A Month of Madness and Mahem

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

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Christmas and New Year!

Hope you all had a great time celebrating the holidays, I can't believe we missed out on a white Christmas what a treat for you back in England.  I’ll let know all the details of our celebrations a bit later but I last left you with news of my new job so I must start by telling you all the fun I’ve been up to with that before we get stuck into turkey alternatives and 2010…

 So my new job is working for a company that owns three shops in town, two activities booking desks and the information centre.  It’s a bit of a jump in the deep end to sit underneath an information sign and be expected to know everything about anything in Queenstown when in fact more often than not I'm just using google and keeping my fingers crossed!  My first day at work consisted of a couple of hours behind the desk before being shipped off to Coronet Peak and Paragliding out over the valley which was one of the best first days anyone could ask for!  During my training weeks I got out and about a lot to get familiar with the different activities in town - and there are a lot of them!  I'm still so far behind trying to get round all of them but while I was in training I was being paid to do them all, I don't think there are many jobs that offer perks like that.  It's not usual either to pack a change of clothes, swim wear and a camera to work everyday in anticipation of what might happen that day.  In my first week I was paragliding, parasailing, hang gliding, rock-climbing, rafting, jet boating, cruising the lake in a steamboat with afternoon tea, flying up to the snow in a helicopter, mountain biking and more I'm sure I've forgotten.  Lot's of industry parties to attend too where I get wined and dined, or more accurately 'beered and barbequed’.  Most notably one front line party was a trip out to Skippers Canyon where we drove down into a canyon on a road not unlike death road in Bolivia and went jet boating in the canyon before having some champagne and a bbq on what was the worlds highest bungy bridge that is thankfully now out of action!  Steve has been able to come on a few trips with me too like the parasailing, farm tour, dart river safari and fishing.   Steve was the only one on the fishing trip to actually catch a fish and that was the first time he cast the line out so the excitement fizzled out throughout the day but I just enjoyed sitting in the sun eating a big bag of cherries.  When I'm not out and about for work sitting at the desk can be quite fun too as different companies all bring us gifts in the shape of chocolates, cookies, wine, fruit baskets or my favorite being the cheese platters to try and convince us to push their activities.  I think I like trying to be bought, I have let them all know I can be persuaded to favor anyone given enough effort/cheese on their part.

In the build up to Christmas my work had two Christmas Parties, one very soon after I joined which was a big Chinese meal and drinks which Steve and I were very well behaved at to make a good impression.  The second one was a Cranium tournament which we let loose for and had a great time with a really fun bunch of people.  The night ended up at the 'big club' in town where we haven't been yet.  Steve left after 10 minutes and I battled it out for a few hours but I think it has confirmed our club days are over!  Much more our style was Steve's work christmas party which was a camping trip just outside of Queenstown at Moke Lake, it's a beautiful place and feels a lot more remote than it actually is which made for a great get-away.  We played a confused game of rounders, egg and spoon and chinese whispers then Steve played guitar for everyone around the campfire while we star-gazed or sang depending on levels of drunkeness until the early hours.

Our Christmas was a strange but memorable one, of course being the middle of summer it was never going to feel like Christmas here but I didn't realise how little everyone embraces it here anyway, no Christmas decorations in town or Christmas music playing.  You might think that this was a bad thing but in my opinion Christmas is all about getting together with family and as long as that wasn't an option for us I was happy to pretend that it wasn't happening all together.  We did watch Love Actually though which just made me really homesick for a jolly white British Christmas - but you can't have everything!  On Christmas Eve we went to our local pub quiz which had more teams than ever and battled it out to win the grand prize by just one point!  Much merriness ensued :)  By Christmas Day we were being jolly and up early to have a breakfast of bacon and bubbles, the bacon being the real treat as we haven't had any proper bacon since England. I say we were being jolly, although I do seem to remember Steve asking his Christmas present to be another hour in bed-woops!  Next stop was the sofa and we got stuck into some internationally renowned Christmas feel good films like the Sound of Music (much to the annoyance of our Brazilian housemate who is used to summer Christmas and it doesn't involve the TV being on!).  All our housemates grouped together to make piles of food that we had throughout the day and with so many international representatives we had all sorts to choose from, a giant baked ham, salmon, cheeses, nachos, cookies, rice pudding, cakes, cheesecake, chocolate dunked strawberries, garlic bread and on and on.  It was a confusing but great mixture and we had a big feast out on the balcony to enjoy the sun and more bubbles.  I even managed to escape for a wonderful overfed/overdrunk Christmas nap to Mrs Doubtfire to make it feel a bit more like an authentic Christmas day!

Boxing Day at work was not as much fun so I'll skip past that.  I then had a lovely three days off in the sun but due to the mass tourist numbers I wasn't able to get on any activities so I had some 'crafternoons' making our costumes for New Year’s Eve fancy dress.  Between Christmas and New Year we had a great night at some friends house who have somehow managed to rent out a holiday villa permanently with the most amazing views I've seen in Queenstown, a tennis court and a jetty.  We had a cheeseboard and bbq followed by a poker night which Steve managed to win taking the grand prize of $40 which I then made him spend on beers for everyone who played.  The night then descended into an intense game of girls vs. boys Cranium and charades until the early hours which answered the age old question that yes girls are better than boys!  We decided to be loyal to the pub where we do the pub quiz and go there for New Years, it's by no means the fanciest bar in town but it is out of the way and that means less tourists which is always a good thing.  On New Years Eve I learnt to hate my job for the first time.  I was in the Information Centre and had a queue about 5 people deep all day long and every person seemed to have taken more stupid pills than the person before them, I felt like I was being ground down by inane questions and lack of both sense and logic.  So many people wanted to book accommodation which was of course completely fully booked in advance and were getting annoyed with me for not having any rooms less than $500 for the night.  I did have to sell that to a couple who started crying which was awful but I have little sympathy for people who don't book in advance, it makes my job so much harder and I never want to give them what they want anyway or they will never learn the error of their ways!  As I have introduced the topic of stupid people I should share with you the top 5 stupid questions that people have actually asked me since I started:

5 - "Will I get wet river-surfing?"
4 - A long and drawn out conversation trying to explain that 'Lake Road' is not a Lake itself but a road next to the Lake to a man who had been trying to find it for half an hour!
3 - "Will there be any fireworks before it gets dark tonight?"
2 - (on New Years Eve when I said all accommodation was booked) "If I drive to Christchurch will they be celebrating it there too?"
1 - "Do you know where my car is parked?"

Can't complain too much though, I do like the amusing people - once they have left and I don't have to talk to them anymore that is!  Eventually I managed to get out of work on New Year and met up with Steve and the others from his work that we were going out with who had all put in such a good effort with costumes.  When we got a ticket to the pub we were each given a letter of the alphabet and we had to choose a costume that started with that letter.  Steve got N and went as a very convincing Noah (you have to look through these photos!) I had O so went covered in origami - a terrible and time consuming idea, but I learnt a new skill (just a shame I never want to fold a piece of paper again!).  In our group we had a pint of Guinness, an M&M, an alien, leprechaun, death, Beetlejuice, a card, Cleopatra and a Frenchman!  Not many fancy dress parties can boast such a line up.  We had a good few drinks in the pub before heading out to the lake to watch the fireworks at midnight.  The town was absolutely PACKED I have never seen so many people in Queenstown (I'm sure most of them were just down by the lake because they still didn't have any accommodation) and a got a few strange looks from people who had asked me for information that day who now doubted the opinions of a girl dressed in origami staggering around and trying to climb up onto a statue!  The fireworks were good but we quickly retreated back into the pub before the masses outside started dispersing.  It's a funny feeling when you haven't seen a big crowd of people in a long time or been in a crowded bar for a while, we've become institutionalised into our small town ways and can't handle the hustle and bustle anymore.  We enjoyed the rest of the night and got back home at about 2.30am, when it would have made sense to bed, instead I decided to make drunken phone calls which I'm sure some of you would have received.  It only seemed fair to share the New Year festivities with those who were still stuck in 2009.  Therefore by the next morning I had not had enough sleep and got up too quickly to dash to work, so in my hurry and lack of complete consciousness I managed to trip over my own feet in the street and fall over in front of a group of people.  Not a good look to be rolling around on the floor in an information centre uniform!  Soon enough though I found myself once again sitting behind the counter wondering how people can get through life being so stupid but this time with a headache and a great need to nap - it was not a fun day.

That brings me to the end of 2009 and the end of this entry so thanks for coming this far with me - lots more planned for the new decade so watch this space.

Lots of Love,

Amy and Noah

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