Friday, 3 March 2017

Poroporoaki Aotearoa

Yesterday we bade farewell to New Zealand and flew home.  After checking out of our accommodation we spent time on the pebble beach and playground in the city centre of Queenstown to give Patrick some time to play and burn off some energy.  He and Ben used the left over bread to feed the ducks and seagulls too.  He loved it.  He also got to see a small zippy tractor cutting the grass in the parkland over the bridge from the park.  It didn't look like Uncle Brad's tractor though!  We took a last stroll through town and made our way to the airport.

My last view of the mountain while having breakfast on Friday.

Having never travelled internationally before, I had never given any thought to what goes on in the International terminal of the airport.  It is not as simple as travelling domestically - and even less so when travelling with a toddler.
Self Service check in with 4 travellers, passports and so many pieces of luggage as well as checking to see whether the airline will allow the car seat to be used on the plane all takes a considerable amount of time.  Then there is the departure card to complete, the security check of the carry on luggage and then passport checks.

Back in Melbourne however we moved through the relevant checks effortlessly.  You see, having a car seat to secure on the plane meant the we were the first to board; it also meant that we were the last to get off the plane.  This added to the fact that there were not enough Entry Cards on the plane meant that we had to stop in the terminal to fill out the cards before we could go any further.  Then Ben got some stuff from the duty free store, so by the time we got to the luggage carousel, ours was the only luggage there and all the lines had gone.  We got through all the other checks without having to wait.  What a nice welcome home that was.

So we have been and come back.  We certainly did cram a lot into our 8 days.
It was lovely to meet Annabelle's family and to see Patrick interact with them.
It was an experience driving with a GPS (I have never done this before); 
the voice guiding us sounded so much like Lee Lin Chin (SBS), so thank you Lee Lin for getting us safely to all of our destinations.

What I will take away from this trip is:
Being welcomed so warmly by Annabelle's family in Timaru
The beautiful scenery everywhere we went - there was always something to see and photograph.  
The hills and mountains, the lakes, the history.
Standing on a glacier - on snow, at the beginning of March
Getting to know Ben, Annabelle and Patrick as a family unit in a way that just doesn't happen here at home.  
Thank you for asking me to travel with you.
Having Patrick tell me at Melbourne Airport that I could sit in the back seat with him on the way home - but that is a whole other story.

Farewell New Zealand

Thursday, 2 March 2017


Today we started the day heading for Arrowtown; a quiet historic town about 20kms away.
It was quite quaint and well worth the visit.  Plenty of souvenirs, different things to see and good cafe's.

This afternoon we were booked on a helicopter flight over 'The Remarkables' mountain range.  When Ben checked in at lunchtime from Arrowtown he was asked it he wanted to upgrade for no extra cost for a different flight.  Needless to say, he said yes.

On the way to the airport we passed Lake Hayes. I have been waiting to get a shot of a lake that was still enough to mirror the mountains - here it is:

On to the airport and we were on a one hour flight to the Mt Aspiring glacier - not just flying over it, but landing and walking on it.  On the way there I got to sit next to the pilot.  The views were just magnificent so I will let these few pics (there were many, many, many more) tell the story.

What a week it has been, but tomorrow we head home - to recover!

Up and up and further up

On Wednesday we went to Wanaka.  Although it is only 68kms from Queenstown, the best route to get there is quite difficult and takes ages.  It was my turn to drive, but little did I know that once we got onto the Wanaka road, that it would be so steep and winding (not my kind of road at all) for the first 20 or so kms.  Patrick didn't think so either.  Poor thing vomited so we had to find somewhere to stop to clean him up.  Once we go there it was fine.

Lake Wanaka is very picturesque, surrounded by mountains.  As all the lakes we have seen so far have been, it is very blue.  It was a lovely day and there were lots of people out enjoying the sun and atmosphere of the tourist town.

Patrick felt sick a few times on the way home too, once we hit the winding roads, but he was fine.  There were some great places to stop and take some good pics closer to Queenstown.

Looking towards Queenstown through the airport.

On Wednesday night, Ben and I went back up the gondola to the top of the mountain to do the Stargazing experience which started at 10.30pm.  Our host was a very knowledgeable and engaging Australian who took us through lots of interesting facts about the inhabitants of the night sky.
It was a brilliantly clear night and lots of thing happened that don't usually happen which made our guide very pleased.  We saw shooting stars (I didn't), meteors and the International Space Station.  We got to see activity from the Southern lights - more than he had seen for a long time.  One member of the group had a really good camera that was able to take a photo of some of it.  It was quite something to see the light that the human eye cannot see.
We looked through large telescopes to see Alpha Centauri, star clusters, and even Jupiter. I couldn't see the smaller ones overly well with my glasses, but I did see the different 'lines' on Jupiter.  It was a very interesting experience.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Experiencing Queenstown

On our first day in Queenstown we chose to experience the high of the mountain top and the calm of the lake.

Our view over breakfast

The mountain top is accessed by the Skyline Queenstown Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere.  Great views all the way up (and down).  Patrick loved it.  At the top they provide many Adventure experiences, but we chose to only take the obligatory photos and eat; except for Ben who enjoyed a run on the Luge.

This is a view of our accommodation.  We are in the row of 4 - second from the right.
The road leading up is VERY steep.

When we came back down to reality, we took a cruise on Lake Wakatipu.  
The lake is the longest in New Zealand (80kms) and the third largest and is surrounded by mountains.  The Remarkables lie along the south eastern edge.

The Remarkables in the background 

A glacial mountain in the distance 

The boys enjoying themselves at the front of the boat

Tomorrow we head to Wanaka.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Road Trip

Today we bade farewell to Timaru and Annabelle's aunt and uncle, Anne and Colin.  Thank you so much for welcoming me as family.

We headed for Queenstown via Tekapo.  It wasn't long before we could see the first mountain range in the distance - with a long white cloud covering the middle third.  It was a great sight.  From that time on it seemed like we were surrounded by mountains, all looking equally magnificent; including Mt Dobson.

Lake Tekapo was - as all the lakes we saw along the way - stunningly blue and very scenic.

The Church of the Good Shepherd is a small bluestone chapel on the shores of the Lake. Worship is conducted there at 4pm each Sunday.  We were there around midday, but with the sun lower in the sky I think that the view from the pews would be even more distracting.

After lunch we continued on. We stopped at Lake Pukaki where we got a great view of Mt Cook, complete with snow caps - in Summer!.  The sun was still fairly high in the sky and everything seemed to be so blue, but it was magnificent.

We continued on past distant mountain ranges that looked like they were covered with velvet, those that were closer that looked naked,those  that came right up to the road covered in varying shades of green and yet others that bore stunning rocky outcrops.  It was a long trip, but by no means boring.

We eventually arrived in Queenstown at around 6pm. Tired from the journey but blown away by the view that we encountered from of our living room windows.

I am finding it hard to fathom that we are in another country, but eagerly await all that we will experience in the next few days.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Observations (1)

It is to be expected that there are differences in the way different cultures go about things and what particular things are called or referred to.  I have only been here a couple of days but some differences I have observed already.

  • The names for ice cream flavours - see last entry
  • Supermarket chains.
    Countdown is the equivalent of our Woolworths (Safeway)
    New World is the equivalent of our Coles
    Also, alcohol is displayed for sale in the regular aisles - not in a separate section to the side.
  • Milk is either 'standard' (full cream) or 'trim' (low fat)
  • Take away coffee/tea cup sizes - at the coffee shop we went to yesterday the largest was called a 'supermodel'.
    I was also asked how many shots I would like in my cappuccino and today at lunch I was asked if i wanted chocolate or cinnamon on top.
  • All 3 houses that we have visited are situated on 'legin' blocks.  We know these as 'battle-axe' blocks.  The house is situated behind another house but is on a full size block with their own driveway and full street number.  In our travels around Timaru I have noted that this is very common.
I am sure that I will observe many more familiar things done or understood differently as we travel down to Queenstown this week.

Rock carving in the Timaru City Centre

L&P - Lemon and Paeroa
Very refreshing

Tomorrow we venture down to Queenstown taking the scenic route via Tekapo (where, if the weather is kind to us we may be able to see Mt Cook).

Saturday, 25 February 2017


After arriving in Christchurch at around 2.30pm local time yesterday, getting through Customs, then finding out that the car Ben hired was not there (at all) and arranging one with another company, we finally got away from the airport at around 5.00pm for the 2 hour drive to Timaru.  We arrived at Annabelle's aunt's home around 7.00pm and were greeted with a lovely meal including 'Hokey Pokey' (honeycomb) and 'Goody Goody Gumdrops' (mint and lollies) ice-cream for dessert.
Today we visited the town centre which is located on Caroline Bay.  We also visited Annabelle's childhood home, which just happens to be for sale, so we went to the Open Home which was a good chance for her to look around and make a video for the family back in Australia.  We then spent some time with Annabelle's grandmother who was very excited to see Patrick after 2 years.  
I also got my first taste of Lolli-cake.  I have heard a lot about this creation which is one of Annabelle's favourites.  It was very yummy.

The Path through the reserve that leads to the beach (Caroline Bay)
from the Piazza in the Timaru town centre.

Patrick and I standing under the 'Face of Peace'
(just to prove I am actually here)

Friday, 24 February 2017

Kia ora

My first glimpse of New Zealand. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

My bags are packed....

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go.
They’re waiting here at my front door and I can’t wait to start out on my way.

When the dawn is breaking in the early dawn
I’ll go where I’ve ne’er been before and wave good bye to this life for a while.

‘Cause I’m leaving on a jet plane…..

(apologies to John Denver)

Friday, 17 February 2017


I have embarked on a series of firsts:

I applied for my first passport.
I organised my first travel money card.
I received my first international airline ticket.

I am going overseas for the very first time - just a short hop over 'The Ditch' to the South Island of New Zealand with my son and his family, visiting Timaru and Queenstown.

The countdown is on...