Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

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Our New Zealand work permits expire in November. We’re on a plane home August 1st. This doesn’t add up until you add wine. Then it becomes a perfect plan. Remember we worked at a winery during the Southern Hemisphere autumn. We put in long hours at a large winery as truck after truck delivered tons and tons of grapes. No real ah ha moment but a sweet experience for sure.

Sweet enough for us to apply to one wine job at one winery in California. More winery work was not the plan but I was in a restless mood after vintage wrapped up in Gisborne. I saw the job online. I thought, “Oh why not? It is California wine country after all, a smaller winery, that could be nice, see what happens.” A few weeks later we were accepting wine jobs in the Russian River Valley for the North American crush, start date September 1.

We dig the winemaking world. Lets be clear Steve and I are far from calling ourselves winemakers, we’re cellar rats, the seasonally hired hands that are the key to wineries making it through harvest. Someday we may be winemakers. For now it is too soon to tell if this is a new career or simply an adventure not yet finished.


Yes, that is bubbly with fish and chips. Getcha some.

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My Favorite

Of all the pictures I’ve taken over the past nine months, this one is my favorite.

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I know that’s the way you like it, living wild, wild, wild, wild, life. -Talking Heads

Click on the slideshow to view this and other albums on our Picasa site.

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Ahh the things you stumble across on the road.  More highlights of our South Island travels.

Click on the slideshow to view this and other albums on our Picasa site.

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If you don’t get the title, then skip this one unless you want a great opportunity to make endless fun of me. If you do get the title, then go ahead and give into that girlish giggle, pour yourself a stout cup of coffee, and think of a witty comment.

Steve and I have been a little vague about exactly how we are spending our Southern Hemisphere winter. This isn’t intentional. We have so much to share, that important details can get lost. Important details like I’m living out my own Gilmore Girl fantasies casting myself as a nice combo of Lorelai and Sookie. If you aren’t familiar with this epic masterpiece of television dramedy then see first sentence.

So we are innkeepers, sorta. Now this isn’t the Dragonfly Inn. The place we’re minding is Kokopu Estate and it includes includes two rental cottages or in NZ speak holiday homes. One is a 100 year old cottage with full shabby-chic charm. The other is a romantic apartment attached to the main house. Even though it is the off season we regularly have guests at both accommodations. Along with looking after guests, we’re answering calls and emails about the place and confirming reservations for NZ’s upcoming summer season. For GG fans just imagine Emily and Richard’s house with a couple rental cottages and you are close to our setup, maybe a little less posh and and a bit more farm.

Did I mention that Luke, I mean Steve, makes me coffee whenever I ask? Nothing like all day coffee drinks to make you feel like a Gilmore Girl.

So you can’t reenact the Gilmore Girls without an adorable toy town. Surrounded by green hills and set at the water’s edge, Akaroa might be even cuter and quirkier than the fictional Stars Hollow. The local color includes notoriously grumpy laundry ladies, ever changing rules at the library, and the occasional boat being towed down main street.

The strangeness continues as this part of New Zealand was originally settled by the French. This left a proud and highly marketable heritage. Many signs are in French and all the streets are marked “Rue”. One day we saw a man wondering about in a Napoleonic era French army uniform carrying a large French flag over his shoulder. This town’s Taylor perhaps.

We don’t have Lane’s band to groove to, instead there are some local guys who get together and play the ukulele.

Good food, always essential to the Gilmore Gang, is covered with several fine restaurants and a cooking school. Imagine a tiny town with a cooking school and no chain restaurants. It is winter and most nights I’m happy to stay in with Luke err Steve. Even Sookie, Stars Hollow’s gourmet chef would approve of my boeuf bourguignon.

So, for now, that’s us. Before you decide I’ve completely lost my mind,  Steve thinks he’s Higgins from Magnum P.I.

Update 7/20/10 Learned that uniformed French soldier is the official town crier. This place gets more Gilmore everyday.

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Here are the results of a winter’s day spent cleaning out the photo files. Enjoy the sights.

Click on the slideshow to view this and other albums on our Picasa site.

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We headed out of Wanaka through the long river valley.  It was 51 km to the end of the road, our destination Mt Aspiring National Park.  We bounced along the narrow unsealed road, fording streams, dodging sheep and weaving our way along the braided plain of the mighty Matukituk.  Stunning mountains rose out of the broad river valley as we rounded the last bend Mt Aspiring, the second highest mountain in all of New Zealand, rose up to greet us.

Once at the car park we hopped the stile and walked toward an awesome suspension bridge.  We were on pretty good track, kiwi speak for trails, and made good time into the mountains aiming for the terminus of the Rob Roy Glacier.  Building good trails is tough work.  I used to build trails in the little patch of woods behind my house when I was growing up.  Jill and I built trails to climbing areas back home in the Red River Gorge.  Shovel, mc cloud, pry bar and old fashioned sweat labor where the tools of the trade.  But things are different in New Zealand.

A collapsible cone in a national park seemed a bit out of place, we were a few kilometers from the trailhead.  Several switchbacks later we came to the construction zone.  The mountain stream roaring with glacier melt and our labored breathing from the uphill walk masked the noise of the small diesel powered digger.  Mechanized vehicles in the backcountry of a national park?  Strange.  The two man crew were working with a small selection of hand tools, chainsaw and a tracked digger.  They paused as we passed and asked us to watch ourselves on the way back down.  I jokingly asked if they drove that thing in, “Helicopter.” was the response.  Only in New Zealand.

Once out of the construction, we made quick time to Rob Roy.  The chilly late afternoon air was a not so subtle reminder of the alpine environment we were entering. We broke through the bush line to see the glacier hanging high above.  Meltwater cascaded hundreds of meters down shear rock faces.  Kea noisily circled overhead.  Chunks of ice crashed down into the valley echoing off the surrounding peaks.  It was a clamorous environment, one with a natural earthmover at work.

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An alpine parrot, how cool is that?  Very cool.  Bivy in the high backcountry of New Zealand and you won’t worry about pika or marmots.  The critters you defend against down don’t come with paws, instead they’re equipped with wings.  Part curious, part conditioned by human handouts, kea are cunning backcountry adversaries.  So much so people really do call them cheeky kea.  They will ‘attack’ you and your pack in search of food.  Their size makes them quite intimidating and plays to some sort of Hitchcockian fear.  They will pick apart your car at trailheads, frequently nibbling at the rubber seal around your windscreen.  Mostly they will captivate you with their onomatopoeic call, rich green plume and overall cheekiness.  Just hope they don’t catch your pack unattended.

Click on the slideshow to view this and other albums on our Picasa site.

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This is a genuine help wanted ad placed on a NZ work/travel website. Enjoy.

I’m a single mum with 2 girls, 8 and almost 3 years old.
I need someone to help them get ready in the morning for school and kindergarten. (I leave for work at 5.30 am, so i’m not home then)
We live on a big lifestyle block, and have horses, you will be able to ride in your spare time. There is heaps of walking trails nearby, and the beach is a 15 min drive away. We’re a 10 min drive from Dunedin, 5 min from Mosgiel.
now here’s the catch.. we live in a house truck. You will get your own smaller truck, with own toilet and a shower, it has power etc..so it’s not too bad, but you need to have a bit of an adventurous spirit..
I need someone asap, would like a minimum 1 month stay, but if you can start right now i’m happy for even a week or 2.
You need to have a drivers licence, you can use my car to drop the kids off.
Because we are close to town there will be an opportunity to find a paying job in town if you have your own transport.
I can consider taking a couple or 2 friends as the bed in the truck is a double.

I love New Zealand.

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