Thursday, September 20, 2007

Helen's ebook released this week...

The first of two ebooks Helen has been commissioned to write for So Much World has been released this week.

To get a free copy, go to http://travel-writers.info

Enjoy!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bang......Bang......Bang......Bang Bang Bang ...MORE AMMO

Warren again..... God knows how Helen managed to get me to write so much recently.... aaarrgh my fingers, they bleed :)

While in Wanaka we decided to visit two (Not counting drink or food related) of the local tourist attractions. Have a Shot and Puzzle World, both very different.

Puzzle World, from the outside, looks aimed at kids and to be honest it is. That said its worth the visit for the tilted room alone. This area is on a 30 degree slant while all fittings are "level". This opens the possibility for all manner of optical illusions. Pool balls rolling "up" a tilted table or ropes hanging "off" plumb. It makes you feel very ill for a few minutes until you get used to it. There are numerous optical illusions and a huge multi level maze. We started the maze then found one of the emergency exit signs after the sign stating you will walk 5.5Km solving the maze. We had to get the hold up the building photo outside.


Have a shot is a simple concept. Let people shoot and fire different sort of guns and bows in a controlled environment. Oh, and a crazy golf course. I am starting to think crazy golf is the real national sport but that is another post.

We started with a bit of clay shooting. The man leads us into a small booth that contains a shotgun, 40 rounds of ammo and a window that opens to the world so you can shoot at it. He gives a talk on gun safety, shows how to release the targets and then we are on our own. The local clay wildlife flees for its life to the sound of gunfire. There is a small amount of disagreement on who was the best shot and it is probably better to say that it was a draw, almost, ish :)

video

We came out of the booth after our session or terrorising the local clay wildlife and went to book some .22 target shooting. As we reached the desk the man rushed off into an archery area. He came back shaking his head. It appears some tourists of Asian origin though it was a good idea to fire arrow at the target while their mate stood next to it to see where the arrows hit.

The .22 target range was a far more civilised affair. No recoil and almost silent compared to the shotgun. You clipped the target onto a piece of bent no.8 wire on a pulley that allowed it to be wound to the end of the target range. Again, there is some dispute on the outcome and the targets have all been mixed up since then.

Needless to say, much fun was had. We both came out after the shooting with that big kid grin on our faces.

Meet Amber...


Amber, a three-year-old Rottweiler x German Shepherd (we think!) is the latest addition to the Leggatt family!

She was in the pound when we went to pick up Summer after our holiday down south and, as we had decided to get another dog, we considered her. She is gorgeous (I would say that, wouldn't I) and after we'd had a test walk with Summer, decided to take her.

She's settled in wonderfully, and has even managed to get Summer to chase her round and round the garden. She's a bit of a ladette, compared to Summer, and needs some manners but has a super personality and is very loving.

We think, and the pound thinks, she may have been owned by an older person who perhaps died or was put in a home, and the family didn't want her. She's rather porky, so she's having lot of bike rides and swims down the gorge. After 3 weeks I do believe she's lost a chin!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Taking out the Twin...

Warren here.... And the twin is my old twin tip 149, a board I had not ridden in a while. I forgot howw much fun it can be. It has been good making use of Mt Hutt this winter season, the local ski field. Not the best season for snow but there is still a good 70cm base this late on so not all bad.

I have definitely become a fairweather boarder as I have got older. This means I have only been up 3 or 4 times this year. I like blue sky days at Mt Hutt because you get to see the Canterbury coastline, a good 60+Km away over the Plains. I have done enough riding to know the snow has to be exceptional to get me up there in grim conditions. A luxury living an hour away from snow gives you :)

My main partner in crime has been Craig, new to snowboarding but already hooked and progressing fast. We normally meet up in that metropolis that is Darfield. The Hutt road has not been too bad this year. It is a road that would never be allowed in other more “sane” countries. 13Km of twists and turns with huge drops at road edge most of the way up. The area known as the Saddle has drops both sides. A Mini went over the edge once when some tourists got out to take a photo. There was a strong nor-wester blowing and they left the car doors open. There are nods to safety, I am sure there must be at least 100m of safety barriers now and if the wind is above 35km/h they close the road. One day I will film the drive up because its hard to do it justice.

I will let the views from the top say the rest that needs to be said :)


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Scooting round the South Island...

We decided we both needed to get away for a bit and decided on a 7-day drive around the lower half of the South Island. The route we had planned took in most of the major places we've been dying to see since arriving - such as Wanaka, Milford Sound, Catlins, Moeraki Boulders.

We put Summer in her usual kennels, the Bunnylodge Dog Hotel (where she bounded in, happy as...). We took the Subaru and decided on using the basic but comfy "Top 10" campsites and became Members to get the generous discounts offered at each site.

The route we took was:

Waddington-Geraldine-Fairlie-Tekapo-Twizel-Oamarama-Wanaka-
Cromwell-Alexander-Cromwell-Arrowtown-Te Anau-
Milford Sound-Riverton-Invercargill-Bluff-Dunedin-
Port Chalmers-Oamaru-Timaru-Ashburton-Darfield-Waddington

A trip of around 2,000 km's.

Here's a brief summary of our thoughts on the trip and the places we visited.

Geraldine/Fairle - we visit these small towns frequently (the cheese shop in Geraldine is fab!), so on this occasion we drove straight through, keen to get to Wanaka that night.

Tekapo - we stopped here for the usual coffee fix. We've been here a few times before and were a little alarmed at the amount of building go on. Such a change from when we first visited around 3 years ago. Very little infrastructure seems to have accompanied the increase in homes, although there does appear to have been an increase in, errrm, Japanese and Chinese restaurants! The lake wasn't as blue as it usually is - it really does depend on the weather/sky. You want to run up to tourists and say "It's usually stunningly beautiful and turquoise and I'm soooo sorry you can't see it today!"

After a coffee and a rummage through the Icebreaker store we headed off towards Wanaka via Twizel - "City of Trees" hmmm - and (quickly) through Oamarama (less said about that place the better).

After Oamarama we were in new territory, having only flown to Queenstown in the past. Otago was uber-scenic and one can only imagine the colours had it been spring or autumn. (Mental note made to ensure we get to the Wanaka Festival of Colour next year). We were lucky to have the usual clear blue mountain skies and the vistas were immense and changed at every bend in the empty road. Warren, by this point, is ecstatic to be driving round some corners as the Canterbury Plains consist of mainly long and arrow-straight roads.

We arrived in Wanaka late afternoon. Pleasantly surprised by this town which is far larger than we had anticipated. The setting is stunning alongside the lake and it was throbbing with life. Snow-bunnies everywhere, ruddy and aching from a day on Cardrona or Treble Cone. MTV had just held a big snowboard competition and the Mint Chicks were playing so we'd hit it on a very busy weekend. Having said that, it wasn't claustrophobic and the bustle was relaxed and friendly.


Along Lake Wanaka

A night at the Speight's Ale House (where I discovered a penchant for a pint of Porters) left us well-fed (the portions were enormous!), relaxed (read as "pissed") and watching rugby at the bar while asking those nearby "what's that?", "why did he do that?" and "what's a conversion worth?". If it hadn't been for the beer intake I believe we'd have learnt a lot.

Across Lake Wanaka

The Wanaka Top 10 wasn't the best we'd been in. It was a strange time-warp of an experience, back to the 1950's if the furniture was anything to go by. Having said that, it was clean, friendly and in a quiet location not too far (but a car drive) from Wanaka's centre.

We were spending two nights in Wanaka so decided to do something a little different on our full day in the area. We decided to go shooting followed by an often-nauseaous but hilarious visit to Puzzle World. I'll let Warren tell you all about it in another post!

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