Just before Christmas, my family and I drove to Sydney and enjoyed a visit with relations (albeit short). We managed to cram in a host of activities, including some last minute shopping and catching the final day of an exhibition.
Christmas was a quiet affair at home, as was New Years. In the afternoon, my mum, sister and I traipsed over to the beach for a swim (and chip sandwiches).
With no developments on the job front and no massively exciting tales of adventure, here are some photos from around my mum’s house.
Not really one for resolutions, I will say I’m hoping 2015 brings new and better things. Stay tuned.
Despite spending days trawling job search sites, submitting innumerable applications and getting the odd interview, I am yet to find a job. I am stuck in a difficult zone – too old to be paid junior rates, too young to be completely proficient and experienced. This isn’t made any easier by the fact that to get experience, you need to already have experience! Hopefully some volunteering can help me upskill.
Anyway, feeling thoroughly defeated, I went home to visit my family this past weekend. The couple of weeks prior, there had been a heatwave of around 44 degrees, which killed thousands of fruit bats (flying foxes) and left hundreds of their orphaned babies very distressed and dehydrated. My mum has raised a couple of bats before and helped with the rescue effort. We are both vaccinated, so on the weekend she took me to see how the bats were going. Set up on modified clothes airers, the young bats definitely have distinct personalities and most recovered brilliantly with the tireless effort of wildlife carers. They are very interesting creatures, and will try to grab onto your shirt if you walk by, to have some pats or ensure their food is coming on time! After helping feed and clean some bats, I was asked to take some photos for a particular wildlife service to use for a promotion. Here are a few.
It has been a boring couple of weeks. Job searching has been tedious and draining. I had an interview for a position which seemed ideal and was a ‘finalist’, but for whatever reason (did I come across as ditzy? Bungle the interview questions? Ask too few questions of my own?) I didn’t get it, which was disheartening. Sam took me out today as he had the weekend off and we had a very nice time. My poor camera has been neglected lately but hopefully I’ll feel like getting it out again soon.
Attached are a couple of pics from about a month ago. Until next time.
Since returning from my short but enjoyable trip, I’ve been plagued by those aching feelings of lust for travel.
They make me feel guilty; I just had an adventure, shouldn’t that be enough? Maybe, but I find going travelling only heightens my desires to explore. First world problems indeed.
My personal method of fighting these feelings is to employ hair of the dog (travel edition). Very loose draft plans for my next trip are already bouncing around in my head. I would love to go backpacking in Europe with Sam for several months, hopefully at the end of next year. I’m ridiculously excited by the prospect.
Before we went to NZ I dropped uni for the semester, and I think I’ll defer next year. I’m not in the right headspace and am thinking of moving to a different course anyway. The good part about that is I’m free to work full time now, so we could potentially save enough to make our ideas actually happen.
The main hitch in my plan is that I’ve had no luck finding jobs so far. Waiting to hear back is pretty draining. Someone hire me!
On our ninth day we awoke in a very sodden Greymouth. We replenished our car snack stockpile and got some breakfast, happy to move on. Initially the drive was slow due to heavy winds and rain. I took it pretty easy after driving past a large 4WD being pulled out of a ditch by two tractors.
A couple of hours in and we reached Arthur’s Pass, an alpine road which winds through a mountain range right in the middle of the South Island. The last leg of the pass was very slick with ice and snow.
As we all remained mesmerised by snow, I pulled over into the one spot I could, a (closed) snowfield carpark. The three of us jumped around a lovely river-side clearing and mucked around in the light snow for a while. I still can’t believe we got to our last full day and finally got to mess about in the snow – it was my sister’s one goal for the trip and a great note to end on. The remainder of the car trip was quiet and contemplative quite rowdy as we were so chuffed. Upon reaching our cabin for the night, we made some hot drinks, then headed into Christchurch for dinner.
Our final day was spent packing, going into the city to eat and buy a couple of presents, then bidding our trusty rental car farewell. Tired, we were all quiet on the plane. Time went quickly (3 hour flights are such a treat) and before we knew it, Sam’s dad had kindly picked us up and driven us to my mum’s house.
Unfortunately, just like the day, this post is a bit disappointing, but since not all things go to plan I decided to include it. Sorry about the distinct lack of photos!
From Wanaka we planned to check out Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, and finally get into Greymouth in the early evening, after about 6 hours of driving. Apparently typical of the West Coast, it poured for most of the drive. Undeterred, we donned our raincoats and checked the conditions before commencing the 45 minute return walk. We walked most of the distance before coming to a sign which said the rest of the walk was closed due to rockfall. It was too misty to see anything, so we turned back and drove to Franz Josef Glacier.
On the drive in we saw the glacier for about two minutes before clouds obscured it. As we pulled into the car park rain started belting down, showing no signs of stopping for the next twenty minutes. Between my sick and hungry companions and the need to keep driving, we admitted defeat and I grudgingly drove away from the seemingly absent glacier. I don’t know if it’s because I was sick and tired or because of the inclement weather, but Greymouth didn’t really grab me.
It did have roundabouts with train crossings on them though. Weird.
After riding, we meandered back into Queenstown and spent the early afternoon there before leaving for Wanaka. The drive was a bit slow through the ice-slicked alpine passes, but we got there in just over an hour and immediately set out to find food (priorities).
Settling on variants of fish and chips, we sat by the lake and enjoyed the quiet afternoon and magnificent scenery. As it goes with chips, it didn’t take long before we had some avian stalkers. Gulls, sparrows and ducks soon flocked around us, and my sister delighted in throwing a few chips skyward. The ensuing bird acrobatics made for fun photos! Still chilly in the evenings, we scoffed some ice-cream as the sun went down and headed back to our accommodation.
I was feeling off again the next day, but we had planned to drive out to Aoraki/Mt. Cook and I didn’t want to miss it. The road winds alongside enormous jewel coloured lakes before reaching a flat valley bordered by the Southern Alps. Not feeling up to any walks, we hung around for a while, took photos and drove to a couple of different points. My sister managed to drop her iPod and smash the screen (I realised days later I got a photo of the crucial moment!), so between that and everyone being a bit sick and grumpy, we drove home, thoroughly impressed by the scenery but lacking the verve to explore it.
Next time I guess – it was probably a good idea to get some rest anyway, as we had a big drive coming up the next day.
Our second day in Queenstown started quite early, but looked promising – it was snowing (icy sleeting?) in Arthur’s Point! After admiring the new dusting of snow on the mountains, we piled into the car and I drove (gingerly) into Queenstown to grab some coffees before heading out to Glenorchy. A quick check of the weather forecast suggested it would be freezing and snowy at our destination. I hoped this wouldn’t jeopardise the activity I was most excited for. We were going for a horse ride with Dart Stables!
At the stables we donned our raincoats and borrowed some helmets and boots. A fifteen minute van ride took our group of seven to meet our noble steeds, a mix of Standardbreds, Clydesdale crosses and similar types. I am an experienced rider and my sister is pretty competent, but we had selected this easy-going trail ride as Sam is a complete beginner. He was given the dominant horse (who delighted in getting away with biting the guide’s horse a few times) and managed pretty well, even having a trot. Three of us were more advanced riders, so we got to branch off with one of the guides and go cantering down some different trails.
It might seem peculiar that I was most excited to do something really familiar to me, but the difference was the scenery. We rode along/criss-crossed the Dart River, bordered by imposing snow capped mountains which featured in the Lord Of The Rings. It was a stunning location, we were snowed on and saw a large hare swim across a shallow part of the river. In the last 20 minutes of the ride we came to the head of Lake Wakatipu, which offered incredible views and photo opportunities (however I had only taken my iPod, so please excuse the poor image quality).
I definitely didn’t want the ride to end and thought it catered really well to everyone in our group. I would love to go back for a longer ride, particularly in the warmer months when the lupins by the lake are flowering.
On our fifth day we grabbed a quick breakfast in Te Anau before commencing the drive to Queenstown. Another beautiful day, we were spoiled with quiet roads and lush, undulating scenery on all sides. I drove, and once we got to Lake Wakatipu we stopped at nearly every lookout point. The lake is such an incredible colour, and the winding drive alongside it was quite fun.
We had lunch in the bustling centre, then drove up to Arthur’s Pass to leave our bags at our accommodation. This was one of the places we ‘splashed out’ on – private bathroom woohoo!
Early in the afternoon we drove back down to Queenstown, where my boyfriend (henceforth Sam) had booked his big adrenaline-pumping indulgence – a go on the Hydro Attack, a strange jet boat shaped like a shark. The boat seats the driver in front and one passenger behind, whizzing them around the harbour and jumping above and under the water for 20 minutes or so. After his session, Sam returned grinning widely. Once he had his land legs back, we all walked up to the Skyline Gondola and jumped on a cable car up a mountain for a great view of the lake, town and bordering mountains.
Ever the child at heart, Sam opted for a ticket with two runs on the luge track included. I sat with my camera, waiting for him to fly around the corner and managed to get distracted by something and only get one photo. Whoops! It looked like great fun though, my sister and I regretted not going but needed to save for our indulgence activity which I will write about tomorrow. Until then!
We woke up early in Te Anau, groggy but excited for the morning tour of Milford Sound we booked the night before. I had heard that the 2 hour drive to Milford Sound would be spectacular, and since I was still feeling fluey I happily let my boyfriend drive and contented myself with scenery watching. It was a good choice – the sun struck snow-capped peaks as we drove past. Much to our excitement, we drove through a mountain pass with snow right next to the car (a big deal for Australian kids!) and actually got to drive through a mountain tunnel. Fantastic fun!
Once we got to Milford Sound we boarded the Jucy Cruise catamaran with about 30 others, taking advantage of the free tea and coffee before heading up to the breezy (bloody cold) viewing deck. We chose this cruise for the cheap factor (having a Jucy rental car gives the driver half price entry) but were pleasantly surprised. The tour was interesting and informative, comfortable and seemed just the right length at a bit over an hour. We saw some waterfalls, despite the weather being uncharacteristically dry, and some seals basking in the sun.
On the drive home, we had to wait for traffic to come through the one-way mountain pass. As we waited, two large green alpine parrots called Keas lolloped over to the car and flew onto the back, chirping at us and tapping on the window with their enormous beaks! They were real characters. I’m glad we weren’t there too long though, apparently they are known for ripping the rubber seals out of cars!
The rest of the day was spent stopping at interesting sites on the way back to Te Anau, where we took it rather easy just relishing the surrounds. The next morning we would head to Queenstown, which held one of the highlights for me – stay tuned!