We landed in rain. Torrential rain. Coo-er it was like being in the UK all over again. We saw out the window at Auckland airport that our baggage was getting VERY wet being loaded up onto the Christchurch plane. [By the time we had it and got to Neil's family, I realised one of my pieces - a suitcase - was actually wet on the inside! Good job I am the paranoid sort who packs stuff INSIDE carrierbags even inside suitcases...]
We may have took off in rain, but within minutes we were over clouds and glaciers and the mountains of NZ in clear air. Beautiful. We landed in Christchurch and the sun was up and lovely. Mid-Feb equivalent my ass; good job we know that its on the equivalent latitude to Portugal (makes more sense than comparing it to the UK). We headed straight to Neil's parents and looked out on more perfect sunshine and views of clouds. A lovely walk around Oxford and a gradual come-down from all the flying (including Neil recuperating from ear-popping by getting hiccups: hard to know what was worse!)
Having paddled at Santa Monica just before taking off for NZ, it was compulsory I thought to paddle in the sea at the OTHER side of the Pacific. So it was off to Woodend and a beautiful afternoon there with both of us paddling and Neil's parens beachcombing.
Over the course of the next two weeks, we saw and did so much - in addition to the fabulous time we had in the company of Neil's family (especially niece and nephew).
We enjoyed the architectural and sculptural delights of Christchurch, both temporary and more permanant.
We travelled to Hamner Springs (though we ducked out of the thermal pools), taking more pleasure in fabulous views to bungie jump bridges [sorry, I didn't!], water and forest views, walks, and the fun and games of mini-golf... It was warm enough to be just in t-shirts. This was the most extended experience of summer we had had since April in the UK!!
After all that exercise and hilarity we had one of our first superb meals of the visit: this time at Peppers in Hamner. Wonderful! Just the puddings alone were worth the visit but we also had fabulous mains too. Awakening from Cheltenham House, we headed back to Oxford past views that would not look out of place in LA/Santa Monica...
Of course, over the holiday in NZ we had lots of fun with duelling cameras (take five paces, turn and SHOOT!) But with so much beauty in the landscape, it was hard to not just end up shooting the mountains and land around us, especially when we headed on the TranzCoastal train to Picton. What views! Taking in wine country views and regularly running alongside the coastal road, it was a visually stunning journey - with yet MORE gorgeous weather.