Here is the blurb about our holiday. I'm planning to make a photo album and hopefully once it is finished I'll post the link so that if you are interested you can have a look at our album.
We had three lovely weeks in the South Island, mainly visiting family. We took the lunchtime ferry over to Picton on the 18th of December 2010, Albert's birthday. We celebrated his birthday on the ferry with the opening of presents and a celebratory lunch of bacon and egg buns. Upon seeing his birthday lunch he cheekily asked me whether I had any salt and pepper to go with it. He was expecting a 'no' but I produced the above items instead. He was speechless!! That doesn't happen very often. His wife had thought of everything!
We spend the rest of the weekend visiting with Raewyn (Albert's sister) and Daniel and their boys, David, Benjamin and Jonathan in Nelson. The weather wasn't very kind to us but nevertheless we had a great time getting to know the nephews/cousins. We went to a aquarium while we where there were we got to touch a stingray, we passed however on touching the eel!
From Nelson we travelled to Greymouth to visit our friends Mark and Louise and kids. Again the weather wasn't very nice but that made a visit to Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes even more spectacular! We also visited the Brunner mind memorial, WOW, we thoroughly enjoyed some of NZ history especially relevant after the Pike River Mine tragedy. Best of all it was FREE. There is so much to see on the Westcoast and we only saw a little bit of it. We also got to have a ride on the Fire truck at Mark's work, a real treat both both the adults and the kids.
From Greymouth we travelled through Arthurs Pass which in it self is pretty spectacular (although if you travel if often like Mark and Louise I'm sure it just becomes another road!) We met some of the locals namely a Kea. The Kea was very rude and jumped on our car as soon as we stopped, which we thought was quite cute. We fed it one of our banana's and even took pictures. Some overseas tourists took some pictures also at this very friendly bird. Five minutes later while stopping at yet another look out, we noticed big signs - DO NOT FEED THE KEA!!! OOPS!
We spend one night in Geraldine in a Motel which for the girls was a new experience. The motel owners were very nice to us as they let us sleep in a studio unit with all our girls. We have all our own sleeping gear and so putting the girls on the floor was no problem at all.
The next four days we went camping with my brother TJ, Miriam and Elijah, Eva and baby Esther. Our family arrived first at the DOC campsite and proceeding in setting our tent. As we were choosing our tent site one of the other campers told us that the spot we had chosen was very windy and it blew their awning over. We thought that we would be OK as Albert had checked the weather forecast and the wind was supposed to be dying down. Well the wind didn't and by the time we set up our tent it blew over. OOPS. We folded and packed everything in the car again and made a call to TJ, help! They chose another campsite and off we went. As it turned out God looked after us and the second campsite turned out to be perfect. The campsite was all fenced in with a huge field for the kids to play in. It did mean a longer time travel to go to the Christmas day service, but it was all worth it. So we spend Christmas 2010 camping, what a neat experience. Miriam provided all the food (and menu) which included a Pav, Ambrosia, steak, crackers, pancakes and lots more! Who says camping is not much fun?
After packing up on Monday, Eva fell and got her hand burned in the open fire, this put a bit of a damper on the rest of the week for Eva but she was very brave and recovered very quickly. We spend the rest of the week until Friday with TJ and family at their house in CHCH. We did lots of visiting of parks. We took advantage of the very cheap sales at the outlet stores and bought Albert just about a new wardrobe. This included a Otago hoodie and some new running shoes both at half price!
We visited Willowbank Wildlife Reserve (thanks money given to us by our great Oma and great Beppe), again a very nice day out. We also went to the Airforce Museum the main part of which is free. We treated the girls to a behind the scenes kids programme. Oh that was soo cool. We all went on a flight on a Andover Plane which had a crash landing and so we had to jump out of the plane!
We started of New Years Eve with pancakes for breakfast! After we packed up at TJ's we put up our tent at Albert's brother Louis, Joanna and Joel, Caleb and Ephraim. This was our for the next couple of days. After lunch we went for a swim at the QEII swimming complex, if you haven't been there you are missing out. For dinner we had arranged to meet with TJ's family and Louis family at the local park and have Fish and Chips which was very nice. Michaela chose to wait until then to open her birthday presents. She had asked for a toolbox to put all her craft stuff in and a bible dictionary. She had her main party and birthday cake early in December for her school friends.
New years eve wasn't much of an evening I have to say, an early night sounded good to us and our hosts. The next couple of days were spend catching up with Louis and family and we also had some time with Albert's other brother Josh and family who flew down from Palmerston North for the Albert's side of the family reunion in Hamner Springs. The weather was very hot and we were grateful for Joanna's parents pool in which enjoyed a cooling swim.
On Tuesday we packed up our tent and gear for a family camp in Hamner Springs....