Went down to Wellington from my last stint in Auckland for 2013, then Dunedin for the Authoress' PhD graduation (Whoop!), then Ohau, then Cust (4hr drive), then Christchurch (briefly - for bus), then back to Dunedin (6 hour bus), then back to Wellington, then I bussed up to Rotorua (~8hrs) & got picked up by The Lovely Mother to drive back to Ohope.
It's exhausting just remembering it.
The Saturday before I left I caught up with a Honours student from my old PhD lab, he was in Auckland with his lovely gf for a powerlifting competition - they're living and working in Sydney, so the traitor was representing Australia. I went along to thrown in my support and to assuage my curiosity - I was fully expecting oiled bodies and general hilarity. In actuality it was very sport-like, serious and competitive (top photo - dude breaks world record easy-peasy). 'Power Lifting' is three things - squat, bench press, and dead lift; and they have 3 goes at each, increasing lifted-weight at each. You win if your combined lift-total is higher than everyone else's.
On the way up to Lake Ohau for that weekend, we stopped in Oamaru for lunch and I saw the Steampunk quarter for the first time. Its very impressive, and the extra details make the buildings exceptionally beautiful.
The second half-week I was hoping to catch up with a bunch of science people in Dunedin, a couple of whom were only in town for the Health Sci grad that weekend, but ended going up to Christchurch instead, and then hanging with the Crazy One-Builder One combo for my last evening. It was weird catching the bus in the centre of Christchurch - I hadn't been back since the boxing day earthquake, and the mess that remains still, is incomprehensible.
Dunedin was gorgeous, as ever.
Both times in Welly I caught up with The Doctors' Married, on the return version we saw The Hobbit at the fancy-dancy Gold Lounge Theatre with dinner delivered to out recliners and it was awesome. If the third movie continues the trend (of the second outshining the first) it will be hella-amazing. TDM are now both ensconced in New York with snow and postdocs. I'm looking forward to visiting at some point.
And finally - this is The Crazy One's dog, Maddie. TCO's brother has a theory that she's a house elf that was given clothes; I think he has a valid point there. House elves who get given clothes, and then can't find work in the Wizarding world, retreat to the Muggle world to be pets. There's no other explanation for the existence of 'miniature greyhounds'.