June 26, 2011

Saturday Sports

This past Saturday was a day filled with sports - mostly for Luke, but still exciting for all involved. Not only is he coaching soccer/football to the 10 year old boys of Mapua, but he's playing on the men's team as well and Saturday is game day for everyone. In the morning he coaches the boys games and in the afternoon he becomes the fittest and one of the youngest players on the men's team. It's been really fun to watch him play and even more fun to go to the pub (the team's sponsor) afterwards for free pizza and some drinks!

Although the daytime activities were enjoyable, it was the evening plans that really made it a good day. We headed into Nelson for the Crusaders vs Sharks quarter-final match. The Crusaders are the team for the Canterbury Region and while living in Christchurch we really got behind them. Unfortunately, because of the earthquake their home stadium was destroyed so they have played around the country the whole season and we have not had a chance to go to see them until now. The crowd was in full force and it was a great atmosphere for being a Crusaders fan. They gave out free flags to anyone who wanted one and as you looked around the packed stadium (a whopping 14,000 capacity) all you could see were red waving flags. We watched them warm up and then go back in before running out as a team between the pillars of fire. As if seeing them live wasn't enough they absolutely smashed the Sharks 36-8!

To top off a great day we enjoyed a beautiful curry meal at the Indian Cafe in Nelson. Luke may have had a bit too much spice with his Chicken Vindaloo, but my Lamb Saagwala was just right :)

Fire Pillar!

Some crusading men out on horseback before the match started!

Excitement and flags after a Try!

June 23, 2011

Mapua Chalets

Luke and I have settled nicely into our new home on the hilltops of Mapua. It is the same town that we were in last month, but now we are working for the owners of Mapua Chalets. Our first week here (which started this past Monday) we are living in one of the four chalets looking out over the sea from every room. We are getting to know the way the Chalets are run and doing some odd jobs around the property until next week. Then the owners will leave for a 6 week vacation and we will move into their house and run the show!

So far we have planted some Agapanthus around the property which would be fine if the places they wanted them planted were not steep cliffs of clay! The important thing is that we accomplished it and now the clay mounds look less like clay mounds and a little bit more like a garden. We have trimmed some Pine Trees and been left smelling of Christmas for the rest of the day which seems fitting since it is winter here after all! Today it rained so we helped them clean their house which will soon be our house and called it a day! So far it seems a little bit too good to be true. I'll try not to jynx it by explaining all of the other great things about where we are (hot tub, pool, hikes nearby).

We also went for a walk on the beach on Tuesday in a place called Ruby Bay. It the twin town boardering Mapua and is basically just a bay and some houses and a fish and chip shop. The beach is mostly made of stones and not so much sand, but the stones are some of the most interesting and beautiful looking stones I have ever seen. We stayed until the sunset -New Zealand sunsets are like seeing it for the first time every time. The colors are vibrant, and when there are clouds as there usually are, the way the colors change around them is just amazing. If you haven't watched a sunset recently, you probably should.

Tonight we are wining and dining our hosts by cooking them Braised Beef in Beer (stew) with freshly baked Beer bread (noticing a theme?). These are both recipes we have acquired since we've been in New Zealand and continue to search for new recipes that sound delicious. It's really nice to have something warm and filling even (especially) when you are travelling constantly.
The beach at sunset

The cool rocks I found..

The view from our deck outside our chalet :)

June 20, 2011

Abel Tasman

I am getting worse with updating this and for that I apologize, but I like to wait to have really good things to write about, and boy do I!

Last week we FINALLY made it to Abel Tasman National Park. I've been told its actually within the Kahurangi National Park that I told you about here. It is everything that we imagined it to be and more! We began the two day journey with a trip to the Warehouse (basically walmart in NZ) to get batteries for our lantern. Once we got that and subsequently a lightbulb for the lantern once we realized that it didn't work, we were off to Harwood's Hole. It is the deepest cave in the southern hemisphere and in my mind was going to be this massive rabbit hole in the middle of green grass like something out of Alice and Wonderland. From the parking lot it is a 45 minute walk to the top of the cave which is the hole. It was a really nice warm and sunny winter day so we were in shorts and tshirts, but as soon as we got out of the car I could feel the cold air coming from the forest we were about to enter, so I smartly decided to put on jeans and a sweatshirt which turned out to be a GREAT decision. The forest was cold and damp and oddly breezy. It was a scene out of Lord of the rings as we tried to get our blood pumping at a fast walking pace through the forest. There was moss covering just about everything - rocks, trees and a little swampy pond. It was mostly flat except for when we were climbing between mossy rocks that blocked the path, but we eventually made it to what was apparently Harwood's Hole. I say apparently because we couldn't actually see the hole around the massive boulders that surrounded the hole. We tried to see around them, but are both wimps and didn't want to get too close. I stuck my camera over the tops of the rocks and got snapshots of the tops of some trees that are growing around the hole. What I'm trying to say is it was pretty underwhelming and I wouldn't recommend anyone going there. What I would recommend is the path that we took on the way back which led to a beautiful lookout and an opening for the sun to shine right on us and warm us back up to normal body temperature.

The next day we did what most people come to Abel Tasman to do: the walking track along the coast. We had booked a water taxi the day before to take us out to Torrent Bay at 9am, so we were up early to clean the place we stayed in and get to the pickup spot by 8:50. Once we got there we were told that we were the only two booked in for the taxi, so they weren't going to run it, but they could get us onto the competitors taxi that was leaving at 9:30. We headed down to their pickup spot, grabbed a cup of coffee and we were off on our adventure of the Abel Tasman. We started with a ride around the bay checking out Split Apple Rock and then taking us up to where we would start the hike at Torrent Bay. The bay is about 14km from the start of the walk in Marehau, but we would take a detour to see the Cleopatra Pools (named that because one of the rocks looks like Cleopatra lying down). The detour would add another 3km to the walk making it a 10 mile walk from start to finish and lasting about 5 and a half hours including stops for water and lunch and taking in the breathtaking views. It is a really nice and almost entirely flat track along the coast. In the morning the tide was fully in and as the day progressed the tide went out what seemed like miles. Because of this the golden beaches just got bigger and bigger and the sun brought out the most incredible colors in the ocean. We couldn't have asked for a better day and by the time we were done my feet and I were happy to sit down in the car to head back to Mapua.

The golden beach getting bigger as the tide goes out

We did most of the hike with one very muddy shoe and one very wet shoe

Cleopatra Pools, where wet shoe came to be

We think Harwood's Hole may be down there somewhere

The mossiest forest you've ever seen!

I'll try to be better with updating now, I promise!

June 08, 2011

What's Wwoofing?

If you are reading some of the more recent posts and wondering what it is that Luke and I are doing, it's called 'Wwoof-ing'. It stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms and it allows you to volunteer on a farm while in return being given a place to stay and plenty of food to eat. Now as you have read, we are obviously not on any farms and the only organic thing we've seen since we started is beer. Lucky for us there is an abundance of other types of work to be done other than working on a farm. Through this website called HelpX we have found bed and breakfasts, hostels, as well as just staying and helping someone around their home which is what we have been doing so far.

The website gives you information for not only New Zealand, but for most countries you might want to work in - USA, Canada, Australia and much of Europe.

Right, so why are we doing this exactly? Mostly because as you can imagine, we aren't spending any money (on anything other than beer that is). This allows us to keep our travels fund nice and plush for the north island in September. We knew going up to the north island would be expensive because we are going during the world cup so we needed a way to pass the time while spending as little as possible.

To be honest, I was pretty nervous about doing this whole thing. I kept imagining doing back breaking work all day and dreading it. I'd just come from a job in Christchurch where I sat at a desk all day and I knew it was going to be a big change. It has turned out to be one of the best things we have done in New Zealand. So far we have met really nice people, gone to places we would never have gone otherwise, and we have also received some incredibly valuable travelling advise. We've been able to do for free what we have enjoyed most - Kayaking, fishing, row boating, horseback riding and hiking (ok that one's always free). We have been able to work outside everyday and we have actually learned things that we might use one day: how to back in a trailer, how to wield an axe (my favorite acquired skill), what is and is not a weed (most things are weeds), how to plant different types of plants and how deep the roots should be, how to dig a proper hole and Luke's favorite, how to tie up a boat! In short we have had more fun than I could have imagined would come out of signing up for manual labor.

Here are some of my favorite photos from wwoofing so far:

In the evenings when we were staying at Cove Cottage, and especially when it was drizzling out, quails used to show up at our doorstep. Our hosts have a container of bird seed in the kitchen so we would always go to grab it and feed them. As soon as we opened the door they all scattered into the bushes, their wings flapping sound like cooing doves which was always nice. We quickly learned that all we had to do to lure them back was to throw the birdseed on the ground. As soon as we did they would all come back plus 10 more would arrive. It was one of the most fascinating things!

Every morning that we worked at Sue and Nigel's house we were picked up by boat and taken back to their house that way. Almost every morning the boat had not only the driver, but a passenger as well. Fraser is an old man, but he had as much energy as a puppy and he absolutely loved being on the boat. He always came to find us when we were working and kept us company when we ate hoping for any crumb that might fall under the table.

I don't think anyone who has been to Marlborough Sounds could talk about it without bringing up the sunsets. We have seen some amazing skies since we've been in New Zealand, but I think for me the Sounds takes the cake. The colors we saw every night were absolutely incredible. If it wasn't for this wwoofing experience we would never have come to the sounds, so I'm very glad that we did.

Horseback riding has been something I have wanted to do since we've been here. I have ridden horses before, but it's been years since I've gone. It always seems to fall to the bottom of the list for one reason or another and we just haven't had the chance to do it, until now that is! Here at Lavender Hill there are three horses, Inky the giant, Albert the normal sized horse, and King which is my size horse (half pony). That's me riding King above on the beach at the end of the road. It was so much fun and I'm so happy that I was finally able to ride a horse!

I could continue to post half of the photos that we've taken since we've been here and describe why we wouldn't have been able to do them if it wasn't for wwoofing, but this uploader is too slow and that would be a ridiculously long blog, so I'll save you from that for now.

June 06, 2011

Lavender Hill

It has been a whirlwind two weeks since we arrived in Mapua. In the short time we have been here we have become part of the family with two girls (9 and 11 years old), a dog, a new kitten, two chinchillas and three horses!

On our first day we arrived a little bit early and spent some time in Nelson. We went to Founder’s Park, a reproduction of an old town in New Zealand. It also has the only organic brewery in New Zealand, Founder’s Brewery. In case you are wondering, organic beer tastes exactly like regular beer, the only difference being that they charge you $45 for a 6 pack! After that we went for dinner to meet our new hosts.

The next morning we had our first day off in nearly 3 weeks so we enjoyed sleeping in and lounging on the couch for the entire day. That evening we helped our host, Kim, with a dance she is working on with her dance class (she is the teacher). We both dothed tutus for the occasion and had a really good laugh the whole evening.

We did eventually start working and since we have been here have done mostly gardening work – weeding, planting, weeding, digging up plants to replant elsewhere, and more weeding. Just like Marlborough Sounds, we only work half days here, but we have worked a few full days now so that we can have full days off.

On our first day off we did a hike in Kahurangi National Park called the Lodestone. It felt like we were mountain climbing instead of hiking, but once we got to the top of the 1,450 meter mole hill completely dripping with sweat (as usual) the view made it all worth it. We have 360 degree views of everything around us. We could see the Tasman Sea, Nelson, and Mt Arthur (the largest mountain in the area). If that wasn’t good enough, then we got to go DOWN hill, which is always the best way to experience a hill in my opinion.

We’ve also been to some very nice drinking establishments since we’ve been here since there are a wopping 10 breweries in the area, we feel it is necessary to sample all the local beverages. We have a printout of the’s website detailing all of the local beer spots and we are ticking our way down the list!