Happy 2017 – Sydney Fireworks from the Harbour

I was extremely fortunate to spend this New Year’s Eve on a friend’s parent’s yacht anchored in Farm Cove. This is about as close to the fireworks as you can get and my first time viewing the New Years fireworks from a boat.

The first few hours were spent waiting for the 9pm Family Fireworks and as usual they didn’t disappoint but were merely a teaser of what was to come at midnight.

 

Midnight then came with the bridge and then the harbour lighting up.

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NZ Winter Adventure – Part Six: Wanaka to Queenstown

Cardrona Hotel

On my final day in the South Island I drove from Wanaka to Queenstown, did some sightseeing and jumped on a plane to Auckland.

My day began at midnight where I stayed up until the clocked rolled over so I could change my flexi-time airfare to a later time in the day allowing me to see more during the day.

I chose to drive from Wanaka to Queenstown via Cromwell as the previous day I had done the faster Crown Range route (via Cardrona). Along the route I stopped at Lake Dunstan to take in the amazing scenery.

Lake Dunstan

Lake Dunstan

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Goals for 2017

In no particular order:

  • Continue to build savings through regular contributions
  • Halve the amount remaining on my student loan
  • Read 18 books
  • Travel to the USA/Canada or Europe or Both

2016 – The Year of Change… Kinda

2016 has been a strange year, it has gone by very quickly, and has been full of change.

At the start of 2016 I set a small number of goals, while I only completely achieved two of them I feel I made progress towards all of them:

  • Get a stable job (this may involve leaving academia)
    • The first half the year saw more of the casual work and weeks without income that I had experienced in 2015
    • However, by the end of 2016 I have a full time job and it is in academia! While I continue to look for further opportunities it has been good in the second half the year to have some stability in life.
  • Continue learning German
    • During the first half of the year I continued well along this goal, however, by the end of the year any practice has fallen by the wayside.
  • Travel and/or move to Europe or Singapore
    • I spent a month travelling around Europe in February and tried for a job in Germany but was unsuccessful.
  • Read 30 books
    • I completed 27 books, which is fewer than the previous two years, however, after moving house I have a shorter commute to work which is where I do the majority of my reading. Below are some of the books I read this year.

Every month had its highlights:  Continue reading

NZ Winter Adventure – Part Five: Skiing at the Remarkables

On my second day in Wanaka I went skiing at the Remarkables with some friends from China.

The Remarkables are much less extreme than Treble Cone, which was good as my knee was still very sore from my tumble the day before.

The Remarkables

While the crowds were rather small and slopes less steep, off piste was rather icy so it was easy going for much of the day.

Empty Ski Area at the Remarkables

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NZ Winter Adventure – Part Four: Treble Cone

My first day in Wanaka started with a decision to go skiing at Treble Cone for the day.

Treble Cone isn’t too far from Wanaka, however, it is one very impressive and dangerous drive to get up the mountain.

Early morning over Lake Wanaka

After turning off the highway you travel up the mountain on rough gravel with hairpin turns and no safety barriers – I would not want to travel this road with snow and ice. Continue reading

NZ Winter Adventure – Part Three: Christchurch to Wanaka Road Trip

Following a weekend exploring Christchurch, Methven and Ashburton I drove from Christchurch to Wanaka. Direct driving time for the 430km trip is just over five hours, but in reality it takes all day. Starting out from Christchurch right on 9am, I first stopped at the Cookie Time factory which is located on the outskirts of the city.

Cookie Time Factory

Cookie Time Factory

Having bought far more cookies than I will care to admit, I then continued down State Highway One to Geraldine. At Geraldine I turned inland and headed towards the Southern Alps and Lake Tekapo.

State Highway 8 Before Tekapo

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

From Lake Tekapo, I then continued along State Highway Eight until descending into Lake Pukaki. The full beauty of Lake Pukaki cannot be stated in words or captured in photographs. Across the far side of the Lake rises New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook. The whole lake is surrounded by mountains and on the edge of the lake was a fresh salmon sashimi cafe where I had lunch. Continue reading

NZ Winter Adventure – Part One: Christchurch

In mid-September I went to New Zealand for ten days for a short holiday. The trip began with a flight from Sydney to Christchurch. This was the first time I’ve visited Christchurch since 2009. After landing, collecting my bags and picking up a rental car I drove into the central city. As I drove through the suburbs I didn’t see any damage from the various earthquakes that have rocked the city over the last five years. However, once I got into the CBD I was surprised by the extent of the still visible damage and empty streets. The rebuilding has produced a number of impressive new buildings but there is still much more to be rebuilt – and even buildings left to be torn down. Below are a few photos taken around the city.

Thoughts on the 2016 Malaysian Formula One GP

Yesterday’s 2016 Malaysian Formula One GP was one of the best (if not the best) races of this year’s F1 season.

As a big fan of Daniel Ricciardo I’m extremely happy that he won the race, but that isn’t the sole reason why I think this race was excellent.

In no particular order these are the things that made it great:

  • Nico Rosberg fighting back from 21st place to 3rd place. He was extremely lucky not to be out of the race on the first corner, lucky again not to have any damage, and furthermore he was lucky to not damage his car when he hit Kimi Räikkönen.
  • Red Bull splitting strategies to put Lewis Hamilton under pressure. At first I was annoyed that Max Verstappen was given the pit stop and not Ricciardo but it was a risk that the stop was too early and the tires wouldn’t last later in the race.
  • Red Bull allowing Ricciardo and Verstappen to race each other, and they raced very hard and very fair. As it turned out by Ricciardo not allowing Verstappen past it determined the outcome of the race.
  • Additionally, by double stacking both Red Bulls under the Virtual Safety Car and giving them fresh rubber gave them an almost equal fight to the flag.
  • Both McLaren Honda cars in the top 10, in the last few races they have massively improved their performance.
  • Jolyon Palmer scoring his first points in F1.

The video below captures the battle between Ricciardo and Verstappen and then the moment that Hamilton’s engine gave up.

Daniel Ricciardo’s post race interview dedicating the win to Jules Bianchi was poignant as well.

And finally everyone on the podium doing the Shoey was hugely entertaining:

All of this action makes me as excited as this little man: