All posts filed under: New Zealand

Auckland

We’d decided to take Auckland by storm.  With hiking time and travel distances, our city stops got compressed.  If the NYTimes can do cities in 36 hours, we’d cut a few things and make it 24! Actually, it’s more of a scouting day – is this a city we could come back to? It is. We wasted some time at the Icebreaker clothing outlet, where I couldn’t convince T he’d earned new shirts with all the attention his 5 had received these last 3 months.  Onwards! We arrived at the War Museum, which just sounds wierd.  So to build on weird, they had a Maori cultural show so we finally saw the hakka dance in NZ properly. This group had a sense of humor to go with intimidating war moves, and there’s just something about sticking your tongue out that’s effective when you want to be off-putting.  T enjoyed the statue carvers more than the half dressed men. But most impressive was the simulated volcanic eruption! The museum had a room like a living room, …

Smellovision

Damn good! That’s what the release was, watching the gates open to flood the canyon.  Less compelling was the elbowing of fellow tourists trying to get a snapshot, but win some, lose some.   We headed into tourists central at Waitpo park in Rotorua.  Known for its geological formations, the park delivered with bubbling mud, colored sulfur pools and a geyser.  There were two costs: entry, and our sense of smell.  When we left, we were impressed by the novelty and relieved.  Then when we got to town, we realized Rotorua’s geological prowress is indeed extensive! At the restaurant and later at the hotel, we smelled sulfur.  The inn’s attendant mapped out 43 possible tour options in town, but instead we got Indian takeout (smelling delicious! & powerful) and hunkered down with movies.  Yes, the Ring.  When in Mordor… 

“They don’t like people”

We’d found another good AirBnB experience, also with animals! Karen owned a blueberry farm, and kept a duck, cat, goat, llama, lamb, sheep and a kuene kuene pig! What is that?  T’s favorite!    So after picking and eating some blueberries, we were going back to hiking.  It seems everyone does this 7 hour “must do” crossing hike, but hiking in crowds and cold weren’t exactly our thing.  At the BnB, this somehow got translated as “they don’t like people!” To prove we aren’t haters, we did start the trail at 10:30, as we’d been told most hikers start between 6-8 am on one side and get picked up between 6-8 hours later on the other side.  We weren’t alone on the way in, but ready with layers and water we enjoyed the views of lava rocks.  About two hours in, Mount Doom and its surrounding vistas were well swallowed by clouds, and I who had been pushing the trek began to doubt myself. When we ended up trailing someone who preferred her hiking experience …

Mount Doom

I cut short our Wellington time as the sun was shining at Mount Tongariro National Park, and we were due for a little more exercise.  True to form, I’d skimmed through some material whereas T had opened twenty tabs on his computer and done comparative analysis. “You realize that for the ‘must do hike’ it is likely to be freezing along part of the route, right?” I recollected something about cold and layers but freezing hadn’t registered.  Fate managed it that day for us, as even with an early departure, we arrived after noon which eliminated the “must do.” Instead, we set out for a lakes hike in between the mountains and the volcano – Mount Doom. If you are not a fan of Lord of the Rings, then you may call it Mount Ngauruhoe. Looking like nowhere we’d seen before, we watched it cloud and clear as we made our way up to two crater lakes.  T made it down faster thanks to sliding rocks, and though I moved slower than a turtle, I …

Captain Cook

We had a date with a ferry, and our discrimination against the north island would come to a close.  The windiest road yet was a proper farewell to the South Island, and I was thrilled we were traveling it in a smaller car versus a campervan. At the town of Picton, not only did ferries come and go but a cruise ship was also in town, and with it many folks looking for souvenirs.   We’d heard the crossing could be a little rough, so T had booked us on the larger ferry.  When we queued up, the announcements noted the weather was improving.  Leaving the South Island, the ferry exited though a scenic sound, which left it doing a few twists and turns.  When we entered the Cook Strait, an announcement suggested all passengers find a seat or the sick bay as indicated!  Mind over matter, my grandmother would say, but it seemed more than a few passengers did mind.  We arrived on the North island in about 3.5 hours, and were struck by …

Green with hops

T must have got an early version of the headline news in Nelson – the green hops were in!  He wiggled out of a second day’s boat ride up to the national park by saying he needed to carb load for the next hikes 🙂 He seduced me by saying I had yet to taste NZ’s Famous Savignon Blanc, and suddenly we were off to the nearby town of Nelson.   We got some lunch and strolled around town, and were informed we must see WOW! This phenomena is a wearable art collection that has transformed from an elaborate artsy fashion show to a museum which hosts the pieces from years past.  And if you are thinking “poor T”, I think they should call it the “his and hers” museum, as it is half cars and half fashion.  Given the bra art and the sheep dress, I’m not convinced the cars were his favorite!       We weren’t allowed to see if T would fit into the mini BMW, but it would have been a …

I heart Abel

We were working our way up to Abel Tasman park near Nelson where it is eternal sun, vineyards and beautiful views.  We apparently brought with us the night before their first rain in months.     To see Abel Tasman park, you need to take a ferry to a point in the park and either hike back or take another boat taxi/ ferry back.  Since the sun was out, I rushed us to the ferry.  We scored a caffeinated boat driver; when he realized he left without two booked passengers, he radioed base to say he’d asked about those two “but didn’t really put my heart and soul into it.”  A bumpy ride ensued, and T looked how I did at the base of Burj Kalifa.  Still our captain’s quips made T smile; when passengers kept their life vests on after they left the boat, he clarified, “though it might be dangerous out on the treks, those vests won’t save you!”   The views were amazing, and the water not too cold.  It’s a popular …