Was that California or New Zealand?

Josh and I were starting to wonder if somehow we had missed a turn and ended up back in New Zealand. The area around Yosemite shares some very similar features that might just make it worth skipping the 12 hour flight.

First of all the Sierra Nevada’s are majestic like the mountains and striking cliffs in New Zealand. It wasn’t that. First off we passed through fields covered if debris from a powerful volcanic eruption.

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Second was the sheep.

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Just when I thought is couldn’t get any more strange, a one lane brings pops up!

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Call me crazy but I think we time warped.

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History in Auckland

It takes watching just a few seconds of Lord of the Rings to get an idea of how beautiful New Zealand is. With so many wonderful places to go why would you ever spend a day inside or at a museum? For two people who often spend their days off at an exhibit missing some of these gems would have been tragic.

At the Auckland Museum

At the Auckland Museum

On our second day in New Zealand we spend the afternoon at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It is situated in the middle of Auckland Domain Park within walking distance of a few other attractions. It’s a fairly large facility and took us a few hours to see the entire place. I would recommend this as a great day-one activity; get some history and culture before exploring everything else. Learn the lay of the land and a little better understanding of language.

The whole group together

The whole group together

We also went to a number of monuments, the names of which I don’t recall.  Like any country that was colonized by England (we know nothing about that) there are plenty of memorials to war and conflict.  Most were surrounded by beautiful gardens.

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One afternoon the boys when in to the New Zealand Army Museum, not that I don’t enjoy that sort of thing but I was really tired.  I get carsick and the roads in NZ are a bit whinedy.  I know Josh enjoyed seeing some machines that he doesn’t get to in US museums.

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And one strange but interesting facility was World of Wearable Art.  This crazy collection of pieces was from a yearly completion.  Designers create a piece of art that more only has to be worn but also has to move in some interesting way.  Their theater plays highlights from the shows and you can see how not only are these items beautiful but was the model or dancer moves in it the piece tells a deeper story.

These are just the highlights of the stops we made.  Don’t miss out on all of the cultural experiences there are.

The First Drive Day

The first test to our friendship came just a few days into the trip, how do we do in the car together. It was going to be three really long weeks if one person had a bad habit. Thankfully it wasn’t a terribly long drive from Auckland to Rotorua. Josh even did some of the driving.

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We had been warned that Rotorua would smell of sulfur, like any place with hot springs. It was pretty smelly and very touristy.  Also had our first experience with Kiwi customer service.  It’s not a country where the folks rely on tipping or good feedback to keep jobs.  While checking into the hotel that afternoon the manager hung up on someone.  One of many things we would adjust too on this trip.

Making Cold Bubbles

We couldn’t possibly go on vacation and not go for a dive, thanks to Air New Zealand we didn’t have any of our gear.  While my suitcase arrived the next day, Josh’s didn’t come for two more.

The site we picked was Poor Knights Island, one of the more famous dive sites in New Zealand.  The collision of currents makes available a menagerie of wildlife not seen in other areas.  For two people whom dive mostly in the tropics suiting up in 8mm wetsuits with hoods was a bit scary.  I love to dive but I get cold even in Cozumel.  There will be a video from our dive coming, I just have not done the editing yet.  A bit lazy, but here is a little clip of Josh (and his beard) all suited up.

Wearing the GoPro was very comfortable and much easier than messing with my DSLR in a case.  My favorite part of diving is watching the schooling fish do their thing and when you are in an area that is prime for migration its heaven.  The dive was incredible and even though it was a large charter we were with a group of more experienced divers.

And, we weren’t cold.