Jan 24

Out for a fright?!

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On a day trip to Queenstown, we decided to go to the Fear Factory.

It’s like a haunted house.  You know when you go on those trains and the fair and things pop out and scare you and it’s all dark?  It’s like that, but it’s pitch black, and you have to walk through the house in a single line – yes, that means having to choose which position to be in!

I nominated Matthew to be in front, until he nominated himself to be at the back – citing that I wouldn’t like it if something came up behind me.  Hmmmm.  He had a point.  And I wasn’t going to subject Eira to going up front.  So being a brave mum, I went up front.

The build up starts as soon as you arrive at the Fear Factory – I’m not sure if the receptionist are fully human….

You have to wait by the red door below where there is a light that turns green when it’s your turn to go in.  I wasn’t so keen on the waiting, thinking about what was behind that door.  It didn’t help that we kept hearing screams from others who had gone in…

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The light went green so in I went.  A few steps in there was a button with ‘press me’ on it.  Hmmm.  I did.  And so it started.  At times it was hard to put one step in front of another, but I did it.  At times it was hard to see where I was going.  Perhaps looking up would have helped… I think Matthew would have preferred if I’d have gone a bit faster.  He kept telling me that there was something behind him….

I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so all I’m going to say is that it is very worth it for a big laugh or a big scream.  I was a laugher .  Eira was a talker with a couple of really good screams thrown in (she talked with great humour to the zombies, or whatever they were), and Matthew?  A bit in-between.  I think he mostly just wanted me to hurry up!!

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Is there something behind you Matthew?!!!!

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One of the great things about it all was seeing some photos after the event.  Go onto their website – http://fearfactory.co.nz/ – they also have a facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/FearFactoryQueenstown – some of their photos are absolutely hilarious.

I didn’t get paid to blog about this – but Fear Factory, if you do come across this blog and fancy throwing some tickets my way – I would love to see my sister and family experience the house when they visit in April!!!

Jan 11

Oreti Beach, Invercargill

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I just had to share these beautiful photos of our family walk along Oreti Beach, Invercargill.  I love the light in the photos, and how the sky is different in each shot.

The beach is 26kms long and is where Burt Monroe trained (you’ll understand if you’ve seen ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ film).

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Jan 09

The Coolest Little Capital in The World

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It’s true, well, certainly from all the Capitals that we have visited, Wellington is pretty cool!

We visited Wellington as a family in 2009 on our way down to Southland to live.  I’ve visited again numerous times with work, but the extent of my visits have been a night or two each time, and seeing only the inside of a conference room in the daylight.  So, Matthew and I we were pretty keen to get back to Wellington for a proper explore.  We fitted the trip to coincide with the New Zealand Scout Jamboree in Feilding which Eira was attending.

On our arrival on New Years Eve, our first impressions weren’t all rosy.  We hadn’t chosen well with the first hotel where we were staying two nights, and needed a room swap due to the state of the room and the fact the toilet wouldn’t flush… we got an ok second room and proceeded downtown to find a restaurant that I had visited a few times with work.  The Malaysian restaurant may not look much from the outside, and its service isn’t the slickest – however, the food is very nice and very reasonable – http://www.kkmalaysian.co.nz/.  Don’t expect to be there for long – they are quick at serving and you do get the impression that they are aiming for volume of people.  If you are looking to sit down for a meal over a few hours, with a relaxed atmosphere – this isn’t for you.

This was my meal, very tasty, I think it was Kung Po Chicken.

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After a good feed, we wandered through Wellington.  I have to say, on first impression, a few of the streets looked a bit run down.  Here’s what I mean:

Broken glass, graffiti and rubbish.

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However over the time we were there, we came to realise that this wasn’t a fair representative of Wellington as a whole.  There are some shops that pull down doors at night – some of those doors have graffiti on them, which is a great shame.

We dropped into an Irish Bar and had a few drinks before wandering down the main street.  It’s very rare for Matthew and I to do this; we don’t often get the opportunity to go out as a couple.

To my delight, we carried on down the main street and stumbled across a Welsh bar.

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Hmmm… can you tell how delighted I was?

The atmosphere in this wee little bar (in the middle of a road – the building used to be pubic toilets!) was fantastic.  The whole bar was decorated from top to toe with Welsh stuff.  And yes, there were quite a few Welsh accents in the room Smile.  They also had a singer singing some old favourites.

The owner opened the bar about 10 years ago, and came from Bridgend I believe (correct me if I’m wrong Mr Bar-owner!).  They are on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Welsh-Dragon-Bar-Wellington/203580576352926.

A few photos of the inside.. sorry they are so dark.  I used my iphone instead of my other camera.

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After singing the New Year in, we wandered back to our hotel through the streets of Wellington.  Or rather – fought against the crowd.  Wow, it was amazing – Wellington was so alive with people.  There was such a buzz in the City.  And everyone seemed jolly but very well behaved – plenty of Police presence but I saw no issues.

The next day we took the tram up to the Carter Observatory – well worth a visit, especially on a rainy day as it was.

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I was amused to see my colleague featuring on one of the wall displays:

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The following few days, we drove up to Feilding to pop into the Scout Jamboree, before making our way back down to Wellington for our last few days visit.

In our last few days in Wellington, we visited Parliament and the Beehive building.  A great tour – free of charge – and well worth it for any visitor.

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We also visited Old St Paul’s (former) Cathedral.

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And… best of all.. we visited the Weta Cave.  Read about Weta here – http://www.wetanz.com/ .  They are known for their work with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, as well as many others!  I couldn’t take photos of the workshop tour – but it is definitely worth going on Smile.  I did get a few photos within the shop and outside …

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Bilbo’s feet!

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One of my best moments in Wellington (and if you’re from the UK, you will understand this!):

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This is an Ezibuy store – they stock some NEXT items Open-mouthed smile

I only purchased the essentials… handbag, trousers, tops, shoes…

The rest of our time in Wellington was spent shopping, eating, walking around (and a brief visit to Te Papa).  And I have to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The City is so vibrant, so alive, and has so many shops!  And having a waterfront, on a nice sunny day it offers a lot more activity in terms of kayak hire etc.

The rest of my photos are below – for a ‘feel’ of the City (mostly for mam!).  Apologies for the standard of my photos – I used my iphone much of the time (convenience) – and if the City looks deserted, its as most of the photos were taken on a public holiday – but believe me, the rest of the time, there were plenty of people!

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Thank you Wellington for a great time – we will be back!

Dec 01

Invercargill Expats Club

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The Invercargill Expats Club is for anyone who wishes to socialise with other expats – it’s a great opportunity for newcomers to Invercargill to meet others.

We meet every 3-4 months; sometimes we meet for a meal, sometimes for a drink, and other times we held a pub quiz or had guest speakers.

We try to keep people up to date via email and on our Facebook group- this is www.facebook.com/groups/invercargillexpatsclub.

So, if you’re interested in coming along, join our Facebook group to find out when our next event is being held :-).

 

Jun 25

Fancy a mid-winter swim?!

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The weather outside is 6degrees, the wind is biting cold, and rainclouds can be seen in the sky.

A nice day to spend in the warm indoors, right?  Not if you’re one of the few Southland Scouts that were determined to gain another activity under their belt – the mid-winter swim.

It’s hard to believe that people made the trip to Oreti beach on this blustery winters day.  However… this is the evidence… https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=558943430818132

Jun 07

Kepler track–Day 1

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I had an absolutely awesome time walking the Kepler Track.

This was my VERY first tramp, VERY first time carrying a pack.

Day 1

Here we are, car packed and ready to go…

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It was very wet by the time we got to our starting point just outside of Te Anau – I mean pouring rain almost non stop.  So as soon as we got out of our cars, we were getting wet!  On goes all the wet weather gear, and a cover for the bag too!  Here we all are, ready to go on our adventure!

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Wow, the pack was a shocker – how heavy?!!   I must admit, the first half an hours walking was very hard, getting used to this pack on my back.  I was very concerned at this point how I would carry this pack the rest of the way – and we’d not even gone up a hill yet!

It continued raining, but as we were going through the forest, it wasn’t too bad – and quite a bit of fun in a way – felt like ‘real’ tramping in an odd way.  Fun until we got to lunchtime in the rain – soggy sandwiches weren’t as much fun!

One of our stops:

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Soon after lunch, we started to go uphill.  And didn’t stop.  Up and up and up.  I found out at that point that I wasn’t so good about getting up hills.  I likened myself to a town car – ok on the flat and downhill – but uphill?  Pah!

At this point I had to think fast.  I was worried about letting the team down.  The other guys were much fitter than I was – I had warned them… I managed to work out that I was best going uphill in short bursts, stopping for a very short time then going on again, whereas the others could walk for longer and stopped for a slightly longer break.  So when they stopped, I carried on going for a bit ahead of them and then kept doing short stops.

At about 5 hours – I was shattered!  And a few of the others were – so we split and the fitter team went ahead of us with the promise of turning back when they had reached the hut so that they could help the rest of us back!  What a fab team!

At the top of the hill, coming out of the forest, we came to this sign.  We were both pleased and disappointed!  Disappointed as we thought we were nearer to the hut – but pleased at the same time to have a clue about knowing how far we were!

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We trundled along the top of the hill (or maybe I can call it a mountain now!) – lovely views, this photo doesn’t really do it justice:

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We trundled along, all very tired at this point and although the rain had stopped we were all feeling quite damp!

We were sooooo glad to see this sight!

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I got a few photos from inside the hut, but they are not great as my camera decided to break so I only had my iphone to take photos, and that’s not so good inside…

 

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It took me a while to get dry and warm – I was so damp!

The hut has a dining area downstairs, with a wood burner heating the place up.  In the winter season there’s no lights or cooking – whereas I believe in the summer season there is solar lighting and some form of cooking.  So we got our headtorches out, and we also had a few candles.  It made for a lovely atmosphere.  The hut wasn’t full but there were plenty of other people there – of all nationalities.

I got out of my damp clothes – took some courage to do this quickly in the very cold communal bunkroom upstairs!  I then stayed by the fire for a while drying the damp clothes.  The bunks had 6 mattresses in a row and were on two levels.  It was quite odd thinking that you could be sleeping right next to strangers!  In our group, we stuck together – 4 of us ladies on one bunk, 6 young gentlemen on another bunk.  There was only a long drop as a toilet – in the summer they do have flushable toilets, but they freeze in the winter.  The toilet area STANK.  I had to hold my nose as much as possible when going through that area.

May 01

Kepler Track

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I’m going on a tramp. A proper tramp. This means a big walk. Not the usual walk in the park with the dog or a few hours exploring the surroundings of a forest (I love NZ forest, have I ever mentioned that?). It’s not just any tramp either, it’s one of NZ’s great walks.

4 days of walking, 3 nights of camping at a hut. 60kms in total, although I believe we may be ending our journey at Rainbow Reach Carpark which would make the journey 50.6km. Here’s a great photo of the route below, taken from http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/kepler-track-brochure.pdf.

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I am going as an extra adult for the Waverley Scouts who are undertaking this walk as part of their Gold award. A few years ago when Eira was 9, we walked the surf to city challenge – 12km – that was challenge enough at the time! I would never have thought that a few years later we would be doing one of these walks – and that Eira would choose to do it!! Eira has already completed a Scout expedition about a month ago – one where she needed to carry all the necessities with her fellow Scouts – pack, tent, sleeping bag, food and all cooking utensils. She loved it!  It feels wrong for me to be going instead of Matthew who is the experienced walker, however, for many very good reasons, he’s not able to go.

For this walk, we are fortunate in that we will be staying in huts – this means we only need to carry sleeping bags and appropriate food and a few smaller camp cookers for lunches/emergencies. The huts are all well maintained and offer cooking facilities, heating and lighting. No showers though! And I’ve found out the toilet is just a long drop one. One hut can sleep up to 54 people, another can sleep 50 and the other, 40. There are also a couple of campsite options.

I’m not a great walker, never have been. I’d much rather be on a horse. I’m also not very fit right now. I have warned the group! They assure me that they walk at the slowest persons pace. Nice. So if I walk at a snails pace, its ok, we will ALL be going at a snails pace!

Having gone from disbelief that I am going on this great walk, I am now looking forward to it a teeny bit and have given myself the personal challenge of packing the least amount of items. I have had some tips already. Like – use someone else’s toothpaste so that I don’t have to carry it (thanks Karyn!). And, instead of taking my container of make-up remover, I need to buy make-up remover wipes and carry just the required amount in a plastic sandwich bag (thanks mum!). The Scouts are allowed one luxury item. I am taking my iphone. I do believe that there MAY be 3G on some of the track. Wohoo!! However, no means of charging. So I shall have to be very selective about my use… I’ll also have to take a pen and paper to write down notes for my blog.

Last night I had my first go at packing – with Matthews’s expert help! It was stressful. Turns out that although my sleeping bag is luxuriously warm, it isn’t the most compact! And, Matthews’s trusty rucksack’s hip belt no longer works. It’s taken him to so many places, so a bit sad but hey ho it’s done its time. So this lunchtime we’ve had to go out and shop for another rucksack. Another stressful event. But I won’t go there. I am the proud owner of a brand new rucksack.

Tonight, the car is packed, our clothes are ready, lunch is packed, the other Scouts have had their bags checked.  Next time I blog I shall be back home and probably rather tired…

Feb 16

We chose NZ!

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I was asked the other day if I would be using NZ to hop over into Australia.  I’d like to make it clear on here that we CHOSE to move to and live in NZ and we could have moved to Australia or Canada right from the start!!!

I understand where the question came from and I think it was asked innocently – but we made a choice to be here!!! 

In the future we could choose to move elsewhere – who knows.  But that will be by CHOICE!  Ok, point made..!

There are people who can only gain a permanent residence visa here rather than in Australia, for whatever reason – maybe their occupation is on the NZ skills shortage list and not in OZ. 

After 5 years of residence in NZ, you can apply for Citizenship (conditions apply!).  As a citizenship of NZ, you can live and work in Australia without a visa.

So you can see how this would be a route for someone whose intention is to end up in Australia. 

However, even if a family choose to do this – the NZ economy would benefit in that they would gain the skills and expertise (and $tax) of that person for the duration of their time here.  No one really loses.

This is the modern day.  People move around the World.  One in four people ordinarily residing in NZ were born overseas. 

Infoshare stats (Annual-Dec 2012) show that:

  • 23,210 NZ Citizens arrived in NZ
  • 62,054 NZ Citizens departed NZ

So, NZ lost 38,884 of their own Citizens to overseas year to Dec 2012.  These stats are taken from those flight cards that we fill in.  We’ll get a better idea of the situation once the Census results are out (the Census is being completed here next month).

The figures for non NZ Citizens arriving and departing NZ:

  • 62,045 non NZ Citizens arrived in NZ
  • 24,366 non NZ Citizens departed NZ

If you add the stats together, if they are correct, NZ lost 1,165 people to overseas in the year to Dec 2012.  I can’t be 100% about reading these stats, as in a recent article Statistics New Zealand migration figures showed 53,900 kiwis decided to move to Australia in the year to August 2012. About 13,900 moved in the opposite direction.  If this article is correct, although it shows a different 12 month period, only approximately 8,154 moved overseas to other destinations other than Australia.

Definitions

Permanent and long-term arrivals: people from overseas arriving to live in New Zealand for 12
months or more (including permanently), and New Zealanders returning after an absence of 12
months or more overseas.
Permanent and long-term departures: New Zealanders departing for an absence of 12 months
or more (including permanently), and people from overseas who are departing after a stay of 12
months or more in New Zealand.

Feb 12

Holiday continued… Devonport

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20 minute is all it takes to be a world away from the little-big smoke of Auckland.  I can see why people would want to live here and work in Auckland.  The ferry runs every 15 or 30 minutes, depending on the time of day, and day of the week.  The earliest time in the week being 6am.  Plenty of time for commuters to make their way to the airport for early flights.  I’ve posted a few photos below but I don’t think I’ve done the place justice – I didn’t even get one of the pier for goodness sake!

We spent a few hours here, having a look at the variety of shops, took a walk down the pier, then had fish & chips sat out looking at the view of Auckland :-)  Twas nice.

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Crocheted poles… how fab!

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Another option for seeing Devonport – these horses were in excellent condition and well looked after.

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Can you spot the Sky Tower?  Auckland from the prom.

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Eira having a go at crab fishing..

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I love this photo of Eira..dav5

Hmmm…volcano….

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Feb 11

Holiday Part 1–Auckland (the little-big smoke!)

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We’ve been here 3.5 years now, time has time flown by.  We’ve had so many different experiences and have travelled through most of the South Island (our only main place left on our list is Stewart Island which is just down the road and across the water from us!).

So this Christmas and New Year we decided to holiday for almost 3 weeks on the North Island.  Our first stop was Auckland for 6 days, for some shopping, City life and explorationSmile.

We had a great time exploring the City.

Our last visits to Auckland were short and sweet, it was nice to have the time to walk around and explore…

The following photos were taken whilst walking around Auckland Harbour fairly late at night – we felt totally safe there – there are always security guards walking around (I guess protecting all those expensive boats!) but the atmosphere is just lovely.

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Auckland City Missions Christmas Angel campaign – buy a ribbon to put on the tree with a special message…Auck3Auck4

There were signs of Christmas everywhere and the Sky Tower colours were red and green.

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We experienced the humidity of the heat in Auckland… we could have stayed here all night…Auck6

Window Display, what carnage!Auck7

A Christmas yacht!Auck8Auck9

We had time for a visit to Auckland Museum, a very impressive building surrounded by parkland and gardens.

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And best of all – a visit to the Zoo!

When we got there, Burma the elephant was walking round the Zoo with her keeper on one of her daily walks.  Later on, she was given an ice block in her enclosure Smile.  Burma lost her companion a few years back, they do as much as they can to keep her engaged and are hoping for a companion for her in a few years.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Zoo and be able to walk around in an unrushed state with plenty of space for visitors…Auck99

One last photo of the Sky Tower:

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And this was taken on Christmas day, where we had lunch at a Japanese restaurant – we were amongst many other visitors and students of the City.  We didn’t have to worry about where to go or what to eat on Christmas Day – there were plenty of places open.  We even went to watch ‘The Hobbit’ at the Cinema later on in the afternoon!

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When we told people that we were going up North for a holiday, many didn’t understand why we would want to spend an amount of time in Auckland.  Well, sometimes life can be a little slower than what we’re used to in Invercargill.  Whilst this is lovely most of the time, every now and again we crave a little more busy-ness and shopping malls etc. (not the traffic tho!) – so we enjoyed every moment of our visit to Auckland.

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