As a wedding gift, our lovely friend, Miss Mazzy, bought us a Cheetah Encounter, at Wellington Zoo. She said she wanted to get us a present we would both enjoy, and would both remember, but as we are leaving soon, she didn’t want to get us any particular thing.
This was a pretty good present!
We booked a Sunday, and it was lovely and warm, if a little windy (but what is new, in Wellington).
We rocked up to the reception, where we got little tags on lanyards, so the keepers would be able to identify us. We waited around at the location in teh zoo where they said, and a couple of keepers came to get us, and walked us up to the cheetah encounter enclosure. There were two other people doing the encounter with us. We all were asked to walk in, and take a seat on the benches.
We waited while they bought in the cheetah we were meeting. His name is Charlie and he is about 9 years old. He was hand raised, and handled well by people, so is tolerant of people being around him and touching him.
He was much bigger than I was expecting, I knew we were meeting a cat,but he was more the size of a large dog, perhaps a greyhound, with long legs, but way more solid, and with a super awsum tail.
They took charlie over to the bench, and got him to lie down. The other two people went over to pat him, and we sat down with the keeper, where we had a bit of a chat about cheetah conservation. After a few minutes it was our turn to approach him, and give him pats! We weren’t allowed to touch his head, feet or belly, which is fair enough, normal kitties will try and eat your hand for patting teir belly fur; I’m sure a cheetah would actually eat your hand. We were allowed to pat him all down his shoulders and back, and weere allowed to play with his tail.
He was so soft and lovely, and he purred in a loud saw-ing purr, the whole time we were patting him.
Cheetahs are designed for speed, their claws are not retractable, so they can run at any moment, and his claws were super big! Apparently when they are at top speed, their stride length is about 25 feet, which was the length of the enclosure we were in. That seems a bit ridiculous. Their tail acts as a rudder, allowing them to turn really easily, and his tail was mobile and active, and very thick and muscular. I liked his tail.
Their spots are slightly raised, and they have dark markings around their eyes, which help protect from the bright sun. They camouflage super well in the african savannah.
He was overall pretty amazing, and it was a lovely present!
Tuesday was an early start, packing the car with everything we needed to drag back up to Wellington, it seemed almost as much as we brought down, even though we left a fair few boxes in the garage at Ian and Sally’s. We eventually got started, and headed out to Wanaka. We picked up a few groceries there, before heading off towards the west coast. Wanaka was quite pleasant in terms of weather, the sun was out, although there wasn’t much snow on the hills, considering it is still technically winter. Lots of blossom.
we cruised past the pretty lakes, then headed on into cloud, and everything suddenly became forested and green and lush – such a difference after spending two weeks in central, where everything is dramatic, dry and scrubby.
The sides of the road were green, and there was mossy forest everywhere. We stopped at a cafe in some random tiny place for lunch, then at all the waterfalls – the blue pools, fantail falls, Thunder Creek and Roaring Billy. I only collected a few rocks, and we saw a rather large number of sandflies.
We made it to Haast, stopped briefly at the Doc Info center, before driving on to Fox. It was all very epic and mist shrouded mountains. In Fox, we rocked up to a couple of backpackers before finding a cheap but comfortable one with a spa. The spa was out the back, surrounded by native bush, and we relaxed in it as dusk settled over the mountain, with kaka and all the other birds making their evening calls.
Once we got too hot, we dressed and wandered down the main street of Fox, until we found a suitable restaurant, the Cook Saddle Saloon, where we had an exceptionally delicious meal.
Wednesday we awoke early, and got on the road asap. We drove up to the Fox Glacier, and then had our morning run up to the glacier. We decided to run as we had a lot of things to fit in, and a short time to do it in. Also, it was raining, as it often is on the West Coast, and we thought running in the rain would be less miserable than walking. It also meant I got more time looking at the glaciers, rather than walking up to them.
It has been about 7 years since I was last at Fox Glacier, and it was quite a sad sight – Holy retreating glacier, batman!!! The end of the glacier has retreated quite a way, and decreased in volume as well, so it was much shorter. there were whole new walkways up a hill, and you can no longer walk up to the face, you have to walk up a ridge beside it, and look down on it, but you can’t get close. It was very dirty, as it decreases in size, all the gravel it has scraped off the walls falls down on top of the glacier. The end face is falling in every day or so, and there was a pile of broken ice at the face.
Dale said it had even retreated a bit since he was there earlier this year in January, and the tours that walk on the glacier have to walk further up the ridge along the side to find a safe place to get on the glacier.
After visiting Fox Glacier, we headed off to Franz Josef, where we did the short walk (at a run) to Peter’s Pool, a small, and very reflective kettle lake in the valley looking up towards the glacier. Back in the day, you could see the glacier from there, but it has retreated so far you can no longer see it. It was a pretty view nonetheless. the kettle lake forms when a large chunk of ice breaks off and lands on the ground, where it eventually melts as the glacier retreats, and leaves a small lake. Over time it will eventually fill with peat and form a bog. Now, it was still pretty, and very reflective, even though it was raining a little while we were there.
We headed back into town, to briefly stop at the Wildlife center, where I got to go and visit the kiwis in their little enclosure. I had the room to myself, with two very inquisitive kiwis who were poking and pecking around the floor and walls right below me. They were super cute, and fuzzy. One of them shook himself and foofed up to like twice his usual size, before shaking his feathers and settling back down.
Next we went to Hokitika, for some lovely pies, then drove on over Arthurs Pass, and then up to Broken River Carpark, where we took the crazy lift up the hill – and I mean crazy, it nearly goes up vertically, and it freaked me out a little. We are now staying in one of the communal huts on the mountain. Lots of people, but friendly and cozy, and we hope to get freshies overnight!
Wednesday I awoke to kea calling outside. I also awoke to 20-30cm of fresh snow, which blanketed everything, and was amazing and foofy!! Everyone was in high spirits, and we donned our gear to traipse down to the info hut to get our harnesses. We spent the day carving out the powder in soundless runs or poof, rolling around in soft foofyness, falling over a lot and enjoying it immensly. There were only a few sad moments, one was when I ran one of my fingers through the rope tow, and then ran two of them through again for good measure. I was pretty lucky though, and only got off with a little bruising, and a couple of sore bits that lasted a couple of weeks. At the hut, people told us lovely stories of gashes, ripped gloves, and finger degloving incidents with the rope tows, so I was glad I only got bruising.
Another sad was the rope tows, I can ride them now, but it is still a bit of a challenge sometimes. I rode switch on the long rope tow, as I had no chance of riding it backwards like Dale does, but it was getting pretty hard at the end of the day.
Rope tows on a snowboard is not such a fun thing. It is a rope that is being pulled up the hill by a pulley, you have a harness attached to you, and it has a little nutcracker type device on it. The idea is that you grab the rope, let it start pulling you, then drop the nutcracker on, and grab the nutcracker, and let go of the rope. The nutcracker allows you to be towed to the top, without hurting yourself, as there are a lot of pulleys that the rope goes through. First problem is you have to strap both feet to your board, then somehow jump into place. The next problem with snowboarding is that you ride with one foot or other in front. Rope tows have a side, and it just depends on which way was best for that tow. Snowboarders have to hold the nutcracker facing the rope, if they get on the rope tow from one side, or with their back to the rope, if you get on the other side of the tow. If the tow starts on the wrong side, you have a choice of riding with your back to the rope, or riding with the foot in front that you’re really not used to! Awkward.
After an amazing day of freshies, we had another lovely evening with a great group of people in the hut, and the next day we arose late, packed our things and headed down the hill. The lift down was magical, we could see out over the valley, and the trees on either side were still covered in drifts of snow. Once at the car, it was still covered in teh 20cm of snow, so we had to remove that, pack the car, and then put on chains to get down to the main road.
Stopped for the best pies in the south island. Delishuss.
Drove on to Kaikoura, where we stayed at the Dolphin lodge, and had another spa under the stars.
We awoke bright and early on the day… It was overcast, with fluffy cotton clouds hanging about the hills. Us girls were up early, to start hair and makeup at the early hour of 8am. We were only 10 minutes late, and Henri saved the morning by running off to get coffee, tea or hot chocolate as needed. I had a bit of a nap, what with the not sleeping much the night before, while they got started on Neke and Amy. We took turns sitting, getting hair fussed with and getting makeup on. Bubbles came out half way through, as did some muffins and pastries from across the road. Delishuz. I’ve never had bubbles that early in the day before, it was quite fun.
While we were out getting pretty, people were buzzing away at their tasks all over Alex. Ian, Liz, Katharina were all fixing up the cars, wrapping the bouquets, and sorting out bits for the picnic. Nessie was fixing food for the picnic, and lunches for the girls. The Smith family was sorting out all the stuff for the afternoon tea and the mini golf.
Holly (our photographer) turned up halfway through, with a ton of enthusiasm, and took some snaps while we were getting ready. I think we finally left there at around 11.30am… We arrived back at Ian and Liz’s at around 12pm, and only a slight panic as we stuffed down some delishuz (turns out I can’t spell that normally anymore!) lunch that our lovely helpers had prepared, and then zoomed off to the bedroom to get dressed.
The bridesmaids all slipped into their pretty dresses, applied boots and accessories, and brushed teeth.
We only had a slight hiccup when we realised we could only put my dress on me over my head, with a bit of gentle wiggling – it was too fitting around the hips to step into it, This wasn’t really a problem, but I had full makeup and hair done, and my veil was already well attached to my head..
It took a bit of maneuvering , bits holding, a towel over my head, and three or four people to get it on without ruining anything already done. But with a wiggle, I was in my dress. The girls pent the next few minutes lacing it up, and ensuring everything fit right.
Once the dress was on, it was all about accessories. I had a moment of panic when I realised the time, but someone noted that the boys hadn’t even left the house yet, so we were fine! We fluttered around the living room, ensuring we had all the bits we needed, and that everything was all ready to go.
Dad came out to the lounge, all dressed up in his lovely grey suit, and Mum was all kitted out in a pretty, sparkly, navy dress. It was all bustly for a bit, as everyone got themselves sorted, then started queiting down as people left to go get seated at the venue, and we realised none of the parents,or the grooms/groomsmen had their buttonholes.. we had to call Liz back, and give her complicated instructions over which one was for whom.. but she handled it great, and took off with all the buttonholes.
We waited a bit longer, then slowly made our way outside. It was my first real time walking around in all the petticoat and boots, and I nearly tripped over the doorframe.. but it didn’t take too long to get sorted. We had two cars that were decorated up all pretty, by Ian Nicholl, and we all piled into them.
The drive down was kinda nervy, but it wasn’t raining yet! When we arrived, I hoped everyone had ordered things so the boys weren’t standing by the door, but it was clear apart from the photographer. In fact, there weren’t many people around at all.
We piled out of the cars, adjusted the dress, and we were off. My first challenge was walking in everything on the gravel, but Dad helped me with that. My petticoat was a ridiculous thing, with metal loops, with the bottom loop extending way out the back, to hold the train out.
I was definitely nervous, but super excited, and remembering Nekes words of encouragement, I just looked for Dale, and tried not to fall down the steps, and it all went well!
Most of you will know what happened in the middle, but for those that weren’t there, it was lovely. The sun came out halfway through the ceremony, the readings were all lovely, and I didn’t fall over in front of everyone. I only had half a ton of lavender thrown down my top, and all the photos went well.
After the main family photos, everyone else tottered off to afternoon tea at Ian and Sally’s, or over the road to mini golf.
The bridal party walked down to the orchard, where we took some nice photos in between the trees, then I made everyone climb a tree so we could have photos in it…Coz climbing trees is such fun 😀
After the trees, we hopped into the cars again, and zoomed our way out to Butchers Dam, which was our main photo site. I wanted our photos taken there, as it had all the things I love, mountains and snow (even though we couldn’t see it on the day), water, rocks, a few trees, and lots of wilderness. We stayed out there for quite a while, with Holly being all happy and excited, and getting more so as the afternoon went on, the light got amazing, and the lake calmed into reflective stillness. We had a little picnic with delishuz food and bubbles, that was made by our lovely assistants, then wandered around the place, while Holly got excited about all the photos.
We made our way back about 5pm, and arrived at Orchard Garden. I had a quick petticoat change, and tied the back of my dress up into a more manageable amount of material. We were announced in as Mr and Mrs Smith, and proceeded straight to the cutting of the cake, as cake is delishuz!
We took our seats, and Josh commenced the evening with a bit of a chat, then it was straight onto dinner.
The speeches were all lovely, and made me cry a bit.
We had a first dance, the chicken dance, a photo booth, mulled wine, many bubbles, and a think a wonderful evening was had by all.
We stayed at a beautiful room at Oliver’s, and awoke at a leisurely hour and had a home cooked breakfast, before heading back to spend the day with family.
The week leading up to leaving was kind of ridiculous. I got sick the Wednesday before we left, with the flu, and that continued for about a week, and I only started feeling better a couple of days before the wedding. I kept working right up to the Friday, and we packed the car Friday night, to catch the Ferry first thing on Saturday morning.
We had to ensure we had everything we needed, and ensure we were in time to catch the ferry. Craig was amazing here, and single handedly packed the car… There was literally enough room for us to sit, and not much else.
The ferry crossing was lovely and smooth, and we found some long couches to sit on, where we both stretched out and slept pretty much the whole trip
The first part of our trip was quite nice, through Blenheim, then down to Kaikoura, with a stop at the waterfall of the seal babies! They were super cute, leaping and jumping and fighting. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good photos, as it is quite dark near the waterfall.
Lunch in Kaikoura was delishuz, pies and apple things, with my first ever vege Potato Top Pie.
We kept right on driving to Tekapo that night, with a brief stop for a wallaby. We stayed the night in a nice little backpackers, then woke the Sunday to a lovely crisp day. We drove around to the little church, taking photos, and then had a conversation with Holly T (our photographer).
After pictures at the lake, we continued on to take pictures of Mt Cook, but there was a lot of low cloud. We drove up the road to Mt Cook, and we moved out of the cloud, into brilliant sun and snowy mountains. I had never been up there (that I remember), so it was great to look around. I never realised you could get so close to Mt Cook. We had a brief walk around the village. The view was exceptionally pretty. We drove up the road to the valley with the Tasman Glacier, where we walked up to the lookout. It was very exciting, with rocks everywhere, the glacier in the distance, and icebergs floating on the lake.
A quick stop at the salmon farm, to pick up some fresh salmon, then we kept right on driving to Alexandra. We bought a couple of whole salmon, and the asian tourists who were there were very excited about this, and kept asking how much they weighed, and what we were going to cook. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pics of the salmon, so here are some ducks instead! They are NZ Scaup, little black ducks, and they swam around at the salmon farm, making cute little noises.
Arrived in Alexandra finally, after a bit of driving.
Dropped a whole pile of stuff at Ian and Sally’s, then I popped round to Ian and Liz’s to visit them and Mother.
Monday was planning day. It was also Mother’s birthday. I hijacked a clipboard and paper, and started my lists. We pottered around the house, ate many pineapple lumps. Mentioned we wanted to make asnowflake tree to Uncle Ian, and he disappeared out the back garden. We didnt pay any atention to this, as we were making a list. Ian returned about 15 minutes later, saw in one hand, pine tree in the other, then he proceeded to strip a few branches off and spray it silver iwht a spray can that just happened to be in the garage, and voila! A snowflake tree.
We went to the Post Office Cafe for lunch, as a birthday lunch for Mother, and when we arrived back at the house, I snuck around and put cream on the Pav I had secretly bought. We ‘hid’ the pav at the bottom of the fridge, and later had a wee domestic incident over Mum putting milk in the fridge – we tried to stop her from doing it, but we didn’t quite manage; luckily she didn’t even see the pav, so all was well. We put candles on it, sang happy birthday, and then tried to eat it all.
Tuesday was a visit to New World to discuss our flower needs. We sorted out a whole pile to be ordered, arriving Friday morning!
We collected pinecones, and had an assembly line of Dale’s family who wrapped the lavender into bouquets with purple, red and white, and made up the wedding favours.
Over the course of the week, we made three batches of mulled wine, which required cheap cask wine, lots of spices and some fruit, and cooking it for 2-3 hours until it was a concentrate, where we stored it bottles for the big day.
Wednesday was cake making day. Dale’s mum, Sally, had already perfected and made an amazing fruitcake, full of central Otago apricots and cherries, and that was sitting waiting. She had also secured us the right sized cake tins, in graduating sizes, for the different layers. We made a chocolate cake and a lemon cake, the middle and top tiers. I had practised the cakes at home, perfecting the recipes – including trying them out on my flatmates and workmates, who thought that was just terrible.
Thursday was cake decorating day. We rolled out massive sheets of icing, and the bottom layer took three people to lay the icing on without dropping or ripping it. We iced all three layers separately, then used plastic holders to keep the layers from sinking onto each other.
We finished by decorating with purple snowflakes and ribbon. I remember Amy helping make a lot of the snowflakes. The cake was topped by the adorable cake toppers that Monique had helped us make.
Somebody got a bit carried away with the spraying of pinecones, and happily made half of them silver for me.
Friday started off bright and early, with me scoffing down breakfast, then zooming off to New World with Mumto pick up my flowers. They seemed like such a small amount of flowers for what we wanted to make, but it was definitely the right number, and the colours were lovely. Mum and I spent the morning making up the bouquets.
They turned out amazing, exactly what I wanted, and at about a quarter of the price. Maybe a sixth of the price. For the cost of my and half a bridesmaid bouquet from a florist, we made: my bouquet, three bridesmaid bouquets, the groom and groomsmen buttonholes (3 altogether), and 4 parental buttonholes. Go us! Mine had maroon velvety roses, white roses, lavender roses, purple iris, purple anenome, and white ranunculus, with a little bit of babys breath.
We left them all in sugar water, to be wrapped in ribbon the next day.
At 1pm, all of the girls of the bridal party headed down to Solo Hair Design, where we discussed our hair and makeup for the next day. After that we headed back to Dale’s parents, packed up all the decorations, and headed down to the venue.
We had a brief rehearsal (eee), and I ordered people around to set up the decorations. The place was starting to look amazing, and I left detailed lists of the things to set up in the morning.
Friday night was a mass of helpers, putting together menus and programs and all the bits and pieces like that.
Saturday – Ian and Liz decorated the cars amazingly, Vanessa made sure we had breakfast and lunch, and snacks for the picnic, and Ian and Katharina spent a couple of hours in the morning wrapping the bouquets securely in ribbon.