Friday, 30 January 2009

It's getting hot in here....

Wow, who would have thought that living in Melbourne we would have to cope with a heatwave like the one we have seen this week? The hottest period on record, and the 2nd hottest day ever recorded. 3 days reaching over 43 degrees Celsius, and today was 45.1.
Of course, those were the 3 days that teachers had to go back to work this week, in preparation for school starting. Days of struggling to concentrate in meetings and professional learning sessions, while we sweltered, even in the few spaces with air conditioning.
It's also the week I wanted to spend every possible moment at the torch, as I will be selling at a juried artists market on Sunday, and have been working on new stock. Torching in 40+ heat is no fun, especially when my studio is a tiny cupboard upstairs... As the 'cool change' has come tonight, so we are expecting 30 odd tomorrow instead of 40, I'm hoping I will get one more chance to torch in the morning.
It's been a tough week to have a tiny puppy in the house, although he would have been just as hot at his previous home, since we are getting our weather from Adelaide anyway. Luckily we have air conditioning, but going outside has been a bit of an ordeal with his fur, and he has had a few impromptu baths to cool off.

Monday, 26 January 2009

The Full Monty

Our new arrival is finally here - and it is amazing how much laughter a puppy can cause in a home. Despite the hard work and frequent frustration, little Monty is certainly a joy to have around. And you have to admit, Kees puppies are pretty darned cute - only a hard heart could resist this face......

Friday, 23 January 2009

Another hotel room...

I've had a mixture of relaxation and busyness this week. Spent the first few days after we got home vegging out and washing clothes. Didn't get much of the planned school work or puppy planning done that I intended - I became the queen of procrastination... Later in the week, I unexpectedly got accepted for a juried art market that is on next Sunday, so suddenly I have a LOT to do in a short period of time. I spent 2 days torching - need to get a couple more done, then I will be making jewellery and getting a display together. I'm hoping it will be a good venue to promote my beadmaking classes, as well as sell beads and jewellery. I need to get my school planning finished before wed too... Eek!
I have also spent a bit of time editing photos this week, so I will post some random favourites over the next few weeks, that I haven't posted yet. Right now I am in a hotel room in SA, as we are picking up our puppy and making the 8 hour drive home with him tomorrow. Be prepared for numerous puppy pics... :)

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Home Sweet Home

Goodbye Queenstown, Hello Melbourne. I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight, and especially to having my own pillow. I'll be spending some time this weekend downloading all my photos onto my computer at home, and once I can see them properly, I'll post some favourites over the next few weeks.
We spent Friday relaxing - the weather wasn't great, so we hung around town, played mini-golf (I kicked DH's butt at every hole!) and went to the bird sanctuary at Te Anua. On Friday we drove back to Queenstown. We bumped into one of the guys from the dive tour on the way, so we gave him a lift to Queenstown as well. We decided to take ourselves back to the Deer Park - it has the best views over the lake in both directions and the animals are a lot of fun. We saw some animals we had missed last week - like the Himalayan Thar, pictured below. Friday night, for our last evening in NZ, we were intending to have dinner at skyline, at the top of the Gondola ride over Queenstown. The weather turned nasty though, so we cancelled and had an amazing meal at 'Flame' instead.
This week is going to be a bit busy, as I have to get some work done before heading back to the grind in a week and a half, and next week we will have a new addition arriving - of the four footed variety. So, some puppy proofing to be done this week, and then I'm sure the last few days before school goes back will totally revolve around the little fluffball, so I had better get some work done (and some beads made - I'm thinking of a Glacier theme...) before he gets here.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Almost time... think about heading home. It's been an awesome trip, and we only have a couple of days to go. We drove to Te Anua the day before yesterday, and it was a fairly easy drive, with some nice scenery on the way. Its funny how the bar gets higher - it's really a lovely drive, but the scenery when we drove out to Glenorchy at the end of the lake the day before was so amazing, everything else looks ho-hum by comparison. :)
Yesterday we wen to Milford Sound. It was very cloudy in the morning, but fined up to be quite a nice day. It was very disappointing, as we were on a dive trip for DH, and he discovered once geared up and in the water that he was not fully recovered and couldn't dove after all. We still had a great day, but it's pretty rough to be that close and miss out - especially when he had to watch everyone else diving. :( Unfortunately the dive company couldn't offer any type of refund at all, so it made for an expensive cruise. Hopefully I can work something out with travel insurance when we get home.
We saw the funniest thing at the spot above in the last photo - tiny little fish in the rock pool under the waterfall, that climb the cliff face. I didn't believe it at first, but they are seriously wiggling their way up the sheer rock face. Most bizarre thing I have ever seen. No pics though - didn't want to get the camera wet, so you will just have to take my word for it!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

On top of the world

We have had a great couple of days here in Queenstown so far. Yesterday we took it fairly easy and organised a 'Deer safari' through the Deer park and to see some LOTR locations. It was a very enjoyable trip, but as is often the case with these tourists jaunts, we found out we could have saved our $150 and driven ourselves to the Deer Park for $20 per car. *sigh* Oh well, then we wouldn't have had the commentary, or seen the movie scenes in the bus, and it was interesting to see the scene, then look out the window at where it was shot. Very weird to see a dilapidated Korean Fort on a NZ hillside though (or a Middle Earth hillside for that matter). Apparently it was used for a Disney movie, 'The Rescue' in the 90's.
We did see a great range of wildlife up close and personal - Pigs, Donkeys, Miniature Horses, Red Deer, Elk, Llama, Alpaca, Bison and Yak and it was a lot of fun photographing and feeding them, with some amazing scenery to boot....
Today we had a lovely sleep-in, then headed off to go white-water rafting on the Shotover River. It was an awesome trip, although at only a couple of hours on the water, it felt a lot shorter than the full day trips we have done in the past. Probably more manageable in the middle of a busy trip like ours, as it can be pretty exhausting.
After rafting, we had a pizza by the lake and watched a street performer, which was highly entertaining dinner theatre :) .

Friday, 9 January 2009

A Bad Combination....

I felt so ill when I woke up this morning that I was actually hoping for bad weather so our jetboat trip would be cancelled. A few hours later, some panadol and anti-inflammatories later, I felt almost human, and able to stick it out if I had to, but I have to admit, I was relieved when the river levels were too high for the particular trip we were booked on, and we were able to obtain a refund.
We decided to stop at Puzzle World on the way out of Wanaka. Its well worth a stop, lots of interesting stuff to see, and the Great Maze was a lot of fun. But, unfortunately, the combination of running a temperature, the weird perspective in the illusion rooms, and a very curvy drive through the highest mountain pass in New Zealand caused me to experience motion sickness the likes of which I haven't felt in years. The last time I can remember feeling this queasy was from a ride at the Royal Melbourne Show a number of years ago. It took hours to get over, and I'm still not feeling 100%.
Despite lousy weather (it rained most of the way), it was still a spectacular drive, and I got some lovely photos of the wild lupins by the road. Now we have 4 days in Queenstown to enjoy - it is a very busy place - not like the other places we have been so far, which have been fairly quiet. We are also lucky enough to have an outstanding view from our hotel room (see below).

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Lazy days

We have had a relaxing, lazy day today. It is our 15th wedding anniversary today, but unfortunately both of us are sick, so we weren't feeling up to anything to exciting today. We had lunch in town, and then went on an afternoon cruise around Lake Wanaka. The cruise went to Stephenson's island, and we walked up to the top for some amazing views, and an interesting talk about the local flora and fauna from our Captain. Hopefully we are feeling better tomorrow, as we are off Jetboating in the morning, then we head to Queenstown for a few days.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The perfect run couldn't last...

The rain that started once we returned from the heli-hike yesterday didnt stop - it continued all night, and most of today too. While we still saw some spectacular scenery today, driving on unfamiliar, mountain roads in the pouring rain can be a little stressful. At one stage, according to the map, we were driving along the coast, but we had no idea. All we could see beyond the road was a wall of white cloud. All that rain did make for some impressive waterfalls and rivers along the way though, and once we left glacier country, into the more open valleys near Wanaka, the weather started to clear and we got some wonderful views over the lakes. To look at the photos you would assume it was the ocean, the water is that magnificent turquoise colour that looks like it belongs around a tropical island.
This is an amazingly beautiful country, and such a variety of landscapes in such a small space. Tomorrow will be a chance to recharge the batteries, and hopefully for DH's health to improve, as he is feeling lousy at the moment. Our hotel has heated pool, hot tub, steam room etc, so quite a bit of incentive to laze around instead of our usual madcap pace.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Fox Glacier

Wow, what an amazing morning. We were so lucky today - we took our Heli-hike onto the glacier, but all of the tours after ours were cancelled due to the weather. We enjoyed our full 3 hours on the ice though, and it was fantastic. Wonderful scenery, a totally different world. A little taste of what it might be like to go to Antarctica, I guess. It was exhausting, and the weather started to close in after a few hours - the mountains disappeared and we flew home through the low clouds, but I am so thankful we got to have that experience - it was awe inspiring for sure. I'm also thankful it was kept down to the planned 3 hours - one group a few weeks ago had to stay on the ice overnight, as the chopper couldn't get back in due to a change in the weather!
I have access to USB ports for my portable hardrive today, so I've managed to upload a few photos - make sure you check the last few posts to see them.