Home Snow Home

We finished our travels by leisuring seeing Akaroa on the South Island during our last week and visited (and my parents met for the first time) Kerry, Darrell, and their daughter Paige for fish and chips on the beach our last night. It was a nice way to start and end my trip to New Zealand.

Waiting for our night flight we hung out in Auckland City and did a “Reverse Bungy” as our last thrill ride. If you take a sling-shot, point it to the sky, enlarge it a thousand times, and substitute people for rocks you’ll get an idea of what this contraption looks like. It was a huge rush as we were shot at 200kph (120mph) into the sky and twisted upside down and back on the way down! What a way to go out. =)

Then it was off to our long plane trips home and were welcomed by snow on the road home to our house.

Home Snow Home.

WoW

WoW, I’m not even back yet and rumors are already starting. Just to remind Joe and Jozlyn back home, and anyone else, I am not engaged and am not getting married. And I have not proposed. Just wanted to clear that up before anything got out of hand. Later.

Moving On…..

My dream-machine aka Toyota Corolla is no more. I sold it a few days ago in Christchurch to a car rental agency. I do this in preparation to make the long trip back to the States. As you all may or may not, I am heading back sooner than I originally planned for. The plan was to work here in NZ, but as I found work I found it wasn’t worth it. Most places required you work 3-4 hours a day, 7 days a week in exchange for room or sometimes room and board. Yes, the pay isn’t great, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the 7 days a week thing. I hoped to work and travel at the same time; however you can’t get real far in half a day. So I decided to simply travel and see and do as much as I wanted. Now that I have done that I am coming home. Coming home to what I don’t know, that is yet to be decided. I have some temporary work lined up, and after that maybe I’ll look for some more or perhaps go back to school in Arizona for some refresher courses. I’m sure it’ll all work itself in due time as this chapter in my life comes to a close and I transition into another.

Pictured above is the Backpackers Car Market where I sold my car. For $65NZD bucks you can put your car on their lot for 3 days. The hope being another backpacker will come through wanting to buy it. To the right is me swimming in the cash I got paid in! The Corolla was a great car, and never gave me even problems over the 15,301 kilometers (~9,500 miles) that I drove it. Now with my plane tickets changed to coincide with my parent’s departure date we will be leaving this land on the 18th of this month. Therefore I will see some of you all back home very soon!

Happy New Years for 2006!

Wow, has time been flying by! It’s already 2006 and I’m not even sure when I last wrote on here. Ever since my girlfriend Rachel arrived on the 21st of December time has slipped right on by. It feels like she just arrived, but sadly she has just departed two days ago on the 4th of this month. I hope everyone out there had an enjoyable holiday like we got to have here and got lots of nice pressies! Like I was just saying Rachel arrived a couple of weeks ago and we all traveled long and hard to make the most of her time, all the while hopefully making the most of it. Her first day in we didn’t even waste I picked her up by myself at the airport in Auckland early in the morning and we drove to Waitomo Caves from there. Waitomo was one of my favorite places and I thought she’d like it too, and as her Christmas present (since I couldn’t think of anything better) I signed us with a local company who dressed us up in some sweet, smelly dry suits with headlamps and white rubber boots. They then took us rappelling down into a cave where we grabbed tubes and hiked upstream through an underground river to begin our black water rafting adventure. As the current swept us downstream our group was instructed to turn our lights off and we were then greeted
by thousands of little blue lights made by glowworms. I’d seen glowworms before, but these were by far the most abundant and amazing to see. We past our starting point and kept going down the cave on our tubes until the guide stopped us for a chocolate and hot orange drink before we made our way back. Once back to where we dropped down into the cave we ditched our tubes and harnessed into a safety rope to climb our way out. It was a great time that we got to experience with a local guy (the guide), two Irish girls (one of which had a hell of time in the caves that kept tripping, losing her tube, and even accidentally caused her friend to fall and go spilling over some rapids face first on her stomach), and a Canadian guy.

After that we did a couple of hikes to Mangapohue Natural Bridge and Marakopa Falls to add to the Ruakuri Caves trail that we did earlier in the day before the tour.

The following day we drove to Lake Taupo where we met up with my parents for my 23rd birthday. Dang I’m getting old! Our first stop for the day was just down the road from where we were staying, Taupo Bungy. If there’s one thing New Zealand is known for besides it’s beautiful landscapes it would have to be it’s extreme sports, and there’s a few I felt compelled to do before my time here is up. I’d been telling Rachel for months that she would be jumping with me, despite her large hesitation or want not to she did! And so did both of my parents! My Mom was the bravest out of all of us and went first to the blue, blue river below us, followed nextby my Dad, and finally side-by-side with one arm around each other we jumped tandem screaming (I think) all the way down. It was an awesome ride and well worth it I thought to do at least once. A little yellow raft came out from shore and picked us up to courier us to the rivers bank where we made our climb up to watch our daring leaps of faith on video. We also got pictures taken, but haven’t had time to get them scanned, otherwise I would have loved to put them on here. Until I do though these ones will have to do.

Following that we drove up to Rotorua where we went zorbing. Those of you who don’t know what zorbing is it’s a large plastic ball with another plastic ball suspended inside it. You climb into the inner plastic ball filled with warm water, push the thing over a hill, fall down, and go laughing the entire way down. Prolly doesn’t sound all that great, but it was actually a lot of fun and better than I thought it was going to be. My parents rode in one zorb together and Rachel and I rode in another together.

To finish out the day we arrived at local Maori village where we could observe them doing traditional things like weaving baskets with flax, playing games, cooking, and so forth. They then took us inside where they performed on a stage singing songs, telling Maori legends, and the women showed their talent by demonstrating there use of “pois” (I think) which is small, white pom-pom attached to a long string back to a handle. At one time each of the four ladies had four separate pois of their own swinging around in succession with one another in different directions without hitting anything else. Really quite impressive, hard to explain too, and a nice change on birthday from the usual dinner and movie routine since nothing is ever open on Christmas Eve.

 
The next day was Christmas and we didn’t want to waste a day, even though I think everyone would have liked a day to rest we drove south of Taupo to hike part of the Tangariro Crossing, which I hope everyone found worth wild. We went as far as Red Crater (pictured below) where we could see blue lake, three emerald lakes, two volcanoes, and the far stretching valley below all from this one vantage point. That night we had a nice dinner where we stayed followed by opening pressies.

On the 26th we left Taupo to catch the ferry from Wellington over to the South Island. We left early because my Dad wanted to stop at a place called “Gravity Canyon” to ride the “Swoop” or as they called it the “Flying Fox”. My Mom didn’t want to do it so he easily persuaded Rachel and I to join him. After making a daunting climb up to the top of the canyon wall we were coaxed to climb into two safety harnesses each complete with matching glasses. When our turn came up we walked up to a platform which raised us high enough for the operators to fasten us in. They checked and rechecked everything and sent us on our way. All of us were attached together on a single suspension cable with our stomachs parallel to the ground and faces forward as it swooped us down through the gravity canyon, dropped us 175 meters, and caused us to reach speed in excess of 160kph. What a rush! And then we got to do it all over again in slow motion as they slowly reeled us back to the to
p.

The ferry ride wasn’t as fun as the swoop, but was beautiful as ever passing through Cook Straight and entering the Marlborough Sounds of the South Island to the port city of Picton. We got in late and were thankful to find a place since the ferry was full and everyone else was scrounging for accommodation. Rach and I ended up having to camp for the night, which was fine, but I “forgot” to tell the place I was traveling with her since I’m so used to traveling alone and this seriously upset the manager who noticed it the next day. I tried to explain the situation to him, but I don’t think he bought it and said he woulda “tossed” me out if he noticed it the night before and I was “lucky to get any sleep”. I nodded accordingly and paid the man an additional 14 bucks. I kind of find it ridiculous that there’s no discount for additional people in a party because it’s not like that tent is taking up anymore space regardless if there’s one or two people in it.

Oh well.  We split company with the angry man and went on to Christchurch stopping off in Kaikoura along the way where I took everyone to a walk around a peninsula where fur seal colonies hung out on the oceans jagged, rocky edge. My Dad got a little close to one of the seals causing it to yelp and growl in a discouraging fashion telling him not to come any closer. Other than that we had a great time hanging out and watching them play in the water or sunbathe on the open rocks. My Dad even liked the town so much that he wants to return there on our way back for a couple days.

In Christchurch we wondered downtown to Cathedral Square for some evening “nibbles” as my Mom likes to say now and drinks at a local Irish bar.

On our way out to Franz Josef Glacier the following day we stopped at Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area. I had a hard time explaining this place before and I’m still not sure how to go about it. From a distance it looks like it could be ruins of an old city, but upon closer inspection you’ll see its only large limestone rock formations. It’s a rather big, spread out area filled with hundreds of nooks, crannies, and tunnels to hide in and climb about. Making for a nice place to hang out for a day, and would be awesome if you had a lot of people to play hide and seek in or sardines.

We also went to Arthur’s Pass for a picnic outside, and where I was hoping we’d get to hike up to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, but due to time we had to drive to make it Franz Josef Glacier. We didn’t make it in time though because the whole town was booked up when we arrived causing us to backtrack to an earlier town for the night. This turned out all right because we got to eat the local delicacy “wait bait” at a restaurant and have a “jug” of beer. Rachel asked the bar tender lady for pitcher of beer, but only got wide eyes in return. She had never heard that word in life she said, so with a series of pointing gestures she got what she was asking for across and found out they call them “jugs” here.

To my dismay we found out the glacier tour companies were booked up and couldn’t take us on. The holidays here are much different from what I’m used to here. Coming through before earlier by myself I never had to book anything ahead. Accommodation and tour companies always had room when you showed up, but from Christmas to New Year’s it’s as if the whole of New Zealand takes off and backs everything up during that time. We always made due with what we could get though and made the most of it. Although we couldn’t hike on the glacier we did hike up to it and got close enough to walk over chunks of ice that had fallen off. I found the warning signs to be a lot fun and tried mimicking the black stick man’s body actions in them. Driving on from Franz Josef we stopped in one of my favorite towns, Wanaka for a few days. My Dad kind of wanted a day to just hang out so Rach and I took the car up to Mount Aspiring National Park and she got a chance to drive through the fords! =) She did quite well seeing as how we didn’t get stuck and I’m writing this here today. We took the hike up to Rob Roy Glacier through what looked like a subtropical rainforest covered in moss with a large river cutting through it. Once in the Rob Roy Valley we of course had our patented PB&J sandwiches and were joined by Kea birds. One thought he was oh so clever and sly and managed to poke a hole in our bread bag, knock the peanut butter jar down the mountain where he tried to break it open without success, put a few notches in my backpack’s cup holder, and almost made off with our bag of cookies. Prolly sounds kind of pestering I’m sure, but they’re quite entertaining assuming they don’t make off with any of your stuff. The glacier was beautiful as ever with its numerous waterfalls and cracking sounds echoed throughout the valley.

We needed a day to rest ourselves and relaxed on New Years Eve day taking in the sun, ultimately getting burned (which is easy to do since New Zealand doesn’t have an ozone layer above it), and playing in the lake. That night we managed to find a Mexican restaurant which was awful and followed it up with drinks back at our place. Among my drinks I managed to drink 3 beers! I’ve never drink that many beers (because I hate the taste) in my life, and broke my previous record of 2 beers that I set when I was 15 in Mexico with my parents trying it for the first time. Man was I proud of myself and still am. Don’t have any plans to drink it again, but still proud. Oh yeah, they shot off fireworks at midnight over the lake. Rach and I ran down to barely make it in time. Cheers to everyone for 2007! I mean 2006!

As a last thrill ride we headed to Queenstown the next day in hopes of riding the Shot Over Jet Boat up the Shot Over river. However they weren’t operating that day, and weren’t yesterday either because one of their boats caught on fire. They of course didn’t tell us why, we had to find out in a local newspaper article why. With the weather turning stormy we ducked into a local theatre to watch the New Zealand made movie, King Kong. It was good, but definitely overdone in a few spots.

Mount Cook was a place Rach wanted to visit while she was here, and one I hadn’t been yet. Leaving the parents in Wanaka for a couple days more we moved on in that direction. And of course Mount Cook Village was booked up solid, except for one room that ran $660 bucks a night that just so happened to be half p
rice. Usually being a sucker for ½ priced goods I wouldn’t to jump on the offer, but thinking better about it we stayed in a town called Twizel. It worked out well because clouds hung over the mountain range the entire time, but it was clear in Twizel. We decided to do a hike to Mueller Hut and up to the peak of Mount Oliver, the first mountain Sir Edmund Hillary climber. We didn’t make it however because rain and eventually heavily falling snow cut our hike short. With that though we concluded we had experienced every type of weather possible during our time here: rain, dry heat, humidity, snow, sleet, overcast skies, high winds, clear fine days, and so on.

Overall though Rachel’s time here was met with some of the best weather I’ve seen. So all in all a really great time with her that I wish didn’t have to end, but all good things must. I took her to the Christchurch International Airport on the 4th of this month. I won’t go into it, but it was a long and hard goodbye, followed by an even longer drive back to Wanaka by myself, but prolly not near as bad as Rachel’s flight from Christchurch to Auckland to LAX to Washington Dulles to Charleston, North Carolina.

Now we are in Te Anau and my parents just got back form a cruise in Milford Sound. I stayed behind today as I’ve already been up there and need time to figure out a couple things like selling my car and changing my plane tickets to leave soon. Our time here is almost up! My parents are booked to fly out the 18th! They’ve almost been here 6 weeks already.

Hope everyone is doing well back home and enjoyed the holidays. Cheers once again for the New Year!

Whangamata

We have since moved on from Taipa after spending a very good time with my parent’s friends up there. And we would like to thank them again for showing us around, putting us up in a flat, taking us fishing, and everything else in between! So thank you Mark and Ann and your friends! And we hope you enjoy your holidays back home in Estes.

- Pictured above left is Mark and Ann, and above right is their neighbor Keith who took us out fishing. -

After leaving from up North we thought it best to get things sorted for the holidays before everything filled up and left us to celebrate it in the streets. Thus we made towards Rotorua with a quick stop in Matakohe along the way. Once there I got to show my parents around and let them see a couple things I enjoyed during my time such as the Redwoods Forest there and experience a couple things I didn’t get to as well like Wai-O-Tapu and the gondola and louge rides.

Wai-O-Tapu - This is a large volcanic and or thermal area wreaking of sulfur smell and bound by endless unnatural, yet natural colors that you ordinarily wouldn’t find elsewhere. There were formations of brilliant yellows and reds, boiling lakes of greens, red algae covering the surface of almost all the trees, and my personal favorite was Champagne Pool which constantly steams and has a deep aqua blue center framed by fiery orangish-red color and a crusted edge. I wish I could remember all the different mineral makeups that formed these awesome creations, but they have slipped my memory. I might have to look at my brochure
again if I can find it…….

- To the left is the famous Champagne Pool and to the right is me Mum and I in front of I think Devil’s Hot Tub or Devil’s Bath. I can’t remember for sure because Devil this and Devil that were of high use. -

The one picture I wish I could have gotten, but missed because I was too slow, was of my Dad sticking his foot in a thermal pool. It was right off one of the trails, was clearly marked to stay to the trail too, but he “wanted to see how hot it really was” and burned his foot in the process. Turns out it was, “damn hot(!)” and quite amusing to my Mom and I. =) And hopefully teaches everyone else out there not to stick your foot in boiling thermal pool.

Gondola and Louge Rides - The ride up to the top of the mountain in the gondola was nice and gave an excellent view of the city, lake, and surrounding area from the top. The louge rides were fun, but a bit disappointing. On one track you picked up a good deal of speed, enough to blow your helmet back, but the fun was soon cut short as they placed crisscrossed 2×4’s across the track to make you lose your speed as you zigzagged in between them and the speed could then never be recovered.

- Here’s my Dad and I wearing our sweet safety helmets as we tried rock the lift back up to the top, and the other is a partial view out of the gondola down upon Rotorua. -

During all this and a few other things we managed to get sorted for Christmas. We will be staying in Taupo for a few days during which, if all goes according to plan, we plan to go zorbing, bungy jumping, and experience a traditional native Maori dinner on my birthday with Rachel after she gets in on the 23rd, resting on Christmas day, and catching a ride on the ferry to the South Island the following day in the evening.

Waitomo Caves - This was one of my favorite places on the North Island and thought my parents would enjoy it as well. So they got to experience the glowworm night walk along a stretch of small river intertwined with small cave tunnels off it’s banks, walk through the natural land bridge, see Marakopa Falls, and even took off on their own for a day with a local tour company where they got to rappel, go caving, black water rafting (tubing through caves), see even better glowworms underground as they floated along in their tubes, and climbing.

- Here they are in their stylish wetsuits as they rappel down to the stream below. -

Now we are in a town called Whatamanga on the coast of the Bay of Plenty where we have been for the past few days, and prolly will stay until we go to Taupo. It’s a nice central location to a number of sites in the area and allows us to have a home base to travel from. Yesterday we drove to a nearby gorge where hiked among numerous old gold mines, even ventured into some bigger ones despite the lack of flashlights and were just thankful to be out of the rain because we got absolutely drenched while outside on the trail.

Today was super nice out and we took a drive up to the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula and followed a trail up to a lookout point for some stunning views like the ones pictured below.

The Parents Are Coming!

Actually the parents are here! And have been for quite some time. Almost a week in fact, I guess I’ve been slacking on updates because of it!


- Here we are at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with a Maori carving substituted for my bro who couldn’t make it out here. -

Anyway, Me Ma and Pops got in just fine last Friday, and didn’t suffer too much from the effect of a long flight. We’ve been doing a variety of things. First we got out of the big city and headed up North to a town called Whangerai. Stayed in a nice Bed and Breakfast our first night and did a couple easy hikes in the area there to get a feel for things. And moved on to Paihia in the Bay of Islands, my first stop on my own, where we stayed for another night before coming up here to our current destination of Taipa. Taipa is a very small town and not touristy at all which is just fine. My parents have friends here, Mark and Ann Perry, that we’re staying with at the moment who are actually from Estes, and have been coming here for 21 years if I remember correctly.  They have been great and are showing us a good time. Our first day we ticky-toured up to the Northern tip of the North Island to Cape Reinga stopping off at Spirits Bay and the sand dunes along the way. The sand dunes were fun. My Dad and rented a boogey-board to ride down on them. No one else was up for I guess, but we had fun as they watched us from down below. My Dad must have felt I was a little kid during the experience because at one point he held the board for me while I climbed on to go shooting down the sand to a vicious spill and sliding halt on my rear. It didn’t stop me from getting back on though and ending up in a stream below before getting off. And then on the way back down we took Ninety-Mile Beach which was awesome. Driving on the beach was so much more relaxing surprisingly than the curvy, bumpy roads of New Zealand. The beach was nice, straight, only a few bumps, we could watch the waves beat in on the sand, see
seagulls pick up small shells to about 20 feet in the air before releasing them to the ground below in hopes of breaking them open for a small treat, and so forth.


- Here’s a picture of my Dad wiping out on the dunes. -

We’ve also been out fishing in Doubtless Bay where we caught Red Snapper and a number of other fish that I can’t recall there names at the moment. I caught four of them, and was happy with that(!) because when we usually go deep sea fishing in Mexico or something we usually don’t catch anything at all, or everybody else does and I don’t get squat. So we had a local restaurant fix some of the catch last night which was fresh and delicious!

- This is one of Mark’s catches of the day. -

What else….oh yes, we’ve been oystering as well when the tide is out. Yesterday we brought in bucket after bucket of the little guys, which are quite good steamed or even cooked on the grill with a little sauce. So all in all things have been going very well and we’ve been enjoying living on the sea if you will. We plan to move on shortly though South of here and figure out where we’re going to stay for Christmas before everything books up! Hope everyone is doing well back home in cold Estes Park! We heard today that it was 17 below there! Yikes

Southern Walkabout

Hi Everybody! Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and ate lots of turkey with all the fixings. I know I wish I could have been there to partake in the feast, and to watch some football, but that’s all right. I actually bought meat for the first time, sausages to be exact, and ate them with baked beans in tomato sauce and garlic bread.  Prolly doesn’t sound too great, but it is was really good and my stomach ached from eating too much. That’s what it’s all about right? =)

Anyway, the last few days have been quite busy as I make my way back up north to pick up the parents in a week. So I’ve been all over the southern part of the south island ‘ticky-touring’ or having a ‘walkabout’ as they would say here to places such as Milford Sound, Slope Point, Curio Bay, McLean Falls, Cathedral Caves, Nugget Point, Dunedin, Moeraki, Oamaru (Penguins), and now Fairlie.

Milford Sound – It took a while for the weather to clear up, but it finally did and allowed for a wonderful day in New Zealand’s best known attraction, and only Sound that is accessible via a car. I could describe this place, but feel a picture would do it more justice.
 
This one is kind of small, but there is more pictures to be seen in my pic and 360 section. To the left center is the most photographed peak that appears in all the books, Mitre Peak.

Slope Point - This is New Zealand’s southernmost point of the South Island. The equator is 5140km from it, and the South Pole is a 4803km away.

Curio Bay - Here is where Hector Dolphins can be found most often, which are the world’s smallest dolphin and I think they maybe endangered as well. The sea was rough that day so I failed to see any, but did come across a 180 million year-old petrified forest in the bedrock leading out to the ocean. There were trees and stumps strewn about in reckless order that seemed very well preserved given their age.

McLean Falls - Just a short hike up to these nice falls on a trail created by local high school kids.

Cathedral Caves - These were impressive caves off the south coast formed from the tide coming in and out daily, and therefore only accessible during low tide. As the name implies these caves were huge with ceilings reaching 35-40 feet in height (maybe more, I’m just guessing). A couple of the caves even joined together creating a u-shape and spitting you out on a different section of the beach when you came out.

Nugget Point - Here massive land forms jutted out into the ocean with a tint of gold to them giving them their name, and creating a very dangerous point for boats crossing by. So a lighthouse was present on the point on as well. I was hoping to be able to go inside it, but it was fenced off and according to a sign was all controlled remotely from Wellington since 1989 when the last lighthouse dude retired.

Dunedin - This seemed like a very pretty and appealing town as I was pulling in for the night, but as I was doing so I got pulled over for a speeding ticket. This upset me to where I only felt like driving more and continued on to Oamaru. I think I’m over it now though………

Oamaru - Penguins! Penguins! Penguins! What more can I say? Here in the town of Oamaru they have a blue penguin colony. I believe the penguins are somewhat threatened, but are thriving in the area thanks to the protection they receive. The penguins go out all day to the ocean fishing and screwing around, and come back to their homes on land in the dusk. It was sweet to see them coming in in the distance singularly and in small group called “rafts”. They looked funny paddling in on their white stomach with their heads sticking above the water like a duck, but when they dove they could quickly dart and move about with such grace and ease. They rode waves into the shore and beached themselves on their stomachs until the water cleared allowing them to promptly stand up and waddle clear of the next wave (hopefully). They then formed small groups to ascend up the rock hillside and run to their homes. The ones who arrived early waited at first for it to become darker before making their move. Once at their homes they went through a ritual where they stood outside their entrances and announced they were back by standing as tall as possible, flippers spread wide and squawking obnoxiously. If their mate was inside they’d do the same. Kind of like saying, “honey, I’m home” I guess. Wish I could have gotten some better pictures; they turned out most blurry as I was taking them from the hip since cameras were prohibited, but it was still great to see some 200 odd penguins, which was as little as 48 nine years ago before they were protected, and I’m glad I got to because I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in real life except maybe when I was a little kid at the zoo, but don’t recall it.

Now I’m in a small town called Fairlie not rushing around, and happy to be back in the tent and not sleeping in the car again. I plan to make more stop in Hamner Springs before crossing back to the North Island and meeting my parents in Auckland.

Augh!…….

November 24, 2005 

So yesterday I’m having a great day right? Doing a whirlwind tour of the rest of the sourther south island, seeing the Catherdral Caves, the most southern point, a lighthouse, and all this stuff……and I pull into Dunedin where I planned to stay the night. Not more than 2 minutes into the city the speed limit gets cut in half to 50 on a downhill. So I start braking and get it down to 65 when I copper spots me coming the opposite way, flings around, and pulls me over….I explained the situation to him, but he wasn’t having it, pulled the whole GIGO.  Garbage In, Garbage Out. Said I was going a “wee-bit too fast” and wrote me up an $80 dollar ticket. I was soooooo pissed! I still can’t believe. The worst part was when I pulled back on to the road and it switched back to 100kph. Which means for about 1/2 a mile the speed limit was 50 for whatever reason. And I make every effort not to speed here, usually find it hard to, get passed all the time, and then this happens. It gets away from me once and now I’m paying for it! Augh!….

Stepping Back In Time..

November 22, 2005 

So today I was headed up to Milford Sound, and stopped off at the petrol station to fill up the tank. Before I even got out of the car a lady came out and started pumping the gas for me. It was like I stepped back in time or something. I have to admit I didn’t care for it, felt strange, and then she offered to check the oil and clean the ‘windscreen’, but I said I already took care of it and it was not needed.

Queenstown and Beyond

November 21, 2005 

Just when I think I’m actually getting used to the roads and rules in New Zealand they go and throw something new at me. It definitely took some time to get used to everything being backwards like driving on the left side of the road and having the steering column on the right side of the car, but I’ve been adapted and adjusted to this and it seems second nature anymore. Although I have to admit I still get into the wrong side of the car at times. New Zealand is filled with numerous one lane bridges, some fords, a dotted passing line that never seems to end even around corners for anyone so daring, road construction crews working without the Stop and Go sign people leaving you to pass through as you can and see fit, and a 100kph speed limit on all open roads which seems impossible to fulfill most of the time. Most the roads remind me of those found in the Loveland and Boulder canyons back home. The other day though when I was headed out to Glenorchy from Queenstown the two lane road suddenly became one with little warning and no reduced speed limit sign. It made me slow
down though and take caution as I drove around the curves and hoped no one else was coming from the opposite direction. At one point however another vehicle came and I was forced to back up into a wider spot back so he could pass by and then I went on my way…………..what next?

It happened all the time in South America, numerous times some days as I seemed to be a magnet with my long hair, but it took nearly two months for someone to approach me wanting to sell. The Maori guy was hard to understand and basically had to spell it out of me only to make me laugh when he spitted it out of his mouth full of food. He carried on and I went on about my business.

I spent some time in Queenstown which reminded me much of the resort towns off of I-70 back home like Keystone, Winter Park, and so forth apart from the lake which it cradled next to. I did about the first day and a half of a hike called the Routeburn. It’s one of the more popular multi-day hikes that takes most 3-days to accomplish the non-circular hike that ends near Milford Sound. I went as far as a place called Harris Saddle before turning back that is suppose to have spectacular views, but I saw little more clouds clinging to the peaks. I may try it again from the opposite direction now that I’m in Te Anau and plan to head to Milford Sound next. Apart from that I have been taking it easy since my right calf muscle has been giving me some grief recently, and plan to stay off it for at least a few days.

Somehow in Queenstown I put myself 12 miles out of way on a hike one day by missing a turn somewhere. Luckily I met some peeps on another trail who offered a ride to me back to town. Normally I wouldn’t hitch, don’t want to take the risk, but she seemed nice enough and appeared to be showing her parents around. Turns out she and her husband have been coming to NZ for the past 8 years following the ski season and working as instructors, and then returning to Switzerland where she and the parents were from to do the same there. Her husband was actually from South Africa. What interesting world we live in, and it’s great to see how some go about their lives in it.

My parents come in little more than a week! I am looking forward to that as well as my super-hot girlfriend visiting me shortly after! Rachel has just finished her first project with Americorps. She spent four weeks in Mississippi helping clean up the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and now looks to head to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina before Christmas break.

1 2 3 5