Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sorry for the long break, but we haven't had access to internet to update the blog. And now our online time is limited, so we'll have to upload pictures later when we get a chance.

We are currently in Motueka, on the north end of the South Island. We've spent the last week driving over the Southern Alps from Christchurch to Wanaka, and then up the West Coast to Haast, Hokitika, Greymouth, and Karamea before heading east to Motueka. The West Coast is typically more rainy than the East Coast, which has made camping more difficult and not so fun. Also, the sandflies haven't helped. But we're still doing some wonderful hikes everyday. We saw seals, and tried to see penguins, but they didn't show up on the beach while we were there.

For the next two weeks we plan to work on an alpaca farm for one week and hike the Abel Tasman National Park coastal track. And then on to Murchison for another kayaking trip before heading south again.

J has had a cold for the last week and M had a migraine one morning that cleared by the afternoon. Other than that, we're doing great, if a little soggy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hello, Baby!

Firstly, Welcome to the world, niece Ellinor. We can't wait to meet you! It's hard being away from family at times like this. Sigh...feeling just a little homesick.

Jason went kayaking in the ocean near Christchurch with a new kayaking friend, Adam. They were catching waves and surfing in to shore. They had a blast.
(Adam and Jason trying to scooch out to sea. Pretty funny watching them inch along like crabs.)

(Jason's in the middle. Adam is off to the left.)

We travelled back out to Diamond Harbour to stay one night with our new bowling friends, Morris and Christine. They have a rental cottage that we stayed in that was wonderful. We bowled the next day with some other bowling club members and had a great time.

We left Christchurch for a few days to visit friends of friends, Colin and Hilary, on their farm near Rakaia Gorge. They have 1400 deer, 9000 sheep, and I don't know how many cattle. It's a big place. We helped Hilary clean up the shearers' quarters (a 19 bed complex where the shearers sleep and eat when they are here that also gets rented out to various clubs or family reunion groups when not being used by shearers). It was a lot of work for just one person, so we volunteered to assist. There is another guest at the farm while we are here, an Englishman who comes to NZ every year to go fly fishing. It's been fun getting to know some new people and seeing a beautiful new place.

Rakaia Gorge is near Ashburton, the home of the Ashford spinning wheel factory. We popped in this afternoon to check out the wheels and tried unsuccessfully to get a tour of the factory. But I (Meg) did get a chance to test drive some of the wheels. No "souvenirs" were purchased at the Ashford store, but there's still plenty of time to find a spinning wheel to cart home.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chasing a rainbow

Driving back to Christchurch after paddling this weekend we saw a vibrant rainbow spread across the sky. The cool thing was that it seemed that the end of it was only a ways up ahead on the road. We joked about finding a pot of gold and a leprechan but as we got closer, the end kept moving so now it was still just ahead and now it ended in the river. It made me think how it would look to be standing in the end of the rainbow bathed in all the colors. It also made me reflect a little about how it can sometimes be way more rewarding to sit back and enjoy the "rainbow" rather than racing ahead to try to find the pot of gold.

Anyway, enough philosophy. Here are a few pictures from the past few days:

A view of Diamond Harbor from the farm in Purau where we
WWOOFed for 4 days. Not a bad sight to look up to as you're weeding.

Surfing in New Brighton (suburb of Christchurch). That's not actually either of us but since we couldn't take our camera while we were surfing Meg snapped a picture of someone else's lesson. Meg did way better than I did and even got to standing up a few times. At the beginning she got pounded by a big wave and I was worried she was done but nope - she toughed it out and even ended up having a good time. I spent most of my time trying to paddle and catch waves and ended up with the nose of the board diving into the water!

This is really us (no stunt doubles for this shot) in
front of the surf shop where we took the lesson.

The stands erupt after Canterbury scores a try at the rugby union finals.

The campground at Pelorus Bridge (NE of Nelson) where this last weekend's trip was. There were 24 paddlers on several of the trips which is quite a big group to keep track of. Several had just finished the beginners course that the club offered but they all did smashing! It was a great opportunity to meet some more paddlers, tune up some skills, and have a good time. I paddled the Pelorus, the Rai, the Buller (Owens to Claybanks Creek), and the Middle Matakitaki (favorite by far). Also got to watch a group do the lower Matakitaki which I wished I would have asked to paddle on but with the new boat and unfamiliar rivers I'm still trying to get a feel for when I should and shouldn't paddle.

Some of the kayakers paddling on the Rai river near Pelorus (NE of Nelson, NZ). The Pelorus river is in the same area but the Matakitaki and Buller are by Murchison (SW of Nelson).

Myself, Stuart, Colin, and Meg (behind the camera) who all carpooled on the trip together. Meg didn't do any paddling but was the shuttle bunny which is always appreciated (saves on driving cars back and forth). Colin graciously let us stay at his house Sunday night after we arrived in Christchurch late so that we didn't have to find a campground. He's training for the "Coast to Coast" which is a big race over 1-2 days in February where participants run, bike, and paddle from Kumara to Sumner (~110 miles). And this isn't Minnesota so there are plenty of altitude changes along the way!

In Diamond Harbour we watched lawn bowling and met the local "mayor" - Morris. Morris explained the game to us and even let us have a bowl afterward. We're hoping to go back this Tuesday to play a full game and take Morris and Christine (shown in photo) up on their offer to let us stay at their place.

We went to a bee club meeting (Sat, Nov 7) where they were taking apart hives to check the bees. Very fun to watch and realize beekeeping is a whole lot more involved than we thought. We're hoping that we can be involved in more of it.

Watching fireworks for Guy Fawkes night on the
beach in Christchurch (Nov 5). It was cold and windy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

WWOOFing in Diamond Harbor

We arrived Sunday night and met Wendy and Micheal, our WWOOF hosts. We did some weeding, raking, power sanding, and nail setting this morning and then set off to explore the town. We took a hike on a Mt. Herbert trail but didn't reach the top. Most of it was in pastures so we ended up turning around after an hour.

Accomadations are set up in a garage which can be a bit noisy in the wind but we both slept well last night. Not quite the same as some of the other plush places we've been staying but easier than setting a tent up each night.

They aren't connected to city water at the farm so they rely a lot on collecting rain water from their roofs and storing it in tanks. Apparently water can be scarce at times (not right now thankfully) so it is always important to conserve it. Really changes your perspective on the weather when a rain might mean being able to take a shower and flush the toilet! They also have their own "sewer" which is a natural filter that all their grey and black water goes through before watering the orchards.

Today was more weeding, mulching around trees with the weeded grass, and some heavy duty weed-whipping. Mind you weeding back home was picking a few short weeds out of the garden but this weeding is pulling dense knee high grass out by the fist full. It's in among the flowers so there isn't room to get the weed whip in.

Friday we'll head north to the Nelson region for a kayak trip that the Christchurch club is organizing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


We are currently hanging around Christchurch for a few days to take in the sights. We've been to the cathedral downtown, to a yarn store to pick up some more NZ wool, and we booked a surf lesson off New Brighton beach for Friday morning. Tonight there is a fireworks display near where we're camping. We also bought tickets to see the NZ rugby finals, which are being played between Christchurch's provincial team, Canterbury, and Wellington on Saturday night. Should be a fun couple of days. Now, some random photos:

Jason (far right) with the kayaking group on the Hurunui.

The two of us at Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island.

Meg waiting for the kayakers on the Hurunui River and taking in the view.
A little dark, but you can see our 92 Toyota Camry on the left of our campsite at the Kai Iwi Lakes on the N. Island.Jason coloring in the children's corner while Meg picks out yarn.
The Pass Stream flock running from our car.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tailing and more

On our way south we stopped near Rotorua and visited Buzz and Patsy (mates of Mike and Linda). They took us on a boat tour of their lake and shared some mussels with us (Megan wasn't too keen on them). In the morning we went to watch the whitewater rafters go over some falls and then left with packed lunches, some gourmet yogurt, and a jar of honey. We wished we had more time to spend there but are hoping to pop in on them again on our way back to Auckland at some later date.

In Christchurch, I picked up a kayak and on Sunday paddled down a section of the Hurunui River with Becs, Bill, Graeme, and Doug from the local paddling club. The scenery was amazing even if the paddling was relatively tame. Looking forward to doing lots more paddling.

We headed to a little farm (Pass Stream Farm) where Sue and Bruce (more mates of Mike and Linda) have a heap of sheep. On Tuesday, I got to help with tailing the lambs (bobbing the tails so they don't get full of poo and attract flies and such). It was fun to be doing some "work" and interesting to learn a bit about raising sheep from Bruce. The only bummer was losing my wedding ring which we were never able to find. Since I'd found the ring in the Mississippi River myself, I can't be too bitter about it. Maybe the Golum that Megan thought was in the cave will pick it up. Bruce and Sue are actually trying to sell thier farm so there is a link with pictures of their place below (or if you're looking to buy in NZ). The views were magnificent and the food fabulous.

We're in Christchurch right now and will be attending a bee club meeting on Saturday. Sunday we head to Diamond Harbor (just south of Christchurch) for WWOOFing.