Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Zealand: South Island Road Trip (part 2)

Christchurch to Queenstown

We left Christchurch and started to head west towards Queenstown, since we had heard it was a happening city with plenty to see and do. On our @ 3.5 hour drive, we came upon the quintessential NZ sight...a farmer moving his flock of sheep to another pasture (paddock as they say). You must realize that the ratio of people to sheep in NZ is 3 million to 60 million. That's a lot of wool out there. Kiwi's are obviously used to seeing sheep everywhere. They didn't pause at all, but worked their cars through the woolen bodies. We, on the other hand, had all the time in the world to watch as they made their way past our rental car (without denting it). It was fun to watch the sheepdogs work to the sound of the farmer's whistle. They knew exactly what to do, much like this video.

On the way, we also stopped at beautiful Lake Tekapo and saw the Church of the Good Shepherd (one of the most photographed churches around).


We stopped in Omarama simply as a halfway point on our way to Queenstown. Not a lot to do except salmon fishing, hot tubs under the stars, gliding capital of the world, and an antiques/novelty store with some set costumes from the old TV series Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules.

Next day on our drive to Queenstown, we came upon the Kawarau bridge and the awesome bungy station there, both for jumpers and observers (us). It was a lot of fun to stay there awhile, even if we were too afraid to dangle upside down over the raging river below.

Queenstown is a busy resort town year round. Great hills make it a skiing destination in winter. Summer brings in people like us to do every imaginable outdoor adventure and extreme sport you can think of. Plus, there are plenty of outdoor restaurants and great shopping. We saw The Hobbit in 3D, since so many scenes from the movie were filmed, not only in new Zealand, but in and around the city. If you are a diehard LOTR fan, you might find this 7min. video interesting about set locations around NZ. We saw much of these beautiful scenery on our trip.

Another fun and unusal thing we did was to ride the gondola up to the mountain top to the Skyline Complex and then rode The Luge for awhile.
You can buy a package for as many rides as you want, on both a basic and advanced course. They were easy to control and it was so much fun.  Check out this video to test drive one yourself...
We thought we would do some hiking as well, but with all the walking we did around town and up and down steep hills, we figured we did at least a couple of "city hikes" (LOL). There is a great shop, DF Souvenirs with affordable NZ souvenirs in the main downtown shopping area. We also planned on riding the famous Shotover Jetboat, but due to bad weather, our ride was cancelled, but we got to do it later on in the trip in another city with family, which was much more fun. I heard from some kiwis that they don't think Queenstown represents the true New Zealand, because it is geared for tourists. But that was fine with us, and we had a lot of fun there.

Next stop...Dunedin (the city I was born and raised in)

Monday, January 27, 2014

New Zealand: South Island Road Trip (Part I)

So this past Christmas, we made the trek back to show my family my native New Zealand. I grew up on the South Island in the quaint city of Dunedin. Just in case you're thinking of heading there, I will share some of the highlights and tips from our trip, which may only apply if traveling from North America.

TIP:   Hawaiian Airlines recently started flying to NZ. Fares are competitive and they are the only airlines still serving free meals. Inflight entertainment was also free and had good variety. If you're a tall traveler, you'll want an exit row / bulkhead or aisle seat: for sure. Seat space can be quite compact.

Price flying from Bellingham airport or Portland airport. We flew from Portland and saved a few hundred dollars per ticket, stayed in an airport hotel with free breakfast and airport shuttle, and was able to park our car there the entire time for $25. Well worth the 2+ hour drive.

TIP: Stick to renting an automatic vehicle. You'll be driving on the left hand side of the road, possible navigating your way through a farmer moving his sheep. Why complicate things?

Travel during the U.S. Winter because it's summer there. Best months in NZ are January/February. We traveled in Mid-late Dec, and it was still fine, but not as warm as I was hoping for.

We flew to Honolulu on the big island of Oahu, and had an overnight layover, which was actually quite fun. It broke up the long flight and we had some beach and shopping time. It felt like a mini Hawaiian vacation. And of course, it was sunny.

Once in the downtown area, rodeo drive style shopping awaits you with all your favorite name brand stores. Look for the walkway with all the surfboards chained to the sides. If it wasn't so colorful, you might miss it. They call it the Surf Locker, and it leads directly to the warm sandy beach of Waikiki! Just down the street and across the road is the International Marketplace, where interesting local vendors peddle their wares and you can try and haggle for a good deal.
The next day we flew to Auckland (north island) then took an interisland flight to Christchurch (south island). We spent time with one of my aunts. She took us to a beautiful botanical gardens, the paua house, Quake City, the cardboard cathedral, and container pop-up mall. It was sad to see the toll on the city from these large quakes, but the people are resourceful, creative in continuing business, and determined to rebuild their beautiful city.


It's quite possible that we gained 5lbs. just by drooling over the goodies at the 2 story Artisan Bakery in nearby Rangiora (a must see). I have not seen anything quite like it or it's flat bathroom sink.

Heading to Queenstown next blog... 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why stay broken?

I recently had a lovely customer hand me a bag of loose stones, findings and crystals at a show. One of her favorite necklaces had broken and she ask me to repair it, and put it on a delicate sterling chain, and also make matching earrings, dangly and somewhat long. I dug through my stash of gems and was fortunately able to match the beautiful rich green tones of these faceted agates with some stones I had, as well as incorporate the other greens used with Swarovski crystals. She likes Persian design, so I decided to go with this style of earring chandelier. I think she'll be happy. If you live locally, I will gladly do repairs for you on your most favorite pieces. Send me an email with a picture of what you need done, and I can let you know if it's possible and give pricing.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

2013 Fall Trends

Well, the year's almost over, but still new trends keep appearing. Color guru Pantone states the greens have it, and Emerald is the 2013 Color to be seen in this season.

Other 2013 Fall trends are:
PUNK LUXE - studded everything, spikes, leather, chains. Done with a more upscale twist.
CAMO - pants, shirts, jackets, olive green is big. I'm sure Duck Dynasty was involved.
ANIMAL PRINTS - are back. Bring out your cheetah blouse or skirt. Not too much of course.
COMBAT BOOTS - finish the look with tapered jeans and leather jacket.
CROSS's - on everything, esp. tanks and tees, sideways cross jewelry. (my personal fav.)
PRINTS - from fitted pants to luxury suits and dresses
SKIRT LENGTH  - sweeping A-lines make a comeback for dresses and skirts.
LEATHER - bomber jackets and fitted jackets are everywhere and in great fun colors.
JEWELRY - black & white, leather cuffs, green, yellow gold is coming back now that prices have fallen, colored diamonds (esp. for engagement rings), modern settings for opals, filigree and geometric designs in silver, gemstones in silver and silver & gold mixes.

I have some more of these gorgeous AAA grade faceted green onyx gemstones that I plan to incorporate in modern everyday looks. Check out my ETSY Shop for all the latest pieces.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Custom Running Pendant

You can see from my ETSY shop that I am happy to design custom pieces for you. Below is one such example of a reversible soldered pendant. We discussed background, colors, shapes, and fonts for this special piece. This client ran her first half marathon race (13.1) at age 31 in 2013, so she wanted to incorporate all those facts in one number. We did it by using different colors and fonts. The back side tells it all - She Survived!

Email me if you would like a custom pendant. I can use photos, pet photos, quotes or verses of your choice. Anything is possible!