365 photos [551 - 557]

A quick reversion to daily photos to document my Christmas break around the South Island with my friend Sophie. Weekly photos to return in the new year.

Christchurch → Queenstown

I admit being slightly nervous about the 480km hitchhike from Christchurch to Queenstown, my first in New Zealand, but I really needn't have because the ride was smoother than a babies bottom (not to mention far less prone to ejecting high volumes of dark green paste). Here were are standing outside car number two in stunning Lake Tekapo. It would later transpire that I was idiotic enough to leave my phone on the back seat of this car, a phone I was reunited with five days later with the kind help of drivers Michael and Cassie and the Wanaka Police Department. Thanks guys.


I've heard Queenstown described at the Whistler of the southern hemisphere and I can see the likeness. I actually knew people in Canada that migrated here annually to chase the ski seasons. An awesome town.


Sophie atop Queenstown Hill. Reminders like this about the impending birth of our Lord always came as a surprise. You'd be surprised how closely you associate Christmas with horrible weather.


Swooping around the landscape with only a few metal bars, a Dorito-shaped bedsheet and a very experienced man named Matthew keeping me from plummeting into the forest below. Really really great fun.


I could write an essay about this moment, unquestionably the scariest of my life, but I'll spare you the tedium. What's most interesting about falling 134 metres headfirst towards jagged rocks is that, until a generation or two ago, it would have resulted in certain death. Over thousands of years of human evolution, no one has got away with falling from this height. The resulting cocktail of drugs your brain is tricked into releasing at this moment is beyond words. Everyone needs to do a bungee jump, seriously.

Queenstown → Wanaka

Big fan of pontoons.


"Puzzling World" was described as "the top tourist attraction on the South Island" by the guy at the hostel front desk, a dramatic overstatement which led me to strongly suspect he had shares in Puzzling World. It was quite an interesting place though, and a good opportunity to take puzzling photos like the above.

Merry Christpocalypse

This blog is taking a short break over Christmas while its author does some travelling around the South Island. It might return in 2013, depending on whether or not the world ends on December 21. It's been a wonderful year, and a wonderful life. In either case, I will see you in the next. Merry Christmas!

Weekly photo [78]

Clay pigeon shooting was a feature of the amazing Christmas weekend in Hanmer Springs - a small resort town two hours north of Christchurch - paid for by my wonderful employer. I'd never held a real gun before (nor had any real desire to) but it was heaps of fun and I did surprisingly well, causing five pigeon fatalities out of a possible ten. At one point a stray dog emerged from behind a shrub and started running towards me. This caught everyone off-guard and the guys in blue had to lure him to safety before I was allowed to start shooting again. I thought about it later and realised it was exactly like Duck Hunt.

John Lewis Christmas Advert

If you live in England and you own a television, it's very likely you've seen the new John Lewis Christmas Advert. Failing that, it's very likely you've heard the music from the new John Lewis Christmas Advert because it's currently number one in the singles charts. Failing that, it's probably time to emerge from the rock you've been sheltering underneath for the last month.

Charlie Brooker once said of Christmas adverts that "Anyone who cries at this creepy bullshit is literally sobbing IQ points out of their body" and while Charlie Brooker tends to be right about everything, I will concede that this year's John Lewis Christmas Advert isn't bad. Then again I would say that, wouldn't I, because this year I saw the John Lewis Christmas Advert six months before everyone else. They were filming it in Auckland when I was living there. You want proof? I got proof:

From the advert.

From my camera. They repeated this snowball fight about twenty times, cleaning the actors and actresses between takes.

From the advert.

From my camera. I didn't realise the snowman was supposed to be the focal point until I saw the actual advert. He just looked like a prop behind a bin. I did touch him though and can confirm he was made of real snow.

A few more:

Weekly photo [77]

Beginning the three hour descent from the top of Avalanche Peak during a camping trip to Arthur's Pass with my housemates. It was probably the most challenging and rewarding tramp (silly kiwi slang for "hike") I've ever undertaken. A stunningly beautiful place.