Arts Centre Mākete

The Arts Centre Mākete is an arts, crafts and local produce market which used to run in Christchurch every Sunday but came to an end after the earthquakes. They restarted the tradition last Sunday so we went along to support and see what was happening.

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There was a great range of different craft stalls to look around, some impressive local art pieces and plenty of food on offer from various stalls and stands.

On the whole we were really impressed and have plans to go again to buy some locally made jewellery and art.

The day before this was our local Park Run session which is now becoming a regular event for us. A large group of us from the running club (including Charlie the dog) turned up and both Adam and I got personal bests which we were really pleased with.

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This week has started well and as I found myself located in the east of the city on Monday, I took a trip out to the beach to have lunch which was very peaceful.

Wherever you are in the world, have a lovely 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.

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.

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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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!