Friday, August 12, 2011

Proposal Pictures!

Thank you Struan for taking pictures!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Engagement Story

John and I are engaged!!!! And here's the story of how it happened...

John and I booked tickets to go to Sydney, Australia about 3 months ago. I knew the plan was to stay with John's friend Struan and see the Sydney sights while we stayed there for a week but I had no idea how much more planning was going into this trip, a trip that I will never forget...

On our last night we took a trip to downtown Sydney heading to the hotel where we (John) had booked a room for the night. I believe he used the words "Backpacker" and "shared" while describing the place to me. But to my absolute surprise we stopped at a very fancy Sir Stamford Hotel. There we swam in the outdoor heated pool on their roof for an hour or so and ran back to our suite in our cosy white robes to get ready to find a place to go for dinner. While we were getting ready to go John called me over to the couch and showed me a video that he had made for me. It was a message of love that John had written for me and he got my parents, my sister Holly, my friends Sarah and Peter, John's parents and his sister Jenny and our friend Ben all to read his words. Thank you to everyone who was in the video, it means so much and was an important part of our special day. I watched it with tears of happiness and love but as overwhelmed as I was with the sweetness and thoughtfulness of my boyfriend...I had no idea what was in store...

For dinner we were (I was) thinking of getting some Italian food but again I was led into another surprise. John led me to a restaurant, Aria, which overlooks the Sydney harbor, the Opera House and the bridge. It was very fancy and everyone was so polite, we had an amazing view while we ate our delicious food which was to die for.

*I should mention that John did a spectacular job at looking normal, calm and relaxed. I suspected nothing out of the ordinary. We had talked about it being a year since we met in Ireland last summer and so I was expecting that all this was a celebration of us and our year together.*

After our amazing dinner John and I walked down to the Opera House for one last view before leaving the next morning. It was a beautiful night with clear skies and a little breeze and we strolled slowly down the walkway that wraps around the opera house. We came to a stop where not many people were around, just a small group of people leaning on the railing. John and I stopped to take it all in once more. We kissed and cuddled while talking about how much we truly love each other and how happy we are.

*My one clue was as we were cuddling I could feel John's heart pounding and I began to suspect...*

John then lead me a little closer to the opera house when John called to Struan! who was sneakily hiding in the shadows waiting for us. He strolled over with a small book in his hand which was given to me. "A Love Story". It was a short story about us that John had written and put together with pictures. As I began to read the story I noticed that the group of people by the railing were walking towards us and...they started to sing! They were an a Capella group and they sang a beautiful arrangement of a song that John and I love to sing along to on the radio; "Marry You" by Bruno Mars (here's a link to the song if you don't know it: )

The last page of the book was a picture of John down on one knee with a ring in his hand which is when John took a knee and asked me to marry him. HOW COULD I SAY NO????!!!!

John had bought the ring in December! And had it when we got to New Zealand and I'm sure was stressed about it after the earthquake in Christchurch. I just can't imagine how hard it was to make sure that I didn't find out about any of this.

I am the luckiest girl in the world. The man I love more than anything asked me to marry him!
John had mentioned that when he proposed it would be a big romantic thing... I really had no idea.

So happy.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Just some pictures of my work space at Cadbury's (and the chocolate bowl I have to stare at all day) and also some pictures of the outside of our flat (and the neighbors cat).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Queenstown/Wanaka Trip

So lots of things have happened since the last post...

John and I found out that we needed a new vehicle because our Nissan Maxima (Jerry) has been acting up. Turns out we need to basically replace the transmission which would cost about triple the amount we actually paid for the car. So we've been keeping our eyes out for vehicles for sale.
We quickly found a white Toyota Previa van selling for the right price. Apparently the owner was leaving town and was in a hurry to sell so we got it and have fixed it but while staying under our budget.
This weekend John and I both had 3 days off for Easter so we decided to set up the new van like a camper van and take a trip to Queenstown and Wanaka.
The trip was awesome, the van worked great and we were blessed with some amazing weather while we were there.
We didn't go too crazy in Queenstown, which is the place to go for the extreme activities (bungy jumping, sky diving, zip lining, etc.), since we'll be going back again probably once summer comes around. We had a great time playing frisbee in the park while enjoying the sight of the misty mountains (LOTR) and going for a bit of a hike by the lake.

We did see some people go bungy jumping which looked terrifying and made me want to do it even less then I already did.
We left Queenstown and took the mountain pass which goes through Cardrona to get to Wanaka. Cardrona was a beautiful climb up a mountain where we had a sweet view of Queenstown and beyond.

We drove through Cardrona which was a very small place but with an enormous view. We were pleasantly surprised to find a spigot to refill out water bottles by the old one room school house.
When we got to Wanaka the sun was shining and there was very little breeze. We made a beeline for the lake and found a giant open park with a perfect view of the water and mountains while we played frisbee.

We had lunch on the beach...

...and then made our way to the Mount Iron Track which is a hiking trail just outside of Wanaka which takes about an hour and a half to do. We took our time and got to the top just in time for sunset.

It was spectacular and we're so glad that we got to see it from such a great view point.

On the way back home we stopped in the Roxburgh Orchard Valley for some fresh Golden Delicious apples. And also enjoyed the rest of our time in the sun at a rest stop off the highway.

Awesome trip all around.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cadbury Factory

I just heard that I got a job that I interviewed for this morning at the Cadbury Factory. I'm going to be working mornings (8:00-1:00pm) at reception and it's supposed to go until December. This is really great news. Knowing that I'm done desperately looking for a job is a great feeling. So glad that I got in with Select Recruitment who got me the interview.

Also John and I went to Aramoana Beach again. We played frisbee and laid on our blanket in the sun. We ate some sandwiches that we brought with us and enjoyed the huge flat beach almost all to ourselves. We saw an awesome seal today and got to see it rolling in the sand on it's back rubbing it's belly with it's fins and watched it hop around the beach. So awesome.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Aramoana Beach

John and I had an anniversary this weekend and we went to a beach in an area called Aramoana. Just about 40 minutes from home. We decided to go there since it happened to be an extremely beautiful sunny day (unlike the many rainy days we were getting used to encountering) and we had seen this beach across the harbor from the Otago Peninsula a few weeks ago and thought it looked beautiful.

We got a private visit from a seal while we were walking far down the beach away from the people closer to the road. It was so great watching him jump around the waves.
We followed the seal as he swam along the shore and then out oft he water to hop around a rocky area. He went just out of sight behind a large rock and we decided to follow slowly just to see where he went. As we neared the point where we had seen him last we realized after hearing three loud barking sounds that there was a giant seal snuggled into the base of the big rock! We took some calm steps away from the huge I believe to be fur seal and watched it for a while. It was very big and lazy and we were very glad to have seen seals so close up and to have the experience all to ourselves.

John checking out the seal

The fur seal's head. Hard to see but he's there.

The wide open beach gave us lots of room to play some frisbee. It wasn't a busy beach at all and we may have found out why yesterday when John was telling his coworkers about it. Apparently they were surprised when he mentioned the beach we had gone to and they were reluctant to explain why. They then informed him that there was a shooting massacre in the Aramoana area where 13 people were killed by a crazed gunman with a semi automatic rifle in 1990. So I guess people don't go around there much anymore...

But really that happened over 20 years ago, the beach is amazing and we would go again any day.

Happy six crazy amazingly adventurous months John my Love.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Catlins

John and I drove to the Catlins last weekend which are about an hour and a half drive South of Dunedin. There was rain in the forecast but we decided to go anyway.

The Catlins are known for their water falls, their costal views and their dense rain forests. We visited Purakaunui Falls first.

Very beautiful, not as small as we hoped but we especially liked to walk through basically a rain forest. Very cool.

We also visited Matai Falls not too far away. And it was also a really nice walk. Very relaxing day.

On the way home we decided to stop by Nugget Point which is supposed to be a common place to see seals and penguins. We had no idea it was going to be such a beautiful view point of the coast. At first we saw that it was a 900 m walk and it felt like rain was coming. But we were so glad that we went. We did get to see seals but from very far away. We could see from the lighthouse a pool of them playing down among the rocks.

We still havn't seen penguins officially. We believe we saw one in the form of road kill while on the peninsula but we won't count that...

I'm off today (Friday). I finished my short 4 day work contract and now awaiting the call for a new job hopefully starting next week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

1st Day of Work

I just finished chatting with a nice man who came into the office fixing the xerox machine. He recognized my accent and told me about how he had been to Canada many years ago. I mentioned that I am from Prince Edward Island and then found out that he had travelled to PEI by ferry during his trip(before the era of the confederation bridge). He met a nice older woman on the ferry and eventually her husband once they arrived who ended up showing them around the Island while they stayed with them for a week. Islanders are great.
This actually reminds me of when John and I were checking into our flights at the Vancouver airport. We somehow got talking about where we were coming from and the agent said that he only knew one person from PEI who owns a little cafe in Victoria. Knowing that there were only a select few cafes in Victoria by the Sea I knew it was the Landmark Cafe.
Out of all the desks we were called up to the one where the agent was a man who went to school with one of my dad's closest friends, Eugene Sauve, and who I've known for many years. I also worked for Eugene at his restaurant/cafe in last summer.

Such a small world.

As you can see I am very busy here at work. I'm working for NewlCast, Dunedin. Thay are doing a team building training thing for week so I am here in the office answering the phone, taking messages and greeting customers.

Will probably be taking my knitting tomorrow...

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I (Katie) just got back from a consultation at a temp agency and now have at least a short term contract set up to work all next week as a receptionist. The woman I met with seemed very hopeful in finding me a longer contract perhaps working for the University of Otago so we'll see what happens. So John and I are both officially working, so far so good.

Found a video store just down the street that rents movies for $1. Danger.
Also found a Salvation army that has drawers and drawers of knitting needles and some well priced yarn.
Not so bad for a second choice city.

Pictures of our walk on the beach by our house...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Otago Peninsula

We went for a drive around the Otago Peninsula today in hope to see some penguins. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful other then seeing one penguin in the form of roadkill...
It only took us about 15 minutes to get to the beginning from our apartment and right away we knew it was going to be a beautiful drive. The whole time we drove we were surrounded by gorgeous landscape. We followed the narrow Portobello Rd along the coast and me still not quite being used to the other side driving I found it a little unnerving being so close to the edge.
We drove through a few small communities and past a golf course until we got to a Royal Albatross Center at Taiaroa Head (the farthest you can go on paved roads). We had a great view off the coast and of a lighthouse looking out over the cliffs.

John and I are lucky to have had the chance to see Castle Hill and Arthur's Pass while we were in Christchurch. We really loved it up there in the mountains and were sad to have to go so far away from them. But if we thought we were driving away from beauty we were wrong. The longer that we stay and the more we see here, the more we fall in love with this place.

John is at work now. His work has transferred him to the Yoobee/MagnumMac store here in Dunedin. It's very much a blessing that he didn't even have to look for work here.

Pictures of Otago Peninsula...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Moving in...Again

We're now moved into our new apartment on Forbury Road, Dunedin. We're very close to grocery stores, a bus stop that has a bus run by every 15 minutes, 5 minutes from the beach and a wide open park, cafes on the pier. We're in a nice quiet spot, just far enough away from downtown, our landlord Bruce is very nice and the apartment was fully furnished.

Here are some pictures...

On the Radio

Island Morning, Feb 24th

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Earthquake (Updated Feb. 24th)

So if you havn't heard yet, there was a massive earthquake in Christchurch yesterday at 12:51 pm. As far as I know it was a 6.3, between 10 and 1 km deep (I've heard different stories) and it hit Littleton, about 10 km south/west away from where we've been living.

John and I are both safe and healthy and now far from Christchurch.

So I'll tell my side of the story and I'll let John tell his.
I had just gotten home from a job interview downtown, parked the car on the street and was walking across the backyard. Neil and Linley (our landlords) and another man (who had just come down from working on the roof) were sitting at the picnic table under a tree.
It's really hard to explain how it felt but the quake started. I realized when looking at everyone's faces that this was a really scary earthquake. I stumbled over to them crouched under the tree and held on as best I could. It was really hard to focus my eyes on anything but the sound of the house shaking and the cement walkway cracking was pretty scary. I saw a crack form the yard in front of me and when the world stopped throwing us about water and silt started flowing from the crack in the ground.
The brick house beside ours had totally crumbled. We ran to the street where we saw massive cracks and warps in the road. People driving trying to avoid all the new obstacles. I got a call from john then, only seconds after the shaking ended. He was fine, I was fine, he was going to try and get to me.
I ran into the apartment to find it pretty demolished though others had gotten it worse in our building for sure. I grabbed my violin and Johns iMac and put them in the trunk.
I got in the car with Neil and Linley who thought it would be best if we all went to their place which was farther from tall brick buildings. In retrospect I should have left a note for John at the apartment telling him where I was going but luckily he got through to me from his work phone when I was in the car on the way to their place. John walked from his work and we met up and Neil and Linley's.
We stayed there for a while in the street through some big aftershocks then decided to walk back to the apartment and get the car.
The roads were crazy, water, silt and sewage everywhere. We saw cars stuck in mounds of silt, traffic lights were out, bridges were closed.
Back at the apartment John (he wouldn't let me in the building)emptied our apartment of our things. We were lucky in not having accumulated many things compared to some of our neighbors who had been living there for many years.
Erin, a neighbor and fellow Canadian came home and also started to scavenge her apartment. Her husband, Steven, was in Dunedin and wasn't supposed to be back until the evening so we waited with her and her cats until Steven arrived around 10:00pm. We then left the city. Drove South for a few hours. We were invited to stay with Neil and Linley but we didn't want to be indoors in Christchurch while the aftershocks continued. So we drove for a few hours trying to find a hotel or something but all we found was "no vacancy" over and over. So we parked in front of a cafe and slept in the car.
Got up this morning and drove here, to Dunedin. We're staying in a hostel, we have warm beds, we've taken showers, John has finally been able to wash the silt off his feet from walking sock foot to Neils, we have food in our bellies, and we're far from the aftershocks.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Keep praying for the people of Christchurch.



So you've heard from Katie,
My version is from a couple miles away on the edge of the City Center. It was my second day at work and had started helping customers and was getting to know my fellow co-workers. A nice guy I work with was talking to me about finding work in New Zealand and when I mentioned how Katie was looking for work he rang his friend whose a manager in the city center and within minutes Katie had an interview downtown. I let her know and she got it a bit late but headed into town to meet with the manager. At 12:05 I took my lunch and Katie came to the store to meet me. We sat in the car and I had my sandwich until about 12:40 or so.. Katie and I were together just 10 minutes before it hit.

She left for home and I went back to talking with customers. Standing by the door I was talking with a nice man about iPads when the earthquake hit. He went crazy and ran through the door pulling the glassdoors apart within seconds. I'll never forget the sound of the walls and floors crashing around and shaking glass. I stumbled out the door after my customer and ended up holding onto a metal post in the parking lot as the quake slowed.

I tried to figure out how big this really was as I've never been in an earthquake, though I knew we'd experience one coming to Christchurch. (Not this devastating though). I looked around at a smashed store, at the street torn apart, and my co-workers huddled under the display desks inside. Car alarms were going off everywhere and people started pouring out of the store. People screaming to get out and everyone with their cell phones out.

Knowing phones, power, water, and traffic would all be shit I got on a landline and called Katie. Every ring was one too many but she picked up and told me she was ok. I've never been so scared as waiting to hear her voice. We checked in and I told her to stay (I figured I could get a ride from someone or walk home). We all checked in with each other at work and were trying to calm down when water and sand/silt started pouring out from all over the place, the floors, the trees, the cracks everywhere. At first you think its sewage cause of the smell but then it turns a dark color.

I called Katie again and was able to get through to find out she had left with our landlord and was headed for their home. I grabbed my stuff and a girls coat and bag who would not go back inside, and started off to find Katie. Running through water/sewage/silt water I had to back track to get across the roads and past buildings with broken windows. Running through the streets I saw people crying, people trapped in buildings trying to get out and broken glass or collapsed buildings everywhere. I got lost of course since we'd only driven there once, but ended up getting my bearings and finding Katie. The rest you know..

We're now in Dunedin staying with a woman named Charlotte who posted online for people to stay with her. I somehow feel bad leaving behind so many people and the few friends we have there, but I don't think I would feel safe with all the aftershocks going on. What to do now.. Where to live? you ask yourself these questions once and then two weeks later you're doing it again but this time its because everything you've set up is gone. Its been hard to be positive but we're trying and moving forward. thanks so much for everyone's concern and emails. We'll have more updates soon.

Our once beautiful apartment


The street outside the apartment

The house next door

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Arthur's Pass and our first visitor..

So.. when I (John) first lived in London back in 2006 I made friends with a fellow percussionist named Ric. He's been my friend ever since. So after seeing each other in Boston on a couple occasions and a night in Dublin, he's managed to even visit me all the way over here in New Zealand. Working in Sydney for a few weeks Ric was able to take some time to come over to Christchurch. For the occasion we decided to go out and see the mountains for the first time. (Where they shot Rohan in LOTR)

Slowly but surely the landscape turned more and more beautiful the farther we went. The pictures really tell the rest. Unfortunately Ric was only here for the day but it was filled with mountains, streams, and even a trip to the beach.

In other good news I've been offered a job with the local Apple store, called MagnumMacs. I'm going tomorrow to sign papers with the manager. Who coincidentally worked at the same exact Apple store as I did when living in London a couple years ago. We didn't work at the same time but had tons of stories to share about mutual friends. Its amazing how Apple has connected me to people all over the world.

So now Katie and I are relaxing and slowly making lives for ourselves here in New Zealand. It really is a magical place.
Pictures HERE! ---->

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flower Festival

Today is the 22nd annual Christchurch flower festival. We went to the Christchurch Cathedral sunday service this morning and heard the choir (very beautiful) and saw the floral arrangements set up all around the church and down the aisle.
I had my violin to try busking but when we left the church there was a man with an electric violin and a snazzy suit playing nice music with a large crowd around him. So since he was loud enough for me not to play in cathedral square we walked down a few blocks and I played a few fiddle tunes and made a few bucks. Definitely would be better if I could get in the square where all the tourists are.

Pics of the apartment..