We went to NZ to see family, friends, ski and look at the Bannockburn section. Paula only had 9 days before returning to work and Andrew managed 15 days.
Flying into Queenstown from Sydney we had 30 minutes circling (holding pattern) the Mount Aspiring National Park, perfect reflections from the lakes on a clear blue-sky day before landing at Queenstown.
It is always a question as to whether one has the right winter clothes when departing from Asia and heading to the NZ winter. We did OK.
In the South Island we did enjoy our family visits and hospitality. Mackersy’s in Arrowtown, Rae’s in Invercargill, and Jackson’s in Dunedin. Peter and I did go and visit our parents bridesmaid Marjory who told us we had made her day. The driving on the quiet roads in Central Otago, Southland – Catlins and seeing the rural flax bushes, small towns and coast was a treat.
We had 4 nights with the Shepherds based at Pisa Mooring 10 minutes out from Cromwell. This enabled evening meals with Phillipa, Yannick and the boys, some skiing at Cardrona, sightseeing at the Snow Farm, revisit to the Cardrona Hotel (Andrew and Peter first visited it 50 years ago) and around Hawea Flat and Tarras. Paula passed on the skiing and visited some family and friends in Cromwell and Alexandra.
We went to the Bannockburn section and pegged out the concept plan. We concluded that swapping the front left and right part of the plan would be better to enable better use of the section. Given the building work going on nearby we determined that a fence would be sensible to deter the section being used as a parking lot. With “Farmer Pete” being about to direct operations (purchasing waratahs, rope and a big hammer) and executing the fencing a job was well done.
We flew to Wellington collected the old Camry from Chloe and headed up to coast for a chat with the Macaskill’s. Impressed with the home brew tasting. We had a fun evening with Harkness team at Waikanae and enjoyed the sea view to Kapiti and the memorable flowering native, which looked very much like a very big stalk of aspargus.
Saturday am it was back to Wellington, no change at Rankin St (being nosey), visit to the Wales and a catchup with Chloe, Aidan, Georgia and Bella. They were a busy and happy team. A night at the airport hotel as Paula hit the airport track at 4.30am for Laos and I did the 8 am flight to Christchurch.
Great to see Chazzy, Simon, Izzie and Livy at the airport and then we went to the Botanical Garden for coffee and a walk. A lovely sunny winter day and we walked into the centre of town to see what progress had been made with the re build. There are still many bare pieces of land and it doesn’t have the critical mass to make the centre hum as it use to do.
The Witheford’s garden is spacious and sunny so plenty of room to play and invite the neighbouring kids. Monday morning was the walk to school with Simon and the girls as Chazz was teaching pilates. A visit to City Art gallery and some more city centre walking was interesting. An enjoyable trip to Christchurch.
Back to Wellington on Tuesday to stay with the KS team. They do have a lovely warm sunny home and there is some good walking around the hills in Miramar and lovely views. Had a great lunch with the Burns at the old favourite “Olive Café” in Cuba St. Had coffee with Miranda and picked up some of the local gossip. I could tell her about brother Stewart in Vientiane.
Wellington is blessed with Moore Wilson’s and the bag was topped up with wine, food, chocolate and Paula’s specified items. It was a packing challenge, but all went well with the Friday 4.30am departure and safe travel back to Laos.