BootsnAll Travel Network

The Rest of It

January 12th, 2007

Wow, it feels like its been ages since I’ve done this last, and certainly much has happened. My tone may have changed a bit because I started reading The Lord of the Rings a few days ago and its just in me now.

Alan and I saw Mom of safely at the airport this afternoon and she is likely sitting at Auckland airpost trying to pass the time as I write out this post. I’m a bit sad that this whole trip has now come to an end, but I have little time to think about that as Alan and I leave on a 5:50 AM flight tomorrow morning for Melbourne.

I’ll start way back at Christmas. We celebrated with Mom and Dad at our house Christmas Eve and grilled out on our new grill (best gift ever!, next to my quilt that is. Alan was like a kid in a candy store over “his” new grill). Dad set up the camera to take pics ever minute while he adn Al put the grill together, and here is the video he made afterwards. The quality here isn’t the best, but you get the idea.

Video: The Assemblage

The Grill: The Assemblage

On Christmas morning we went to Alan’s grandparents, John and Judy Ambrose, then we went to Doreen’s for Christmas dinner. It was a full day, and at the end of it we had to gear up for our big trip around the South Island for which we were leaving the next day.

Christmas in New Zealand, 2006

Christmas, New Zealand 2006

Next are the albums from our tramp around this southern island of New Zealand. I’ll be on a plane for Australia in about twelve hours from now, so I’ll let the pictures do MOST of the talking. Mom and Dad can fill in the rest.

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo to Mt Cook

Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook, 2006

We were very lucky in Mt Cook to actually SEE Mt Cook as it is often covered in cloud. Not pictured in this album is our dinner at the Hermitage for my birthday. It was excellent and Mom surprised me with a birthday cake. Although they promised her that “they don’t sing birthday songs at the Hermitage”, they did. It was OK, my face was already red from the wine!

After Mt Cook, we drove to Queenstown where we stayed for four days. Queenstown was really fun and like every other place we’ve been we could have stayed longer. It didn’t hurt that we must have had the best view of the lake and the marina in the city. There are a few hikes in the area that take you through some absolutely amazing terrain, so Al and I plan to tackle those one day.


Queenstown 2006-7

We watched a spectacular fireworks display from the comfort of our hotel balconies on New Year’s (Dad has some pics on the video camera, we may sort something out with those later). On New Year’s day we drove to the glaciers on the West Coast. On the 2nd we did a helihike and it was a highlight for all of us. It really was worth overy penny, and when else do you get to drink pure glacial water, straight from the source.

West Coast, Glaciers, Arthur’s Pass

Glaciers, 2007

We were more exhausted than words can say after all this, but we didn’t stop there. We did a day trip to Akaroa, which is on the Banks Penninsula, and it was well worth it. That was one of the last things we did before Dad left, and I’d say it was a good ending to our travels.


Akaroa, Jan 2007

Lastly, here are a few pictures from this last week with Mom. It was a relaxing week, we didn’t have the energy left to do much. Plus, its just as nice to just sit around as a family at home as it is to travel around.

Orana Park and Some Odds and Ends

Orana Park and Others, Jan 2007

Well that does it for now. In two to three weeks I’ll tell all about our trip to Melbourne. The best to everyone til then and many thanks for keeping up with us and for keeping us in your thoughts!


Christen and Al

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Sun, Sand and Sea

December 23rd, 2006

We’re back from our first major road trip of the South Island and it really was alot of fun. I spend this morning uploading and sorting through the 377 pictures Dad took this week and put them in more managable albums. The weather was warm and sunny for our trip to the Nelson area, but it is cold and rainy here in Christchurch. We even had to pull out the heaters, which is not so fun considering its SUMMER, but it helps us natives of the northern hemisphere feel like Christmas. Anyway, here’s the account of our last week. This will definitely be a long post, but the pictures are well worth looking through.

Christchurch to Kaiteriteri via Kaikoura

Christchurch to Kaiteriteri, Dec 2006

We left Christchurch on 17 Dec and drove up the coast through Kaikoura to Nelson. We stopped in Kaikoura for lunch. We didn’t get to see much of the town since it was drizzling and generally yucky (weatherwise that is, Kaikoura itself isn’t yucky). Dad and Al picked out two crayfish at a roadside vendor just north of Kaikoura. We decided to save these to eat with Linda and John, Al’s aunt and uncle, who we would be staying with in Nelson that night. Linda and John are always the most welcoming and gracious hosts, so its nice to share this New Zealand delicacy.

We stopped at two vinyards before Nelson and I was pretty disappointed with the tastings. All the wines tasted too young, so this may not be the best time of year for tastings. When we arrived in Nelson, Linda and John took us to see their new house, currently in construction, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Then we returned to their current home for a crayfish appetizer and a delicious barbeque dinner. We’re talking steaks that just melt in your mouth. Dinner lasted til pretty late in the evening, we felt very Spanish eating so late into the night! So after dinner we went to straight to bed.

The next morning we had a typical kiwi breakfast of yogurt and muesli with coffee and juice. Dad tried Marmite for the first time. He like it and his first thought was that it would go good with eggs. I don’t think that’s typical kiwi, but maybe that could catch on. We left Nelson for Kaiteriteri to stay the night at a motor camp on the beach before starting our Abel Tasman tramp. Its a really beautiful and cozy spot, still mainly frequented by kiwi holidayers and I’ll just let the pictures do the talking there.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, 19-21 Dec 2006

Our hike on the Abel Tasman started at the water taxi. The water taxi is a great way to see the park from the perspective of sea to coastline, then once you start hiking you see coastline to sea. We arrived at Awaroa at about 12:30 and hiked about an hour to Onetahuti for lunch. Then it was about 3 to 3:30 hours to our hut at Bark Bay. Mom was pretty tired so she laid down for a rest and Dad Al and I went out and sat on the beach. Well, I laid on the beach and rested my eyes while Dad and Al threw our little packable frisbee. Later we ate dinner, which consisted of dehydrated backpacker meals and sipped on some peach schnapps that we picked up outside of Nelson. We all went to bed pretty early that night. Al and I had to sleep on a long pad with five other people, then there was a long bunk over us with seven more people. Mom and Dad stayed in a more traditional style bunk bed (singles) with a family of four from Nelson.

We headed out before 8AM the next morning as we were determined to get to our next hut early enough to get first choice of sleeping arrangements. It was a fairly long day. It took about 4-5 hours total (including breaks) to get to the Anchorage hut. The terrain was tough but it was beautiful, so well worth it. We were the first ones to reach the hut, making it there around lunchtime. We spent the rest of the day lounging, Dad played alittle guitar, we played bard games, and mostly laid out at the beach. Al and I took a side trip to a nearby bay in the afternoon and napped on the beach there for a while. The family we met at the Bark Bay hut stayed at the Anchorage hut as well. The sleeping arrangements at the huts are pretty weird. At Anchorage there was only the long flat planks that slept six people on a level and you really need ear plugs to get a good nights sleep. All night there is a concert of snoring and rustling from various people in the room.

We left later in the morning on the last day. It was the easiest day terrain wise. Once we hike up from Achorage the trail stayed mostly flat as it followed the ridges towards Marahau. We walked out of the park and went immediately to the Park Cafe for the best tasting beers ever and some really good food. We went back to Kaiteriteri to shower and rest. We all were in bed before 7:00 that night, and I hate to say that it probably was more like 6:00. I think we slept about 12-14 hours that night, even after being awoken by a loud and crashing hail storm around 11:00PM.

Home to Christchurch via Lewis Pass

Lewis Pass, 22 Dec 2006

We woke up Friday and packed up the van to head home to Christchurch. We stopped by Nelson just for a quick visit to John and Linda’s so Mom could pick up her mirror that she left. We drove home from Nelson on and inland route this time, through Lewis Pass. I prefer the scenery through the Pass more than on the coastal road through Kaikoura, but they both have their advantages (can’t get crayfish on the Lewis Pass!). We stopped at a hot springs in Maruia and it was the most wonderful and most relaxing thing we could have done. The geothermal rock pools are set in a valley, so the view from the pools is stunning. There was also a Japanese bathhouse were we could soak in the hot pools inside, and the women’s had a spa pool. We didn’t bring the camera in, but here is the web address if anyone is interested in seeing what this hot springs is like: Maruia Hot Springs. We all were very relaxed and peaceful as we left the hot springs, that is until Al pulled over so that Dad could get a picture of the valley and the van got stuck in some very thick gravel. We managed to push it out with some brute force and the rest of the drive went along without incident.

Well, that’s about it for now. Its Christmas eve morning and we are mostly lounging around today. Mom, Dad, Al, and I are having our Christmas tonight, then we have Christmas plans all day tomorrow with Al’s family. We leave the 26th for our next trip around the South Island. I’m going to take my computer on this trip so I’ll probably be able to post sometime in the middle of that trip.

We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and it’s been great hearing from you all. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

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Off to a Good Start

December 14th, 2006

Mom and Dad arrived safely in Christchurch Monday morning as Alan and I eagerly waited at the wrong terminal. Luckily we realized our mistake quickly and ran over to the international terminal for a long awaited reunion. We were so focused on just spending time together on the first day that we forgot to take any pictures, but we have since made up for that.

Arrival and First Two Days in Christchurch

Monday turned into a lovely day, sunny and warm. We walked around the neighborhood and fed the ducks at the park in the morning, then took a picnic lunch to the botanic gardens in the afternoon along with Al’s mom. Mom and Dad were troopers and managed to stay awake til about 10PM Monday night. It helped that it doesn’t get dark until 9:30 or 10 o’clock, so they didn’t even realize how late it really was. Tuesday was Mom’s first shopping day, so we strolled around the shops downtown while Dad and Al mucked around in a few music shops. We went out to dinner that night with Al’s dad, which was very good, then went to a pub for drinks and some live music.

That brings us to Wednesday when we packed up the van and took our first road trip out of town to Lake Coleridge. The scenery was even more striking than our past visits. The hills were greener, many of the shrubs were blooming with bright yellow flowers and soft pink wild roses. Dad chatted with a woman who has come to Lake Coleridge for 40 years and she said the area has had unusually high rainfalls and it certainly showed.

We camped in a little cove of shrubs that sheltered us from the winds, so we were able to relax and enjoy the very peaceful site. I know Mom and Dad were really awed by it all. Its just a unique landscape that you certainly don’t see in the southern United States. Its equally as spectacular at night since there is no light pollution whatsoever and the sky is filled with layer upon layer of twinkling stars. Before we turned in for the night, Dad, Al and I went out and did alittle stargazing. At the time there were a few clouds blocking the Milky Way and the Southern Cross, but Dad was amazed nonetheless. Of course within ten minutes of him going to bed the sky completely cleared and the entire night sky, Milky Way and all, came into crystal clear view. It is really a sight to behold and hopefully we’ll get other chances while travelling around the South Island to view such a magnificent starry night.

Lake Coleridge 13-14 Dec. 2006

We returned to Christchurch Thursday and rested. The folks are holding up really well despite travelling through so many time zones, but I think they were alittle tired at this point. Dad finally got to watch some cricket and I did my best to answer his slew of questions while Al was out playing tennis. That night we treated Mom and Dad to their first Kiwi fish and chips dinner, a longstanding New Zealand tradition.

Well, that brings us to today. We did alittle more shopping and ran some errands to prepare for our camping trip to the Abel Tasman. We’re going to the Saturday markets tomorrow morning and we have a few things planned with Al’s family the rest of the day. Then we leave for Nelson on Sunday, so we’ll share those pictures and stories when we get back next week.

Kia Kite!

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Its Worth the Wait

December 5th, 2006

After almost a year of waiting and after months of planning, Mom and Dad are five days away from their first taste of New Zealand. I thought I’d write alittle about our plans over the next few weeks. Its not a formal itinerary, but it has pitcures! The dates are New Zealand time, 18 hours ahead of the east coast USA.

Monday 11 Dec. Mom and Dad arrive in Christchurch at 8:30 AM after a marathon flight, crossing a zillion time zones, and will no doubt struggle to stay awake while Al and I explain cricket to Dad on TV. Al and I have a few things planned for this day, but they aren’t set in stone and they will be a surprise (whatever it may be).

Mom and Dad will get to know Christchurch a bit better this week, but we will may venture out of the city to see the near by sites of Lake Coleridge (with Saura):

First trip to Lake Coleridge (Feb 2006)

and we may explore the Banks Penninsula from Lyttleton Harbor, Akaroa, or the Christchurch gondola:

Various Views Around Banks Penninsula

The next week brings our trip to Nelson. On 17 Dec. we will head up the coast through Kaikoura for a roadside crayfish feast, we’ll stop off in Marlborough for some wine tasting, then ride into Nelson to stay a night with Al’s aunt and uncle:

Nelson, Fall 2006

On 18 Dec, we head to Kaiteriteri to relax a day before we grab a water taxi and spend three days hiking the Abel Tasman Track:

Abel Tasman Track March 2006

We’ll be back in Christchurch on 22 Dec to relax and recover for a few days before Christmas.

But of course Mom and Dad can’t leave New Zealand without seeing Mt Cook and the rugged West Coast, so from 26 Dec to 4 Jan we will view the night sky at Lake Tekapo, tramp along the base of the mighty Mt. Cook on my birthday, party down in Queenstown (the adventure capital of New Zealand) over the New Year, and leave a few footprints on the Franz Josef glacier before driving over the scenic Arthurs Pass back to Christchurch:

Te Anau and the West Coast Glaciers

I can’t wait to add a few more chapters to those photo albums. Mom and Dad, have a safe trip, be patient, get up and stretch your legs frequently while flying, and drink plenty of water.


Christen and Al

P.S. I am now uploading my pictures to a web album. So you can browse more photos here. I have also added the link to the “My Links” column of this blog, so you can follow our trip as we get the photos uploaded.

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2006


We celebrated a very warm and delicious Thanksgiving meal yesterday. I squeezed by with a few minor disasters and one very good roasted chicken. I had to go with the chicken as I only found frozen turkeys in the supermarket, but it was really good. Along with the bird, I made stuffing, gravy from the bird juices, and peas cooked with alittle chicken fat (believe me, there was not a lack of butter and fat in this meal). My first disaster was putting condensed milk in the sweet potato casserole, which then became the dessert: a sweet potato crumble served with vanilla ice cream and strawberries. So the first disaster was averted, but the second disaster couldn’t be mended. As I took the brussel sprouts (with a bread crumb crust, Alan’s favorite) out of the oven to the table, I lost grip of the dish and they fell to the carpet. Saura didn’t see that as a disaster since she’s been eating the spoils for two days now.

Continuing on the topic of food, Alan and I broke out the grill for the first time this spring/summer. We had the best tasting sausages (aka “saussies”) I’ve ever had. We bought them fresh from the butcher (raw, none of that pre-cooked stuff for us!). We loved them so much we went back and nearly wiped them out of the rest, and had them bagged seperately so we could freeze them and thaw as needed. I’m definitely ready for a summer filled with barbeques and beer, mmmmmm.

Lastly, here’s a pic from Doreen’s graduation ceremony where she was the recipient of the Award of Excellence and the Dux Award. Pictured from left to right: me, Al, Doreen, Linda (Doreen’s sister), and John (Linda’s husband).


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Guy Fawkes Day

November 5th, 2006

Brighton beaches 05 November 2006

Alan, Doreen and I went to the beach (with Saura in tow) to watch the fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day. This is the day to celebrate the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in which Catholic extremists planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to kill King James I and his family. It has an atmosphere of the Fouth of July, sans patriotism. Its a pretty festive weekend and everyone sets off the fireworks that are sold ten days before Guy Fawkes. Our neighbors have been setting off fireworks all week, so we saw a few warm up shows from the comfort of our back porch.

There where tons of people at the beach to see the fireworks display off the end of the New Brighton pier. People were setting of their own fireworks all along the beach and some were alittle too close for comfort. I managed to get a few acceptable pictures, but my battery died before the big show started. I was really impressed with the fireworks, there was alot of variety in the show and it was really well choreographed. Watching it from a moonlit beach was great too.



Happy Birthday Nikolas

October 31st, 2006


Here are a few photos that I have of Nik’s first year. I can’t believe how much he’s grown! That goes for Josh too, those boys are growing so fast. I wish I could be there to celebrate, I really miss you all. I hope you enjoy going through these pics.
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I’ve already packed away my books…

October 28th, 2006

Rock Garden, Hagley Park

I am officially done with studying until February, so…Woohoo! I felt relief that was almost equivalent to finishing the MCAT’s after these New Zealand university exams. They are held in a “standardized test” style where you go to a lecture hall and proctors give the exams instead of your teacher. And they are strict! I had to go to the bathroom during my first exam and I had to hand one woman my student ID and another physically escorted me to the bathroom, like we can’t be trusted! Over the two days, I wrote for three hours on each exam to the point where I thought my arm would fall off and we were actually expected to back up our arguments with cited sources. Thats pretty tough when you don’t even know what the questions are going to be, but its over and I’m pretty sure I passed.
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I Should Be Studying

October 21st, 2006

My window sprouts

There is nothing like writing in the blog as a good procrastination technique. I’m really just having problems getting started this morning, so this is probably a fit exercise in waking up my brain for a long day of rote memorization. Not alot has happened since the last post, but I do have a few more pictures to share. I meant to put up these pics of the front on the last post. I have since pruned the vining around the front stoop so it is no longer like tramping through a jungle to get into the front door. I should also put up a before and after of the front I guess. Well, the last picture in this group is the “before” as I have since dug out the grass and weeds and made a proper flowerbed there.

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Spring Updates

October 5th, 2006


Its been quite a while since I’ve posted here, but I’ve definitely been very busy with school. I have just changed my enrollment to the Masters of Health Science Health Information Management Program, so I have a whole new schedule for the next year and a half. Next week is the last week of classes for this semester, then I have exams on the 24th and 25th. Then freedom! I can’t express how excited I am to get this first semester under my belt and to have a nice break. After finding Saura head first in a case of beer, I think she is looking for a break as well!


But it hasn’t been all about school lately. Spring has finally sprung here in NZ and it is absolutely gorgeous. Al and I have also been doing alot of work in our yard, planting a garden, weeding all the flower beds, and planting all new things…from seed. The most exciting part is seeing all the little sprouts come up. I’m definitely addicted now and have goine out and bought more seeds with the plan of redoing the beds in the front yard.
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