Made it!

Still shattered… it’s 9am Hawaiian time… yesterday… and kids haven’t yet surfaced. We’ve decided to cancel the planned tours and just hire a car and wing it. No idea why we went with tours anyway – we’re a wander the city and explore the countryside kind of tribe 🙂

So… odd start to the trip. Little things. Niggly things. 

The ex was still threatening to have us stopped at the departure gates – I was still receiving abusive, threatening texts up until the evening before. 

The princess disembarked from her cruise and headed home rather than straight to the airport. So another seat was acquired for the shuttle to the airport. 

The shuttle was late. 40 minutes late. No apology. No text. Just late. Another family on it for the same plane. The driver was insane! Scarily so. I was sitting in the front passenger seat so lucky (?) enough to experience it all first hand :/ Why drive an airport shuttle if Sydney traffic annoys you? He’d cut across traffic, drive so close to the car in front I thought we’d go over it, slam on the brakes hard, threaten the driver in front through their mirror… all with a mocking monologue about how every other driver on the road is dangerous. Won’t be recommending that company…

Airport finally. Alive. Whole. The Knight decided to make life hell for us all. Nerves. I don’t understand such deep seated anxiety and depression. I don’t understand the absolute selfishness of it. 

On the plane. I’m wedged between the selfish Knight and a big, muscly Hawaiian guy… other three in front. Staff were divine… less divine when they started serving breakfast at 4am… which was 1am Australian time… but woke everyone – less than 2 hours sleep for the night. 

Landed. All the drama about American customs – don’t smile. No sarcasm. Just nod and agree. Declare everything. Don’t joke!! Seriously, don’t joke!! … We had an awesome guy. Lots of smiles. Very patient with a mum with 4 kids in tow at 6am off a long flight. 

Hotel transfer. Driver mentions tips. Damn! Forgot about tips! No American cash… Tips are insane btw. So much money!! I don’t want anyone to do anything, but apparently that’s rude too? The Aus dollar is shockingly low right now, so everything is dear anyway… then… tips!! Omg :/ and… it feels wrong… handing someone money because they did their job? It feels arrogant… 

Hotel. Everyone is shattered. Oh… you can’t check in until 3… huh?!? We’ll take your luggage though… omg. Everyone is shattered. Kids are falling asleep on their feet. I’m not far behind them. Travel agent organised accommodation for us. Not impressed. Won’t be recommending that company either. 

Hotel staff are gorgeous. See my kids. Suggest breakfast up the road. Then back to the pool area at least. But it’s windy on the roof and cold… Princess falls asleep first. Knight not long behind. Dragon is trying… Wizard is swimming! Finally… 1pm… we check if the room is ready early… success! Message to Princess and Knight who we left sleeping at the pool 😉 into the room. Crashed. Princess and Knight finally appeared… grumbled about sharing a room… crashed 😂kids slept all afternoon and half the evening. Still sleeping now. 

So, hotel… Gorgeous people. Front desk is gorgeous. But… for the money I’ve spent on this room, seriously disappointed. The shower/bath won’t turn into a shower – will talk to them today… the blind in the bathroom won’t come down – hi neighbours! The aircon is off or Antarctic. None of the power points in the kitchen or dining areas work… Oh, and housekeeping drop by at 7:30… 

Niggly things… still awesome to be here! But niggly things…

Reminiscing

2am… still working… kind of… sometimes, I think there’s an element of me that seriously self destructs… 

Checking my news feed… something horrible about someone in Adelaide on a bus.. or a tram… and I’m transported… 

City of churches… one on every corner. 

A rail line cutting through the red dust. 

Laughing. 

Relaxed. 

I don’t remember the specifics. Not the way you do. I remember the feelings. 

It’s the only real trip I’ve taken there. I remember the lack of waves. The warmth. The dodgy motel. The dodgy motel owner. 

I have a sense of the smell of the place. Something crisp but warm. 

And the flatness. 

What I should have been feeling was stress and remorse and guilt… I was meant to be heading to Sydney to see my dad in hospital. 

But I was easily waylaid…

I should go back. Road trip through the red earth. That L shape of memories. Take the kids to see a piece of my past. 

Because it strikes me… that my memories of those places are completely entwined with you… unlike yours which span a longer time and a lot more people…

I need to build new memories to snatch my breath at 2am. 

Queenstown!

Happy New Year!!

Sunburnt and half bald… This is how I am greeting the new year… But also travelling to new places and appreciating those I love. 

I woke yesterday feeling that I was putting the patterns of my life back together. I woke this morning remembering that home is not a place, but the people who live in my heart. 

I’m leaving a piece of my heart in every place we visit in NZ. I could live here. I could own a boat! The lake is truly breathtaking. The mountains. The people. 

Not a lot of photos from the Queenstown adventures…   

This was on a plate – glass and too heavy, but I love it!   

So we quickly, and firmly, established the child would not even consider bungy, canyon swing, sky diving or paragliding… I even tried bribing with money! What teen doesn’t respond to money or food?!? But alas… No way in hell, was the response… Not even the scariest haunted house in the Southern Hemisphere…

We took a 360 speedboat up through the lake and up the shot over river. Glacier water is great for the skin so I’ve been told… But the temperature is not so great for the sanity! Take a hair tie!! This is my advice… And sunscreen :/ Another piece of my heart left up that lake though. Mesmerising. Breathtaking. Just…

Then up the gondola    
  

I have no fear of a bit of wire holding up my carriage… So it’s always odd to observe the panic of others…
The Luge (not a snow one) was at the top… How could we resist?!? 😝   

The chair lift for the second leg of the ascent     

On the way back to the hotel, we discovered an Ice Bar! Another tick for that Bucket List 😉 

Everything is ice…    

Even the glasses… Frostbite here we come!  

 
Then finally… New Years!!

A line up of bands we’d never heard of, but enjoyed 🙂 we were there in time for Versificator and Mojo. NZers it seems, have a favourite song – Wagon Wheel?!? I think I may have heard it once – very C & W… That’s what we heard the year out with… Not my first choice… Not my choice at all! 😉 But we did enjoy the bands 🙂  

Mojo and a countdown:

 

Then the fireworks over the lake 🙂    

A gorgeous way to see 2015 out! It seems the teen can’t handle the crowds though because then we were out of there! 😂

2016 was welcomed in by another tick on that List – segways!!     So much fun!! I want one 🙂 

Breakfast by the lake…     

Then driving on to Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru…
 

It is morning and I am yawning… I’m convinced the teen is planning to spend the trip catching up on a lifetime of sleep…   

 No need to rush today though – we’re here for two nights… It’s already starting to feel like home 😉

Yesterday was driving… driving… driving… to Queenstown…. No one to take the happy snaps, as she slept…   

   
The one lane bridges throughout NZ still mess with my head… Forever stopping… Forever forgetting to stop!   

I’m loving the NZ safety radio messages (but not the intermittent radio service!!)… Drive safely, don’t ruin someone else’s life… I know you want to keep your baby close, but keep them in the back seat… 

Lake Hawea – there is no gentle flowing water in NZ! Or if there is, we’re yet to find it… Everything is tumultuous, discontented…  

What’s with the bonfires on every beach? NewYear?   

Then up through the amazing Crown range 🙂   

   
And finally…. Having driven past too many places at which we should have stopped… Queenstown 🙂  

I feel like we’re moving too fast… I want to go back and undo the organisation. I almost didn’t book accommodation until we arrived… But given the time of year… Glad I did! Twice so far they’ve double booked us and had to do some crazy scrambling to find us other accommodation. NZ is decidedly booked out at this time of year! But we are skimming… I want to stop and see and experience. I want to hike. I want to climb. I want to take the road less travelled. 

Hokitika to the Glaciers

17000 steps and 75 flights of stairs, according to the Fitbit on the teen’s arm. Add an unknown number of driven kilometres. That was yesterday’s adventure! Not a lot according to many, but enough of an adventure to make us sleep well 😉

Another hotel room to wake in… I feel like I should be writing a song rather than a recount…

Loving the adventure with the child. This will be our last before she is an adult, so our last for quite some time I imagine. She has one year of school left… Then her thoughts and focus will be firmly on her friendships… They already are for the most part…

So, yesterday was shopping for jade – these ones are my own favourite and a gift from the child 🙂

 I need to research it more… I want to know the beliefs associated with this stone…

Hokitika Gorge was first on the list. Driving in NZ, the thing that strikes me is the mountains. They’re like blobs of PlayDough dumped on the island. In Oz, our mountains tend to creep up on us and you find yourself within them without realising.   

  
The Gorge… The pics just don’t capture the colours. Brilliant turquoise water – the result of melted glacier, rock flour and something else… Pretty sure I know a geologist who will fill in that blank 😉 but the colours… Breathtaking! As simple and as cliched as that. 
   

And the swing bridge that has an odd restriction…
 Heavy people in NZ?!?
Next was the treetop walk. We have so many in Oz, but I’ve never been on one. So another tick on the bucket list 😉 

 A great experience if you’re into plants… And from what I read, if you’re into plants, NZ is certainly the place you want to be!!  

Then down to the glaciers finally!    

We didn’t book a helihike because we were told there are no guarantees. Wait until you are there and book it, because the weather can change quickly… Everything is booked out because it is the Christmas season!! 

So…. We hiked to Franz Josef. Within 250 metres of a glacier is NOT even remotely close to walking ON a glacier… Yet another reason to return… Or maybe I will add hiking on a glacier to my South America trip… Whenever that happens… No longer next year for the olympics!

She regretted the ‘inappropriate footwear’… 
  
 It looked amazing at the start of the trek…
     

Much less impressive from 250m away in summer…
  

Waterfalls…

  

Grey rivers… 

 

  
And rocks for the rock lover 😉    

   

But I loved the sound of walking on these  … the sound of carrying a box of china to a new house… 🙂

On to Queenstown today 🙂