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Anna's New Zealand adventures

At last, the end of my time in Dunedin and start of my time in Christchurch

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 12 August 2008 | Views [586] | Comments [1]

Ok, I'm going to start with a few apologies; firstly, that is has been such a long time since I worte anything here- since finishing work I've been having an amazing yet hectic time- is that a valid excuse? Secondly, I apologise in advance for the length/rambling nature of this as there is quite a lot to say and I'm probably not the best at saying it. Thirdly, sorry if you sent me messages/e-mails/etc and have yet to receive a reply, the world isn't flat and I haven't dropped off the end of it, but N.Z is quite far away and connections to wider world can vary from sparse to non-existent. 

I hope you are sitting comfortably, let's begin!

I said a genuinely sad goodgye to the folks of Dunedin at the end of July as many of my colleagues feel and are close friends. I'm going to miss them and the friendly and familiar environment that was Larnach Castle. Apparently I always have a job there and it is tempting to return but I only have a year here and know there are many places to see and people to meet. Sadly we have had to say goodbye to our most tempermental traveling companion, our car Brenda. She fell foul of some black iceon my way home from work and wasn't worth repairing. I'm glad I got to drive to work till the last week though as the road has some beautiful scenery, especially in the morning when the sun came up over the harbor. Although it was a bit scary in places, expecially in the snow!

We had 3 snowfalls in Dunedin, one on my birthday, which even with the terrible English summers, I've never been able to say before. Snow made the castle even more beautiful and added atmosphere- one time in particular when there was a powercut and we had to light the ballroom with candles and the light from the fireplaces.One of many nice moments that I had there.

I quickly settled in Dunedin; the hostel we stayed in shut its doors to the public in June and we stayed on eith 3 others in an annex. This was quite lovely, making it home from home and we made good friends with our other flatmatess. We also, of course, found a dew nice bars/cafes, which we frequented regularly and were on good terms the staff by the time we left- I bet they're wondering what's happened to their profits since our departure!

Anyway, just as we started to get too comfortable, the wake-up call we needed arrived, a touch jet-lagged, from the UK, in the form of Clare's sister Sarah, Tom's sister Katie, and her boyfriend Steve. Oh and of course Bertha, the six person campervan! We all met in Christchurch and before we knew it we were back on the road and remembering the fun and frustrations of traveling. Luckily form me, as I was still a bit nervous after my bang, managed to avoid driving- although am now a bit of a vervous passenger too and Bertha wasn't the most comfortable of rides. Still I can't knock her as she got us all the way round the South Island without a problem- oh, except when her grey water came back up the shower and ruined my best boots (we banned the use of the toilet on humanitarian grounds and so the shower became our closet/shoestore).

Our route took us first to Lake Tekapo where we woke to thick snow which created beautiful conditions for ice-skating and outdoor hot pools as well as the typical touristy photos of the 'Church of the Good Shepard'. From there we drove to Wanaka- where we all slightly over-indulged on a night out and those of us more used to guzzling beer than wine (cough-clare) felt a little worse for wear in the morning and only managed to revive for a walk around the lake in the afternoon!

Queenstown was next on the itinery and although the party place of N.Z., none of us felt much like doing any of that. Instead we got our kicks from jet-boating on the river (the boat was amazing and could go on just 10cm of water- terrifying) and treated ourselves to a big hearty meal as fortification against the cold before an amazing time skiing on the Cardrona slopes.

From there to Te Anau where we watched the All Blacks vs Wallabes (I even began to understand it and look at players other than Dan Carter!) in a local pub which was packed to the doors but had a fab atmosphere- the All Blacks winning probably helped. We then took a nature boat trip onto the Milford Sound- I could bore you with how beautiful it is, but nothing compares to seeing it and I can't do it justice here... but it is awesome. At one point the bow of the boat goes right under a waterfall called the 'Sterling Falls'. The noise was thundering and despite our fetching attire of red cagoules we all got soaked. Sadly I missed a dolphin jumping in front of the boat as I was inside making the most of the free coffee available (what can I say- I'm my father's daughter!!). 

However, I got my nature fix and became uncomfortably close to being a twitcher as we scuttled along the beaches of the Catlins coast searching for the rare yellow-eyed penguins. It was worth it though when we did see them . They look just like little people and come waddling out of the sea- they usualy do this lots of times and go back to check no-one is about before finally commiting and making the dash/waddle-hop combination up the bach and cliff-face. So cute! On one beach we didn't know where to look, we had penguins on one side and huge sealions in a group literally metres away... amazing!

We completed our circuit of the South Island on Friday. As this coincided with Clare's birthday, after returning Bertha to her depot in Chirstchurch, we headed out for Mexican at a restaurant recommended by Tom's relative, Joyce, who lives here. It was a good choice, the food was good, as were the margueritas. I think that they (and not wanting to be outdone by the boys, spot the 'little-sister syndrome' coming out!)were what gave me the courage to try the world's third hottest sauce and the excuse to drink more in an attempt to cool my mouth after. Honestly, the waiter brings you a cocktail stick which has the tiniest drop on it and it burns your mouth for about an hour. Powerful stuff and I wonder the hottest is like!

On Sunday we had a much tamer but no less delicious meal at Joyce's of a big roast chicken followed by apple crumble. Yes, I thought I'd gone to heaven. She is very kind and invited me to stay with her as a lodger after the others leave. I'm looking for a hostel to work in but may tkae her up on it meanwhile... but even if not I'll be meeting up with her for coffees etc- anyone who feeds me a roast is a friend for life! It is nice knowing I'm not completley alone here once the novelty of doing my own thing wears off, but some of the gang from Dunedin are already threatening to visit so I daresay I shan't be lonely!

Now I'm trying to settle back into a routine and wait for my next adventure. As the others have left now for the South Island, I am sure I will have more time on my hands so you'll be hearing from me again soon no doubt!

Thank you so much for all my cards/messages and birthday presents- I was so chuffed that you'd made such an effort considering my distance and it made the day really special.

Missing everyone like mad- lots of love,





Hi Anna
I've been meaning to say thankyou for the lovely little lamb you sent for Jess. He (Lamby) is actually being thoroughly 'looked after' by Molly, until Jess is old enough (and big enough) to claim what is rightfully hers!
I hope all is well and that you are enjoying your travels. We are really well, and settling nicely into life as a family of four (five if you include Marley). Looking forward to reading your next installment!!
Much Love
Nicki, Martin, Molly and Jess xxx

  Nicki Oct 28, 2008 10:47 AM

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