Queenstown, New Zealand
Wednesday 4th August 2021

Merry Christmas! It's winter Christmas, July 25th. As it's weird for us northern hemisphere folk to feel right celebrating Christmas in summer in December, we put an extra Christmas on the calendar to celebrate during the colder months. We invited all our friends and enjoyed an evening together with good food, presents and lots of catching up. It was a lovely evening - always nice to spend time with everyone.

Our Christmas tree, you'd think they were hard to find in July!

Two weeks ago I spent me weekend exploring an area an hour away from Queenstown. I took a bus out to Cromwell and spent the day running to the next town along, Alexandra. There are two main trail routes between the towns, the old way and the new way. I went out the old way, through the farms and hills of beautiful central Otago. I stayed in an AirBnB near Alexandra which was really lovely. The next day I returned to Cromwell via the new trail, the Lake Dunstan Trail. This was the main purpose of my trip, to run this new trail. Opened in May this year, the Lake Dustan Trail is a cycle trail that stretches 38km between the Clyde Dam and Cromwell Heritage Precinct. The trail follows Lake Dustan along a perfectly formed gravel trail with cycle standard grading. I like steep hills but it was quite nice as even the uphills were quite runnable. Although I was carrying a fairly heavy bag for running (foods, lots of clothing, overnight stuff, etc) so I wasn't able to keep up a particularly fast pace!

The central Otago hills
Welcome to Alexandra!
The central Otago rail trail, in Clyde
Looking back along Lake Dunstan
On one side of the lake, the new trail. On the other, the highway!
Some sections of the trail are just stuck onto the side of a cliff face!

I came to New Zealand for a little post-university six month adventure. Fast forward almost two years and I'm still here! Just can't get rid of me, New Zealand. It's been the plan for a while to return home soon - and now I have booked my flights! I will be leaving New Zealand on January 18th, 2022. It is far enough away that I don't feel rushed but close enough that I can be excited to be back in the UK.

Returning home one day I was treated to the moon sitting right on top of the Remarkables double cone
A light dusting of snow on the mountains this week
The shadow of Ben Lomond stretching out in front of me!