25 August, 2008

Home again

Sad for the holiday to be over as it was a lot of fun, but it's good to be home.

The last couple of days were pretty good. J had caught a cold though so we took it pretty easy. He managed skiing on Thursday (lots of fun going up and down the carpet rides - which is so much easier than walking sideways up the hill to ski down) and Friday was a day of rest and luxury. It was raining in the morning so J took the opportunity to get some much needed rest. I read and watched a movie on tv. Then we walked down to the town to get some lunch and then came back to let J go back to bed. Unfortunately the walk to the town was downhill and back was up a quite steep hill and just the walk tired him out a fair bit.

Late in the afternoon he was feeling a lot better so we went off for a 30 minute float in a floatation tank and then had a 60 minute massage. That massage felt so good! Just what I needed to get rid of the last aches from the skiing (my calves and knees were killing me from the stance you need to use wearing the ski boots).

After some home-made pizzas for dinner with the rest of the group, J and I, as well as two others headed to a place that had lovely hot tubs. They messed up our booking but were still able to squeeze us in after a bit of a wait. These hot tubs were just the perfect way to finish off the holiday. They were big wooden ones (can hold 4 people but we had one to ourselves) and the private room you're in has a retractable wall and ceiling. During the day you get a gorgeous view of the Remarkables mountain range. At night it was mainly the stars with a little of the mountains in there as well. It was just beautiful! And even though there was snow on the ground just outside, you were warm because of the water and steam from the tub. So relaxing.

Saturday we had an afternoon bus ride back to Christchurch, so in the morning J and I saw a movie. Some of the other guys spent the morning walking through the area or having fun on the luge up on Bob's Peak, but J was still quite tired from his cold so we thought it best to take it easy (and stay warm - was still very cold outside!).

Sunday morning we got up and had breakfast in the hotel we stayed at (delicious!) and then most of us headed to the Antarctic Centre just next door. Unfortunately Steve, we didn't get to go on the Haaglund ride, though it looked like fun. There was 10 of us (the other 5 went off sightseeing) and the centre said they'd give us a discount if we all did the same thing and most of the others didn't want to go on the ride. It was a good way to spend the morning though. The penguins were cute (though rather smelly) and the Antarctic storm was an experience. This was a room of snow and ice - kept at -8 C (17.6 F) and then after a 'radio warning' of a storm, they turned on the wind machines so we could experience the wind chill temperature you'd get at the Antarctic. 45 km winds (28 mph) which gave us a wind chill temperature of -18 C (0.4 F). Brrr!

The afternoon and evening was spent in airports and the air. The only disappointment I have with that is that New Zealand doesn't stamp your passport (not sure if that's only because we're from Australia), so my passport pages are still empty. Ah well - will just have to make sure we fill them in someday!

It was too late to pick up Chickie last night so we'll pick him up from school today. I cannot wait to see my little boy! We missed him so much, but it sounded like he had a great time at his grandparent's place, so that's a bit of a relief.

22 August, 2008

The last few days in Queenstown

The Lord of the Rings tour was pretty cool. We saw lots of places where scenes were shot and it's amazing how much was re-used and altered. Many scenes from the movies used pieces of scenery from one area, added to another and then had digitally added bits and pieces. A lot of the scenery was flipped so they could use the same area more than once and also to give the impression of a long journey. Apparently that also meant the actors had to often use their other hand to hold swords, axes, bows etc (so use their left hand if they're right-handed etc). It was all quite interesting.

Part of the tour was a bit of a trek through the snow on top of this mountain. Some of the snow came halfway up to my knee so the new boots I bought were very handy! Got some great scenery shots though.

Yesterday J and I went skiing again. We went to Coronet Peak again, instead of Cardrona. Some of the other guys went to Cardrona and said for the long drive to get there it wasn't really worth it. Mind you a lot of them are snow-boarding rather than skiing and it sounds like Cardrona is more suited for skiiers (though for us it doesn't matter since we'd only use the beginner slopes anyway). So we went to Coronet Peak again and J and I went up and down the beginner areas using the carpet ride. So much easier than trekking up the hill on your own and skiing back down.

I crashed into a few people but got better as the day went on. A couple of collisions weren't really my fault at least. One of them was with a girl who got off the carpet ride and just stopped to pick up snow. At the end of the carpet, there's really a bit of a deep sort of trail (from so many people coming off the end) so I wasn't physically able to just go around her. The guys running the carpet kept telling people to make sure they moved away so I figure it happened a lot.

Main thing is - I didn't get hurt and I didn't hurt anyone either (beginners all go pretty slow so crashes almost seem graceful!).

Last night we had dinner in the Skyline Gondola restaurant. Buffet and the food was amazing! The views over Queenstown were great too.

Today is our last day here and it's raining. Plus J's caught a cold. Time for a relaxing day I think. We're thinking of going to a spa in town and have a half hour in a floatation tank and then a massage. We still have a ski pass we can use and this is one of the places we can hand it in to. Hopefully they'll have an open spot for us.

19 August, 2008

A nice relaxed day

Today most of the rest of the group went skiing again (Coronet Peak again). One guy went skydiving, J and I went up the gondolas to the top of Bob's Peak (that's the name of the mountain we can see from our window). We had a good look around and took lots of photos - particularly of the people paragliding from the top of the mountain. I'll bet the views are awesome during the paragliding trip, they were fantastic just from the top where we were.

While up there, we had a go at the Luge track. So much fun!! We only did one ride for now but I'd love to go back again. J didn't bring his gloves though and his fingers were freezing after one go.

While up there we had a look at the restaurant we'll be dining at on Thursday night. It's called the Skyline Gondola Restaurant and it sounds so nice. Eating with the views over the mountains and the town should be lovely. Apparently there's also an option to see a Haka before dinner. I think we'll have to see that, if we can.

Tomorrow is the Lord of the Rings tour. It sounds pretty comprehensive - 20 locations and props from the actual movies. It goes for 7 hours too! Hopefully I'll have some nice photos from that. Some of the rest of the group are thinking of doing a horse riding tour tomorrow, while the others would like to try Cardrona for more skiing. Thursday will probably be at Cardrona for the rest of us and Friday, who knows - though it sounds like it might involve hot tubs!

18 August, 2008

I'm no ski bunny

Ok, first day of skiing down.

It turns out that I'm as good at skiing, as I am at other sports (which is to say... not very good!). J, me and one other of our group (call her C) were all newbies to skiing, having never skied before, so we got a private lesson. I was the first to fall over - sliding backwards, having no idea how to stop (hadn't got to that part yet). It was quite funny really.

We were taught the basics - particularly how to stop and then we had a go by ourselves. J and C were ok'd to go on the rope tow (to take them to the top of the beginner's slope) but the instructor suggested I practice from about halfway for a bit more yet.

J's first stack was one of the times he went up the rope tow. Apparently it jerks your arm quite a bit so I figure it will take me a bit to get used to it too! C seemed to get the hang of it quite quickly and 'graduated' to the carpet ride. I think J would have no problems on that as well, but he very chivalrously stayed with me.

After a bite to eat we had a bit more of a go, but we didn't stay out too long as it was starting to snow a bit harder and it was really quite hard to see well. It snowed pretty much the whole time we were there actually. The other reason I wanted to stop earlier than the others was the fact that I was tired and my boots were killing my legs.

Some observations on my skiing fun today...

Coronet Peaks at Queenstown is just lovely. Everyone should try it!

If you have to park in the 3rd carpark down, don't walk up in your ski boots. It might save you time but they are heavy to wear and very hard to walk in (let alone hike up a hill - while you're also wrangling a set of skis and poles).

Speaking of ski boots - my legs and knees are aching from wearing them today.

Chains (for your tyres) can be tricky to fit - it helps to have someone around who's put them on before (particularly if the rental company gives you two lots of dodgy sets).

Snow is wet and cold but LOTS of fun in a snowball fight (J won hehe).

17 August, 2008

Pictures as promised

Ok, here's some pictures of it snowing. Two are out our front windows - the apartment has a fantastic view of the mountain and the gondolas going up.

There's some not so pretty electricity cables but just ignore those.

The other is the garden/courtyard area. You can just see a little snowman in the corner. I don't know who made it - it was there when we got here. We're going skiing tomorrow so hopefully, at some stage during the day, I'll be able to make my own!

On the helicopter decision front, I'm now leaning towards doing an all day Lord of the Rings tour. The one I'm looking at says you can even handle items from the sets as well as see 20 locations used in the movies.

Decisions, decisions!


It was snowing when we woke up this morning! So pretty. J's taken a pic from our apartment window so I'll upload it later when we get it off the camera.

J and 3 others have gone for a jetboat ride. When they come back, one of the other three wants to possibly go bungy jumping. I'm not so sure of that myself. I know I've done the skydiving thing before, but the thought of bungy jumping makes me nervous!

What I'd love to do is take a helicopter ride to see a glacier. I think that would just be brilliant. It's about $500 or so dollars though and that's a lot of money. Perhaps I'll compromise and go for the $300 or so flight that does a landing somewhere. It doesn't say where exactly, it just says 'take your photo seemingly on top of the world' in the brochure, so I figure it's one of the mountains around the area (there's plenty here!). How cool would that be!

We're going to go get our ski gear hire today. So hopefully by this time tomorrow, I'll be taking lessons on how not to fall over in a big heap while wearing great big long planks of wood on your feet. Wish me luck!

16 August, 2008

First glimpses of New Zealand

We're here - and loving it!

The plane ride over was pretty uneventful, with the only real stand-out moment being the first glimpse of New Zealand peeking through the clouds. Just beautiful! Once we sort out all the photos, I'll put them up on Flickr - I'm sure I'll have many many shots of breath-taking scenery to show you.

We landed in Christchurch mid afternoon on Friday and had a quick look around. We didn't get to see very much of the area unfortunately (it was getting dark) but after a quick couple of pics we went and had something to eat. Christchurch actually seems a lot like home - but with a slight accent. Apparently Christchurch was designed by the same person that did Adelaide, so I guess that's why it felt so familiar.

Next up was another early night and early morning, and we caught a bus to Queenstown - arriving at about 2.30 this afternoon. The group we're travelling with has 3 serviced apartments and J and I lucked out and ended up with the only 1 bedroom apartment in the group. It's nice to have a bit of privacy!

Most of our group (there's 15 of us altogether) went to get fitted for boots and snow boards today, but J and I, along with 3 others have decided to do some sight-seeing first and get our boots and skis fitted tomorrow. We're not completely sure what we want to do tomorrow but J and the others may go have a jet boat ride (boats aren't my thing though) and most likely we'll take a drive around the area to see what's about.

The photo here was taken along the way to Queenstown. We could see the alps for most of the trip and the views were just spectactular. I've barely seen snow before so the scenery is just gorgeous. The view from our apartment is spectacular too. It looks out towards one of the mountains (I'm not sure which one) and it looks like it has a restaurant at the top. We're thinking of eating there on our last night here if possible. I'll have to take a pic of the view from our window, so you can see what I mean - it's amazing.

Apparently there's been quite a bit of snow here lately and there's quite a bit of slush around the town. I can't wait to get out into the snow a bit more and build a snowman (not to mention toss a snowball at someone!).

14 August, 2008


Ok, freakout is intensifying...

The plane to New Zealand takes off tomorrow morning (6am - have I mentioned how insanely early, that is??), packing is done and Chickie is safely ensconced in bed at his grandparent's place (I miss him already!). All that's really left to do is put a few movies on the laptop we're taking and relax before bed.

So, time for a meme or two that I owe.

On re-reading, KindaBlue has tagged me for 6 quirky things about me, and Aprill tagged me for 6 random things. I'm going to make them the same meme though. Also, Steve asked me to name some of the practical jokes that have occurred at work. So here goes!

6 random/quirky things about me:

1. I have absolutely no sense of direction. I've lived in this city for 10 years now and I still get lost. Regularly. I get lost in World of Warcraft (even when I have a map with co-ordinates!). I couldn't tell you which direction was north, if my life depended on it. When I first mentioned to friends that I needed a new phone and asked for suggestions on what would be good - everyone said to get one with maps/gps on it.

2. I point with my 'rude finger' (as Chickie calls it). I never realised this until a year or so back when J pointed it out. Apparently I've passed this habit/trait on to Chickie too.

3. I used to be a radio announcer but I'm absolutely terrified by public speaking. People seem confused by this but I think it's simple - if I can't see people listening to me speak - they're not really there!

4. I completely lost my taste for chocolate in the early stages of pregnancy with Chickie. That's. Just. Wrong.

5. I have a big scar behind my left ear and lots of smaller scars over my scalp. I was in a car accident when I was a kid. The car flipped and I was thrown through the back windscreen (no seatbelts in the back then). I still don't remember any of it and don't think I ever will - it was over 30 years ago now.

6. I'm a fussy eater. My mum and dad think I'm weird because I don't like the taste of raw onion in salads or like the taste of mushrooms (and fish and pumpkin and a million other things). Oh and they think I'm weird because I can taste the difference between green and red capsicum. They insist there's no difference - I say if the raw onion in their salads didn't overpower the flavour of everything else, they'd be able to taste the difference too!

Practical jokes at work:

We desk share so location based practical jokes aren't really possible. The longest running joke a few years back was an email that went round our centre. It was a sound file that said 'Hey, I'm watching porno over here!' when you opened the email. It went round and round (because it always looked like an innocent email) but eventually management 'suggested' we stop.

There's always the usual ones where your team-mates call in and pretend to be a very bizarre customer. There were a couple of guys that called in and were so good at it that they were believed. That one doesn't happen these days since we have a centre in India and they just wouldn't get it.

Lately in our team, on a person's last day, we'll nominate an unusual word for them to work into their calls. It's not really an unusual word, as such, just unusual for tech support. One guy had the word 'fishing' for example and had to use that word somewhere in each call of the day. Points are always given if the word is made relevant to the troubleshooting. Not really a practical joke, but it gives us a laugh.

Sounds pretty tame really. Got any good practical jokes you can spare??

13 August, 2008

clothes purchasing freakout ebbing...

Ok, I think I'm nearly there. I believe I have the clothing situation sorted (via large amounts of shopping!). If needed I can dress in about 3 bazillion layers (ok, perhaps I'm exaggerating - make it 2 bazillion hehe).

I've tried stuff on and it should all be ok. I'm a little doubtful about the ski pants I have. They're borrowed from J's dad and they're a teensy bit snug around the tummy/hips area - I've put a kilo or two, back on, over the last few months (not enough exercise unfortunately - lazy will do that for you). J thinks I'll be fine and if I just can't stand it, apparently I'm able to hire that sort of thing there anyway.

Next freakout will be the packing. We're doing that tonight. I think we should be fine there though. So long as the backpack we borrowed from J's dad is ok as carry on (J's dad used it as carry on for his trip to Canada last year so I'm presuming it will be fine).

So that just leaves Thursday for last minute bits and pieces and an insanely early night to compensate for the plane leaving at 6am on Friday (arrrggh shoot me now!). Oh and there will be a post on Thursday since I owe a couple of people memes now too!

Actually I might be able to post while over in NZ too. J's bought himself a itty bitty laptop (a little Acer Aspire Netbook) and there's supposed to be wireless in the apartments where we're staying. So stay tuned peoples!