Paraparaumu and Kapiti Island

The North Island Weka, seen on Kapiti Island

Before leaving Cherryl’s house I had an amazing insight into just how tenuous our life on earth can be. I was rushing around in my usual way when I stumbled over some shoes I had left lying around and nearly went head first through an open first floor window. Fortunately I managed to grab the window sill to prevent my head-long flight, but unfortunately the cell phone I was carrying slipped from my grasp and shot out through the window and smashed on the path below. So now David has the NZ sim card in his phone, if anyone is thinking of phoning or messaging, as the sim card is still working. Note to self: perhaps there is something in the relentlessly mocked ‘elf and safety’ after all - must tidy shoes away!

We are now staying with our friend, Leigh, in Paraparaumu. Leigh travelled to Turkey with her husband, John (known to his friends as Cookie), and joined us on our first memorable cruise on the Mediterranean, together with our friends Wayne, Raewyn, Avis and Brian. Sadly, Cookie is no longer with us, but we have had a wonderful welcome from Leigh and her highly intelligent and amusing dog, Jack. On our first evening we went to a Thai restaurant, together with Kerry and Robin, old friends of Leigh's, who both teach at local schools. We ate far too much - as you do - but the meal was delicious!

Yesterday, Leigh arranged for us to go to Kapiti Island, which is one of New Zealand’s most valuable nature reserves and is a sanctuary for birds that are either very rare or absent from the mainland. Only 68 people per day are allowed to visit the island, 50 in the south and 18 in the north of the island where we were, and everyone has to have a permit from the NZ Department of Conservation. Armed with our permit, we travelled by boat across to the island and first had to attend a lecture by one of the conservationists before we were let loose to twitch (I assume that’s what twitchers do). With so few people roaming around 1,965 hectares, David and I were able to enjoy the stillness, interrupted only by the glorious sound of the birdsong. At one point David thought they must have a conductor tucked away somewhere as the different calls seemed so synchronised!


Wellington and Wainuiomata, New Zealand

 On Thursday, we travelled into Wellington on the bus and met an old friend from Istanbul, Cetin, for lunch. Cetin and his wife, Genevieve, left Istanbul nearly four years ago, so we were delighted to be able to catch up with them here in NZ. We made arrangements to visit them in their home that evening for a meal and continued on to the Te Papa Museum. This museum celebrates the geological and natural environment of NZ, together with the history of the people that settled here.It is a fascinating museum with lots of interactive exhibits – and it is free!

That evening, we drove out to Wainuiomata to have dinner with Gen and Cetin where we were joined by Gen’s mother, whom we last saw at Gen and Cetin’s wedding in Canakkale! We had a lovely evening in their delightful home and we hope, one day, to be able to welcome them in return. Although, at present, we have no idea where that might be!

Today (Friday) we took the bus into Wellington again so that we could go up in the cable car and view the city from above (see photo left). We took one-way tickets so that we could walk down through the Botanical Gardens and the historic Bolton Street Cemetery back into the city. This evening David, Cherryl and I are going to the Super 14 rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Reds at the Cake Tin in Wellington!

This is David and Cherryl waiting for the match to start. The Hurricanes won 23 - 18 - most satisfying!

Wellington and Masterton, New Zealand

Our Nephew Brian with David

On Tuesday we flew from Invercargill to Wellington where we picked up our hire car and drove to the home of Stewart and Cherryl, whom we met in Blenheim at the reunion for the teachers of the New Zealand and Australian Forces School in Singapore. Cherryl, a teacher, and Stewart, a New Zealand Air force Officer, met and married in Singapore, so the reunion was particularly memorable for them. The weather in Wellington was lovely and that evening we sat on the patio and enjoyed a barbecue. Unfortunately, Stewart had to fly to Singapore the next morning for a meeting so we said ‘Hi and Bye’.

The next day we drove up to Masterton to visit our nephew, Brian. He is currently living in NZ and working at Rathkeale College where he cares for their 5 cricket pitches whilst studying turf management. He also looks after his club’s pitch in Greystone and manages a local cricket team in Masterton. As you can tell, Brian is very busy!

We had a lovely day with Brian. He made us welcome in his home and also drove us around the college so we could see where he works and admire his handiwork. We later had lunch together in a restaurant in the park before saying our goodbyes and returning to Wellington. We felt very proud to see the fine young man Brian has grown into; he is a real credit to our family!

This one's for Brian's parents, Sheelagh and Brian - your son's house!

Inspecting the Wicket

That evening, Cherryl drove us into Wellington so that we could see the city at night. Wellington is a very pretty city set on the edge of a spectacular harbour surrounded by rolling hills. We parked and walked along the boardwalk on the edge of the harbour surrounded by the twinkling lights of the city – bliss!


Queenstown Concert, New Zealand

Yesterday, we drove to the Millbrook Resort near Queenstown with Avis and her mother, Dot, to go to see Haley Westernra (a world famous NZ singer), Dave Dobbin (a well-known NZ singer) and Fiona Pears (a violinist – somewhat after the fashion of Vanessa-Mae). The setting was al fresco and the weather uncertain at first, but, although quite chilly, the sun shone and we all had a great time. Before the concert, David was taken for a hair-raising ride on Matt’s jet boat; I declined because it was too cold on the water. (Note to self: I must stop being such a wimp!)

From the left: David, Dot, Avis, Joelle and Matt


Hampden and Oamaru, New Zealand

The stunning view along the beach where we walked every day

We spent a wonderful ten days in Hampden, just David and me. I took this opportunity to go on a three day detox, followed by a strict 1500 calories a day diet – and it worked! I have lost some of the excess weight I have gained through far too good dining and imbibing during our travels! We also walked on the beach every day to the Moeraki boulders. It felt wonderful to walk for 2 km there and back on a great expanse of beach and barely see one other person (except for when we reached the boulders which are visited by myriads of tourists every day). For two days there was a hurricane out at sea and the waves crashed over the road at high tide, quite spectacular. We did very little else, except for one foray into Oamaru to add to our depleting stocks of fresh fruit and vegetables (the mainstay of my diet).

Oamaru is a very interesting city and has an authentic Victorian Harbour and Historic Precinct which boasts one of the finest examples of 19th century neo-classical and Victorian Italianate streetscapes in New Zealand. They are all being beautifully restored under the auspices of the Oamaru Historical Society. While we were there, a film crew were filming scenes against the backdrop of these old buildings, a not unusual sight – according to the lady in the antique bookshop. We found it quite fascinating to wander around and in and out of the buildings. There is also a vintage steam train that takes visitors on a round trip to the harbour.

We are now back in Invercargill until Tuesday 22nd February, when we fly to Wellington for the start of our North Island experience. We have loved seeing much that South Island has to offer and hope that we can return in the not-too-distant future to explore the rest. We've had a great time here and we will always be grateful to our friends Avis, Brian, Raewyn and Wayne for having put us up AND having put up with us for so long!.

Learning new things in New Zealand!

On Sunday 3rd February we returned to Hampden (Avis and Brian’s bach) for ten days by the sea. Before we left for Hampden we went to Bluff, the southern-most point of New Zealand’s South Island. (Of course, Stewart Island is even further south, but unfortunately we will not manage to go there this trip.) Strong winds must be a constant feature there as all the trees and bushes were lying down against the rocks, unable to grow upright against the force of the wind.

This is not the furthest south we have been, however, as we visited Ushuaia when we were in Argentina and Suzi famously picked up her SFTEOTW
(stick from the end of the world, which I believe she has stored somewhere still!)

We also enjoyed a splendid dinner with dinner with Val and John, where I managed to knock a whole glass of wine all over Wayne and onto the floor! I was mortified, but everyone else seemed amazingly calm, (they knew something that I didn’t) and I learned a very useful household tip from this.

If you manage to spill RED wine over a beautiful PALE PASTEL carpet, immediately douse the wine stain with plenty of cold water and then blot with towels (as demonstrated in the photograph) – DO NOT RUB! Repeat as necessary and the stain will completely disappear .

As soon as this is done, throw the towels, tablecloth and any damaged clothing into the washing machine and wash on a cold cycle and – hey presto – everything back to normal! Now I knew why no one was too fussed. It really does work!


Life in Invercargill New Zealand

One great thing about staying with friends is that one gets to experience the life they live. We have been very privileged to take part in the day-to-day lives of our friends in New Zealand. We are currently staying with Raewyn and Wayne (we decided that Avis and Brian needed a break!) and David has enjoyed running with Wayne most days. In 2001, Wayne and David ran the Eurasian 15 km race together, over the bridge that spans the Bosphorus, and I know that when Wayne left Turkey, David missed his running buddy.

I was delighted to be invited to Raewyn’s book club, run by our friend Val (she of the great Barbecue in Wanaka – see previous posting). It was a delightful evening, held in a local café that provided coffee and snacks, and I was impressed by the varied interests of the group and by the literary critique given of all the books they had read over the Christmas holiday period; a most enjoyable evening (see photos).

Next week we plan to go to Hampden again to stay in Avis and Brian’s lovely ‘bach’, so we will be incommunicado for a while. I’ll get back to you all as soon as I can. By the way, if you click on the link to the right, under interesting sites, you can see the first photo of our new grandson, Jordan Sean Hendry.

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I couldn't resist this one!