This morning we had to crack open the car - it was frozen shut and the windscreen was completely frosted up with beautiful feathery swirls of ice. Sitting inside the frosted up car was strangely cosy, and then as the ice melted and we were able to drive away, we came into some beautiful views of the mountain all covered in delicious-looking icecreamy snow. We've come to Taranaki - on the western side of New Zealand's North Island - for Hayden to start work with an organic cheese factory that's being built by a stream. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? And it is. It's just beautiful. Freezing, literally. But beautiful. It's everything you would imagine life in New Zealand to be.
We're staying in a little wooden cottage with no mobile coverage and no internet (I'm typing this at the local library 15km down the road). It has rained ferociously. Geese and sheep are our closest neighbours. I'm wearing more layers of clothing than ever before: thermal socks and jumpers, woolly hats and scarves and gloves. It's quite a contrast to Townsville where I thought winter might be coming when I put an extra sheet on the bed to 'rug up' in the morning.
It is beautiful here ... but this is not the end of the story. We might not be staying long, and it is looking likely that Bunbury in Western Australia will win out in the end. In a couple of weeks we will be back across the Tasman, back all the way across Australia and as far as we know, that will be our final stop. But in the meantime we're enjoying the beautiful green grass - it's flourescent, really - the fresh clear water that comes straight out of the tap and the family and friends who are all around us here. Bunbury seems a long, long way away.