Trials and tribulations in NZ

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July 22nd 2009
Published: July 22nd 2009
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Well, it has been an interesting 10 days since we last blogged with some highs and lows. We've had some excellent days on the snow (see videos/pics on the "Snowboarding" blog) including night skiing, where the main pistes are floodlit and you can ski/board until 9pm, and a lesson each to hone our skills on the slopes. But we have also had a few forced days off after a couple of near disasters with the car and the house (more on that below) and right now the weather has turned bad - there is snow at last but it is combined with some hefty winds that are blowing the powder away and making for a pretty nippy ride up in the chairlifts.

The snowboarding is coming along nicely and Joe has been demonstrating some prowess on the jumps and in his freestyle moves. His instructor said he was pretty much perfect anyway so he just has to keep going for more air. Sarah on the other hand is still concentrating on getting down the slope in style and at speed, but she is getting there with that target so is moving on to a wee bit of jumping herself, although usually to disastrous effect (bum and knee pads coming in very useful)! On the plus side, she's pretty chuffed with the gorgeous, new fuschia pink boarding pants she has acquired.

We faced a couple of issues this week. Firstly, the car went on the blink and kept over-revving whenever we tried to accelerate or go uphill, a particular problem given the rather hilly nature of the local landscape. This did seem to coincide with Sarah hitting a possum on the drive home (don't feel too bad for it, they are considered vermin here) but we don't think that was the cause of the problem (more likely her clutch-heavy rally driving style!!). At one point we thought we might have to splash out a lot of cash on getting the clutch disc replaced but the local car mechanic came to the rescue and has adjusted the clutch (for free!) to the point where it seems like it might just survive the next 6 weeks afterall. We also had a bit of a problem on the home front with a total loss of water on Saturday night. Disaster was again averted when another cheery local (the fireman) came to our aid with a tank full of 10,000 litres of lake water to top up our supplies. It was a bit brown for a bit but is back to normal again now.

Added to this, there was also a disaster of the natural variety in the South Island last week - a 7.8 richter scale earthquake with the epicentre just 100 miles from us. That's the largest quake anywhere in the world this year, and larger than the quakes that killed thousands in the 2004 tsunami and in Iran recently but because the epicentre was in remote fiordland nobody died and the only damage was to a few cans that fell off a shelf in the local corner shop. The quake was felt in our village, with reports of homes literally shaking from side to side, but guess what - we managed to miss all the commotion because we were driving at the time so didn't feel a thing (apart from the possum's poor little head of course).

We've sampled some of the local nightlife too. First up, the mandatory trip to watch Harry Potter on opening night, which we followed up by a lamb burger from a famous burgery (if that's a word) -"Fergburger". It's a Queenstown institution and we can see why - the burgers are massive and very, very good. On Thursday night we dropped into our local for a pub quiz. We were doing alright, in joint first place in fact, until the last round - New Zealand current affairs, funnily enough we bombed out on this round and finished a respectable second. We did, however, clean up in the raffle winning 4 prizes and we also managed to bag some half price tickets for a jet boat ride, which we were planning on doing anyway so are chuffed to have got the tickets so cheap. We went again to our local on the Saturday night to partake of another NZ institution, watching the rugby. The All Blacks were pretty rubbish, but Australia seemed to be even more rubbish so it was a Kiwi victory in the end, and we must say that for a country that is supposed to be obsessed by rugby everyone in the pub seemed far more interested in drinking and chatting than watching any of the action on the telly.

The locals at the pub are all very friendly and have been keen to get to know us, we've even been invited round to a local farm to check out their mutton and venison and have taken afternoon tea (actually afternoon beer and wine) with the couple that organised the quiz.

We're really enjoying living in Kingston, it is nice to get away from the manicness that is Queenstown of an evening. Just hoping the weather improves on the slopes soon.


10th August 2009

The beard is coming on nicely! PS, first friendly yesterday, lost 3-2 last minute!

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