Friday, January 14, 2011

Wanaka: Mtn Biking, chickens laying eggs,and Canyoning

We spent our final week away from work in Wanaka- the sleepier adventure town about an hour from Queenstown (the "adrenaline capital of the world").  We spent about an hour in Queenstown- Wanaka is reminiscient of a sleepy Colorado mtn town (Crested Butte comes to mind): mtns everywhere you look, lots of outdoor activities, wonderful weather, and chickens.  The rivers and lakes were cold, but impossible to stay out of for swimming.
 We stayed at a house that had chickens- they laid us lots of eggs, and Ella loved them, even when they pecked her.

family hike along the hawea river

we found free babysitters- aside from a little pecking it worked great!

kite festival- Ella loved it!

Gillian's kite festival

We each took a day for adventure-
Erin went canyoning (canyoneering) on an amazingly beautiful and challenging route- lots of rappeling, abseiling, cliff jumping...she is a bad ass.  They hiked/climbed up, then donned wetsuits and braved the waterfalls, water chutes, etc.  The pictures are unbelievable.
the climb up- Erin smiling!

going down the chute- Erin in the back.

abseiling through  waterfall- can see the rope and her helmet

"Yes, I just came down that- I know,I rock."


all this happened between the trees and the sheep....

I went on a bruising solo mtn bike ride (the guy at the bike store is probably still laughing for telling me to ride what amounted to about 3,000 ft elevation gain, 18 miles, a gigantic bull, but was rewarded by no people and majestic views.
suffice to say I pushed the bike up a lot, and the bike guy and I disagree on the definition of "undulating".

the ridgeline of the mtn bike ride

looking to the southern alps

very large bull- those are trees in the foreground
 Ella/Gillian and I went to the toy and transport museum (essentially one man's obsession with vehicles/machines from hot wheels to airplanes).

Ella said, "  I will bring all these home". Tough lessons of museums.

big "dumper" wheel

James Dean has nothin on this rebel....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Kiwi Style

We just returned from our Christmas Holiday adventure and have begun to catch our breath. After loading up the car and squishing our bodies into the empty spaces; we felt a little like the Griswold Family in "Vacation". The car was loaded to the max with stuff and included a kayak, a surf board, and 3 bikes. Yes, we fit all of that in or rather dangling off of our used and somewhat suspiciously smelling Subaru outback. Dave's sister, Katie, was kind and adventurous enough to join us for the journey all the way from Massachusetts. A decision I'm pretty sure she was regretting after spending 6 hours driving from Christchurch to Nelson on windy mountainous roads with a chorus of tears emanating from the car seats in the back. Oh, did I mention I was sandwiched between those car seats. Note to self, next time bring ear plugs for the car ride. Okay, now that a few days have passed, I can admit that maybe it wasn't as bad as it seemed, or at least, the good memories are overtaking the bad ones.

Nelson was lovely. It's a quaint, hippy enclave on the north tip of the south island. We spent Christmas at a great holiday rental with lots of room and tons of toys including ella's favorite--a trampoline!!! We were so excited to get a visit from my good friend Shauna and her awesome family who were in New Zealand on vacation. Shauna and her daughter Mara are in a playgroup with Ella and me in SF. The playgroup has been a weekly highlight for both of us over the last 2 years so you can imagine how thrilled we were about their visit.

Next stop was the Golden Bay holiday park. As we arrived, it began to sprinkle. We started to set up the tents and realized that a set of poles were left in our garage at home--oops, sorry Katie. When I headed to the communal kitchen to put our food away, there was a notice on the door mentioning something about storm warnings. The rain and the wind began to get progressively heavier as the night progressed. We tried in vain to distract ella and lull her into a elmo induced sleep by allowing her to watch DVDs way past her usual bedtime and awoke in the morning after a sleepless night to find our tent an island in the middle of a newly formed lake. We headed for dryer ground in the kitchen where most of the campground seemed to have spent the night after their tents were ripped in two by the wind. Our next move was to hop in the car in desperate search of lodging. Despite flooded roads, tales of drowned livestock, and power outages, Dave scored a sweet and most importantly dry rental just down the road--phew!

Our luck turned around in a major way the next day with blue skies and sunshine. We spent the day in Abel Tasman National Park which was far more spectacular than I had imagined--beaches with golden sand, crystal clear water and lots of native plants. Katie, Gillian and I took a water taxi to a remote beach and did a beautiful hike through the bush to a swing bridge. Dave and Ella spent the day exploring and playing on the beach.

Our final stop was the town of Picton nestled in the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. We spent new years here and had a chance to do some kayaking and visit some wineries. Ella cooperated on our wine tour by falling asleep in the car making it easy for Dave and I to take turns tasting wine at a few wineries while the other played with Gillian in the grass.

Katie peeled off for some solo travel via the Coastal Railway in the new year and we headed back to Christchurch the next day. Sadly, Katie left early this morning to head back to Massachusetts : (. We miss her already. Thanks so much for your visit!

We head to Queenstown on Friday for a week and promise to post more when we return.

a sweet little colt born at the stables behind our house just 5 days ago!