Travelling around the South Island, New Zealand
Mosgiel, New Zealand
Travelling around the South Island, New Zealand
Well the past 10 weeks have been packed with exploration, family time, laughter, a few tears and some tantrums. It's hard to believe that we have been here for such a long length of time and having a glimpse over photos we really have made the most of our time. We are so lucky to have been able to spend this long here and for me it's been amazing, emotional and reflective as its been the first time in over 20yrs that I have been able to really explore and revisit parts of the South Island with no time constraints. Mauro and the kids have had to put up with my commentary of topics mainly starting with lines like ("when I was young, I remember, I lived there, that's where, did you know…..") and I recall Mauro filling in facts and repeating my conversations he has heard before when passing many of my old haunts. I must admit Mauro has been very tolerant and so have the kids.
So after the Central Otago Rail Trail we had some down time in Queenstown just enjoying staying put and exploring the town and surrounding areas, kids swimming etc, catching up with friends, baking with nana. We managed to sort some tickets for the KJet a cool jet boat ride across the lake and up some rivers with the most fantastic scenes you could possibly imagine, the kids thought it was ace and loved the Hamilton Jet turns most of all. Taking full use of the mountain bikes we did another trail this time from Arrowtown to the Bungy Jump it was a little different, following the Arrow river and a few more ups and downs on the track, Arabella had a nasty fall off her bike which seemed to unsettle her but soon with the encouragement and support of Dad she was back to herself enjoying the open country side and speeding along.
Denise had a week of work and decided to drive back to Queenstown for a few nights which was great. We decided to do a bit of a road trip with her back up to Christchurch, our first stop was Mt Cook staying the night at Glentanner we had a room with 7 bunks and the most breath-taking view of Mt Cook we couldn't believe the view all on a budget. We did splash out and had a beautiful buffet up at the Hermitage Hotel with the most spectacular Glacier view from our table. Arabella managed to lose another tooth and was delighted to think of the tooth fairy visiting up in Mt Cook so she eagerly wrote a letter and hoped for a response, which she did get the following morning.
Up early hoping for a view of Mt cook covered by grey clouds we headed off for a quick walk up to Tasman Glacier enjoying the scenery and blue ice glaciers jutting out of the water, and after heading off in the car up to Mt Potts. Mt Potts was on the agenda due to my failure to complete the task from over ten years ago, I managed to get our car stuck in a pidly stream of water. Yes I never lived it down the fact that I made Mauro miss out on climbing to the top of Mt Sunday which was the setting for Edoras in Lord of the Rings. It was truly gutting for Mauro considering the hill was in site and only a few miles to reach. So it was time to redeem myself and drag the whole family to the top of Mt Sunday the streams were dry and the view from the top was worth it! Happy with the completion we headed up to Christchurch eager to get to explore the earthquake city and revisit many places I knew from when I lived there. Denise drove us to the city centre, I found it overwhelming to see the centre of Christchurch had almost been completely destroyed from the earthquakes with a few building still standing but the majority of the centres shops were made out of shipping containers. I must admit the city centre had a great feel to it, it felt vibrant, experimental and full of resilience with business's blossoming and tourists visiting the city centre again was great to see. We visited The 185 White Chairs, this choked me up and bought home the reality the huge loss and suffering that the people of the city have had to endure rebuilding their homes and lives and families.
We spent three days in Christchurch with Denise and Jane, it was great to spend time with them both. There was one slight mishap, Maddalena taking a fall off a flying fox feeling very sore and sorry for herself we applied peas and I had the she'll be right attitude (this will come back to haunt me). Janes was great BBQ, Buskers Festival and then from Janes we drove to Oamaru to celebrate dads 77th birthday then we continued on to Mosgiel to stay with Malcolm and Rochelle. Maddalena still complaining about her arm Mauro insisted on a visit to A&E, the doctor couldn't find a fracture but said he would get a specialist to check and to phone us if anything was spotted, (once again this would come back to haunt me). So our time again in Mosgiel, we didn't do much just let the kids play, visiting the swimming pool and St Clair's Salt water pool and just to be consistent with my reminiscing I dragged the family around my old boarding school. Next on the agenda was a Rodeo and for the kids it was going to be an opportunity to see 1st hand one of their cousins Ryan bull riding, the night before Luca had the opportunity to try out a few bull riding techniques (video on Blog) on a Ryan's Mechanical Bull hidden in the depths of the Man Cave. We arrived at the Lawrence Rodeo very early in the morning and go check out Uncle James Bulls that he supplies to rodeos around the country. The day was spent watching Barrel Racing, Bull Riding, Team Roping, Bareback Riding, Steer Roping etc. to my surprise I thought the kids would have had enough of it after seeing Ryan Ride but they were happy to be fed sausages on sticks, chips, and fizzy drinks. At the end of the Rodeo we headed to Queenstown to pack as heading to Te Anau with Nana and Grandad the following day.
Te Anau was great we had fantastic sunshine and lake for the kids to swim in not much else to do around the place really, just enjoy each other's company. We had four days in Te Anau then headed to Milford Sound with our Trekking gear to take on the Hollyford Track, Nana and Grandad were kind enough to drive us in and allow us to leave their car at the Hollyford Track end for when we got out. Maz with his fantastic organisation had to book the Hollyford Track over 6 months in advance and the family were rewarded with the most incredible start to the Trek. Early morning we had a trip out on the Fiord by boat, then we took a Helicopter to the end of the Hollyford Track, we got to fly over Milford Sound and seeing from the sky was fantastic. All of us were loving it! We touched down and had a 2 hour walk to the DOC Hutt at Martins Bay a beautiful setting but with the added discomfort of sand flies. After settling in and meeting fellow trampers we took a short walk up the coast to see the seals with their baby pups there were loads and the kids loved scrambling over the rocks in search of them playing. We have an early morning jet boat ride across Lake McKerrow, then a 4 hour trek through the most stunning scenery and bush, past many waterfalls and over a few swing bridges to the DOC hut, Maddalena especially like walking past the Glacier topped Mt Madeline (Maddalena in Italian) and had to have a number of photos with different viewpoints along the way. We enjoyed our final night in the bush with a dip in a freezing waterfall and an evening outside with no Sandflies to trouble us. The kids carried their own backpacks full of everything they needed for 2 nights in the bush, they were awesome, whilst Mauro and I struggled to lug food and the rest of our vitals on our backs.
Checking my mobile phone once reaching civilisation I was shocked at the number of messages left and big bad mother moment a message from the hospital about Maddalena's arm. She had a fracture and was needing to go back to hospital for treatment only problem this message was two weeks old, talk about a bad parenting moment!
It was great to get back to Queenstown but this was short lived as we needed to visit Lesley-Anne for a few days as Ryan were heading off hunting. Luca was back in his element with two big cousins Joshua and Ryan to let him have a go on the Mechanical Bull whilst the girls were more at home with Lesley and Gina crafting. Mauro took the kids round the farm, drenching, and checking out the Dairy farm whilst I helped Lesley clean her motel rooms. The final evening was spent down at the Taieri River Joshua was kind enough to take the kids out on the Jet Skies it was their first time and boy did they have a great time on the donut rings and also driving the Jet Skies, I was really impressed with Maddalena as I never thought I would see her have the confidence to take part. Mauro had a go on Joshua's Jet Sky and was well impressed with its acceleration to 100km per hour in 4 seconds it was just a little bit too freaky for me to even contemplate having a go. It was also Luca turn for the tooth fairy as he pulled out his first tooth on the trip.
The final drive the Central Otago back to Queenstown had us stopping off in Roxburgh for a famous Jimmys Pie and it was worth every single dollar, the kids and Mauro have come well accustom to the Kiwi Pie over the past few weeks and we are all in agreeance that Jimmys are the best ever pie!
Living a quiet life in Queenstown for the last few week has been needed just to be staying put has great and given us the opportunity to start focusing on the months ahead. Mauro and I enjoyed a beautiful candle lit meal cooked by Maddalena (with the help of Nana) and with Arabella waitressing, for me it was a huge surprise as I had no idea the children were doing this! Mauro and I were also lucky enough to have our 11th Wedding Anniversary in Queenstown and we enjoyed a night away leaving the kids with Nana and Grandad such a treat! The kids have enjoyed getting to know and spending time with Nana and Grandad and enjoyed days out with them. The last few days have been manic packing and trying to do all the last minute things, sending parcels, packing, odd jobs around the house, trimming trees etc. Tonight is our last night in New Zealand and to top off the day a surprise of Jane flying down for CHCH to send us off, big surprise and just in time to come out for dinner with us all.
Well it is time to sign off, next stop Sydney!