FiNZ 45 – #EscapeFromFroston Part 1

The guys have arrived! We put out a call to our friends and families early on in our journey and these three accepted the challenge. Chris, Pete & Josh decided to make it even more challenging by enduring a long haul flight to layover in Aussie versus Auckland. But alas, they made it intact and with only 1 bag lost to Virgin Australia :-/

Despite the bag fiasco, they arrived! We spent Friday afternoon introducing them to the city of Christchurch and made our last-minute plans for the weekend. We knew we wanted to go north but weren’t sure where. I did a quick Airbnb search found this place in the tiny village of Anakiwa–the start of the Queen Charlotte Sound track.

We had a base plan, so we were off early Saturday morning along the scenic Route 1…

First stop Kaikoura and the seal colony…


Kaikoura Beach Walk


Seal Colony

Next stop Picton for lunch and to get groceries (Anakiwa does not have restaurants or beer…), and then through a very windy road to Anakiwa! Our Anakiwa stay involved going for a run on Queen Charlotte’s Track, enjoying the harbor, and cooking up some dinner and breakfast at our Airbnb.


Anakiwa Harbor


Pete’s Point

The next morning we decided to go back through Lewis Pass and stop through Nelson. This was a fabulous choice as there was a perfect beach in Nelson which I got to enjoy while a couple of the guys were out running…again.


Tahunanui Beach, Nelson


Tahunanui Beach Boys


Landslide Waterfall Pitstop

Monday night we did something a little different — Ko Tane! A colleague had told me about a local Maori experience dinner that everyone agreed we should check out. Not only did we learn a lot about the earliest settlers of New Zealand, I learned how to dance with a poipoi and the guys learned how to do a haka. We ended the night with a table full of meat cooked with traditional Maori methods.


Ko Tane – Maori Experience

It was still too early to go to sleep, so our initial thought was to go to a bar. Then we remembered the Dance O Mat. Without Keith or I telling anyone what was going on, we drove to the gap filler location, I created a quick playlist, asked for a $2 coin from our guests, and plugged in. For the next 30 minutes we owned that Dance O Mat with Taylor Swift, Kesha, & Lady Gaga singing along. We definitely had a few tourists come over to take photos of us. #famous


Dance O Mat!


Goodnight Christchurch

On to Part 2!…


New Zealand 14 – Where the Destination is the Journey

“Where the Destination is the Journey”–It sounds cheesy, and I completely stole it from the ferry-that-I-took-this-weekend’s motto, but it fits. Actually, most of what’s amazing about New Zealand is the journeys we take – the car rides, the plane trips, the ferry, the hikes. Okay, before I fill this blog with too much corniness I’ll share my past week’s adventures and let you decide.

As for a short work week blurb, the office decided the drip coffee maker wasn’t so bad and have managed getting used to throwing as much grounds as possible into the filter. I do not doubt that New Zealand has given me the most extreme caffeine addiction I’ve ever had (and that includes grad school, quite the feat!).

On Friday one of our coworkers was giving a presentation in Wellington (Capital of New Zealand – located on the south of the north island); I decided this made for as good excuse as any for a bunch of us to journey there for the weekend. Four of us decided it would be a good idea to catch the 10:30am ferry Saturday morning. This equated to waking up at 4am to leave by 4:30am. Or in my case, forgetting to switch my alarm to “on” and getting some very furious knocking on my door at 4:30am. We then had to drive 4.5 hours to Picton — one of the north-most towns on the south island. The route was along the coast which made for a lovely view of the Pacific once the sun rose. In Picton we caught the ferry which brought us 3 hours across the Cook Strait to the north island. To get out to the strait you pass through the Queen Charlotte Sound, which left us with an hour of gorgeous views–

Queen Charlotte Sound

A bit windy!

Don’t let that nice looking weather fool you, the strait was quite rough. After 5 minutes of watching waves crash over the bow of the boat, we immediately grabbed our belongings, headed to the back of the boat, each claimed a couch to turn into our personal sick bed, and attempted to sleep the rest of the rough ride out.

Wellington is a city of the arts.  Christchurch was actually a bigger city pre-earthquakes; but considering the circumstances, this was a nice chance for us to visit a city full of tall, intact buildings for the weekend. Fun fact is that Wellington was always the city assumed to have a life-threatening earthquake event. It is a city obviously located near a fault, whereas the large earthquake in Christchurch was very much a surprise.

Once we regrouped with two other coworkers the six of us went to Te Papa – the waterfont museum. An extremely friendly guide met us at the door and once he managed to get out of us that we were all structural engineers he almost burst with excitement. He instantly showed us the door and directed us to the “base isolator” viewing exhibit. The museum is built on top of base isolators, which (for us engineers, at least) meant a pretty sweet viewing opportunity. I’ll leave you to read more about that if you wish. We all headed down to the viewing exhibit and one of our colleagues started giving us younger folks a lesson in base isolation. The other exhibit viewers actually thought he was a guide which made for fun conversation.

Base isolator nerds

The next morning we hopped on a cable car (after we actually found it, I may have gotten everyone slightly lost during my first attempt at directions) and went up to the city’s botanical gardens. This made for a great view of the city and a pleasant walk.

Wellington from the Botanical Gardens

Eventually, we had to walk back over to the ferry for a ride we hoped was less bumpy than before. Upon ordering my token afternoon flat white coffee, I discovered a box of crayons packed in a ferry souvenir tin. I did actually think about pretending I had a small child for a few seconds but just ended up asking the cashier if the crayons were available. I probably should have come up with a pretend child story because I got the response “well, they are supposed to be for CHILDREN, but you are welcome to take one if you would like.” Oh well, I can add it to my work pencil collection (we are lacking in mark-up pencils in the office), and I got a chance to decorate my very own sick bag at our ferry table.

Barf Bag Decor

The ride was far smoother than before. Once we reached the south island sounds we met up with at least 20 dolphins that thoroughly enjoyed showing off for us. I wish I could have captured a good photo of this but they were just too quick.

Back home in the South

Overall, Wellington was a great 24 hour getaway. However, the journey really did make the destination!

I’ve been lacking on coffee photos lately, so here’s to making up for that. This one was courtesy of a free voucher we received with our ferry boarding passes.

Coffee Photo of the Week

Get ready for next week — it will be all about our week-long office “Half-Christmas” festivities. Yes, we’re getting sick of winter; therefore, we decided to celebrate Christmas…