vrijdag 15 augustus 2014

Our first weeks in New Zealand

So...it's been a little while since I posted the first post on our arrival in New Zealand. Lots has happened in the meantime; we've been trying to find our ways here, get rid of the jetlags and slowly but steadily discover all great things New Zealand has to offer. Now we finally have real, working wifi at hand (bloody Vodafone...I'm not done with you yet!), it's time for a new update. Luckily I continued to keep track with little journal entries everyday, which turns out to be very helpful if you try to remember all that you've been doing (I'm getting old, you know?). I'll translate the entries in English again for this post, with some random ramblings in between.

Here's the Dutch (automatically translated) version of this post: Nederlandse versie.

Me and a Moa, in Queenstown :)

We went car hunting today: we had a look at 3 vans and also took some test rides, but honestly they're just a bit too small for our taste. We have to be able to live in it for at least a couple of months, preferably without getting claustrophobic or attacking each other ;) 
Oh, I also spotted a little handspun yarn shop in town! Unfortunately it's closed today...I really have to take a look again tomorrow.

The little handspun yarn shop in Queenstown

PROUD OWNERS OF A NISSAN CARAVAN! Yup, we found a van. And a big one too, filled to the max with camping gear, a bed and all kinds of extra stuff...for a very fine price. Lucky bastards we are! We decided to call her: Carrie. (Caravan - Carrie, get it?)

Actually, the van was loaded with SO much stuff we're still discovering new things. The former owner traveled in it for about half a year together with his girlfriend, who was 'quite the princess' (his words). So...they had a portable toilet, a foldable shower tent, solar panels (so she could charge her hair dryer and curling iron), etc. I wonder why they decided to live in a van anyway, but hey: you won't hear me complain!

We had to scrape together the funds for the van from all our creditcards and bank accounts (stupid cash withdrawal limits!) and bargain a little, but we made it. While doing money business anyway, we also opened New Zealand bank accounts and received our payment cards. Let the money roll in! (Feel the need to sponsor us? Anyone? :P lol)
Mark's already completely accustomed again to driving on the wrong(?) side of the road. I think I'll wait a bit longer, until we've got a decent car insurance.
I also visited that little handspun yarn shop in town again, this time it was open. I had a chat with the owner and visited another wool shop as well. We saw lots of possum/merino wool mixtures, which are incredibly soft, ánd incredibly expensive. You pay around 50 bucks for a ball of yarn, and over 200 for a knitted cardigan or sweater! I really have to score a possum fleece somewhere so I can try spinning it myself.

(Possums are a plague in New Zealand, check it out here.)

Bungi Hostel, our place in Queenstown

Sigh...I think I truly found out how annoying jetlags are. Yesterday I was deep asleep at 9 pm already, while my sweet boyfriend was eating away our bag of potato chips all alone (believe me, that says it all)! 
Mark bought new snow chains this morning, while in the afternoon we went playing disc-golf in the Queenstown Gardens (a kind of competitive frisbee-ing, with serious holes and pars and all that stuff, as already mentioned in my previous post). The person who invented this activity must have been a genius. Also for establishing the course in the middle of a forest. Really, it's not difficult at all to throw your disc in between all those trees and make it land right into the 60 meter far away hole. Not at all.

Like a pro...let's not talk about how he beat me.

Seconds before my typical throw: releasing the disc too early (or too late), so it
will fly in a completely wrong direction. But that takes skill as well!

Tonight we went climbing in an indoor climbing hall (read: little climbing corner in a gym). It was nice to be physically active again...though they used a weird system with the belay devices permanently attached to the ground. I hope they won't have that same system in the Wanaka rock climbing centre, it's quite annoying not being able to walk around while belaying. 

Today we drove towards our next destination (bye Queenstown, bye hostel, bye too-little-fridge-space, bye never-clean-kitchen-cutlery! Oh, and bye sweet little hostel cat...you were cute :)). 

The hostel cat...feeling véry at home :)

The road between Queenstown and Wanaka (Crown Range Road) is a stunning pass with breathtaking viewpoints. Carrie has proven quite trustworthy so far, even uphill she goes steady and without complaints. Good girl! 

Stunning views become even better with a hot cuppa :)

Wanaka is a cozy town, a bit smaller than Queenstown but at least just as beautiful. About a 20 minute drive further north lies Lake Hawea, a small settlement at the side of another giant lake, and our home for the next couple of months. Gwen (the landlady) awaited us there, it was nice to finally meet her after having had a lot of digital conversations for the past couple of weeks. She's been so helpful! 

Lake Hawea (about 200 meters from our house). 

The house is - in 1 word - fantastic. We couldn't have gotten anything better (and don't get me started on that industrial Singer sewing machine standing in one of the bedrooms: I smell a new challenge!). 
By the way, I don't believe any person has lived here for the last couple of months..it's almost colder inside than outside. Where are the professional wood burner-lighting moms (yes, my mom has hidden talents!) when you need them? Brrr!

The house, with Carrie in the front. 

I've made some pictures inside the house, so I can give you a little tour. Below you can see the kitchen and the living room, with on the right (lower photo) the stairs going down. They lead to the main entrance, a little washing machine room and a huge garage. The glass doors behind the kitchen lead to the garden (with a biiiig bbq!). The house is built on a hill, that's why the front part actually has 2 floors and the back part is parallel to the garden.

The kitchen (with my personal chef) and
the living room. 

The next pictures shows the living room again, from a slightly different angle. See the wood burner? Cozy huh? It keeps the whole house warm (you have to keep it burning though). The doors next to the burner lead to a big terrace, which we don't really use at the moment since it's way too cold. Mark manages to set things on fire though (shoes and gloves so far), so it's handy to be able to quickly throw them outside.

Living room again, and the wood burner. 
A hallway leads from the kitchen towards the bedrooms (4 in total, 3 double bedrooms and 1 single), a toilet and a bathroom (with a shower ánd a bath, yay!). We managed to find 2 other people to share the house with, they occupy 2 of the double bedrooms. The single bedroom holds the Singer monster machine. The third master bedroom is ours, this one has its own little bathroom. 

Our bedroom. And yes, I did bring my dollies. How could I not?
So...all in all, I think we could say we're pretty lucky to have found this house, and then I didn't even tell you anything yet about the beautiful neighborhood!

Taken from the balcony, a typical early morning view. 

Settling in, trying to find our way around in our new home. Mark has a very nasty cold and I'm still suffering from the jetlag, but we'll manage :) Grocery shopping, walks along the lake, setting up skiing/snowboarding gear, watching Breaking Bad...and tomorrow, if all goes well: to the slopes!

Setting up my new splitboard

For all serie junkies: yup, we started watching Breaking Bad (we went through all available Game of Thrones and Hannibal episodes...so while we're waiting for the new seasons to start, we had to find a new series we could watch together. We're already at the second season and both love it so far!

Snowboarding in July, I still can't wrap my mind around it! Cardrona is a small ski field (4 reasonably large ski lifts, to get there you have to ascend around 500 meters on a twisting unpaved road (who says you need gondola's?)).
Skiing long distances isn't really possible here, that's probably why an above average amount of skiers and boarders have decided to focus on freestyling, for which there are plenty of facilities. It's a fascinating subculture, actually! Mismatched baggy clothes, filming yourself or your buddy with a go-pro (uploading it to youtube or vimeo in the evening of course), hipsters with beards as lift employees ('lifties') and typical slope names as 'Swaggerman', 'Sluice Box' and 'Lil' Bucks Park'. There was even a complete Asian film crew at place to capture all the impossibly sick tricks! You definitely won't be bored while sitting in the chair lift :)
My new snowboard rides super smooth (instant love!), but we could use a little bit of extra snow, if we want to test our new gear in real and fresh New Zealand powder.

Ski field views...so different from Europe! See the lake in the background?
That's Lake Wakatipu, with Queenstown on its side!

Cardrona ski field. 

I'm still very unsuccessful at getting the woodburner started, much to the amusement of Mark. He keeps saying: "It's okay hun, you're a woman after all..." GRRRRR!!!!

The wind's blowing like crazy and it's raining cats and dogs. Looks like we're at home, real Dutch autumn weather! Good news is that up high in the mountains it's probably snowing (which we need). Mark's working on the van, yesterday we bought a leftover piece of carpet and some wood. In the meantime I cleaned the house and did the laundry (yes, you read that correctly mum & mum-in-law!). I'm starting to feel like a real domestic goddess, who would've ever thought that? 

Now many (mostly female :P) friends have asked me about the van and how I will decorate it. It's a funny thing...us girls always trying to make things cozy and cute (who doesn't dream of a lovely vintage van with cute checkered curtains and crocheted pillows?). Mark on the other hand is totally the other way around, just very practically oriented (like most guys, probably). We end up having very eehm...'interesting' discussions sometimes, haha! But honestly, I think we form a good team, having both a different approach but trying to make it work together. At the carpet shop, we said to the employee that the color didn't really matter (of course it does, but I swallowed my words here!), we just wanted a cheap leftover piece of carpet, easy to clean and preferably around the necessary size. We ended up with blue...next, we went to the second-hand shop, where I picked a lovely supersize duvet (checkered in blue, purple and white) to make matching curtains. See? A little bit of both sides, practical and pretty!

By the way, that second-hand shop is really awesome. It's called Wastebusters, and it has literally everything. The shop has a huge outside part (with gear, timber, metal, outside furniture, garden stuff, sports equipment, etc.), and then inside you'll feel like you just entered thrifting heaven. There's a wood burner keeping the place warm, and a cat in a vintage suitcase. Do I need to explain more?

Thrifty cat in his suitcase with a tropical view. Not for sale!

Wastebusters: best second hand shop ever. 

Oh, by the way: good news! My spinning wheel arrived (an Ashford Joy) today! I did a little dance of joy in the living room (really)...it's small, cute and works like a charm! 

I really want to say thanks again to Lynne, who sent me the spinning wheel (which is foldable, how nice for traveling?!) all the way from the North Island, and who made me feel welcome in New Zealand even months before I actually arrived. Another thank-you goes to Adriana (also part of the NZ craft community)...who sent me the book 'The crafty girl's road trip' as a little welcoming present. It was actually the first mail we found in our mailbox at our new address! Heartwarming, really.

In the meantime I'm trying to work my way through the avalanche course books, dreaming at night of slab avalanches, fischmauls, couloirs and corniches...

Studying hard!

More domestic messing around. It's still storming, but that doesn't withhold Mark to continue working on our van. The kitchen is almost ready! 

Our back-entrance kitchen with folding-out table.

Yesterday we went climbing at Basecamp, the indoor climbing hall in Wanaka. Unfortunately they have that same silly belaying system as in Queenstown, but the nice routes make up for it (awesome roof as well!). 
Today we hooked up with Isabelle (NL) and Sabrina (DE), two freestyle ski chicks who are here for the season (mostly for training and competing). It was fun to finally meet Isabelle in real life, after having shared many hours of house hunting via Facebook!
In the mean time I'm doing some more avalanche studying, and made 50 bucks with repairing someone's pants. I've spun some yarn (Lynne sent some merino roving with the spinning wheel, thank you!), we watched Food Inc. this morning (very interesting documentary!) and we tried to get our financial administration right. We're being very frustrated about Vodafone's annoyingly bad service, since we still don't have wifi after 2 weeks, and are also quite fascinated by all the female visitors our housemate bring's home (4 so far, in 1,5 week time). (Sorry Glenn..haha! We both think you're an awesome housemate ;)). 

Yes, you read that correctly. I made 50 bucks repairing someone's pants, can you believe that? Mark spotted this add at the local supermarket, from a guy looking for someone to fix his pants. So Mark said that I should do that (since I got the Singer monster working)...it was an easy peasy job, and the guy was so happy he paid me big money!

The monster machine...a real industrial Singer. It's attached to the table and
has a big noisy engine underneath. 

Now there's some other exciting news, that (for some reason) is not mentioned in my journal entries, but is actually pretty awesome: I found some work! And not just work, it's actually kind of a dream job (I guess lots of creative folks will recognize this): I will do some shop hours in the new craft store  that's opening up in Wanaka, ánd also teach a crochet (amigurumi) art class there. Now how cool is that?! I'm really beyond happy with this chance. I met the founders (2 very nice girls) of the shop over coffee last week. The shop opens at September first, at which time the courses (mine, and some very interesting other ones) will start as well. You should definitely take a look at their website, which is starting to look very good if you ask me...and don't forget to check their first blog. I really like where these girls are going, they want to create a welcoming and supportive place for local and starting artists, which - I think - is a noble and beautiful goal.

Hand spun merino yarn and some crochet balls, preparations for the crochet class.

Tomorrow our course will start, but the weather forecast is pretty bad. It's been storming for a whole week and the avalanche danger is high. I hope it will be okay...our backpacks are filled with clothing layers and power bars, so we're ready anyway (Mark even has the most sexy skinny thermal legging!)

That's it for now, I will write about the course in the next post! So stay tuned ;)

1 opmerking:

  1. Wow!! I can sense the happiness you must be feeling through your story!! And still ..... pretty jealous :-) . Have a great time, good luck on your job Lisette and you on fixing the van, Mark! Can't wait till the next blogstory. Bernadette.


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