Spring has Arrived!

Spring has well and truly arrived in Christchurch now and I seem to be forever stopping to admire a flower or blossom tree.

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The temperature has been 22-23 degrees all weekend and my lovely little veggies are growing really well as a result!

We started this weekend with one of our regular trail runs around the gorgeous Godley Head hills. I tested my new trail running shoes and although they were very comfortable and caused no blisters, my ankles and calves were in agony. Apparently this is normal when you switch from road shoes to trail shoes but I wasn’t expecting it and have spent today hobbling around as a result.

After the run, we headed over into Sumner Bay and ate a wonderful breakfast at Ocean Cafe which is right on the sea front.

I actually meant to take photos of the food (which was amazing) but we were hungry and wolfed it down without thinking! The views out to sea were beautiful but unfortunately a little obscured by railings due to some building work taking place.

After eating breakfast we headed to a local ice cream shop called Utopia Ice which was recently recommended to us. Their ice cream is totally awesome and gluten free options are available which suited me.

Sumner really is an exquisite place and a must-visit for anyone who travels out this way.

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Today we went back to the Airforce Museum to see the Anne Frank exhibition which is on loan from Amsterdam. The exhibition was excellent, and the content managed sensitively.

There was another area of the museum open that had previously been closed off so Adam enjoyed having a look around there too.

This afternoon we headed into the city centre to enjoy the sunshine and explore The Terrace area of Christchurch city which is a fairly new collection of stylish bars and restaurants set to overlook the River Avon.

Today we tried a restaurant called Original Sin and were very pleased with it. The live music was chilled and enjoyable, the waitresses were friendly, the sun was shining and the food good. We sat there for about an hour just watching people and trams pass by; a very nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you a lovely week ahead.

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Lyttelton Farmers’ Market

Spring has finally arrived here in New Zealand! The first day of spring was wonderfully warm and bright so Adam and I headed out for our third trail run together at Godley Head.

The views were as gorgeous as ever and we’ve now signed up to complete the Boulder Bay Classic trail run which takes place around the headland on 28th October. This meant it was finally time for me to invest in a pair of trail runners and I bought this rather fab pair earlier today.

We found out recently that our shipping container is finally on its way and we’re now merrily tracking its progress as it sails steadily onwards to us. It should arrive in Lyttelton Harbour on 16th October so fingers crossed everything makes it over safely! To apologise for the delays in shipping, the freight company very kindly offered us a meal out so we headed to Amaterrace Teppanyaki, a Japanese restaurant based in Christchurch CBD. The food was amazing and all cooked in front of us on a teppanyaki griddle.

We enjoyed the performance and cuisine so much that we’ve booked to go back again soon to celebrate Adam’s birthday.

To help keep myself warm I took advantage of the recent Ballantynes‘ winter sale and purchased a few of the famous New Zealand merino wool jumpers. They’re super warm and a great investment but are all, unfortunately, hand wash, dry flat items. I thought I’d found the perfect sunny spot to dry them recently but the kitty-cat felt they made super beds and scuppered my drying plans – the joys of having cats!

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My other recent purchase is a fairly new product called Nutrient Rescue which is a serving of dehydrated, powdered fruit and vegetables. You mix it up with water to create a ‘shot’ and it provides you with all the nutrients you need for the day and ensures you’re getting your ‘5 a day’ fruit and veggie portions.

We ordered the sample box after hearing positive reviews and felt a very noticeable energy boost just a couple of days later. Instead of heading to bed and collapsing around 8:30 – 9pm, we’re now feeling energised until past 10pm which is unheard of for us. The veggies aren’t tampered with in any way before being dried and powdered so we’ve now signed up to try it out for a month. Hopefully the rather grim tasting green shots will help keep our energy levels high and at least we have the tasty red shots to look forward to every other day!

The weather has been rather hit and miss lately but we’ve still managed to get out and explore a few new spots. Last weekend we went to the Waimakariri Gorge which is where the river (Waimakariri) gets forced through a narrow canyon as it approaches Christchurch.

The water here is crystal clear and blue which unfortunately isn’t properly reflected in these photos. The banks are shingle and rocky. You can scramble along them and enjoy watching the local fishermen and the speed boats racing past.

Our favourite new find though is Lyttelton Famers’ Market which is held in Lyttelton each Saturday.

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Lyttelton is one of the port towns on the Banks Peninsula which is accessed from Christchurch via a tunnel. Although still suffering from the after effects and damage of the earthquakes, the town has a vibrant, friendly feel to it on market day and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

There were many wonderful stalls to explore, most of them offering free samples and all of them eager to chat about their produce. There was live music playing, the smell of coffee wafting through the streets and a great atmosphere to soak up.

We went to the market with a colleague of mine who is teaching me to be a ‘proper kiwi’ by growing my own herbs. My intention today was to buy just one ‘tester’ herb but we all found ourselves purchasing a great many items we hadn’t realised we needed such as cured meats, cheese, amazing gluten-free treats and fresh, locally caught fish. We left with our wallets feeling somewhat lighter but I am now the proud owner of a coriander plant!

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After a quick trip to the garden centre to purchase a vast amount of other items (pots, potting mix, trowel, gloves and dust mask) which are apparently all required to grow things, I am now set to enter the new world of growing my own herbs. Having never attempted to grow anything before I am a little nervous and we’ll have to watch this space…

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Wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful week and wish me luck with the planting!

Birdlings Flat & Ōnawe Peninsula

The last couple of weeks have been really busy and seem to have flown by. Adam got a job with a local detailing company and has been hard at work learning the ropes and putting in the hours. Recently we seem to have spent our weeks working and our weekends recovering and attempting to keep the house clean so there hasn’t been a great deal to blog about.

The morning sunrises have been absolutely amazing though and although this photo doesn’t really do them justice they are definitely worth a mention!

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Last weekend there was a light festival at the Botanic Gardens in the city centre. We headed down there on Friday evening to see the show and were amazed by the crowds. For somewhere that always seems so peaceful, the city was crammed to bursting.

We enjoyed the food stalls and watched some music and dance performances but decided we couldn’t be bothered with the 2 hours queues to see the lights and headed home early. Over 136,000 people visited the event during the weekend and there’s now talk of the lights being displayed year round so maybe we’ll get to see them after all.

I took a lovely day off on Friday and spent time chilling out with my kitties (one of whom is definitely getting fat!) treating myself to a manicure and eating Japanese food.

This weekend we decided to get out exploring again and set our sights on Akaroa which is a little town on the Banks Peninsula, south of Christchurch.

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We headed out this morning but unfortunately didn’t quite make it as there were so many other interesting places to see along the way. We saw a sign for a place called Birdlings Flat which I’d recently read about in the local paper so we detoured off and went to visit.

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The beach at Birdlings is beautiful and has a sort of lonely, romantic, standing-on-the-edge-of-the-world feeling about it. This is probably to be expected considering there’s nothing ahead of you apart from a huge expanse of Pacific, and eventually, Antarctica. The sea here is considered too dangerous for swimming but the area is definitely worth a visit.

As usual, there was plenty of room and very few other people around save a few fishermen and the odd beachcomber. The beach is made of stones and is said to be a good place to hunt for gem stones. In fact, there’s a local fossil and gemstone museum nearby but we didn’t visit today.

After half an hour of poking around amongst the stones and breathing in the fresh, salty air we decided to continue on our way to Akaroa. We headed in on highway 75 but got distracted along the way by the site of the ‘Hilltop Tavern’ which promised wood-fired pizzas. We pulled over and after discovering they made gluten-free pizzas (I’m allergic) we ordered and spent some time soaking in the spectacular views below us.

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The hilltop is definitely worth a visit if you’re travelling this way. The food is hearty and reasonably priced. The views are awesome, the staff friendly and they do indeed have a wood-fired pizza oven.

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After our meal we headed to the car and were distracted by the rather interesting spit of land jutting out to sea. We saw that it was called the Ōnawe Peninsula and decided to investigate.

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We travelled down through Barry’s Bay and then along a gravel road until we reached the start of the Ōnawe Peninsula. The scenery along the way was stunning…

At the start of the peninsula you have the option to walk along the pebble beach to the right (if the tide is out) or to hike up this path:

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We opted to hike up this highly accessible looking path but wouldn’t recommend it as the path along the top is narrow and the recent rain we’ve had made it incredibly slippy today. We had a few hairy moments where we nearly tumbled into the sea and I fell over more than once. Still, the views were good!

After the initially difficult path, the next stage is really easy to access with a short stretch of rocky beach followed by wide open, grassy paths. The rock walls here are an amazing orange colour and there were many different birds and butterflies to admire along the way.

After reaching the final outcrop of stones we headed back and decided to save our Akaroa visit for another day.

 

Castle Hill

It was fairly dismal weather last weekend but we decided to jump in the car and drive out west to see the famous Castle Hill rock formations. It’s roughly an hour’s drive from Christchurch but it took us a little longer as we kept stopping to take in the beautiful scenery.

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Castle Hill is a large collection of huge limestone boulders scattered across the hillsides. It attracts climbers and hikers from all over the world and it’s not hard to see why.

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Even on a cloudy, winter’s day, it’s a stunning place to visit and as soon as our rock shoes arrive we’ll be grabbing a crash mat and heading back out there to enjoy it properly.

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If the scenery looks a little familiar it’s probably because this area was used to film parts of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie.

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This is a really lovely place to visit and I’m looking forward to bouldering there in the warmer months.

In other news, we finally managed to ditch the rental cars and buy a car of our own this week. We’re now the proud owners of this lovely lady who we’ve named ‘Mr Kaplan’ – and if this makes no sense to you then I can thoroughly recommend watching The Blacklist!

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I also noticed this week that there is a new cafe opening in Christchurch – a cat cafe!

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We had one of these in Den Haag and I loved it so I can’t wait to go try this one out soon.

Wherever you are in the world, have a lovely week ahead!

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Trail Running & Sumner Bay

Last weekend started out with more glorious sunny weather so Adam managed to persuade me to try a trail run. As a road runner, I was a little nervous about the thought of running up and down hills but we headed up to the beautiful Godley Head area and ran around the head land. I have to admit that I absolutely loved it and now consider myself a convert!

 

A few nights after the trail run, I joined Port Hills Athletics Club for one of their training sessions  and really enjoyed that as well. In October there’s a local trail run called the Boulder Bay Dash so I think I’ll sign up for that and see how I fare.

We also spent some time exploring Sumner Bay and what a stunning place it is! So close to Christchurch city and yet you feel like you’ve travelled far away to a little holiday town.

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The beach is clean and vast with room for families and surfers alike. You can see the alps in the distance and there are various cafes, eateries and little gardens nearby.

There’s sand and rock pools aplenty and they also have the fabulous Cave Rock which is good fun to explore.

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We only did a passing visit today but will definitely spend a day or two here in the summer months.

Back at home the kitties continue to settle into their new country well. They love being able to go outside but are a little scared of the other local cats and tend to run away to watch them from the safety of indoors. They’re also getting a little too comfortable with sitting on our bar stools and have to be escorted away when it’s take away time!

 

New Zealand Air Force Museum

Last Sunday turned out rainy and cold so we decided to visit the Air Force Museum which is located on the outskirts of Christchurch.

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This museum is completely free of charge which is brilliant considering the high quality range of exhibitions on offer.

As expected, there were lots of aeroplanes to view, many of them having been fully restored and some still going through the process. In addition to this, there were a few cockpits to be sat in and even a flight simulator game to enjoy.

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Away from the larger show areas which housed the aeroplanes, there were a few other museum exhibitions which were fascinating to look at and read about. Many aspects were interactive or contained short video presentations, activities or games.

My favourite exhibition was the one called ‘Captured’ which followed the journey of prisoners of war held in Europe.

 

They also have visiting presentations and I’m looking forward to going back to explore the Anne Frank exhibition when it arrives from Amsterdam later this month.

 

After visiting the Air Force Museum, we went round the corner to Wigram Base, an historic building built in 1938 as an Air Force Base. It is now used as a venue for various events and has a rather nice bar which was perfect for a post-museum drink!

First Trip Outside for Kitties!

We awoke to a rather sunny and inviting looking garden this morning and decided that we would trial letting the kitties outside for the first time.

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Bella and Esme are three years old now and have never really been outside. In The Hague we lived on a busy junction so it was never possible for them to go out, well, unless you count our metre square balcony which they sometimes sat on.

We opened our patio doors this morning and watched them enjoy!

At first hesitant and then very silly and excited – they clearly loved being in their new garden!

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This first trip outside was about 5 minutes (mainly because I’m scared of them running across the road and getting lost!). We plan to take them outside regularly until they are used to it – and used to coming back home!

I was really nervous about putting the cats through the stress of importation but am so glad I did. They are loving their new big house and will definitely love the great outdoors too.