Behind the Scenes: House Hunters International

Well the reviews are in... maybe we didn't make total fools of ourselves on House Hunters International!

If you're from the United States or Canada, you've probably heard of HGTV's House Hunters International, and if you're from the UK or New Zealand, they've got lots of similar shows (I think it airs on the Living Channel in NZ eventually - just waiting on an air date). 

The premise - a couple looks at 3 houses in a foreign location and picks one to live in. Sounds simple, but it was so interesting to see the work that goes into making a 23-minute episode. While I can't give away all of the secrets of reality TV, I thought it'd be fun to share a behind-the-scenes look at our 'Nesting in Napier' episode. When five days of filming gets cut down to 23 minutes, there's all kinds of good stuff you don't get to see...

... Like the fact that I also have a job and didn't just 'follow' my doctor boyfriend to New Zealand. ;) What you didn't see: My friend and co-worker Charlotte and I filming a scene at my office. 

I used to religiously watch the House Hunters International in the states. It always inspired me to live abroad and showed me that living abroad was doable and maybe even affordable. When Joe and I decided to move to New Zealand, after much encouragement from friends, I applied to be on the show. The producers liked our story, we did a Skype interview and soon it was official - we were going to be on House Hunters International!

The real appeal of House 1 - ALPACAS in the neighborhood!! What you didn't get to see: I made Joe pull over so we could say hello!

(We've moved to Wellington since filming the show almost a year ago, so it's exciting to look back on our time in Napier!)

Te Mata Peak - This became one of our favorite hiking spots. When it's not so cloudy, the Pacific Ocean is a beautiful turquoise color. What you didn't get to see: A guy walked up to us while we were filming this 'decision' scene and said, "Are you guys filming House Hunters International? Is it gonna be house 1, 2 or 3?" haha!

On the first day of filming, we were so nervous pulling up to the first house.

I didn't know what to expect and didn't want to say anything stupid. I was apprehensive about how we might be portrayed in the episode... Because let's be real - sometimes the couples on House Hunters are super annoying. 

But really, those curtains were ugly. ;)

As the sound man taped a mic under my shirt I thought, "Great, now he's going to hear my heart pounding and know how nervous I am."

Why yes, I am wearing a wire. 

The crew was super laid back and put us at ease right away.

Director John hunting for good sound bites. 

Soon it was as if we'd known them for years. It was as if the camera wasn't even there!

Seriously though, House 2 was kind of amazing.

I remember at the end of the first day Joe turned to me on the car ride home and said, 'That was easy! I could definitely do this for a living.' Psssh! We're basically like the Kardashians. Right? ;)

Getting the GoPro ready before our drive around the neighborhood 'Kardashian style' - just swap Kim's Bentley for our Subaru. What you didn't get to see - me shrieking and Joe slamming on the breaks as a rabbit dashed in front of the car while the GoPro was filming. If only this were a comedy show.

Over the course of five days, we viewed three houses, did 'couples' and 'single' interviews about what we thought of each house, explored Napier, toured a Waka (Maori ship), tasted lots of delicious wine at Black Barn Vineyards and had plenty of fun off camera and at lunch with the crew. 

John our Director asking us what we thought of house two.

Drinking on the job at Black Barn Vineyards, one of our favorite wineries in Hawke's Bay.

Drinking on the job at Black Barn Vineyards, one of our favorite wineries in Hawke's Bay.

Taking a stroll around Napier. What you didn't get to see: the belly dancing class that set up shop in the background while we were filming. Time for a new location?

I didn't really know anything about Maori culture before moving to New Zealand, so I loved getting to experience it on the show and share it with US.

House Hunters International was a great opportunity to explore Napier, but more importantly it was a great way to share memories of our experience in Napier with family and friends back home who wouldn't get to visit. 

By the end of five days of filming, I had such an appreciation for all the work that goes into making television.

I loved our little beach house in Napier and will always treasure the time we spent there. 

When I finally got home after we wrapped the final scene, I actually felt a twinge of sadness that it was over and that we'd have to say goodbye to the friends we'd made. The crew was off to Christchurch the next day to film another episode. 

My very favorite spot in our Napier house with the best views!

I'm so glad we decided to do the show. It's been so much fun hearing all of the hilarious comments from friends and family back home. Thank you to our wonderful crew who made this such a fun experience and to HGTV for capturing our story. 

Stay tuned, as I'll soon be posting the episode online for all of you who missed it!

Photos courtesy of our amazing Director, John Hagen!

Set your DRV for House Hunters International!

I'm so excited to announce that Joe and I are going to be featured on House Hunters International on HGTV! I've been a fan of the show for a long time, and when I decided to move to New Zealand, so many people told me, "You should apply to be on House Hunters International!" I never thought it would actually happen.

Photo my friend Rob sent. So surreal!

Elizabeth on Elizabeth Road in Napier.

The episode 'Nesting in Napier' airs Sunday June 28th at 11:30pm/10:30c and again Monday June 29th at 2:30pm/1:30c in the states. 

Is there a slight risk I'll be 'that annoying girl that hates the curtains'? Maybe. Is there a possibility that I'll totally embarrass myself? Yup. But we had a blast filming the show, and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to document my first home in New Zealand and share that with my friends and family back in the states. 

We won't get to see the show for another three weeks when the DVD arrives in mail, so let me know how it goes. Will we choose house 1, 2, 3? Guess we'll have to wait and see!

'The decision'

Stay tuned for some behind-the-scenes pictures up on the blog after the show airs!

Photos courtesy of our amazing Director, John Hagen!

ANZAC Weekend Stay-cation

I know, I've been completely slacking with the blog, but with good reason! You're looking at the new Senior Digital Producer at a brand and experience agency here in Wellington. I'm loving my new gig, working in a fun and laid back environment and even doing my part for mother earth by catching the bus each morning. 

Not a bad view from my desk

I've got a bit of catching up to do, so I'll start with ANZAC weekend and work my way back...

Last weekend New Zealand celebrated ANZAC Day with parades, services and a 3-day weekend. This conveniently coincided with Joe's and my birthdays which are a day apart, so we planned a stay-cation to take part in ANZAC festivities and explore some new parts of Wellington. 

ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day commemorates the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, as well as all who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. This year marked 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, and there were beautiful services at dawn all around the country to mark the time that the soldiers landed.

I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed at 4:45am for the dawn service in Wellington, and was absolutely shocked and moved when Joe and I arrived to see thousands of people filling the streets for the service. An estimated 25,000 people attended the dawn service in Wellington!

Despite the hoards of people, there was a beautiful hush and stillness in the air as we sang hymns and listened to the bugle call. I couldn't help but compare the occasion to America's Veteran's Day and wonder if Americans would wake up before dawn to celebrate our veterans - we should! Although I don't have any New Zealand ancestors who fought at Gallipoli, in my heart I celebrated both of my grandfathers who fought in WWII and the Korean War. 

After the service, we watched the sunrise... and then went back to sleep! 

Sun rising across the street from my house.

Sun rising across the street from my house.

On Saturday (in order to make it feel like a proper holiday and a 'birthday extravaganza' as my dad calls it) I booked a room at Ohtela boutique hotel in Wellington I've been wanting to try. 

This well-kept 10 bedroom hotel has a mid-century modern vibe with a tasteful hint of 'Kiwiana' and all of the modern amenities to make you feel relaxed and on vacation. 

The difference is in the details - live plants in little tea cups, clever lighting, good magazines, comfortable and stylish furniture make you actually want to stay and enjoy the room. 

Only in New Zealand will you find an image of sheep in a field wallpapered above the bath tub. 

Room service? Don't mind if I do!

Ohtel is located on Oriental Parade, just a short walk into the Wellington CBD but far enough away to escape from the hustle and bustle. The Norfolk Island Pines reminded me of my first New Zealand home on Marine Parade in Napier. 

In the evening, Joe and I tried a restaurant that a friend recommended - Sweet Mother's Kitchen.

Little did I know that the menu would be full of New Orleans style food! How perfect, considering I'd been desperately suffering from Jazz Fest FOMO. I ordered some 'Prawn' Monica and felt right at home.


I'd give it an 8/10 in terms of authenticity. The beignets weren't exactly 'Cafe Du Monde,' but still good enough to curb my craving and get me looking forward to my upcoming trip in May. 

On Sunday we explored the Air New Zealand anniversary exhibit at Te Papa, which I highly recommend. It features all of the crew uniforms that have been worn over the years along with some really interesting aviation history. Did you know New Zealanders used to receive mail by pigeon!?

Te Papa also has some beautiful art exhibits on the 4th floor. For some reason, art museums always make me feel like a traveler. Maybe it brings back old feelings and memories of studying abroad and spending hours in museums around Europe, but I just love it!

So much fun exploring our city! Now that we've seen so much of this beautiful country, we're finding creative new ways to experience new places and activities. Sometimes the best adventures are in your own back yard!


Bubbles & Black Barn Retreats

Last weekend I had the great privilege of previewing Black Barn Vineyard's newest and most luxurious retreat hidden away in the hills of Hawke's Bay. I don't blog about design nearly as much as I'd like to, so I jumped at the chance to get a sneak peek into what I could only assume would be a beautifully designed home. The event was limited to a small number of guests and photography was not allowed, so you'll have to use your imagination a bit.

Kiwiana: New Zealand Design Inspiration

When I think of New Zealand design, I think of Maori illustrations, silver ferns, green stone, paua shells and woodcarvings. While I appreciate their historical and cultural significance, I’ve had a hard time finding a place for these things in my home without creating a tribal vibe in the place. If I’m being completely honest, it’s not all particularly my style (I hope I'm not offending anyone!) Sometimes I yearn to find unique items that make me feel inspired and that truly fit my style. When I leave New Zealand, I want to bring home pieces that are significant to New Zealand culture and remind me of time here, but that also compliment my personal style.

Wellington by design

Picturesque and pleasing, weird and wacky, Wellington is buzzing with an energy of creativity and youth. In the mornings, hipster design students can be found walking to the Victoria University campus with Apple laptops and portfolios in tow, as Wellingtonians head to work and tourists head to brunch and the vintage shops along Cuba Street.

On the move with IKEA's new PS 2014 Collection

"On the move" - I can't think of a better way to describe my life at the moment. Since graduating from college, I've been renting places, and attempting to nest and settle in, while reminding myself not to get too comfy (because who knows how long I'll be living here!) Being in a long distance relationship only added to that feeling of temporary placement. I always knew that moving to another country was a possibility, and then what would I do with all my stuff?

Travel back in time for Napier's Art Deco Weekend

The streets were lined with hundreds of the most beautiful, shiny, jewel-toned cars of the 1920s and 30s. Roads were closed off, so only classic cars were driving around. Visitors were decked out from head to toe in 1930s attire. Families and groups of friends set up tables across the park gardens with table cloths, decadent spreads of hors d'ouevres, and champagne. Old men sat pridefully off the back of their classic cars enjoying sandwiches from picnic baskets in the trunk and sipping Pims. Live jazz and ragtime music floated from the main stage at the Sound Shell. World War I planes flew overhead in a mock attack. There was an energy of excitement and pleasant nostalgia in the air, and I just wanted to soak it all up...