Sunday, 22 October 2017

Dunedin: Long Weekend Away

18 Wed-
Yesterday I was asked if I wanted to go on a work tour of the Settlers Museum. So this afternoon a bunch of us went along. It was bizarre going to this archives place as most of the items didn't seem that old. Oh well, that's New Zealand's history for you!

Spot the weird something going on in this photo!
The view from my staff room 

19 Thu-
After work Sabine and I picked up a signed package from a local 4 Square shop. It turned out to be Dads prize: a Rexona pack. He won a competition with The Crowd Goes Wild and got it sent to my address.

20 Fri-

My provisional learners drivers license arrived. Eerghhhh i need a full drivers license. dammit I thought something like this could happen with the AA processing. But at least I can drive again.

21 Sat-
We got up early and finished packing. We mostly packed last night to be honest. Its a long weekend with Monday being a bank holiday, so Sabine booked us a mini get away to Hokitika, on the west coast.

Oh yeah just when we got up, Dad was trying to Facebook us to show us the goings on in Turkey where he is. There is some type of air show going on and I could hear it, but thats about it. The video call didn't work. That was around 4am.

We left and headed north. We stopped for a coffee in the same cafe that made awesome savoury muffins once before. I've just looked it up, this cafe is adjacent to the Caltex fuel stop at Pareora. Anyway we arrived way too early and the guy was still setting up, so he didn't have any cooked today for us to eat.


We ate a Subway sandwich at Ashburton that still had the limited Lamb Sub. Its out of stock already in Dunedin. After that we started driving inland towards Arthurs Pass.

We stopped off at interesting view points of the mountains and surroundings along the way.

Arthurs Pass, along the way

The first real stop we came too was a waterfall just after Arthurs Pass village called The Devils Punchbowl. That was a long walk up very steep steps. On way way back we talked to a few people that stopped to photograph a few Rifleman birds. They are very small, almost egg shaped, with green wings and a white belly. Also high pitched. Incredibly cute.

The Devils Punchbowl

We visited the cafe in the village where about 3 Kea's were hanging out. They were close to us yet didn't want to be too involved with humans. The cafe was expensive so we moved on.

Kea at the cafe

We saw more Kea at a few more view points in the mountains after that.

We drove straight to Hokitika (after nearly running down a Weka) after that, and to our AirBnB, arriving after 3pm. We were met by a nice guy who owns the house. We are in the basement. He used to work in hospitality so he knows a thing or two about what to provide. Its pretty good here.

He advised us about a few walks near Lake Kaniere. So we did that. The first was called Dorothy Falls. Not a bad waterfall.

Dorothy Falls

The walk to the lake was strange. There was a bench badly placed in the water which was weird but funny.

The next stop was along a 3 hour path one way. This was called Lake Kaniere Walkway. The guy at the AirBnB advised us to do this walk because of a viewing platform of the lake "15mins in". Well, we walked for 15mins, and then kept on going for a while before turning back. Sabine has just googled it and found out this so called viewing platform is half way through the walk, that is 1 1/2 hours in!! Pleased we walked back. I saw a Fantail on this forest walk, but it was nothing compared to the next fantail we saw an hour later...

So next we drove to Hokitika Gorge. Unbelievable. The water here was so BLUE! Really incredible. It was an easy walk down to the river, along a swing bridge. It was very touristy and people were even swimming in the blue river. We saw an amazing Fantail that stuck by us for ages. We could video it and take photos of it for as long as we liked. It loved us for attracting the sand flies. The damn things are blood suckers and we were the bait. But the Fantail was flying around us and staying around so we got some decent shots.

Hokitika Gorge
Fantail!
Swingbridge at Hokitika Gorge
The road out of Hokitika Gorge

Back at the AirBnB now. Tired, and need bed.

22 Sun-
It was strange waking up and not knowing where I was for a few seconds, but there was a very loud cockerel to remind me. Sabine said the sheep were also loud but I didn't notice. Both of which were very near us outside the kitchen window in a neighbours garden. Yes I said garden.

After breakfast we headed north to Pancake Rocks despite the weather. It was a long drive along the stretch of highway that kept being weird with the railway. I remember this from 2009. There were sections of road where the roundabouts also incorporate the railway directly though the middle. And one section the road and rail also merge to share one bridge. I'm pleased to report that an adjacent road bridge is currently being built here, so no more scared drivers for too much longer.

We stopped in New World at Greymouth for a pizza bun with a bar of Cadbury orange chocolate (marketed as part of their "spider" range) which was nice but eaten too quickly.

Viewpoint

Pancake Rocks was touristy, which Sabine wasn't too fond of. It was also raining off and on which didn't help.

Pancake Rocks
Pancake Rocks

After that we stopped at a cave called Punakaiki Cavern, just north of Pancake Rocks. That was cool. Sabine didn't follow me in. Nor would I have gone in had it not been for the light on my phone. It wasn't powerful enough to guide two people, just myself, but I got a fair bit inside. At first I had to duck my head, a LOT, but the roof opened up and the cave became quite interesting. Kids were in there too walking around. If it were in the UK I think Health and Safety would have had a thing or two to say about this place, but it was more adventurous than the Pancake Rocks.

The weather got better after that. We drove a bit further north to a few view points,

Viewpoint

but eventually headed back and stopped for a beautiful river walk along Porarari River. It was a one way walk so we knew we would need to walk back the same way. However we got about two thirds of the way in (before the next walkway junction) before we decided to head back. It was a great walk and the weather was on our side. We also met a few Whitebaiters who were fishing with huge nets. Apparently this NZ delicacy is quite expensive, especially in Auckland.

Porarari River walk
Porarari River
Porarari River
at the Porarari River walk
The "fish in a tree!" XD

Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Viewpoint

Heading back, we were going to visit The Warehouse in Greymouth. It had a Subway attached to the building. How could you possibly resist? But the main road to the town centre was closed due to a motorbike street racing event that was going on. Oh well.

About 5 minutes after passing the railway/road bridge on the way back, we noticed a train heading that way! Lucky we weren't caught up in that mess! There are no lights to stop the drivers from using the bridge. I have no idea how they cope. Maybe some cars really do have to reverse out of the bridge. scary.

We visited Lake Mahinapua after that. That was a very quite spot. Very tranquil. Sabine chased after 3 white herons with her camera but she and the other tourists scared them away to a nearby tree. 2 teenagers were also fishing here. I found that very 'gut NZ' somehow.

Lake Mahinapua
Lake Mahinapua

After that we returned to our AirBnB in Hokitika and ate our pasta. We watched a film called Anna and the King, using my Computer with DVD but hooked up via HDMI on the TV they had here. Its actually a very good film with stunning visuals. Props to the host for putting a HDMI cable in a draw.

23 Mon-
We packed early and set out soon after breakfast. It was raining like crazy. I did the driving for the first leg, from Hokitika, along all of Arthurs Pass right up to the junction of SH1 where Sabine took over. I killed 2 Wekas fighting in the road. They came out the bush and were fighting so much they didn't spot the car. This was at the first bit of Arthurs Pass. :'(

Sabine drove down as far as New World in Oamaru. We got a pizza bread, with a block of Cadbury chocolate with coconut. yummy!

After that I drove us home. At one point I had a red police car behind me. I was a bit tensed up because I couldn't drive too slowly and nor too fast. Either would have been bad. But it was okay.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Dunedin: Life in New Zealand. Part 7

Since my last blog post, my shoes died. I got them in Deichmann, Brighton, for £23. I should have known such cheap shoes wouldn't last. I usually spend at least £50 on shoes (my last pair which lasted about 2 years was about £80). I remember a pair that once lasted me 10 years. But these ones only lasted me 4 months. Super lame. They had no tread to them, so hey hum shoulda known. They looked nice.

Work is going okay. I'm getting used to the system and doing Notices of Sale and amending records. Mostly peoples addresses to their rate accounts (its basically council tax, otherwise known as "their house on the system" in my language).

I tend to be cutting the grass every 4 days. It grows super quick. We have a fresh lot of daisy's in the garden after only 12 hours. erghhh.

14 Sat-
Today Sabine and I firstly went to town for no real reason. In the mall there was a candy-floss stand with a girl making a whole bunch, for free. I asked her why it was free and said something about it being natural sugars/colouring. To me that wasn't a straight answer. However it could have something to do with the Vogel street party happening today.
I don't recall having had candy-floss in years, if ever. It melts in the mouth instantly.

We bought a rice ball each and walked to the Chinese Gardens to pick up our yearly passes. We learned that "some" of the 11 ducklings from 2 weeks ago didn't make it, but there is no sign of any of them today.

We walked to The Warehouse in town, passing Vogel Street. Today, from 3pm, there was a street party going on there. At the time of walking past, they looked to be getting ready. We hung out at The Warehouse, playing with toys such as a Pokemon game that guesses what Pokemon you are thinking of. Lol that was fun. Around 1pm we realised it was raining so we decided to not hang around for the party to start.

To be honest, I cant imagine why a family street party would START at 3pm. It makes no sense. We walked back to the car watching the clouds get worse in the distance. We made it home in time before it started thundering like crazy. There was even a bit of lightning in the distance.

Around 6pm we decided to have a drinking party ourselves. I went to the local liquor store to get Midori, a green melon drink, which was on offer. Walking back it started raining like crazy again. It was okay when I left the house but 5mins later was crazy as. Anyway, just when I approached home, Sabine was in the car driving out to pick me up. But I was too quick. As we were walking into the house I saw a flash of lightning really close towards either Roslyn or central Dunedin. either way really close!
We watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with alcohol. Great fun!

15 Sun-
Today we went to Animates, then Pac n Save for a few things including bacon and mushrooms for tonight.

Along the way in the car, ahead we saw a few seagulls fighting over a plastic bag. It was a clear plastic bag, totally empty. Anyway, this huge Black Backed gull gulped it down in one go! Can you believe it?! Sabine and I couldn't stop laughing. Stupid bird!

In Pack n Save I bought a tasty pie, whilst Sabine had a quiche. Mine was better :p
Next we drove to Brighton. This is Brighton, New Zealand, which is actually really close by. Its a small village on the coast with sandy beaches, and an island rock named "Google", and a bunch of lifeguards in training on the beach. There wasn't much else there but it looked pretty, none the less.


Brighton
Brighton
Brighton

Brighton
Brighton

Next we drove north to another beach nearby. This one was vast and huge! Sabine and I spotted our first grey heron here. Two were around this area. Unfortunately so were an awful lot of dogs off their leads. There were signs telling their owners to keep them on their leads, but nobody here was reading that apparently! Still would like to visit this beach in the summer.

the next beach. this photo is for dad. I know he likes these cars.

We went back home to drop off our things from Pac n Save, then headed out again to Tunnel Beach, an area with a natural tunnel in the cliff face. The car park was at the top of the hill, and the walk down was very steep. At the very bottom through a man-made tunnel there was what looked like a Smugglers Cave. Didn't go in there though.

Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach
Tunnel Beach


After that walk we drove to one of the beaches of Dunedin called Tomahawk Lagoon. This was again a sandy beach. It also had a long sandy drop down to the beach. One kid was using this sandhill to sled down on a boogie board. At the lagoon on the other side of the car park, we spotted an egret.


Tomahawk beach

16 Mon-
Today I went to the AA during my lunch hour to sort out my NZ drivers licence. I was in the queue for ages, and when it finally got round to me, I found out they had to tie in my UK licence with my existing NZ licence. She got me filling in 3 forms. :/
My NZ provisional licence from 2007 is holding me back without me knowing about it. One form was to convert my British full licence to a full NZ one. I thought that would be it. But no, the second form was to update my old NZ provisional licence, and the third form I think was to somehow transfer the NZ provisional licence to a full one by using my UK full licence. God what a mess. But due to this, I cant drive here in NZ until I have my new full licence through the post. God I wasn't expecting this mess. When she said that I wasn't going to be able to drive in NZ until I got the new one, I tried to pull out and say Can we sort this out on another date. However she said that if I did, I would have to pay $50 next time I come in. T_T So it couldn't be helped. I also ran back to work because I was verging on being late back. I was only 3 minutes late, but it would have been worse had I not ran to the office.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Dunedin: This weekend

7 Sat-
Today we Spring-cleaned the house.

Then went to The Warehouse for a sandwich and a look around. In Pac n Save, I enquired about HP sauce to two guys who were working there. I was only inquiring about what brand they would recommend as a supplement taste for HP, as the official HP they sell costs nearly $5, and as a standard I wont be buying it because of which.
So this guy and I were looking around the shelves but all there was is different branded BBQ sauces. The guy was saying how there really isn't a similar product to HP, when a woman straight up gave me a $5 bill to get HP. Somehow she overheard my conversation to the worker, and gave me the money to just buy HP sauce outright! 0_0. That was nice! We had a pie tonight so HP on a pie was gooooooood. Though it doesn't help when I finish the bottle. NZ MUST have a similar branded HP sauce for half the price.

8 Sun-
Today was fun.
We first went to The Warehouse just because. No real reason. We got a nice sandwich and a marmite bread each from Pac N Save, then drove to the peninsular.

First stop was Glenfalloch Gardens which was weird. There were a few nice plants, but there were really weird "modern art" sculptures which were rubbish and spoilt the setting, but not as badly as the closed off areas.

I kid you not, 90% of the tracks at Glenfalloch were closed off. We decided to walk behind the back to get something out of being there, but we ended up the other side walking out of a closed off area. So somehow we even walked in areas that we shouldn't have been too?! but those areas were fine! I dunno. It was just an annoying place. There wasn't even a waterfall there which was advertised. There was a board advertising things to do on the peninsular, mostly about the albatross center (which as I said before, is a complete an utter rip off), but there was NOTHING written on the board about our next destination..

So we next went to Larnach Castle.
Entrance fee for the gardens only was $15.50 each. Yeahhh thats a bit pricy. But otherwise it wasn't so bad a visit.
The place itself is more like a mansion with a few nice gardens to walk around. The ballroom was converted into a cafe, and what a stunning room it was too! It had two fireplaces, and two chandeliers hanging down. The gardens had an Alice in Wonderland theme, which works very well as its whole style is fitting as an English country garden.
Sabine and I had fun with a fantail that I found easy to video but she found impossible to photo.

Sabine named our stray black cat "Thunder" because he was always running off like lightning originally when he kept turning up for food, but now we can stroke him and play with him like its no big deal. This may have come about since he saw us petting fat black kitty, and he got jealous. Hes chased off the other fat black kitty more than once now.

Thunder is making progress with us. He seems confused though when he's in the house as he wants to be outside yet inside too. He's making a lot of progress with us so we just need to give it some time. We got a cat toy for him yesterday and he loves it! It's only a mouse on elasticated string but its a real winner with him.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Dunedin: Life in New Zealand. Part 6

On Monday I was shown into the archive room at the basement of Dunedin City Council. I saw original photographs, plans, and even saw page one of the very first Dunedin town board meeting in 1850ish. When at home I cut the grass again. It grows like wildfire out here! 0_0 It feels like proper spring now. Loving the nice weather when we get it.


Work is going okay. Its a very complex procedure using the database to input and amend records. Its a bit of a headache I just have to get used to it.


This weekend has been really nice, weather wise. Yesterday we walked to town where we got a rice ball each from the mall, then walked in the direction of the botanical gardens but stumbled upon a Korean festival. We got noodles there which were tasty, and watched a cute dance by the children.


The botanical gardens were nice. Spring has sprung and the flowers are in bloom. We visited the birds in the aviary again and we saw fantails flying close to us. There was also a spot of grass where a duck was relaxing in the sunshine. Sabine wanted to get as close to it as possible, but it was just wanting to relax and not be disturbed. It hissed at her! Hissed! a mallard male duck hissed because it didn't want to be disturbed! XD


Walking back to town, we noticed how appalling the student accommodations are around the university. They are truly vial. Unclean, unkempt and horrible.

We got a nice ice cream when walking home.

My shoes have holes in, even though I've been wearing them for only 4 months. So we went to The Warehouse where I bought a new pair. We also had fun looking at the clearance CD's to get for the car. Oh, I also got a nice BBQ sauce earlier to have with dinners. Its really tasty!

I cut the grass- again! Yes, it needed it. Erghhhh.




Today we visited the Chinese Garden again! They are celebrating the Moon festival today too! We got down there for something like 11:30ish. It was getting progressively crowded as the hours went on by, but we saw performers doing there thing. Most were terrible but some were Okay. Some were really slow and long drawn out.


We ordered a tea and a bun and it took ages to come and when it finally did it was during all the performances so it was a bit awkward. I dont know why they decided to have the festival stuff in such a tiny area. It was packed solid. They could have done with having that stuff out front where they actually have the space for it.


There was also a mother duck with 11 ducklings. 11!


The cats in our area are getting tamer. There is a new cat, a fat black cat, that looooves affection. He has been in and out the house, loves strokes and purrs too. :3 We are so lucky to have this cat visit us. The ginger too likes strokes. Things seem to be improving since we have decided to start discouraging fat kitty. I even threw water on it the other day and it scarpered pretty quickly.


We have also bought more garden bird fat balls. The Silvereyes haven't been around recently sadly. :(

this funny tree is in town. dont ask i dont know. all i can say is that its wool covering it.