New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

There is nothing more beautiful in this world, than making lifelong friends under the most peculiar circumstances. You wouldn’t really think that meeting someone from another country whilst travelling in a group of early twenties misfits, drinking your way across Europe, could result in a nearly decade-long friendship! I am incredibly fortunate to have the friends I have, the travel stories I have collected and the opportunity and ability to head overseas purely for a catch-up!

Jemma and I met in London in 2009 and we have since travelled the world together, in 2011 we were travelling across the states and we met Natalie and now the three of us frequently try to catch up with each other. We take turns between Queensland (me), New South Wales (Nats) and New Zealand (Jemma). When we met we were all early to mid-twenties and single, so we were used to making up our own rules and heading off to wherever, whenever we could. Fast forward and we all have long-term partners and thankfully, they all get along and we as a group of six, pretty unique personalities, also all get along. Honestly, I had heard that things all work out the older you get I wasn’t really convinced. Yet here I am, 32 and with some of the most amazing social groups I could have ever hoped for. 16-year-old me would be cheering to know that the drama does stop one day and you can have an incredibly functional and rewarding friend group!

Last year we had an amazing weekend down in the Hunter Valley and the year before that everyone came to Brisbane for our Wedding, so luckily it was New Zealand’s turn! Nats and I had visited Jemma in NZ a couple of times before, but never with the guys – so this was a lot of fun! Both Nats and Tanner and G and I flew into Christchurch from Sydney and the Gold Coast within a couple of hours of each other. Jem and Alex were both working on Friday so we had time to sleep in and then a few hours to walk around Christchurch – which is such a beautiful city – I just love it there :).

To truly get our ‘tourist-on’ as Nats declared, we decided we would book on the Christchurch Tram tour – which was a really fun little activity. It is as touristy as you would expect and to be fair you could definitely just walk around at no cost, but it’s always fun to get out and about and support the local economy you are in! Our tram driver was really lovely although there was a bit of an awkward moment when the description of the traffic 2011 earthquakes which killed 185 people was described as ‘..a really, really, it was…um, a really low point’. Let’s all just agree that in order to keep tourists comfortable, we shouldn’t downplay the terrible tragedy which Christchurch endured and continues to endure today.

It was time to head back home, pack our bags and get ready to head off on our Purau overnight stay! Christchurch is such an amazing city and more than that, it is a survivor – both she and her people are brave, resilient and friendly beyond comprehension. Even those with little would give you the shirt from their back if you asked. I am sad I was not able to experience Christchurch before the catastrophic damage from the earthquake occurred, but I am very thankful that I have been able to return three times in the past six years and see the gradual improvement and rebuilding. Christchurch has a long way to go and the destruction and loss is raw and evident – don’t let this stop you from visiting this beautiful city, she has a lot to offer.

To learn more about this beautiful city, try the following link.

Christchurch Tram info.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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x C x

 

 

Australia · Europe · New Zealand · North America · South America · South Pacific / Australasia

A love for travel <3

One of the most amazing things to occur after you have been planning and saving for a trip after many months/years is when you arrive at your destination. You are no longer glued to that photo somebody else took and which you downloaded or screen-shotted many moons ago. You are there. Finally.

And you know what? Nothing is more beautiful than that moment. I say this a lot, but honestly the most breathtaking moment I have ever had whilst travelling was when I was in South America and I saw Machu Picchu. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for the fact that I am rarely without words, but Peru…Peru silenced me. I had planned the trip for almost two years with my girlfriend Jemma and to finally be there was just amazing.

The first time I knew I wanted to explore the world, I was not quite six years old. I had the most vivid dream. I was exploring waterfalls and caves with my Dad, I think we were in Africa or Asia (or whatever combination my brain had concocted at such a young age). When I was telling Dad about our adventure and he told me I had just been dreaming, I actually thought he was having me on. How could I have dreamt something so detailed? Also, how was I going to deal with the disappointment that I had not been there?

I became obsessed. I WAS going to travel the world. One day. When I was six we went on our first overseas family holiday, to Bali. I have really lovely memories of this trip. Catching the plane with my family, coming across people who neither spoke English or Anindilyakwa, as was spoken on Groote Eylandt where we lived. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my little life – so many beautiful things to see and smell and taste, people to meet. Amazing!

I came home with braids in my heart, a hundred new stories to tell the kids at school and a burning desire to travel. Being a mining brat, I had the ability to see a fair bit of the top end and east coast of Australia, because we typically moved every two years for Dad’s job. I used to pour over and harbour any travel articles I could get a hold of and I wished for a subscription to the National Geographic magazine for years and years.

Then puberty happened. High school. Jobs. Wagging School to go to the beach. Parties. The usual. Sure enough, by the time I was 17 I had planned my next big adventure, I was going to live in London and work in a pub, like nearly every third or fourth Aussie at the time. I went to uni instead.

Then I dreamed of teaching English in Japan, which then changed to working in a ski field in Canada, then back to possibly landing a job in the UK. Then I changed jobs, changed degrees and decided to travel on leave instead.

I must have planned three or four big trips which never came to fruition. I always had friends with the best of intentions, but when it came down to the crunch, they just were not willing to part with ever spare dollar to save it for a holiday. My friends didn’t want to wear the same clothes all year, miss out on parties and dye their own hair. Which was completely fine, my dreams didn’t need to be my friends dreams!

Eventually at 23 I decided to bite the bullet and just go away on my own. I had my sights set on South America. My Mum gave me a firm and resounding “NO” to her 23 year old daughter running off overseas on her own. So instead, at the pleading of Mum/Friends/Employer, I booked myself onto an arranged Contiki tour instead.

This would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, I met some amazing people, experienced the high of travel I had been seeking and knew that every sacrifice I had made in the past was worth it :).

I am pretty sure I would have had Dad over my shoulder (who had since passed), carrying me along my journey – remembering the five year old who animatedly “remembered” an international adventure all those years ago xx

When did you know you had fallen in love with travel?

x C x

New Zealand

TSS Earnslaw, Lake Wakatipo & Walter Peak Dinner, Queenstown

When we were researching our honeymoon activities, we stumbled across a cruise on a vintage steamship and dinner over at Walter peak High Country Farm. We knew instantly we had to participate in this activity.

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The TSS Earnslaw is a 1912 Edwardian vintage twin screw steamer and is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago, spending her days in the waters of Lake Wakatipu. It is actually the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere. Named after Mount Earnslaw, this ship was known as the Lady of the Lake; until 1968 where she was almost scrapped. Thankfully she was rescued and taken for a makeup in 1984 and in 2012 celebrated her centenary.

 

When we boarded TSS Earnslaw for our 90 minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu and the bar was open, and the weather was beautiful and we were feeling particularly loved-up because we were on a steamboat (!!!) and it was our honeymoon! How can you be anything but over-the-moon excited?! There was a gorgeous engine room you are able to see from inside the ship and there is also a series of historical photos available to view.

IMG_2670Lake Wakatipu has a sense of magic to it, its name comes from the original Māori word Whakatipu wai-māori and is 80km in length. At New Zealand’s longest lake it is also the third largest in the country. It’s sea level plunges to a maximum depth of 380metres and it is surrounded by absolutely beautiful mountains. The Remarkables mountain range lies along the south-eastern edge. You may have seen Lake Wakatipu as the Scottish Loch Ness in The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and was the backdrop for several scenes in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

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Walter Peak is a mountain located near Queensland and the TSS Earnslaw steamship takes you across the very beautiful Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak Country Farm. This Colonel Homestead is absolutely gorgeous, as the ship arrives you see the beautiful gardens, we were arriving on sunset and the view back across the Lake and towards Queenstown was so phenomenal.

The dining experience was also excellent, I am absolutely daydreaming about the food as I am writing this. We had a gourmet bbq dinner, the spread was amazing and it really highlights the New Zealand and local produce. There was also an amazing selection of desserts, cheeses, tea and coffee and a huge selection of drinks which you were able to purchase. You have assigned seating, we really liked having a table just for the two of us.

 

IMG_2678You then have time to explore the gardens, check out the shop or the art gallery before your journey back along the lake towards Queenstown. I went into a mild food coma and rested on G for the journey back across the lake. It was definitely one of my favourite nights in New Zealand. I would highly recommend it – it provides you with an amazing view and perspective of the lake as well. At one point we ended up with a very excited group of tourists who thought we had gotten engaged on the boat, we were celebrating our honeymoon though, so we took the congratulations and rolled with it!

You can book your Walter Peak Farm trip through Real Journeys:

https://www.realjourneys.co.nz/en/experiences/tours/walter-peak-farm-tours/

IMG_2690We purchased our Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Dinner with the TSS Earnslaw Cruise for $260NZD ($235 Aussie). It’s not overly cheap but it is three hours on a historic boat with access to a bar and a visit to one of the most beautiful little homesteads, the food is great and it is a really nice date-night out. We saw many couples, families, people with their Mum’s and large groups over there and honestly everyone appeared to be having a really nice time!

You can’t beat good food, good wine, a lake view, pretty gardens and twilight! Plus – have you ever seen a steam boat this beautiful?!

x C X

 

 

Australia

Wednesday…

Well it’s 7:45am here in Brisbane, it’s  22 degrees already (um we didn’t even have Spring??) and I’m on my way to work. 

I can’t help but wish I was on holidays. Maybe back in NYC…

Enjoying hot drinks, holding hands and winter. Or maybe back in some tropical paradise….

Cocktail in hand, drunken bingo, eating anything with carbs and cheese with G and spending a good majority of the day without shoes on….or even back on our Honeymoon!

Enjoying New Zealand for all that it is and all it will be! Pinot, whiskey, great food, amazing sights….

Instead I’m on a crowded bus, in peak hour traffic, suspecting today will be like any typical Wednesday – and I’ll have objects and tasks coming at me from all angles. 

We have to pay the bills and afford travel somehow though, right? 😉

Happy Wednesday!

Tell me – where would you rather be today?

C x

Australia

I love you then, I love you still. Always have, always will <3

I was looking through my photos today, as I have been trying to collate my travel photographs into my Instagram page (@novaturient_redhead); and I realised that our honeymoon was ONE YEAR AGO!!!

This time last year we were in Milford Sound, the torrential rain had us locked in our room for three days – which, to be honest – forces you to relax and just enjoy being away on holiday!

We did get out on our last day as the rain turned into a light shower for a couple of ours.

I cannot wait to repeat our last year and every year forward. Bring it on – rain, hail or shine ❤

New Zealand

Akaroa, N.Z – spending a long weekend with friends <3

Hobbits, fish and ‘chups’ (they don’t say this, at all just fyi), kiwi fruit, Russell Crowe, Angela from Real Housewives of Auckland, being mistaken for an Australian, explaining where the country is on a globe and not getting credit for the pavlova.

This is a short summary of some things every kiwi I have ever met, dislikes. Kiwi’s, or New Zealander’s (a bit too formal I think), are the FRIENDLIEST, funniest, most giving and warm-hearted people on the planet.  You will never find a better companion than a friendly kiwi. One of my favourite people on this Earth is from Christchurch and I can honestly say, I have never met a kiwi I have disliked. It would be near impossible.

I think it has something to do with how astronomically beautiful their country is, not to mention how progressive the country is in general. New Zealand will always be one of my favourite places to visit. I have seen more of the North Island than I have the South Island, so i was excited to be able to visit more of the South Island.

Two years ago, in October 2015, we had decided a girls trip was on the cards. We are all spread out across the eastern cost of Australia and of course NZ, so Nats and I decided we would head over to New Zealand for a long weekend. Jem was going to show us around Christchurch and we were going to spend the weekend out at Akaroa. Akaroa was settled by the English and the French, the cultural influences of both are littered throughout the region.

Akaroa is on the Banks Peninsular in Canterbury area of the South Island of New Zealand. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for “Long Harbour”. It’s around an hour and a half from Christchurch, depending on the number of cars, sheep, the weather and of course the car you are in. If it takes twice as long, enjoy it! The drive is beautiful. We took the trip with  the best of Fleetwood Mac on repeat and catching up with one another.

We also stopped and did a massive haul at the shops. We had ten different types of cheese, since we are all cheese fiends, we also stopped by Barry’s Bay Traditional Cheese, which is in Akaroa. Barry’s Bay Cheese is made from local farms and is made in the traditional way since 1895. Their Havarti, Cracked Pepper and Chilli Cheddar cheeses are amazing!

fullsizeoutput_1a60No good girls trip is complete without several bottles of wine, some champagne, some cider and some delicious food before the drinking begins! Jem had found the cutest cabin in in absolutely gorgeous location in Akaroa, overlooking the water. It was a little walk out of town and was up on top of a hill.

We spent the weekend exploring the area, eating cheese, watching trash T.V, sleeping in, eating more cheese, drinking copious amounts of wine and just hanging out. It was amazing. We don’t get to spend too much time with each other, so it was really nice just being able to hang out and chat and bond. I firmly believe that your friendships with your girlfriends in your 20’s and 30’s are some of the most important and rewarding relationships we can have.

On our last day we visited a crazy little tourist must-see, the Giant’s Garden. The Giant’s House is a sculpture, mosaic garden and gallery and has the tag of “the happiest garden on earth”. It was certainly something different. It’s not cheap, at around $22 per adult entry. However, it’s worth it for the photos and it helps the owner’s keep the place open to the public. It is located within an historic house and gardens and is only a few minutes walk from the centre of Akaroa. It is seriously different and like I said, worth the photos! We also stopped in and checked out the local boutique stores as well. There is certainly a lot more about crystal’s and their healing powers I need to learn!

The Australian NRL final was on our last night in Akaroa and having found a little pub to spend the afternoon/evening and with no other patrons there, we asked the bar tender to change the channel. It was a Sunday night and hardly tourist season so it was super quiet. It turned into one of our rowdier nights and watching the game with a few locals who potted in later on was good fun as well. Our other girlfriend who was unable to make the NZ trip because of the grand final, was the reason we found a pub to watch the game in. Thankfully her team, the North Queensland Cowboys won, so it was celebrations all around!

Soon enough our amazing Akaroa break had come to an end and we made our way back to Christchurch. Hunted down fish and chips (with whitebait fritters – which I LOVE!) and watched a stack of reality tv whilst sitting near Jem’s fire and just soaking up each other’s company. Our little break had come to an end and Nats was back to Sydney and I back to Brisbane the next morning. Until our next catch up.

Having your friends so far away is really tough, but having the quality of friendships I have I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

fullsizeoutput_1a61Thanks for reading ❤

x C x

North America

Our Journey to beautiful SanFran <3

Brisbane – Auckland – San Franciso

 

My boyfriend (now Husband!) and I had been planning our incredible 10-day adventure for six or so months and we were so excited it was finally here. We had an amazing Christmas with my family, in 35+degree heat, absolutely sweating bullets – so were really looking forward to a cooler time in San Francisco!

26 & 27 December, 2014

My blog posts are seriously delayed, but I feel like the mania of life is now sorting itself out and I am excited to get my travel posts up to date! We have some pretty amazing holiday plans in the works for the next 12 months, so in anticipation of those, I thought it might be nice to look at our last trips :).

We had our flight on Boxing Day at around 4pm, so plenty of time to get our bags packed and get to the airport and have a couple of celebratory drinks. We had both worked so hard that year and my Husband worked two out of three weekends, so we had not spent too much time together.

We flew Air New Zealand, because they are one of my favourite airlines, our first leg was just to Auckland, where we would spend the night and then head off to San Francisco the next night. We were both excited for our trip, once we were through customs the reality of our trip set-in.

We had a room upgrade once we were in Auckland, thanks to my Husband’s Accor membership, so that was a nice start and we could see Sky Tower from our room. The next day we went on the hunt for breakfast and went up Sky Tower, Auckland had beautiful weather and it was nice to spend the day there. We then packed up and headed to Auckland airport.

We had purchased the 3 hour lounge passes for the Emperor Lounge. It does not matter what class you are flying, anyone is welcome. I have used it a few times, they even have showers available, WiFi, food and booze.  A nice way to relax before your flight! I would highly recommend it, I think it offers excellent value and gets you out of the mania of the general airport waiting areas.

We had managed to score two seats together on the plane, so no strangers near us. We got on the plane and loaded up our menu’s of what we were going to watch on the flight, I generally don’t sleep that well on planes as I find it hard to get comfortable. I am 5″9, my Husband is 6″2 and we are not small people, so 14 hour flights are horrifying. It turns out I didn’t have to worry, because I slept on my Husband for 9 hours of the flight! I had always flown solo or with my girlfriend, so that level of comfort is not the same, whereas your partner does not mind if you lay your legs on them (well, he didn’t verbalise it if he did mind).

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Seeing the beautiful early morning sunrise over the San Francisco coast on Boxing Day (repeat for us Southern Hemisphere’rs!) was so exciting! The line off of the plane through to customs was insane! I have never seen so many people in an airport, but it was Christmas season, it must have taken close to three hours to get out of the airport. I love San Fran, I just feel happy there and have always had positive experiences in this airport.

First thing is first, coffee!!!!!!! Coffee and then the train into the city. We had booked to stay at Hotel Diva at Union Square – we had booked it for a great price, we stayed for three nights. Hotel Diva was centrally located, affordable and clean. It was only once we checked in I became suspicious. To be honest the entire chain of events was hilarious as we were both delirious from our travels. To start with, when we checked in the artwork in the hotel was, um, risque? IMG_0457_2

All of which was hilarious, I thought the hotel was amazing but maybe it was a sex-hotel and I hadn’t worked that out? The jury is still out ;). I would recommend the hotel it was fun, young, really well located and clean. There is also a Starbucks directly beneath it and Union Square is only a 5 minute walk.

I was pretty excited to be able to see the beautiful big Christmas tree in Union Square, I LOVE Christmas and I had always wanted to see Christmas in the States – we couldn’t quite make it for Christmas day but in the days afterwards, it still felt pretty special.

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Our journey had absolutely shattered us, so we went on the hunt for food and ate at a little diner just up the road, black coffee, cheese sticks, wings, you name it. If it was bad for us and warm in any way, we were eating it.

The reality of our long-awaited holiday had kicked in! It was quickly getting dark and we were exhausted so aside from some snacks and checking out Union Square – we grabbed a bag of junk food and headed back to our room for much awaited sleep in a bed!

We had the next day to explore SanFran on our own timeline and could not be any more excited about it!

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Our holiday was finally here! We had worked out that perhaps our packing of clothing was completely wrong – given it was 7 degrees. We immediately started laughing because we knew our next stop was New York which was definitely going to be colder!

I couldn’t wait to explore this gorgeous city, especially with my boyfriend at such a magical time of the year! Was sleep even possible with this much excitement? Turns out yes, and apparently I snored my head off!

Thanks for reading –SanFran post TBC!

x

Australia · New Zealand · North America

It’s almost here!

476.

The number of days we officially started counting down to until our next adventure. However, I was meant to go to South America four and a half years ago. Life happened and somehow I found myself on a *safe* Contiki trip, solo, in Europe. I know it might seem like solo + Contiki don’t really go together, but for a 23-year-old, waving goodbye to your family and friends and taking off to the other side of the world (why are you so far away from everything Australia?) for 5 weeks is, technically, solo.

Man did that decision work in my favour! Not only did I have an amazing trip and experience 7 countries VERY QUICKLY (that trip was like the 15 items or less isle at the shops in terms of touring), but I met some amazing people. It wasn’t just me who took off solo for that Contiki European Vista either, across the ditch, was a lovely little kiwi by the name of Jemma, who was packing her trusty suitcase ‘old-red’ and getting ready for her solo adventure.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now the two of us take off wherever and whenever we can. We have seen Europe, the States twice and some of French Canada together and Jem has visited Brisbane three or four times and I finally made my way to beautiful Christchurch this year. It’s a pain in the arse when you live in different countries but we still have an amazing friendship and a lot of laughs.

I can’t believe I have only 33 days before I spend a glorious morning in my beloved Brissie, probably scoffing down some ridiculously calorific brunch with my parents and my man, before I walk through the security gates and through to customs at Brisbane International Airport.

I will probably misplace my passport and ‘supporting’ documentation three to four times from the point where I go down the escalator to when I do get to the customs person. I will go through my normal paranoia of how happy is too happy when you are going through customs and whether or not they are judging me for the amount of eyeliner I am wearing in my 2008 passport photo.

I’ll probably realise I am wearing the wrong outfit for the flight and that I have two hours to cool my heels at the airport. I will then get the shits because my wisdom tooth extraction one week before Christmas robbed me of my holiday money and try to over-anayse the limited funds I do have for the trip and work out if it will last the trip (it totes will not).

I will get the weird little butterflies I get when I get on the plane and I hear the “on the right hand side thank you Miss Blake and welcome”, I will drop my stuff when I am trying to get ‘organised’ and into my seat and I will unpack, re-pack and then accidentally put away things that I need in my seated area on my flight. I would have thought that with the multitude of flights I have taken I would have learned to minimise. Nope. Lip balms, phone, travel diary (or maybe iPad now because I have one?), mints (gum is rank, mints are delish), earphones, book (whatever it is I will read less than a third of it and it will become one of those things that takes up a portion of my handbag), hand sanitiser, tissues and eye drops.

I’ll realise I have forgotten to pack something but by then it won’t matter because I will be in my seat, the awesome Air NZ video will play (last check Betty White was the star!) and I will have a smile as wide as the Cheshire cat because I will be heading overseas, doing what I love the most – travelling.

I am a vacation-taker. I have a lifestyle I enjoy and I have little to no interest in backpacking or spending months in south-east Asia. I’d rather save my money, book myself on a tour and know that I have a bed every night. That doesn’t make my way worse/better or right/wrong it just makes it different, my hat goes off to backpackers! I wish I had the guts :).

I did get a bit wild though and quit my job, experienced the rush of freedom. I mean, I have a new job lined up now but for a minute there I felt very eat, pray, love-ish. Except for being silent in india and cleaning floors and praying, no thanks.

OH! I also anticipate a huge portion of the trip will be me obsessing about the hotel we are staying at in Peru which has no walls. NO WALLS.

contiki adventurer
Our next amazing Contiki – The Adventurer – starting in Lima, Peru

It’s cultural right?

Australia · New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

Dedicated to Jem-Jem 🙂

11th October 2013

20140403-131712.jpgDay 1

So Jemma and I, when talking about our friendship and the logistics of it, often say that we ‘visit each other’. That might be true but it is also a straight out lie. I have never visited Jemma. That makes me a shitty friend. Jemma has come over to Australia countless times, once she was in Brisbane but thanks to phones not working, I didn’t even get to see her. I basically need the friendship card waved in my face. Sure, Jemma tries to make it sound less horrible by saying that her sister lives in Brisbane, which is true, so she comes here more, but the thing is she doesn’t come here ‘more’, she just comes here. I don’t go there.

It doesn’t take a geography genius to work out which out of Brisbane and Christchurch are nicer to visit. In case you were wondering (and you really shouldn’t be unless you aren’t from either Aus or NZ), it is Christchurch, or actually, anywhere in New Zealand….except maybe Auckland actually…the two are probably equal in that respect.

20140403-131653.jpgSo, by some miracle, and thanks to an unwarranted automatic credit card increase, I found myself buying some cheeeap as cheeeps (yeah that’s right, we say it way worse than the kiwi’s) flights with good old Virgin/Air New Zealand to go and visit Jem in October.

One carelessly submitted annual leave form (its not really an option, I won’t be here type submission) and I was packing my suitcase ready to get to NZ. Jem had assured me that as it was October, the cold snap was gone and I could probably get by with a jacket. Jem must have reconsidered that statement, as previously mentioned, I am a weak Queensland and anything below 15 degrees to me may as well be the Arctic. I was one step away from asking Mum for her amazingly colourful thermals when I decided to just suck it up and stop being such a sook.

Friday morning rolled around and it was flight time, with a curbside drop and a smack on the bum, Mum dropped me at the airport and it was time to get my NZ on. I had only been to NZ a few times, once in transit and a few times to the Northern Island, this was to be my first South Island experience and I was beside myself with excitement.

20140403-131708.jpgAs we started to land in Christchurch and looked out my window (anything under 4 hours I can handle window seat because I don’t need a bathroom break)…and, I, squealed, like the little girl I am. There was snow. Snow on the mountains (have never seen snow, can you even comprehend that?) also, way to fulfill a stereotype NZ, there were sheep, adjacent to the runway. Do you know what we have adjacent to the runway in Brisbane? Dirt. No sheep. No big fat, fluffy, white, happy as hell, sheep. With mountains and green grass and snow and perfection, I could see flowers in the grass. Now you’re just showing off Christchurch. Do you know what colour my grass is? Painful. It’s painful, spiky, sharp, razor brown painful coloured. Where it is anyway, where it isn’t just clumps of dirt. Stupid Queensland.

Anyways, met with the friendly face I miss terribly when I am back home, Jemma and I headed to her parents house, which she was house-sitting and dropped my bag off and then we went for a quick and amazing tour of Christchurch. Most of us know of the tragic 6.3 magnitude earthquakes that hit Christchurch in 2011, causing millions of dollars in damage and tragically taking close to 200 lives and countless injuries.  I didn’t have the chance to see Christchurch before the earthquakes but there is something to be said about the resilience and good nature of the Christchurch-ians (?) when you see their city. Whilst it has not been rebuilt and there is sign of the earthquake damage everywhere, they have done their best to work with what they have got. The renewal (re:start project) of Christchurch was kick-started with the (shipping container) City Mall. The mall is made up of around 27 stores, each store within a shipping container. It is quite cool to walk through and see, if you can separate innovation from tragedy. Jemma told me that it (the mall) was smacked with an intellectual property lawsuit from London Boxpark Mall, as they feel that their ‘idea’ was pinched. Who in their right mind, chooses to sue a city which suffered a devastating loss and may never be rebuilt? They aren’t stealing your idea, you idiots, they are doing their best to bring back a feeling of normalcy to their city. You really come across as some insensitive idiots.

20140403-131703.jpgJem and I then did what we do best, and decided on a gas-bag with vodka diet cokes and some delicious Dark and Extra Stormy cocktails at the Pedal Pusher….hello delicious! It got to around 6pm and I realised how cold I actually was and met with a good-natured eye roll from Jem, we headed back to her place so I could rug up into something warmer. To think it was only 6 hours before hand that I was sweating bullets back in Brisbane wearing jeans in mid-October and now I was freezing. Jem and I decided on tackling the duty free bottle of vodka before we went out to dinner.

Dinner at Cortado was amazing, a tasting plate of goodness, deep fried calamari,  delicious fried cheese with RASPBERRY sauce (you read that correctly boyfriend, raspberry – not cranberry, as we have continued to argue for the last 6 months) and other treats. Then we walked back to Jemma’s parents house in the FREEZING* cold to get stuck back into the vodka. Vodka led to cat hangs, blurry photographs, watching This is the End and laughing, sooooo much laughing.

20140403-131733.jpgDay 2

We both woke up with pretty impressive hangovers and decided to frock-up for our winery day, which had seemed like a spectacular idea the day before but now seemed incredibly difficult, thanks to our voddy-hangovers. Jemma and I headed out into the countryside and went to a few wineries, did some wine tasting, spoke to a pretty cool lady, Susanne, who gave us tastes of the good stuff. Then our stomachs were rumbling and it was time for lunch. Our last, and gorgeous stop for the day was Pegasus Bay Winery, where we had the MOST delicious platter for two, accompanied by amazing wine.

Then we took our romantic selves on a secret-garden-esque post lunch walk. I wanted to take my shoes off and just run around the gardens, because the grass, was GREEN! Long and flushy and plentiful and green. Those of you who have it, take it for granted! Try and run around barefoot in my front lawn and it will end up looking like a horror/slasher film starring your feet and lower legs (possible movie idea?).

As we were leaving the winery, driving down the road, windows down, wind breezing through our hair, looking at the wildlife and just generally soaking in the beautiful-ness (it’ss a word) of New Zealand, a bee sent from the devil himself zoomed into the car, landed in my hair and then the screaming begun. This thing was like a flying dollar coin (the aussie dollar coin, not the weird tiny kiwi dollar coin 😉 ) – buzzing, buzzing the death song of its people. Jemma had that sedan pulled over and she was out of the car, I was out of the car. There was screaming. Then as I opened the boot to see where the bee was, it lunged at me in another depraved devil-bee attack. We survived though. Jemma, we survived. WE are survivors.

20140403-131727.jpgWe needed a time out with the cows and sheep for a minute to recover before we got back in the car and headed home. I witnessed some pretty impressive road **rage** and tail gating, it all started to come together why Jemma wasn’t overly confident in driving the Interstate 15 back in 2012, there are two lane highways in Christchurch, max.

Soon enough it was time to head back to Christchurch and get ready for our night out, Jemma had organised a night out with her girlfriends and I was pretty excited to meet them, albeit nervous as hell about being the one with the ‘funny’ accent, for once. It was really nice to get my drink on with a new group of girls and to meet Jemma’s people :). I brought spotlight on myself when I found vegemite packets I had stashed in my jacket, who even knows when (I do know that these same packets were in my jacket 3 months later in South America). We went to a pretty cool little bar in town, had too many drinks, ate too much food. There was an awkward bucks night which somehow implicated **one** of the girls (not me but she shall remain nameless), there was some table dancing, there was some inappropriate booth conversations, ok there were a lot of inappropriate conversations, there was a dude in a pink popped collar who was the epitome of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. There was some shrub-jumping and running after a cab (yep – me), there were more hilarious moments on the way home. There was a three-way phone call to my boyfriend back home, there was Whittakers PB chocolate (the greatest EVER) and then there was sleep.

Day 3

20140403-131717.jpgWaking up close to lunch time and feeling the alcoholic feats of the night before, I stumbled into Jemma’s parents kitchen and…met Jemma’s parents! I was pretty happy, because they are fantastic and you can see why Jemma is the bomb :). They told us all about their trip they had been on, we had a few laughs and then we decided drinking was a good Sunday idea. So we drank and we laughed and we watched Teen Mom 2 and Catfish, ordered pizza’s and THEN! We rode bikes! Fabulous, vintage, hard to steer around corner, bikes. It was one of the best afternoons I had for the entire year. So much fun! Also, my elated behaviour with the bike riding, scored me a bike for Christmas from my boyfriend :). Later on we watched The Notebook and, um, thanks to the amount of alcohol in me, I cried in front of Jemma’s parents and Jemma and they made a quick escape to bed. Sorry guys.

I loved it, I can’t wait to go again. Christchurch rocks, people from Christchurch rock and I wish there was a bridge between the two of us.

Not a bad way to spend a long weekend with Jem, in the waiting months for our gigantic trip :).

*FREEZING: a temperature below 12 degrees to people from Queensland, Australia.

**FREEZING: Classified by the kiwis as sub-zero temperatures, sleet, frozen livestock and icicles.

**Rage**: People from Christchurch engaging in road-rage is actually kind of adorable. It was annoying but it makes you think of pissed off Canadians and you appreciate that people from Christchurch are a million times nicer than anyone else in the world. FACT.

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