Thursday, 30 March 2017

Arrival in Christchurch/ New Zealand!

PHIL: Day 44/30 March

on approach to Christchurch, NZ
QANTAS to Christchurch and a country Allie has never before visited. Andy Nicholson, whom I first met at a hangar party in Kalgoorlie on the 1988 Trans-Australia ‘race’, meets us and drives to his ‘new’ farmstead in the Port Hills just south of town. A steep and gorse-ridden valley insulated from the nearby cityscape by volcanic hills.

We walk his 60-acre sheep farm in evening sun and swap aviation tales over a bottle of Cactus schnapps we brought from Namibia

A plan is hatched to make a balloon flight (the first in Andy’s two-year residence here) from the paddock on Sunday morning

ALLIE: DAY 44: Friday, 30th of March

Across the sea to New Zealand –country of my dreams

Early start at 6 am to get a cab to the international airport. Flight QF 45 takes us with a delayed departure at 9.25 across the Tasmanian sea into Christchurch the biggest city on the South Island. 

The flight takes only 2.09 hours to do the 2130km. We are lucky with the weather and I can enjoy some great views over the mountains, a huge lake and then the Canterbury plains with its thousands of square fields and horse racing tracks.

Andy Nichelson, Phils ballooning friend for 20 years greets us at the airport and drives us back to his new house, or indeed sheep farm I should say. 

He earns his living as pilot for Air Catham flying in and out to the outer small islands. But he is also a commercial balloon pilot flying the odd rides for some of the operators around Christchurch. His longstanding dream though was to raise cattle and sheep. 

over New Zealand
So two years ago he bought a sheep farm 20km outside of Christchurch with about 30 hectars of farm land nicely situated at the end of a valley. A dream place for Rachel his wife. 

The weather is absolutely beautiful. It’s sunny and around 24 degrees and the leaves are starting to turn red – it’s the beginning of autumn here! How strange to come from spring in China to fall in New Zealand.

Andy shows us around his land. He owns the odd 100 sheep, 8 cows, two dogs, two cats and two balloons! The main worry in this country is the ever so rapidly spreading gorse (a pest that was introduced from abroad in the last century and overgrows about every native bush) and the possums that climb up the roof at night, make noise and eat all the crop. 

Enjoying the lovely views around Andy's farm!
Andy would take his rife and shoot the possum but he can’t shoot the gorse, so he uses some pesticide that might ruin his health in 20 years he admits. But if it makes life easier now – who gives a sh…, he says. (The f,-s,- and b,- words do rather often occur here, but make the place very homely).

Rosco the ram
We enjoy a wonderful view over all his land from the top a little hill, then walk back to the shed where Andy would sheer his sheep just before winter starts, that is in June/July. 

And there is Rosco the ram! Rocso has the honour to get all the females excited. Unfortunately he has to leave the main pleasure to his mate since he for whatever reason is sterilized! 

The aim of the game is that all the lambs are to be born at roughly the same time. Most of them are kept, some are sold, some are faced with a short life. Both Rachel and Andy love their secluded life on this farm even though it means hardly any free time or holidays away from home.

the lovely house of the Nicholsons
A little walk with their daughter Amelie gives me insight in a teenagers world. She wants to become a nurse, but maybe a school teacher but maybe also a balloon pilot. 

At the moment she is learning Chinese even in extra sessions on a Sunday. Who knows for what it may be helpful. She knows a lot about how to use a computer and helps me (stupid old lady!) to transfer music from a CD onto my ipod (finally somebody who understands these things!). 

At the barn viewing the sheep shearing equipment
Robert the 9 year old also seems to be more interested in his game boy then anything else. But that’s probably the case anywhere now in the world.

We ‘oldies’ sit together after dinner and drink a couple of nice New Zealand wines and taste our Namibian cactus schnapps.

A great start at the other end of the world!

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