It’s Christmas morning and we have arrived in Auckland, this is the farthest we have ever traveled. We are here to meet our friends for a three-week long trip around the islands. They wait patiently for us to clear customs and join them for celebrations at a childhood home. We wait for luggage that isn’t coming and realize that today is going to be a bit crazy.
My family is a ham lunch crowd, Josh’s does turkey but Maria’s is lamb. Now having seen it prepared I was a bit grossed out to try it but hey when in Rome. While that lamb was roasting in the oven we went to Waiwera Thermal Resort to steam out all the stiffness and just all around yuckiness of the previous day’s travel. It was awesome, I am a huge fan a hot springs anyway but they do it right. That is once you get used to the sulfur smell. We left feeling much more relaxed and ready for dinner.
Not only was the lamb fantastic but we were also treated to a selection of very Kiwi foods. Roasted potatoes, pumpkin, and kumara along with Pavlova. I could have eaten about half of that dessert had it not been for all the other goodies. Josh and I were starting to get tired and figured it was time to make for the hotel.
However we couldn’t resist making a few stops on the way, including a terrific scenic outlook of Auckland. A bit tough to see with the fog. We laid down to take a nap before going out to eat and didn’t wake up until the next morning. That many timezones has to catch up with you eventually.
Josh has come up with an idea for how we can share our trip to New Zealand. In three weeks we traveled most of the two islands and ran into all sort of incredible things.
We did not have a Christmas Eve, departing Chicago on December 23rd and arriving in Auckland on December 25th. Our 24th was just a blip as we crossed the international dateline. I already shared the trouble we had with catching our Auckland flight and the lost luggage. Our actual flight wasn’t nearly as bad as we both had expected. Really just slept most of the time. The folks at Air New Zealand deserve a huge pat on the back for all they do to make a very long trip comfortable. A special thanks for not leaving us behind too.
A bit cold leaving Chicago
Ready to get off this thing!!!!
While in New Zealand Josh took advantage of the extreme sport offerings to make his memories. Cave tubing, glacier hike, river surfing, and bungee jumping. He took the GoPro with him on all of these and I made a video the other day of his bungee experience. He chose the longest fall available in Queenstown. A 134 meter jump from a gondola suspended on cabled over a river valley. It’s called the Nevis Bungy and as you can see from the video it is every bit extreme.
We are returning to the US this week, after a very nice long vacation. As soon as we land the race to get ready for our tour launch begins. We will again be out with Rohde & Schwarz; a tour that will last most of the year. Our first stops include a few places in Olathe, KS which is just outside of Kansas City.
Hanging out today at a pub in Queenstown, while Josh goes down a river on a boogie board, trying to figure out how to start talking about our trip. The best part is that it’s not over; we still have more than a week left to this vacation.
Since arriving in New Zealand on Christmas day we have hiked a glacier, been fishing, witnessed flooding, been diving, bathed in hot pools, and hiked many miles. Our trip started on the North Island with visits to friends in Auckland, a day at the Auckland Museum and a few parks. We took a day trip out to dive at the world class Poor Knights Island (video to come). After a few days in Rotorua (also known as Roto-Vegas) is was time to make for the South Island.
Rain Rain Go Away
New Year’s Eve was a whirlwind, clubbing in Wellington and hanging out with an American couple from our earlier dive trip. We shared stories and a few pints, when 4am rolled around it was a sharp reminder that the ferry would be departing in just a few hours. Sleep deprivation makes for an interesting boat ride.
Grey skies followed us across that water and soon brought rains. The rains brought downpour and even some hail. After a very long drive we made it to the safety of Hokitika, or so we thought. The rain kept coming and actually washed out the only bridge traveling north out of town. What we didn’t know until the next day was that the bridge to the south of town had also been washed out. This dramatically changed our plans. How do we now get the glacier fields located in the south?
Glad I packed a raincoat
You drive 5 hours to the East; drive 5 hours back to the West and 2 hours North. Fox Glacier is right next the more well-known Franz Josef Glacier, both very popular with the backpacker crowds. The original plan was to stay based in Hokitika for our glacier days but that was not an option, what do you think the likelihood of finding a hotel last-minute in this happening town was? Luckily we were not the only ones affected by the flooding, nearly all of the hotels, cabins and other lodging were vacant. Most people were not willing to make the roundabout trip to get there. Even the glacier walks that are usually booked up for weeks were all available. We decided that an all-day hike on Fox was just the ticket for us. The face of Franz Josef had collapsed with that rains.
After a few sunburns and sore feet we made it to Queenstown last night and are back to our regularly scheduled route, just with the added benefit of thinner crowds.