Chasing Waterfalls in the Catlins

November 17, 2016

I hadn’t even heard of the Catlins for the first year or so we were in New Zealand. A friend of mine who was here on a working holiday told me over coffee that she and her boyfriend were going to the Catlins, and I assumed these Catlins were some majestical islands off Vanuatu. Or something.

“Where are the Catlins?” I asked, naive.

“Oh, you know, just south of Dunedin” she said, smirking into her flat white at the dumb American who’d lived in New Zealand far longer than she had. She told me of this rugged, rural stretch of beautiful land… beaches and forests and waterfalls. Basically a New Zealand secret.


Continue Reading…

Canterbury Snowventures

July 18, 2016

As I lamented about in my last post, it is well and truly winter. The heating blanket is on the bed. The slippers never get put away. There is no rosè in the fridge. Winter.

Unfortunately the Snow Gods have only sort of gotten the message. There’s enough white stuff on the mountains to look all majestic and stuff, but barely enough for any actual sports. Or at least, intended winter sports.  Continue Reading…

Winter Down Under

July 5, 2016

It’s the fourth of July in America today, so it seems like the appropriate time to complain about how cold it is in New Zealand!! Actually, it’s not that cold. The weather should be completely miserable: rain, wind, ice, dark. Instead we’ve gotten pretty lucky: sun, clear, ice, dark. There’s still only about 8 hours of sunlight, but those hours have been relatively warm (between 12 and 2pm!). We’ve been keeping busy with work, a few bike rides, and building trails in the Christchurch Adventure Park!

Back in June we had a three day weekend for the Queen’s birthday (mighty nice of her to let us celebrate on her behalf) so we headed down to Wanaka with some friends. With a low of -3C and a high of about 5C – but probably not quite – we managed to squeeze in 3 full days of bike riding in the snow capped mountains. Continue Reading…

Guide to Christchurch: A One Week Itinerary

February 23, 2016

It’s been a busy few weeks around here! Summer is in full swing. I have a really cool story about winning a competition which gained me entry to a super awesome bike race, but that’s for next time. I just sent my wonderful parents off to Tahiti this morning after their two week visit to New Zealand… busy, busy!

I had big plans with my parents to see a few different parts of the country and show them some really New Zealand stuff, but this thing happened. I call it: New Zealand Weather. Christchurch was stunning; sunny, warm, calm. The rest of the country was raining. Flooding. Deluging. Sliding. You get the picture.

We decided it would be a lot nicer to stay local and warm (i.e.: within approximately 2 hours of town!), than try to be soaking wet tourists. And this left me with a challenge. Find lots of stuff to do in and not far from Christchurch.

So without further ado, I bring you my personalized Guide to Christchurch: A One Week Itinerary. (One week because we actually did sneak off to Dunedin for a few days before the weather went nuts!)

Continue Reading…

You know what they say about “The Best Laid Plans”…

January 29, 2016

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Our plan was to spend 4 nights away, a short holiday in Queenstown. After work on Thursday we would drive a a few hours and camp, then carry on early Friday morning.

We always boast to friends visiting New Zealand, and Americans who are familiar with the strict NO freedom camping laws in the States, about how you can “just pull of the road anywhere” and spend the night in New Zealand. While I stand by this general boast, it turns out that Scott and I are pretty damn picky about where that “just anywhere” is.

After passing up several “way too close to the main road” options, and a few “Tekapo is so lame and touristy that they actually do ban freedom camping” places, we found ourselves tired, grumpy, and well past our intended driving distance. We eventually agreed on a bumpy four-wheel drive track down by Lake Pukaki. We’d both gotten up at 6:30am on Thursday, and it was now the wee early hours of Friday, and we were in a place that was legal and off the road. Good enough. We kicked the biggest rocks out of the way, chucked up the tent, and passed out… Continue Reading…

A Glowing New Year in Nydia Bay

January 15, 2016

When I think of New Year’s Eve, I think of sparkly dresses and sparkly wine, music and dancing, staying up late and counting, and generally being let down by the whole charade. There have been fun New Year’s Eves, sure. But they don’t usually live up to the hype. There’s some I’d like to forget and other’s too fuzzy to remember.

I didn’t plan on this year being any different. But it was different. It was epic. That always seems to be the way, actually, when you start with New Zealand, bikes, and adventurous friends.  Continue Reading…

5 Month Hiatus

November 27, 2015

Taking a 5 month break from blogging is a big no-no. At least if you want to retain an audience and/or attract new readers. For me it wasn’t a choice to take a break; it wasn’t even a conscious decision.  Continue Reading…

House Hunters International: Risking it all in Christchurch- A City in Repair

August 13, 2015

Here’s how I saw it going down. We secretly filmed House Hunters International (well, not so secret if we’re Facebook friends) back in January. We had a blast. I promised myself I’d write everything down about it right away to share with you guys. They promised to email me and my friends/family at least a week before the show premiered.

So neither of those things happened. I found out after it had aired that we missed our 22 minutes of fame! And, I realized, I’d never written about our HHI experience. So that’s my plan now- to will my brain into remembering past what I had for breakfast and bring you the first hand, inside scoop on what it’s like to be a star guest on B-list late night mom-cable TV! Continue Reading…

Waitomo Glowworms and the FREE Raukuri Cave

May 7, 2015

So glowworms.

Have you ever seen a glowworm? It’s a pretty ridiculous little thing. Much like a lightening bug or those creepy flashlight fish, glow worms use bioluminescence attract prey. This is fairly brilliant in the whole circle of life thing, except that in the case of the glowworms (which are larvae that later turn into very non-glowing flies), they frequently “catch” their mature neighbors. In fact, they are incredibly cannibalistic. Continue Reading…

Arrowtown in the fall

May 2, 2015

May 1st (or 2nd, as the case is now. Whoops.). It conjures of images of May Day, baby animals, clearing skies, summer vacation, budding flowers …. NOPE. The small percentage of us down here in the Southern Hemisphere are heading speedily towards winter. But for the last week or two, we’ve enjoyed the last warmth of autumn sun and some beautiful fall color. Those of us who spent some time in Otago, enjoyed it even more. Continue Reading…