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    Otago Rail Trail, New Zealand (Guest Post: Rebecca)

    Fellow London Kiwi, bubbly, cat-loving, flat-white drinking and exercise-hating +Rebecca Blandford has kindly taken over Adventures of a London Kiwi, with her exploration of the Otago Rail Trail, in the South Island of New Zealand.

     

    I told you that this week would be a bevvie of beautiful bloggers didn’t I?

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    The Otago Rail Trail, a Runaway Kiwi and a killer Lamb.

     

    The ever amazing Emma asked me to guest post on her blog, and being a thrill seeker she said I could write about whatever I liked…rookie mistake. But since the rumour is that she has a secret supply of Pineapple Lumps I better behave myself, so let me tell you about the time I voluntarily did exercise on holiday. This is the story of the time I rode the Otago Rail Trail. 

    As my friends know, I love making impossible plans when drunk. After a few glasses of Pinot I think that the world is my oyster and running a marathon, taking a round the world trip or signing up for an advanced physics degree are all entirely plausible and very exciting options. Normally this would not be a problem, but in the age of the internet it means life gets a whole lot more interesting. Pre-internet you would wake up with a hangover and laugh about the stupid implausible things you planned last night. But with the internet and credit cards you wake up with a hangover and realise that the anti-exercise girl who has not ridden a bike in ten years has just booked a holiday to Otago for a week long bike ride over New Years.

    When the trains stopped running in the central South Island of New Zealand, someone came up with the bright idea of taking out the tracks and making it a public cycle track and thus the Otago Rail trail was born. After all, trains can’t go up hills so the entire thing is mercifully flat and it goes through some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful countryside. 

    Luckily the Pinot had given me enough presence of mind to book an entirely assisted trip, this meant that all food and was going to be provided (including some epic cooked breakfasts) and the best bit was we had a van following us the entire time. The magic of this van meant that they took our bags from hotel to hotel and if the cycling all got a bit much they could drive us to the next pit stop.

    The plan was to do some training before the trip, well that was the plan anyway. The training turned out to be one bike ride to a cafe ten minutes down the road where we had to walk back because we were worried about spilling our flat whites. We were perfectly prepped for the 150kms of cycling ahead. 

    It was incredibly beautiful. We were lucky with the weather, not too hot and not a speck of rain in sight. The ride was tough but we started with a road cycle beside some beautiful lakes to get us used to it, and by the time we hit the almost empty rail trail we were pros. There was something utterly in balance about cycling hard each day in the heartland of New Zealand, a massive hot dinner at night and in the morning waking with aching muscles ready to do it all again.

    The only scary moment was when I got attacked by a lamb. Stop laughing. It bounded out of nowhere like a bat out of hell, and I was forced to take evasive manoeuvres in order to survive. I think what hurt most of all is that no one believed that it was a vicious and malicious creature with fangs, glowing red eyes and poison dripping from its wool. But hey, after a strong flat white and a pie I was ready to go again.

    The holiday ended with an amazing historic train trip through the lower Taieri Gorge to Dunedin, just in time for a cocktail and tiredness fuelled New Years Eve. But the cycling was not over yet, on the way back to Christchurch on New Years Day we stopped by the Moeraki boulders for a photo followed by some more road cycling. Road cycling where I definitively managed to snap the chain on my bike. 

    Sitting by the roadside in a field of grain, waiting for the support team to pick me up, felt like the most perfect end of the mad adventure that was the Otago Rail Trail. 

     

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    Only Rebecca could have a Black Sheep experience and live to tell the tail. SorryI’mNotSorry. Definitely check out more of her explorations on her blog Runaway Kiwi, and her lovely jewellery. I can’t guarantee that you’ll have quite the same adventures but there is always a chance…

    

     

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    Topsy turvey Christmas – Kiwi Stylin’

    Many people are fascinated by a Kiwi Summer Christmas. We combine an unusual variety of items; fruited Christmas cake, stockings, snowy scenes on Christmas cards, days spent on the beach in the roaring sunshine, prawn cocktail starters and roast beef mains….

    So, whilst we’re rosy cheeked, wrapped up in woollen scarves, waiting for the snow and sipping mulled wine, I asked my baby Sister, who still lives in New Zealand to share her favourite place, which is where she’ll be for Christmas.

    This is Cockle Bay on a fine evening at about 6.
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    My favourite place in New Zealand

    Hmmmm it’s a hard decision, to decide between three awesome places in which I’ve lived is tricky. Weighing the pros and cons it would have to be Howick where I currently live. It’s in Auckland, East Auckland to be precise. One can assume it’s snobby like the “North Shore” or Ponsonby. Nah, Howick is sweet like a cool drink on a hot day. In true Kiwi tradition Howick is five minutes from two beaches of which both are equally awesome, especially in summer. One is called Cockle Bay (but doesn’t have any cockles in it.)

     

    The people are friendly and open happy to say hello or good morning or have a conversation in the street.

    Saturday mornings are the best, there is the best market I reckon they sell everything from baking to flowers and fresh mmm bagels New York style. Brownies that melt in your mouth, Strawberrys and other produce fresh from the garden. Its Strawberry Season in NZ as well. Yummy and sweet.  

     

     

    This is one of the awesome views from the top of Stockhard Hill where an ANZAC memorial stands in tribute to the fallen heroes. I try to jog up to this memorial every morning and see the view.

     

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    Thanks Sis, one day I’ll convert you to London life muhahahaha.

     

     

    I’m. So. Jealous. (So is my Kiwi Santa I think…)

     

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    New Zealand – #travelthursdays

    I’m a bad Kiwi. I realised today that after more than a year of tweeting, and a few expat blog posts here and there, I’ve never really shown you anything of my homeland. Aoteoroa, Land of the Long White Cloud, God’s Own.

    May I present a photo-essay of the North Island on New Zealand. It’s pretty gorgeous if I do say so myself (sorry about some of the photo quality).

    View of White Island from Ohope Beach, Whakatane

    It’s a tiny but beautiful island waaaaaaay over the other side of the world that more than makes up for it’s size with sheer passion and friendliness.

    You have been warned. 

     

    Auckland’s Sky Tower: tallest building in the southern Hemisphere that you can eat in, gamble in and pay to jump off (attached to a zip wire).

    Rotorua on the Luge.

    Wellington (aka Wellywood after the Lord of the Rings workshops) has an amzing view from the cable car and gardens)

    Eight metre bottles of lemon-ish-pop (which has just released a mash-up with Whittakers – yum!!)

    The sights, sounds and smells of sulferous geothermally active Rotorua

    The hills and peaks of our mountainous countryside

    And oh, the beaches. Probably the aspect I miss the most – some smart person calculated that no-one living in New Zealand is more than 3 hours drive from a beach.

    …and of course our natural icon, the Kiwi himself (this pic is terrible, but they are nocturnal which is rather hard to photograph.)

     

    Have I convinced you to fly 12,000 miles yet my English readers? This is of course New Zealand biggest drawback (though without the isolation the countryside and animal population would have been totally different.

     

    For further indepth ideas of what you can do, check out my blog friend Dee’s blog. An American expat she is living in England, but lived all the way in my home country. How did you get all the way over there again Dee?

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