Edoras (Mt Sunday) – October 18

I know there’s nothing one can do about the weather, especially when it’s rather torrential rain. But it is very, very disappointing when what should be one of the highlights of a trip is quite spoiled by it. I’d booked a day tour from Christchurch out to Mt Sunday, which is the location of Edoras in the Lord of the Rings films. Usually, in good weather, one is able to climb Mt Sunday, and this is heavily promoted in all of the tour brochures, etc. My tour, however, only got somewhat close to Mt Sunday, due to the very, very heavy rain (you can see from the pictures how wet it was). It was terribly disappointing not to be able to climb to the top, and what made me even more upset was that instead of having some alternative activity as we were unable to climb the mountain, we just sat in the cafe for an hour and a half before driving back to Christchurch. On a clear day, the scenery there would be just amazing, but we could hardly see anything due to the low cloud and rain.

So, I will have go back there another time, and I think I would like to stay at the accommodation that’s there. But it was definitely the most disappointing day of my trip.

Wellington to Christchurch – October 17

Of my two weeks in New Zealand, this day was amongst my favourite. I think I’ve said it somewhere here before, but I’ll say it again, I LOVE travelling by train, and I spent six hours on one on this day of my trip. The day started, however, catching the bus to Wellington Station, then another bus from the station out to the docks, then boarding the InterIslander Ferry across the Cook Straight from Wellington to Picton. The Ferry trip was certainly worth it, 3 1/2 hours on the huge ferry, the swell was a level 2 of 7 (no glassy, just a little bit of waves). It was, however, once we got out of the Wellington bay and into the Straight – absolutely freezing. It was the wind that was so cold, but still, that’s half the fun. Then it was into the beautiful Marlborough Sounds for about an hour, slowly making our way through to Picton. We arrived at Picton around midday, and, with about an hour and a half before the train for Christchurch left, I had plenty of time to look around. I had lunch at the Picton Village Bakkerij, and I must say, they make pretty good pies.

Then it was ont0 the Coastal Pacific train, for what must be one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world. Travelling through vineyards, along the Pacific Ocean past a seal colony, past part of the northern part of the Southern Alps, and through pastoral lands. It was such a stunning afternoon weather-wise, which just made the countryside all the more beautiful. The train arrived in Christchurch around 7pm, then I caught a shuttle bus to the hotel. By time I got to the hotel, I’d been on the road for over 12 hours, and was more than a fair bit worn out! But still, a fantastic day.

(Click images for larger)

Wellington – October 16

Of all the days, weather wise, to be in Wellington, my full day there was certainly a good one. There were two main things I wanted to do in Wellington, go to the Weta Cave and Workshop in Miramar, and to Zealandia.

After a big breakfast of bacon and eggs, I caught the bus down to Miramar. Quick note: the bus system in Wellington is fantastic. It’s well priced, extensive, buses are clean, regular and new. Excellent system. Back to the story. I arrived at the Weta Cave, which I have visited before, but it was good to have another look around, see what’s new (all The Hobbit stuff), etc. Then I went for a tour of the Window into Workshop, which actually shows you inside Weta Workshop, where they make/have made all the armour, costumes, weapons, etc for the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, etc films. I got to handle the Witch King of Angmar’s Morning Star (not quite as heavy as it looks, but I still wouldn’t want to be carrying it around all day!), plus you get to see heaps of other props, etc used in the films. Understandably, they have a very strict “no photos” policy, as you are getting a window in their workshop where the artists are actually making things for upcoming films, etc. On my way back I visited the Roxy Theatre, which is a brilliant Art-Deco cinema.

After lunch back in central Wellington, I caught the shuttle bus up to Zealandia. Here I teamed up with a few other backpackers/travellers, and had a great time wandering around the reservation, seeing the different native New Zealand birds and lizards. Zealandia was one of those attractions that I thought might be a nice way to pass the afternoon, but actually ended up being really, really good. I would highly recommend it as a half-day activity in Wellington, being only 10 minutes from the CBD.

(Click for larger)

Chicks!

IMG_3114

They’re now 16 days old, and our three little chicks are certainly growing fast. We bought them as one day olds to put under our broody hen, Betty White (a white Sussex). This was about the fourth time that Betty White had gone clucky, so we decided to get her what she wanted, some little bubs. The trio are Ostra, an Australorp, Goldie, a gold laced Wyandotte and Sylvia, a silver laced Wyandotte. Betty White doesn’t seem to care that her chicks are all different, and all very different to her. We purposely bought these breeds as we have a bit of a collection of chickens; as well as Betty White we have Hawk the Welsummer, Speckles the speckled Sussex, Penny the Isa Brown and Maggie a leghorn-cross.

IMG_3121

Maggie, Penny and Speckles

It’s amazing to watch Betty White mother the chicks, and all of the instincts she has and things that she just ‘knows’ how to do, made even more amazing as Betty White herself was not raised by a mother hen, but was hand-raised under heat lamps.

Auckland to Wellington October 15

Day three of my trip was a transit day, flying from Auckland to Wellington. Not having to be at the airport until about 11, and check out of the hotel until 10, I went for a walk down Queens St to buy some breakfast, bagels with jam and cream cheese, from the Melba Cafe on Vulcan St, off Queen St. Highly, highly recommended. I took my breakfast down to the Quay to eat it down there.

IMG_2181[1]

On the way back up the hill to the hotel, it began to rain, and, as I was without raincoat, I ended up quite wet. Then it was time to gather my things, and head out to catch the airport bus to Auckland Airport, where I was to spend the next four hours, due to strong cross winds at the airport meaning that planes couldn’t safely land or depart. Most annoying, but these things happen, and, as I had no real plans for that afternoon, it was a bit of a bummer, but not the end of the world. It’s interesting to see the comardery that developes between passengers in such situations, I had a good whinge with some middle-aged ladies about different delayed-flight experiences, was given a newspaper by a RNZAF pilot named Bill (it was on his name badge), met a Chinese girl around my age who had just flown in from China and was trying to get down to Wellington and was worried that she’d miss the connecting flight – but due to the delays made it with hours to spare, and had a good natter with the bloke sitting next to me on the plane while we waited to take off (that classic case that will hold up any plane – they have someone’s luggage on board, but not that someone). Because of the delays, a lot of people had changed/given up on their flights, so I ended up having the window seat in stead of the seat in the middle of the row.

After a very quick 40 minute flight, I arrived in wonderful, windy Wellington. I caught the airport bus to the hotel, then set out for a walk along the harbourfront and then to find some dinner, ending up at Heavenly Pizza in Cuba St, a woodfire oven pizza place that is fantastic.

IMG_2220[1]IMG_0416  IMG_0442 IMG_0460

It didn’t take me long to remember how much I love Wellington and how easily I could live there.

And I strongly recommend watching the Air New Zealand inflight safety video. It made me laugh every time.

Hobbiton and Auckland October 14

Time to post some pictures from my trip to New Zealand, starting with my first full day there, which included my trip out to Hobbiton (Matamata), about 2 1/2 hours south of Auckland.

I have visited Auckland before, but didn’t think an awful lot of the city. I’m glad to say, however, that this time I quite enjoyed my time in Auckland, and found it to be quite a nice place (if you ignore the fact it’s built on one heck of a steep hill!).

 

Banana slice

IMG_3104

I thought it was about time to try out my new camera on some food pics, and, with the weather being so unseasonally cold, this spiced banana slice were a perfect choice (plus we had one over-ripe banana – perfect!).

The recipe and orginal post can be found here.

IMG_3097IMG_3098IMG_3101IMG_3102    IMG_3100