Thursday, December 30, 2004

1400km's and 800+ Photo's Later....

What a trip! We think we managed to show Karen, Craig, Emily and Michael most of what is on our doorstep here in Canterbury - in reality we only scratched the surface but 2 weeks just isn't enough to do more than the local area!

We travelled as far north as Kaikoura and as far south as Geraldine/Tekapo and everywhere inbetween.

We visited Arthur's Pass, the viaduct, Methven, Tekapo, the salmon farm near Pukaki (where we bought a HUGE salmon for just $24!!), Akaroa where we saw dolphins and dodged seagulls after our fush'n'chups, Raikai Gorge (the speedboat "hell ride"!), and the Antartic Centre in Christchurch.

Camera's clicked constantly and eye's popped out at each turn in the road as another amazing view presented itself!

It's easier to "show" than "tell" as the beauty here is hard to put into words... so here's just a small selection of our 800+ piccies which, hopefully, will give readers of our weblog an insight into our new playground!

DOLPHIN WATCHING IN AKAROA - Whilst most of us were camera shy in our wetsuits, Michael was in his element - a future water-baby!

WHALE WATCHING AT KAIKOURA - What an amazing amount of luck we had - we were priviledged to see not one, but FIVE Sperm Whales with a rare viewing of two side by side on the surface! It's such an emotional experience to see such huge creatures in their natural habitat and up close and personal! The most amazing moment is when they dive back down and their tail emerges for a split second....

KAIKOURA SEAL COLONY - just a couple of miles drive down the coast from the settlement of Kaikoura is the Seal Colony. Sometimes you are literally tripping over the seals here on the rocks. This time was no different and we stumbled (quite literally in one case Craig!!) into quite a few seals!

RAKAIA GORGE "HELL RIDE" - You can't come to New Zealand without scaring your pants off on a jetboat ride on one of the many gorges! We went to Rakaia near Methven and boarded the "Hell Ride"! Well, everyone except Craig who can't swim! The ride was thrilling and the 360 degree spins hair-raising.. but FUN!

Just look how relaxed Warren and his sister Karen are!

LAKE TEKAPO - Even the kids were amazed at the scenery here (kids? loving scenery? MUST be good eh?!). We all spent quite some time at the shore skimming stones and paddling in the water. Some idiots also did a spot of rock climbing.. anything for a "different" photo!!

Of course... someone HAD to copy us afterwards.. a lone Japanese tourist decides he's also going to mount the rock.. he wasn't quite as graceful as us.. as this picture of Emily captures.!!

Nearby Tekapo is a salmon farm and we just couldn't resist taking one back for the BBQ! No boys, I won't pretend you caught it!! Jeez....

THE KEA'S AT ARTHURS PASS - Now everyone KNOWS you shouldn't feed the Kea - but how else can you get them THIS close? (Don't tell the Ranger!!!)

THE ANTARTIC CENTRE (Christchurch) - Great place for kids and big kids too! Lots of great displays and the Snow Storm experience is cool...literally... it's freezing as you stand in a room whilst they simulate a wind storm down to minus 20 degs!!

But at least Karen got CLOSE to finally getting a fur coat... !!!!

When we weren't travelling around we were padding in the sea, cooking up barbeques, shopping (!! Karen can shop for Britain and the Christchurch retailers were very sad to see her leave !!) and generally chilling out. Unfortunately the weather was unseasonably bad - but to be honest we're glad we didn't have to drive around in high temps.

All in all, we all had an amazing time - a real holiday of a lifetime for them and us too!!


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Friday, December 24, 2004

HOORAY! Our ITA Arrived Today...

What a great Christmas present. Our Invitation to Apply for Residence (ITA) arrived in the post today!! We now have four months to complete and submit it and we shall then be Permanent Residents of New Zealand!

We have been working towards this since May 2004, were selected from the Expression of Interest pool with 125 points in August and have been waiting for the ITA ever since... so it's a big step forward with our plans to live in New Zealand permanently!

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Our First Few Days On Holiday

Hi it's Emily and Michael here again.

After a couple of days shopping (Mummy Karen loves to SHOP!!) we bought lots of souvenirs for everyone back in the UK. We bought paua shells (x3), a spider bat, alot of postcards and some jewellry and Michael bought a paperweight and sweets.

We all went to pick up the car - it is white. We went for a drive on our own and got lost. Craig went up some big hills to look at the houses.

In the evening we went to a Japanese restaurant where they cook the food in front of you. Weird. It is called a Teppan Yaki restaurant and it was called Mount Fuji. The man who was cooking threw omlettes into our mouth and Mummy (Karen) was the only one who caught it in her mouth!!! BIG MOUTH!!

Aunty Helen forced us to eat with chopsticks! Craig and Emily were the best and even Michael and Karen can now eat with chopsticks! It was really cool.

We have been to Lyttleton to see the harbour, Craig loved it. He was wondering how the boats floated as they were HUGE! We then drove over the big hills to Riccarton Mall and we met Warren from work. He is now on holiday.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Emily & Michael Arrive in NZ

hi emily here I am 11 years old, i enjoyed the fligt but when we arrived at singopore (our stop so we can change planes) it was really humid. we changed planes and after about 11-12 hour we arrived in christchurch. thankfully it wasn't to hot it was about 17-18 degrees, we went down the beach and had a burger (it was huge.) we also went into a cave!!!

hi I am Michael, I am 8 years old. I thought the plane was cool. I played on the games and watched videos alot. I slept twice. Once on each plane. My favourite game was Marioland 2. I think New Zealand is amazing and the views. First thing I did on my first day was got off the plane and went through an Xray to make sure we didn't have weapons so could not kill anybody.
Then we went to the beach and I climbed over the big rock and in the caves. We found some shells. We took some of them home and left the others in a small ditch in the cave.

We had a HUGE burger which mummy had to finish!! It was about 10inches high!

We came back to Aunty Helen and Uncle Warrens house and went looking for our bedroom. We saw a wardrobe in our room and there was a brown door which looked like a wall. Uncle Warren came up and said have you seen the secret compartment - the brown door led into a secret compartment which was actually an attic room. we have had great times in there! We took the books into the room and piled them up in the room. We shall have to think of some good games!

We are going to pick up the car on Friday and we are going to a trip to the mountains.


The water is clear and some is really blue.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Countdown to the Rellies Arriving...

In just 7 days we shall be picking up my sister-in-law Karen O'Hara, her partner Craig and her two kids Emily and Michael!! It's gone so quick - it seemed like it would be an AGE before they arrived.

They fly from Heathrow on Monday 13th and arrive here, in Christchurch, on Wednesday midday.

In the usual mad rush on Saturday, Warren and I went out to buy stuff for their visit plus the Xmas decorations - very hard to feel Christmassy when it's summer! Having said that, it's beeing pee'ing down for a few days so perhaps we'll have a typical British Christmas afterall.

We decided that we'd take a look around the $2 Shop! Everything in it is just $2... I knew that, so why did I keep picking up stuff and shouting to Warren "how much is this?"? Doh. We felt so good when the total came to just $14!! So amazed at what we could get for so little we decided to buy a pack of $2 chews from the counter... yummm. We plucked said package from the bowl whereupon we were told it was $2 for EIGHT packs!! Our teeth hurt today.....

All that is left to do now is decorate the house and tree and stock up the freezer with beer! :-)

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Monday, December 06, 2004

It's Catching On....

Guess what, we BBQ'd for breakfast!


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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Our First BBQ...

It finally stopped raining today so we unleashed the beast of a BBQ that we bought a couple of weeks back.

Our friend Tom was coming round to help us out.. he's Maori and a great guy, he's got a girlfriend called Sue and they are both at Uni here in Christchurch. Having only cooked on rather temporary BBQ's in the UK (you know, the sort that fill with water during the winter, rust through and end up on the dump in year two of use?) our new gas 4 burner with wok burner was going to be a huge improvement... Tom seasoned the grill plates etc and we got to work grilling sausages, chicken, steaks and garlic onions.. yummm. Oh, there was some token salad!

Warren and Tom hovered round the BBQ with beers and they both looked very at home!

I can see this particular appliance is going to get well used.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Mount Cook Adventure

For our 5th wedding anniversary we decided to go on an adventure - to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook.

We left early on Saturday morning, hoping and praying that the weather would be good. It was a 4.5 hour drive to Tekapo and a further 1 hour to Mount Cook Village where we stayed at The Hermitage Hotel ( ).

The weather turned out to be superb. The drive was scenic and took us past Geraldine, Lake Tepako and Lake Pukaki.

We stopped off at Lake Tekapo to take in the views and visit the historic church on the shores of the lake.

There were wildflowers, especially lupins, everywhere and the colours were glorious.

From Tekapo we headed out to the shores of Lake Pukaki to meet with our helicopter pilot - we had booked an hours trip over the mountains and round the peak of Mount Cook - our anniversary treat! It was a totally amazing ride and the views were stunning - hard to explain just how blue the water in the lakes and rivers was - perhaps the pics will do it more justice?

Helen with Mount Cook in the background:-

On top of the world...

Views, views, views...

The landing site by the salmon farm...

At the hotel there was a stunning view of Mount Cook - our bedroom had huge windows which were filled by the view of Mount Cook. Outside there was a statue of Edmund Hillary looking out towards Mount Cook...

We drove back on Sunday and went via the Geraldine Motor Museum - it was small but lots of cool cars.. here's one for my brother Mike... ;-)

All in all it was a superb weekend and we'll be back when the resorts are open for skiing/boarding next year.

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