New Zealand is an amazing country – I’ve never thought otherwise but I’m always pleasantly reminded of just how great it is when we head off on a roadtrip. It’s been a short trip, with just two stops, but it’s been great to catch up with friends in Queenstown and Dunedin.
17/1 Monday Craig got up at a reasonable hour to play golf with his dad, while I slept in then spoke to Luis de Chile and his entire family on Skype. We had a relaxing afternoon and evening in.
18/1 Tuesday The weather wasn’t fantastic for the first day of the roadtrip, but at least by heading south we were leaving the worst of the storm behind us. Despite the rain, it was great to be on the road again; there’s nothing like New Zealand scenery and it just felt right to be driving. We had an insipid lunch at Lake Tekapo then continued on to Queenstown with just one stop for wine-tasting. We were staying with Dan and Hayley and their kids Keir and Tigne, we had a lovely dinner with them and Matt and Jodie, who turned up later on.19/1 Wednesday I slept really badly, so waking up was a mission and we didn’t start our day as early as we would have liked. We drove into Queenstown and did some shopping then had lunch at a Thai restaurant with Dan and a few others who work at the Queenstown Innovation Centre. Hayley and the kids joined us as well, which was nice. After an afternoon of work, Dan cooked us up a tasty BBQ and we spent the evening chatting.
20/1 Thursday What was supposed to be a work day turned quite social, with lunch at Flame with the crew from the Innovation Centre, and a couple of coffees later on with Scott, who’s the MD of Travel Generation. We also headed out for dinner and drinks with Dan, Matt and Matsa – despite all of Dan’s insistences that it was going to be an early night, it wasn’t. There are some awesome bars in Queenstown, though!
21/1 Friday Matt had told us that STA was selling return tickets to South America for $999, so we headed to the Queenstown branch to see if the rumours were true – and they were. Since this is cheaper than we ever imagined paying, we bought tickets on the spot. Yay! I was excited all day. Before we left Queenstown, we dropped into the Innovation Centre to say goodbye, but Dan and Matt were out.
The drive to Dunedin was pleasant, we stopped at Kawarau Bridge for the photo opportunity and at Clyde Dam for a picnic lunch. Lawrence, although we didn’t stop, was a pleasant surprise – they have free public wifi across the whole town! I checked my email on my iPod as we drive through, it was awesome.
We arrived at Katherine’s in the late afternoon. It was great to see her, Ben and Ezra again and to meet Rivka for the first time, who is incredibly good-natured. The huge grin she gave us as we walked through the door definitely secured her a place in our good books, while Ezra spent almost an hour screamingly terrified of Craig. It’s time for a haircut.
Sunday’s the Jewish New Year for trees, so Ben had to dig a hole at the synagogue. We all accompanied him and Craig and I even helped a little. In the evening we celebrated the shabbat with a South American dinner, before checking into Ramsay Lodge.
22/1 Saturday A fantastic day – we headed over to Katherine’s for the morning, she and I spent a bit of time in the kitchen preparing for Tree New Year while Craig entertained the kids. Later we hopped in the car to go to Blueskin Bay and collect cockles, which Katherine later prepared in a tasty creamy pasta dish.
23/1 Sunday Beat, one of my ex-students, was in town, so we headed to the Octagon for a coffee and to catch up on the two years that have passed since we last saw each other. The GPS tried to take us to Christchurch when it was time to drop him off at the Cadbury Experience, so we said a hurried goodbye as he ran into the building trying not to be too late for his tour.
Next up we headed to the synagogue for lunch and tree planting; Rivka didn’t seem to want to be part of proceedings and fell asleep in my arms.
In an attempt to find something to do in Dunedin that we haven’t done on one of our many previous visits here, we headed to the Dunedin Chinese Gardens. They were lovely, an oasis of calm in an area of Dunedin that was quite run-down before the gardens opened in 2008.
In the evening we ate Malaysian food for dinner and mocked the Americans for what they name their babies.