Yep, you read that right. It's snowing here - in Lower Hutt - at nearly sea level! Snow in Wellington is incredibly rare: I remember one day in 1995 when it snowed on The Terrace in town, and apparently it snowed once on the hills in the Hutt Valley when I was a munchkin (but I don't remember it!). But today when I got up there was snow on the hills around the valley to nearly sea level, and snow was settling on my windscreen as I got into the car this morning - it did melt fairly quickly but it was definitely not rain or hail! The rest of the country, particularly in the central high country in the North Island, and the whole of the South Island is blanketed in snow and everything is pretty much stopped. The Rimutaka Hill road is closed - at Te Marua just north of Upper Hutt!
We had some family time last week in the first week of the school holidays: I had some training in New Plymouth and took a bit of leave with the family up there. We explored Mt Taranaki/Egmont, found the beautiful Dawson Falls and the wonderful Goblin Forest - which was quite damp as it was raining! It was also cold but I'm really glad we weren't up there today - it would be snowed out!
We also explored around the "other side" of the mountain, through Opunake and Manaia - torture to find that the Yarrows Bakery bread shop is not open on Saturdays but the baking continued.... the smell of fresh bread drifting through the town was gorgeous and we couldn't eat any!
We visited the beautiful St Mary's Cathedral in New Plymouth: New Zealand's oldest stone church and the newest cathedral in the Anglican Communion, consecrated as a cathedral in 2010 when the Waikato Diocese was split into Waikato and Taranaki Dioceses. Small daughter loved the church: it has gorgeous stained glass and a wonderful prayerful feel, and we had the privilege of adding a few stitches to the new altar frontal for the new altar - every visitor is asked to add a bit with a prayer for peace. It will be truly stunning when it's finished. Every parish sent in a design and they have all been incorporated into one huge design on the frontal.
Did lots of other things too, including catching up with some dear friends in Hawera on the way home, and showing hubby and daughter some favourite places in my old hometown of Wanganui - including a walk around Virginia Lake.