Monday, September 29, 2008

Me & two Canadian scientists in one of the prettiest places on earth

Our friend Aaron (a Canadian and fellow UGA grad we met while living in Athens) just took a job in Queensland, Australia. He is visiting us this week, and it's been wonderful seeing an old friend here in the southern hemisphere. (This is your cue to start planning a trip, devoted reader. Hint.)

His plane got in Friday night. Our plan was to get up Saturday morning, grab some breakfast at the farmer's market, drive into Central Otago for some wine tasting, and then on to Queenstown for the night. Saturday morning it was POURING rain and cold. And we looked at the weather forecast in Queenstown and it was POURING rain and cold. And we were dubious.

But we pushed on, and much to our relief the weather cleared up and we had an awesome little weekend trip. It's ridiculous that the Queenstown lakes region is an scenic 3 1/2 hour drive and we have not been to visit since we were on vacation here in January 2007. We WILL make it back more often. The air here just feels good to breathe.

Stopping to take pictures along the way. We took an obscene amount of pictures.

Peregrine winery

Outside Peregrine. Cool building in a cool spot.

I think this was only their third tasting of the day.

Our picnic lunch at Gibbston Valley winery & cheesery. Mmm. Cheesery.

Two tourists, a Kiwi, and his sheep.

Queenstown is super cute. I think a lot of Kiwis like to complain about it being too touristy because it attracts a lot of international visitors, but it's easy to see why they come.

Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

View of Lake Wakatipu coming out of Queenstown Gardens

It seems like I should be able to make a funny comment about this statue, but I'm fresh out.

View of Queenstown from across the lake

One more lake picture

All in all, the weekend could not have been more fun and relaxing (except for learning an important lesson that gas stations are few and far between in Central Otago, and it is somewhat stressful to drive through the middle of nowhere for over a half-hour with the gas light blinking in your face). Just a great time.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Okay, so I was wrong. 1) We have not lost the camera; and 2) We do have new pictures besides the dogs. Sunday night, some new friends invited us to a little dinner party in Karitane, a pretty little coastal village about a half hour north of Dunedin. Before gorging ourselves silly on a delicious dinner and enormous pieces of lemon meringue pie, we took a little hike ("tramp") along the coast. So it was all good. Here are the pics:

Karitane coast

Long view of the track

Blow hole. A little sign nearby indicated that two star-crossed Maori lovers committed suicide on this site a long time ago because their families wouldn't allow them to be together. Seems a bit drastic to me, but makes the place extra interesting.


Who is the cutest husband ever?

Yup, that's me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Checking in.

Devoted reader Jen (aka "Defeasible Fees") lodged a complaint that it's been too long since the last post. I'm afraid this is because we are being quite old & boring, lately. Work. Eat. Watch TV. Vaccuum up dog hair. Complain about how I miss Mexican food. That's about it.

Actually, I drove to Queenstown this week for work and the drive was so gorgeous I was kicking myself at every turn for not bringing my camera with me to share the views with you guys. Sorry. And then I've just learned that we can't find the camera, so hopefully it is not permanently lost.

In the meantime, we took the dogs to the dog park today and Chris had his camera phone, so that will be an update. Being a camera phone, the quality is not great, but the pro is that Owen does not seem to mind the camera phone, so you get to see his pretty face.

That's my boy

Chris's good friend from Athens, Aaron (aka "A-Mac") is coming to visit next week. (I don't believe he is a devoted reader. Yet.) We're planning to get out of town for a bit and show him around, so hopefully we'll have some new wacky Kiwi adventures. Stay tuned, eager readers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In the interest of cultural exchange, here are some Kiwi slang terms and expressions. Impress your friends.

"Good on ya!" -- "Great!" or "Good for you!" (I heard you won the lottery. Good on ya!)

"Sweet as!" -- "Great!" or "Cool!" (I heard you won the lottery. Sweet as!) I also heard it in place of "thank you" at the grocery store the other day, although I'm not sure what that was all about. (Me to the checkout girl: Thanks! Checkout girl: Sweet as! Me: ??????????)

This one is just weird. Sweet as what, exactly? Nobody knows! It's just an incomplete thought! The other problem with this expression is that, coupled with the Kiwi accent, I sometimes think people are saying "sweet ass" and I get temporarily disoriented by the impropriety of it until I remember what's going on.

"Flash" -- Fancy or expensive. (He got a new car with really flash rims.)

"Mate" -- Buddy. Can be used to describe an actual friend (We watched a movie at my mate's place.) or just as a term of comraderie with a stranger or acquaintance (You dropped your keys, mate.). I always kind of suspected the whole "mate" thing was just an act that Australians put on to charm Americans during the "Crocodile Dundee" era, but in fact it turns out that both Kiwis and Aussies really do use it all the time. I also thought it was more of a guy word, but women use it too.

"Nutter" -- Crazy person. This just rolls off the tongue when Kiwis say it -- "nah-tah" -- but it does not work with my accent. With my accent, it sounds like "nudder." Not as nice. Also, it reminds makes me think of those little peanut-shaped Nutter Butter cookies they feed you when you donate blood at the Red Cross.

Those little cookies were all right.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Some fun, some mishaps.

Devoted reader Elizabeth (aka "Mrs. Fox" or "Foxy E") asked for an update on Chris's first Kiwi birthday, which passed Sept. 3 without any mention on this blog. I have been off my blogging game.

I don't want to speak for Chris, but we had a great evening at Scotia, a swanky restaurant here in town. Food was good, and the birthday boy took full advantage of its excellent whisky bar. On Friday, the people from his office went to happy hour to celebrate Chris's birthday and two others. Lots of Virgo statisticians, apparently.

That brings us to this weekend, which has FINALLY been sunny and beautiful and perfect walking around temperatures. So yesterday we decided to go for a little day hike to enjoy the weather and give the puppies some exercise. It started out well enough.

Chris in the bush

This crazy tree that has paper-thin bark. I don't know what they're called but they're really pretty.

View of Dunedin from about halfway up the track (Otago Harbor is barely visible in the distance)

Then we came to a little clearing where we planned to stop for a snack. And we came across about five sheep that had wandered on to the track from the adjacent farm. And all hell broke loose. Before you could blink, Livy was chasing all five sheep through the bush, off the track, straight down the hill. I literally had to grab a tree to avoid being knocked over. Owen, I'm proud to say, was on leash at the time and handled it all in relative stride.

For the next 30 minutes, Chris and I wandered back down the track, shouting for our badly-behaved dog to no avail. We later admitted that we had both written Livy's doggie obituary in our heads, guessing she had fallen off of a steep track perhaps met her fate with an angry sheep farmer. It was not a fun half hour. Then, finally, Chris saw her little orange body slowly staggering up the hillside. Much to our relief, she was not covered in blood (dog or sheep), nor was she injured in any other way. And as much as I was REALLY mad at her, it was hard not to laugh a little at her stupid, delerious dog grin. Aside from being in trouble with us, I'm pretty sure it was the happiest day of her life.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nothing screams "Brooklyn" like guacamole and ham.

I went out for dinner to Dunedin's "gourmet" pizza place with our friend Claire last night. You can tell a lot about a culture by what they put on their pizza, but I'm not sure what this menu says about Kiwis. Chicken, bacon, banana and brie? Ham, eggs, and tomatoes? Spaghetti, pineapple, and pepperoni? Anyone?

If you're wondering, we split a Mediterranean pizza, no olives on my half. It was lovely.