Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A Yuletide Blog!

Thursday 24th December
After a week away in the hills we are now back on the pig farm to enjoy a quiet Christmas as the Kiwi's all get away en masse to enjoy the hot sun and beaches - sorry snowbound UK!
The Southern Alps that provide the spine to South Island also provided us with some memorably remote spots around the huge sheep stations of Arrowsmith and Erewhon both lying many miles up gravel tracks and surrounded by snow covered tops.
A couple of fine walks in the area and over at Peel Forest have left us ready to enjoy a day or two relaxing before we head south to Mackenzie Country and eventually the Otago Rail Trail which will give us a few days cycling before we reach the Catlins and finally Invercargill in the very south.
We wish all readers and bloggers a Happy Christmas and successful New Year - pics again at the link.
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/sjarratt5/TheSouthernAlps?authkey=Gv1sRgCIL32YeTzse3kgE&feat=directlink

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

After our visit to Christchurch where we watched the Christmas decorations being erected we have received the excellent news that we can indeed stay here a year so will be extending our plans accordingly. The Banks Peninsula provided quiet nights at Pigeon and Okaines Bay with a free shellfish meal collected at low tide before we headed to friends near Ashburton and met their enchanting young son.
Their cosy home also provided a few days relaxing for us during which we tramped the Mount Somers route staying at two excellent DOC huts - both had fuel provided and in the case of Woolshed Creek this was particularly welcome as it snowed overnight. Our hosts down on the plain had damaging thunderstorms which knocked out power and appliances and added to the already heavy workload of the farm and family. It was an excellent walk in superb mountain scenery - Sarah coped admirably with the steep climbs, slippery snow and swaying bridges.
We are now heading south as the kiwi Christmas rush will soon be on us - plans are slightly vague as Sarah may try to get a physio appaointment for next week to attend to a troublesome shoulder - perhaps I should start to carry a rucksack as well!

Pics again at the link below - wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, keep in touch.


Monday, 7 December 2009

South Island Early Days

South Island has so far proved even quieter than the North with more mountainous scenery, almost no one using tthe DOC sites and loads of potential for the next few months. The road round from Picton to Blenheim passed along the remarkble coastline that the ferry had threaded through before we headed inland passing the famous vineyards to stay near St Arnaud. There we had a superb walk up to the snow line with great views over the Nelson Lakes National Park before heading to the Lewis Pass, Hamner Springs and eventually Hurunui. Here Sarah had a wonderful day's ride with Alpine Horse Safaris - the ten day option sounds awesome.
A walk up to a DOC hut gave us a chance to check them out as we hope to start using them frequently having bought Back Country Hut Passes - very much like the British bothies but on a more formalised basis.
It is the 8th of December and we are in Christchurch to submit our application for visa extensions to 12 months which was a bit involved as we needed new photos, copies of bank statements and so on in support but we are hopeful that we will get a positive reply before Christmas - it would be the perfect joint present.
After a visit to friends near Ashburton we will head in to the hills for a few days, return for the visa verdict and then head way down south for the busier Christmas period - very odd to see Xmas decorations everywhere in bright sunshine with people wearing T shirts and shorts. Still we will get used to it and in the meantime wish all a very Happy Christmas and New Year should we fail to post in the next couple of weeks.
As usual a link to pics below - gluttons for punishment are welcome to email us for free Yuletide Logs - the extended versions of these musings with pics downloadable as a PDF - just ask!
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/sjarratt5/SouthIslandEarlyDays?authkey=Gv1sRgCKfDi_jqhsWqfA&feat=directlink