A small Brisbane family, travelling, homeschooling and doing it on a budget!
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Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Last Leg by Jason

The last leg of our trip saw us spend our final week split between Queenstown and Christchurch. 

It was certainly great to get back to Queenstown, a place we have been lucky enough to see many times. This time we stayed at the Lakeside Holiday Park, which is the closest park to town. It is just  a couple of minutes walk, to grab a well liked ( and well known) Fergburger, a hamburger bar and a bakery, that is famous in these parts.  We really enjoyed our few nights, staying in a nice clean unit with kitchen. We spent the days just walking into town and not really doing too much apart from eating and drinking. 

Lakeside Holiday Park - our cabin

A wonderful freebie is the Lake Hayes reserve, where you can feed the ducks, and walk around the lake, on several paths depending how fit you feel, locals have weekend Barbeques here. 

Lake Hayes 

We had to be back in Christchurch on Monday, so left early that morning to make it by the  mid afternoon. We had our car to sell on a local auction site,  as we were going home in 3 days, and were very happy to see it go for pretty much what we had paid for it several months prior.

We always go to the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, and once again we spent a couple of hours here as Hadley just loves this place. It was sad to drive the streets, through some of the worst hit areas from the 2011 earthquake. 

Make sure you do stop off in Christchurch if you come to New Zealand, the city is open and there are attractions like the Antartic centre, the pop- up shopping mall, built by containers, and great day trips to Akaroa or the Oxford markets.
Stunning Queenstown

New Regent Street in Christchurch is back up and running!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Queenstown by Shona

I was just reading an old blog I once started, Ramblings of a Wannabe Kiwi.  The first post about Queenstown was made in June 2009.  Unfortunately I cannot continue with this blog as I don't know any log in details!  Being in Queenstown again made the think about the blog and have a quick read.
This is my first entry in 2009 - I am still a Wannabe Kiwi - and I still ramble a lot!

I first stepped foot on New Zealand soil 6 years ago. A spur of the moment trip, with my 3 children and my new partner Jason (an ex Kiwi).

I loved the fresh crisp air - a fresh optimism hitting us as we walked out of the Christchurch airport. I felt like we were almost stepping back in time - a time when the word traffic jam was not part of our every day vocabulary - when people greeted you with a smile - when a high-rise was 5 storeys. My first drive into the city evoked such strong childhood memories of happier, carefree times.

Everywhere we went, people chatted and smiled - we were almost dumbfounded - this did not happen in Australia. People held open doors, gave way on roads, pulled over when they were driving too slow and waved on country roads.

Breath-taking is just too underwhelming a word to describe the scenery of the South Island - I cannot even think of an apt term to describe the beauty of this country. We were blessed with brilliant blue skies as we made our way to Queenstown. On your first trip, it is hard not to stop every few kilometres to take photos and simply breathe in the astounding beauty.

I certainly had expectations as I drove to Queenstown. We have all seen the photos, the ads campaigns and the travel hype surrounding Queenstown. We arrived around dusk, and to be honest, driving through Frankton to our hotel, I felt a little let down.

Next morning, we headed off to Deer Park Heights. As we meandered up the gravel road, Queenstown's beauty was laid out before our eyes. Nestled in the hills, surrounded by the magnificent Lake Wakatipu and snow capped mountains, this was better than any travel photo I had ever seen. This was the moment that I truly lost my heart to New Zealand.

A few years ago I read a book by an American who visited Auckland and within 2 days he was house hunting. He said he felt at home, like this was where he was meant to be. I know exactly how he feels.

I am now heading towards by 7th visit to New Zealand in 6 years. Each time is no different - I start to feel a deep sense of melancholy as my holiday nears its end. I do not want to go back to Australia, I never want to leave.

Unfortunately until I can convince 4 children that New Zealand is the best place in the world, Brisbane is where I lay my hat.

I know I will live in New Zealand one day, until then, I dream of living there, visit as often as I can, and continue to bore my friends and family with the "ramblings of a wannabe Kiwi".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bluff, Invercargill, Southland........

Bluff. Invercargill. Southland by Jason


Are you scared yet?  Well we have travelled from Dunedin and today braved the road (in cyclonic strength winds) to Bluff -  the very bottom of New Zealand. The point of no return. The end of the world.  Here we are. 

We like what we see, we look at purchasing property. 

Bluff is like 1930s Scotland, harsh, windy, mean, derelict, gritty. It is our sort of town.  Maybe because we are none of those things, but we like to imagine that we are. We talk of living here. That's nothing new.  

Bluff is a gem though.  We ate at a tiny pub converted to a  B & B and went back in time. Bluff is well known for it's oysters.  It is the most southernly point of New Zealand and the wind is ferocious and mean.  It was so cold we ran to the car,  it was so cold the rain turned to hail. Locals didn't bat an eyelid, fisherman went about their business.  We froze, but we wanted to belong.

Invercargill is the big brother to Bluff and Invercargill is a hardy city in itself.  Sportingly strong, Southland has produced many fine All Blacks and has a strong Netball team and Basketball side.  We ate at an Irish Pub. It was solid and hearty. This was a Greymouth of the south. A hardy town that survives. 

The Museum is impressive. So are some of the houses on the side street off the main road. Bold, large and impressive as though in the 1920s size was everything. 

We stayed in a cabin, and the wind blew our brick structure. We survived.  

Life here is about surviving and not about cappuccinos and pate. This is a place of living history.  I like it. When you come here, treat yourself to a beer at the local bar, it is a trek to get to the Deep South but well worth it. 

The fishing boats of Bluff

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lakes District Museum

We have a little museum addict so we tend to visit the local museum in most places we stay.  The Lakes District Museum is a tiny but information packed Museum in the main street of historic Arrowtown (about 20 minutes drive from Queenstown).

Housed in one of the town's original buildings, it brings yesteryear to life.

Family entry price is $16.  You can also hire gold pans and try your luck in the local river.

The Lakes District Museum is much more than a museum in the conventional sense; hence its popularity with local residents and visitors from all around the world. The museum has a strong hands-on focus, presenting an authentic picture of early Maori life and the harsh pioneering days of the European settlers and goldminers through working displays covering two floors and incorporating three historic buildings.

Our son loved this museum.  Lots of interesting information on the history of the area, including a mock school room, bakery, and lots more.  

We highly recommend you not only visit Arrowtown when you are in the area but also this lovely museum. 

Arrowtown is a very pretty little town.  Down by the river they have preserved much of the original miner's village and many of the buildings in town are original as well.  Great food, lovely stores and beautiful scenery, Arrowtown is one of our favourite places in New Zealand. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Oamaru to Queenstown

We ended up in tiny Oamaru for 8 nights and whilst we all managed to get sick for most of the week, we also managed to see a little more of this place.
Our little cabin in Oarmaru

The view! 

About 40 minutes away is a small settlement of Duntroon, this is where Vanished World is located, a world of fossils and rock formations. We had a great day and happily dug out fossilised shells from our rocks with precision. 

Looking a microscopic fossils

Vanished World - Elephant Rocks

We also visited Oamaru's most prized tourist attraction- the penguins! We did the all day ticket which was only $12 more for a family pass than the night only ticket. This enabled us to walk around the sleeping enclosure and also watch the penguins sleep in pairs. We gathered at night and waited and waited and finally in waves they came. I think we counted 31  penguins in total,  and suitably cold, we checked under our car( for stray penguins) and drove home to our small cottage.
Scenery around Oamaru

We did day trips to Moeraki Village and Dunedin( 1 hour drive). The Otago Muesem was a good way to fill in a day with a good exhibit of animals on the top floor.

Otago Museum

On Friday we departed. We took the longer route to Queenstown and we weren't really staying there, we had found a "stay 2 get the third night free" deal at the quaint Arrowtown Holiday Park.  The drive through from Dunedin to Queenstown is a great scenic drive and we stopped many times for photos, arriving to our place at 5pm.

Our drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy

Surprisingly the holiday park was almost empty and we settled in our cabin and cooked spaghetti bolognaise. We also caught up on emails and washing, the dryer didnt quite dry all our clothes, and unwilling to pay $4 for another dry, I simply turned our unit into a laundry with clothes hung off everything possible and the heater turned on full.

Ps by Shona

Queenstown/Arrowtown is my favourite place in the world.  We have visited 14 times in the last 10 years and I can never get enough!  If you want magic views you will not find better!  Accommodation ranges from 5 stars down to backpacker style accommodation.  In the past we have opted for the 5 stars, but as we are budgeting holidaying, we chose a holiday park with generous sized cabins with snowy mountain views!  

Arrowtown Holiday Park