zondag 26 oktober 2014

August in New Zealand

Dear readers...my sincerest apologies that it took me so long to write a new update. I know there are quite some people back home who are really interested in how we're doing here in New Zealand and curious to know what's going on (which I find heartwarming by the way! Thank you all for emails, cards, messages, etc!).

Actually, quite a lot has been going on. Good things, and also some less fortunate things...which often left me in a kind of 'I don't feel like writing a blogpost at all-mood". It would be easy to filter out all the bad stuff now and create a happy-clappy 'look how we're living the dream' post, but I hate it when other people do that, it's something that happens way too much in social media these days anyway. So I'm not gonna jump on that wagon. Instead: here's - finally - an update that includes the good and bad!  (Not thát much bad stuff though...let's not over-dramatize things ;) After all, it still feels like we áre living the dream here, it's just filled with ups and downs like every other life. With the downs making us appreciate the ups even more!)

Ps 1: Here's the (automatically translated) Dutch version again: Nederlandse versie. 
Ps 2: I think I will divide this update over 2 or 3 posts..otherwise it would become WAY too long and boring ;) This one will cover August, which was a good month of slowly settling in and finding our ways here in New Zealand. The bits of bad luck will come later.
Ps3: The previous diary-blogpost ended at 3/8/2014...this one will pick up at 9/8/2014, which leaves the period in between (our backcountry course) still un-described. I promise I will try to cover the course in a separate blogpost soon.

It was a so-called 'Bluebird' day today: a total blue sky and a brightly shining sun, while the night before had brought about 30-40 cm's of fresh snow. So this turned out to be our very first independent day of backcountry skiing! All by ourselves, without a guide, we spent a splendid day in the Soho basin (one of the back bowls of the Cardrona skifield) and got some very nice virgin runs. Oh, the powder!
The aqua circle shows the part of the Soho Basis we did...first skinning up 
along the ski field boundary (left of it), then further on to the summit of 
Mt Cardrona, and then down towards the side branches of Soho Creek.

Switching from 'skinning-mode' to 'snowboarding-
mode...I'm slowly getting faster at it :P

Fresh virgin tracks...we weren't the only ones enjoying the Bluebird day 
outside of the crowded ski field though.

Mark showing how it's done :P

Since today I know how to put on snow chains, while we also found out that we need to have jumping leads in the van (don't ask...). 
On the way back home I exchanged a bar of chocolate for a bag of yarn (all arranged on the Facebook 'trading post' of the Wanaka area). Location: a relocated house in Hawea Flat. I don't think I've ever seen a relocated house before, and it surely looked very weird (like it was literally lifted of the ground somewhere, and then smashed down again somewhere else). But hey...you gotta do something if you really love your house but have to move...I guess...?!

After the Bluebird-day yesterday we took a good rest from all the skiing, snowboarding and skinning up (man, that's tough...it still leaves me completely exhausted!). I cut Mark's hair (it took me 1,5 hour, but I think it turned out pretty neat :P) and we watched a documentary again; Blackfish this time...there's really no better way to spend a lazy morning than with an interesting documentary and some coffee in bed.

Mark has been working on the van again; he's trying to make some kind of coffee-cup holder between the front seats to limit the constant forming of coffee-rivers inside. 

This is the kitchen so far, with a countertop that folds out.

Mark's also been working on the bed-frame...we scored a free mattress that 
has the perfect width for it! (Yup, on that Facebook Trading Post again.)

We've also been climbing at Basecamp (the indoor climbing hall) again, but those belay-devices being connected to the floor are really driving me nuts. It means the belayer can't really walk around while you are climbing...so when you fall, you practically fall against the tight rope, which caused a nasty rope burn on my shoulder today. OUCH! I guess we have to stick with lead climbing from now on. There's a nice traverse through the roof in Basecamp, which is a fun challenge for both of us. Cool fact is that, when you're hanging upside down on the roof, you can look right into the upstairs restaurant that shares the same building, only separated by big glass windows.

We've become the proud owners of 2 proper mountain bikes (another 'score' on the online Trading Post), so we can start exploring all the tracks in the area. And... DRUM ROLL... Mark found a job! How exciting is that?! He can start working as a builder/hammerhand, helping with the building of a big villa in quite a chic neighborhood of Wanaka (on a hill, views on the lake). He will be part of the whole process (from foundation to roof and everything in between), because here in New Zealand many people who build a house do it all by themselves. It was basically the first job advertisement (found in the local newspaper) Mark responded to. An hour later he could come by for a chat, and 10 minutes after that he was hired. So far for job-hunting, wow!

I completely forgot to write about it yesterday, but we've been mountainbiking around Timaru River. No living soul in the area, but só beautiful... The track we wanted to ride ran right through a fast flowing river (the water levels are high at the moment), so that didn't turn out to be a good idea. We turned around instead and cycled towards the shore, where the river pours into Lake Hawea. We enjoyed ourselves wandering around, taking pictures and gazing over the beautiful scenery. Mark had the best time building bridges and dams and carrying big sticks around (really, if we had brought a shovel, we'd still be there...).

The river we were supposed to cross...not such a good idea :P

Where the river pours into Lake Hawea...

Mark carrying around big sticks, just because he can. 

My mountainbike parked against one of the many gumtrees. 

Back to the van again! We saw literally nobody during the 2 hours we 
spent there. 

Mark has been working yesterday and today, for the first times. It's going very well; he has some nice colleagues and enjoys the work. In the meantime I'm spending my time on crafting, householding chores and preparing the craft classes for the craft store. Besides that, I've been in a real shearing shed today! (See previous blogpost). That was super interesting!

Today we've been mountainbiking again. I think this must've been the prettiest track I ever did in my live, for real. We went to Glendhu Bay, an area at the south-west coast of Lake Wanaka. The track followed the coastline, it felt like cycling through paradise.  Deserted little beaches and coves, a new stunning view around every corner and over every hill...it was breathtaking (as are the current muscle aches :P ).

Just a small breeze and full sun, perfect weather 
for a mountainbiking trip. 

Mark taking in the breathtaking scenery.

Couldn't resist some rock-hopping in the water :)

Lots of driftwood...

Skull (probably from a cow or similar animal).

We went backcountry skiing at Treble Cone today. It wasn't particularly a Bluebird day (although the sun was shining brightly!), it's been a while since fresh snow fell...but we still had some nice runs. Mark made the most spectacular fall/handstand move ever by the way, I wish I had it on video.

Snowboarding with poles looks quite weird, I must admit. I'm just
too lazy to put them on my backpack for every short run ;)

This was our lunch spot for today. Good piece of rock to sit on, so our butts 
stayed dry.

Unfortunately, we seem to have come to New Zealand in what appears to be the worst skiing season since years (while it's probably the hottest, least wet summer in the Netherlands since forever...sigh). We were lucky with that fresh powder last week, but overall relatively little snow has fallen (compared to other years) and the cheaper backcountry possibilities are quite limited, due to the high snow levels. This means that you can't make very long runs or trips, because at some point the snow just disappears, while with lower snow levels you can ski further down into the valleys. (You can actually see the high snow level in the picture above: right behind me in the distance!)
Lots of short and long backcountry trips are impossible this year due to the lack of snow. It's still possible to do some decent backcountry skiing in higher (glacier) terrain, but you kinda need a helicopter to fly you in and out for that kind of touring, something we don't really have the funds for.  I guess you can't have it all, maybe we will have more luck next year and can get some skiing done early season before we have to leave New Zealand!

Whoops...we used up 80 GB internet in 8 days time (80 gigabytes is the amount per month we signed up for :P ). I guess we have to upgrade to unlimited, whaha!  Mark has mainly been working these days, he really likes his new job...something I'm very thankful for! Since today he's carpooling to work together with John (the main 'builder'), who lives a couple of streets away from us. Which means that Carrie and I can go out together, whoot whoot! We get along better every day. She makes a hell of a noise and is totally different to drive than the 'smooth' cars I've been used to, but at least I don't really get carsick, and it really feels like you're driving an actual car with a real engine (instead of steering around some kind of half-spaceship-ish vehicle). 
This afternoon Carrie and I went grocery shopping, I also found the most awesome vintage suitcase at Salvation Army to showcase my yarns in. After shopping, I dared to do some running (that's been a while!) along the shore of Lake Wanaka. I really have to get used to all the hills here (that's só different from running in the Netherlands), but still I did 5 km in quite a nice time. Let's see if the skinning will go better if I build up some endurance again...

The awesome suitcase I found at Salvies...show-
casing everything I made here so far: 5 hand dyed 
skeins of sock yarn, 2 hand spun art yarns, a crocheted 
ball garland and a little crocheted doggie :)

I had a job interview today. Man, I was nervous...but the work in the craft store alone won't get us much money (and living here is expensive, believe me), so I applied for a job as a massage therapist at one of the day spa's in town (it's part of the Oakridge Resort). I think I'm hired! It all went pretty fast, and the job is on-call (yeah, perfect for a structure-freak like me...ahum), but we'll see how it goes. And how long I can survive between the aromatic candles and pan flute music (oh my goodness). 

My new workplace: the Sanctuary Day Spa (só neat and chic...not 
exactly me, haha!).

It would've been great if I could have worked as a physiotherapist in New Zealand...work experience in an overseas environment with different working methods is always interesting and valuable! Unfortunately, like some of you know, the application process to get a valid New Zealand license (that allows you to practice as a physio here) turned out to be extremely difficult and expensive. It would've costed me several months and a lot of money to get all the paperwork collected, officially translated and legally signed (and I'm not even talking about the complementary assignments I had to complete, and the application fee that's non-refundable whether you pass or not..my goodness!). I was super motivated to get that license, but after finding out how difficult it would be, I decided it would not be worth the costs and time (after all: we only have a working-holiday visa for 1 year!). I have no idea why they make it so difficult though, I thought physiotherapy was on the shortlist here!

However, I'm still glad I found some work that's at least a little bit related to my original work field. I guess I'm not the only one in this situation; one of the other girls working at the spa is a Spanish physiotherapist, who gave up on the application process just like I did, for the same reasons... And just like me (only a couple of months earlier), she ended up at the same nerve wrecking job interview, haha! We had to do a kind of test-massage on the boss of the Spa. The qualified beauty therapists working there can do an easy relaxation massage, but not really the firmer ones, with more specific work on muscles and knots. That's why she (the boss) hires girls like us.
I had really no idea what kind of massage she'd be expecting during the job interview, so I decided to just do what I always have been doing as a physio, letting my hands feel her muscles, working on whatever tension I came across. You can't imagine how relieved I was when she finally told me I'd done enough, and that she thought it was very good. Oh, my nerves!

Of course I also got my period this day. Sorry if that's too much information for you..(hey, we're all humans, right? You're either a man or a woman, so you either know what Mark's going through at these days, or you know what Í'm going through ;)). It's just that being in a different environment, undertaking so many new things, applying for a new job, having to be flexible for it because it's on-call, being together with your boyfriend 24/7 and having to deal with all new things together...it's a challenge. And while I suffered from PMS back home quite a bit, it's way worse here. And while I thought I had my high sensitive personality traits under control quite well in the Netherlands...they're suddenly all over the place again here in New Zealand. My emotions go from one extreme to another, while Mark's dealing with all the new stuff in his own ways...not necessarily always compatible with my ways. It's hard work. It really is...finding a good balance in this chaos of feelings, hormones and challenges. Ideally a balance that works for both of us! But, I think it also draws us together. I love that boy so much, I have faith we can make this work and think we form a good team. (You can all sigh ''aaahw..'' now, and I'll stop the cheesy talk ;))

Today I haven't been called to work yet, so it enjoyed a quiet day while I still can. I dyed some sock yarns to sell in the craft store in Wanaka. I'm so happy my dyeing powders arrived safely in the mail (thank you mom)! Dyeing makes me ridiculously euphoric (ask Mark), I just love to play with colors and come up with new and interesting color schemes. 
Mark was done early today with work, so we also chilled out a bit together. There's one small problem though: we're out of firewood (that's quite a big problem actually). 

Mark looking out over Lake Hawea. (He and his new beanie have become

We've learned some new lessons: firewood will not be delivered the same day, or the next. Our housemate promised to bring new firewood from his work, but that never happened neither (we should probably start trusting people less easily...). So Mark went collecting driftwood at the side of the river, and is working his ass off to cut that into smaller pieces so it will fit in the wood burner. It keeps him quite busy.
This afternoon we went grocery shopping (don't we sound like a nice middle-class couple?), we're getting better at it every time. I just loose Mark about 1-2 times now (which is a huge improvement). When this happens we're both talking to the air: I because I think Mark is still standing behind me, Mark because he thinks I followed him. Mark hates grocery shopping, you won't believe the pace in which he races through the super market, I just can't keep up with him. I'm still checking out sales and meal-ideas when he's already checking out!
At the end of the afternoon we went climbing at Basecamp. We ordered our own climbing rope online, we're anxiously waiting for it to arrive...so we can go climb outside! Tonight we ate pizza (I'll never grow tired of pizza) and watched Calvary. It was a good friday :)

Today I worked for the very first time at the spa! I think it went quite alright. I had to do one 60 minute massage and one 30 minute massage. In the time in between Mark and I drank coffee at the other side of the road from the spa, at a lovely little place called 'Florence's' (organic food & coffee). The sun was shining brightly, so we could sit outside...it was so nice! I think spring is already in the air.

An 'Americano' and a 'Long black' (both just regular black coffee :P )

After work we went mountainbiking at Sticky Forest, close to Mark's work. It's a little forest where lots of mountainbike tracks have been 'built', some of which (or actually most of them) FAR above our skill levels. Really, 'Carrot Cake' might sound like a nice little scenic route, but it was so steep and curvy that we had to walk half of the time. It was pretty cool though. Oh, and Mark arranged firewood in town..it should be delivered soon!

Up the hill @ Sticky Forest. 

Taken on our way back from Sticky Forest. See that green 'fence-thingy' in 
the distance, on the right? That's where Mark's working!

Lazy Sunday :) We slept in, watched Breaking Bad and I dyed some more wool. Mark is busy finishing the kitchen in the van, it's turning out so nice! I'm really amazed by his skills. The weather is stunning, you can almost sit in the garden (yep, spring's definitely in the air). At the beach at Lake Hawea (about 1km from our house) we practiced avalanche beacon search (2:10 is the current record!) and I went to the Lighthouse Church for the second time since we're here, which is a real cool and friendly community. Well rested and recharged for a new week!

For those who are interested how to do a beacon-search practice: put one of your beacons on 'send' and put it in a little plastic container. While one person (the searcher) closes his eyes, the other person buries the container somewhere on the beach (quite far away, preferably...an avalanche can be huge!). The searcher can open his eyes then, and the burier tells in which direction the 'avalanche' took place and where the 'victim' was last seen. Time starts running, and the searcher can practice the zigzag search and the more detailed slow search to find the victim (plastic container). It really helps to get more familiar with how the beacon works, and how to use it properly. The beach here is covered in gravel, I have no idea if a sandy beach would also work...best way is of course to practice this in actual snow!

The road from our house towards Lake Hawea, with the
meadow full of alpaca's alongside it (they are só cool...).

We've both really become busy with our jobs now (who's saying we're having holidays here?!). It's nice to earn some extra money now we've got the chance, so we will have some savings for when we want to start traveling around in summer. 
Our firewood got delivered while I was at home today, I was so surprised when the guy suddenly started talking Dutch to me! Wanaka is really filled up with emigrants from all over the world.
Mark managed to come back home from work with a blue eye today. At first he would absolutely not tell me how that happened (of course I was imagining some kind of horrible fight by then). After I promised I would not laugh, he finally told...he stepped on a rack, very classical. Of course I broke my promise :P

Yup...that's literally what happened. 

Mark had a day off today (and yes, his eye has the most beautiful shades of blue and purple), so after we slept in we went climbing at Hospital Flat with our brand new climbing rope. There are quite some good climbing routes around Wanaka within a 1-hour driving distance (more than 700, to be more precise), Hospital Flat is one of the sub-areas that's very well climbable in winter. It has full sun whole day, so it would be way too hot to climb there in summer actually! 
It was SO good...I really like the rock type ('schist'), the routes were nice and well protected/bolted, the view and scenery were as always breathtaking, and it was so hot that you could climb in a top (while in the background you could see Treble Cone still full of skiing activity...). I really hope we can spend many more climbing hours here!

Check our nice (and still very clean) new blue climbing rope!

Tonight we stopped by at John's (Mark's colleague and carpooler) place, to borrow an axe. John and his wife Amy are very friendly people. We've been invited to come by for dinner one day, to meet their 2 kids (which could possibly result in some babysitting hours for me).

Work, work and more work...I'm really exhausted. Thursday I had four 60 minute massages, friday I had four of them again, today luckily 'just' one 90 minute massage. I learned four new treatments (hot stone massage, Body Blitz (massage + facial), Muscle Relief (massage + foot mask) and pregnancy massage), I'm really trying my best to remember every little detail. And my hands! I never knew you could have so much muscle aching in your hands! Of course I've done hundreds of massages as a physiotherapist back home, but every treatment was just 30 minutes, and most times the massage was only a small part of it (15 minutes max, combined with 15 minutes of exercises or advice), sometimes even not at all! So doing a 60 or 90 minute firm pressure massage is really quite something different. I hope I'll get used to it, I probably will. Right? Please tell me I will!

A little map of our area.
Red: Treble Cone skifield. Green: Hospital Flat climbing area. Yellow:
Glendhu Bay (mountainbike track). Orange: my work (day spa). Dark
brown: Mark's work. Purple: our house. Pink: Timaru river. Blue: towards
Cardrona ski field. 

John wasn't working this week, so I had to bring Mark to work every day early in the morning as well, and then pick him up again around 5 (often the time when people book massages..so it was a bit hectic sometimes). I think I kinda behaved like a speed devil, racing through Wanaka with Carrie (it's a good thing she can't really go faster than 110km/h anyway). 

The only good thing about being up so early is that you get to see 
misty sunrises...

Mark screwed the broom at his work to his finger somehow. He had to use the drill backwards to get it off again. Really, I have no idea if it's him, or that new workplace, or something else...but I'm already wondering what will happen tomorrow.

I massaged 4 possum hunters, the youngest of them just 17 years old. He kept talking during the massage ("I'm pretty talkative"...oh, really?) and asking weird questions ("Are the Netherlands friends with Sweden?"...eehm, I have no idea?!). At the end he asked: "Do most clients talk during their massage?" Eh, well...we're actually not really allowed to talk with our clients, because they should be relaxing. Lol :P He was really cute though! The poor boy, so nervous for his first massage ever. "Do more men book massages?". "Oh yeah, definitely! I think it's about 50/50 men/women. Some even book things like facials!" He: "NO! That's just WRONG!" Whahaha!

Weekend! We both had the day off, which we celebrated by going climbing again at Hospital Flat. Hayden (Mark's American work mate, of our age) went along, the 3 of us we visited the part called 'Sunnyside' today. Some very nice routes there! Hayden is from Utah and also does some trad climbing there. So, on our next holiday/climbing trip we already have a guide to show us Indian Creek and such :)

At the rare moments without wind, the lake is like a mirror...

That's it for August, I promise I'll try to be back soon with more! Big 'kiwi' hugs for all of you :)

zaterdag 13 september 2014

Inside the shearing shed

A couple of weeks ago I had the exciting chance to visit a shearing shed. This was one of the things high on my 'to-do/visit in NZ' list, I'm amazed that I could tick this one off so soon already!
It was a very interesting and educational day for me as a spinner. So...especially for all fellow fiber enthusiastics (and others interested), here's a little photo journal of the visit!

(I actually wrote a super extensive blogpost that covered pretty much everything my guide explained to me during this day, plus some extra information I researched myself about merino sheep, their wool and the shearing business here in New Zealand. And then somehow Blogger didn't save my post, and when I wanted to finish it today it was all just GONE! *dangerously frustrated*... Now all the info is in my head, instead of in this post (and I refuse to start over, I already spent a couple of hours on it...grrrrr!). Let's just agree that if you've got any questions, you'll post them in the comments, and I'll try to answer them as well as I can, okay?)

Above the shearing shed in action. On the far right you can see Shaun (my guide for the day and an employee of NZ Merino). Shaun is my housemate's brother, who kindly arranged for me that I could join Shaun on one of his shearing shed visits.

The shearing team consisted of 4 shearers and lots of helping staff (guiding the sheep, swiping the floor, picking the wool, etc.). These guys can shear up to more than 100 sheep a day (per person!), depending on the breed. The complete, average flock contains around 3000-4000 sheep here in New Zealand, so they often spend around a week at one farm. When the whole flock is done, they move on to the next farm...a kinda unique lifestyle! One that seems to be paying off quite good as well, according to one of the shearers I spoke with. The better and faster you shear, the more money you make. Shearing contests are held regularly around these regions as well, which is another way to make big money.

The shearers all work with their own gear, which they take with them everywhere they go. The machine shears have a power-driven toothed blade, that is driven back and forth over de surface of a comb (behind the comb teeth in the picture above...but they move so fast that you can barely see them!). 


A little video of all the productivity that was going on in the shearing shed. There's a busy vibe, everyone's constantly moving. The team works together like a well-oiled machine, it was so fascinating to observe!

The Merino's, patiently waiting to be shorn. Different parts of their bodies produce different kinds of fur (varying in fineness, staple, quality, etc.). All parts are being sorted and collected, literally nóthing goes to waste. If you'd like to read more about the Merino's and the (kind of awesome!) fiber that they produce, click here. I'm thanking part of my outdoor clothing to these animals; layers that keep me warm and dry without overheating me...and also without a sweaty smell! So yeah, I think Merino's rock :)

Spreading out the fleece to pick, sort and class it. It's really amazing to see how big it is, and that the shearers manage to shear this all in one piece! 

First the raw edges of the fleece are picked (also called 'skirting', this removes the dull and shorter locks), then the fleece proceeds to the classer...a person who looks at the quality and fineness of the fleece (see below). 

I was totally impressed by this female classer, who manages to distinguish 16.5 micron fleeces from 17 micron fleeces (and so on). Seriously...how can you feel a 0.5 micron difference?! That's years of experience and a thorough education going on here, so don't underestimate it ;)

My favorite pictures of this day, the shearers in action. They work super quick, while constantly bended over (no surprise one of them actually used a kind of belt to support him). This job is physically tough, really tough. I was blown away by one of the shearers telling me that his niece, a small and skinny girl, is actually a top shearer...are you kidding me?!


Now look at those jumps of joy when the shorn sheep are released outside! They just lost about 3-4 kg of wool, so they literally feel like a heavy burden is taken off them. 

During the day Shaun and the shearers explained a lot about the whole process: what happens to the wool after the shearing, where does it go, who's involved, etc. If you'd like to read more about it, check out this wikipedia page that covers the basics pretty much, or ask me any question in the comments. It's interesting stuff!

vrijdag 15 augustus 2014

Our first weeks in New Zealand

So...it's been a little while since I posted the first post on our arrival in New Zealand. Lots has happened in the meantime; we've been trying to find our ways here, get rid of the jetlags and slowly but steadily discover all great things New Zealand has to offer. Now we finally have real, working wifi at hand (bloody Vodafone...I'm not done with you yet!), it's time for a new update. Luckily I continued to keep track with little journal entries everyday, which turns out to be very helpful if you try to remember all that you've been doing (I'm getting old, you know?). I'll translate the entries in English again for this post, with some random ramblings in between.

Here's the Dutch (automatically translated) version of this post: Nederlandse versie.

Me and a Moa, in Queenstown :)

We went car hunting today: we had a look at 3 vans and also took some test rides, but honestly they're just a bit too small for our taste. We have to be able to live in it for at least a couple of months, preferably without getting claustrophobic or attacking each other ;) 
Oh, I also spotted a little handspun yarn shop in town! Unfortunately it's closed today...I really have to take a look again tomorrow.

The little handspun yarn shop in Queenstown

PROUD OWNERS OF A NISSAN CARAVAN! Yup, we found a van. And a big one too, filled to the max with camping gear, a bed and all kinds of extra stuff...for a very fine price. Lucky bastards we are! We decided to call her: Carrie. (Caravan - Carrie, get it?)

Actually, the van was loaded with SO much stuff we're still discovering new things. The former owner traveled in it for about half a year together with his girlfriend, who was 'quite the princess' (his words). So...they had a portable toilet, a foldable shower tent, solar panels (so she could charge her hair dryer and curling iron), etc. I wonder why they decided to live in a van anyway, but hey: you won't hear me complain!

We had to scrape together the funds for the van from all our creditcards and bank accounts (stupid cash withdrawal limits!) and bargain a little, but we made it. While doing money business anyway, we also opened New Zealand bank accounts and received our payment cards. Let the money roll in! (Feel the need to sponsor us? Anyone? :P lol)
Mark's already completely accustomed again to driving on the wrong(?) side of the road. I think I'll wait a bit longer, until we've got a decent car insurance.
I also visited that little handspun yarn shop in town again, this time it was open. I had a chat with the owner and visited another wool shop as well. We saw lots of possum/merino wool mixtures, which are incredibly soft, ánd incredibly expensive. You pay around 50 bucks for a ball of yarn, and over 200 for a knitted cardigan or sweater! I really have to score a possum fleece somewhere so I can try spinning it myself.

(Possums are a plague in New Zealand, check it out here.)

Bungi Hostel, our place in Queenstown

Sigh...I think I truly found out how annoying jetlags are. Yesterday I was deep asleep at 9 pm already, while my sweet boyfriend was eating away our bag of potato chips all alone (believe me, that says it all)! 
Mark bought new snow chains this morning, while in the afternoon we went playing disc-golf in the Queenstown Gardens (a kind of competitive frisbee-ing, with serious holes and pars and all that stuff, as already mentioned in my previous post). The person who invented this activity must have been a genius. Also for establishing the course in the middle of a forest. Really, it's not difficult at all to throw your disc in between all those trees and make it land right into the 60 meter far away hole. Not at all.

Like a pro...let's not talk about how he beat me.

Seconds before my typical throw: releasing the disc too early (or too late), so it
will fly in a completely wrong direction. But that takes skill as well!

Tonight we went climbing in an indoor climbing hall (read: little climbing corner in a gym). It was nice to be physically active again...though they used a weird system with the belay devices permanently attached to the ground. I hope they won't have that same system in the Wanaka rock climbing centre, it's quite annoying not being able to walk around while belaying. 

Today we drove towards our next destination (bye Queenstown, bye hostel, bye too-little-fridge-space, bye never-clean-kitchen-cutlery! Oh, and bye sweet little hostel cat...you were cute :)). 

The hostel cat...feeling véry at home :)

The road between Queenstown and Wanaka (Crown Range Road) is a stunning pass with breathtaking viewpoints. Carrie has proven quite trustworthy so far, even uphill she goes steady and without complaints. Good girl! 

Stunning views become even better with a hot cuppa :)

Wanaka is a cozy town, a bit smaller than Queenstown but at least just as beautiful. About a 20 minute drive further north lies Lake Hawea, a small settlement at the side of another giant lake, and our home for the next couple of months. Gwen (the landlady) awaited us there, it was nice to finally meet her after having had a lot of digital conversations for the past couple of weeks. She's been so helpful! 

Lake Hawea (about 200 meters from our house). 

The house is - in 1 word - fantastic. We couldn't have gotten anything better (and don't get me started on that industrial Singer sewing machine standing in one of the bedrooms: I smell a new challenge!). 
By the way, I don't believe any person has lived here for the last couple of months..it's almost colder inside than outside. Where are the professional wood burner-lighting moms (yes, my mom has hidden talents!) when you need them? Brrr!

The house, with Carrie in the front. 

I've made some pictures inside the house, so I can give you a little tour. Below you can see the kitchen and the living room, with on the right (lower photo) the stairs going down. They lead to the main entrance, a little washing machine room and a huge garage. The glass doors behind the kitchen lead to the garden (with a biiiig bbq!). The house is built on a hill, that's why the front part actually has 2 floors and the back part is parallel to the garden.

The kitchen (with my personal chef) and
the living room. 

The next pictures shows the living room again, from a slightly different angle. See the wood burner? Cozy huh? It keeps the whole house warm (you have to keep it burning though). The doors next to the burner lead to a big terrace, which we don't really use at the moment since it's way too cold. Mark manages to set things on fire though (shoes and gloves so far), so it's handy to be able to quickly throw them outside.

Living room again, and the wood burner. 
A hallway leads from the kitchen towards the bedrooms (4 in total, 3 double bedrooms and 1 single), a toilet and a bathroom (with a shower ánd a bath, yay!). We managed to find 2 other people to share the house with, they occupy 2 of the double bedrooms. The single bedroom holds the Singer monster machine. The third master bedroom is ours, this one has its own little bathroom. 

Our bedroom. And yes, I did bring my dollies. How could I not?
So...all in all, I think we could say we're pretty lucky to have found this house, and then I didn't even tell you anything yet about the beautiful neighborhood!

Taken from the balcony, a typical early morning view. 

Settling in, trying to find our way around in our new home. Mark has a very nasty cold and I'm still suffering from the jetlag, but we'll manage :) Grocery shopping, walks along the lake, setting up skiing/snowboarding gear, watching Breaking Bad...and tomorrow, if all goes well: to the slopes!

Setting up my new splitboard

For all serie junkies: yup, we started watching Breaking Bad (we went through all available Game of Thrones and Hannibal episodes...so while we're waiting for the new seasons to start, we had to find a new series we could watch together. We're already at the second season and both love it so far!

Snowboarding in July, I still can't wrap my mind around it! Cardrona is a small ski field (4 reasonably large ski lifts, to get there you have to ascend around 500 meters on a twisting unpaved road (who says you need gondola's?)).
Skiing long distances isn't really possible here, that's probably why an above average amount of skiers and boarders have decided to focus on freestyling, for which there are plenty of facilities. It's a fascinating subculture, actually! Mismatched baggy clothes, filming yourself or your buddy with a go-pro (uploading it to youtube or vimeo in the evening of course), hipsters with beards as lift employees ('lifties') and typical slope names as 'Swaggerman', 'Sluice Box' and 'Lil' Bucks Park'. There was even a complete Asian film crew at place to capture all the impossibly sick tricks! You definitely won't be bored while sitting in the chair lift :)
My new snowboard rides super smooth (instant love!), but we could use a little bit of extra snow, if we want to test our new gear in real and fresh New Zealand powder.

Ski field views...so different from Europe! See the lake in the background?
That's Lake Wakatipu, with Queenstown on its side!

Cardrona ski field. 

I'm still very unsuccessful at getting the woodburner started, much to the amusement of Mark. He keeps saying: "It's okay hun, you're a woman after all..." GRRRRR!!!!

The wind's blowing like crazy and it's raining cats and dogs. Looks like we're at home, real Dutch autumn weather! Good news is that up high in the mountains it's probably snowing (which we need). Mark's working on the van, yesterday we bought a leftover piece of carpet and some wood. In the meantime I cleaned the house and did the laundry (yes, you read that correctly mum & mum-in-law!). I'm starting to feel like a real domestic goddess, who would've ever thought that? 

Now many (mostly female :P) friends have asked me about the van and how I will decorate it. It's a funny thing...us girls always trying to make things cozy and cute (who doesn't dream of a lovely vintage van with cute checkered curtains and crocheted pillows?). Mark on the other hand is totally the other way around, just very practically oriented (like most guys, probably). We end up having very eehm...'interesting' discussions sometimes, haha! But honestly, I think we form a good team, having both a different approach but trying to make it work together. At the carpet shop, we said to the employee that the color didn't really matter (of course it does, but I swallowed my words here!), we just wanted a cheap leftover piece of carpet, easy to clean and preferably around the necessary size. We ended up with blue...next, we went to the second-hand shop, where I picked a lovely supersize duvet (checkered in blue, purple and white) to make matching curtains. See? A little bit of both sides, practical and pretty!

By the way, that second-hand shop is really awesome. It's called Wastebusters, and it has literally everything. The shop has a huge outside part (with gear, timber, metal, outside furniture, garden stuff, sports equipment, etc.), and then inside you'll feel like you just entered thrifting heaven. There's a wood burner keeping the place warm, and a cat in a vintage suitcase. Do I need to explain more?

Thrifty cat in his suitcase with a tropical view. Not for sale!

Wastebusters: best second hand shop ever. 

Oh, by the way: good news! My spinning wheel arrived (an Ashford Joy) today! I did a little dance of joy in the living room (really)...it's small, cute and works like a charm! 

I really want to say thanks again to Lynne, who sent me the spinning wheel (which is foldable, how nice for traveling?!) all the way from the North Island, and who made me feel welcome in New Zealand even months before I actually arrived. Another thank-you goes to Adriana (also part of the NZ craft community)...who sent me the book 'The crafty girl's road trip' as a little welcoming present. It was actually the first mail we found in our mailbox at our new address! Heartwarming, really.

In the meantime I'm trying to work my way through the avalanche course books, dreaming at night of slab avalanches, fischmauls, couloirs and corniches...

Studying hard!

More domestic messing around. It's still storming, but that doesn't withhold Mark to continue working on our van. The kitchen is almost ready! 

Our back-entrance kitchen with folding-out table.

Yesterday we went climbing at Basecamp, the indoor climbing hall in Wanaka. Unfortunately they have that same silly belaying system as in Queenstown, but the nice routes make up for it (awesome roof as well!). 
Today we hooked up with Isabelle (NL) and Sabrina (DE), two freestyle ski chicks who are here for the season (mostly for training and competing). It was fun to finally meet Isabelle in real life, after having shared many hours of house hunting via Facebook!
In the mean time I'm doing some more avalanche studying, and made 50 bucks with repairing someone's pants. I've spun some yarn (Lynne sent some merino roving with the spinning wheel, thank you!), we watched Food Inc. this morning (very interesting documentary!) and we tried to get our financial administration right. We're being very frustrated about Vodafone's annoyingly bad service, since we still don't have wifi after 2 weeks, and are also quite fascinated by all the female visitors our housemate bring's home (4 so far, in 1,5 week time). (Sorry Glenn..haha! We both think you're an awesome housemate ;)). 

Yes, you read that correctly. I made 50 bucks repairing someone's pants, can you believe that? Mark spotted this add at the local supermarket, from a guy looking for someone to fix his pants. So Mark said that I should do that (since I got the Singer monster working)...it was an easy peasy job, and the guy was so happy he paid me big money!

The monster machine...a real industrial Singer. It's attached to the table and
has a big noisy engine underneath. 

Now there's some other exciting news, that (for some reason) is not mentioned in my journal entries, but is actually pretty awesome: I found some work! And not just work, it's actually kind of a dream job (I guess lots of creative folks will recognize this): I will do some shop hours in the new craft store  that's opening up in Wanaka, ánd also teach a crochet (amigurumi) art class there. Now how cool is that?! I'm really beyond happy with this chance. I met the founders (2 very nice girls) of the shop over coffee last week. The shop opens at September first, at which time the courses (mine, and some very interesting other ones) will start as well. You should definitely take a look at their website, which is starting to look very good if you ask me...and don't forget to check their first blog. I really like where these girls are going, they want to create a welcoming and supportive place for local and starting artists, which - I think - is a noble and beautiful goal.

Hand spun merino yarn and some crochet balls, preparations for the crochet class.

Tomorrow our course will start, but the weather forecast is pretty bad. It's been storming for a whole week and the avalanche danger is high. I hope it will be okay...our backpacks are filled with clothing layers and power bars, so we're ready anyway (Mark even has the most sexy skinny thermal legging!)

That's it for now, I will write about the course in the next post! So stay tuned ;)

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