Tag Archives: Christmas

Day 2: Xmas in the Sun (Part 1)

Waking up on Christmas morning away from home for the first time in my life didn’t actually feel as awkward as you might have thought. As you get older Christmas starts to loose a little of its shine and growing up takes some of the childish excitement out of the day. Many reasons, including my Grandma passing away on Christmas day, have made me not the biggest fan of the holiday. I enjoy seeing family and watching everyone open their gifts but for me the worst part for the last few years has been those first few hours of the day when I wake up early as always yet there is no one about. Partners spending time with their parents, house mates returning home for a while and me alone in the house with nothing really to do. I don’t say this to try and get sympathy from anyone at all as I don’t wallow around the house and cry or anything, to me it is just another morning except I can’t do anything as the country has shut down.

For the last few years I have always tried to take the edge of this by doing a big challenge on Christmas day that is just for me. A few years ago I challenged myself to complete at 10km trail run on Christmas day by myself around some fields and rivers near where I used to live. Last year I upped my game to “20k Xmas day”, this time taking an easier option and opting to complete the distance as a 15km bike ride and only a smaller 5km run. The point of it was though that it took my mind away from the mundane and let me do something I wanted to do just for me. No one else really new or cared what I was up to on those early Christmas mornings and that’s the way I liked it. To be honest if I had told most people they would have looked at my like I was a fool for even thinking such a thing but this was the way I liked it. The best bit was that last year on my ride at 8am I was heading down a steep hill by the lakeside and as I looked out onto the water I spotted another adventurer after my own heart. Out on the water was a woman on a stand-up paddle board wearing a wetsuit and a Santa hat. We spotted each other and waved and I knew that I had made the right choice in the way I was spending my Christmas morning.

I don’t know why I have just rambled on so much and none of it is really relevant to the story of my road trip but I think it at least sets the scene and gives a little bit of understanding about what makes me tick early in the morning on days when most people want to be in bed. Anyway back to what actually happened this year on Christmas day.

Xmas HatWaking up in a dorm room is something that I am used to now. I crept out of bed, got dressed and headed out towards lake Wanaka, all while trying not to wake any of my room-mates. With my first mission successful it was time to call home and rub it in that I live in the future and was spending the day in the sun and having a BBQ while everyone at home froze and pigged out on Turkey. My calls home were well received with most people still awake and having a cheeky Christmas Eve drink. I even managed to catch my brother out with some of my cousins so got to have a chat to all of them and take part in the merriment. Many positive comments were made about my newly shaved head that I was still getting to grips with myself so they were all appreciated.

DSC_2111 (1280x720)After a hearty English breakfast cooked up by the tag team of Craig and Dan we got our gear together for our Christmas morning hike. This year I had managed to rope in willing recruits to my usual days stupidity, however out here it seemed like the right thing to do anyway. While on the calls home I had already seen dozens of people walking, running or biking about, enjoying their Christmas morning in the best of ways. The attitude over here is a much more active one with everyone taking the idea of “lets get a head start on this Christmas fat I’m going to put on!” and so everyone is active. Our challenge for the day was to climb up Mount Iron to sit there and take in the view. We grabbed our stuff and headed out for the short walk to the hill. From afar it doesn’t look too big but as you get closer it does start to look like a much bigger challenge than people who were drinking tequila shots a few hours before really needed to be engaging in. It is by no means a mountain as the name might suggest but is a steep hill that takes about 30 mins to walk to the top. As we started to ascend we all had a mix of regret and relief. Regret that we had decided to hike up the hill that morning but relief that we hadn’t decided that we should take on the 6 hour round trip of Roy’s peak!

DSC_2112 (1280x720)Thirty agonising minutes later we sat at the top and looked out over the town below. The view made us quickly forget about our aches, pains and hangovers as we stared out over the lake below softly lapping against the snow capped mountains in the distance. Just when everyone thought the moment could get any better Craig and I surprised Merle with our pièce de résistance, 3 bottles of chilled fruit cider that I had hauled up the hill in my backpack. With bottles in hand we sat there in silence, drinking our drinks and taking in the amazing view of our surroundings. Sometimes nothing needs to be said between friends enjoying a moment and this was one of those times.

..Initially I was going to write all about Christmas day in a single post, however it seems like it might be a better idea to split things up a bit and save some for later. I know my writing can end up rather long winded and drawn out at times but you know what, I don’t care. It’s not my profession and I’m not paid to get it perfect (hence not spell checking enough or proofreading ever!). I write to have a record to look back on for the friends who shared the time with me and those who wished they could, so hopefully everyone just appreciates that for what it is.

I hope everyone has a magical Christmas such as that in their lives. Simple yet spectacular.

Day 1: Christmas Eve

Yes, I am aware that this is a month late. No, I dont care because whoever wants to read it will read it anyway. Enjoy 🙂


 

 

Wow. That is all I can start this post with. When we were planning this road trip and thinking about what we could get up to we knew it was going to be something pretty special but that didn’t really prepare me for the amazing trip we have ended up on and the awesome things that I have seen on this trip.

I know all of these posts have been a long time in the making, however I got straight back from the trip and got busy with life again and so it got put on the back burner. I am now on a whole new adventure having not yet published the one before so now is the time for me to get caught up and say what I wanted to say. Even if no one reads any of this I still need to get it all down as these are my memories and times to look back on that I otherwise might not remember to the best of my ability. If I was a smarter writer then I would have written a bit each day and chipped away at it but then again I am not a smart writer (or a smart man at times) so instead I have left it and am now trying to do it all at once.

To at least make a start on it I am currently sat in a bar in Kaiteriteri at near the Abel Tasman national park, drinking a cider and looking out at the ocean. Craig is taking a dip in the sea while I use this rare time that I have brainpower and no hay-fever (YEY!) to at least get something down on “paper”.

I suppose the best place to start is the beginning. At this point it is hard to even remember when that was. It has only been a week since we left home yet it seems like forever since I was last in Dunedin. The run up to Christmas was a pretty hectic one with lots of little extra jobs that needed attention at work, always with the worst possible timing. Luckily (or rather unluckily depending how you look at it) I was still in the area and able to deal with lots of the customer issues that happened. Craig had to work all the way up to Christmas Eve so even if I had wanted to run away sooner I would have just had to come back for him anyway so there wasn’t much point. Another friend, Merle, who I met in Thailand back in April has also come to New Zealand and didn’t have any plans so was joining us on our Christmas adventure, just for a little while but at least for a few days. She came and stayed with me the weekend before Christmas but then left to have a mini adventure in Queenstown and Milford Sound before we picked her up to get to Wanaka for Christmas.

DSC_2100 (1280x720)As soon as I got the message that Craig had finished work I hopped in the car, picked him up and day one of our Christmas adventure began. For once in our life we were actually prepared and Craig had all his stuff ready to throw in the car and start our long drive to Wanaka via Queenstown. To be perfectly honest the first part of the drive was a little underwhelming. We had finally broken free from work and were on our road trip… but it just didn’t feel like anything special yet. This was the same road we had driven down multiple times before and scenery we had already seen. Added to that was the fact that the radio stopped working and we didn’t have any CD’s. I probably should have mentioned before now that we were not actually in my usual car. My boss had let us take one of the other vehicles, a 4WD Mitsubishi Outlander, to go on our road trip. This made it much easier to fit everything into the back and proved later to be really useful when on the gravel tracks that New Zealand often calls “roads” so thanks for that Kevin if you’re reading this!

Anyway, back to the adventure… About 2 hours into the drive we did start getting excited as it was at that point that we knew we were actually on our mission and not going home any time soon. To detour to Queenstown on our trip instead of going straight to Wanaka added about an hour to journey and Merle had said she was happy to get their herself but it was also kind of an excuse for us to go there and take in the view for a moment. An added bonus to this little impromptu trip was seeing another old friend from Thailand, the infamous Red.

I met Red in Pai, the same place I met Merle, yet somehow they had

The one and only Red.

never met each other. Normally that wouldn’t seem like a big thing but anyone that has been to Pai knows that it is a pretty small place. I still cant get my head around them not knowing each other even though it seems like most of my time there I saw them all constantly. It was really good to see Red anyway even if we only had enough time to take a photo for posterity before continuing our mission for Christmas in Wanaka. Knowing Red like I do I expect that will have been one of his last memories before the rest of his Christmas turned into a blur of drinking and partying. The phrase “party like a rock star” was coined after this man.

Wanaka was just how I remembered it except a hell of a lot warmer. Having spent 2 months there on and off over the last year it is a town I have a special place in my heart for as I know many other travellers do. Getting back there didn’t feel new or daunting, it just felt right which is all I could ever ask for, especially at Christmas.

Step one after checking into our hostel was to go and find CB. He knew that I would be coming but I was pretty sure he would be at work so what better way to say hi than to go and get dinner and grab a beer, all while he worked. As predicted he was there propping up the bar when I arrived and his face lit up as only a happy CB can. It was awesome to see him after so long, even if we could only chat briefly while IMG-20151225-WA0001 (1280x960)he served other customers around him. Craig and I grabbed food alone as Merle was still back at the hostel getting ready, which seemed to take an age. After a while we eventually got a message from her that her and another girl had set off to us but found a band playing at another bar and so wanted us all to go there.

After a little persuasion we all headed to the local Irish bar to watch a cover band play and see many people get increasingly drunk as the night went on. In New Zealand all pubs have to close at midnight on Christmas Eve so there was a strict cut-off time as to when everyone had to go home. We all played it right down to the wire, drinking and enjoying the merriment before wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and heading back to our hostel to sleep, the start of my first every Christmas away from home.