Settling in

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hello all,

We are getting ourselves settled down in Queenstown now quite successfully we have covered all the usual aspects, got ourselves a mobile phone, bank account, national insurance number and even a house! Only thing missing is a job which I have to say we haven't put a great deal of effort into…there’s just too much to do!

Firstly the haircuts went well apart form the fact I’ve gone for a quite short bobbed cut which really needs to be maintained with straighteners, which I can’t afford, luckily it’s so cold here that I don’t think I’ll ever take my hat off anyway.  During the day in the town it is usually 5 or 6 degrees but it doesn’t snow down here as the town is so low.  This poses a problem as I thought that everyone would be wearing their ski gear and hiking boots as the norm but in fact it’s quite a fashionable town and we look like we’ve just rolled off a mountain somewhere in our, now quite battered, traveling clothes.  It’s not really going to help our job search situation but I’m going to have a tough time convincing Steve to part with any cash to be able to improve my wardrobe when we’re counting every penny.

The budget has been hit very hard since we got here and we have already spent about three times as much as we did in South America in one week here!  That is partly due to us buying season ski passes which set us back about £600 each and as the ski hills are a coach ride away from town we had to invest in transport passes on top of that – quite horrendous but there was no way I was able to talk Steve out of the chance to ski everyday.. It did mean that we had to start improvising some ski gear pretty quickly to get ourselves up there which meant that I was padded out in three layers of clothing (i.e everything I own) covered in waterproof trousers and a rain coat.  Thanks to our friend from Whistler, who sorted us out with skis and boots while we are here, we have some money left in our pockets to try and pick up some clothing bargains so this only has to be a temporary measure.

There are two main places to ski here 'The Remarkables’ and ‘Coronet Peak’ both of which we have explored now and offer spectacular views of the surrounding valley.  We have picked a clear favorite of Coronet as there is a lot more off piste that can be explored and The Remarks is full of parks for practicing stunts on rails and big jumps which doesn’t interest us particularly.  I am doing more jumps around the piste though and feel like my skiing is the best it’s ever been (so I’m sure to write next time about some kind of injury that usually follows skiing confidence).  The café up the mountain is expensive so we’re opting for packed lunches but sitting outside to make the most of the live acoustic music and warm fires they have going to set the scene.

Other exciting news is that we have got ourselves a place to live, its in a big house by the lake and our room has French windows at the end that open out onto a balcony with amazing views over the mountains.  I don’t think we will ever shut the curtain!  Not sure how long we will stay in Queenstown but this place allows us to pay by the week and the landlord doesn’t seem too concerned if people skip out after not long so it’s pretty ideal for us right now.  If you would like the address details to post us lovely letters and things just let me know (I won’t put the details on here as it’s a public site).

On one of our first nights here we were invited out for a leaving party for a girl called Olivia which meant we all had to dress up as something beginning with the letter O.  We didn’t have much to improvise with but I cobbled together an opticians costume, complete with eye chart, and Steve stuck a couple of pillows up his top and went as ‘obese’.  It was a really good turn out and people had put a lot more effort in than us, amongst the crowd there was an Oompa Loompa, OXO cube, otter, origami, Oscar, officer, Olivia Newton John, Ozzy Osborne and one guy dressed as a cat who I don’t think understood the theme!  The first bar we went to had a ‘$1000 dollar bar tab night’ which meant that the first $1000 of drinks for the night were free.  Steve and I completely were in awe of this concept and knocked back a few drinks quickly in fear that the management would come to their senses and call the whole thing off.  After that bar we all waddled in our costumes to a place called Winnies which is now my favorite bar of all time.  They had a fantastic live band playing which meant that everyone was dancing around to classic festival songs.  A great novelty of Winnies is that when it gets really hot, which bars where everyone jumping around often do, the roof comes off letting in a big draft of chilly mountain air and a peak at the stars before closing again.  We’ve been every Thursday now and on Sundays for their acoustic nights, wish you could all come too, it’s just my style of a night out (and smoke free unlike South America!).

Funnily enough at the moment Queenstown is being used to film a Coke advert but they are pretending its Whistler.  They’ve had to ship trucks of snow down from the mountains and put up a bunch of Canadian flags and Whistler signs to advertise the Winter Olympics.  It makes us feel right at home!  Queenstown itself is a lovely little village, but don’t tell them that, locals seems to think it’s a big bustling place but as the town centre is about five streets wide and the whole of Queenstown could fit inside the Watford or Sutton ring road we’re categorizing it as ‘small’.  There is no comparison however for the community atmosphere here everyone is so helpful and genuinely upbeat, which is something that Queenstown has in common with Whistler, living by the mountains does seem to bring out the best in people.  When we were in a coffee shop we got talking to a lady who told us about a free pasta meal that the local church does on Friday’s for anyone who wants to come by, naturally we were a little dubious but were soon reassured by our friend that this is a big local event and everyone goes along.  I’m so glad that we did!  Hundreds of people were there, I’ve no idea how they managed to cater for so many people but we all got spaghetti bolognaise with vegetables and garlic bread followed by tea and home baked cakes and cookies.  It was a lovely evening with live music and everyone milling around, including a few very hip and trendy snowboarders who were obviously putting on their best ‘grandparents-visiting’ behavior while they were there.  After a very good feed we went down to the lake side where there was more free entertainment in the form of a Rail-Jam where professional skiers and snowboarders had been invited down to show their skills by jumping up on different rails and generally coming crashing to the ground again.

As you can see we have definitely been taking advantage of whatever free events are going so imagine my surprise when I went to join the library and to join they wanted to charge me $40 (about £20)!  I was speechless, especially as I have been trying to get my hands on the last Twilight book since Bolivia and have been mocked by seeing it in Spanish for the last few months, this was unbelievable.  On top of this daylight robbery we’re trying to get used to the Swedish rounding system that Queenstown uses, every time you get your change they round it to the nearest 10 cents so sometimes you pay more and sometimes less than you should.  This has meant that we have to meticulously keep track of if we are winning or loosing money, at the moment after about 12 transactions we are 4 cents up - but I’ll keep you posted on our progress!

I was aware that we didn’t really show off Queenstown in the previous photos so we’ve been on a few hikes to get the best views and photos to really show it off.  It’s nice to be in the centre of town and just decide to go on a hike, you can just walk in any direction and be on a hiking trail in 10 minutes.

I can’t believe how long I’ve been waffling on for given we haven’t done much apart from ski and hike!  It’s a nice relaxing change that I can write to you while tucked up in a massive queen size bed with views of the lake rather than bouncing around on a truck wondering when the next toilet stop will be.  It obviously doesn’t mean I’m going to be any more concise in explaining things though.  I’ll see what else I can find for us to do to fill another blog for you soon – hopefully it will involve jobs!

Much Love,

Amy and Shooping Steve
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