Saturday, 9 January 2010

Love story

Well, it's happened - I've fallen in love with New Zealand. Up until now our relationship has been like Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley - rather shy of each other and tongue-tied - but passion has now definitely blossomed beneath the muslin (or, being a modern girl, beneath the lycra-mix T-shirt). Christchurch is charming, but it's once you get on the road that NZ's real beauty strikes you. I could try to get all lyrical about the mountains, and the long grass rippling over the hillsides like some great beast's fur in the wind, and the amazing, endless sky... but words (and photos) can't really do it justice - only something like (and I know this is a cliche) The Lord of the Rings can show it off to real advantage. Nonetheless I shall try!

My first outing was to Hanmer Springs, a tiny alpine resort with hot springs, and crisp, clean air, nestled in the mountains. The springs themselves are quite commercialised (at least in comparison with Dalhousie Hot Springs in the Simpson desert), but since this is NZ that still means they're not too crowded. I spent a very happy few hours soaking myself in sulphur springs (and more filtered pools too) at 38C or 41C, and looking up at the mountains towering around me. It must be wonderful in winter, with snow on the ground.

The next day I spent on foot, exploring some of the area's many walking tracks. With some difficulty I got to the top of Conical Hill to see the amazing views (I have a long way to go before I'm at NZ levels of fitness; still, I've got a few months to get there!), and then through a forest of newly planted Douglas fir, with the only sounds being a distant saw and my only companions the bumblebees doing their thing in the sunshine. And there were some beautiful woodland tracks too, dappled and cool, with springs trickling nearby. Wonderful.

In fact, the only downside to the trip was the bus journey home, which - despite every precaution - I spent in fiery, desperate need for the loo. Old age, eh? Who needs it? Like my dodgy knee and the shin splints, it's one of the growing list of jokes that Mother Nature is playing on me! Anyway, bodily decrepitude aside, I'm overjoyed to be here, and looking forward to the next trip, to Akaroa on the coast, where (weather permitting) I'll be swimming with dolphins...


  1. Wonderful...are you sure you are not being paid by the NZ Tourist Board? Envy you so much, especially with the dripping icicles outside and horrible slush.

  2. AT LAST I HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO ADD A COMMENT! Apologies for stupidity ... also, I have sent you various texts and only just realized/remembered that, for your travels, you have different phone numbers! So sorry. And a belated happy Christmas and happy new year...

    It's wonderful that you're having such a great time, and I'm really enjoying your blog. I hope NZ continues to enchant, and that you're well and happy. Drop a line if you have time, but I quite understand how busy you are.

    Much love as ever,