zondag 26 oktober 2014

August in New Zealand

Dear readers...my sincerest apologies that it took me so long to write a new update. I know there are quite some people back home who are really interested in how we're doing here in New Zealand and curious to know what's going on (which I find heartwarming by the way! Thank you all for emails, cards, messages, etc!).

Actually, quite a lot has been going on. Good things, and also some less fortunate things...which often left me in a kind of 'I don't feel like writing a blogpost at all-mood". It would be easy to filter out all the bad stuff now and create a happy-clappy 'look how we're living the dream' post, but I hate it when other people do that, it's something that happens way too much in social media these days anyway. So I'm not gonna jump on that wagon. Instead: here's - finally - an update that includes the good and bad!  (Not thát much bad stuff though...let's not over-dramatize things ;) After all, it still feels like we áre living the dream here, it's just filled with ups and downs like every other life. With the downs making us appreciate the ups even more!)

Ps 1: Here's the (automatically translated) Dutch version again: Nederlandse versie. 
Ps 2: I think I will divide this update over 2 or 3 posts..otherwise it would become WAY too long and boring ;) This one will cover August, which was a good month of slowly settling in and finding our ways here in New Zealand. The bits of bad luck will come later.
Ps3: The previous diary-blogpost ended at 3/8/2014...this one will pick up at 9/8/2014, which leaves the period in between (our backcountry course) still un-described. I promise I will try to cover the course in a separate blogpost soon.

It was a so-called 'Bluebird' day today: a total blue sky and a brightly shining sun, while the night before had brought about 30-40 cm's of fresh snow. So this turned out to be our very first independent day of backcountry skiing! All by ourselves, without a guide, we spent a splendid day in the Soho basin (one of the back bowls of the Cardrona skifield) and got some very nice virgin runs. Oh, the powder!
The aqua circle shows the part of the Soho Basis we did...first skinning up 
along the ski field boundary (left of it), then further on to the summit of 
Mt Cardrona, and then down towards the side branches of Soho Creek.

Switching from 'skinning-mode' to 'snowboarding-
mode...I'm slowly getting faster at it :P

Fresh virgin tracks...we weren't the only ones enjoying the Bluebird day 
outside of the crowded ski field though.

Mark showing how it's done :P

Since today I know how to put on snow chains, while we also found out that we need to have jumping leads in the van (don't ask...). 
On the way back home I exchanged a bar of chocolate for a bag of yarn (all arranged on the Facebook 'trading post' of the Wanaka area). Location: a relocated house in Hawea Flat. I don't think I've ever seen a relocated house before, and it surely looked very weird (like it was literally lifted of the ground somewhere, and then smashed down again somewhere else). But hey...you gotta do something if you really love your house but have to move...I guess...?!

After the Bluebird-day yesterday we took a good rest from all the skiing, snowboarding and skinning up (man, that's tough...it still leaves me completely exhausted!). I cut Mark's hair (it took me 1,5 hour, but I think it turned out pretty neat :P) and we watched a documentary again; Blackfish this time...there's really no better way to spend a lazy morning than with an interesting documentary and some coffee in bed.

Mark has been working on the van again; he's trying to make some kind of coffee-cup holder between the front seats to limit the constant forming of coffee-rivers inside. 

This is the kitchen so far, with a countertop that folds out.

Mark's also been working on the bed-frame...we scored a free mattress that 
has the perfect width for it! (Yup, on that Facebook Trading Post again.)

We've also been climbing at Basecamp (the indoor climbing hall) again, but those belay-devices being connected to the floor are really driving me nuts. It means the belayer can't really walk around while you are climbing...so when you fall, you practically fall against the tight rope, which caused a nasty rope burn on my shoulder today. OUCH! I guess we have to stick with lead climbing from now on. There's a nice traverse through the roof in Basecamp, which is a fun challenge for both of us. Cool fact is that, when you're hanging upside down on the roof, you can look right into the upstairs restaurant that shares the same building, only separated by big glass windows.

We've become the proud owners of 2 proper mountain bikes (another 'score' on the online Trading Post), so we can start exploring all the tracks in the area. And... DRUM ROLL... Mark found a job! How exciting is that?! He can start working as a builder/hammerhand, helping with the building of a big villa in quite a chic neighborhood of Wanaka (on a hill, views on the lake). He will be part of the whole process (from foundation to roof and everything in between), because here in New Zealand many people who build a house do it all by themselves. It was basically the first job advertisement (found in the local newspaper) Mark responded to. An hour later he could come by for a chat, and 10 minutes after that he was hired. So far for job-hunting, wow!

I completely forgot to write about it yesterday, but we've been mountainbiking around Timaru River. No living soul in the area, but só beautiful... The track we wanted to ride ran right through a fast flowing river (the water levels are high at the moment), so that didn't turn out to be a good idea. We turned around instead and cycled towards the shore, where the river pours into Lake Hawea. We enjoyed ourselves wandering around, taking pictures and gazing over the beautiful scenery. Mark had the best time building bridges and dams and carrying big sticks around (really, if we had brought a shovel, we'd still be there...).

The river we were supposed to cross...not such a good idea :P

Where the river pours into Lake Hawea...

Mark carrying around big sticks, just because he can. 

My mountainbike parked against one of the many gumtrees. 

Back to the van again! We saw literally nobody during the 2 hours we 
spent there. 

Mark has been working yesterday and today, for the first times. It's going very well; he has some nice colleagues and enjoys the work. In the meantime I'm spending my time on crafting, householding chores and preparing the craft classes for the craft store. Besides that, I've been in a real shearing shed today! (See previous blogpost). That was super interesting!

Today we've been mountainbiking again. I think this must've been the prettiest track I ever did in my live, for real. We went to Glendhu Bay, an area at the south-west coast of Lake Wanaka. The track followed the coastline, it felt like cycling through paradise.  Deserted little beaches and coves, a new stunning view around every corner and over every hill...it was breathtaking (as are the current muscle aches :P ).

Just a small breeze and full sun, perfect weather 
for a mountainbiking trip. 

Mark taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Couldn't resist some rock-hopping in the water :)

Lots of driftwood...

Skull (probably from a cow or similar animal).

We went backcountry skiing at Treble Cone today. It wasn't particularly a Bluebird day (although the sun was shining brightly!), it's been a while since fresh snow fell...but we still had some nice runs. Mark made the most spectacular fall/handstand move ever by the way, I wish I had it on video.

Snowboarding with poles looks quite weird, I must admit. I'm just
too lazy to put them on my backpack for every short run ;)

This was our lunch spot for today. Good piece of rock to sit on, so our butts 
stayed dry.

Unfortunately, we seem to have come to New Zealand in what appears to be the worst skiing season since years (while it's probably the hottest, least wet summer in the Netherlands since forever...sigh). We were lucky with that fresh powder last week, but overall relatively little snow has fallen (compared to other years) and the cheaper backcountry possibilities are quite limited, due to the high snow levels. This means that you can't make very long runs or trips, because at some point the snow just disappears, while with lower snow levels you can ski further down into the valleys. (You can actually see the high snow level in the picture above: right behind me in the distance!)
Lots of short and long backcountry trips are impossible this year due to the lack of snow. It's still possible to do some decent backcountry skiing in higher (glacier) terrain, but you kinda need a helicopter to fly you in and out for that kind of touring, something we don't really have the funds for.  I guess you can't have it all, maybe we will have more luck next year and can get some skiing done early season before we have to leave New Zealand!

Whoops...we used up 80 GB internet in 8 days time (80 gigabytes is the amount per month we signed up for :P ). I guess we have to upgrade to unlimited, whaha!  Mark has mainly been working these days, he really likes his new job...something I'm very thankful for! Since today he's carpooling to work together with John (the main 'builder'), who lives a couple of streets away from us. Which means that Carrie and I can go out together, whoot whoot! We get along better every day. She makes a hell of a noise and is totally different to drive than the 'smooth' cars I've been used to, but at least I don't really get carsick, and it really feels like you're driving an actual car with a real engine (instead of steering around some kind of half-spaceship-ish vehicle). 
This afternoon Carrie and I went grocery shopping, I also found the most awesome vintage suitcase at Salvation Army to showcase my yarns in. After shopping, I dared to do some running (that's been a while!) along the shore of Lake Wanaka. I really have to get used to all the hills here (that's só different from running in the Netherlands), but still I did 5 km in quite a nice time. Let's see if the skinning will go better if I build up some endurance again...

The awesome suitcase I found at Salvies...show-
casing everything I made here so far: 5 hand dyed 
skeins of sock yarn, 2 hand spun art yarns, a crocheted 
ball garland and a little crocheted doggie :)

I had a job interview today. Man, I was nervous...but the work in the craft store alone won't get us much money (and living here is expensive, believe me), so I applied for a job as a massage therapist at one of the day spa's in town (it's part of the Oakridge Resort). I think I'm hired! It all went pretty fast, and the job is on-call (yeah, perfect for a structure-freak like me...ahum), but we'll see how it goes. And how long I can survive between the aromatic candles and pan flute music (oh my goodness). 

My new workplace: the Sanctuary Day Spa (só neat and chic...not 
exactly me, haha!).

It would've been great if I could have worked as a physiotherapist in New Zealand...work experience in an overseas environment with different working methods is always interesting and valuable! Unfortunately, like some of you know, the application process to get a valid New Zealand license (that allows you to practice as a physio here) turned out to be extremely difficult and expensive. It would've costed me several months and a lot of money to get all the paperwork collected, officially translated and legally signed (and I'm not even talking about the complementary assignments I had to complete, and the application fee that's non-refundable whether you pass or not..my goodness!). I was super motivated to get that license, but after finding out how difficult it would be, I decided it would not be worth the costs and time (after all: we only have a working-holiday visa for 1 year!). I have no idea why they make it so difficult though, I thought physiotherapy was on the shortlist here!

However, I'm still glad I found some work that's at least a little bit related to my original work field. I guess I'm not the only one in this situation; one of the other girls working at the spa is a Spanish physiotherapist, who gave up on the application process just like I did, for the same reasons... And just like me (only a couple of months earlier), she ended up at the same nerve wrecking job interview, haha! We had to do a kind of test-massage on the boss of the Spa. The qualified beauty therapists working there can do an easy relaxation massage, but not really the firmer ones, with more specific work on muscles and knots. That's why she (the boss) hires girls like us.
I had really no idea what kind of massage she'd be expecting during the job interview, so I decided to just do what I always have been doing as a physio, letting my hands feel her muscles, working on whatever tension I came across. You can't imagine how relieved I was when she finally told me I'd done enough, and that she thought it was very good. Oh, my nerves!

Of course I also got my period this day. Sorry if that's too much information for you..(hey, we're all humans, right? You're either a man or a woman, so you either know what Mark's going through at these days, or you know what Í'm going through ;)). It's just that being in a different environment, undertaking so many new things, applying for a new job, having to be flexible for it because it's on-call, being together with your boyfriend 24/7 and having to deal with all new things together...it's a challenge. And while I suffered from PMS back home quite a bit, it's way worse here. And while I thought I had my high sensitive personality traits under control quite well in the Netherlands...they're suddenly all over the place again here in New Zealand. My emotions go from one extreme to another, while Mark's dealing with all the new stuff in his own ways...not necessarily always compatible with my ways. It's hard work. It really is...finding a good balance in this chaos of feelings, hormones and challenges. Ideally a balance that works for both of us! But, I think it also draws us together. I love that boy so much, I have faith we can make this work and think we form a good team. (You can all sigh ''aaahw..'' now, and I'll stop the cheesy talk ;))

Today I haven't been called to work yet, so it enjoyed a quiet day while I still can. I dyed some sock yarns to sell in the craft store in Wanaka. I'm so happy my dyeing powders arrived safely in the mail (thank you mom)! Dyeing makes me ridiculously euphoric (ask Mark), I just love to play with colors and come up with new and interesting color schemes. 
Mark was done early today with work, so we also chilled out a bit together. There's one small problem though: we're out of firewood (that's quite a big problem actually). 

Mark looking out over Lake Hawea. (He and his new beanie have become

We've learned some new lessons: firewood will not be delivered the same day, or the next. Our housemate promised to bring new firewood from his work, but that never happened neither (we should probably start trusting people less easily...). So Mark went collecting driftwood at the side of the river, and is working his ass off to cut that into smaller pieces so it will fit in the wood burner. It keeps him quite busy.
This afternoon we went grocery shopping (don't we sound like a nice middle-class couple?), we're getting better at it every time. I just loose Mark about 1-2 times now (which is a huge improvement). When this happens we're both talking to the air: I because I think Mark is still standing behind me, Mark because he thinks I followed him. Mark hates grocery shopping, you won't believe the pace in which he races through the super market, I just can't keep up with him. I'm still checking out sales and meal-ideas when he's already checking out!
At the end of the afternoon we went climbing at Basecamp. We ordered our own climbing rope online, we're anxiously waiting for it to arrive...so we can go climb outside! Tonight we ate pizza (I'll never grow tired of pizza) and watched Calvary. It was a good friday :)

Today I worked for the very first time at the spa! I think it went quite alright. I had to do one 60 minute massage and one 30 minute massage. In the time in between Mark and I drank coffee at the other side of the road from the spa, at a lovely little place called 'Florence's' (organic food & coffee). The sun was shining brightly, so we could sit outside...it was so nice! I think spring is already in the air.

An 'Americano' and a 'Long black' (both just regular black coffee :P )

After work we went mountainbiking at Sticky Forest, close to Mark's work. It's a little forest where lots of mountainbike tracks have been 'built', some of which (or actually most of them) FAR above our skill levels. Really, 'Carrot Cake' might sound like a nice little scenic route, but it was so steep and curvy that we had to walk half of the time. It was pretty cool though. Oh, and Mark arranged firewood in town..it should be delivered soon!

Up the hill @ Sticky Forest. 

Taken on our way back from Sticky Forest. See that green 'fence-thingy' in 
the distance, on the right? That's where Mark's working!

Lazy Sunday :) We slept in, watched Breaking Bad and I dyed some more wool. Mark is busy finishing the kitchen in the van, it's turning out so nice! I'm really amazed by his skills. The weather is stunning, you can almost sit in the garden (yep, spring's definitely in the air). At the beach at Lake Hawea (about 1km from our house) we practiced avalanche beacon search (2:10 is the current record!) and I went to the Lighthouse Church for the second time since we're here, which is a real cool and friendly community. Well rested and recharged for a new week!

For those who are interested how to do a beacon-search practice: put one of your beacons on 'send' and put it in a little plastic container. While one person (the searcher) closes his eyes, the other person buries the container somewhere on the beach (quite far away, preferably...an avalanche can be huge!). The searcher can open his eyes then, and the burier tells in which direction the 'avalanche' took place and where the 'victim' was last seen. Time starts running, and the searcher can practice the zigzag search and the more detailed slow search to find the victim (plastic container). It really helps to get more familiar with how the beacon works, and how to use it properly. The beach here is covered in gravel, I have no idea if a sandy beach would also work...best way is of course to practice this in actual snow!

The road from our house towards Lake Hawea, with the
meadow full of alpaca's alongside it (they are só cool...).

We've both really become busy with our jobs now (who's saying we're having holidays here?!). It's nice to earn some extra money now we've got the chance, so we will have some savings for when we want to start traveling around in summer. 
Our firewood got delivered while I was at home today, I was so surprised when the guy suddenly started talking Dutch to me! Wanaka is really filled up with emigrants from all over the world.
Mark managed to come back home from work with a blue eye today. At first he would absolutely not tell me how that happened (of course I was imagining some kind of horrible fight by then). After I promised I would not laugh, he finally told...he stepped on a rack, very classical. Of course I broke my promise :P

Yup...that's literally what happened. 

Mark had a day off today (and yes, his eye has the most beautiful shades of blue and purple), so after we slept in we went climbing at Hospital Flat with our brand new climbing rope. There are quite some good climbing routes around Wanaka within a 1-hour driving distance (more than 700, to be more precise), Hospital Flat is one of the sub-areas that's very well climbable in winter. It has full sun whole day, so it would be way too hot to climb there in summer actually! 
It was SO good...I really like the rock type ('schist'), the routes were nice and well protected/bolted, the view and scenery were as always breathtaking, and it was so hot that you could climb in a top (while in the background you could see Treble Cone still full of skiing activity...). I really hope we can spend many more climbing hours here!

Check our nice (and still very clean) new blue climbing rope!

Tonight we stopped by at John's (Mark's colleague and carpooler) place, to borrow an axe. John and his wife Amy are very friendly people. We've been invited to come by for dinner one day, to meet their 2 kids (which could possibly result in some babysitting hours for me).

Work, work and more work...I'm really exhausted. Thursday I had four 60 minute massages, friday I had four of them again, today luckily 'just' one 90 minute massage. I learned four new treatments (hot stone massage, Body Blitz (massage + facial), Muscle Relief (massage + foot mask) and pregnancy massage), I'm really trying my best to remember every little detail. And my hands! I never knew you could have so much muscle aching in your hands! Of course I've done hundreds of massages as a physiotherapist back home, but every treatment was just 30 minutes, and most times the massage was only a small part of it (15 minutes max, combined with 15 minutes of exercises or advice), sometimes even not at all! So doing a 60 or 90 minute firm pressure massage is really quite something different. I hope I'll get used to it, I probably will. Right? Please tell me I will!

A little map of our area.
Red: Treble Cone skifield. Green: Hospital Flat climbing area. Yellow:
Glendhu Bay (mountainbike track). Orange: my work (day spa). Dark
brown: Mark's work. Purple: our house. Pink: Timaru river. Blue: towards
Cardrona ski field. 

John wasn't working this week, so I had to bring Mark to work every day early in the morning as well, and then pick him up again around 5 (often the time when people book massages..so it was a bit hectic sometimes). I think I kinda behaved like a speed devil, racing through Wanaka with Carrie (it's a good thing she can't really go faster than 110km/h anyway). 

The only good thing about being up so early is that you get to see 
misty sunrises...

Mark screwed the broom at his work to his finger somehow. He had to use the drill backwards to get it off again. Really, I have no idea if it's him, or that new workplace, or something else...but I'm already wondering what will happen tomorrow.

I massaged 4 possum hunters, the youngest of them just 17 years old. He kept talking during the massage ("I'm pretty talkative"...oh, really?) and asking weird questions ("Are the Netherlands friends with Sweden?"...eehm, I have no idea?!). At the end he asked: "Do most clients talk during their massage?" Eh, well...we're actually not really allowed to talk with our clients, because they should be relaxing. Lol :P He was really cute though! The poor boy, so nervous for his first massage ever. "Do more men book massages?". "Oh yeah, definitely! I think it's about 50/50 men/women. Some even book things like facials!" He: "NO! That's just WRONG!" Whahaha!

Weekend! We both had the day off, which we celebrated by going climbing again at Hospital Flat. Hayden (Mark's American work mate, of our age) went along, the 3 of us we visited the part called 'Sunnyside' today. Some very nice routes there! Hayden is from Utah and also does some trad climbing there. So, on our next holiday/climbing trip we already have a guide to show us Indian Creek and such :)

At the rare moments without wind, the lake is like a mirror...

That's it for August, I promise I'll try to be back soon with more! Big 'kiwi' hugs for all of you :)

4 opmerkingen:

  1. WOW and WOW! Great blog you guys. I am sincerely jealous of your adventures :-). And the pictures are truely awesome. Have a great time and enjoy spring!

    1. Thanks Berna! Glad you enjoyed reading it...must bring back good memories for you ;) The blogpost about September is in progress!

  2. Another lovely blog post, I missed this one until now because I was in the UK when you wrote it. NZ looks absolutely beautiful, the scenery is amazing. I had a friend who did a year round the world trip and of all the places she visited, and she visited quite a lot, she said that NZ was the most beautiful place....and I have to say your photos are certainly showing me just that!
    It's great that you've both got work.....but wow a 90 minute massage, that is a long one....I wouldn't mind being on the receiving end of it but I can imagine how achey your hands must be after that!
    Keep the posts coming, please! I'm finding this all very interesting and it's nice that I can enjoy it from the comfort of my sofa, surrounded by my 5 little doggies who're keeping me wam!!!
    Big hugs from Sharon in Spain xx

    1. Thanks you Sharon, always so pleased to hear from you! So you were back in the country where we met (good memories!), hope you spent a lovely time there?
      I can imagine your friend saying that about NZ, sometimes I feel like visiting this place will spoil all other future trips, haha! It's insane that one relatively small country can hold so many beautiful (and different) spots.
      Work is finished now, we' re currently living in our campervan and traveling around. I'm so behind with my blogposts, September is just in progress, and it's already January! They take quite some work for a perfectionist like me, but I'm glad to hear you're enjoying reading them so much. Motivates me to keep them coming ;)
      Give all your doggies a big hug from me (I'm missing my cats...and pets in general, pretty much impossible in a van!), lots of love and sunshine from NZ!


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