Letter from New Zealand

Following on from our Tracy in 2001


Skiing in the "Summer" down in New Zealand

Updates from ex-La Tania chalet girl Ali


Trip photos are here!

Boken Nose photo here

Remember this from 2000?



Update 05 June 2004

Home Sweet Home!

This may well be the least interesting of any updates sent in the last 12 months. it is with deep regret that i announce my return to the mother country. yes, days of living by the beach are over, chance of a decent tan is looking thin, and percentage of fit surfer boys to oggle is minimal. oh me, oh my.
but the good news is that i have a lot of catching up to do!!! so just really checking in to say hello. looking forward to seeing you all again very soon if i haven't managed it already and to ask for a quick reminder of just where in the world you're hanging out at the moment, so i can be sure and pop by.
i'm still answering the same old mobile number, if you've not all deleted me from your address books and at the minute back at home with mum, though i'm really not sure how long it will be before the ants get the better of my pants, if you know what i mean.
so. update please. for the scottish contigent, i'm hoping to get up there for a week or two asap, but asap might be a wee while as i need to be able to afford the week or two, but hopefully in july. let me know when's good for you - especially when's good to go out and play with this boat i hear you have bought Mark & Angie! well up for a few days on the loch!!!
those around england prepare yourselves for imminent arrival. and those further afield, well, i'm afraid that may take a little longer, but i'll see what i can do - btw Em, paul and becca might be out in Cham in the summer, so we have to all make a bit of an upthecreek reunion! just say when.
p'boro girls, sorry i'm so crap that i have to email u to get in touch. but u know me! crap. let's go out to play soon. (can one of u forward this to Soph, cos i don't seem to have her address.)
see y'all soon,
Ali xxx



Update 05 April 2004

Hi-de-hi Campers!

Well it's been a while, a lot of apples, a broken nose and the sale of Big Red since i last wrote, so i guess it's about time i did a wee update.
In fact, that little synopsis pretty much covers it, i've been in Gisborne for about 6 weeks now (is it that long since u left Gem?!) mostly up an apple tree keeping the supermarkets full of Royal Galas and the odd Red Delicious, with a couple of Beurre Bosc pears for good measure - though they of course come from "pear trees"!!! ok, so it's not exactly mentally challenging, but it's quite nice working outside, and i've earned (and spent) a fair amount since i arrived with my 9 dollars.
Been persevering with my surf board and was just starting to get it together when i went out one windy day and got smashed in the face with it last week - stupid extreme sports! well. much blood loss, a broken nose and a black eye later i was discharged from the hospital emergency dept with a wonderful new look - the tampon-up-each-nostril thing is going to catch on i'm sure!!! thankfully i only had to deal with that for 24 breathe through the mouth hours and moved up a notch in the fashion council to being the proud wearer of a "nose bandage" which hooks onto your ears.....you can only imagine! anyhow instead of taking the micky unbearably as i would have expected, my friends at the hostel were all super nice and sympathetic (i must have looked quite pathetic!) and keep telling me day by day how much it has gone down, i do have photographic evidence of the tampon look for u all to laugh at later however, so don't feel like u missed out!
Other than that, life has been fairly uneventful. came to Auckland this weekend to sell Big Red. it was emotional. bumped into a friend from Gisborne on friday night which was cool, and when we went to check out his friends flash hotel last night the entire Rugby League Super 12 team the Warratahs were in the lobby on their way to the same floor as her. yum!!! ok, i know that super 12 means nothing to you Brits, but the kiwi's might be impressed....especially since they kicked the Warratah's butts yesterday!!!
And that brings us up to date. am now going back to Gissy for 2 weeks hard work and serious saving before i meet up with Jonathan in Sydney for some serious surf time! sweet!!!! hopefully will have a ridiculous tan, on top of the already not too bad base for u all to see sometime at the end of may. yes, even now i haven't decided what date i'm returning on! (while i think of it,  Jon what is your return date? and which airline are u with? might try to go back together so at least the annoying person that's kicking me in the back for the entire journey is a blood relative!).
Ok groovers, i'd better hit the road as i've got a hospital appointment to keep tomorrow - see if they're going to reset the schnoz....sounds lovely!
A xxx


Update 19 February 2004

Surf's Up Dude!

g'day groovers. how are we all today? me, i'm pretty good, in fact, i'd go as far as to say i'm really quite happy. i'm in Gisborne now, my whirlwind tour of the north island has come to a halt after i left my travel buddy at the airport last week. i think i was in Taupo when i last wrote, well, as my mum will be relieved to hear, i didn't jump out of an aeroplane as planned, the weather wasn't up to it. in fact, it kind of rained on us for about a week as we went through Roturua, the Coromandel, and up to the Bay of Islands, but it cleared up for the last part of it enough to make us forget how wet it had been.

i'll not bore you with step by step details but the highlight of the last bit has got to be quad biking on the giant sand dunes at Ninety Mile Beach. i wanted to go dune surfing and was told it would be a very long walk, so a quad would be a good idea...they were right, it was awesome!!! the 'surfing' turned out to be sledging as the sand was too dry to board on, but that was a whole lot of fun any way, first run down i managed to pick up a fair bit of speed, i think the guy was just saying that i might have been moving as fast as he'd seen anyone go when i hit a bit of a bump and practiced my stunt man roll the rest of the way down!!! .......sand can get into all sorts of places you know.

so now i'm back in one place for the next 2 months, earning a load of money to fund a 4 week holiday with my brother in Australia on the way home. it's all worked out very well, i wasn't really sure what i was going to do - or if i'd have any friends!! decided at the last minute i'd come across here to look for work and go down to Wellington if not, but within minutes of parking at the backpackers i had a job and a new friend.
bit of an accident really, he jumped up to bang on the window and scare me, thinking i was someone else! pretty good ice breaker really, though personally i think he saw me driving in and it was all just a ploy to get talking to that hot chick in the big red van!!!! oh come on, let me live in my fantasy world! anyway, he managed to point me in the right direction for a job and i started picking apples at 7 the next morning. early. it's not bad work, very well paid and you get to be out in the sun all day.
also quite flexible because you get paid for how much you pick, so when i get bored in the afternoon and start thinking about going for a surf, that's pretty much what i do. don't go getting and false images of me as some kind of surf goddess by the way, i talk the talk, but there's a lot of falling over when trying to walk the walk. i'm still trying though, so hopefully after a couple of months here i will be living up to the Bay Watch babe thing.
the place i'm staying is quite fun too it's an old convent that's been turned into a backpackers. i think the good influence of the nuns wore off a while ago though. there's a big group of people staying there who are working and lots of nice surfer boys to look at! there's a nice atmosphere, people just mooching around in the evenings always someone to talk to so i've pretty much landed on my feet. managed to go a whole week with only 9 dollars to my name when i arrived, and it wasn't half as bad as i thought it might be.
obviously as soon as pay day came i made up for it in one go! oh well. got to live a little don'tcha! right, well i've sat here for long enough i think. start making preparations for the party 'cos it'll be the end of May before you know it and i'll be setting foot back on British soil (and probably a bit of French too for those of you over there, i think the rest of the world will have to wait a little though)
hope everyone's having fun doing what you're doing. i'll be checking up on you all very soon.
lots of love Ali xxx
PS. New postal address: Flying Nun Backpackers 147 Roebuck Street Gisborne New Zealand lots of airmail love, affection, chocolate etc gratefully received.



Update 01 February 2004

On the road again...

Hello hello. yes, it's that time again, i've got Big Red back on the road and continuing my travels around this fine country. Had a wicked time in Kaikoura over the last couple of months, does feel like we were there longer than that, felt so at home there......was kind of sad to leave to be honest.
Managed to squeeze in a fair bit of touristy stuff before we split though, we went swimming with dolphins (which i'm sure i don't need to say was AWESOME!) and a mate who works on the Whale Watch boat got us a free ride out with him so we went to check out some ma-husive sperm whales chilling out doing there thing. hopefully there's a couple of photos in the camera which will do the experience some credit, but to anyone and everyone who gets a chance do it!
So once that was done and Gemma had managed to get her name forever on the wall of the Strawberry Tree - best pub in Kaikoura, go there! (bit of free advertising for you Shayne!) - by joining the Guinness hundred pint club, we packed up the van and skidaddled. first stop was the Able Tasman, did some sea kayaking and had a bit of a walk into the park (only about an hour or so, not the full 3 day walk!). After that the vineyards of Marlborough were calling us, so we went back down to Blenheim, hired some bikes and did a circuit around a little town called Renwick which is conveniently located in the middle of about 20 wineries! so that was fun, did start off trying to take notes and learn a little something, but i think that fell apart by the third stop!
Next day (after a slow start!) made it up to the Marlborough Sounds for a lovely scenic drive up a very bendy road before catching our Ferry across to Wellington and the North Island. Wellington was kind of wet and windy, o didn't really see that much, but did manage to meet up with an old buddy from Chamonix (hello Aaron!) and a friend from Kaikoura who's just moved up there so did the sociable thing and had a pretty big night out and now we're up to today. drove a pretty long way up to Lake Taupo where i am now and about to go to bed!
One of the big things to do here is sky diving, so providing my mum doesn't reply to this quickly enough to beg me not to, i'm thinking of going and jumping out of a perfectly good plane tomorrow!
Huge bear hugs and old granny kisses. Ali x


Update 14 November 2003
Seals are our friends!

Hello hello. i've so much to tell and (you'll be pleased to hear) only 10 minutes of email happy our left to tell it, so i'll give you the abridged version. if anyone cares i've found a couple of maps to show you where we went too. So it all began in Wanaka. one fine day we woke up early to pack up the van and hit the road...

by about 5pm we were finally ready to actually get going and set off for Milford Sound. Owing to our late departure we actually made it as far as Te Anau and stopped there, first night in Big Red, all excited and not sure really where to go, we decided to park on the main road through the town and use the public loos in the centre to save those all important dollars that a campsite would rob. Classy. all went well and we woke up at some ungodly hour in the morning - probably would have been a lie-in for mum, but i'm not mum!

So we were all set to make an early day of it and get to Milford bright and early while the weather was good, only sparky here had manage to confuse the padlock for my bike with that for the garden shed back in Wanaka, and though the later had somehow undone the bike lock so i could successfully attach it to the bull bar of my van for over-night safety, somehow it would not release it in the morning. Nice one. Thankfully a nice man in Mitre 10 (NZ B&Q) lent me some big fat bolt cutters to get it off again and we were on our way.

A lovely cruise around Milford Sound, very beautiful, saw a very shy penguin and some fur seals Whitney and Kath, though of you both! then back down the road to Lake Manapouri. I Wont bore you with all the details as i've been on the road about a fortnight, but basically followed the southern scenic route stopping at Riverton - saw pod of dolphins swimming wild which had cruised into the lagoon - AWESOME!

Then Invercargill, Bluff, through the Catlins, Curio Bay, more yellow-eyed penguins, Whit you'd have loved it!!! so cute and funny looking when they're crossing the rocky beach!!! several waterfalls, a night on the beer in Owaka funded by the Balclutha Rugby reserves who stopped to give us directions! then Balclutha, Dunedin, the Moeraki Boulders, big lumps of very round rock in the sea. odd. Met up with Gill and Tom again at that point and drove with them up to Christchurch where we managed to lighten our loads by shipping home all boarding gear - tip for anyone doing this in the future, it costs the same to ship one as it does to ship 4, so find some friends!!!

Guy Fawkes was spent on the Banks Peninsula in one of the few places in this country where it is illegal to light a fire or set off fire works - genius. so we saved them a couple of nights until we got here - Kaikoura and had our own little celebration down on the beach with a case of stubbies, a $20 pack of fireworks from the Warehouse (very cheap shop sells everything, i love it!) and a fire of driftwood. and that's about it for now, we have spent all our money on petrol and food so have stopped to earn some more in a lovely little place on the coast where whales, seals and dolphins frolic in the surf, and so do we.

i went seal swimming yesterday with Gill for her birthday treat. it was awesome, they get kind of curious and come really close to see what these stupid things with bright coloured flippers are! we just watched Finding Nemo, so Gill was trying to communicate with them in whale! very interesting!!! it would have been even better if i wasn't crook and hadn't ended up polluting the ocean with the hot chocolate that was supposed to make me feel better - sorry flipper.

So now we're here and back to motel cleaning and other bit part work until we can afford the next installment. so all Xmas cards to 69 Beach Road Holiday Park, Kaikoura, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand. (not canterbury as i texted you Jon, i was making it up - badly!!!) hope the british winter is kind to you, the kiwi summer is being pretty good to me so far, evidence of sickening sun tan to follow soon!!!!

much love all round,

Ali x


Update 28 October 2003
Hitting the Road!

hello people! sorry that i've not been ramming your respective inboxes recently, but i've been a busy bunny. i've bought myself a big red van and converted it to a camper which i am about to head off in to travel this fine country. on that note, my address in Wanaka is no longer valid, so please, stop the fan mail and presents, i won't get them. i'll give you a forwarding address when i get a new one, you'll have to just hang on till then. my number xxxxxxxxxx is still good though, the power of the mighty mobile hey! however, it's a bit like living in the highlands of Scotland around here, so depending on where i am it might take a couple of days for text messages to get through! right, i've got about a hundred things to organise before i leave town and i was supposed to be on the road 3 hours ago. oops. more goss soon.

Ali x


Update 06 October 2003
Season end...

Hello People!!! Sorry for the lack of contact i hope you're not feeling too neglected. I've been working hard and playing hard, what can i say?! Well, after surviving earthquakes and jumping out of helicopters, it's very nearly the end of the ski season for this little snow bunny...infact, technically it WAS the end of the season yesterday, but the ski fields have decided to stay open an extra week in celebration of the excellent spring snow.

So that time is coming where i have to start thinking about what happens next and this afternoon i'm going to go and buy a van which i'm going to convert to a camper and call my home for a while as i travel around the south with a mate. (my CDT teacher would be well impressed with what i've got planned!).

And as the rest of you settle into another bleak british winter, or prepare for another awesome alpine one, things are just hotting up over here. it's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and what i'm doing sitting in an internet cafe instead of playing frisbee i'm not quite sure, but will rectify shortly. but i just wanted to say a quick hello and let you know that this little pomme is having fun on the other side of the world.

lots of love

Ali x


Update 31 August 2003
Ali the super nanny!

Hey there, i know it's only like a week or two since i last wrote, but it seems like an AGE from my perspective, so i'll give you a quite up date on the bits that happened in between.

firstly, no naughty business to report - unfortunately! no, haven't really been getting into any trouble to speak of, but am having a cool time, had a bit of a mad week when i finally got a pay packet which covered more than my rent......went out and caught up on a bit of what i'd been missing out on with a couple of parties thrown in for good measure.

i've now just finished a week of child minding for 3 kids. man was that an experience!!!!! having never changed a nappy in my 25 years i find myself looking after Jake - 3 1/2 years, Caspar - 16 months and Alfie - 3 months, maternal-instinct-tastic!

you'd have been peeing yourself laughing if you'd seen me! i got some very perplexed looks off people as i was walking around with alfie strapped to my front in a baby sling! no one could seem to work out if he was mine or not, and too embarrassed to ask, especially when i was sitting with my buddy who was looking after another family with kids the same ages....two of us "young mums" there with our little whippersnappers! it was pretty hard work but they're really quite sweet, in fact i'd go as far as to say adorable, at least when they were all being nice and not wailing or trying to beat each other up!i've already told my mum it's going to be a while before i make her a grandma!

i had a pretty awesome day yesterday, had my first NZ back country experience - kind of by accident!!! saw some tracks dropping off the side of a run and had been told by some random on a chair lift that it was an awesome ride and spits you out back into the car park, so figured it was worth a look. hmmmm, don't trust randoms. i caught some wicked fresh tracks, but as the number of other tracks around me began to disappear rapidly i started thinking i might have been given some misinformation. TWO HOURS it took me to hike out of there!!!! i was SO knackered by the end of it. thankfully it was a gorgeous day and i had my trusty Dakine Helipro backpack full of juice and ready to carry my board for me (as i needed my hands free for a bit of rock climbing and hanging onto tussocks to pull me up!!!) i'll know to think twice before doing that again!

got some nice racoon face going on as a result of it though, so i'm finally looking like a local should, also feeling pretty stoked to have had such a good day at last. the snow has been a bit thin, and though it's still not Cham, the little dump we had last week made for some awesome fun. definitely need that now and then to remind you why you don't mind cleaning rooms and babies bums that much!
big love in your direction.

Ali x


Update 29 June 2003
Kia Ora

apparently, as well as being a popular boxed drink among school children across the united kingdom, that also means hello in Maori. my, what a wealth of knowledge i am!
so, latest news for you...

i have in the last few days secured both a job and a place to call my own...not bad going eh?! i managed to convince Gill that her current abode out in Lake Hawea - about a 15 minute drive out of town - was just to darn far away, and we have found a sweet little 3 bedroom "crib" in Wanaka. Kiwi use of the term crib does not quite correlate with the rap gangsta image which may have just been conjured in your minds, it is actually an old lady's holiday home, complete with 70's green flowery curtains in the master bedroom, a few chairs which would have fit in nicely in Castle Mews and a slightly strange smell. However, with a good airing, a bit of love from me Gill and Tom (Gill's boyf) and several cardboard boxes to pack away a bit of the chinz it will be "SWEET AS, BRO!"

big upside is that it actually has 6 beds, lots of room and a nice sunny back garden that is just screaming out for a BBQ party. so if any of you find yourselves lost on the south island there is plenty of room and fun for sure.

as for the job. that's a little less exciting, but will pay the rent until i can find something which allows me to board all day......yes, once more, after countless years of quality british education, and while my peers earn their millions in the corporate rat race, i am going to find myself clearing up after the likes of them. housekeeping. why is it that i spend so much of my time earning money from cleaning? HAS NO ONE SEEN MY BEDROOM??!!!!!!! och well, could be worse. the pay's pretty good and it was pretty much given to me as soon as i asked (thanks to my vast experience of the scrubbing world!) however, it is in a - very nice - hotel which is on the other side of the lake from our new place.....convenient.......i'm thinking of buying a boat!!!!

ok, Gill has just got back from telling her large scary Austrian former flatmate that she's moving out. she looks like she needs to sit down for a while!
have fun people and pray for some snow for us, we kind of need it.

Ali x


Update 23 June 2003
Hobbit Spotting

a few days on, a few more places seen...we've spent a lot of this week driving around middle-earth but no sign of any hobbits yet.

arrived in Christchurch on a very sunny tuesday, had a look around - very pretty place, looks terribly English! spent a couple of nights there, picked up the hire car and drove across to the West coast, via Arthur's Pass (where some witty young vandal has humorously painted over the "P" on the sign at the station!) on to Franz Joseph where we found a bed for the night, then next day went to have a look at the Fox Glacier - but no sign of polar bears giving out mints :(

Next stop Queenstown. and among other things the all important purchase of the latest Harry Potter book. and unless any of you were hardcore enough to have got out of bed to buy it at midnight (Rich?) then i beat you all to it!!! how sad. also went up a little cable car for a cool view over the city and its very big lake and to play on the "luge" up there. fun little track half way between go carts and bob sleigh! i'm such a kid!
next stretch took us across to the east coast again (it's a good job this is a small country!) where we were going to go penguin and albatross spotting at Dunedin, but had to spend sunday morning getting a flat tyre repaired so missed out on the penguin tour, did still see an albatross flying overhead though (which is apparently more than the bird spotters with their tweeds and binoculars had managed all the previous day!)

another few hours in the car brings us back up to date and to our current destination, Wanaka. which is where i'm going to be hanging around for a while and trying to find a semi-permanent job and bed for a few months. the piste report has it snowing up top today, but it is just raining down here so haven;t quite seen the lake view in all its glory yet.....nevermind, there's time. Cardrona is not open yet, but i'll be taking out my nice shiny board once it is and see how the snow sticks to them there upside down hills.

so that's it for now. just about to summon the strength to go asking around for a job, but think i might go test out the local hot chocolate first.
take care guys and girls. and stay in touch.

Ali x