14.12.2009 - 24.01.2010 23 °C
It has been quite some months now since our recent blog. We have done so much in this time so we will keep it pretty brief. We both have jobs now, I am working as a policy adviser for the Ministry of Education and Lisa is teaching.
We are currently enjoying a long weekend at is a national holiday for Wellington on Monday. We moved into our new houseat the start of December, although we only lived there for a couple of weeks before going travelling in the South Island. We lived there with Graeme and Ellen, who he travelled around South America with. It was nice to have some friends to spend our time with and with whom we could share the experiences of the country. Ellen left at the beginning of January and Graeme has just left so we are now on our own, which is actually quite strange!
Between the 18th December and the 15th January we travelled around the South Island. We started off walking the Queen Charlotte track, which is in Marlborough at the very top of the South Island.With the exception of the first night (when the camp pitch we chose turned into a small lake) we had fantastic weather, clear skies and it was really hot. We were walking about 4 or 5 hours a day carrying all of our stuff with us and it was quite hard going sometimes. We camped out in the wild and at a few campsites and enjoyed the wonderful views. We encountered our first flightless bird; the Weka, which is quite annoying as it constantly tries to steal your food no matter how much you try to shoo it away. But I guess we shouldn't really complain as flightless birds are pretty unique, we are hoping the Kiwi is nicer though!
After finishing our trek on the Queen Charlotte Track (on Christmas Eve) we picked up Graeme and Ellen and spent Christmas with them in a holiday home near the Abel Tasman National Park. Christmas Day was very hot, probably about 30 degrees celsius.We had a really nice day although we all missed our families. On boxing day we had a barbecue and then we went Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park for a couple of days. The kayaking was on the sea but is pretty calm, we spent the days nosying around islands and hoping to see whales and dolphins (we were disappointed though!), we stopped in at deserted beaches every now and then and camped just by the beach at night. It was a great experience and we really enjoyed ourselves.
We drove with Graeme and Ellen to Nelson, where we parted company and embarked on our long drive down the Western coast of the South Island to Glenorchy where they filmed lots of the Lord of the Rings. It was quite a long drive but the beautiful mountain scenery and easy driving (no cars on the road) made it a pleasant experience. We stayed in Glenorchy before walking the Routeburn Track, a 3 day walk crossing forest and alpine routes. We stayed in huts every night and loads of really nice people from all over the world doing the same or similar walks, it was hard work but there were great views and nice people and sights along the way, although it was cloudy quite a lot of the time.On the last day it rained really heavily, causing some tricky river crossings. At the end of the track we were completely soaked, tired, fatigued and starving; we got picked up by a tourist bus full of day trippers who were going to Milford Sound, which was quite weird as they must have been wondering where these crazy smelly people had come from. We went on a ferry trip around Milford Sound, which was really nice but we were so hungry we spent most of the time eating, staying dry and getting warm. We then had a four hour bus journey back to Queenstown where we ate again and got some well earned sleep.
We spent a couple of nights camping near a lake in the mountains around Queenstown (which was nicer than we had hoped), before heading back through the South Island to east coast city of Christchurch where it is always clear and sunny, apart from when we got there and it was wet. We had an OK time there, just relaxing really and enjoying the comforts of city living. On the way there we went walking on Franz Joseph Glacier, which was a bit touristy, but quite a unique experience nonetheless.
Then we went to Hamner springs for more relaxing in the hot springs, which were OK, but just a bit like have a bath outside though really. On the day we left we went for what was meant to be a leisurely walk around a river, but we took a wrong turn and ended up on top of a mountain, but it was worth it!
Our next stop was back at the top of the South Island, in Marlborough, where we hired some bikes and went wine tasting. We enjoyed ambling around on our bikes and the laid back wineries with friendly staff. It was pretty quiet so we got to learn plenty about the wine and the history and geography of the region.
After a mix up with the ferries we luckily managed to get a ferry which left earlier in the day than the one we were meant to be on. It was a really rocky journey on rough seas, and they were considering cancelling the ferries altogether. But we made it back safely to a very windy and wet Wellington.
The weather here has been capricious ever since, ranging between (too) hot and sunny one day and then cold and wet the next, or even a couple of hours later, but overall it hasn't been too bad; we have managed to go swimming in the sea, eating dinner on the balcony, and even on the beach! - Although we have also had to put the fire on at time - not as bad as the UK though!
We have had some great sunsets from our house, which has lovely views, there are more pictures in the picture section.
We will probably try to keep updating the blog, although not too regularly as our lives will probably now be relatively mundane and uneventful, but you never know. If we do update it we will put a message on Facebook or let you know.
Phil & Lisa