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Round the World in about 200 Days

Land of the KIWI

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 25 February 2008 | Views [822]

ok, so i promised to update more frequently and it has been a month again but hopefully this will be a good one :) 

new zealand has been quite a blast! a little mini story i skipped out on the last update was my very welcome reception from the customs officials lasting over an hour, i can't imagine why...

a fairly dirty looking american traveler on her own who had a few too many glasses of free wine and very little sleep on her 20 hour journey, originally coming from amsterdam of all the sordid places in the world and having a quick stop in cambodia, thialand, laos and vietnam, hmmmmm suspicious.

we had a nice chat about my life history, why on earth i was in new zealand, how i had been in europe for so long, and what the hell had happened on the way, this included a visit from a very friendly dog, every single item being removed from my bag and examined on the table, a few scary 1984esque computerised drug/explosive swipes over my cards, wallet, bag, arm, you know, the norm. 

after all of this i had to give dennis's name and phone number and they checked his arrival on the computer, also had to give them dennis's parents names, phone numbers and home address along with onward flight proof.

finally we had a very interesting discussion on the drug trade, along with some hypothetical questions and then i (phew!) made it through to the other side where dennis was not so patiently waiting.   

after touring around auckland and some surrounding areas dennis and i set off on our 2 and a half week road trip to the south island, highlights included...

the hot water beach

the water just below the surface of the sand is so hot it actually burns your feet if you touch it, so the idea is to dig a big hole in the sand that fills with the scalding hot water and then as the waves come in from the sea it mixes in your "tub" and makes a very warm and comfy bath on the beach, possibly one of the coolest things ever

the mud pools and geysers

crazy egg smelling hot steamy bubbling mud seeping up from the center of the earth, kind of creepy actually

wine, wine and more wine

first of all i must say that throughout the entire trip we have been on a mission to find the all elusive, sold only at a cellar door, super special pinot noir for my dear friend the sommelier in california who wanted to try a new one, this was a serious mission and we have been painstakingly trying to sample every dam pinot this country makes, life is so hard.

we biked 35k in 1 day to get to 4 wineries, one of which was closed, of course this was the one we had intended to eat lunch at, riiight, the next bike wine tour we were slightly smarter about...maybe 15k max and 7 or 8 wineries, we only stopped because they were closing, now that is more my speed :)

we also managed a day of wine tastings just north of auckland and sampled a few by bottle in wellington, you will recognise wellington by some of our more special looking pictures

all in all i must say i am quite impressed by new zealand wine (this is a lot coming from a born again californian who still loves the old european wine as well), one thing to be noted is that they do not use cork (except in exports to the united states funny enough, seems we're too good for the screw top),

we asked every single place the same question about the pros and cons of screw top vs cork, most came back to the same old 4% taint from cork but some were more interesting answers...cork shortage, environmental reasons, having to import the cork because it doesn't grow here, you don't need it etc etc, but no one could really give a good answer on the ageing question, of course it is going to age differently but will it age well??? still yet to be determined they most say 

1 interesting thing i did learn is that you should let the bottle stand a few minutes after opening if you get that ever funny fizzle on your tongue - carbon dioxide trapped in the bottle it is, because the screw top doesn't allow it to escape

skydiving

AMAZING! so much fun i wanted to go right back up, we went tandem so the guy i was with was doing funny spinning tricks like a ballerina flying, it was great! best birthday present ever! and did you know if you go round too fast in the air and you get lots of air go up your nose it feels exactly like when you jump straight into the water and forget to plug your nose?! crazy.

Nature

1. New Zealand is absolutely beautiful

2. 2 and a half weeks is not nearly enough time

3. when pressed for time and sticking close to the tourist track it feels a bit like disney land

lines and tons of people and booking ahead and giant group tours and an inability to actually go see something that is a natural department of conservation sight without paying a private company to take you there!!! and "hiking" trails that you can wear flip flops on,

just a bit funny for a girl from maine i guess, i know there is real wilderness here but i just didn't manage to get to it this time around and would really love to come back and get out of the tourist traps,

Glaciers

really pretty cool stuff to see a giant block of ice right in front of you when it is summer and you are wear and you are wearing a tank top, 2 are famous tourist stuff and there are 59 more in that area, i really want to go climb on one of those and not on one where you land on top of it in a helicopter and walk on man made steps in the ice 

we saw these cool pancake rocks that the sea is eating away at so they look like crazy sculptures and we went to the tui, monteith's and mike's organic breweries, met some great people along the way and dennis managed to live thru 2 head injuries...

head injuries

first one was while we were finding a spot to camp in our semi-nude holiday park in mapua, near the abel tasman nature reserve, and no there were no semi-nudists around distracting him, this was just pure silliness

dennis was backing up the car and for some reason was completely sure that the window was all the way down, except it wasn't, it was halfway down, and when he confidently rammed his head straight out the window he scraped off a pretty decent chunk of forehead - that was pretty funny pretty much immediately - and the band aid he had to wear over it so he could put on the goggles and hat to skydive - no one at the skydiving place made fun of that at all 

second head injury was just when the first crust was almost gone and we had been drinking the fruit of our labor from the wine tour at the pool all day and decided to walk up the hill to this nice little cafe for dinner, dinner came and went as did a few more bottles of wine and when we got outside dennis wanted to throw something away, i'm pretty sure he was actually throwing something away for me but i can't be sure, regardless he leaned in to what appeared to be a trash can and slammed his head straight into the corner of this random piece of sheet metal that was attached to the side of the building  

possible reasons for the sheet metal

1.    this was acting as a piece of art to make the building look chinese – perhaps

2.    it was meant to be a rain cover for the trash cans

3.    it was just stupid

the funniest part of all of this is that the other side of the building had orange foam rubber pieces covering the corners!

but this was not actually funny – to begin with – later it was very very very funny – but at first there was all this blood gushing from his head, super scary, I put my sleeve of my jumper on it to make it stop and about 20 minutes later it finally slowed down, but then the question became how do you tell if a drunk dennis has a concussion???

day of the week? nope I didn’t know the answer, we’re traveling remember

date? nada, see above

month, I could handle that but we were right on the cusp sooooo not really a fair question

oooohhhh how about where are we? answer being new zealand because the town I am still unsure of

I think the proof was he knew which tent we were in so I decided he must be fine

all in all the road trip was superb and the visit itself too, we have spent a lot of time hanging out with dennis's parents and all his kiwi friends who were all lots of fun and really welcoming, we have been to see some nice beaches and walked up a lot of volcanoes and had some really lovely food and i'm a bit sad to leave, just getting used to it here really, so many special native to new zealand only plants and animals and all this cool maori stuff to learn about, but someday we’ll be back I’m sure

we're heading out on thursday with a quick trip to california then on the bulk of the journey - central america! very excited about all to come, we start with Spanish lessons in antigua, guatamala and then some island hopping off the coast of belize and honduras…stay tuned, lots of love and sending some sunshine

Tags: The Great Outdoors

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