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.

IMG_8741

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.

IMG_9374

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.

IMG_9373

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!

IMG_9311

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!

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.

IMG_9179

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.

IMG_9163

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.

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.

spring_blossom_1

(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.

IMG_9111

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.

IMG_9039

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.

IMG_9037

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.

IMG_8989

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.

IMG_9039

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!

IMG_8891

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.

1519938927265

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!

IMG_8965

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…

IMG_8974

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