After a busy and successful round of events in Christchurch, we took some time away from our computers to explore the stunning scenery of New Zealand’s south island. We made the most of the glorious Easter sunshine and visited Akaroa, Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook National Park. We found ourselves constantly shouting ‘view’ as each bend in the road seemed to provide ever more spectacular scenery.


Akaroa view


The landscapes of New Zealand constantly change as the miles tick by and there was never a dull moment of travel for us. Christchurch was very dry and seemed to have endless sunshine. As we travelled south and inland we discovered miles of empty grassland and rolling green hills. The mountains at Lake Tekapo were dry and arid (very reminiscent of those I have seen in Egypt) yet the snow-capped mountains within Mount Cook National Park were just around the next bend! It defies belief and it is one reason we are thoroughly enjoying being here.


Allendale reserve

Furry Tree

Kingfisher @ Allendale Reserve

Le Bons Bay inland

The Kiwis are incredibly friendly and welcoming and we have met many people on our travels that have supported us in ways we simply did not expect. The kindness of strangers is truly wonderful! People have donated to our cause, welcomed us into their homes, given us blocks of cheese and (much to Nicholas’s delight) salami sticks, provided hot showers, beds and support when we needed them the most.
A particular high for me was our visit to Mount Cook over Easter weekend, as we completed a 2200 step hike up to Sealy Tarns! Hiking up 2200 steps is HARD work on anyone’s thighs and knees and for me it represented so much more than just a hike.


Us at the top!

Sealy Tarns path

Mt Sefton

Hooker Glacier and Mt Cook
It was only nine months ago that I herniated a disc in my spine and lay in bed hoping to avoid spinal surgery in South Africa. I couldn’t move, had to give up my career and spent many nights in bed wondering what on earth I would do with an 18 month recovery and no ability to be upright for more than 15 minutes every few hours. I was barely able to look after myself, I had no income and Nicholas’s job was soon to end. Those weeks in bed recovering were tough, really mentally and emotionally tough, but they led to the ‘eureka!’ moment of creating Friends for Sharks when the idea came to me during the middle of a long night staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t do physical work but I still had a voice…and so Friends for Sharks began. It was a way to focus on a positive future for ourselves during my recovery and to do something positive for sharks.
I mention this because nine months ago I could barely walk across the room, six months ago I could only walk very slowly on flat ground, three months ago I could barely walk up a gentle slope and yet here I am now walking up 2200 steps! Talk about a step forwards in my recovery plan (see what I did there..?). I didn’t for a moment think I would be able to make it to the top, I barely slept the night before with anxiety, I wore my back brace and I stopped regularly to consider if I was okay. It was a breathtaking moment at the top of the tarns – for many reasons including a lack of fitness, the scenery and simply having achieved something I thought would be impossible.
For me it really goes to show how much we can each achieve if we refuse to give up, if we apply discipline and if we believe the impossible can in fact be possible. There is a story of hope and recovery behind Friends for Sharks and this is just one example of what we are discovering on a personal level along the way.


Easter Bunny