They recently spent some time in New Zealand and wrote to tell us about it...
New Zealand has been full of surprises. We arrived in Christchurch at the beginning of February and stayed for a week on a hobby farm (which they call a lifestyle block here) in Little River owned by some friends' friends, a lovely Kiwi couple and their thirteen year old daughter. There were sheep, horses, chicken and ducks. None of which will ever be slaughtered. That was the stipulation when they bought the place. The sheep are merely considered lawn mowers. The farm is in Okuti Valley, a valley with tall green hills on either side of the house. We ate on the veranda, watching the hills change color as the sun set. It felt like we were in a movie. They have a plum tree bursting with fruit. We picked and ate a ton. The family is planning to make plum wine.
The wife of the family casually mentioned that the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Bill English) is her cousin. She told us because we happened to be talking about it. She doesn't usually tell people. We were impressed by how humble she was about it. Volkan especially took note, as he says that in Turkey a family member of the Prime Minister would certainly be cashing in. She went on to say that the Prime Minister grew up on a farm, one of 12 kids.
We did a one week house-sit in the town of Timaru for a couple who were traveling to Melbourne to visit some old friends. She is a watch-maker and he is a chef at a local country club. Our lovely, warm hosts asked us to come one day early so they could introduce us to their friends and family who they had invited over for lunch and dinner. We cared for their sweet, tiny, 1 kilo dog, a papillon. The house has a veggie garden. When we were hungry we picked lettuce, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. It was the most authentic farm to table experience that we had ever had. The tomatoes tasted so sweet!
Like we found in Sydney, Timaru has a wonderful walking path along their coast. We are so impressed with the walking paths in Australia and NZ. In the US, municipal walking paths are few and far between.
Loading up some firewood.
Rainy days are an excuse to stay home. Besides running some errands and a 2-hour walk by the ocean, we just vegged. I made a huge pea soup, started a 1000-piece puzzle and Volkan did some computer work. We started watching the movie Doctor Zhivago at 11 pm and lasted for only 10 minutes before our eyes started closing. Getting old!
Our house sit host told us that every morning after our neighbor reads his newspaper, he will put it in a hole in the fence for us. We love these small “sharing economy” moments.
Enjoying New Zealand.
Our house sit host’s brother, his wife and their children took us under their wing showing us their farm and inviting us over for a delicious meal. We told them that we were going to be giving a lecture at a local high school about world cultures. Ten minutes later they had organized for us to present at their daughter’s elementary school. We had been warned by our New Zealand friends that the kids would be more reserved than students in the US. I was a little nervous that I would face a wall of silence. But the only difference that we noticed was that when I asked the audience a question and said “Shout out the answer,” they shouted softly and I couldn’t hear them that well. American kids shout a lot louder :) We also noticed that the elementary school kids asked very astute questions and the high school kids knew their geography.
We spent a couple of days exploring the university in Dunedin. It was a lovely campus and the kids were there so the “people watching” was good, but classes hadn’t started yet which was disappointing as we had hoped to sit in on a few. Our Airbnb hosts made up for that. We were their first guests and they treated us like royalty. They cooked a traditional lamb roast with all the vegetable trimmings. The lamb had been raised on their friend’s farm and was killed there, which they emphasized was important to minimize stress on the animal. The meat tasted deliciously lamby.
We have found the gas to be very expensive, more than double that in the US. Not what you want to face when on a two month road trip. Luckily we have a relatively small car with 1.8L engine. We can’t even imagine what the popular huge camper vans cost to run.
New Zealand road trip!
At the last minute a house sit came up in Alexandra. We grabbed it as it is near Queenstown, an area known to have spectacular scenery. It is also therefore very popular with tourists and is thus expensive. We were dreading hunting for accommodation. We love our sweet little house overlooking a magnificent rocky mountain vista. Unfortunately it is only a four night sit. We could happily be here for weeks. On our way here we stopped at the myriad farm stands to stock up on plums and apricots only to arrive at the house to find that it has an orchard of apricot and plum trees, dripping with fruit. We spent a night with the home owners when they returned. What struck us about them was how much they reminded us of us. They too house sit, love cruising and have lived nomadically. They even spent half a year sailing around the South Pacific. Their trip was cut short when they shipwrecked!
Heather and Volkan are our friends and international house sitters. Check out their website: http://heatherhope2.weebly.com
They have been house/pet sitting full time around the world for years. Just in the last year, they were in Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Australia and the Caribbean. They are currently booked until the end of August, 2017. Reach out to them if you need a house sitter.
Good price on an adjustable platform step...
Quick Products QP-ASS101 Platform Step, X-Large - Aluminum