Kate x

Note: If you are feeling (quite rightly) distressed about Friday’s attack, please talk to someone. A friend, family member, or 1737 is a free txt or call number where you can anonymously speak with a trained counselor. Let’s look after each other, NZ.

Chapter 20: Half-Marathon

I ran a half-marathon.

Which basically means I can do anything, because ARE YOU FRIGGIN KIDDING ME, I RAN A HALF-MARATHON?!

I’m the chubby kid who hated cross-country Wednesday almost as much as I hated math (i.e. A LOT) – and six months ago, I couldn’t have run two kilometres, let alone 21.

And yet here we are.

I, Kate the Non-Runner, have a medal for the Wellington Round the Bays Half-Marathon, and I didn’t even buy it off TradeMe.

shook
Both how shook I was to have finished, and an accurate description of my legs post race.

Started from the bottom, now we here

I am deadly serious when I say I couldn’t run 2km in a row six months ago.

I had a baby in November 2017, so my cardiovascular fitness (and pelvic floor) were missing in action for the first half of last year.

As I started to emerge from the new parent fog some time in July, I must of been feeling a bit of get up and go, because I decided to start this blog and to take up running.

I’d always wanted to do a half-marathon, so making it a Thirty Before Thirty goal put just the right amount of internet accountability on myself to actually commit to running 21km in a row.

Lamp post to lamp post

My first couple of jogs were a true family affair.

My husband Taka was recovering from a knee injury (which he actually ended up needing to have surgery for – but more on that later), so the two of us strapped on our sneakers, put the baby in the buggy and the dog on the lead, and we took to the streets … taking on one lamp post at a time.

We were super slow. Bucky the Westie was the worst. I think I was basically dragging him by the home-stretch.

But little by little we were able to run further, and faster. And eventually I ditched the boys altogether (mainly for the sake of Bucky, and to snaffle up some “me time”).

I still remember the total euphoria at running our 4km neighbourhood block without stopping.

If I could give you one tip for starting running, it would be: let yourself suck. Running ALWAYS sucks at the start. Don’t beat yourself up because you “should” be able to do more, or it “shouldn’t” be this hard. Because running IS hard. At the start especially. But … the more you do it, the better you get, and the more fun it gets. Stick with it, and give yourself permission to suck.

I kept doing the neighbourhood block run for a while to really get my feet back in the game, and then I started doing destination runs.

By which I mean, I drove somewhere to run.

Running river

It was around this time that I started this six-week training plan to give myself some structure, and to make sure I was getting enough kilometres in.

(If I’m honest, I didn’t do the speed work, and I only averaged about three runs a week. One lunchtime jog, one during the week, and one on the weekend. All of which were captured on Strava, cause if it’s not on Strava, did it even happen?)

My favourite place to run was the Hutt Valley River Trail.

The map has clear markings so I could see how long my loops were (for someone who hates math, I bloody love running stats), it’s mostly flat, and the river and bush are super pretty.

It was there that I ran my first 10km, 12km, and 16km; practiced with gels (these are my faves); did my first Park Runs; ran through detailed scenarios in my head about how I would fend off an attacker; and listened to countless episodes of Sports? with Katie Nolan and the RISE Podcast.

They were really nice times. Especially as the bulk of my training was done was during our surprisingly tropical summer.

They were also made possible because my husband Taka had knee surgery in early January, so I was able to do some sizable mid-week (as well as weekend) training runs while he looked after our little man at home.

I have nothing but fond memories of that summer along the river.

Running tips with Kate: Not sure you can run long distance? Go really, really slow. Learn how to pace yourself. You might not be as fit and fast as you’d like to be, but if you’ve got a reasonable base level of fitness, you should be able to finish if you hit it “tortoise” (not hare) style and go slow and steady.

Round the Bays – In Theory

The course for Wellington Round the Bays is beautiful.

It starts at Frank Kitts Park, and then follows the Wellington waterfront along past Oriental Bay, Evans Bay (literally all of the bays), past the Miramar turnoff, and winds around the water until you’re nearly at Scorching Bay, and then you double-back to Kilbirnie Park.

Or, see: course map.

Full-Course-Map-2019-LRes
I also recommend doing a drive of the course, it helped me visualise where I was up to on the day. 

Round the Bays – In practice

In practice, it was a little bit different.

Race day

Miraculously, my son slept through the night, and I didn’t wake up until my alarm went off at 5pm.

I turned it off, snuck out of bed, and slunk into the bathroom to get changed into my bike shorts, singlet, shoes, and chic as hell fanny pack (it nipped me in at the waist so well I’m deliberating wearing one on the regular).

Next stop was the kitchen, where I made myself two pieces of Vogel’s toast with peanut butter and banana, and a black coffee.

Then it was game face time. Back to the bathroom, and on with: Goodness Every Morning Moisturiser (gotta get that SPF), Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation and Stay Matte Pressed Powder, Benefit Brow Contour Pro, and Benefit Roller Lash.

Which some of you may not think of as essential race-day prep, to which I say to you:

Race photos.

I’m going to be looking dreadful – because running 21kms – so I’m going to at least give my face a fighting chance at looking Instagrammable.

Then there was a knock, knock, knock on the door.

My hype squad had arrived.

Here’s my mum, with the most wonderfully non-sensical sign I’ve ever seen. I loved it.
My gorgeous mum and her famously non-sensical but wildly encouraging sign.

She bundled me into her (Taylor) Swift at 6.45am, and we talked excitedly all the way into Wellington about the training I’d done and how I hoped I wouldn’t end up in an ambulance.

She had that proud mum energy that us attention-seeking first-borns are forever thirsty for.

Then we were there, and it was time for a nervous wee in a portaloo, before assembling at the starting line.

The first 5km

Sports? with Katie Nolan – Now that we found love

Were super easy. I was determined to pace myself well, so stuck to my guns and plodded along slowly, unperturbed by the hundreds of fit people passing me.

I had to stop for another nervous wee at the first portaloo.

From 5km to 10km

The RISE Podcast with Rachel Hollis – 80: The Hard Things That Will Throw You Off-Course (And How To Fight Them)

Still not too bad. I’d seen mum and her hilarious sign twice, I’d had a gel, and I was just entering the shade of the final knob of the race course.

From 10km-15km

Jules and Sarah with the Rapids

This last section is much longer than I remember.

Have another gel.

I’m also seeing a very disconcertingly large number of people coming back past me towards the finish line, but the turnaround point is nowhere to be seen.

At 14km I finally get to turn around.

Gosh, it’s a long way back.

From 15km-21km

ZM’s Fletch, Vaughan & Megan Podcast – February 15 2019

Pass the 16km marker. This is officially the longest I’ve ever run in my life.

Remember how when I did my 16km training run my calves had started cramping as soon as I stopped.

The calves are twitching, threatening to cramp.

I have to get going.

Contemplate getting a tattoo of XXI in honour of completing the race, which I tell myself I will, to remind myself that I can do bloody anything.

The last 1km is so hard. I want to stop. But I don’t want to stop, because my calves are going to absolutely murder me.

And then I can see the finish line – through approximately 5 million buggys – and I slowly attempt to weave my way towards it.

I’ve done it! I have an enormous medal! MUM! Good Lord, I can’t walk. Oh no, we have to walk to the car, 500 miles away. But I DID IT! I ACTUALLY DID IT!

Proceeds to eat a double-pack One Square Meal Bar, and demolish a blue Powerade like Steven Adams, as we go the long way home through Island Bay.

I am amazing.

Fancy a run?

Honestly, if I can do it, you can do it.

Seize the day. Get some sneakers. And let your body amaze you with what it’s capable of.

Just run, Forrest.

Kate x

Chapter 19: We started a podcast

I did a Rachel Hollis exercise with some friends recently where you visualise what the best version of yourself would be like.

What do you do for a job? What do you dress like? How are your relationships? What are your priorities? How do you feel? How much sleep do you get? What do you eat …? 

And then after imagining all of this – seeing it like a movie in your head – you quickly write it all down on a piece of paper, using “I” statements and as much detail as you can.

I really recommend giving it a go.

It’s a ridiculously helpful way of focusing in on what you actually want your life to be like, and then being big and brave and going for it.

Here are some of the things on my list:

  1. I am a famous writer
  2. I am a present, loving mum
  3. I eat fresh healthy food and regularly work out, and I feel amazing
  4. I set my own work hours
  5. I am confident and completely myself
  6. I influence people to believe in themselves and live their best lives, and to be kind.
  7. I make the world laugh.

Then we had to each look at our lists, and come up with a goal – just one – that would help us get closer to this bomb version of ourselves.

Get it, girl

My Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG, if you please) is to create a platform of smart, silly, fun, encouraging content.

Like what Leandra Medine has done with Man Repeller.

But more Kate-ish.

Which is difficult. And daunting. And exciting. And entirely achievable.

Kate, Media Mogul

I love podcasts. They bring me untold amounts of joy – like, Making a Murderer.

Kidding. I ain’t about that True Crime life. I live almost exclusively in the comedy section. See below.

Kate’s Top 5 Fave Podcasts:

  1. Jules and Sarah the Podcast
  2. Rise Podcast
  3. Fletch Vaughan and Megan
  4. Wobble
  5. Sports?

So when I was thinking about what I wanted to be a part of my platform, podcasts were FOR SURE on the list.

So I made one. Like a gangster.

I enlisted my husband Taka as Producer and Co-Host, and on Thursday night we sat at the kitchen table and chatted into a surprisingly phallic microphone about everything from our car being totalled by an ambulance, to the Netflix show Taka’s mum is currently obsessed with.

It was really fun, and we hope it makes you smile.

If you want to have a listen, we are now officially iTunes approved so you can find us there by searching Kate Takes Thirty (I’ve renamed it The Kate and Taka Show, but it’s just taking a little while to sync!), or listen online at https://thekateandtakashow.simplecast.fm/.

If you listen, please screenshot it and post it to your stories and tag or DM me at @katetakesthirty on Instagram! I. WILL. DIE.

You can also follow Taka at @takakauri.

Thanks so much for your support, guys. We will frankly be bloody beside ourselves if more people than just my mum listen (both because she’s supportive, and also because I talk about her confusion with “that’s what she said” … it’s a little rude …).

You are the best of all humans.

Lots of love,

Kate x

Chapter 18: Family Holiday

We went to Napier over the weekend.

It was a family vay-cay to celebrate my in-law’s 40th (!!) wedding anniversary.

There was me, my husband Taka and our one year old Zeke, my sister-in-law Ari and her fiancé Josh, and Taka’s commitment level 5000 parents, Pat and Maxene.

It was basically a Big Fat Greek Wedding Anniversary, minus the Greek part.

It was also the first family getaway we’ve been on since little man escaped the womb, and it was awesome.

Kate, the Travel Writer

Napier is a coastal city in the Hawke’s Bay of New Zealand that is famous for fruit, wine, and having an uncanny resemblance to a Universal Studios set street.

That’s because in 1931, Napier experienced the deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand history.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

On 3 February at 10.47am, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake violently shook the Hawke’s Bay for two and a half minutes, killing 256 people and injuring thousands.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the quake also ignited devastating fires that tragically finished off was left of Napier’s city centre.

At the time, The Dominion newspaper described Napier as a town “wiped off the map”.

If you’re interested in history, I recommend checking out the MTL (Museum Theatre Library) next time you’re in Napier.

And this is coming from an uncultured non-fan of museums, so believe me when I say this one really is worth the visit.

Silver Linings Playbook

The MTL also have an exhibition on the rebuild of Napier, because the silver lining to this (again, not Greek) tragedy is that the city was then redesigned amidst the Art Deco taste of the ’20s.

In an impressive display of Kiwi ingenuity and team work make the dream work, four Napier architectural firms banded together and worked around the clock to redesign their town.

Beauty for ashes – Isaiah 61

Amazingly, this meant Napier was nearly entirely rebuilt within two years of the disaster, and in an archetypally Art Deco style that has made it one of the New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations.

Kate’s Top 5 Napier Faves

When your sister in law is as extra as you 💞

1. Te Mata Peak – it’s about a 30 minute drive from Napier, but it’ll make your trip approximately 30 million times better.

The landscape was so sweeping and picturesque, I felt like I was in a board meeting for Lord of the Rings cinematography (an award category you will not be seeing aired at the Oscars this year, ohhh! #popculture).

2. Hapī – this allergen/vegan/Keto/Millennial-friendly eatery was seriously delicious considering it’s definitive lack of gluten and refined sugar.

I can’t remember exactly how many times we went there, but it was a lot …

My favourite nook in all of Napier.

3. MTL – as I said, I’m not a museum fan. I’m the heathen who thought the Lourve was only worth it for the fine art gallery and gift shop.

Ps. Taka spent a solid hour agog at old vases. I kid you not. I have never seen a brother so jazzed about pottery (he has a Classics degree, so let’s not judge … either of us).

That said, I loved the Māori exhibition at MTL, and the sea-life art installation made from recycled plastic was legitimately incredible.

(As was the gift shop.)

He’s not even posing. This is just how my husband the model sits.

4. Par2 Mini Golf next to the Sunken Gardens (um, bad ass name alert, way to sound like El Dorado or Atlantis, Napier foreshore).

I don’t know what it is about mini golf, but it’s just such good clean fun.

10/10 would recommend.

5. The Street Art – it might be my Wellingtonian showing, but I love a big ol’ graphic mural on a city wall.

So fun. So vibrant. So great for the gram.

Fun Historical Facts with Kate!

Did you know … neighbouring cities Napier and Hastings are both named after English dudes who helped run colonised India on behalf of the British Monarchy?

Charles Napier, was the Commander-in-Chief of India from 1848-1849, and Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General of India from 1773-1785.

I am Carmen Sandiago.

4 Things That Had Me Shooketh

1. Splash Planet is super loose, and super Kiwi! We went on an insane scorcher of a Saturday, and the water theme park was basically bursting at the seams. So much so that people had parked all over the grassy verges, and apparently that was totally cool and normal.

You were also encouraged to bring along your own picnics and BBQs.

The delicious smell of sausages was almost as strong as my regret for not bringing a full Christmas Day-worthy banquet to the pools like the people next door to us.

Although you know your girl stopped in at Hapī on the way back to the motel though …

2. You can’t swim in the sea! A beautiful beachside tourist town, and there wasn’t a single person to be seen ducking up and down in the waves.

Upon further investigation, I found out: “They have a poo problem.” 💩💩💩

I’m no Mayor. Obviously. But I would (bio) hazard a guess that fixing a sea sewerage problem should be the top of your town to do (do) list …?

Editor’s note: I have since found out that Napier beach has a fairly fierce undertow, so even without the water pollution, the pull of the beach would be a rip – not a fun family day in the waves.

3. We were hit by an ambulance on the way home. Technically it was a patient transfer van, but the irony remains.

Our little black Golf is looking like it’s going to be written off, but thankfully, the driver ploughed into the only door without someone next to it.

The locals of the small town we were passing through were also incredibly kind, and so was the extremely apologetic St John’s driver. No harm, small foul.

As a side note, If you have any recommendations for a reliable, chic, not too expensive, family-friendly car I’d be very interested.

4. Zeke slept through the night! 😱 My child is over a year old and has famously never slept through the night.

Except in Napier. When apparently he’s King if Sleep.

We might need to move.

3 Benefits of Having a Baby Wake You Up at 4am in Napier

On Saturday, our little man was ready to carpe diem and seize the day at 4am. Which actually had its benefits.

1. I tried out a Centr workout in the motel room, because I’m Chris Hemsworth, obvs.

2. We saw the sun rise at Bluff Hill Lookout

3. And had a glorious wander (my favourite way to see a city) down the Art Deco main streets, and along the waterfront.

And then it was 10am!

2 Go-To Coffee Spots

I’m an unbearable Wellington coffee snob from way back, and these two places served from seriously delicious brews.

1. Ajuna Eatery: it had a really nice vibe and a pop art picture of Queen Elizabeth that I wanted to smuggle home with me, and they did a solidly good Mojo flat white.

2. Six Sisters: the hipster bicycle on the roof of this place filled me with confidence that a quality flat white was coming my way, and it did not disappoint.

Alas these were the only cafes I tried over the visit, but the internet tells me Crazy Good is also crazy good, so give them a try too.

1 Door To Rule Them All

Napier is home to the most Instagrammable door in New Zealand (maybe a #fact).

Exhibit a:

Prom photo.

If you want to find it and get that gram, this is the address:

National Tobacco Company Building Ltd

1 Ossian St,

Ahuriri,

Napier

You’re welcome.

Have you been to Napier? What was your favourite part? Do you know a better New Zealand door?! But for real, what would be a good car for us? We need help.

Kate x