Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This past Tuesday Stephen had an interview for a teaching job in Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a small coastal town 190km north of Christchurch. Located on the coast, it is destination for albatross, sperm whales and sea lions, making it a great place for tourists to congregate as well.

It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Christchurch and at 7am there is hardly any traffic to worry about. We drove north between paddocks of sheep and cows, up through some hills and out to the coast where we drove into the stunning town of Kaikoura. It really is a lovely place to visit. But to live. . .I don't know, we'll just have to wait and see.

Here are a few pics from our visit there. The first one I borrowed from a local lodge in Kaikoura, you can find info for them here (http://www.lemontree.co.nz/photograph-gallery-kaikoura-city.html). The rest are mine.

Like I said, lots of Sperm Whale congregate here.

A lovely sea anemone closed up in the hot sun.

One of many local sea lion hang outs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Spring has arrived in Christchurch in full force. Daffodils, tulips, ducklings, and warm sunshine. Here are some pictures from our first warm spring rain.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lake Tekapo

This past weekend I went on a field trip to Lake Tekapo with a Geography course I'm sitting. The course focuses on the various ways we experience place, exploring especially the differening world views of First Nations and Western Science. This weeks trip explored the space of Mountains and Skies up at Lake Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo is about 200km Southwest of Christchurch up in the Southern Alps which run the length of the South Island. It has a permanent population of about 500 people with a large portion of the transient population in holiday home owners. Mount John Observatory sits on the nearby Mount John, and there is steady work being done to try to have UNESCO accept a proposal for a world heritage site that protects the night sky viewing possibilities.
Mount John is the southern most permanent observatory, placed here for its' altitude, latitude, and number of clear nights. Not only do people come from around the world to view the stars of the southern hemisphere here, but the Japanese and New Zealand astronomy communities have worked together to build MOA (microlensing observations in astrophysics), a 1.8m telescope that looks for planets as they cross in front of stars. I believe in its' 13 years of life so far they have found 13 planets the size of Jupiter in far off solar systems. We were lucky enough to join one of their night sky tours. Looking up at the thousands of millions of billions of stars that seem to go on and on forever - and maybe they do. You can learn more about the observatory at http://www.earthandsky.co.nz/

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lyttleton Market

Every Saturday the Lyttleton Farmers Market fills the Lyttleton School yard with fresh produce, baking, meat, and a range of sauces, jams, pickles, sandwiches and more. Each week there is a live band and each week, a happy crowd of people doing their weekly shopping, sight-seeing, and socializing. It is a happy and jovial atmosphere with lots of little kids, even more smiles and a plentitidue of delicious foods. Last weekend I brought my camera to try and capture some of the feelings the market evokes. Enjoy!

And at the end of the day we go home to fill our pantry with the delicious goodies we purchased at the market. Our dinners on Saturday night are a constant surprise, depending largely on what looks good at the market that day. Last weekend it was the gurnard, caught fresh that morning, cooked with some lemons I found in someones compost bin after they had pruned their lemon tree and some lovely young fennel and cinnamon basil. Delicious!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trip to Queenstown

One of the many generous gifts we received last year for our wedding was a full day of heli-skiing with a company here in New Zealand. Alpine Heli-ski fly out of Queenstown on the South Island when the weather is agreable and the snow is fluffy. And last weekend when we called to check on the conditions last friday we were given a full and resounding "Yes! We will be flying". So we quickly grabbed our skis, threw some warm clothes in the back of the car, and started driving.

Queenstown is a 6 hour drive from Christchurch. Down the coast, turn right, go inland, drive through the mountains, and stop once you hit Lake Wakatipu. Unfortunately for us, we did the drive after the school day (Stephen is in the middle of his second practicum) and it gets dark here around 6:30pm. So after one hour of driving in traffic to get out of Christchurch, 2 hours being pushed along the highway by a freight truck (hey, it's an old car), and 3 hours of driving down windier and windier roads in the dark we arrived to a locked, dark hotel (I was so pleased). But some hotel dwellers came along with their key and let us in, and after milling around in the lobby for 5 minutes the night watchman showed up and gave us our room keys. Phew. We dropped into bed, anxious for the awesome day of skiing we would have tomorrow.

The next morning Stephen was out of bed and pacing around the room at 6:30am (our alarm was set for 7:30am). We called the heli folks at 7:45am and were told to have breakfast and check in at 9am. Unfazed, we got into our long johns and touques and went out on the town to find some brekkers. For a town based on tourism there are some pretty nice little cafes, steep prices of course, but pretty good food. At 9am we hurried over to the heli-ski office to learn more. Two jovial guys were there, outfitted with fancy jackets and big smiles - that's a good thing, right?! They proceeded to show us the weather on the computer and show us the big weather system that had moved in overnight, bringing with it rain and 100km/hr winds. We were not going heli-skiing that day, but were instead refered to the one of the local ski fields that might escape the brunt of the wind.

We were surprisingly upbeat for the change in plans and spent the next hour wandering around town exploring the local artists market, sampling the delicious hot chocolate, and watching the ducks. Eventually we decided we still wanted to go skiing and headed up to Coronet Peak. The biggest ski field I had been to yet, with three chair lifts, a t-bar and three carpets (still haven't been on one yet). There was certainly some wind and lots of ice, but the day was warm and we were there for the last day of the New Zealand Winter Games. By 4pm when our lift tickets expired our legs were burning and we were quite ready to take a soak in the jacuzzi back at the hotel. That night we enjoyed some fresh seafood at a little restaurant and tucked into an absolutely delicious caramel, chocolate and puff pastry tower.

The next day, after one more walk around town, we climbed into the car and headed off towards home. Back through the mountains (with a stop at the lake where Stephen had his rowing competition), back towards the coast (took some pictures at Lake Tekapo), up towards Christchurch and almost home. That's when the transmission came undone. Literally. The gear stick came unattached from the transmission and we were stuck in third gear. It was getting dark and we were missing a bolt to hold the stick in place. So after a few minutes trying to fix it, we decided to just @%&#% it and drive it home in third gear. 18km later after much revving of the engine we pulled up to our driveway and gratefully tumbled out of the car and into the warm light of home. We'll try again next year.