Monday, December 25, 2006

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas!

Being the my first ever Christmas away from home this was always going a strange experience. However it was made a very fun time because I seemed to get more presents than ever, particularly from AT and CT as they sent me a lot of gifts where the recommended age was 5 and upwards. The "upwards" limit didn't phase me that much - there's nothing wrong with getting a 22 year old a slinky. If anything it won the "gift of the day" category hands down.

Santa came a brought fried eggs and bacon. Unorthadox gifts granted, but welcome nonetheless.

Hurrah! Gin! Rob clearly now knows me too well.

Enjoying the outdoors on Christmas day? Unheard of. Rob with his new rugby ball and me building Lego. Yes, Lego.

Caught in the act of being a Geordie. Cheers Mam!

Me and Righteous P chilling like Matt Dillon on penicillin in the park after kicking some conversions.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Ben Lomond

Team Pownall arrived a week or so before Christmas and there was much rejoicing! Having driven down from Auckland over 3 days, they were determined to get to QT to see us lot for Steve's Birthday (Emma's Dad). To celebrate, the following day we had a few plans. First off we walked (more scrambled) up the Ben Lomond track - a very steep day walk starting in QT. Off we went.
View from half way up the Ben Lomond track. The Remarkables are in the background.

More views and a rest stop. Was a hard slog.

We didn't quite make it to the top as it was absolutely brass. Shame. We had to get down to the Skyline Gondola to do some luging anyway. Climb a 1700m mountain or downhill go-cart? Hmm.

Me grinning like a cheshire cat while thoroughly beating Steve. He didn't win no matter what he says.

For a treat in the evening we went to a fancy swanky restaurant and ate very small portions of food for very large sums of preverbial fat cash. Was very enjoyable. The maître d’ was wearing a pink shirt mind.

Team Pownall. Rachel, Steve, Deb and Em.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fall with such grace...

So I jumped out of a plane. I say jumped when I was pushed. His name was Grant and you would get the impression that he didn't like me, but he was kind enough to attach himself to me and have the decency to have done over 11,000 skydives previously, so he knew what he was doing.

Up here the world curves the wrong way.

Immediately when you "jump" out of the plane the knee-jerk reaction in your mind is "What the HELL are you doing?!" Falling out of things into nothingness isn't the most natural of things for a human to be doing and to tell you the truth we're more of a landing-dwelling species. I've always found myself as being on or near to ground at pretty much all times throughout my life so far and found that even flirting with gravity for kicks can be dangerous (broken limbs a-plenty).

Above the clouds.

I did the jump over by Wanaka, about an hour from Queenstown. From the plane as we were climbing up to 15,000 feet you could see Mount Cook 120km away so was pretty lucky to get such a clear day and fantastic views.

The famous dream of falling, but I didn't wake up at the end. For some inane reason you had to dress as a clown.

Everyone point at cloud 9. There was quite a party going on.

Knowing the vague physics of collisions I didn't really rate my chances of body-checking the world at a fairly quick speed but thankfully the parachute opened successfully. I was a bit annoyed at "Grant's" selection of parachute. Could have at least picked one with flames or a go-faster-stripe. Manly pink? Don't think so.

Was a fun trip, glad I did it, but for some reason it wasn't the extreme rush that I was expecting. It's more of a "blink and you'll miss it" experience. I dread to think of the dollar per second burn rate on it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hanging Around

Paragliding's more sinister sister, hang gliding, is quicker and more queasy that its sibling. They really like to push you to extreme G's, not something to be done the morning after some ales. We took off from the same point as the paragliding, Coronet Peak, where the views are long and stunning and the drop is considerable.

The Wakatipu basin. BIG. Capital B, capital IG.

Trees from above. An unnatural angle to view them from if you ask me.

The way they take the photographs is quite amazing. The balance that the midgets on the end of the pole possess is second to none, particularly when you bear in mind the high winds and lack of harness. You'd think it was just a remote camera, but it's not. I've seen them man, they're real.

Me and Anders enjoying the views. Some people say we got too close up there.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Skippers Canyon: Biking

Went Mountain Biking on my day off down Skippers Canyon, a short drive from Queenstown and the only road in the country that you can't take your hire car down, as it is too dangerous. Having easily mastered dangerous roads in the past, I was more than prepared to take this one on.

The group before set off. Stunning scenery throughout.

We cycled down a custom-made track, through streams, down rocks, under barb-wire and over sheep. Was a lot more hardcore mountaining biking; no major speed just keen balance and major use of the very soft suspension.

Skippers Canyon. Shotover river in the background - was a long drop into the gorge at times.

Bunny hop into one of the many streams. Splash.

Got entirely covered in mud and thoroughly drenched but was a good ride even though it was all downhill.