Flanders in NZ 9 – The 40hour Birthday

Who else has been following the World Cup? All of us down here get to wake up to early-morning matches. Occasionally, if we’re lucky, there’s a game on around lunchtime. Between 5 brackets through my home, DC, office and a yahoo pick em league with my brother I have a lot of winner options, but always tend to back Argentina…not sure why, maybe it’s because I have found memories of my family coming up with an “Argentina!” chant during one of the World Cups long ago.

Despite us celebrating the shortest day of the year last week, the flowers have started blooming in our backyard! I can’t really describe how lovely it is to have grass and plants and a backyard. I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to the States and live in a high-rise apartment again!

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Winter Peonies?

Last time I was here I blogged about the Lyttleton Festival of Lights. The annual event occurred this past Friday so a few of us headed out to enjoy the fireworks, craft beer, food, and of course, CHURROS!!

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Fireworks over the Port

Keith and I didn’t have anything particular planned for this weekend, but we woke up to a BEAUTIFUL day so eventually headed out to the tiny french-settled town of Akaroa. We were originally planning to do a hike along Pigeon Bay but it was so windy it didn’t seem like an enjoyable time. We took the scenic road around the ridge line instead — summit road — and ended up in Akaroa for a late lunch.

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Akaroa harbour & Akaroa Summit Road view

We stumbled upon Ma Maison which was a great little restaurant right on the water. Perfect spot for an outdoor lunch and coffee. I had the seafood chowder (anything seafood in Akaroa is fabulous) and Keith got a chicken sandwich.

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Ma Maison flat white

 

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Akaroa Harbour

 

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You can tell a lot about someone’s personality…

We sped back to Christchurch and drove up to Queen Victoria Park to catch the sunset. So worth it–

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Queen Victoria Park Sunset

Sunday was time for another trail run. Keith & I went to the Opawa farmers market to pick up some veggies (or “vege” in kiwi-speak) and then up to the hills for a 50-minute up-and-down run. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over the views along the port hills surrounding Christchurch–

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Sunday Run – Crater Rim Walkway

Afterwards we were able to skype with our great friends Ev & Chris! We talked about them potentially visiting so that was pretty exciting–we love visitors! 🙂

Tuesday was my birthday. The fun thing about NZ birthdays from someone who was born on the east coast of the States, is that they last about 40 hours–have fun with that math. Collected some fun cards, gifts (american ketchup!), and CAKE over the past few days. Thanks to Ashley for those pictured below! Looks like we did manage to continue our birthday cupcake tradition.

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Birthday goodies!

Keith got me a hiking pack for my birthday which I am PUMPED to use on our upcoming hike in Abel Tasman national park (and many more). All geared up!

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Office Birthday Cake

Off to find another adventure for this weekend…oh, and Happy half-Christmas!

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Flanders in NZ 6 – Queenstown for the Queen

The Queens actual birthday is in April, but we celebrate it in June. Probably a good thing since there are already so many holidays in April–ANZAC day, 2 days for Easter… Anyways, we decided to fully utilize the 3-day weekend, wake up at 5am along with 6 coworkers on Saturday morning, hop in 2 cars, and make the 6-hr scenic drive to sunny Queenstown until Monday. Although the drive is long the views are beautiful. We did our typical pit stop at Lake Tekapo to stretch our legs, get coffee, and I even got to talk with my brother on the phone for a bit!

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Church of the Good Shepherd – Lake Tekapo

When we got to Queenstown (QT), the Blackhawks were playing the LA Kings in the 6th game of the NHL playoffs. With a Chicagoan and a Southern Californian we needed to find the closest bar stat. Lucky for us this led to a great photo opportunity of our weekend crew–

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QT Crew – “Good People Drink Good Beer”

I have yet to have a bad bach (what the Kiwis call rental homes/cabins in New Zealand) and this one did not disapoint. All of us have far too many photos from our townhouse balcony. So I leave you all with my view of breakfast Sunday morning–

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Coffee with a quiet a view!

On Sunday we split up to do a couple of adventures. 5 of us, including myself, went on a bike tour around the bike trails of QT. The other 3 did a horse trek up in Glenorchy. I will have to come back and do the horse trek too because it sounded amazing!

Our bike ride was a lot of fun, yet FAR dirtier than I imagined. It ended with a wine tasting and we may have dragged some mud into the tasting room when we arrived. Overall we biked about 20 km and ended at the famous NZ bungee jump.

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Biking Before & After – still happy 🙂

 

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Keith & I – cheerful bikers

Check out if you can spot the bungee jumper in the photo below! yikes! 🙂

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Bridges & Bungee!

That night Keith and I journeyed out to get some more breakfast supplies for Monday morning and noticed the view from the QT boardwalk. With ski season not in full swing yet, QT still felt a bit quaint and quiet. It was beautiful standing out over the lake watching the mountains change colors. (notice my hat and wool coat — brrr!!!)

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Night falls on the QT boardwalk

On Monday morning, Keith and I got up a bit early and decided to climb Queenstown Hill walkway before cleaning up the bach and leaving QT for the weekend. It was fairly cold and a bit icy, but a great walk with a beautiful view. Note that you also get higher than the Queenstown gondola platform…and for free at that! At one of the viewing points is a basket sculpture, I like to take note of little sayings and meanings, so here is the basket’s:

The basket of dreams spiral of steel is supposed to follow you inward to reflect, to draw inspiration from the mountains, lake, and those who are with you. The spiral follows you outward to dream for the future. “Time flies, eternity awaits”

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Queenstown Hill Walkway

We took a couple photos with the Remarkables range behind us (yes, they are called the Remarkables…and they are Remarkable, who would have thunk!?)

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Photo with a view

This week I was thinking…last time I was here I spent a lot of time sitting alone in cafes, drinking beautiful coffees, and blogging my coffee photos of the week. This time, I have a permanent friend by my side, and we’ve created a bit of a schedule of having a weekly hike–whether that’s around Christchurch or around New Zealand. Therefore I bring you…

The Flanders “Hiking Photo of the Week”–

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Hike Photo of the Week

I am not looking forward to picking out our Christmas Card photo after 6 more months of these…