Halswell Quarry

Halswell Quarry is located on the outskirts of Christchurch and is now a large park area with permanent orienteering courses set up, hiking paths galore and plenty of ponds, and gardens to admire. The working quarry closed in 1990 but its history is quite interesting and you can learn about it from various information boards as you walk around. Near the entrance is one of the historic buildings, the ‘single men’s house’ that you can have a wander around in.

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We decided to have an easy stroll round the quarry on Sunday looping up and around the quarry face then back down through the trees and parkland. The views of Christchurch and beyond are lovely, and the mountain info board at the top helped us identify some of the peaks in the Southern Alps.

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At the bottom we were able to grab a couple of shakes and some brownies from the coffee van which was a really nice end to the walk.

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Wherever you are in the world, have a good week.

Boulder Bay Run

Yesterday we took part in the Boulder Bay Classic 10.5km trail run at Godley Head. Adam and I started trail running in July of this year shortly after arriving in New Zealand. The first trails we ran together were those at Godley Head so it seemed fitting to sign up to the local race there. This race starts at Taylor’s mistake Beach and then winds up and along the coastal paths before looping back around to finish back in the valley. I haven’t run many trails but this has surely got to be one of the most beautiful runs in the world!

The weather was already warming up when we arrived so after the obligatory selfie shot we smeared on the sun cream, tied on our race chips and managed to squeeze in a quick coffee before the warm up.

The race started at 9am and more than 300 of us thundered along the beach and through the gates onto the coastal paths. There are a number of hills along the route with a total elevation of around 250m. I found the race hard work, hot and really enjoyable. I finished with a time of 1 hour 12, coming 41st out of 65 in my category. For my first official run, I was pleased with that. Adam did really well and came 13th in his category with a finish time of 53.58.

After the race, the atmosphere was really great. Everyone congregated on the valley floor and lounged in the sunshine, enjoying the prize giving ceremony. Adam also managed to bag a spot prize of 50 free coffees at a local cafe so that will no doubt come in handy after future runs!

This race was a great morning out and I’m sure we’ll be there again next year trying to improve our times!

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Wherever you are in the world, have a great week.

New Brighton Beach

New Brighton is a coastal suburb located toward the east of Christchurch city. It suffered significant damage during the Christchurch earthquakes and the pier has only recently reopened after being closed for repairs for two years.

A friend took us out for a visit this weekend and it’s definitely worth a trip if you’re in the area. The beach is wide, clean and safe and like most places in New Zealand, there’s more than enough space for everyone. There are views to the alps in one direction and views of the gorgeous Port Hills in the other.

Whilst there, we stopped for lunch at the Salt on The Pier restaurant and then enjoyed an ice cream at a nearby beach shop. The food was fairly average but the views were gorgeous and the restaurant had a good vibe.

All in all, New Brighton Beach is a nice day trip out but I don’t think it quite beats Sumner!

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

It’s all about the running…

The last few weeks seem to have been all about the running. Adam and I took part in a our club’s trail running championships recently which was great fun. We ran up and down a famous local track known as Rapaki Track which had the usual gorgeous views but as it was a race I didn’t have time to stop and take photos! Adam did really well, coming 4th overall and 3rd in his category and I was pleased with my 13th place position and 2nd place in the female category – although I should point out that there were only 3 females taking part!

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Last weekend was the incredible Crater Rim Ultra race which is organised by our club. We volunteered as marshals and spent the day handing out wrist bands to incredible runners as the made their way around the 30km and 52km courses. We had a lovely spot on out on the hills (although chilly!) and the locals looked after us well by coming out with coffee and cookies. Adam is now looking forward to challenging himself with this run next year.

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Yesterday we had our usual club training session in beautiful Hagley Park and I decided to take a few photos of my journey along the way.

As you can see, Hagley Park is really pretty and I’ve only captured the few bits that I see as I jog to the club meeting point. The park is really large (over 160+ hectares) and includes the botanic gardens, various trails to walk or bike, a cafe, huge greenhouses full of tropical plants, ancient trees, ponds, wide open spaces for sports, a golf course, the River Avon and various arty pieces.

Much of the flora is labelled and named making it easy to identify the different species of plants and flowers as you wander around. I feel so lucky to train here every week. It’s a gorgeous place to run around and the birds are amazing!

The park is filled with gorgeous birds and I managed to photograph a kingfisher there in early spring. People all over New Zealand have been voting recently for their favourite bird of the year and the lovely Kererū won:

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I’ve not actually managed to spot one of these hefty birds yet but have been told that there are a breeding pair just outside our offices so I’ll be trying to spot them for the rest of the year.

It’s now bank holiday weekend here so we’re about to enjoy a lovely three days off. Wherever you are in the world, have a great weekend!

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Climbing at Cattlestop Crag

We recently joined the New Zealand Alpine Club and signed up for a local outdoor top-roping course. It’s been over a year since we were last out climbing in Italy so we both felt pretty rusty and were looking forwards to refreshing our knowledge and skills. NZAC chose Cattlestop Crag as their course location and it was the perfect spot. Located just above Heathcote Valley in Christchurch, it has over 100+ climbing routes and is easy to access. There’s parking along the road above the crags and the views, as always, were brilliant.

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The entire city was laid out on display in front of us. In the distance we could see the snow-capped alps and over to the East we had views of New Brighton Beach and the ocean beyond – stunning.

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The ratio of instructors to students was really good at 1:3 and we started our day with a safety talk and a reminder of the basics; tying in safely, belaying and partner checks. As a girl with fairly long locks, keeping it tied up and out the way is important when I climb so I invested in a set of Dutch braids (from Hip Hop Trends) the day before. I’m glad I did – getting scalped as your hair gets caught in the belay device is no joke as one of our group unfortunately discovered. Ouch! Seriously girls – tie it up.

We spent the morning climbing and after lunch we learned the basics of abseiling; tying in safely and using a prusik and biner correctly to descend.

Our instructors were great and happy to adapt the course to cater to people’s specific interests and needs. A few of us were keen to learn how to set up the anchors for an abseiling spot so one of the instructors took us aside to teach this. Others in our group wanted to learn more about specific climbing techniques so another instructor spent time working on that. So, if you’re interested in rock climbing and happen to be in the Canterbury region, I can definitely recommend joining one of the NZAC climbing sessions or courses. We’re really looking forward to our next session where we can brush up on our lead-rope climbing skills!

Wherever you are in the world, have a super week.

Food & Fun

A look through some of my recent foodie photos has prompted me to write this rather random blog. Sunday started really well for me. I dragged myself out of bed after a lovely, long lie-in to discover this:

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My awesome man had been out, grabbed me a Sunday paper and prepped breakfast for me – nice! Later that day, we headed into town and ate an impromptu lunch at The Craft Embassy which is located in the Terrace area of the city. It was Adam’s birthday weekend so we splashed out and ordered some gorgeous sharing platters and puddings!

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The crème brûlée there is to die for and the chocolate desert was pretty amazing too! In other food news, my salad growing is going really well. So much so that I completed my first salad harvest and took it with my lunch on Monday. It was very satisfying to be munching on my home-grown produce and I enjoyed forcing my colleagues to taste it too!

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned the Mitre 10 store in previous blogs but if not I should have. It’s a brilliant store and we seem to spend a small fortune (on items we didn’t realise we needed) every time we visit. The UK equivalent to this store would be something like a B&Q or Wickes I guess. Anyway, a friend told me that one of the city Mega Mitre 10 stores was hosting a ladies’ night event and we decided to go along and see what we could learn. IMG_9049

I wasn’t really sure to expect when we arrived but the evening exceeded my expectations and we had a great time. We got to chat with various members of the emergency services and let’s face it, no matter how old you are, everyone loves to sit in a fire engine!

Inside the store, there were a variety of silly games to take part in, various spot prizes, a local dance group doing performances, free nibbles and drinks, and even some massage tables (my personal highlight of the evening).

We were able to approach various different stands and learn how to use a range of different power tools (and it turns out, I am not a natural in this area). The people hosting this were knowledgable and supportive without being patronising, and I can honestly say that I came away with a ton of new knowledge and had a good giggle along the way. Well done Mitre 10!

Greta Valley

It’s been a beautiful week here in Christchurch and I can see exactly why the city is known as the Garden City. The spring blossoms are everywhere and it takes me forever to walk from one place to another as I can’t help but stop and admire.

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(Photo curtesy of Kiwi Explorer on TrekEarth)

Yesterday was the Greta Valley Relay Marathon. Adam joined as one of our team’s runners and I went along to enjoy the views and support with the driving.

Greta Valley is about an hour’s drive north of Christchurch and the scenery is just amazing. Rolling hills, steep cliff faces, deep gorges and sparkling lakes surrounded the runners throughout their different sections. Part of the run is along the coast so you also get gorgeous glimpses of the ocean along the way too.

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Our team ran their sections really well (a few of them running additional legs just for fun) and finished with a very respectable time of 3 hours and 11 minutes. We then enjoyed drinks and some food at a local bar (which also doubles as the finish line!) afterwards. The atmosphere was really good and we ended the day with plenty of clapping and celebration during the prize giving session.

This relay was a great day out with an excellent atmosphere and is something we’ll definitely be keen to take part in again.

Wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful week ahead.

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