Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 3 - Queenstown and Arrowtown

Lake side - Queenstown

A quick read of the paper and a delicious hot choc from Pategonias

One the floats, Queenstown Winter Festival Parade.

Historical Arrowtown - 2 mins drive from our accommodation and only 20 minutes drive from Queenstown.

My 3 beautiful children, Arrowtown.

Day 2 - Tekapo to Queenstown

Goodbye Tekapo and Peppers, Queenstown here we come! Opening of the Winter Festival today!
View from Mt John Observatory, just outside Tekapo
My children, Mt John

View over Lake Tekapo

A quick detour via Mt Cook for some lunch - Hermitage Hotel, Mt Cook.

Dinner at the Gondola Restaurant with magnificent views over Queenstown - perfect venue to view the opening Fireworks of the Queenstown Festival.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day One - Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Our 7th trip to New Zealand in 6 years! A photo blog of our journey!
Copthorne Hotel - view over a Christchurch City Park

Off to Lake Tekapo to visit Winter Park for a bit of outdoor skating and wonderful, peaceful views

On the road through Fairlie.

Seriously beautiful country, New Zealand would have to be the most beautiful country on earth.

My three beautiful children very patiently posing while I try out my new camera!

Stunning Lake Tekapo!

View from our loungeroom, Peppers Lake Tekapo! What a stunning place to stay. Next time we will be sure to allow a few extra nights here.
Winter Park offers warm inviting spa pools and outdoor iceskating. A new tubing park will be opening soon - can't wait to try it out next year!Peppers Lake Tekapo More of Lake Tekapo

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One More Sleep!

One more sleep and we are off to New Zealand! So excited to see lots of pretty snow flakes on the weather predictions for next week - in fact most of next week looks very favourable for snow in Queenstown and Arrowtown.

The Queenstown Winter Festival starts Friday (the day we arrive in Queenstown). On Friday night the streets are filled with food stalls, beer stalls, and mulled wine to unthaw the fingers. To top it off, spectacular fireworks. I also hear the New Zealand's Prime Minster, will be in town too. Now all I need is a visit from Neil Finn and perhaps Sam Neil and I will be set!
Want to know more about the Winter Festival?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

5 sleeps to go!

Yes only 5 sleeps til we are back in New Zealand! I cannot believe a year has passed since I have been in beautiful Queenstown.

We will only be over for 12 night this trip. It was the only way I could convince my 17 year old to come along! Still 12 nights is better than nothing.

We will be flying into Christchurch (love the midnight arrival flight!) and heading of to Lake Tekapo for the second night. The girls just love ice skating in the open at the Winter Park there. It is just magical. I might even give it a go this time.

Then off to the beautiful Queenstown. We are staying 5 nights near Arrowtown this time. Normally I insist on Lake Views, but to be honest, after trying almost every 5 star place in town (with 3 bedrooms), I just couldn't find anywhere that really took my fancy, so a house in the country it is.

Just to ensure I don't fret too much, on missing my Lake and Remarkables view, we are also spending 3 nights at the newly completed Rees right on the Lake.

To top it all off, we are spending our last 2 nights at Terrace Downs in the shadow on Mt Hutt. We spent a few nights there last year and it was just so serene and peaceful. A perfect way to end a holiday.

Hopefully next year I will get to spend all of winter in Queenstown - that is our plan. We have trained staff and if all runs well this time, we should be able to spend more time in New Zealand next year. You never know, you may soon see another Funky Fabrix popping up in Queenstown some time soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Best Job in the World!

I have found my dream job - move over Qld Tourism - New Zealand is offering its own "best job in the world"
Job title says it all - World Famous New Zealand Expert on everything New Zealand.
Now I don't profess to be an expert of EVERYTHING New Zealand but I am a quick learner.
The job description can be found on (New Zealand's answer to EBay) posted by Entirely Kiwi.
Job role: Your role will be to travel the length of New Zealand, meeting with our suppliers, clients and the occasional possum and promoting Entirely Kiwi to the world through any means possible, and telling everyone exactly why New Zealand is the best country in the world - beyond the obvious fact that it is.

I am thinking they want some young, enthusiastic, bungee jumping, ski diving, snowboarding all round adventurer here, but I will be quick to point out that angle has been done over and over!

Every program on New Zealand aired in Australia depicts New Zealand as some adrenalin junkie's dream - and sure it is, but New Zealand is so much more. I think it is about time New Zealand was also thought of as the perfect family destination. Families on average spend way more than any young single/couple travelers.

OK I can't give away too much of my application angle, I don't want anyone else to win! Although, not sure what I will do with 4 children and a very busy business in Brisbane, if I do win! But I am certainly up for the challenge.

Come on, Entirely Kiwi, if you want more Australian families to visit New Zealand, pick me, pick me! With cheaper than every air travel, a fantastic exchange rate, and Aussie Shona rooting for you, you just can't go wrong!

Want to read the whole job description?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Something So Strong

Long before I met my present Kiwi love, and long long before I actually wanted to be a Kiwi - I was smitten with Neil Finn!

Referred to as New Zealand's "King of Pop", Neil Finn is one of New Zealand's most famous exports. A brilliant solo career, Crowded House, Split Enz and teaming up with his brother Tim, he has been on our radio ever since I can remember.

I first saw Neil in 1980! (am I really THAT old!) I was a high school student and I went to the Sporting True Colours concert - The Sports and Split Enz. Anyway to cut a long story short I have "loved" him ever since.

I do seldom play his music these days and always manage to see him whenever he comes to Brissy (only in concert unfortunately!).

I bring this up because I am presently compiling a new cd for my next New Zealand trip. Each year, before we head off to NZ, we all choose a few favourite tracks and add them to our "Travel CD". I love doing this. Music is much like smell, it evokes strong memories. Each time I play one of our old cds, it brings back some special memory from one of our trips.

Of course, this year again, I will choose a few of my favourite Neil Finn tracks, and hopefully no one will groan too loudly at their inclusion. After all, what would a trip to New Zealand be without Neil coming along for the ride?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Edmonds and Afghans

Ngahuru ki runga, ngahuru ki raro, maa te paroparo e aki
Ten above, ten below, let the skull grind them together

New Zealand is famous for many things - the Pavlova (but don't tell an Australian that), Hokey-Pokey, Lolly Cake and Afghan biscuits. Notice I am not mentioning All Blacks or Sport in any postings!

Most New Zealanders own an Edmonds Cookbook - first published in 1908 *information from a very reliable source - my Kiwi husband!

Naturally, I purchased one on my first trip. If I couldn't live in New Zealand - I was certainly going to cook like a Kiwi.

To be honest I have only made one recipe from my Edmonds - Afghan biscuits. I first tasted the delicious Afghan in a little coffee shop in Christchurch.

To put it bluntly, my first attempt was inedible ( I think when I threw them to the dogs, my Dad said they would probably take a week to chew through them). They were like little brown rocks, they did look nice though, you just couldn't bite into them. I think it was because I still haven't worked out if I was meant to use self-raising flour or plain flour and I have yet to be enlightened. Edmonds uses the obscure term of regular flour (what is regular flour?).

I have since found this recipe below, which combines both the Afghan and Hokey Pokey!

Per serve:
1 Afghan biscuit 1-2 scoops Hokey Pokey or Vanilla Ice Cream
1/2 banana, sliced
2-3 tablespoons Chocolate Icing,
heated chopped walnuts to taste
1. Break up half Afghan biscuit.
2. Layer Afghan biscuit, ice cream and banana in individual serving glasses.
3. Drizzle with warm Chocolate Icing (sauce) and sprinkle with chopped walnuts if desired.

I am not even going to go into the ingredients of the bizarre Lolly Cake. As far as I can tell, the Lolly Cake is unique to New Zealand. I have an ex-Kiwi friend who makes a Lolly Cake each year for her son's birthday. I have yet to acquire a taste for this New Zealand creation, hold the cake and pass the lollies please!

Yes even the lollies are better in New Zealand! One bonus of living in Brisbane, with so many Kiwis, is that now a few stores carry New Zealand lollies. I can now pop in, pick up a bag of milk bottles, close my eyes and dream of living in Aotearoa

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Quickie But A Goodie!

Yesterday we arrived home from a whirlwind trip to New Zealand. Four short days to be exact.

After months of deliberation we decided last week to attend my husband's family reunion in a little winery just outside Christchurch. We had been thinking it was a bit indulgent to go over for the May Day weekend, when we were already going over at the end of June.

Air New Zealand offered fares just too good to resist.

Christchurch is certainly not my favourite place on the South Island, but the thought of 4 days in New Zealand, now matter where, was simply irresistible.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and decided to head straight out of town to Methven. My desire to see snow would surely be sated. Methven is almost in the shadows of Mt Hutt, which was due to open on Saturday.

I know all the opening dates of all the New Zealand ski fields. is the site I first visit each morning when I hop on the computer for work. is my second choice of Internet destination. Both offer a glimpse into life in the most beautiful country on Earth. I can view web cams, see temperatures, salivate at those little snow flake symbols, knowing more snow is on its way. I have recently discovered a new site that has web cams positioned in different areas over Queenstown so I can get an even better view. I sometimes feel like a peeping Tom, a voyeur into a life I can only dream about for the moment.

Anyway I digress.

Methven is a really pretty place, with a good vibe, even in non-skiing times. We chose the Blue Pub for dinner. We popped in for dinner last year, so knew the food was delish and the beer nice and cold. The staff seemed revved up, awaiting Saturday, opening day for Mt Hutt. Our little 4 year old informed the waiter that we were from Australia - I don't think they could have missed our accent. Funny how, when you are in a different country, you really notice your own accent.
Heading out of Methven - towards Mt Hutt

Friday saw us head off to the West Coast. I was hoping for some snow in Arthur's Pass. It was a magnificent day to travel. Even though we didn't actually get to touch the snow, we did see it from afar. Arthur's Pass is a magnificent drive. Breathtaking scenery and great old pubs for lunch stops to make the trip even more memorable.
Arthur's Pass
I find it amazing how dramatically the scenery changes once you hit the West Coast. Suddenly you are driving through lush rainforests with giant ferns, moist air and lush green fields. The West Coast always seems wet and cold - very cold.
We popped into Shanty Town to sate our little history buff (our 4 year old is the youngest Historian in the world). Shanty Town hasn't changed in 6 years!

Shanty Town

Friday night was spent in the Beachside Motel at Hokitika. Right on the beach, falling to sleep listening to the crashing waves.
Saturday brought another sunny brilliant day and the hope of snow on Sunday. Weather warnings predicted a very cold, snowy day on Sunday over most of the South Island. Seems all our Christmases were coming at once!

On the road to Oxford.

Snow, snow and more snow! On Sunday Oxford, located about 50kms outside Christchurch, was transformed into a winter wonderland. We couldn't have asked for more!

We left Monday morning with a heavy heart, but knowing in only 3 weeks we would be back again, to spend 2 glorious weeks in Queenstown! Fingers crossed for more snow and a very wintery winter!

Monday, June 1, 2009


View from Deer Park Heights, Queenstown, June '08

I first stepped foot on New Zealand soil 6 years ago. A spur of the moment trip, with my 3 children and my new partner Jason (an ex Kiwi).

I loved the fresh crisp air - a fresh optimism hitting us as we walked out of the Christchurch airport. I felt like we were almost stepping back in time - a time when the word traffic jam was not part of our every day vocabulary - when people greeted you with a smile - when a high-rise was 5 storeys. My first drive into the city evoked such strong childhood memories of happier, carefree times.

Everywhere we went, people chatted and smiled - we were almost dumbfounded - this did not happen in Australia. People held open doors, gave way on roads, pulled over when they were driving too slow and waved on country roads.

Breath-taking is just too underwhelming a word to describe the scenery of the South Island - I cannot even think of an apt term to describe the beauty of this country. We were blessed with brilliant blue skies as we made our way to Queenstown. On your first trip, it is hard not to stop every few kilometres to take photos and simply breathe in the astounding beauty.

I certainly had expectations as I drove to Queenstown. We have all seen the photos, the ads campaigns and the travel hype surrounding Queenstown. We arrived around dusk, and to be honest, driving through Frankton to our hotel, I felt a little let down.

Next morning, we headed off to Deer Park Heights. As we meandered up the gravel road, Queenstown's beauty was laid out before our eyes. Nestled in the hills, surrounded by the magnificent Lake Wakatipu and snow capped mountains, this was better than any travel photo I had ever seen. This was the moment that I truly lost my heart to New Zealand.

A few years ago I read a book by an American who visited Auckland and within 2 days he was house hunting. He said he felt at home, like this was where he was meant to be. I know exactly how he feels.

I am now heading towards by 7th visit to New Zealand in 6 years. Each time is no different - I start to feel a deep sense of melancholy as my holiday nears its end. I do not want to go back to Australia, I never want to leave.

Unfortunately until I can convince 4 children that New Zealand is the best place in the world, Brisbane is where I lay my hat.

I know I will live in New Zealand one day, until then, I dream of living there, visit as often as I can, and continue to bore my friends and family with the "ramblings of a wannabe Kiwi".