We can’t believe we’re in September already. The temperatures are slowly warming here in Southland as spring arrives. Farmers are busy with calving season in full swing and lambs just beginning. Flowers are starting to bloom which is a promising sign of warmer days. As our time here ticks away, many of our friends ask if we have started the “countdown” for our return journey. Honestly, no we haven’t. We aren’t jumping for joy about leaving next month, but it will be nice to have the familiarity of home and being near to family and friends again. We will be leaving behind many new friends who feel like family to us and I’m going to try my hardest not to “ugly cry” when my husband is dragging me through the airport. No promises though.
We are especially thinking of family, friends, and everyone in Florida right now as Hurricane Irma moves closer. Thinking of you all and praying that you stay safe no matter what path the massive storm takes. I know as Floridians we tend to joke about the severity of anything under a Category 3…but it’s time to put our serious pants on and keep our loved ones and pets safe! We have learned that one of our friends had to take a stand against their employer because management doesn’t want to close up shop until the last minute, even though many people are evacuating statewide. Not much time is left to prepare yourself for a Category 5 hurricane if you are stuck at work! Hoping no one ends up losing their job because they put their safety first and got out of harms way.
The month of August flew by but it was a special month with our 2017 Convention in Christchurch. This convention was for all Jehovah’s Witnesses on the South Island! We are so used to having our convention venue within a couple of hours drive back home. Michael and I took a couple extra days off work to have a long weekend to account for the long drive ahead of us. It’s roughly a 7 hour drive up to Christchurch and wanted to take our time. Hate feeling rushed. On the way up we took a more inland route and we are so glad we did! Stopping for a picnic lunch north of Twizel gave us some amazing mountain views over Lake Pukaki and could spot Mount Cook in the distance. We will be exploring this area more in October while on our 9 day road trip.
Our drive back to Gore was down along the east coast through Dunedin which was familiar to us from our many day trips there…but it’s still a 6 hour drive going that route. We loved every minute of our convention, with the theme “Don’t Give Up!”, but all that sitting along with the sitting in the car was rough. My bony butt can only take so much. If I could get away with sneaking a stationary bike into the convention I would!
On the way home from Christchurch Michael made sure we stopped at the CookieTime Factory Store. The man loves his sweets. These are NZ made cookies that are a national treasure here, and we now understand why. Totally delicious! Needless to say my husband bought a LARGE bag each of broken triple-chocolate chunk cookies and brownies to bring home. Since I have a small amount of self-control I bought a couple of cute magnets as souvenirs that will not add to my waistline! I really liked the CookieTime GM’s parking spot sign…if only we could all be that awesome.
Another nice treat we enjoyed while on our trip to Christchurch was our favorite bubble milk tea! We didn’t think we would find any on the South Island, but we managed to track it down in a tea shop and also found it in the Westfield shopping mall. Surprisingly enough the bubble milk tea in the mall was better tasting! Taro and Honeydew are our favorite go-to flavors.
September is our last full month here and we only have a few weeks left of work (woohoo!) Michael has been enjoying his work on the dairy farm and I even got to join him for one day helping out. So many baby cows! While Michael was mainly focused on working in the milking shed, I helped Lisa with feeding calves and cleaning pens. Looking forward to hopefully helping out again before we leave.
Our last day of employment will be Sept 29 and shortly after that will be our 9 day road trip around the South Island to see as much as we can before heading back home. All of our accommodations are booked and confirmed; staying at Airbnb’s and with friends along the way.
The planned itinerary includes the following sites and stops:
- Wanaka + Blue Pools Walk
- Fox Glacier
- Greymouth + Pancake Rocks
- Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Castle Hill
- Christchurch + Akaroa
- Ashburton (where we would have gone if we hadn’t stayed in Gore)
- Mount Sunday (Edoras in LotR)
- Mount Cook National Park + Lake Pukaki + Lake Tekapo
Planning on taking loads more pictures during the trip around the island. We are actually hoping we get one more chance to witness the Southern Lights…the next few days should be active thanks to some major solar activity. This might be our last chance!
Next weekend we are taking a day trip back up to the Royal Albatross Center in Dunedin to see this year’s albatross babies take flight. For their size they are surprisingly graceful and masters of the air. We can’t wait to see the babies test out their wings!
That’s all for now. I’ll post pictures of the Southern Lights if we have clear skies and conditions are right. Hopefully the upper Northern Hemisphere puts on a good show for our family and friends living there.
Thanks for reading!