Monday, December 24, 2007

A Video Tour of Christchurch

While looking on youtube, I stumbled upon this video tour of Christchurch - enjoy!

Pegasus Town is coming ....

One of the things I have come to admire about the kiwi's is their ability to 'think big and make things happen'.
Due to an increased demand for housing, a property company is currently developing a complete new town for 5000 residents about 20km north of Christchurch. The town comes complete with restaurants and cafes, boutique shopping and larger-scale retail stores, a resort hotel, yacht club, swimming bay and aquatic centre, a golf club and community course on the beatiful Pegasus Bay coast.
The plans look fantastic and I am sure the whole project will be a huge success.

Hamner Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

Situated 90 minutes drive north of Christchurch you will find the Hamner Springs Thermal Pools and Spa. There are many different pools for adults and children alike with different mineral content and temperatures. The complex is currently undergoing a major expansion due to increased visitor numbers.

The thermal water originates from rainwater that fell 180 years ago, which seeped down through fractured rock in the Hanmer Mountains, to a depth of about two kilometres below the Hanmer plains.

When the springs were first discovered, the hot water rose to the surface under its own pressure from a depth of 10 metres. Today, the water has dropped to some 28 metres below the surface level and is pumped to the surface from a borehole. The water is at a temperature of 52˚C when it is first pumped up and the heat is extracted out of the water using a series of heat exchanges until it reaches bathing temperature of between 32-42˚C.
The complex is open all year round even during winter. We have been before when there has been snow on the ground, and I can tell you, we didn't take much time moving between the pools then!
It is another 'must do' and it is a great day out.

Waipara - Vineyard Country

Travel approximately 60km north of Christchurch and you will come to the Waipara. The Waipara is currently the fastest growing wine producing region on New Zealand producing some outstanding wines from around 80 vineyards covering more than 1,200 hectares of plantings. The views are simply stunning.

Christmas Berries

Kiwi's not having freash berries for Christmas Day is a bit like the POM's not having roast turkey, chestnut stuffing or Christmas pudding. Everybody in New Zealand goes to buy fresh berries to enjoy over the festive period - over the years it has become a real tradition. They are usually bought from a local pick your own outlet or from a local farm.
Kirsty, pictured above, is certainly looking forward to having them for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2007 House of Travel Golf Tournament Champions

House of Travel is a NZ travel company. They believe in making work as fun as possible and they go out of their way to make sure we (their employees) enjoy ourselves during the festive period and many other times besides!

Last Wednesday afternoon, we left work early and made our way to Avonside Golf Club to play 10 holes in the annual House of Travel Golf Tournament. There were 9 teams of four/five players from across the business - a mixture of developers, accountants, customer service, service delivery, infrastructure, project managers, business analysts, outlet operators, travel consultants, senior management and representatives from some of our business partners. It was a really fun evening.

Above is pictured the winning team (from left to right) Andrew, Ian, Grant, and Niall. Rik, the fifth member of the team, took the picture.

Monday, December 3, 2007

So how much does it cost to build a house in New Zealand?

I am not going to state how much it has cost us to build our house as it is not off the plan. However, I am going to direct you to our builders website so you can see first hand how much it costs to build a house in New Zealand.

We have incurred additional costs relating to resource consents, power to site, heating, sewage treatment, floor coverings, water pumps, solar panels and the land to build on which are not insignificant.

It makes you start thinking, huh?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Scout Photography Badge

A couple of weeks ago, myself and Andrew (scout leader) took the scout troop to Victoria Square for our regular Wednesday evening troop night. Victoria Square is a lovely garden in the middle of the the Christchurch Central Business District and borders the River Avon. Some of the scouts were doing some work towards their photography badge so they were given a digital camera and told to take some pictures. The two above are my favourites and show the wonderful sunset we enjoyed that night looking over the city skyline towards Hagley Park and the Botanical Gardens.

House Update

Things continue a pace with the house. The external brickwork is now complete and the internal walls have been covered with plasterboard. The drains and household waste treatment plant have also been installed. We are looking at a completion date sometime in the middle of February.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The School Run now takes 39 seconds!

Dropping off the children at school has never been so easy. All I have to do is pull my car into the school drop-off layby, open the car doors, say goodbye to the children and drive away. Come rain or shine the school headmaster is there to greet the children and he is more than willing to talk to parents too. It is such a useful facility.

I can think of at least one primary school in the East Riding of Yorkshire in the United Kingdom that would benefit from something very similar!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chess in Cathedral Square

Particularly in the summer months, Cathedral Square brings together people from all over the world. One of the ways people get to meet each other is through the playing of a game of chess. You can take part regardless of your age and the language you speak - its a great ice breaker!

Christchurch Trams

Another excellent way to see the city is to take a ride on the tram. They run on a circular route taking in many of the cities landmarks. The drivers give a running commentary and are a mind of information on the history of Christchurch. There are many varied and vintage trams in the cities collection and there is even a restaurant car which serves dinner in the evening as it travels around the city.

The River Avon

One of the many charming things about Christchurch is the River Avon which meanders its way through the city centre. There are some enchanting views from the parks and walkways that run along its side.
Tourists can explore the delights of the river by hiring a punt complete with Edwardian punter.
The river is teaming with fish and other wildlife too - it's a little gem!

Monday, October 29, 2007

School Summer Hockey

With the start of summer comes the start of the school summer hockey season. North Christchurch schools play in a league that meets at the Harewood Hockey Club. A number of school teams battle it out every Thursday evening on the astroturf. The facilities at Nunweek Park are absolutely excellent.
Above you can see Jake giving the ball a good slog up the field. He really enjoys his hockey!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where a zebra crossing costs much less than £114,000!

I was not particularly surprised when I read an article in the Daily Mail newspaper that said the UK Highways Agency spends £114,000 building each and every zebra crossing! You have to conclude that to spend over NZ$300,000 on a zebra crossing, the POM's must be over engineering their traffic schemes or simply wasting their (your!) money.

Thankfully Kiwi's do things rather differently and take a minimalist approach when designing zebra crossings.

Two dropped kerbs, a bit of white paint for the road markings, two striped poles with a reflective liminus round flat disk at the top facing the direction of on-coming traffic and the job is done. There is no electrical work, nor is there an annual electricity bill to pay and lets not forget there are no associated CO2 emissions that contribute to gobal warming either! The one pictured above is a deluxe model and has a third pole - it comes complete with a pedestrian safety island!

Kiwi zebra crossings work just as well as UK zebra's but they cost well under £114,000! I would be surprised if this one cost more than NZ$15,000, that's just over £5,000!

No wonder my council rates are so low!

Monday, October 22, 2007

48 hours into Jamboree on the Internet

48 hours in and the Bishopdale & Harewood scouts are still at it! We have been using IRC to chat with scouts from across the world. Contacts include rangers, scouts, guides, cubs and keas from Australia, the Maldives, India, South Africa, Holland, Malta, Sweden, Finland, UK, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, the USA and many places in between.

One of my favourite contacts were a bunch of cubs from New South Wales in Australia whose leader was making his cub pack pedal on a bicycle to generate the power to keep them online!

Great fun has been had by all. We have two hours to go before the event draws to a close and we start to pack-up the camp.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The 90 Mile Beach, Speed Limits & Big Waves

This is no joke. You can drive at 100kph on the beach. The 90 Mile Beach (which is only 57 miles long - work that out if you can!) at the top of the north island is used as a road. Coaches, trucks and cars daily trundle up and down. But you need to be careful - the truck below was hit by a freak wave the day before and was rolled over!

We were told that in a typical season at least one tourist coach will be lost to the sea.

New Zealand Real Ale

I think I'll have a nice cup of tea thanks!

Scout Jamboree on the Internet

The Bishopdale & Harewood Scout Troup are taking part in the Jamboree on the Internet ( The scouts have been making contact with other scouts across the world. The camp is being held at a local school that has some excellent facilities for hosting this kind of event.

Even more remarkable is that all the computers have been donated by individuals, businesses and even a school who gave the troop six Apple Mac's. We are running various flavours of Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.

The 34 scouts taking part will be staying online for the next two days. So I guess I'm not going to get much sleep (poor me!) although I am looking forward to the World Cup rugby final and Andrew's pancakes and pizza!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cut your Tax Bill - emigrate to NZ from the UK!

A new study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris has provided provisional figures for the respective tax takes of their member countries as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2006. Although full figures are not yet available, New Zealand has the 13th lowest tax take at 36.5%.

The United Kingdom was the 9th most taxed country. The Kiwi's, German's, Spaniards, Portuguese, American's, Canadian's, Mexican's, Korean's, Greek's, Luxemburger's, Slavs, Turks and even the Irish all pay less tax than the poor British!

For more information follow the link below:,3343,en_2649_37427_39495248_1_1_1_37427,00.html

Lord of the Forest

One of the highlights of the Kauri Coast is the superb Waipoura Forest. Managed by the Department of Conservation, the forest covers 9105 hectares and abounds with rare New Zealand flora and fauna. One of the many things you can see here are the mighty kauris - New Zealand's biggest trees.
A fully grown kauri can reach 60 metres and have a trunk five metres or more in diameter. They are slow growing and some kauris are 2,000 years old. , The "Lord of the Forest"shown above, is the largest kauri tree in New Zealand and is estimated to be 1,200 years old.

You can find out more information from

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who needs Snow?

To the north of 90 Mile Beach on the north island of New Zealand are some of the biggest sand dunes you are ever likely to see! They are absolutely awesome for sledging!

Enough said ........

Monday, October 15, 2007

Seagar's in Oxford Cook School & Cafe

Should you visit Canterbury, one of the 'must do things' is to enjoy an excellent lunch at Jo Seager's Cook School and Cafe in Oxford ( Jo has become a New Zealand household name following the success of her television cooking series Real Food for Real People. More information about her can be found on her website (
Whenever possible, the cafe cooks with local produce .... they also have an excellent selection of locally produced wines. The food is simply mouth-watering and the service is just excellent.
Jo's husband, the chef and all the staff will make you feel very welcome - we have even met Jo on previous visits. There is also shop where you can buy a range of quality cooking utensils and, of course, Jo's fabulous cook books.
I guarantee you will enjoy the whole experience and it comes highly recommended!

An Inside View of the House

Most houses in NZ are open plan. This shows the view from the kitchen into the Dining and family room.

This is the view from the lounge into the family and dining room.
The hub of the house .... the study. We cannot get broadband from NZ Telecom so we are going to put a radio antenna on the house pointing at the Port Hills (25km away) to receive broadband from Scorch Communications. (

The master bedroom and walk in wardrobe from the ensuite bathroom.

The guest room with ensuite bathroom.

The two childrens bedrooms.

And finally, a view of the garage looking into the laundry.

House Build Progress Report

Bricks have been seen this morning up at section so things are progressing along very nicely.

A Shed in Oxford that likes being the Centre of Attention


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tekapo Calling

We all stayed at Lake Tekapo for the weekend. Tekapo is located in the middle of the south island. Tekapo has recently applied to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to have its skies declared a World Heritage park. The area in and around the MacKenzie Country town is largely undeveloped and the view from its observatory boasts some of the clearest star-gazing skies in New Zealand. There is a really good cafe at the observatory too, but if you are thinking of visiting please be careful, the wind might literally blow you away.

Gondola Cable Car

Christchurch has the Gondola cable car ( that runs from Ferrymead to the top of the Port Hills. From the top you can see both the Port of Lyttelton and Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains.