FiNZ 42 – High over Middle Earth

I’ve been avoiding sorting through photos from this past weekend because there’s just so many. Alas, I managed to pick out a “select” few and collage the crap out of all of them so they’d fit somewhat nicely here.

Friday was a precious New Zealand holiday – Waitangi Day, aka “the 4th of July New Zealand style.” Luckily, that gave us a head start to drive down to Queenstown and meet up with Kathy and Don Friday morning. Friday ended up being one of the most intense activity days we’ve had here.

To back up a bit, a freak cold snap had come across the country and Queenstown temps dipped to near 0 Celsius the previous two days. That meant that 1) the surrounding mountains were covered in snow in the middle of summer and 2) I was really glad I checked the weather and brought my fleece and winter hat.

Fortunately for us, Friday started to thaw the town up. Our first stop was the Shotover Jet–an activity Keith and I’ve been waiting until warmer weather (the joke’s on us) to do. I’ve heard its one of the “must-do” activities in Queenstown PLUS Prince William and Princess Kate participated when they were in New Zealand last April! I may have required the exact seat Kate sat in… Albeit a pricey activity at $130/person, if you’re going to do SOMETHING adventurous in Queenstown, pick the Shotover!

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Photos of our team and boat

We made it back to the center city just in time for…

THE RUNNING OF THE WOOLS!

which can only be further described through photos and video–

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Central Queenstown Running of the Wools

Soon after we were picked up and whisked away to the airport to do a Fiordland helicopter tour with Glacier Southern Lakes helicopters! Kathy had really wanted to do a helicopter tour but the weather had cancelled every trip until we arrived. We were more then happy to join and what an incredible experience–we landed at 3 planned locations and had to pick up a couple at the beginning in Glenorchy (because why get driven to the airport when the helicopter can pick you up outside?). It was the first time I’ve been in a helicopter and it was quite the first time!

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And we’re off!

Stop 1) Snow.

We were supposed to do a glacier landing but unfortunately the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. Although landing in secluded Fiordland on top of a snow-capped mountain was pretty epic in itself…

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Stop 2) Beach.

We flew through Milford Sound, past all the tiny tour boats below, and landed on a deserted beach on the west coast. Once again, amazing–

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Stop 3) Milford Sound

You can’t come to New Zealand and NOT see Milford Sound. Despite the flocks of people, it’s simply necessary. This was Keith’s first time out here — I’m glad we finally both made it!

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Then we enjoyed a beautiful scenic ride back to Queenstown. I forgot to take more video along the way. The short clip below will have to do–

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It’s noteworthy that our trusty pilot, Alfie, was the lead pilot in all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit filming! I snuck a photo of him (far left) with Sir Peter Jackson. They’re surrounding the special camera they used while in flight.

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What a day. Possibly the most exciting day I’ve had in New Zealand. We enjoyed a well earned beer, had a great dinner at Cow, and bar hopped a bit the rest of the night.

Saturday we split up and Kathy and Don headed back in their campervan and Keith and I did some exploring on our way home too. We decided to check out Arrowtown and finally got our sheep photo we’ve been looking out for!–

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One of many excessive sheep+mountains photos

Then we decided to finally make the 10km journey to the clay cliffs. New Zealand has plenty of tiny tourist signs to natural wonders that people often zoom by. We figured we should finally check this place out and we’re glad we did. Check it out–

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And of course we ended our journey with yet another beautiful blue lake Pukaki, the water color is always so fantastic. Below you can barely see Mt Cook in the background through the haze. On to our next adventure!

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FiNZ 22 – Lambing Season

I thought DC was the only city weird about cherry blossoms, but as I ran around Hagley Park Sunday afternoon I realized just as many people on this side of the hemisphere get excited about spring. The cameras and baby-lifting in front of the blossoms were out in full force. It’s really the best time of year in Christchurch, plus…LAMBING SEASON has begun!

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Christchurch Blooms

All week our “trusty” weather website told us the weekend was going to be cold & rainy. Lucky for us, the website, although pretty awesome, is most of the time inaccurate until the morning of #IslandProblems . We didn’t plan anything too far ahead of time due to the predicted weather. When we found out it should actually be nice we decided to get together with one of Keith’s coworker, his trusty dog Leo, and hike the Coastal Track from Taylors Mistake to Godley Head. I honestly can’t believe I’ve never done this walk. It’s 30 minutes down the road and gorgeous.

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Taylors Mistake Tramp

Once we strolled along the beautiful coast we got to Godley Head where all the World War 2 gun posts were left. The encampment was built in 1939 and was in full force during the war and housed up to 400 people! It must be a common school lesson (that I definitely don’t remember learning much about) that America saved New Zealand in the war. I’ve definitely been thanked more than once by a Kiwi regarding WWII.

Luckily Christchurch never saw an attack, but they were definitely on watch.

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In the Lookout

We continued our exploration throughout Godley Head. There were so many interesting shelters and lookouts to explore.

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Generator House

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More Watching

Once we headed back down to Taylors Mistake I finally took notice of….the LAMBS! We had a few situations where Leo (the dog) decided to start herding the sheep. Luckily no animals or humans were hurt in the process.

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Lamb Alert!

This all culminated in the…

Flanders Hiking Photo of the week

I thought for a quick second about joking we got a dog, but it was much easier for Keith’s coworker to take our photo if we held the dog (or rather prevented it from more sheep herding). It makes for a good family photo though right?

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This weekend we have a whirlwind west coast day trip, that is, if it isn’t down-pouring rain. The west coast can be difficult as it gets hit with all the rain. We’ll see how it goes!

I’ll leave you with my Sunday coffee photo of the week from none other than my favorite local cafe — Cafe Sismo.

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New Zealand 26 – Following in Ed’s Footsteps

Cup and Show week will soon be upon Christchurch which means the fascinator sales have cropped up all over the mall. Unfortunately, I am leaving New Zealand before the event of the season, but I’m sure I can live vicariously through my NZ coworkers photos.

Best Dressed Competition – http://www.nzcupandshow.co.nz/

Anyways, onto this past weekend. I haven’t had much time to write a long post. This week has involved a lot of settlement preparation as well as packing to head out to Fiordland for a multi-day hike (for the first time since June we have a 3-day weekend!). This past Sunday I wanted to check off walking the Hooker Valley Track. This is the track that leads towards the base of Mt. Cook — the tallest and most technical mountain in New Zealand. New Zealand’s most famous resident, Sir Edmond Hillary, trained on Mt. Cook several times in preparation for Everest. Although not a very high mountain, the climb is a bit treacherous. Here are some photos to sum up the beautiful day myself, a coworker, and a fellow colleague enjoyed. (Note that there was NO snow to be found when we left Christchurch)

What we came across after 3 hours of driving south of Christchurch…

At first I thought there was a shooting range nearby, and then I looked up and realized the sound was from mini avalanches (luckily far, far, far away)

Into the snow we go…

Over the bridge…

Over some hills…

Made it to the money shot.

Can’t go anywhere without having a near death experience with some sheep.

That’s all for now. Next week’s post will be far more proper to detail our epic weekend hike. Until then…

New Zealand 19 – Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend

Okay. This weekend I tried really hard to get some non-work photos for the blog, but I admit it was hard. I lied at the end of my last post, I never left Christchurch. First & foremost I’m here to work, and if a settlement (aka the owner & insurance company will come to a monetary agreement) is going to happen soon, we are going to try our hardest to make that occur as smoothly as possible.

Friday night I honestly don’t even remember what I did. I think I cooked some pasta, drank a glass of wine, and set my alarm for early on Saturday.

Saturday I was on site in the morning–going over damage conditions with our client and determining if we agreed with the owner’s engineer’s report. Until later that evening I spent organizing my notes and producing some repair sketches. Came home, decided I needed to go run, ate pasta leftovers. (my weekend is starting to sound really exciting right?)

Sunday I showed up at work again; however, I did give myself some personal time in the morning to have breakfast and a flat white at a new cafe, photo proof —

Ground Floor Cafe perfection

Then… get ready for it, for lunch I did the one non-work related thing all weekend — drove to KNITWORKS. A few coworkers mentioned wanting to check out this store. Knitworks is literally on a farm. They have their own sheep & alpacas and produce custom sweaters and other apparel on-site.

Sheep’s wool (and alpaca) headquarters

I caved and bought possum socks (remember the New Zealand 6 post?), then I REALLY caved and bought…a sheep-skin rug. Don’t ask me why, I think it may have been work overload, just because it was so soft, or because I pictured it being a great conversation piece back in my & my husband’s Maryland apartment, but either way I ended up with a ridiculous(ly awesome) sheep skin. I’m going to come home with a sheep skin, throw it on the living room floor, and I can only imagine what kind of confusing conversation my husband and I will have. I’m sure I will have to trade some wall space for another Boston Celtics poster as compromise for the random small furry rug gracing our floor.  However, for now, it definitely helps turn the hotel room decor up a notch —

To conclude, I found out at the beginning of the week our hard work did pay off and the ball is rolling on a settlement. Seeing some significant progress definitely made the work weekend worth it.

And as my final photo of this week’s post, I’d like to share my favorite find at Knitworks — a knit, high visibility sweater. My new side-mission at the New Zealand office will be to convince our safety officer that these are necessary.

Only $100 more than our branded safety vests…

Cheers.