A quick tour 
Just back from a whistlestop tour of the South Island (including the train). Or at least part of it. It's a big place, and we didn't get to see Nelson, Picton, Dunedin, Fiordland, Invercargill and everywhere in between. Took raincoats, waterproof trousers, shorts, umbrella, cardigan, walking shoes, sunblock and mosquito repellant. Used them all.

Christmas was quiet; a large chunk of the family had already gone on holiday! But we got plenty done; the back yard and the spare room are now cleaned and cleared and the lounge and kitchen actually look tidy. Had a go at digging the front garden too; after the builders and the painter had stood on it, it was rather solid. At least most of the house is painted now. Just need to sort out the sticking windows, the missing posts on the deck, the kitchen window held together by putty and the front entrance. The concrete area at the front is so full of weeds that we have to mow it!

Had a great party with Nick and his family for our joint 50th birthday. Had a lot of old friends come back, plus neighbours and family. I think we had just enough to make it a good gathering, but not too many that I didn't get a chance to speak to them all! We then set off the day after for the trip round the south island. We had excellent weather for the train ride from Christchurch to Greymouth. We had reasonable weather on the next day too, however there was so much rain that the Fox Glacier path was flooded and closed. It was quite impressive watching the amount of water (and ice and rock dust) coming down from it though! Back on the coast road it wasn't too wet though, and by the time we got to the Wanaka valley, it was bone dry!

Spent a couple of nights in Arrowtown. Did attempt to visit Queenstown, but didn't find one single parking spot. Managed a brief visit in the evening though. But we managed to find quite a few spots out of the way of the tourists. Sarah tried gold panning. She was given a small handful of dirt and found seven good flakes. I must try and find out where that dirt came from...

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