Happy Birthday! Love, Canada
August 12, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Birthday surprise from far away - I need help with ideas for a friend in NZ.

I've gone through tons of old posts about birthdays, surprises, gifts, and long distance gift ideas, but nothing really helped.

A good friend is going to school in New Zealand. Her core group of friends (4 others and myself) are in Canada. She won't be home for her birthday in November, and we would like to arrange a great surprise for her. Since none of us will be visiting her before her birthday, it might be difficult to set up a surprise from here. We might be able to enlist her housemate to help, but the less work needed to be done on that end, the better.

What we would like:
- have something "ready" on her birthday (i.e. call her to say happy birthday, then tell her to go look in her closet, or visit Restaurant X down the street - and voila, birthday surprise is waiting!)
- something that won't make her feel more lonely (someone suggested we have a party in her honour and take pictures, then send them to her, but I think this would make her feel lonesome)
- something that isn't too expensive - we're trying to brainstorm now in case we need to mail things or contact her housemate, but the cheaper the surprise the better because we're all close to broke

Factors to Consider:
- she is in Christchurch, and none of us has ever been there so we know nothing about what's around, what might be fun to do, etc.
- she is turning 24
- we have a birthday card that we will all sign, so if we need to use it to tell her something (i.e. "you're going bungee jumping!") we can write it in the card
- she finishes school a week and a half after her birthday, and so we don't want to send large gifts or things she'll have to pack up and take with her when she leaves (she'll be traveling for a month or two before coming home)
- she loves hockey, Canada, outdoorsy stuff, word games, and coffee
- we have sent care packages throughout her time away, so anything she has been missing from home, we've sent to her (she has been away since last November)

Any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions? We're a fairly creative bunch but this challenge has us pretty much stumped.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total)
Does she have a car or access to one? Christchurch is only a few hours drive from some fabulous scenery like Aoraki Mount Cook. You could get her a weekend at the YHA and a boat trip to the Tasman Glacier, or else book her onto one of Alan's Tours - I took an Argo tour, it was fabulous. That wouldn't be too pricey, especially if you split it between several people.

There's also Kaikoura just up the coast or Akaroa very close to Christchurch, both of which have dolphin/whale cruises if that's her thing. I don't know if there's bungy jumping very close to Christchurch, I suspect she'd have to go a bit further south. Check out the Activities and Attractions page for the Canterbury region on the NZ tourism site, there's lots of stuff around, although some of it is a few hours' drive away.
posted by andraste at 3:46 PM on August 12, 2009

You could search Ticketek and see if there are any events she would like to go to (is she into Rodeo? Hot air ballooning?) - you can pay online and either have a printable PDF ticket emailed to you, which you can forward closer to the day, or have her collect from the box office.
posted by Catch at 4:43 PM on August 12, 2009

If she has transport, you might consider sending her to Hanmer Springs. The 'Ultimate Girl's Weekend" might appeal if it's within your price range.

Or possibly a trip on the Tranz Alpine Express?

Or a Day trip to Akaroa

If this stuff is is beyond your budget, perhaps you could post with more info on what you could afford [other than "close to broke"]? Keep the exchange rate in mind when you look at those prices.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:47 PM on August 12, 2009

It sounds like your friend could just use some love. What if each of you create a 5-10 minute video diary and send them to her on DVD? That will give her a little package to pick up, which is always nice, and it will give her some true, heartfelt messages from people she loves.

Some of the other ideas are good, too, but I do recommend something that will have sentimental value. Maybe if you're wanting to do one of the suggestions above, too, you could mention it at the end of the DVD, as from all of you.
posted by metalheart at 2:46 AM on August 13, 2009

Oh, sorry, I meant to add that you should throw in some puzzle books with the DVD.
posted by metalheart at 2:46 AM on August 13, 2009

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