Monday, December 24, 2007

Tim's Christmas & New Years best wishes

Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

As you may have guessed I have ceased the 3 monthly "where's Tim now?" emails...I am no longer an Internet/email junkie, and have decided that I have better things to do, particularly when on holidays. Facebook seems the way of the future to keep in touch so if your wanting to know what I am up to you know where to go.

My last email left with me working in "Good Health" Wanganui (hospital), I enjoyed the 2.5 month stint there by myself and got to know the town and people there better. 'Jenny mums' cooking, playing with safa's, running with the Harriers, even working at the hospital was all great but I was ready for more holidaying.

I spent a week with Anneliese (sister) in the South Island doing the "adventure stuff" like Gliding (like in the movie "Thomas Cown Affair") and then skydiving...this will be the highlight of 2007, I still get a rush thinking about it now!

Then there was 3 weeks with the folks seeing the whole south Island, pity about the constant rain but they enjoyed the chauffeuring in Shazza and the difficult decision on which beer we would be drinking that night. Apart from the local cuisine M&D enjoyed living in youth hostels and the novelty of green grass and even the rain.

Reebs (Rebekah), my school captain timed her own family trip to finish as my folks flew home, hence a perfect excuse to go bushwalking and see the north of the South Island yet again. Thanks for breaking in my parka Reebs...believe it or not it took until October (8 months in NZ) to use my parka in a decent rain/snow/sleet (4 days straight) apart from the occasional shower and skiing trip.

After running out of holiday companions I headed for the deep south to do some serious bushwalking. A few days of walking around the Wanaka and Routeburn regions were done in perfect clear sky sunny NZ weather. I slept under a rock bivi/overhang and showered (occasionally) under waterfalls...idyllic except that the outside temperature was more suited to hot chocolates and open fires not icey showers.

I tested my community pharmacy skills in Te Anau (gateway to Milford Sound) and learnt the ins and outs of dealing with Americans and other more serious tourists (by the bus load) and selling sandfly repellents. Good fun but I only stayed 5 days for a reason...I had to go tramping! The Dusky track was some of the best walking I have ever done. "Track" is a vague description of mudpools, slippery slimy tree trunks, snow covered slopes and a few orange triangles indicating that I had to actually go through/over/climb/slide towards it. Want to challenge yourself then go do the Dusky, but don't forget to take your camera, EPIRB (satellite rescue thingy) and enjoy the fact that you wont see anybody for days. I then went and did Stewart has the notorious reputation as the muddiest walking track in NZ (maybe world). After doing the Dusky though it was simply a track that I had to tick off my list, the beaches were amazing, mud was never ending fun and I saw a Kiwi whilst walking, but I love walking in the mountains and the NZ beech forests over a coastal walk. Solo bushwalking for 20 days was a great way to explore your capabilities physically and mentally, gives you heaps of time to think and is fantastic for the "soul" lugging 30kg pack 1km vertical uphill only go down the other side.

I am current based in Alice Springs....yep from NZ to central Australia. I am working as a community pharmacist in a shopping centre...6 days a week and loving it! Crazy, but then having worked as little as I have in the last year going to work is an enjoyable experience and the air-con is much better than the 40 degree temp outside. As usual I am running but this requires early early starts in Alice or it hits mid 30s before you get home at 7am. The only downer of being in Alice has been catching up on 10months of Australian Ns Vs Ds and Cough & colds in a single weekend...what fun that was!

Where to next? Yep Alice Springs is not only a random, enjoyable change but it allows me to make some cash fast to do something else...UK is the most likely destination, maybe a Christmas off shore or in snow next year...anyway I'd better get Christmas '07 and New Year in Victoria over before I plan next years.

Thanks for the fun to everybody I have traveled, tramped, ate, drunk and slept (in Shazza of course) with this year. Here's to wishing that the New Year brings everybody as much or more fun as I have had this year. Best wishes and please keep in contact...I might need to stay on your floor some day!



2007 favorites:
Favourite food...toss up between Dates and Peanut butter sandwiches
Weirdest thing eaten... Sea urchin (Kina) If you like oysters then don't ever pass the opportunity to try this.
Favourite beer..."Renaissance Porter" unfortunately not avaliable in Aussie yet.
Favourite transport...Shazza, sad day leaving her at the sale yards in Christchurch, she was a travelling companion, bed & breakfast, bus to many and bloody good buy for the year. We did over 50,000km with each other and you are now someone-elses
Favorite place visited....impossible to answer, but sitting on a mountain somewhere in NZ will no doubt rank bloody close
Most valuable equipment/clothing...poor old hiking boots, these unfortuately were worn out within the year...left still wet at Christchurch airport...saved my ankles many times and the Gortex keep my feet warm if not dry!
Favorite soak...washing was done less frequent this year but it is closely tied b/n the thermal pools North Island and the ball retracting glacial streams/waterfalls of Fiordland NZ.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Zealand - Where's Tum Now?

Some of you had started to question me as to whether I had left every ones email inbox in peace since it has been such a long time between emails.

The 2 month whirlwind tour of NZ came to an end a fortnight ago and I am now adjusting to life without a shadow. Brad flew back to Aussie and left me to face the Kiwi's on my own. I promptly left the car at the airport and scored my old job back within the hour he left, as realised I needed something to do apart from having a shower, a monstrous load of washing and should start paying off the credit card.

What did we see? What did we do? Where did we go?...Not really sure but the 5gig of photos might jog some memories.
I guess I start by breaking the trip in two and going over the highlights and noteworthy memories.

North of the North Island (~3 weeks)
Highlights: Trout Fishing (by fly casting), First of many suspension bridges, Reverse Waterfall (the wind was so strong that no water ever made it to the bottom...most was blown back over the top), Hobbiton (location for the township in movie, danced on the party field, crawled around in their houses), Auckland - Home of the JAFA (Just Another F'n Aucklander) Skytower / The "I once did have" One Tree Hill, Lion Red Brewery, Climbing up a Volcanic plug with great views and drops straight down to sea, Jet Boating (2x850 Hp Engines, so, so fast and got plenty of airtime off swells), Kauri Trees (old trees that have a base diameter of >10 metres, Cape Regina (northernmost point of NZ and the meeting point of Tasman/Pacific Oceans where the swells break on each other), Coromandel Peninsula (the views, JAFA backdoor-step so huge x80 bed hiking hut and a hot water beach where you soaked at low tide while burning your bum on the sand), Lake Why-carry-marijuana (Maori name comes out something like this involved walking over soaring bluffs next to pristine freshwater lakes), Cape Palliser Lighthouse and caught ourselves fresh Paua (Abalone) to go with our mushroom risotto.

South Island..."Mainland" New Zealand (~5 weeks)
Highlights: Wine Tasting in Marlborough, the Queen-Charlotte Sounds on hired mountain bikes (we were glad they weren't our bikes and that we didn't get hurt going down massive hills over large rocks...very very fast/or in dark), Abel Tasman via sea-kayaks (this area has golden beaches) and the "little" tidal estuary that turned out to be waist -> neck -> swimming depth (whilst carrying a pack), Nelson Lakes (EXTREME HIGHLIGHT OF SOUTH ISLAND) straight after first snow of the year and 5 days of sunshine immediately after it to walk the national''ll understand why this was the highlight when you see the photos, the Heaphy Track is classified as one of the a great walks in NZ (we'll remember it as the "massive walk" - 64kms in 1 day), the West Coast and the Southland is Glacier country and hence has the magical water colour (cloudy blue), Glaciers (ignoring warning signs to see them up close), Lake Matheson (renowned reflection well as everything was in cloud/rain), Haast Pass and driving in 10cm fresh snow whilst it was snowing, Wanaka & Queenstown (sking and jetboating), Milford Sound...anytime they plug NZ tourism they use photos of this area...a MAGIC drive into there let alone the Sound itself, Invercargill & Bluff (southern most point of NZ), the Catlins (after 25+mm rain it was simply too muddy for crocs/boots, went barefoot like the hobbits and waterfalls were pumping), Dunedin (combined brewery/cadbury's tours, beautiful town/city of old buildings), Donating blood and then tried to go bushwalking uphill without passing out, Cave Stream (wickedly cold creek that entails a waist deep 500m walk through cave...apparently the water does warm up in summer (maybe we should have came back) and I can sing like Justin cold!), Hanmer Thermal Springs (sat in thermal pools with snow falling around us), crisp cold days around Christchurch (-2 C at mid afternoon), Mount Hutt Sking (-9 C), Arranging job in 1.5hrs and flying across the country back to NZ mums cooking/carrot cake (maybe they were taken by the insults thrown at me from a disgruntled Maori psych out-patient..."Big are a Big Cock...You have a Big Cock"...non-stop laughs now but at the time wasn't sure if the cage would stop her (>100kgs) from chasing me around the pharmacy and finding out!).

Best places to freedom camp/"sleep in car" keep an eye out for dirt tracks off the main road, lookouts, lighthouses, monuments, schools, cemetery's and DOC campsites if all the above fail. Freedom camping is illegal/not allowed apparently...if you get caught I guess!

The South Island in particular takes FOOD and BEER to a full time holiday! Each town prides it self on some other noteworthy delicacy/liquid. many varieties of black beers, the Kiwi's sell 2 litre plastic soft drink bottles as Riggers or you "fill your own" from the tap at the Brewery ~$7 for 2 L of beer!, Brewery tours with all important tastings (normally 15min to drink your fill),, Salami, Pies (a Shazza specialty, wrapped in foil and cooked on the engine block), Fudge (Maple and Walnut was best, the best name = Aucklander Fudge (orange/choc)), Cask wine as bottles are to heavy to carry, sadly most "chateau de cardboard" tasted like cordial...a great mixer with duty free Rum to warm you up, Possum Pies (avoid the ones with 1080 apparently), All-you-can-eat (learnt that I can still eat enough to feel ill still), Camping stove delicacies...gourmet is possible!, Peanut Butter sandwiches, Tuna Pasta, BRUSSEL SPROUTS...dirt cheap and were the basis for every meal over the last 2 months...mmmm.

Kiwi Tales: Morgue-leys or Morgitions (tried as often as possible to convince people that we worked in the hospital morgue, two blokes travelling together...they must be Gay, Twins/Brothers (poor Brad if he looks anything like me but most people seemed to think otherwise), Crazy tourists (dangerous driving, scared of getting car jacked), Hippy/Gypsy buses, Donations as entry fee...every ones out to make a buck off the tourist.

Limited washes or simply our faces at public toilets (record 14 days), sleeping bag stench, washing in Minus conditions or near frozen water

Shazza (Nissan Terrano): Rattles, bumps, 4wd gear shift falling through floor, ice on inside of window/snow outside when sleeping in her, didn't need chains...bring your own grader (driving behind grader for 20km), South Island roads are straighter...they build through the hills rather than around them see the tunnels at Milford, Christchurch, East Coast H'wy, No fridge but nothing ever went off (Milk, Pork/Chicken) and even froze over on most nights, Beer was easy to keep cold, Red Wine had to be held near your body to warm up enough to drink at room temperature!

So where am I now and headed?

New Zealand (obviously), would you believe Wanganui yet much for locuming around the South Island...cant knock back a good deal or familiar company though.

Looking forward to holidaying again when family come across (October-ish) and testing out the metal work of mums hip!

Hooroo for now,


PS: I finally have started using Facebook, might get around to uploading photos

PPS: After the results of this weekends tri-nations game and the netball things will be fun tomorrow at work, particularly if I wear my Wallabies jumper.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wanganui New Zealand (Part 2)

Wanganui New Zealand (Part 2)

Another update on what I've been up to in NZ.

MT. TARANAKI this is shown in the photo attached and as you can see is one impressive Mountain/Old Volcano. We took everyone's advice and left at approx 2am to make sure we got to the top by sunset and found ourselves at the top by 4:30am. It was good conditioning for the south island as it was bloody cold sitting waiting huddled behind rocks. The view was awesome looking over other mountains in the distance but most spectacular of all was the shadow of the mountain as it was a perfectly shaped pyramid. We found several other walks in the national park to amuse us for another day along with a brewery lighthouse and surf beach where the waves broke over rocks submerged (only if the wave was big enough…did get cut up to bad).

A must do tourist activity in NZ is caving. We went to cave central in the WAITOMO district and completed the Haggis Honking Hole cave tour. This involved abseiling down waterfalls (underground) and squeezing through tight passages of the cave network. Heaps of fun and very memorable but rated a distant second the spot of caving we did weeks prior to it. On that occasion we spotted a cave off the beaten track and self guided ourselves through a cave and even managed to get lost for some time. In Waitomo we also went through the glow worm cavern and the most commercial but well worth it Ruakuri cave that has had millions spent opening the largest cave in the country to allow you to see the cave formations. After our caving experience we saw our first kiwi (endangered so I can't even let you know if they taste like chicken). The weekend was well planned considering the lack of planning as it rained all weekend and we spent most of it underground. The rain also triggered the front page news story for the next week. The mountain we first climbed (Mt. Ruapehu) had a crater lake that has been filling for the last decade or so. The dam at the weakest end was only formed out of volcanic ash. Hence with the rain over that weekend it burst sending million of litres of sulphuric acid and volcanic mud down the mountain in what is known as a LAHAR. With a fluke of fortunate timing managed to be driving along side the river when the Lahar came roaring down. Boulders and entire trees were caught in the torrent, the noise was awesome. I didn't know which way to point the camera or just stop in awe. The next week people marvelled at the pictures in the news papers whilst we had been right there amongst the vulcanologists and TV reporters.

Canoeing the WANGANUI RIVER is classified as one of the Great NZ walks (it gets into all the tramping guide books anyway even if it is actually a paddle). We spent a leisurely 3 days floating, paddling and grinning from ear to ear through many sets of rapids over the 80+km trip. We passed another NZ icon, "the Bridge to Nowhere" which is a magnificent old bridge that the NZ pioneers built in 1935 in attempt to open up a farming community in terrain that most people would look at and never consider growing a crop or grazing sheep. The farming venture failed and now this bridge stands in the middle of a national park of forest…"no-where".

We couldn't help but to visit the premier wine region in NZ to see how the kiwi's wine stacks up against the Australian drop. HAWKES BAY has at least 25-30 wineries so we tried a handful and were probably more impressed with the brewery most of all (18 different glasses of beer and cider to taste for $18 bucks…we went back the next week when passing through just to make sure the initial tasting was correct!). Around the drinking we walked out to a Ganet (seabird) colony on a cliff lined headland and then walked into a hot spring for a fantastic soak.

Over the Easter long weekend we travelled around the EAST CAPE of the North Island. This is about as rural as it gets in NZ and will be remember for the views as well as the change in social demographics/economics. Every second building was a Marae (Maori gathering house) that are covered in wood carvings and always busy. The secluded little beaches just around each headland were quite pretty but most memorable would be MT. HIKURUNGI that is the first part of NZ (therefore the world) to see the start of the new day. Yet another early morning head torch walk put us on top for Easter Sunday sunrise after a climb that is much more strenuous/dangerous than Mt. Warning. We also completed a boat cruise/tour to WHITE ISLAND which is the only active volcanic vent in NZ and saw the sulphur deposits and steam being released.

These past 2 weekends have been spent in Wanganui as we unfortunately made it into the on call roster. We occupied time by going a maze cut into corn ( Corn Evil) with actors in it that do their best to scare you. I let my guard down just before the end and was the talk of the pharmacy over the next week as the re-called me sprinting the opposite way, screaming and stumbling through the corn as an actor suddenly appeared beside me. That night I also ran into a friend from the time I spent in Murwillumbah…still freaky that turned around in a pub in a town of maybe 250ppl and Andrea was standing ready to order. We also experimented with some Maori cooking during the on-call weekends. The lack of large mammals meat that the Maori's diet was largely based around aquatic animals and waterbirds. A delicacy is Mutton Bird…yes the same birds as found in Coffs Harbour on Mutton Bird Island, what it tastes like…I'll let you find out for yourself.

Other notable Kiwi nonsense has been their roads. We came up with a theory that the make them windy to slow people down and reduce accidents…does this work? They don't believe in giving you much notice before changes in the road i.e. a road work sign will be next to the pot hole rather than before it or a speed change will occur on bend rather than before it. If you are going to build a bridge then it seems compulsory to have it on a corner or even better is to make the bridge the corner! Witches Hats (orange cones) can not be more than 2 meters apart and there must be never fewer than 50 or so around a road work area . Best still is to put the witches hats in the centre of the road so trucks blow them over and provide additional obstacles. Road work signs means you drop your speed to 30km/hr even if it is a minor pot hole or unsealed gravel section that we'd drive on in Australia at 80+km/hr. Never ending amusement to pass the kilometres along with my singing, poor Brad!

PHARMACY in New Zealand is much like Australia…has its good points and its bad. It takes an Australian registered pharmacist 4 weeks of "supervised" training and a casual interview to determine that you can actually speak English to become registered. Wages aren't as flash as Australia but then cost of living is slightly less and I am not over here to make my millions. The NZ govt has cracked down on the pharmaceutical industry and has been operating a system similar to that for NSW hospitals where by they put up for tender a particular drug e.g. diclofenac. This mean the companies then bid to supply that drug and whoever can supply it the cheapest gets exclusive rights for that drug in NZ. This means the brand name drug "voltaren" has to be competitive with the generic "APO Diclofenac" to be used anywhere within the country. The govt enforces this by only paying the pharmacies when that brand name of the drug is given. This means that there is only a single brand of a particular drug allowed to be used. The NZ also avoids costly brand name medicines by restricting the use to those in the same therapeutic group that have already gone off patient…no "Coversyl" dispensed since leaving Australia. Sadly this comes with the cost that I no longer get free drug company stuff and lunches…bummer! The other big difference is the pack sizes…most tablets and caps come in massive 500 bottle tablets and the pharmacists-techs have to count out the required number into a pill bottle. Meaning not only do I have to stick my label straight I have to count out the correct number of tablets! The pharmacies have also been hit by the NZ govt cost cutting measures by reducing the number of dispensing payments. They do this by having most medicines on a "stat list". The patient will hence present with a 3 month script for Diltiazem and will be given 90 capsules rather than 30 and 2 repeats ( i.e. 1 dispensing fee V's 3 dispensing fees) this also explains the large pack sizes to some degree.

Good points of the industry are that you can find out through a national number what a patients discount card (concession/pension) number is and immediately if the card has been renewed even if the patient only has the expired one on them. More good points: The industry is full of females. Contraception is much cheaper and easier for people to get, $3 for 144 condoms or $3 for 6 months supply of the oral contraceptive. MSRA is almost non-existent and all staff require testing before they are allowed to work, ongoing swabs are taken during each year of employment. The use of community nurses to give stable patients the remainder of their IV antibiotic course at home rather than wasting time and money in a hospital bed. Massive co-ordinated approach to tackling TB in the Maori communities when an outbreak occurs.

Memorable moments have been:
- Dispensing quinine tablets out of a massive 500tab packet at least 1-2 per day.
- Sticking that bloody grapefruit label on med's for in-patients…have you ever seen grapefruit given out in hospital…or been sold in NZ for that matter.
- Methadone pt. returning with leaked takeaways…methadone is not coloured/flavoured/scented in NZ so it might as well have been water on the paper bag.
- Asking the same methadone patient about the fist tattooed on his forehead…"Black Power" gang insignia apparently…oopps.
- Nurse trying to give an incorrectly charted 10mg of Metoprolol out of a 100mg tablet!

We have 14 working days left in Wanganui and then taking some time to see the remainder of the North Island and get across to the south island. The weather has become somewhat colder in the last 2 weeks, particularly that Antarctic wind. Looking forward to see decent snow and the time off from counting pills.

Take care where ever you are and send me an email some time.



Sunday, March 4, 2007

Wanganui New Zealand (Part 1)

Wanganui New Zealand

G'day from across the Tasman.

I talked about it long enough and probably bored you to tears but I
have finally made it across to New Zealand. I arrived in NZ on the 8th
Feb and the fun began immediately. Finding a place to sleep at 12pm;
losing a bag out the back of a trailer in the streets of Wellington;
and then the fun of buying a car in half a day. All worked out and we
(Brad and myself) are the proud parents of a baby blue run-about. We
selected a 4WD Nissan Terrano and due to the fact it sounds like a
small tractor whilst as wide as a bulldozer we christened her …..
SHAZZA. She (Shazza) has turned out to have more balls than we gave
her credit for and apart from the squealing tyres around corners (even
when we are going slow for the mums out there) and some strange auto
transmission noises she hasn't missed a tick. In a fit a of lunchtime
boredom we decided to customise her with some famous Australian terms
the kiwi's have no idea about…Bogans, DILLIGAF, and of course a
stubbie sticker from every beer we try…real cop bait!

Opps, I missed January….this I spent in Coffs Harbour working as a
pharmacist. It was great fun going back as it made the job so much
more interesting when I realised that I couldn't just "slap on a label
and let a pharmacist check it". After doing that myself for a year it
was easy to spot when someone else was doing it. Australia day on the
beach, the BBQs and drinking home-brew will be well remembered while
the other weekends involved 4WDing, bushwalking, waterfalls and good

New Zealanders…what can you say about them other than they currently
are better than us at cricket…you can't possibly imagine the crap we
got after the Aussie's poor form (most kiwi's seemed very surprised
actually and expected a trashing). The kiwi accent is never ending
amusement…as you could guess the cant say their 'i' and 'e' properly
and it comes out 'u' and 'i' respectively. Apart from counting "sex,
and sivin" other favourites are "Tum", "Lun" and "Kivun". Another
quant NZ thing is to always refer to Australia as "Aussie"…'you just
arrived from Aussie' 'was it hot in Aussie?' For the trivia buffs out
there in NZ Bingo is known as "housie".

Wanganui is in the North Island of NZ and pretty central to most
things (compared to the distances in Australia anyway) needless to say
we wont spend much time at 'home'. We have found a substitute mum who
is letting use board with her (across the road from the hospital) for
the 3 months (includes most food…what was she thinking!) for a more
than reasonable price (we turn on the charm and keep her smiling when
at home). Wanganui itself has a major river running through it,
several towers and is on the coast. However it was quite a shock to go
to the beach without being told that they had black sand…I have been
spoilt for being in Coffs I guess.

TRAMPING…we headed bush from our 3rd day in NZ and have seen some sights since.

Mt. Ruapehu= an active volcano which require an easy 20min chairlift
ride followed by a 1km vertical climb over not much more than 1.5km
(very steep). The views were stunning and the Crater Lake up the top
was a sight to see. Coming downhill was much easier and more fun as we
slid on the ice/snow in the gullies (probably more than the entire Mt
Buller dump last year!)

Whakapapa = Pronounced Fuk-a-papa is at the base of Mt Ruapehu and has
walks to several waterfalls (from the melting snow) that were coolish
to swim in. The 'Silica Rapids' were also visited where minerals in
the water have deposited on the rocks of the rapids making the stream
glow white.

Huka Falls = 50-100meters wide and 4m deep crystal clear water gets
condensed into a 15m and 10m deep…MONSTER waterfall and rapids.

Tongariro Crossing = Think of the scenes from Mordor in the 3rd Lord
of the Rings movie as this is the area we hiked through. A really
impressive walk, with lakes, volcanoes, sulphur, steam and really
steep hills to climb. Sadly it was a bushwalking highway and we passed
around 200-300+ people over the day which made for non stop Aussie
humour when talking to and around the other tourists e.g. 'Is the pub
at the top still open', 'G'day, Hows it goin' mate?' and my personal
favourite 'Giddy up skip we'll be late for happy hour'. The centre of
the North Island is pretty much volcanic leftovers. Old craters,
sulphur lakes, vents and impressive mountains and the forests growing
around them. Danger signs have become obstacles and fantastic photo
opportunities whilst we wait for the bubbling and hissing steam to
turn into some real excitement.

Lake Taupo = it looks big on any NZ map but I am sure somewhere back
home a recycle dam has been built bigger. BUT this lake is crystal
clear cold water with really scenic mountains as a backdrop. We found
an 'el-cheapo' way to see the Maori carvings around the lake by hiking
and swimming into them rather than joining a sight seeing tour. It
made the journey much more memorable (and bloody cold) but the only
photographs were those we have stored in our memories.

BEER…NZ has many more black beers which are perfect to Brads and my
taste. So far the beers are somewhat sweeter than those of Australia
(VB in particular) which might have to do with the lack of hot weather
than anything. Amusingly the first beer in NZ was at pub in Wanganui
with tea on the first night. We asked the waitress what NZ beer she
recommended since we hadn't had any; boy were we shocked when Toohey
was the recommendation. Perhaps the comment I made would have been
"Tooheys New is a s**t Australian beer I not drinking that crap over
here"…much to my approval however I was very very wrong and the beer
she was referring to was Tui…named after some little bird living in
kiwi land… (PS it was much better than Tooheys New and yet still gives
you a hangover)

Pharmacy geeks…I'll send an email summarising the oddities of NZ at
some stage in the future. Work is going well although the trip has
become a "holiday working" rather a "working holiday"…was their ever a
chance I would put work ahead of holidaying?

I hope all in Australia is well and the media is giving those
cricketers hell before the world cup. I have got my fingers crossed
for rain and that the uni term has started with fewer hangovers than
previous years (for those still studying).

Let me know what's happening in your life and if you want me to stop
sending you these time-consuming emails.