29 September, 2005

Farewell New Zealand


Can you believe it?? After arriving in New Zealand on the 23rd May I have finally flown onto Sydney on 29th September. A full four months in this beautiful country!!!

So did I enjoy it?? Of course.. and here is a chance for me to tell you of some particularly good times...

<< The map of New Zealand

Arriving after a 23hour journey to meet good friends Kate & Mike, Steve & Chris was great, even if Mike was holding up a sign for the "Old Man" ... So that week involved moving into a lovely house with amazing views, celebrating my thirtieth birthday (proper) and generally getting to know the beautiful town of Queenstown. Even now thinking of the place, I am reminded of the scenery and the laid backness of the place...

I made a few pledges for my birthday - 1. No More Smoking! 2. Get Fit & Stay Fit 3. Manage my cash 4. Keep a life journal - How are these getting on?? Well I gave up smoking, restarted (only when drunk), had one or two each day and have now given up again!! Fitness? Well I am still fat.. maybe Oz is the place to lose some weight! Everyone over here looks so thin... Cash Management?? Its pretty difficult when you don't have a regular job, but its ok.. Keep a life journal? I wanted both an online and paper based one.. Paper based one is still on the day I nearly broke my arm, but I have kept up to date on the blog.. I WILL KEEP THIS UP!!

Soon after that we had snow in town, and a drive to Wanaka saw us throwing snowballs at each other on the Crown Range pass.. This is a prelude to a season with loads of snow we thought... So we decide to head up the Remarks to have a nose and near certain death!!

The season opened on the 11th June at Coronet Peak, and even if the place doesn't have the size and infrastructure of Europe and North America, you can still see where all the fun can be had.. but then two days later I fall off a box and think I have broken my arm. After X-rays its diagnosed as only a crack, but it puts my snowboarding on hold for over three weeks.. So it was time to look for work...

After wandering around Queenstown looking for work in bars & Restaurants, I finally got lucky with a hotel just around the corner from me and get hours as a waiter/barman and also housekeeping!

I soon discovered that the job sucks!! But money is money. Then just after London wins the Olympics, Terrorists decide to blow up some Underground trains and a bus in london...

Soon after though, I got back snowboarding and this time I leave Coronet alone and head up the Remarks, which soon became my local mountain!! Even though Josh nearly gets buried in an Avalanche up there. I start by not liking the mountains much, but if you stop comparing it to Europe / USA, and explore, you soon discover how good it really is.. I spent a lot of my time learning to ride park. Before I just used to cruise and attempt minor backcountry. Kate soon has a birthday, 26, and I start growing a lovely mexican moustache!!

I was snowboarding a lot more then, with Night riding at Coronet and also heading over to Cardrona. And the beginning of August was when my girlfriend Zena leaves to go off on her travels!! Yep, 2 months in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand with her mum and then a bit of solo travel around Thailand, Malaysia and Sinagapore. That meant it was only 6 weeks till I saw her!!

Anyway the snow was not really coming down a lot, but a big dump soon sorts that out. Still doesn't help out with my job, which has now started cutting my hours coz it was getting quiet.. Along with this we got evicted from our house, which is a right pain!! Janine celebrates her 25th Birthday..

I got a new job!! but it takes them ages to sort out when I am gonna work.. and to celebrate I got a new haircut.. Yes Mullets are back in the Arnold fashion directory... Chris is getting older, 27!!

Apart from a couple of trips to Wanaka, I have pretty much stayed in Queenstown so we decided to head up to Ohau, unfortunately its closed but its good to get out of Queenstown! I got back to jack all my jobs in before Zena arrives..

15th September 05.. I have been waiting for this day for ages.. Zena arriving!! As well as getting some snowboarding in, we also head around town. All this in the same week as more snow arrives in the Southern Alps! So we head up for our last trips to the Remarks and Coronet.. Before heading to Christchurch to pick up our Relocation campervan and a four day trip of NZ via Fox Glacier! Finally arrive in Auckland on Monday 23rd September and change our flights to arrive in Sydney on Thursday!!


Auckland life..

After a much needed sleep in the Queen of Tongas room, we headed into town. Shopping was the order of the day for Tuesday, amongst Aucklands well known areas such as Queen Street, K Road and Newmarket.

We were not that impressed. A lot of the guidebooks emphasise the fact that a quarter of NZ's population live in Auckland, and Queen St is fantastic for shopping. Its not. K Road was a lot better with some funky little stores, while a visit to the Victoria Park market was a letdown as it only sold tourist junk.

Newmarket seemed to be where all the shops were, and it was busy still despite the drizzle. As we have no money for shopping anyway, it was a case of Zee browsing.... great..

Anyway we had a much better day on Wednesday with us going to Auckland Museum . As well as a real thorough Pacific Life section, and a brilliant Maori exhibition, we were also treated to a Maori welcome ceremony and an show of Maori singing, chanting and dancing.. including the world famous Haka.

After this we headed around the rest of the museum, which had a natural history floor and also a war memorial floor.. A really great day out! The museum in Wellington, Te Papa Tongewara is meant to be the better place to see Maori artifacts and other NZ treasures, but I really enjoyed the Auckland War Memorial Museum!!

26 September, 2005

State Highway 1

Have finally arrived in Auckland after travelling the entire route of State Highway 1 from Wellington to Auckland!! Yes, without veering off this road at all, me and Zee drove approx 600 kms in 8 hours (over two days). This after driving for 14 hours on the South Island.

As you can imagine we are shatterred...

Stayed the night in Turnagi last night, and this place seemed like a ghost town. Went to find a phone at 9pm and it was deserted... finally found one shop open, and the guy was saying that people think he should close early.. he wasn't wrong

Staying in a lovely hostel in Auckland right now, City Garden Lodge which according to BBH is rated at 81%!!  Its an amazing old wooden panelled villa with a massive staircase leading to big bedrooms. This house used to be owned by the Queen of Tonga, and we have her old room! At least its fit for the princess warrior.. Zenas even happier because they supply hot water bottles... 

Its a beautiful place, situated in the heart of Parnell which is a lovely suburb real close to the city centre that has a lovely restaurant scene. Haven't actually managed to go into town just yet, thats for tommorrow...

Anyway me and Zee have now changed our flights to Sydney. Instead of flying out Saturday we now leave Thursday.. This is so we can see Zenas Aunty and Uncle before they fly to Shangai for a holiday!!

25 September, 2005

Relocations and Fox Glacier

Jez_116Thursday saw me and Zena leave Queenstown for a coach journey up to Christchurch. 8 Hours later saw us staying in Stonehurst Backpackers, a lovely place at reasonable rent. Me and Zee paid a little extra for our own room.. Went out that evening for a bite to eat, and found a great Turkish Kebab shop! mmmm tasty.. Both places definitely recommended.

Anyway the next day saw us getting up early so we could pick up our relocation campervan from Maui at Christchurch Airport. No worries sorting it all out. I paid a little extra than a dollar a day, to ensure I was covered properly on the insurance. But soon enough we had a massive Volkwagen 2 berth with Toilet and Shower!! After stopping to stock up on food and drinks, we headed for Arthurs Pass on the way to Fox Glacier.

The scenery crossing Arthurs Pass and also the whole of the West Coast is bloody impressive.. Amazing mountain ranges, sheer drops, rivers and rainforest make this one of the best drives ever!! After stopping for some lunch at Arthurs Pass we headed down, and took a detour via the Arnold river and also Arnold creek.. Photo Opportunity!! Finally got to Fox Glacier at 7pm, and booked in for the half day hike the next day.

This hike up to the glacier, and an hour on the ice as well, was amazing!! We both had the best time, and would recommend it to anybody. Led by an experienced Guide, scrambling over rocks and mountain streams, and finally putting on a pair of crampons, and walking over a river of ice is without doubt one of the best experiences of my trip to NZ! Loads of photos coming soon!!

Anyway because we had to leave on the ferry the next morning, we decided to drive on as soon as the hike was over, and we were looking forward to an 8 hour trip to Picton!! Went via the Pancake rocks at Punaikai, which were formed after millions of years of erosion.. truly beautiful! Also via some amazing west coast beaches. Finally arriving in Picton at 9pm.. after parking up for the night on the site of a notorious massacre, Zee convinced me that we should drive on a bit... finally slept the night in the Ferry carpark!!

Anyway we have taken the interislander ferry, had a nose around Windy Welly and driven 6hours from Wellington to Tuarangi.. just gonna go to bed zzzzz

21 September, 2005

Last day of the Season

Img_1356With our coach booked tomorrow, today was the last day to head up the slopes!

Had the chance to go to Treble Cone today with John and Ellie, but in the end me and Zee decided to head up to Coronet Peak. It reopened today after the snow from the other day, and would you believe it, but it was a blue sky day!! Zee was convinced these don't exist!!

Anyway I wasn't gonna risk hurting myself, so spent the day with Zena practising her turns. She is doing real well with snowboarding and I am so proud of her progression already.. All it involves now is more and more practice and soon she will be as good as Leslie McKenna!

Tomorrow we leave Queenstown!!

Last day Snowboarding up the Remarks

Img_1277<< My last run down the Remarks..

So Monday bought a huge storm into Queenstown and snow actually settled on the streets (about an inch) .. Wow!! Thats the first snow seen in Queenstown all season!!

So me and Zena were on for a day up the Remarks on Tuesday... Got a lift to the base by John, and then hitched up with this UK guy over on holiday. Asked him if he had chains.. "Yeah of course"

So halfway up I say that I think this is a good place to get them on.. He pulls over, gets the chains out of the boot and they look like something for a horse and cart!! Hahaha!! We try to get them on, but no hope.. So we turn around to hire some chains.. Get there and they are too expensive, so we drive to the bottom to get the bus up!!

Img_1307Anyway the weather is attrocious, and after one run down the Alta slope with Zena we decide to head in for a hot drink.. In the afternoon John and Ellie get up the hill, and with Zena off on her lesson, we go up the hill.. The promised 35cm of powder, is all hidden against rocks but its still a great day. On my final run I get John to take some pictures of me on the hill..

So I go down to see Zena and she is progressing loads!! Linked turns from toe edge to heel edge, on the bottom slopes all the way.. Wow!! I am sooo impressed!

19 September, 2005

NZ Plans

Img_1254 << Zena and Dog.

Anyway here are our plans for the rest of our time in NZ

Tues 20th & Weds 21st Sept - Snowboarding.. might as well while we have some more snow!!

Thurs 22nd Sept - Bus to Christchurch..

Fri 23rd Sept - Pick up a 2berth Campervan at Christchurch!! Relocation special to Auckland Airport at a dollar a day!! obviously you pay for your own fuel, but it works out real cheap!!

Sat 24th Sept - Visit Fox Glacier

Sun 25th Sept - Ferry Journey from Picton to Wellington and carry on driving up to Lake Taupo.

Mon 26th Sept - Visit Rotorua and return van.

Tues 27th to Fri 30th Sept - Auckland and also Bay of Islands

Sat 1st October - Fly to Sydney!!

Anyway will keep you updated on the way with a few more pictures as well on my photo site..

Up the Gondola..

Img_1236 I took Zena up to the Remarks on Friday, so she could relearn her snowboarding skills.. and was I impressed!! Andorra was really good, but Zena learnt in 2 lessons what it took her a week in Andorra to sort of get to grips with.

Yes.. She is linking turns now! Ok, its on the easy slopes but toe to heel and back all the way to the bottom is bloody impressive!! It was great news!!

Thats the basics of snowboarding all completed.. now its all progression to bigger and better things!! roll on USA/Canada for our next trip!!

Went out Friday night with Kate & Mike, Gary & Anna, Janine and also Steve & Nicki. Went to this very tasty Thai restauarant. Zee was NOT looking forward to Thai food, she was tempted to ask the waitress for some chips! Great night out though.. Went to the pub after for some a few games of pool and some beers..

Saturday saw us staying in and watching pirate, I mean copies of DVDs incluing the the early episodes of Lost!!

Sunday saw us take a walk into town and then went up the Gondola to Skyline. This place has great views of Queenstown, and so we took loads of photos! Also they have a go-kart type luge tup there, so we had a quick go on that! loads of fun, especially was we did the adventurous run! Zee was screaming like a little girl..

Today is Monday and its snowing!! Yes, just before I am about to leave Queenstown we get a snow storm come through and its now actually snowing in town itself! No going up the hill till today though.. can't be bothered with the cold and wind...

15 September, 2005

Zena arrives…

Img_1191 Thursday 15th September.. I have been waiting for this day since I left for NZ just short of 4 months ago.

This is the day that Zena arrives over here in NZ!!

Well, of course I was awake at 7 this morning, but lying in bed for ages coz I don't need to get up yet. Then its all about tidying up, so the place is neat for Zena to see.. then time to chill watching morning TV.

Thats until Zee phones just after 11 saying that she has got an earlier flight and will be in Queenstown at 12:30 instead of 15:15!! Damn, I still have to get ready myself!!

Anyway arrive at the airport with half an hour to spare, see that Zenas flight gets in at 12:32, enough time to read the paper and have a cup of coffee.. All ready to see Zee walk through the door. Anyway get a text off Zee saying "At the Airport. Where are you?" Look around to see my tanned girlfriend hanging about.... Hahahaha!! I was waiting for the wrong flight to come through the door!

Anyway we have just headed into town to have a nose.. The tache has now been shaved off!! Zena has some cold weather boots (Timberlands) that are giving her blisters... so we are shuffling about everywhere!!

13 September, 2005

England win the Ashes

England_win_ashes 18 years after England last beat Australia in the Ashes Test series, we have finally won!! Thanks to the captain Michael Vaughn and star players Andy Flintoff and Kevin Pieterson.

This is so great!! Especially since when I first got to NZ and the All Blacks beat the Lions in the Rugby. As I am off to Oz soon, I can't wait to take the piss sooo bad!!

Bad Luck to all you Aussies.. But then Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath are way past there best now.. ;-)

11 September, 2005

No more work in Queenstown!!

Yes.. Its true!! I am now unemployed in Queenstown! I have quit my jobs at both the Hotel and the Garage... I knew that I would be jacking it all in anyway (and all of you did too.. ) But to be able to get jobs in this town, that are not related to winter sports, it was near to impossible to get a job without committing yourself to be in Queenstown for longer than 6 months.

So everyone I was speaking to about work, it was "Yes. I am in town till at LEAST January, not sure whats happening after that but may go to Auckland"... if only they knew better!!

Anyway with no work to do, I am gonna get some snowboarding in before Zena gets here on Thursday!! I have only 100 hours till I see her again!! woooohoo

08 September, 2005

Ohau trip..

Img_1185_1 Wednesday afternnon saw our Queenstown crew (minus a few) head out to Ohau for a night in the lodge and a days riding on the third hill of our NZSki lift pass. Mount Ohau .

Well we would have gone riding if they opened it up for us. Yes, unfortunately this years poor snow levels in NZ have meant that Ohau was closed for us, but should open up for the weekend crowds. Ohau is not the only one to have problems.

The duty rumour that was going round Queenstown for a few weeks was that Coronet Peak will be closing one of its lifts early. However after hearing it direct from employees of the hill, Coronet is closing on Sunday for the rest of the season!! EVERYTHING!! Oh dear..

Well anyway the Remakables are still open, but for how long?? The base is only 55-80cm now..

What can you do eh?? Anyway back to Ohau...

After a night of fun in the lodge, where we all went to the beach for a bonfire and a few beers before the rain called a stop to that..  We were determined not to come away doing nothing on Thursday, so we set off for a 4km walk in the hills nearby.. A beautiful walk was only interupted by one thing.. a river crossing!!

Img_1183All of us (6 boys and 5 girls) had no choice but to find a spot to cross without getting too wet!! Surprisingly nobody did!! we did get a few wet socks though..

Anyway back via the beach and then head back to the cars. The boys decide to head cross country to get back quicker.. via the swap of death, we discover the easiest route to get back is up the creek. This involves about 6 more river crossings for us.. lots of fun though!!

03 September, 2005

Hurricane KATRINA

Oilrig_katrina I can't believe what I am hearing on the news at the moment. About a week ago I remember Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans saying people should leave the city as it was about to be hit by a hurricane..

He wasn't wrong. The damage and the misery inflicted is immense.

Now you would have thought that Bush and the government would have been ready to declare the whole area as PRIORITY NUMBER ONE and start getting aid to his own citizens who are in dire need in the Southern States. But he hasn't.

Now Mayor Negin is furious and rightly so.. read the transcript of his interview on CNN here...

Wikeipedia entry >> BBC News >> American Red Cross >> Blog from some guy stuck in NO >>

Chris’s 27th Birthday

Img_1072I know Chris through Kate. She worked with him, when he was a Boat Mechanic in Southampton. A sound guy who is travelling with Sam, his Portsmouth Girlfriend..

On Thursday Chris celebrated his 27th Birthday..and in style, we tried to stay out till dawn. This is no easy task in Queenstown, as its quite an expensive night out! So we started the night at there house drinking cheap stubbies for a little while!!

Once we had sung Happy Birthday, and eaten cake, we all headed to Buffaloes in town.. Great Travellers bar, a little hectic but where Chris spends a small proportion of his wages!! After here Triple M, great for cheap bar if litle else!! This place closed at 1 so we headed to Chicos fo some party atmosphere.

Img_1080<<< By now everyone was a little drunk...

But when this place closed at 3ish, we were left without anywhere to go. except Tardis. I haven't been to this place since I got here, but it does have a reputation of being a hip joint fo all the snowboarders in town..

I don't know why.. Its really dark, and this place pretty much killed the night.. putting an end to our dream of drinking till dawn!!

Good job really.. the next day  had the worst hangover!!