Sunday, 16 January 2011

In between the holidays and work

Not a bad place to be in: in between the holidays and work. Pottering around in the garden, playing lots of golf and working on getting my handicap down, spending heaps of time at the computer doing all sorts of stuff, enjoying summer - walking around bare feet, eating outside, going for a swim at the beach. Etcetera.

Summer here is lovely, really different from Wellington, where you always had the feeling that you had to make the most of the sun while it lasts. Here I can sit in the study with the french doors open and work, not having that urge of catching all that sunshine and drop everything I was doing.

Another great thing about summer is freshly made strawberry yoghurt ice cream, from the berry farm nearby. A large chunk of frozen yoghurt is mixed with frozen strawberries from the farm in a typical machine and pressed in a cone, just like soft serve. Very close to the golf club too, so after a long round of golf one of those irresistable ice creams is going to come my way!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Dunedin, Christchurch and back home

The thing to do in Dunedin is exploring Otago Peninsula, watching Albatrosses and viewing Larnach Castle.
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Well, the Albatrosses weren't around as it wasn't windy enough, but the Castle and gardens were very nice. And what does one do when visiting a castle? Starting off the day with a cream tea!
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Actually the whole peninsula was beautiful, with great beaches.
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We did a bit of shopping for Age, the gentleman got himself some new clothes in the summer sale, and that while most shops in town were closed because of a public holiday.
We also played a nice short round of golf on a very steep golf course. Age lost his ball after his first tee shot, which was a promising sign of what was to come - it's always a bit of a gamble playing with him, but he didn't do too bad :-)

After Dunedin our trip led us via Twizel to Christchurch. I figured that the mountains from the Eastern side would be just as great as from the West Coast, and around Twizel you have those heavenly blue lakes too. But the weather wasn't in our favour, again - on this trip I haven't seen much of the famous NZ mountain vistas, and because of the rain the lakes were grey and not blue. We did have a great studio in Twizel though, so despite the rain we were happy with our accommodation and watched lots of tennis, the ASB Classic Grand Slam in Auckland.

En route to Christchurch the weather cleared, and we went from 13 degrees in Twizel to 27 in Christchurch. We stayed here for three nights in a great hotel, went to Hagley Park, the Botanic Gardens, and Sumner Beach, and had a bbq with Wanda, Ellery, Jakob and Hanka. Oh, and now it was my turn to do some shopping in the summer sale :-)
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Today we drove back home (wooohoooo, always nice to come home!!!) and picked up a very happy Ziva from the cattery. She can't stop purring and cuddling! Funny story, the owners of the cattery are Dutch, and clearly spent some time during our holiday thinking of where they had seen us before, as I was asked where I went to school when I was young. "Apeldoorn", I said. "Epe", they countered - apparently they thought I had been a classmate of hers, as she recognised my name. But that could not be true, her name didn't ring a bell and I had not attended her secondary school. But the strangest thing ever was that I did grow up in that town! We weren't able to nut this out any further as other people arrived to collect their cats and dogs.
Both Age and I at the same time thought that we somehow knew her husband, and we figured that one out: he was the Dutch waiter at one of the restaurants we've been in Mapua.

So we're home now, had our first meal outside in two weeks (except for yesterday's bbq), done all the washing and cleared our holiday rubbish away. Tomorrow will be golf for me and tennis for Age, and there is an interested party in our Peugeot. And later on we'll have an all Dutch bbq at the neighbours', with 13 cheeseheads on cloggs and 1 Kiwi.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

From Queenstown to Dunedin

Glenorchy was beautiful, we ended up on the best boardwalk ever and because of all the rainfall the water levels in all the lakes and rivers was very high, which meant here and there wet feet! Stunning weather that day, so great pictures and burnt shoulders.
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The next day en route to Te Anau we had a look at lovely Arrowtown and the Shotover river where they do all the jet boating stuff in the gorges there.
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We stayed two nights in Te Anau, mainly to give us some time to drive to Milford Sound, do a cruise on the Sound and drive back. I thought that Milford Sound would be a bit of a village, but the road just ends there literally. There is absolutely nothing, except for a boat terminal where you can start your cruise, which is what all the tourists do. Milford Sound is tourist country! The road from Te Anau to Milford is fantastic and amazing, what a scenery! We had a great encounter with a Kea, who decided to mimic a cuddly cat.
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The cruise was nice too, the sheer cliffs and water falls in the Sound can indeed only be appreciated from a boat. Very impressive.
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A quiet new year's eve for us after all that sight-seeing, we were fairly exhausted of all those impressions. We had a nice meal, listened to some live music in the park, played tantrix in our hotel room and suddenly the new year was there. We spent one minute reflecting on the year that was and then went to bed!

After Te Anau the Southern Scenic Route was waiting for us, which would bring us to a Kiwiana Cabin in the Catlins. Again beautiful scenery, and we were happy to see the sea again. We did like the lakes of Queenstown and Te Anau, but sea-scape is more energetic.
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We drove through Invercargill, which didn't bring us a particular lasting impression. The fairly open landscape changed again and it became more hilly and prettier towards the Catlins. We did a few side tours along the way, and one was to a fossil forest on the coast, with petrified wood (versteend hout) of 160 million years old. This was also a place where yellow-eyed penguins come to shore to breed. And we were lucky as in the middle of the day there was one penguin sitting there, grooming its feathers! These penguins are much bigger than the little blue ones, which are the size of a cat.
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Our Kiwiana Cabin on the camping was lovely!
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And then today we drove from the Catlins to Dunedin, where we will stay for three nights. The coastline was beautiful and we did another side-tour to Nugget Point, another site to spot seals, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins and penguins. Fantastic scenery, beautiful beaches and heaps of seals.
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