Australia and New Zealand
09 March 2012 | New Zealand
Jane weather really iffy
We are currently at anchor with our friends on their boat Idyll Island a Voyage 440 Catamran, up in the Bay of Islands, one of our favorite areas in New Zealand. Cathy and Derek are Canadians who we met in the Caribbean; when we headed east they went west so it has been a while since we were last together . We are with them for a weeks sailing and have had either no wind or way too much, 40 knots due again tonight with more rain. The first few days however the weather was kind to us, which was lucky as we were guests at a wedding in Russell the third day on board. We had a magical day that went on late into the evening and felt honored to be two of the thirty guests, having not seen the wedding couple for three years. Since then we have enjoyed sharing stories of life afloat, reliving memories of times together in the Caribbean and generally slowing down.
Before we left Australia we spent some time down in Coffs Harbour and also visited family and friends in Brisbane, NSW and Melbourne. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and although the weather most of our trip was unseasonably wet, we had some fine days and a lot of fun.
When we were at Coffs Harbour we stayed at a family resort for a week and looked after our great niece and nephew for a while as our niece was moving. It was terrific to have prime time with them and they were both a delight. Our niece, and also sister-in-law and husband, also joined us the last few days so a great time was had by all. From there we went back to Coomera via our niece’s new home which is just perfect for two young kids, especially having a pool which we all enjoyed. The national parks around Queensland and New South Wales are fantastic, I so love the tropical forests and we think the names like Ugly Gully, Rotten Gully, Undone Creek and Russell’s favorite Bold Knob were great!! Fair dinkum as the Ozzies would say.
We spent a few days in Brisbane with old friends and had a wonderful time taking in the terrific galleries and checking out down town. The river is a very focal part of the town and we love the way that they have walk ways and bridges so that everyone can walk and bike to work. While we were in Australia there was a lot of flooding, but luckily Brisbane did not suffer like a few years ago.
Before we left we went to visit our cousin John and his wife Kate down in Melbourne. John was a supreme court judge in Hong Kong and has just retired. They bought a 10 acre property south of Melbourne, on Mornington Peninsular, which they have extensively remodelled – it is gorgeous. There are a lot wineries in the area and they have a vineyard, an olive grove, a huge 40 year old orchard, plus a larg shed, etc.. to enjoy. We loved the area and even got to play golf on one of the 14 courses on the pensinular. Melbourne has changed a lot since I lived there at age 20, but it still has held its charm and they have retained a lot of the old buildings and facades amongst the skyscrapers. It has more culture then any other Australian city and I can understand why John and Kate have made it their home.
Next we flew to Christchurch in New Zealand and headed down to Timaru where Russell grew up and where his mum still lives. We stayed with Grant and Mary (Russell was their best man about 35 years ago) and I have been adopted into Mary’s girls group so it was great to have some “girl” time. With the guys they are a fun crowd and we managed to have some excellent evenings together before heading down to Wanaka and Queenstown on a road trip with Russell’s Mum Gypsy. The south island of New Zealand is spectacular, especially the lakes which are the most amazing turquiouse. The area is vast and as there are so few people it is uncrowded and very peaceful. The pictures in our gallery do not do it justice, but we hope that they will give you an idea of how beautiful New Zealand is. We are also amazed at how much wild life there is here, sadly though one sees a lot of road kill. We had a fantastic trip, Gypsy was a delight and managed really well having broken her neck a year ago. Special memories which we will treasure.
Russell caught up with a group of his old friends in Christchurch before we left for Auckland, it was a fun night. Sadly Christchurch is much worse from the earthquakes they have had then we realised. The main town centre is blocked off about six blocks each way and they are having to pull down everything – it looks like a war zone. While we were there we heard that the cathedral is also having to come down, it was the heart of the city. No construction is going to start until the earthquakes stop, there were about 8 quakes over 4.0 mg in February, so everyone is in limbo. Brick buildings have suffered the worst, two of Timaru’s finest churches have been condemmed and it is about 100 miles south of Christchurch!! It is so sad.
There is nothing like being in New Zealand though, even when it is wet and windy. The people are so friendly, easy going, and have the most amazing sense of humour. We love the antipodeans and feel fortunate to have so many friends and family here. Where else would you find a stream called “Hungry Creek”? Hope this finds you all happy and healthy. Enjoy the photos.