Saturday 19th April

We all had a very lazy morning.
Stayed snuggled in bed for ages.
I was feeling really weary and not too great so needed to do nothing for a wee while.
The kids started bouncing with boredom mid morning so I sent them off to socialise.
Azzan very cheerfully said to Mahalia, ‘I was being really friendly last night so it’s your turn this morning’ 🙂
She doesn’t find it as easy as he does in a new situation.
Got up and had a shower just before lunch.
Ann had already taken Salome to work in Timaru and done some grocery shopping.
Azzan helped Adoniah cut up marshmallows etc for the Ambrosia Ann was making to take to the party.
Mahalia & Abagail took the dog for a walk.
Lunch was make our own sandwiches from the piles of food set in the centre of the wonderful spinning table.
It’s pretty cool actually.
The centre spins so no one has to pass anything – just like in a Chinese restaurant but way, way bigger.
After all there are a minimum of 10 seated at this table most meals.
We could’ve done with a table like this at home.
After lunch was cleared up we got ready for the party.
It was a double 60th birthday celebration organised by Jess and her sisters, to honour their parents Jim & Glen.
we had to drive about half an hour towards Fairlie to get to their place.
It is about 20 years since we were last here!

The girls had done a great job of keeping their parents in the dark about the party.
Only 2 weeks ago had they given them a copy of the invitation but Glen & Jim had absolutely no idea how many or who would be there.
Jim’s brother had come all the way from Scotland for the celebrations so Jim & Glen had taken him for a drive to Tekapo today.
They were only away 4-5 hours and returned to find the girls had put out seats & hay bales set around braziers for guests, strung up decorations and had mountains of food prepared and were casually relaxing outside amongst it all, sitting sipping drinks as if they hadn’t done anything!!
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When we arrived there was already a long line up of cars parked outside the hedge.
I heard a count later in the evening of 50 cars parked up!
Well over 100 of us came to celebrate.
A real tribute to a lovely couple 🙂

Glen saw us as we walked in and was so delighted.
She knew I was floating around the south but had no idea we would be here.
Such a lovely surprise and so good to see them all again.
We had several wonderful family skiing holidays down here when Seb was a toddler.
Life has taken many different turns since then so we have never gotten back.
We all milled around socialising with drinks and nibbles for a couple of hours.
Then Jess called us to attention for the beginning of the speeches.
She also had a goody bag and throughout the evening would ask random questions pertaining to their parents and those who know the answers were given a prize – which were crazy things we had to wear for the duration of the evening, like large head bows, funny ears, glowing noses, and I won a shiny blue neck tie which Azzan has claimed!
It was all loads of fun.
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I was delighted to see some old friends arrive and sought them out as soon as I had a chance.
I introduced Azzan to Roly and they and a great time talking.
We stayed in Roly & Margaret’s farm cottage all those years ago during our ski holidays at Mt Dobson, and they came visiting us in their yacht.
Roly had fun recounting a story to Azzan about his big bro (Anson we think) who took him fishing and on catching the fish scrambled around the dinghy asking for a basher to deal to the fish!!
So from then on in Roly’s family ‘a basher’ was their byword!!
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I found Mahalia and got her to come over and meet Roly too.
She was absolutely delighted with him, especially when she realised he was Croisella’s uncle.
And even more so when she discovered Croisella was actually staying nearby over the weekend!!
He had lots of fun with her trying to get his tongue around her name and his brain to remember it.
By the end of the evening she was being referred to as Miss Shand – it was easier  🙂

A bbq was cranked up and loads of meats cooked, thar, venison, pork, chicken, plus multitudes of salads and breads etc.
I’m sure the tables were groaning under the weight of the food.
A very interesting and delicious spread – more than enough for tomorrow too I reckon!
After some more questions and fun with Jess we had desserts.
They were so delicious, including Ann’s ambrosia which was doubly delish!

Another local lady was taking some professional photos so I snuck in behind her and captured these ones of the lovely family.
Sarah, Jessie Maisie & Adelia with their parents, Jim & Glen
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Becky had come down from Nelson with her mum Bronwyn and kids Abe & Phoebe.
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I spent a lot of the night hanging out with them.
Nice to have some time to catch up with them both.
Life is far too busy in Nelson!!
Azzan & Abe went off and enjoyed some great boy time together and then later in the evening Abe buried himself in his book and Azzan took on the job of cleaner upper.
He gathered up all the used plates and cups and disposed of them.
A great job Azzan, I am sure it was very much appreciated – thank you.

We were quite tired so said our goodbyes and left around 9pm.
It was a pitch black night and I was really cold & weary, so just focusing on the road and getting back to Pleasant Point, when out of the darkness loomed this large shape right in my path.
I was so shocked.
It was a large wallaby just sitting upright straight in front of me.
I managed to swerve around it much to the kids delight.
I know they are pests here but the idea of hitting it was most unappealing and I was also very concerned about how it might damage the car.
Wow! That was a bit of excitement for the night!!
We got back to the house and went straight off up to bed.
Collapsed and slept soundly.

Friday 18th April

Today we had to leave.
It was not raining but very murky.
There were reports of violent storm damage up north, in Nelson,                                                                                              the West Coast, and now the east coast was getting it.
I was hoping we would not get affected by the rain storm.
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I packed the car up again.
We were all ready to go around 9:30am so said our goodbyes to our ‘new chums’ or as Mahalia referrers too them as – my adopted grandparents 🙂
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We drove without stopping for ages, admiring the autumn colours as we travelled.
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Followed behind this bus for many miles.
I noticed the number plate but it was Mahalia that commented – ‘Pink Floyd’!
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We drove to Omarama with the intent of stopping there for lunch, but there were hoards of people milling so we decided to carry on.
Soon came to the Benmore Dam.
It is a mighty impressive structure.
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We drove over the dam and down the side of Lake Aviemore.
It was absolutely stunny downy here.
The autumn colours are incredible
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Mahalia had fun leading me down all sorts of off road tracks so she could find interesting photosgraphs.
I had fun capturing her exuberance.
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Weather was getting much wetter now.
There was a lot of rockfall along the road and I was getting a tad nervous as some of the rocks were rather large.
Aviemore Dam.
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We carried on to the Waitaki Dam.
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We drove to Kurow and got some lunch to take with us.
Then over a very old bridge which crossed a very flooded river.
There was a lot of roadworks as there is a new bridge being built adjacent to it.
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We began to drive through flooded roads.
The kids thought it was great fun to wash the car as we drove through the water.
It was flooding all the way down the Hakataramea Valley.
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The ducks were enjoying the weather.
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Out onto the main road and even more flooding as we headed north towards Timaru.
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A random small blue airplane parked not he side of the road!
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We found our way to Inez & Graeme’s place.
Picked up my camera which I had gotten posted there.
Chatted for a short time and then carried on.
Fueled up the car and then drove to Pleasant Point.
We arrived at Donald & Ann’s just in time for dinner.
Met all there kids, it is 20 years since we were last down here so lots happened and kids have grown in stature and number!
Kids went off to bed and I ended up chatting with Ann until nearly midnight.
We had a lot to catch up on!
So tired!

Thursday 17th April

There is a lot of activity up the street from our apartment.
The huge orange digger has been working all week, this morning it was joined by the yellow digger, road signs and some very busy important looking road crew.
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There is also a dusting of fresh snow on the Remarkables!!
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Gareth & Jill went off walking for the morning.
I was really tired from not a lot of sleep and the horrid cough which is physically taxing me.
I was describing to Azzan how it felt and he said that when he had it he got pins and needles in his chest.
And that is exactly what it is that I am getting.
I could so hard, cannot stop, barely can take a breath, and the pins and needles stab inside my chest.
It is excruciating and exhausting.

I took the kids into town and dropped them off at the movies.
I had my pocket stuffed with Vicks cough lozenges.
It was a very chilly morning, so was cross with Azzan for not bringing his jacket or hat.
We had about half an hour spare before the theatre opened so we went for a cruise down thte street a bit further and found Pumpkin Patch had a sale on.
We gooo-ed and gaaa-ed over all the cute wee clothes.
I found a couple of things I wanted to get so asked the sales assistant to hold them while I whisked the kids back up to the cinema to get their tickets.
The spent the rest of the morning watching ‘Rio 2’.
I was planning to have the 2 hours to myself to go do my shopping.
I went back to pick up the clothes and whilst fossicking through the sale racks Sebastian phoned up for a chat.
Hadn’t had a good catch up since his operation so was good to hear how things went etc.
Got some more clothes and then went off for wander.
I had time to do my own thing, but I was tired, not feeling well, and it was very cold and windy.
Quite a recipe for being miserable!
I was back at the car moving it to a new park cuz my time had expired, when the kids text to say movie was over.
Met them at the theatre.
Azzan was cold – duh!
We walked very briskly to Vudu Cafe & Larder and enjoyed some of there very tasty food for lunch.
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We were all really over being in town so went back to the car.
I dropped Mahalia off at the house and took Azzan to Frankton to find some earphones for his iPod and get fruit & veges to take with us tomorrow.
It took us three shops to find what he wanted.
I was being extremely patient but put my foot down at the last shop.
He made his choice and was happy to find they were a very comfy fit.
We got back to the apartment just after Jill & Gareth arrived in from their walk.
I was so over tired that my body was aching so badly.
I took myself off to bed and slept for a couple of hours.
G&J took Azzan bowling.
They had a great time.
We were planning to go out for our last dinner together but consensus was to stay in and rustle up leftovers.
I crashed on the sofa and Jill & Gareth cooked up a storm 🙂
It was really nice to not go anywhere and our dinner was very tasty and just enough.
Mahalia gave Jill a manicure and pedicure.
I got lucky and received a manicure too.
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Azzan was very helpful and cleaned up all the dishes.
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We watched a tv programme and then were not long heading off to bed.

 

Wednesday 16th April

 

I had promised to take Mahalia into town to do some shopping if she was up and ready early.
She was, but I wasn’t.
I was enjoying wallowing in my bed and took a while to actually get myself into the shower.
We finally headed into town sometime after 10am.
Jill & Gareth decided to go off and do a wine trail for the day so they headed towards Cromwell soon after we left the house.
Mahalia was in need of some shoes so we found a park and went walking.

 

Azzan was not at all happy to be getting dragged around the shops when he had nothing he needed.
So he was doing a real bloke attitude, resentfully mooching along just behind us, with a very bored expression, giving us girls the silent treatment.
Unfortunately he hadn’t brought his phone with him so I couldn’t/wouldn’t let him wander off to do his own thing.
I wanted to go check out the camera shop because my camera has packed a wobbly.
I am really annoyed with it, only bought it last Oct when I damaged my previous one beyond repair when I fell on the beach.
The shutter has been refusing to shut intermittently, and then about a week ago I turned it on and the screen was covered with an electronic looking web of lines, plus I have not been at all happy with the light quality of my photos.
So, off to check out some other ones and when I return home I will deal with the warrantee issue.
I had checked out a few at Noel Leemings in Frankton the previous night but the guy there really had no idea what he was talking about and was of no use at all.
The girl at the shop as great and showed me their star camera and I was immediately sold.
However, I took time to go away and think and check out online reviews.
In the meantime Mahalia had side tracked Azzan into an op shop to try and lift his countenance somewhat!
By the time I was looking for them they had circumnavigated several streets, checked out all the shoe shops they could find and were now at the cinema getting times and film details.
I regathered focus and we set off to check out more shoe shops.
The ones she had found did not stock the shoes she was wanting so I asked and was told to head to Amazon.
The guy there was very helpful and finally Mahalia found the ones she wanted.
Then because they were running a special jeans/shoes/t-shirt deal she tried on heaps of jeans.
But because of her gorgeously long legs none of the jeans in the deal actually fitted her properly.
He found her a pair of Wranglers called Mid Twiggy – and they were a perfect fit.
But as she really didn’t need any more and they were a lot more expensive than the ones being offered we left them for another day.
At least she now knows where to go next time she needs some!
After another quick shop then Mahalia went to add some money to the parking meter and I took Azzan off to Whitcoulls to find a book he had seen there.
He was really keen to read Divergent after watching the movie, and hearing Michelle’s rave review of the book.
He was delighted to find the whole series and I was even more delighted to hear that because I was a loyalty member I got a reduction on two of the books plus a gift voucher as I had reached my points level – both happy – all good 🙂
We met at Starbucks for a drink and to use their internet.
Once Azzan and I had used what we needed we left Mahalia to use up her allotment and we scooted off to find Fergburgers.
We had been told by many people that we absolutely had to have one whilst in Queenstown.
I thought being ager 1pm that it would be quiet, we had passed by at other times at the queues were manic.
But I was wrong.
There were throngs of people there.
It didn’t take long to place our order but there was a 20min wait for the burgers.
Decided to just mill with the rest of the crowd and wait there.
Apparently it doesn’t matter what time of the day you go it is always crazy busy.
Must be good!
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Finally our order was ready and we made a run for it.
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The rain had been threatening for past few hours and now the drizzle was getting heavier.
We scooped up Mahalia who was waiting somewhat impatiently and headed back to the car.
Ellie was meeting us but missed seeing where we ware parked so I set off on a search for her.
Picked her up along the road further and went back to the house.
It was around 2pm and we were all so hungry.
The burgers were amazingly wonderful and so worth getting.
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As soon as we finished eating I turned on the gas fire to warm us all up.
The day really had gotten very chilly.
We chatted and enjoyed Ellie’s company.
Then the three of them climbed into their onsies and set to choosing a movie to watch.
I headed off to the supermarket to get some stuff for dinner as I was cooking tonight.
Diverted past Starbucks and got myself a drink.
I parked right by this cute wee stone church.
It has some great angles and is surrounded by beautiful autumn colours.
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Back to the house and found the kids blobbed out watching ‘Grown Ups’.
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I started cooking dinner.
Jack arrived to pick up Ellie just after 5pm.
Gareth & Jill got back before 6pm.
I called up Shoshannah for a chat.
She had just messaged me to say she had received a merit for her English work.
Super cool stuff Shanni!!
Well done.
I knew you could do it 🙂

We had our dinners on our knees and spent the evening watching the most stupid tv programmes ever!
The kids were keen to see the top model programme, but it was far worse than any of the NZ versions.
‘Next Top Model – Guys & Girls’ – so incredibly catty, childish, stupid, and such over the top emotional dropkicks were the stars of the show!
Followed by ‘The Biggest Loser’ – inspiring, but man am I over reality tv.

 

This is one thing I will not be sad to leave behind when we get home!!
I spent most of the evening having a text conversation with a friend as the programmes were so enthralling – Not!

 

I sent the kids off to bed as soon as I could – somewhere around 10pm, then at 11pm I was snuggled up in my cozy bed putting a call through to Jesika.
She is 4 hours behind us in time so calling late in the evening is the best time for her and the quietest time for me.
It was great to hear about her new job etc.
Also to talk about my thoughts, plans, ideas & fears for my future.
We talked for nearly two hours and then I got hit by a coughing fit.
I couldn’t even say goodbye!!
It appears that I have not escaped the kids bugs entirely.
I have got a very tickley throat and without any warning an uncontrollable cough will start and I am almost vomiting from it.
This was by the far the worst attack so far.
It took me 45 minutes to get it under control.
I had to creep upstairs and get some more water and find the cough lozenges.
I was almost too scared to breath lest I set it off again 😦

 

Tuesday 15th April

So the lots were drawn and Glenorchy was the place of interest today.
We stopped along the way to take photos.
Apparently, according to our guidebook Gareth, it is one of the most scenic drives to take.
I did suggest that they haven’t driven our road yet!!
Mahalia was in action again.
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I love this photo of my pterodactyl about to pounce on an unsuspecting tourist 🙂IMG_6579
He was focused on capturing the Earnslaw chugging it’s way across the lake with it’s smoke curling up to join the whips of mountain clouds.
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We stopped at Wilson Bay for a play.
A great place to skim stones.
An errant pup was more interested in playing with us that following his master on the bike trail, much to his frustration!
Finally Azzan ran with it and led him back to the bikes and away her went.
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Such a dreamy place to scene.
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Stunning lookout along the way.
Day was overcast with lacy clouds whispering around the mountains.IMG_6610IMG_6612
Of course when you stop at places like this you have to contend with tourists who do not adhere to the safety barriers when trying to obtain the best photo 😉
This one cracked me up.
Gareth pointing his camera one way and a random Asian guy crouching in front of him getting a better shot the other direction!
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Finally made it to Glenorchy.
I was incredibly surprised that there was so much there.
I had not been expecting to find anything really.
There was a choice of several eateries, tourist operators and even a fuel station, which I was glad to see as I had been anxiously watching my fuel gauge.
Had forgotten to fuel up before departing and realised that I had not put any diesel in since we were in Cromwell last Friday!
Still had just under half a tank which is pretty impressive given the driving we have done since then.
There was not much space between the raindrops so we all donned our raincoats and headed off to explore the wharf area.
The wharf shed has seen some interesting years.
Love this shot – Azzan looks like he has lost his head!
He was actually in the process of throwing a stick to a random dog 🙂
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Of course Mahalia had to go out on a limb once again.
This time the limb was slippery.
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‘But hey Mum, after falling off  the parallel bars and breaking both my wrists, don’t you think I’ve learnt how to walk them properly now.  I am not going to do that gain!
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It’s ok Jill & Gareth, you can look now, she didn’t fall in 😉
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Gareth & Jill walked the street checking out all the eateries for a suitable lunch stop while we drove up to check out the jet boating.
They decided on GYC and made a very good choice.
The food was excellent.
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We sat in a cosy wee nook and enjoyed relaxing with our lunch and coffees for a while.
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Then it was off back up the road.
But hey!
We’ve come all this way to walk so let’s find a walk even though it is still quite wet!
Actually the rain stopped long enough for us to go for a wander up to the Scheelite Battery.
It is the first part of the Mt Judah Walkway.
The history of this operation is well worth a read.
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We got up this far and I looked back and saw that I had left the lights on in my car.
Darnit!
So I turned back and the others carried on up into the fog.
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Thankfully I had not flattened the battery.
I waited there for a while and then Azzan came back.
Mahalia took these photos.
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The others arrived back about 3pm.
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We drove straight back to the apartment.
I dropped Azzan & Jill off to play some scrabble, and Gareth went off to play some golf.
Mahalia & I headed to Frankton to fuel up the car and go do some shopping and get groceries for dinner.
The consensus was Chinese.
Mahalia & I zipped around the supermarket getting the ingredients.
Couldn’t find some of them and Azzan’s phone had gone flat to we headed back.
It was raining, 5pm and the roads were really busy.
I had never dreamt that Q’town would have a rush hour till I hit it 😉
Got back to find the landlady here sorting out a few problems.
Once she was done Jill & I shot down to the Fresh Choice supermarket nearby and got the rest of the ingredients.
Then she and Azzan prepared the meal.
Our own version of Master Chef they reckoned 🙂
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It was delicious.
Way better than takeaways would’ve been 😉
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Toasting new friends, or new chums as they say over in Blighty.
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This modern version of a chaise lounge is a perfect snuggle pad for the kids.
They always head to it when there is nothing else to do.
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Despite getting Azzan off to bed reasonably early he was still awake when Mahalia & I went to bed at 11pm.
I had chatted with Andrea for a while and then we watched a programme about the Indianna Women’s prison.
So movingly sad.

I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but as soon as I turned off the light I started tossing and turning again.
It is so darned hard to stop the memories, and the longings, and the tears, at night when I am alone.

Monday 14th April – Part 4 Kawarau Gorge

Kawarau Gorge

This was part of the route back to Queenstown that we had not driven.
It is an absolutely spectacular area.
Mahalia spotted a narrow very 4WD road off to the side of the main road when we pulled over to take some photos and pleaded with me to go exploring.
I was a tad hesitant as I didn’t want to get myself into a predicament I couldn’t get out of.
But we took the plunge and found a large parking area down there and before I could park up she was out and off down to find what was at the bottom of the tracks.
Azzan didn’t want to join the fun so I left him in the car and followed where she went.
Couldn’t see her but followed her voice until she appeared with a beaming smile.
She had gotten right down to the river.
The river is really low at the moment so quite a bit of river bank exposed.
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There was a tree reaching out over the river just asking to be climbed 🙂
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We walked back up to make sure Azzan was ok and then went off down another track and found this pretty spot.
I’m like – ‘please don’t go too close to the edge of the rocks, the river is fast, deep, wet & cold, and I need you!!’
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She replies ‘no, I won’t’, as she scrambles down right to the edge and then disappears around a corner of the rocks!
She’s calling me to ‘come look Mum, It’s so cool here.’
I was happy just to wait till she got back and then look at the photos.
This trip we are working on a happy mix of youthful vibrancy & impulsive adventuring and mature cautiousness 😉

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It was a very pretty diversion and well worth having to put the 4WD into action to get out of it!!
Down the road further we pulled off to view Roaring Meg.
It is a hydro scheme built back in 1934 and has created a pretty waterfall.
Well worth stopping to admire the scenery here.
It is beautiful.
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This nearby winery has an interesting account of the names of the places around here.
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We carried on into Queenstown.
Arrived just before dark and found our way to the apartment Gareth & Jill are renting for the remainder of the sojourn in NZ.
They had invited us to join them here as it is a large three bedroom place with room for us.
Because of internet problems they hadn’t received our messages saying we were coming tonight, but I figured they’d be around somewhere.
The kids were asking what would we do if they weren’t home and I said, I will go to Starbucks and have a frappuccino.
Isn’t that the answer to all lives problems 😉
Anyway, I didn’t have to resort to that because Jill was in and welcomed us warmly.
We were soon unpacked and chilling out inside.
She even had enough dinner for us all, so even though the kids weren’t hungry they managed to polish off a good feed.
Thanks you two for enveloping us.
We really appreciate it.
It’s been a long time of the road and to feel at home here with you is special.

Monday 14th April – Part 3 Clyde

We carried on straight to Clyde.
We had been told there was an historic area that we should check out there and as we hadn’t known about it and also hadn’t had time to stop we had driven straight past it last Friday.
We followed our noses through the town and found ourselves going over this one lane bridge.
What is it with one lane bridges down here.
There are multitudes of them.
We are having fun by not using a map a times and just following random turns offs to see where they go.
This time the corner took us down under the bridge.
The under structure was super cool.
The colour of the river and the water clarity was amazing.
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There was a keyhole in the base structure which was perfect for Mahalia 🙂
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We followed another road and found the lookout towards the Clyde Dam.
It is the largest concrete dam built in NZ.
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It was also a perfect stage for a bubble blowing competition.
Although Azzan had problems with laughing so his bubbles were bursting faster than I could click the shutter. P1100396P1100398
Crazy kids!
We drove back over the bridge and found another route to get us back onto the highway.
We past some more historic buildings but didn’t stop to investigate them closely.
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It was sorta good for me to be retracing some steps as I knew what to expect as we drove.
Mahalia captured some of the scenery along the way – great clouds, rugged hills, gorgeous river, autumn colours, the whole route along here is really just one long WoW! factor.
You just want to keep stopping to take yet another photo and to soak it all in.
But unfortunately there was a lot of traffic traveling at high speeds and not many safe pull over places.
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Monday 14th April – Part 2 Ophir

Instead of retracing our steps we carried on through the village and headed to the main road at the other junction.
Rowena had told me about the Ida Valley Kitchen and we thought we would go find it and have lunch there.
When we were looking at the map she had pointed to the lower part of the Ida Valley road when I asked where it was, so we decided not to go back to the top of Ida Valley but to carry on down to Omakau and drive up to it from there.
But as we drove I got Mahalia to google it and we found that it was actually up near the northern end of Ida Valley and it was still 25minutes driving away.
Rowena!!!
You are obviously directionally challenged – must have forgotten to put map reading skills into your curriculum whilst educating you all those years ago 😉
We were starving hungry and it was already 1:40pm, so Mahalia googled Ophir cafes and found there was indeed some food places not too far behind us.
So I did an about turn on the hilltop above Ophir in amongst some of the most stunning rock strewn hills and headed back down the valley.
This cute cottage still stands in amongst those hills.
It is MacTavish’s Hut – a gold miner’s dwelling .
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The welcoming signs of Ophir.
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We drove through the town, oohing & aching over the gorgeous historic buildings until we found Pitches Store
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We had no idea what to expect so were pleasantly surprised to find a 5 star cafe/restaurant with a lovely menu and absolutely delicious food.
The kids both chose the Open Fried Lasange and I had, of course, the salmon salad.
It was served with beetroot & asparagus – two of my most favourite vegetables.
So how could they go wrong?
It was superb.
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The children finished their meals off with an ice cream sundae each.
They make everything from scratch here so the sauces were apparently ‘to die for’ good!
Azzan had to ham up his appreciation in actions rather than words.
While Mahalia gave hers a very considered opinion 🙂
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After a most relaxing hour there we decided we should move along so we went for a cruise up and down the main street to have a look at the wonderfully restored buildings left from the early gold rush days.
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The Post Office is still functioning today is open for about 3 hours a day.
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We had been looking for an historic bridge but had no idea what we were going to find.
The road narrowed to a one lane very blind approach with this humungous rock in front of it so Mahalia grabbed my camera and scrambled to the top of it.
Of course!
What else could she possibly do?
After all it was just sitting there calling her name 😉

The Bridge
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While she was up there several rail trail cyclists came wheeling past.
It is slightly off route but not far and they have brilliant accommodation and food there so if you know anyone cycling this then tell them Ophir is an absolute must!
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I was eventually allowed to drive over the bridge as Mahalia ran in front to catch one last photo.
She sat in the car as we drove on searching for a word that she knew but had lost somewhere in the dark recesses of her brain.
I had no idea what she was on about and I wasn’t allowed to interrupt her thought processes as she processed for several moments.
Then all of a sudden she excitedly remembered it.
That’s a suspension bridge!’
‘There I have learnt something on this trip Mum!’
I am so pleased 😉

Monday 14th April – Part 1 St Bathans

I woke to a beautiful Hyde day.
One that Rowena had been wishing we could’ve experienced over the weekend.
But actually the weather we did experience during the few days here was just what we needed.
We were in need of a stop.
Time to do very little.
It is a very therapeutic place to be to just stay still, wallow in pjs, rest & read, sleep and recover.
Totally what was needed Ro.
Thanks for turning on just the right weather for us this time 🙂
It was actually only 6am when I woke so I wrapped up in a blanket and shut doors and stoked up the fire.
Sat and knitted and caught up on the tv news in the peace and quiet of early morning.
But Azzan’s door was a tad squeaky and it must have stirred him when I carefully pulled it shut cuz he came out about half an hour later.
Wrapped himself up in several of the lovely quilted blankets and joined me on the sofa.
He said he liked watching the news.
But after an hour or so of it he was asking when I was going to have my shower so he could switch over to the cartoons 😉
I went to wake Mahalia at 8:15am but she was totally out cold.
Left her a while longer.
Eventually we were all up and packing.
I packed up the car and we said goodbye to Pine Grove Cottage for this trip.
We will return 🙂
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Rowena runs this lovely wee B&B for several months of the year to provide accommodation for folk cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail.
She has been doing it for 7 seasons now and is kept so busy.
So if any of you out there are considering doing this trek then make sure you book in with her.
I can thoroughly recommend her delightful accommodation and her wonderful hospitality.
I know I am completely biased but I am being totally truthful 🙂
Rowena came to live with us as a Year 13 student to help me in the house when Anson was just a wee tacker and I had four young children under 6 & a fifth on her way, and has held a very special place in our hearts ever since.
She was one of ‘my girls’, one of my adopted daughters, and now a very, very dear friend.
Enough of the mushy stuff!
We went up and had a cuppa and a slice of her famous Guinness Cake, which Azzan seriously has to get the recipe for as he couldn’t get enough!
Mat took a break from farm duties to come say goodbye.
It was really hard to leave when we finally said our farewells.
Another few moments and I would’ve been sobbing my heart out.
Words are not needed when you share a love for someone special and I could feel her love and compassion.
Love you my friend xxx
We drove down the road a bit and then Mahalia and I pulled over to make some travel decisions.
We had been in a dither since last night as to what we would do next and where we should go.
I had left home with a basic plan but with us all being sick and as time has gone on the kids were not too bothered about the original plan to drive up towards Mt Cook.
So we sent off several texts to various folk but had only received one answer at that point.
We had several choices so tossed those ideas around along with the approaching yucky weather forecast.
We made a group decision to head straight back to Queenstown.
Well, Mahalia & I made the decision.
Azzan was sitting in the back seat connected to his iPod and not at all bothered about where we went really 😉
Jill & Gareth had offered to share their apartment with us so we knew there was accommodation for a few days and it just felt better to be going back there and not having the stress of traveling to a new place every day.
The Maniototo Plain is amazing.
There is wondrous beauty everywhere we go.
This plain has such wide expanses of beauty and as we drove the clouds from the north were whisping and curling and embracing the hills to the north of us.
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Ro & Matt had told us we should go see St Bathans so we decided we would go straight there and then retrace our steps and come back down the Ida Valley.
We took the first turn off and followed a gravel road for about 11kms.
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St Bathans – I had no idea of what to expect except that it was another historic gold mining site.
When you first see the lake and the Post Office which stands out for miles it really does have the Wow! factor.

The history of this wee town is fascinating.
Before the mining was begun there was a hill here that reached 130m higher than the town.
Now it is a lake.
I find it incredibly overwhelming & humbling to see what our forebears achieved without the help of our modern machinery.

DoC supply the following information on site.
From the Grey River Argus 12 March 1875
“Hydraulic mining at St Bathans has reached a state of perfection not elsewhere to be met with, while the workings are upon a scale of considerable magnitude.”
St Bathans’ gold was alluvial, as loose particles in gravel. It was, therefore, easily extracted, thanks to a good supply of water. Travelling over the riffles of a sluice box, the heavier gold sinks and is trapped as the gravel is washed away.
Innovation and imaginative engineering created hydraulic elevation in St Bathans, changing mining techniques here and throughout the rest of the colony.
A man with a shovel and pan could gain good returns, but once this easier gold had gone the rewards became harder to reach, lying deep within the landscape.
Undaunted, pioneering miners developed new methods and technology: ground sluicing; hydraulic sluicing; hydraulic elevation; the latter transforming mining by providing access to deep and rich, gold bearing gravels. As a result, over several decades, St Bathans average output was 16,000 ounces of gold a year.
Hydraulic elevation used high-pressure water to raise deep gravels to the surface. This was then delivered to sluice boxes to capture the gold and the water and tailings disposed of – as with ground and hydraulic sluicing. The method used to hydraulically draw gravel is known as the Venturi principle.

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We drove down to Blue Lake to take a closer look.
It was really cool and incredibly stunning in it’s colours and reflections and the surrounding cliffs remaining front he sluicing days.
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We were going to go for a walk around the lake shore but it began to rain so we shelved that idea.
There is a really good board walk around the lake which takes about 90 minutes to circumnavigate.
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We drove back up to the village and had a wee look see.
The buildings are so cute and most have been restored beautifully.
There were a few other tourists wandering around.
Some eating in the hotel.
We thought of eating there but the smell of pub food put me right off so we left.
The town had a very dead feel to it.
It was like folk were meandering around waiting for something to happen but it never was going to.
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Well worth the diversion off the main road though.
I would like to come back one day and do the walks when I’m feeling better and rain is not threatening.

 

Sunday 13th April

 

I woke after 8am.
Felt really rubbish.
The rain had stopped and the sun was trying to shine through the morning cloud.
I opened the curtains to see two rabbits bouncing around the front driveway.
Got the fire cranked up and then went back to bed with a cup of herb tea.
Spent the rest of the morning reading and dozing.
My throat was tickley and I was coughing a bit.
The kids eventually got up and spent the morning on the couch watching tv.
Mahalia scrambled up all the eggs we had and ate the lot!
Guess there is nothing wrong with her appetite.
Azzan was off his tucker, wouldn’t eat anything.
I finally got up around midday and had a long soak in the bath and finished my book.
Then Azzan had a bath.
I put a old of washing through and then we hung it on the rack in front of the fire.
We were about to head up to the house mid arvo when Mahalia decided she would have a shower!
So we never got up there until around 5pm.
They were having a chilled afternoon too which was good.
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Rowena had a roast in the oven.
Azzan was very happy, he has been craving some roast mutton for a while now.
I was battling a headache most of the evening so not great company.
Azzan and the cat were having a very hyped time just before we left!
I had packed up my knitting and then the cat dived inside the bag and got all tangled up in my wool.
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We left at 9pm cuz the kids have to head back to school tomorrow so need to be up before 6am.
There was a really colourful ring around the moon tonight.
Really pretty.
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Got the fire cranked up, the wee cottage is so cozy.
Apart from the bathroom area which Rowena describes as being colder that Siberia!
Off to bed with my book in the hopes I will feel a whole heap better in the morning.
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