Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Gold Coast Home

We are leaving the Gold Coast after lunch today after having it as our home base for the last 4 weeks. As J's parents live here it is a great place to have as a base between all our trips to Victoria, NSW, New Zealand and Brisbane. Of the last 4 weeks we have been in Aus, we have spent 15 nights away in four seperate "mini holidays". J was with us for the first 2 weeks when we did most of our mini holidays.

How my in laws put up with us I am not sure - but they don't want us to go (we aren't flying out until Monday morning, but are visiting friends the next two nights). They always show our kids a lot of love and are no stricter than we are, so it all goes pretty well thankfully.

We went to Dreamworld with friends last week and spent a glorious winters day riding on everything (Munch is tall enough for every ride and it was only 15 minutes from home), yesterday we went to the huge Centro Timezone and spent 2 hours on their "$60 for 4 people" deal - (am expecting a medal for Super Mum any day (as I hate the noise in those places). But the absolutely best thing we've done on the coast was on Thursday night when we went to the Outback Spectacular (10 minutes from home). Although we had been last year, they have changed the show so it is a different story.

It now follows the story of the light horsemen and the first world war. Little is heard about the 14% of the males in Australia (this includes all males from 0 - 100) who volunteered to fight in Europe in the first world war and significantly aided in winning the war. The show is aimed at entertainment, but I spent most of the time wiping the tears from my eyes as I have done a lot of research into WWI and WWII and the kids asked their standard 100 questions per hour.

You are given a "outback hat" when you enter and you are served a 3 course dinner (steak, vegies, mashed potato and pavlova for desert), with free flow wine and beer throughout the show. The stadium seats around 1,000 people. We took the grandparents last year, but they didn't want to drive at night so chose not to go this year.

There is one segment near the end of the show where they have 4 children (2 from each "cattle station") chase a pig each in a race for the best station. All 3 kids were pig chasers this year. Last year only the oldest two were asked, this year all 3 were(the oldest had to pretend to come from the other station). Considering it's only 4 kids from the whole audience, the odds on being picked twice are pretty remote. Unfortunately I can't show you a photo as you aren't allowed cameras inside.

I can't comment on value for money, because I used my reward points for the tickets. But the show IS spectacular and if you are ever looking for an Aussie experience, it is definitely worth seeing once - gauranteed entertainment for anyone aged from age 2 - 100.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

NZ Skiing - Mt Hutt

We got back to Aus in mid July and after a birthday party in Victoria and a few days with the grandparents in QLD we headed off to New Zealand for a week. We chose the very uncommercial Methven to stay at this time around - a very small country town 1 hour from Christchurch and 1/2 from the ski field of Mt Hutt (sometimes known as Mt Shut, but not on our holiday - very lucky).
This was the view from the lounge room. We stayed in a really lovely apartment in a place called Brinkley Resort - it has room service and a five star resturant (which we didn't use) - but they also have a kitchen in each apartment, and because we got 3 bedrooms, we also had our own washer/dryer (otherwise the 2 bed apartment shares with the studio apartment). Really good value and really great facilities. Even putt putt, tennis and outdoor spas.

The mandatory family photo. The mountains behind are where the "Lord of the Rings" was filmed.

This is a black run - don't have a photo of the double black diamond run we did (only once), but we did this one a heap of times.

This is me looking like I know what I'm doing (isn't trick photography a great thing).

After a catastrophic jump (late in the day - must remember 7 year olds need hot chocolate at 2:30pm after skiing 5 hours (with a lunch break). Munch did a jump and landed badly - J is last and I'm first - so when we stopped with Bear and C girl right behind me, I could hear her screaming - We don't usually rush over to the kids when they fall down, they need to learn how to get themselves out of jam and get back on their skiis. But J had the skiis off and was calming her and just when she was about to get on the skiis, the patrol came and she happily had them stretcher her down. We went up on the lift to meet up with her, but missed her, so these two made love hearts to make her feel better (Daddy carried her inside to her hot chocolate in 'officer and gentlemen' fashion - she was fine).

Magnificent views on the drive down (hire a 4wd, the 2wd had to use chains every day, 4wd only 1 of the 5 days had to use chains)
Another gorgeous shot.

A beautiful groomed run. Sat and Sun were hugely busy as they were clear sunshine with fresh snow from the day before - full of Christchurch locals - the lifts were busy, but the runs were still okay - not too busy. Only 3 lifts for the whole mountain, which is a bit different, but very organised and efficient.

C girl showing how much powder on the run.

Just finished lunch - ready for more skiing, we missed the Italian food for lunch. Lots of people brought their own lunch up.

From the top of the express 6 lift.

The express 6 hits the top of the mountain in about the middle of the photo. You then traverse along the top to get to this point - really fun traverse - lots of spots where you have to go flat out down to get up the other hill.
The carpark is at the bottom, the base is further under the mountain (you can't see it) - this was our favourite run (this is taken from same spot as the last photo).

Another camera - same spot, different day.

With the mountain mascots.

Just about to start the traverse across to the mountain behind Munch and Bear. Anywhere along the traverse you can drop down and go down the mountain.

This is one of the runs down from the traverse.
We loved Mt Hutt - there is only one green run - so it's not a learners mountain, the locals on the road are unbelievably friendly (2wd cars pull over and let the trail of 4wd pass every now and then, and with a friendly wave no less). Methven has 2 pubs (the brown and blue pubs) that are reasonable for food and there are a couple of take aways and two five star resturants if you prefer. It doesn't have the variety of resturants or shops that Queenstown has, nor does it have the bungy jumping or jet boat rides - they are one offs in my book (they cost a fortune) - Queenstown also has more green runs (learners) and 3 ski fields close by incase it's bad weather in one you have a backup - Methven just has Mt Hutt. There are other things to do there - we could have gone up in a hot air balloon - but because the skiing was so awesome we didn't bother even looking at anything else to do.
Kids want to do terrain park coaching next time, think I will get some lessons so that it isn't so obvious that the kids have surpassed me in skiing. Brilliant holiday - will go back to NZ instead of Aus every time now - 2 out of 2 for NZ, 0 from 1 for Aus - why would we even try Aus again when it costs the same?