Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas? In Summer?

Christmas in New Zealand is a strange time.  It's definitely different from the US typical Christmas...I see the consumerism (definitely not as extreme) but the Christmas spirit is a bit, ehh. Andrew swears Christmas music was playing in stores...I never heard it. And the town is nicely lit up at night, but no ones houses have lights. Tree's are downplayed. No caroling. No ice skating. No hot chocolate with peppermints (though Andrew tried very hard to get that for me...mean lady closed the grocery store right as he was trying to get in and turned him away). No Christmas movies. A horrible selection of decor and wrapping paper. It isn't a bad was just, differently focused. They focus more on the family getting together then anything else.

The Christmas celebrations started on Sunday the 23rd with a lunch with Andrews family at his Nanny's (grandmothers).   I met quite a lot of people...I had already met his nanny a few times now but I also got to meet her partner and then Andrew's two Aunts and their families (one with 2 kids and the other with a whopping 6!) and Amanda's daughter Amber and her boyfriend. It was a lot of fun, but definitely made me miss home. I miss big Christmas celebrations with all the family :(

Christmas Eve was definitely different. Andrew's family actually invited some friends over to play chukka's.  So I worked a bit and then went out to watch everyone play in the afternoon.  It was a bit boring in comparison to usual...I was on one side of the field and they spent most of their time on the opposite. I ended up taking lots of sheep pictures ;) They're pretty cute. Andrew did look slick in his gear though. He was riding on "Coke" in this picture. The lovely horse with a heart on her head. She's pretty awesome at the polo thing...Andrew was excited to get to ride her rather than one of the 'green' new horses.  At the end of the day there were no Christmas movies or songs...just normal tv.  We did end up watching "Mrs. Brown's Boys" Christmas episode. We had already seen it, but timing was appropriate.  That show is FANTASTIC and hilarious! I know my family and friends back at home would funny.

On Christmas Day we had celebrations at Andrew's dad's house.  It was a ridiculously hot day, but beautiful outside! Andrew's Nanny and her partner came again and then Amanda's son came with his fiance and 3 adorable kids (that came to polo with us a bit back).  Having the kids there was a lot of fun.  It really made it seem like Christmas.  Even though we didn't watch a single Christmas movie or listen to any Christmas music... grr...Oh well.  Food was absolutely delicious and filling...definitely thought I was going to explode. I thought we would do a few things outside, because that's what they normally do (Nanny was playing twister with the kids last year apparently) butttt everyone said it was too hot.  They haven't seen Raleigh hot! haha
 The surprise of the day was Ashley's present to her dad and Amanda...a kitten!! They named her Slippers :) Totally adorable and entertaining. The rest of the day was spent mostly watching a darts tournament on tv...which seems to take up a lot of spare time here haha...and laying around with a fullllllll belly!

The next day was Boxing Day...a big holiday here in NZ.  It's called that because you 'box away' all of the Christmas stuff. But everyone just goes to horse races and drinks a lot instead haha. It was a horrible day for it. Quite cold and the sky was covered in dark clouds.  We decided to dress up anyways but I forgot to take a picture of my great dress :( I spent most of the day in a blanket though.  Earlier in the morning Andrew and his sister went to set up the tent we would sit at.  Around noon we all left to head to the races.  It was pretty fun considering the crap weather! It was my very first horse race...and my very first time betting! Andrew and I bet each time...sometimes losing (normally losing) but other times we won! We actually ended the day making a bit of a profit! About 15 bucks but hey...on top!

After the races we went out for the evening to celebrate, as New Zealanders do.  There was a pub near to the race track so everyone went there.  We stayed out till about 10 and then Andrew and I (being the old people we are) got hungry and wanted to leave.  So we picked up a pizza from Pizza Hut and headed home just in time to watch the second half of Contagion the movie.

Not a bad holiday time at all :) Different...very different...but it was fun. Definitely missed everyone at home a whole lot.  All of my family and our fun Christmas traditions. But hey, I've got next year! Now that we've survived the end of the world and all ;)

Next trip is New Years in the north part of the NZ South Island, Motueka, and then a drive back down the West Coast past Pancake Rocks and Greymouth. Then through Arthurs Pass and Castle Hill to get back home to Ashburton. Super excited!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rain Makes Lovely Waterfalls

Friday morning (the day the world was supposed to end...apparently) we woke up bright and early at 6am to head to breakfast and catch the bus in to town.  We were supposed to meet at the stop at 7:05 first I ran to Starbucks to grab a coffee and call mom and dad (to tell them the world hadn't ended) and Andrew ran to the store to grab some sandwiches for lunch.  We boarded the bus and headed off towards Fiorland on a beautiful journey through hills and flowers and natural trees and brush.  We stopped halfway at a town called Te Anau...very adorable and on a lake :) We got to get off the bus to have a look around and as we did we did some shopping :) Andrew found a beenie (he's been searching for ages) that was reversible and made of wool, possum, and silk.  No nylon. Which was the goal.  I also stopped at a store selling Jade...the stone of NZ that the Maori people came looking for...the shop had one of the largest Jade stones in the world inside it!  Got a few things there and then we were on our way again.

Once we entered in to Fiordland National Park you could see the difference in scenery.  Our bus driver was very educational, telling us that they get 8 meters of rain per year (about 24 feet)...insane.  He said it rains about 200 days out of the year.  That's even more crazy considering they close down the entrance to Milford Sound when it rains. Meaning no one in and no one out because of problems with rock fall and avalanches.  We got really lucky, because as we were driving, the entrance tunnel was closed...but the weather cleared just in time and it opened for us around noon so that we could enter in to Milford Sound.  The day before the tour group actually had to go home without seeing it...crazy!

Anywho...We entered Fiordland National Park and stopped a few places along the way for some photos.  The first was at a lovely river with lupins and mountains with waterfalls all around.  Andrew made me smile as we were driving along as he said my quote of the day "I think I may be a bit of a tree hugger...".  Who'd a thunk it. ;) At the second stop I snapped a picture of a local bird, the Tui, as we were walking around the Mirror Lakes.  The Mirror lakes were pretty awesome...when the weather is right you can see the reflection of the mountains in the water.  The sign is even upside down so you can see it's reflection ;) Cheeky.

After Mirror Lakes we hit "the great divide" where everything goes from close up rainforest and distant views of mountains to cliff mountains shooting straight in to the road with waterfalls and snow all around.  It was amazing.  It felt as if I was driving in to a fairytale world.  The bus was great because the windows were huge and they even had a skylight window at the top of the bus so you could see in all angles.

As we drove through we did a few stops where it was permitted.  A lot of places you can't pull over because of frequent rock fall and avalanches as I mentioned before.  Andrew made me smile again when we stopped and one of the guys on the bus was smoking at a stop and flicked his cigarette before getting in the bus...Andrew goes "Hey! Pick that up!" And he did :) My littler tree hugging litter police (don't kill me Andrew I'm just kidding haha).

Anyways...the drive continued on, curving through the mountains and through the tunnel that led us to the other side of Milford Sound.  On the other side of the tunnel there was similar steep rocky mountains and waterfalls and then it opened up at the end at Milford Sound.  Which actually isn't a 'sound' at all...its a fiord (thank you helpful bus driver) :) Once off the boat we wandered around waiting for the cruise to load up.  It was a decent sized boat...but the deck areas were a bit strange.  We started to notice the completely different climate now...our driver mentioned that the weather can be a mystery...changing completely from Queenstown to Te Anau to Fiordland National Park and in to Milford Sound.  Each place was actually different. Crazy! It was beautiful out in Queenstown...a bit cloudy in Te Anau...cloundy again in Fiordland National Park...super cloudy once we got further...and then all clouds once we got in to the Sound.  Man was it cold and windy.  So I snuggled up in my leather jacket, rain coat, and a warm hat and we got on the boat.

Once on the boat we tried standing on the deck but it was just so windy and cold.  I was dying.  It was horrible! The clouds covered most of everything and it was just feeling awful.  Couldn't believe we had come all this way and it was like this...We got to the Tasman Sea and then turned around...and just as I was feeling as though the boat was a bit of a waste, the weather took an amazing turn for the better! The wind was completely different now that we were in a different direction...and the clouds started to open and saw blue skys and sun! It was BEAUTIFUL! I couldn't believe it! So perfect...So back though the sound we went, passing gorgeous waterfalls and little sleeping seals on rocks. It was perfect.

We arrived back and got straight on the bus home.  The bus home was a quick one...we made only one potty break stop and just went straight back to Queenstown.  Once in Queenstown it was about our journey that day was a full 12 hours :) Crazy crazy...

Andrew and I decided that since we survived the end of the world, we would try the "bar crawl" was that interesting...We started at 8pm a bar called Altitude Bar...definitely a singles bar.  The decor was...artistic. Graffiti all over the walls...making me feel like I needed to have a few piercings haha. We had no idea what the details were of the 'crawl'.  All we knew was the starting point and that you got a drink at each stop, totaling 6 bars, and there was free food (my reason for going hahaha).  Turns out it started at 9pm, so we were an hour early. People slowly started showing up and then the whole thing started.  We learned that we go as a big group of everyone on the 'crawl' and we stop at each bar for 45 minutes.  So we were staying at the current bar for yet another hour...wish we had known there was a starting time haha.

After the first bar we went off to the next...we quickly realized that everyone on the crawl was a 'single' and we were the only couple.  That made things difficult. No one wanted to talk to us! Haha. The only time we got people to have a conversation was when Andrew left to go to the restroom and a guy came to hit on me. Once Andrew returned...he would try to strike up a conversation, but I guess that was awkward and not what they were there for, so they quickly left haha.  After a short while, we figured out this wasn't our thing at we went to the next bar waiting for the free food...once we got the food we decided to high tail it out of there and head home for the night...I think thats the last crawl we'll do haha.

The next day we woke up early so that I could do a work meeting.  After my meeting we decided to head home...

After its all said and done I would have to say that Queenstown is a must see.  It's definitely expensive...and we have some holes in our pockets after that one...but it was well worth it.  Fiordland National Park was also a must see.  I'm not sure how the flights are in and out of Milford Sound...but I would recommend trying to at least bus one way.  The drive there was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life.  It's going to be quite hard to top ;) So for those planning to go to NZ some MUST go to Queenstown, Milford Sound, and Fiordland National Park...oh and one of the lakes...Tekapo or Pukaki ;)

My next post will likely be after Christmas.  We're currently planning a trip to the top of the South Island for New Years...but hopefully I can get a post in before that...I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Adventure Capital of the World

We arrived in Queenstown late afternoon on Wednesday the 19th.  After checking in to our hotel (which was a bit rinky dink but who was cheap) we decided we were going to walk around Wanaka Lake to town.  The view from the hotel was lovely...sadly a tree blocked my view haha. But it was easy to get out and around it, with a picnic table outside for sitting and taking in the views.  Right below our hotel were bus stops (quite convenient for the rest of the trip) and a little lake path.  Once we got down to the path we noticed a dock.  Andrew was set on jumping in the lake at some point on our trip. I told him he was crazy. He then decided he was going to stick his feet in to the water...that's when he decided he was crazy as well. It was freezing...of course. So after staring at the water and the mountains, watching all the ducks bob up and down...we decided to keep on going in to town.

The walk was a lot longer then we though...4km long...which is about 2.5 miles. But hey, it was beautiful out and we needed to walk after such a long drive! We walked through the Queenstown Botanical Gardens, in to town under a big arch that Rotary had made as a memorial for something...I think a war...anyways...there were lots of people sitting out on the beach area near the water. Listening to music, slacklining between was a site to see :) 

We went in to the downtown area to have a look around.  First we did a bit of shopping. It's quite hard figuring out what to bring back people...but even harder, to figure out what to get people for Christmas! Andrew and I were under the impression that we did a draw name gift exchange for Christmas here and that that was we each bought for the person we drew and thought nothing else of it...come to find still buy for everyone for Christmas day...the draw names was just for a family lunch. Oops.  So about half our time in Queenstown felt like we were looking for gifts haha.  

After going in a few shops we noticed the movie theater! So we decided to buy tickets for the 7:30 showing of The Hobbit :) Movies sure are expensive here...I think it was $15 or $16 per person? Ridiculous. So we bought the tickets then went and had some dinner at a bar/restaurant right next to the theater.  I was oddly craving pasta.  I think it was because of going past all the wineries that made me think of Italy...
Then we went and saw the movie...I won't spoil anything, but it was fantastic :) So cool to see the scenes shot in places that now looked so familiar :) After the movie we got a cab back to the hotel...most expensive cab ever...$17 for about 2.5 miles of driving.  Stupid. So we decided to learn the bus route for the next day haha.

The next morning (Thursday) we woke up early around 8 to go get some breakfast at the hotel.  They had a rinky dink buffet...but was included so we ate it. Thursday was the day for the gondola and luge :) So we figured out the buses and headed in to town.  Once in town, we walked over to where the Skyline Gondola starts off.  We headed up the gondola over the tall trees to the top of the mountain.  It was so breathtaking from up there.  There is a restaurant situated on the top of the mountain that has a cafe, restaurant and a gift shop.  On the way up we also passed the bungee jumping.  We decided to give that pass...sketch! 

We went in to the Skyline building to take a look at the views off the mountain side.  It was stunning (as you could imagine from the photos).  We wandered around, snapping photos and then decided to go for the ride on the luge.  The ride to the luge started with a helmet and a chair lift. The helmets sucked. We went up the lift to the top and learned how to operate the little luge thingys. Pretty easy.  Then we went off on our first ride down of 5.  Soooo much fun! It was a bit hard to go fast though...people kept getting in our way and not pullling off to the side. A bit of a pain. But it was still a blast :) 

After the luge it was bout 11am or so.  We decided to go have a custard square in the cafe and then go back down the gondola in to town.  We weren't sure what to do because it was still early and we hadn't really planned anything we decided, lets go see if the Shotover Jet has anything available.  It was a beautiful day...and Saturday, the day we planned to go, was 'supposed to rain' (just like every day is supposed to rain here) so we figured, hey, why not.  

So we found a place that sold tickets to the jet, went in and talked with them...and it turned out they had an open trip just minutes away! So we booked our tickets and off we went to meet the bus and go to the Shotover River :)  Once at the river we suited up in our lifevests and got on the speedboat.  Man that thing had some umph! It can hydroplane in water as low as 5 mm! Insane...and the 360 spins?!?!$@#! I about pee'ed my pants. It was SO MUCH FUN! get on this little speedboat with a bunch of people, and this guy takes you up and down this cliffy river...super fast...and makes you think your going to hit all the cliffs.  Then, once your in the open a bit, he takes the boat and does a ninja fast 360 degree spin! You get quite wet.  So awesome and so worth the $130 bucks haha.

So after the boat ride we went and grabbed our free photo (check it out over there) and went back in to town to shop some more for Christmas presents.  We shopped for what felt like super tired...and decided to take our tired selves back to the hotel for a nap.  

When we woke up we decided to go back in to town to visit the Minus 5 Ice Bar. Probably the coolest bar in the world. Literally ;) Bahaha. Anywho...they supplied us with big furry coats, ugly ugg boots, and gloves and shuffled us in to the big cooler of a bar.  The bar was surrounded by block walls, ice sculptures, ice shevling for the drinks...SO COOL! Our entry came with a 'free drink' so I got the peachy something and other and Andrew got a 'Yummy Yeti".  Heehee.

After cooling off, taking lots of pictures, and not being able to feel my fingers anymore, we decided to head on out.  The guy at the counter gave us a little coupon for a buy one get one at the bar next store called the Boiler Room (or something similar) so we went over there to have a drink.  After that, we decided it was getting a bit late, and we had to get up SUPER early the next morning for our Milford Sound trip, so we headed back to the hotel and in to bed. 

Amazing day...and couldn't WAIT for tomorrow :P

Ice Blue Lakes and Damn Tasty Ginger Beer

After a long and amazing week I've decided to sit down and write out all that was done the past week...get everyone a bit more caught up ;)

 Monday and Tuesday were working work work so that I can get a bunch of hours in and then be able to go to Queenstown for a long weekend :) Andrew did a lot on the farm, helping out his dad, like working in the hay! Nice outfit huh?

Wednesday morning finally came and we woke up around 8am to get on the road a bit early.  Queenstown is about 4.5 hours from we had a ways to go.  The drive was absolutely beautiful...first we drove through the winding hills of Mackenzie Country, passing all of the adorable farms with my favorite, sheep on hills :) I just love sheep on hills. Not sure why.

Our first stop was Lake Tekapo.  Its this amazing ice blue lake, crystal clear, surrounded by colorful lupins with a backdrop of snow capped mountains.  We pulled up to the lake and it took my breath away.  So amazing! I've never seen water so blue in my life.  In front of the lake, there was an adorable little church on the hill.  We got out of the car to walk around and take it all in....The lake was surrounded by rocks of all shapes.  I definitely needed better shoes.  After lots of climbing up and over and tripping I finally made it to the waters edge to take some photos and stick my toes in the water.  It was FREEZING. I guess that's what happens when you have glacier fed lakes.

After a photoshoot we decided to go grab some lunch in the tiny town surrounding the lake.  We decided on fish and chips.  Andrew wasn't too pleased with the result, but I thought it was just fine. Kind of tasted like funnel cake batter around fish. We also got a ginger beer...its like a thick ginger ale.  This one was a special one though because it was called "Franks Damn Tasty Ginger Beer"...Damn tasty. Funny. They're so much less censored here in NZ...SO MUCH less censored.  Its strange.

After fish and chips we decided to go look in a little gift shop to see if we could find a post card to send off.  I picked one with Tekapo and some of the lupins on it and sent it off to my family back in NC...missing them bunches! Then we decided to keep going with the drive and head to the next place.
Next stop was Lake Pukaki.  We didnt really get out and do a lot of looking around.  We just pulled off on the side of the road to run and grab some photos.  A nice Swedish family stopped behind us and took a picture for us :) Andrew did some funny poses...then I did some funny poses...and then we decided to move on so that we could get to Queenstown a bit earlier with time to have dinner and look around...and MAYBE go see The Hobbit...ohhhhhh how excited we were about that!

After our stop we continued on through Mackenzie Country to our destination...Queenstown.  Before the trip to New Zealand (while still in the States) I figured out there was a site called GrabOne, like Groupon or Living Social at home.  I scanned the site daily to find any deals we could use while we were here in NZ.  I ended up finding quite a few awesome things.  The first was our hotel stay in Queenstown...then I found a deal where you took a bus from Queenstown in to Milford Sound, and then you got to do a little boat cruise on the sound and then hop back on the bus back in to Queenstown. I also found a deal where we could go to the Minus 5 Ice Bar and a Pub Crawl while in Queenstown as well (fit in all the bars/restaurants at once!)...and then the last was Skydiving in Auckland (at the end of our trip here in NZ).  So with all those deals, plus our Christmas present from Andrew's dad and Aunt Steph, a trip up the Queenstown gondola and 5 luge rides, we had lots to do in the 4 days we were there. off we continued on our journey in to Queenstown.  The next town we hit was Cromwell, also off a lake.  That town was pretty cute.  Must be known for their fruit because they had a huge sign as you entered town with gigantic fruit statues behind it.  It smelt amazing! Andrew saw a sign for fresh fruit ice cream and decided we needed to stop.  So we went in to this adorable fruit stand and got some fresh fruit ice cream.  They take fresh fruit and then put it in this contraption and the put ice cream on top, blend it, and then fill your cone.  We decided to pick two and mixed berry.  Both amazing and just what we needed to cool us off.  It was a beautiful hot summer day.
So then we kept on going in to another country! I couldn't tell you how many vinyards we passed.  It was amazing! There were a whole bunch of wine and cheese tastings...I was quite tempted...their cheese is awesome. But we kept moving, determined to make it to Queenstown with time to spare.  So onward we went, through the mountains and cliffs.  Each part of the trip was different.  It's amazing the difference in the landscape here.   Some places completely flat...others hilly...others cliffy...others like our mountains at home, rolly and tall :) And then snow caps and waterfalls and beaches! So incredible! Every step of the journey had something to see.  I couldn't let myself sleep (as I normally would on road trips) and kept my eyes peeled open :) 

Next stop...Queenstown...our vacation for the next 3 days.  Filled with adventure, relaxation, and beautiful sites to see :) Oh how we couldn't wait...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Polo and Cold Pills

So after a long weekend my head cold has ALLLLMOST gone :) It's down to just a stuffy nose on one side, which I can handle haha.  This weekend was a polo tournament that Ashley (Andrew's sister), Garth (Andrew's Dad) and Doada (their groom from Mongolia) were playing in. The tournament started on Friday and ended today (Sunday).

The first day was nice and warm, and though I hid in the shade all day to avoid this hot sun, I still managed to get a bit sun burnt on my chest. New Zealand has some of the strongest levels of UV radiation in the you get burnt QUICK. I tried laying down on a couch while in the shade...switching sides every once in a while to help clear my nose.  Didn't work very well...I still felt "rubbish" as they say here and tried my best not to cough all over everyone...gross.

The first day was a long one.  It was fun...but I'm going to have to say being at polo from 11am to 8pm while sick was a lonnnnnggggg day.  The next day, Saturday, was a bit better for me sickness wise but the weather wasn't that great.  Andrew and I decided to stay in that morning so that I could get some sleep and get some work done and talk to my parents at noon our time.  That was the first time I was able to talk to my dad since I've been here! Felt good to hear my parents voices.

After the morning we got to polo late, and watched two games.  Andrew actually commentated for two games, and I jumped in and kept time and score for one.  The weather took a turn for the worse as the day went on and by the time the games ended, I was ready to get on out of there.  We headed back with everyone to get ready for their barbecue that was going on that night.  They roasted a big lamb (sad face) but I sucked it up and ate it...and it wasn't bad haha.  The point of the night was to hang out around the bonfire and drink in to the wee hours, but it was just not that kind of night for us.  As I mentioned, it started to get cold and got even more cold later as the 'southerly' had come through (like a cold front) and it was absolutely freezing out! Andrew and I were way too cold..and the polo crowd that Andrew remembered from the old days had been replaced with a whole bunch of young college age kids.  It was...strange. We just felt a bit too old for it.  So the night ended early and we headed home to get ready for the next and final day of polo.

Today was a good one.  It was a gorgeous day and I loved taking in the sun rays! Even if I was lathered in sunscreen (haha).  Andrew's stepmother, Amanda, brought along her grandchildren...Ashton, Tamara, and Miller.  They are so cute.  In the picture, you see Andrew with the kids, trying to sell drinks up and down the field.  Andrew's pulling a grumpy face because he didn't want to go do it haha.  But I'm sure the cute kids made it a bit more fun ;)

Today Andrew did more commentating and I took the time and scoring down again.  He does such a good job :) Today he was throwing in some cheeky phrases and accidentally dropped the F bomb at one point (by accident)..I laughhheeeddd! I don't think anyone noticed. It was just thrown in there...quite randomly actually...and sounded more like a fumble of speech rather than a curse word haha. He felt pretty embarrassed.  At the end of the day, Ashley's team, The Canterbury Concrete Cutters, won the tournament. Yayyy! She did a fantastic job :) And won feed for her horse haha.

After it ended we packed everything up and went home for showers and I opened up my computer...doing a bit of work and trying to get this stinking blog caught up (as you may have noted I faked some of the dates to make it all flow haha).  Andrew went out and helped put the horses up and then had to help his dad bale up the hay.  He came home a MESSSSS...heehee.

This next week should be pretty relaxed.  No plans for tomorrow yet.  We want to go see the Hobbit sometime but Ashley said she has tickets for us that only work in not sure what to do with that since an hours a long way to drive just for a movie...

This Wednesday we leave for 3 nights in Queenstown.  Verrryyyy excited about that!  I'll post about it as soon as I can :) Until next time... ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Welcome to the "Real World" Love

Well the last few days were a doozy!  Ashley graduated on Wednesday which meant an early morning for us!  Christchurch (where she went to school) is a good hour or so drive, and we had to be seated by 9:20am.  So I was up early (with a bit of a stuffy nose) at about 6:30am so I could do a quick work meeting before we left but it turned out the whole nation had an internet outage! Crazy crazy little country. we went to see Ashley graduate and start off in the real world...

After the ceremony Ashley, her friend Kara, Andrew and I all went to snap some pictures of Ashley in front of her school signs.  Then we went out to lunch at an Irish Pub and had the special...lunch on a stonegrill.  It's basically this slab of rock that's super hot and they bring your food out raw on it and it cooks right in front of you to the temperature of your liking.  Pretty cool.  And the deal wasn't bad for NZ food haha...about $20 per person and $5 for a pint ;) Ashley, Kara and Andrew all had the surf and turf and I was boring and got chicken.  I don't know why, I was just craving it (haha).  After stuffing our faces Andrew and I napped at Kara's place while Ashley and her went to the mall.  I couldn't go, or I'd buy and I didn't come here to spend money on clothes!

After a good nap, we got ready to have a night for Ashley.  Booze here is ridiculously expensive. When first arrived last Sunday and we walked in to the airport in Auckland, we noticed that Kahlua was 2 for $60! For the same amount we buy 1 for $15 in the US...insane. We've decided wine is the way to go here.  We all ended up spending some time at one of Ashley's friends houses and then walking to a local pub for a few drinks.  After a fun night of dancing and some karaoke we went back to Kara's to sleep.

In the morning, Andrew and I were up before everyone...again. So we decided to walk over to McDonalds...which is WAY better here.  They have a separate cafe inside with pastries!! I had to take a picture haha.

After McDonalds we decided to take a walk around the mall.  Everything was REALLY close by so we had plenty to see.  We left the mall, trying our hardest not to go in stores and spend money, and decided to walk to the corner dairy to get some ice cream :) We had two flavors...Goldrush and Hokie Pokie.  Both pretty good but Goldrush was my favorite of the two.

After ice cream we left and went back to the mall because everyone was still asleep at the house. We went in to a few stores, spent most of our time in the book store...and then ate some sushi. It was so tempting because there were little stands for it everywhere!  The odd thing (because there seems to be one around every corner here haha)? They have a lot of chicken sushi! Very strange.  No shrimp or crab...which are my I just had salmon.  Wasn't the best. But oh well.

By this time I started to feel quite ill...not from the sushi, but from my little stuffy nose...which had now turned in to a full out cold :( So we went back to the house to wake the girls and get on our way home.  Once home I slept the rest of the day to try and get rid of this such luck.  Today, I slept in and relaxed...drank lots of fluids...and hoped to get better..I think my head cold will be gone by Sunday...I hope...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Peek in to Andrew's Past

Tuesday Andrew decided to take me in to Geraldine...the town where he went to our equivalence of High School.  It's a good 30 minutes or so away, which seemed pretty crazy considering he had to bus all that way to school. For here though (in the South Island), everything is quite spread out and towns are very small. So I guess it makes sense.

We started with a tour of his school.  Everything was set up sort of like schools in summery areas of the States where its got things located in different buildings and you walk to each...They had a sweet ropes course in the back of the school in the trees haha.  After the tour, and Andrew describing all the details of every building (haha), we went in to town to have lunch.  We went to a little cafe and I got to try all sorts of NZ goodies!  I had a bacon and egg pie, a custard square, a custard croissant, lolly cake and Andrew's favorite, Primo chocolate milk.

After lunch we went around the shops in search of Christmas presents and happened to run in to Andrew's Nanny (Grandma).  We had a chat with her and her and then went on our way to Talbot Forest.  Its a little forest right next to town that Andrew said his track team used to run up and down through.  The forest was situated on a hill with lots of tall and fat trees all over it.  The tree's wind and bend like a fairy tale.  Absolutely beautiful.  I feel like I'm going through the secret garden :) Some of the tree's were very tall...and some very the one in my picture.  I wanted to hug them all (haha). They were so amazing...

And the birds sound absolutely beautiful here.  Andrew was excited for me to hear the Magpies.  I can see why :) I'll try to snap a picture of one and post it at some point.  I snapped a few pictures of birds...including this one right here (can't remember what it is...Andrew could tell you) and a HUGE pigeon. Biggest bird ever.  It looked like a vulture!

After our little walk through the forest we we popped out somewhere along a road and walked back to the car.  Andrew took me on a drive past some hills that had cute houses along it...including this one...a real life hobbit house! Made me super excited...

We got back to the house pretty early, around 3pm, just in time to Skype my mom :) The rest of the day I got some work in and Andrew went out and rode horses with his dad.  Then later in the early evening Andrew decided I needed to learn how to ride...He picked a horse named Zeta for me.  We got in to the round pen and with a bit of Andrew's help I was up on the horse.  At the start it was a disaster.  I was able to get her going a  bit, but I had to kick and kick and kick and the second I stopped and put my feet down, Zeta stopped.  Fail.  We tried to get her in to a canter but she just would NOT go! Andrew had to run around and chase her and clap and yell and she STILL wouldn't go.  He thought I was stupid. Then he tried. Same problem ;) Haha. Eventually she started to understand what we wanted, and I was able to get in the groove.  After about 30 minutes or so I was SO tired! After so much work, and barely even getting to go on her...I decided maybe I'll just stop and try another day haha.  Andrew said I did fine...that Zeta was being difficult.  I hope that's true...

Tomorrow we get up early for Ashley's graduation celebrations in Christchurch.  Should be fun!

Horses and Chocolate

So we're finally settled in to our room...feels nice to be unpacked :) We're staying with Andrew's family for the first 4 weeks of the trip and then we will be staying in Auckland for the last week.  We have a few side trips planned as well.  One to Queenstown and then the other is a loop from Nelson to Greymouth down through Arthurs Pass and back home.  The first day was a whole lot of staring at the amazing landscape around me.  Andrew's familys house is on a beautiful 65 acre (ish) farm with about 15 horses, some cows and some sheep.  We also have Diesel.  The most adorable little dog.  With fantastic hair...

The view from outside our room is absolutely beautiful.  From this side of the house you get to see the cows :) On the other side you can look out and see the horses.  The mountains are off in the distance but you can't really see them from the house...there are big tall trees to block the wind that are in the way.  If you walk a bit up the property though you can see them.  And they are BEAUTIFUL!

Andrew's stepmother started our week off with some cornbeef and potatoes with a salad.  Definitely delicious.  The cheese on the salad is so addicting. I absolutely love their cheese haha. We ended up going to bed around 9pm...not too bad considering we were up at about 3am haha.

Monday was a pretty relaxed day...because we went to bed at 9, we got up quite early around 6 or 7am and had some tea, relaxed, and I did a bit of work.  Andrew decided that he wanted to go in to town...I was quite excited but definitely nervous.   Andrew hadn't driven on the left side of the road in about 4-5 years... Eeeek!  He did great though haha.  That is one nice thing...I never have to drive here!  1. No license 2. I drive on the right side of the road 3. All the cars around here are manuals!   Anyway...he drove me in to the closest town of Ashburton.  On the way there I couldn't resist snapping a picture of the mountains...they just take my breath away.
Once in to town we decided to exchanged some money and do some looking around in local shops.  Andrew told me I had to take a picture of the clock there it is ;)

Got to go in to The a Walmart...and that was quite exciting. They have fantastic candy here...especially the chocolate...I couldn't resist and had to get some.  I did realize that everything here is a wee bit pricey.  I wanted to get some shaving cream and some coffee creamer.  I learned that people don't do coffee cream here.  It's just milk.  But they do have cream...its just...not the same. But I got it anyway.  And then the shaving about expensive! $8 for a can! And only 3 choices! Guess I'm using soap or lotion to shave haha.

Then we decided to go home and on the way up the driveway I snapped the cutest picture of the horses.  They have a cute little foal here at the moment and it's always lazying around, laying on the ground.  They all just happened to look when I was snapping the photo.

 Later we went back in to town with Ashley and I got to try my first custard square.  They are FANTASTIC.  Oh how I love custard squares.  I have a feeling I will crave them once I'm home...We also went to a man-made lake and ate at a restaurant called The Lakehouse for lunch.  Talk about expensive.  Andrew and I decided to split our meal...had a beer each...and it totaled about $40.  I about died. But hey, at least you don't have to tip here! Haha...

Later we went back to the house and just hung out for the rest of the day.  I did some work and Andrew did a bit of riding with his dad, practicing polo.  At the end of the day Andrew snapped this great picture of the girls riding out, carrying all the horses with them to let them in to the paddock.  Very cool.  Check out the skills...

We ended up having another early night...getting in to bed around 9pm haha.  But I'm going to have to admit I'm ok with that because that means waking up nice and early!  Oh and did I mention its not dark till like 10pm? about a change...Until next time!!