Tim & Anja's New Zealand Adventure travel blog

Driving along the gravel road - we were really "out there"

The reflection is kinda cool

What can you say?

We drove into this valley - just amazing!!

Crossing the Potts River in the valley

Anja waving hello

We had fun crossing this river - another one was just too...

Mt. Sunday - Edoras from the Lord of the Rings


After dinner with our kiwi friend Dallas who lives in Christchurch -...

Last week I took a day off on Anja's weekend (a Thursday) and we enjoyed a great road trip out of Christchurch. After some traffic in the city, we zipped through the dead flat plains of Canterbury, over the longest bridge in NZ in Rakakia, and out past the tiny village of Mt. Somers (some houses and a general store that the Lonely Planet describes as "if they don't have it, you don't need it"). Soon the sealed road ended and we slowed on the gravel, and continued for another good hour past some of the best scenery in the land. We ended up almost smack dab in the middle of the country (we looked at a map later and saw that, oh yeah, we're "out there" in the mountains).

Hopefuly the pictures do it justice, it sure was beautiful. Of course the highlight was ending up at one of the sites where they filmed LOR - Mt. Sunday where Edoras was and the land of the Rohan people. Basically a small bump carved by glaciers thousands of years ago in the middle of a flat valley with towering mountains around. We obviously did the drive ourselves, but after walking around a bit and getting stuck at a high river crossing, we saw a tour group drive by on an official "Lord of the Rings Tour". I'm sure that's nice, but it was better doing our own thing.

Otherwise things are swell. The American students at university I'm looking after are on a two week term break now. Actually just tonight I saw on the news a riot that took place in Dunedin, a college town down south where Canterbury students do an annual road trip called the Undie 500. Basically teams of students enter a car valued at less than $500, pick a theme and dress up, and make 5 stops at pubs on the 4 hour road trip from Christchurch to Dunedin making it the "best pub crawl in the world". Call me crazy, but I think the idea of a drunk road trip is pretty stupid, but apparently it's a tradition. Although I hope my American students aren't on the trip, I can guess a few party animals participated in the fun.

Before the term break, I was busy trying to show students a bit of the city and region. One trip we took was on the Tranzscenic alpine train ride to Arthurs Pass (the same place Anja and I went to over the Queens birthday holiday) and we got super lucky with weather and the train going over viaducts and through tunnels was pretty special. Another group I took to the International Antarctic Center b/c Christchurch is the "gateway to the great white south". Among other things, we experienced a polar snow storm that was pretty corny for people like us who know what snow is, but if you're from the Pacific and have never seen it, it's probably pretty neat. I even wrote a travel article published in the newsletter. It was fun telling about Mystery Machine and writing a little about adventures from when Anja and I travelled around, maybe students will even read it and get some ideas about where to go on their own road trips.

We've enjoyed a couple special dinners recently, one with Dallas, who we kept playing phone tag with, but finally met up at his flat and had a good time. He lives with a flatmate and also his mother, and it was fun to learn about his family more. Dallas is hoping to go to Canada and work at a ski field in November, but is frustrated at the annoying process to get a visa and all his paperwork together, especially since he might be flying through LAX and the American immigration procedure is so complicated. It's easy for us to take for granted how simple it is for us to go practically anywhere, but even if you're from a nice, safe, small country like NZ, it can be a hassle with visas and stuff.

We also got to see the Brownbridges again, the family who lives in Christchurch we left our car with back in February who are from Vermont. It was fun to see Vanessa and Michael and the boys Christian and Cullum again, plus meet new friends of theirs from the UK. They had a baby girl, and the Brownbridges had a new dog (affectionally coined "the four-legger" named Plum) so we all sat on the floor chatting after enjoying some take away curry (Indian food).

Other than being Tim the Tax man (where we had a surpise 'sausage sizzle' as a team building/thank you for the hard work social), now I can also be Tim the Bartender. I worked at Jade Stadium for the local rugby match in one of the corporate suites and it was okay. Not nearly as snobbish as you might think, it actually wasn't too bad. I learned that people here call Sprite lemonade, what??? I made a ton of rum and cokes, and the most popular beer by far was Steinlager. Too bad they don't do tipping.

We hope you're doing well and enjoying the end of summer. Until next time.....

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