New Zealand was calling....
Almost 13 years after Chy-Anne and I lived (and taught) in London, England - we find ourselves closer than ever before to our good Kiwi friends, Nick and Katherine, who live in Christchurch. We reached out to them on Facebook and the rest - as they say - is history.
Turns out we've both been busy. We have 2 boys. They have 3. We headed to the South Island of New Zealand to experience the amazing landscapes, kind people and the company of life-long friends - all over 6 days.
New Zealand rocked!
Our flight arrived in Christchurch just after midnight. Katherine picked us up (so kind!) and brought us back to their house. These lovely surprises were waiting by our bedside. Mmmm...pineapple lumps...and the L & P was a hit as well!
These welcome posters were made by her boys and Liam and Bryce couldn't wait to meet them in the morning.
The two oldest - Joseph and Liam
One of the common grounds - tech time - while we pack for a road trip.
Our plan was to drive to Hanmer Springs and stay in a rental house for 2 nights. It is a terrific little town best-known for its natural hot springs and spa and its amazing outdoor adventure options.
This was the first "lookout" that we stopped at just outside Hanmer Springs.
Views like this reminded us of the Scottish countryside
Our rental house - what a spot!
Mountains in the background
A good sized yard for the boys to run in (they ended up creating a "parkour" track to keep busy)
A rainbow to greet us!
The two youngest - James and Bryce - watching telly in the fort
A drawing competition sprang up - likely to keep the adults sane for a brief time from all the boy energy! It was later judged by a "blind" peer vote:)
Weather the next day was brilliant!
While Katherine, Chy-Anne, Liam, Joseph and Rhys went for a big hike up the mountain; Nick, James, Bryce and I stayed back to feed the ducks and pick up some groceries.
Bryce feeding the ducks
They had a turn on the bikes
Pretending to drive
Hanmer is a lovely place
I hired a mountain bike and hit some incredible trails (really nice single-tracks) in the area. Ended up being about an 18 km ride in just under 2 hours - definitely pushed my own boundaries for fitness and riding! Good on ya, Nick - you got some serious bike skills mate:)
This was the view from our first photo vantage point
Nick was leading the charge
Perfect riding conditions (apart from some soggy areas of track)
After a steep, steady uphill climb - this was our view!
We left Hanmer Springs on Tuesday morning on our way to the West Coast via the Lewis Pass
Here's the overall map of the distance (and days) that we spent in NZ...
Just over 700 km in a few days on the South Island...there's never enough time to pack it all in - but this one felt like a place we would return to someday!