FiNZ 24 – “Llama, Llama, Llama”

We’re nearing the 6 month mark, guess its time to get ready to go home for an America break next week!

I thought this week would be a bust for blogging, but luckily my colleague invited us over for dinner Sunday night. Now…most of us live in your typical flat near the center of the city. However this flat was at…Llama Lookout! A bit of a drive from the office (a whopping 30 minutes); however, the views appear to be worth it.

When we arrived the llamas, (yes, there is a real, live herd of llamas living on the property) were all far up the hillside. The owner came out and pulled me and Keith aside telling us to just start yelling “llama, llama, llama!” over and over again. We were a bit tentative, it seemed really awkward. But we started shouting and they literally formed a stampede down to the backyard. It was an amazing sight! Check out the video I took below…

I’m a bit lazy this week (aka busy with stuff besides blogging), so now I will just flood this post with llama photos. Enjoy!

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New Zealand 20 – Sunshine & Rugby

I was out and about Christchurch again this weekend; however, this time I barely did any work. Additionally, my field camera finally died on me this past week, so at first thought I wasn’t quite sure what I’d share in this week’s post. Once I actually sat down in front of my laptop and scanned my iPhone photos, I realized I managed to fit in a lot of fun in one packed weekend–

Friday night we gathered at a friend’s apartment, ate some of the best barbecue chicken I’ve had thus far, sat around a backyard fire, and drank whiskey. It actually reminded me of being back in New England for the summer, minus the fact that I was wrapped up in my giant fleece jacket outside.

Saturday morning I reluctantly woke up for 10am to drive with a coworker and another colleague out to the Lyttelton farmer’s market. They sure do love their farmer’s markets here — all the farms are in our backyard, it’s an easy ride to sell fresh goods every weekend. With it being such a beautiful day, it was a no-brainer that we’d go to Governor’s Bay afterwards for brunch at She Chocolat (remember that chocolate spoon from 2 posts ago?). It appears that winter is finally moving out of the Southern Hemisphere. This past week the sun showed itself quite a few times and automatically started to brighten everyone’s moods.

Breakfast w/ a View @ She Chocolat

Sunday was a great personal day. Imagine the office you work in and your relationship with your favorite bunch of coworkers. Now imagine you live with all of them, spend most of your time in the office, eat most meals with them, and go on weekend trips together. Our New Zealand office is a bit unconventional, yet it ends up working really well. BUT, alone time is still a very necessary requirement of our lives. This can be a bit difficult (remember we all live in the same place and work plenty of hours together), but after a month you tend to be able to read cues on when coworkers start to need their own time & space.

Sunday I managed to get to the gym — my personal-time haven. On the walk out I realized I haven’t quite shared too many “red zone” photos here yet. The red zone is the central business district (CBD) that has been fenced off and off-limits (except for us engineers/contractors/others with appropriate badges) since the earthquake in February 2011. The gym I joined actually used to be in the red zone, until a few months ago when they petitioned to open the road to get you there (the gym is actually an earthquake fortress – I have far too much fun working out and checking out the steel bracing connections in that building). Anyways, when you step out of the building you literally find yourself surrounding by fencing and abandoned buildings. Here’s some photo sampling. Hopefully before my New Zealand duties are up I’ll have another red zone site visit to share more photos–

Christchurch Central Business District – “Red Zone” (from top right clockwise – ribbons for remembrance, ribbon close up, large empty lot due to several buildings being torn down,  permanent crane adjacent to the Holiday Inn–just another building slated for demolition very soon)

The day was really too nice to go back to the hotel (this has been the first time in a while I had felt comfortable walking around in a t-shirt); therefore, I drove up to Victoria Park. I can’t believe I haven’t been here yet. The park is at the top of the Port Hills and you can see down onto the plains where the central city is and to the mountains beyond. This photo doesn’t do the actual thing justice, therefore, I conveniently labeled the snow-capped mountain range you’re missing out on.

Alps view from Victoria Park

I had just enough time to run/hike around for an hour, and cut short my personal day just in time for our very own Fantasy Football draft. Something about being in New Zealand has made many of our Stateside friends forget about inviting us to our typical home leagues, so obviously we just decided to form our own. Several of us gathered in our office meeting room (can you tell it’s called the Chess Club? refer to below photo) with beer, snacks, our laptops, and for some certain coworkers, their organized spreadsheets and highlighters–

Hard @ work for “The Draft”

Afterwards, somehow we all got roped into playing Rugby. This, in fact, was all we really needed. Nothing like de-stressing after a long week by sprinting around playing a fun-filled sport you still don’t quite understand. Thanks to one of our coworkers for joining only to be our personal photographer–

Rugby in the Park

Today is August 28th, which means only 4 more days until September 1–Spring in New Zealand. I believe I can speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait for the sun and warm weather once again!