It’s been another great week in New Zealand, full of time with family and friends. Minor colds and serious body aches after an epic hill climb haven’t done anything to diminish how awesome it is to be here.
Monday 25/11: Although we were on holiday, both Craig and I had to spend a couple of hours working in the morning, so Craig’s dad Norrie took the opportunity to climb up our local hill (Mt Iron) again.
Tuesday 26/11: Craig’s stepmum Anne had had to work on Monday, so she hadn’t accompanied us down to Wanaka; instead, she’d booked a flight from Christchurch to Queenstown. This was a good excuse for a day trip — after collecting her from the airport, we dropped into Queenstown’s town centre then had lunch in historic Arrowtown. It had been a long time since I’d had a genuine Kiwi steak and cheese pie, so I was stoked to find a restaurant serving up pretty good ones. Still, I’ll have to have a few more for comparison.
Wednesday 27/11: Norrie and Anne wanted to go for a hike, so we drove to Albert Town and set off along the banks of the Clutha River. On our return to the car, they suggested that Craig and I continue back towards Wanaka; they’d pick us up at the next car park an hour’s walk away. We readily agreed but told them not to bother collecting us — we’d walk all the way back. “But that’s a long way!” they exclaimed in disbelief.
It took us less than three hours to get back into the centre of Wanaka, and they were three hours of easy track and stunning views. The wide, clear river and deeper lake occasionally gave us glimpses of fish lurking in the shadows, and the weather couldn’t have been better.
After a quick drink in a local pub, we headed back to the house to prepare for dinner. Our Malaysian friends Dexter, Natalie and Ice were exploring the South Island in a campervan, and we’d arranged to meet for dinner when our paths crossed. Craig once again prepared fresh pasta (to rave reviews), and we had a pleasant evening chatting and introducing the Malaysians to the joy of New Zealand wine.
Thursday 28/11: When researching their trip, Natalie had found a hike that rewarded the successful walker with amazing views over Lake Wanaka, and had incorporated it into their itinerary and invited us to join them. The weather was stunning, which was unfortunate since the track zigzagged up an open hillface that offered absolutely no shade at all.
Plus, Natalie had hurt her knee during a glacier walk, so the going was slow. After a stop for lunch, the others decided to rest while we went on; but after we returned from the lower summit with photos of the fantastic views, they scraped up enough energy to continue — and made it to the top in record time.
Back on the ground, Norrie and Anne whipped up a classic Kiwi barbecue for us all — the perfect end to a challenging day.
Friday 29/11: The weather forecast for Saturday predicted heavy rains and howling winds — not the best driving weather. As a result, we cut our time in Wanaka short and made our way north a day early. The journey was lengthened by a disastrous lunch at Lake Tekapo, but we eventually made it back to Kaiapoi and spent the evening relaxing at home.
Saturday 30/11: Anne had wanted to take me to a beauty spa during our time in Wanaka, but we’d had to cancel our appointment when we decided to return early. Instead, she found a place in Christchurch that could fit us in at late notice, and we headed out in the late afternoon for an hour’s worth of pampering. My back massage was wonderfully relaxing, and she emerged from her facial glowing with well being.
Meanwhile, the boys had been shopping — Craig found a great pair of shoes that he’s now breaking in.
Sunday 1/12: After the earthquakes, Anne and Norrie had considered relocating to the new Pegasus Town development about 15 minutes’ drive from their current place in Kaiapoi. However, the near-constant wind put them off, and we got a taste of this same wind when we visited for a walk on the beach followed by a great lunch in the golf clubhouse restaurant.
After an evening of wine and the New Zealand’s Got Talent final, it was time for me and Craig to pack our bags in preparation for the final leg of our 21-month trip: Auckland tomorrow!