Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Zealand

First of all, I just want to say that Australians seriously know how to take a holiday. About a week before Easter Sunday, everyone starts to slack off and quit going to classes. Then, when Easter rolls around, everyone gets two weeks off of classes for Easter Break. Not to mention that the first week back to school, Wednesday is a national holiday for ANZAC day. I love it and wish Americans took these kind of vacations!

For the first week of vacation, I met Mom and Dad in Auckland, New Zealand, to travel around the North and South Islands of New Zealand. I got to Auckland a day ahead of the 'rents, so I decided to check out a walking track on Waiheke Island, a small island you can only get to by ferry, close to Auckland. After I realized how nice the island was, Mom and Dad and I decided to go back together once they arrived. We rented a car and visited several wineries around the island for tastings, had a great dinner, and caught the ferry back to Auckland before Mom and Dad collapsed from jet lag. Waiheke was a pretty artsy place, so I put up a couple artsy fartsy photos from the island...

A great view from the walking track

One of the many wineries on Waiheke

A dinghy on the beach near the Waiheke marina

The next day, we rode out bright and early for the Waitomo Caves and Rotorua. The Waitomo Caves were pretty cool, and they had tons of glow worms all over the place. The glow worms were crazy looking bugs that lit up to attract bugs, and had strings to catch and eat the bugs that came around, similar to a spider web.

Entrance to the glow worm caves

We got Rotorua later that day and were immediately greeted with an odd sulphur/rotten egg smell that didn't leaves us for the next two days. It turns out that all the volcanic activity in the Rotorua area puts out the sulphur smell. Rotorua was a nice little town, and had a great deal of Maori (native New Zealander) culture as well as the attraction of earth heated pools, active geysers and mud pools.

An active mud pool in Te Puia, a Maori village

The AGRODOME! We got to watch an Agriculture show about sheep farming in NZ.

Dad had the guts to pet the sheep, but he looks awfully nervous!

Once we finished buying mom some yarn, I got to go zorbing! Imagine a mix between a roller coaster and a washing machine...great fun!

We flew out of Rotorua the next morning for Queenstown, which was by far my favorite place in NZ. Flying in to Queenstown itself was a very interesting experience. The plane weaves its way through mountains to land at a very tiny airport.

After we got to downtown Queenstown, it had the feel of ski town out west, with a very interesting blend of people and cultures. There were a good number of younger people with seasonal type jobs, a lot of tourists, but also a lot of locals who were genuinely nice and helpful. Queenstown is also known as the extreme capital of the world, but with nasty weather and Mom and Dad there, I decided not to brave the skydiving or bungee jumping.

The top of the gondola in Queenstown (at about 30 degrees F)

Dinner at "The Cow" with our new friends from the wine tour

The first day in Queenstown, Dad and I were supposed to go trout fishing, but the guide called early and told us the weather was too nasty to brave the boats. We decided a wine tour would be a good rainy day activity, and we had a great time and met some new friends. The next day, we did a day trip to Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park, several hours from Queenstown. This was probably the coolest place I have ever seen, and pictures do not do justice to the beauty of this place.

This is from mirror lakes, a stop on the way to Milford Sound

This is a waterfall called the Chasm, on the way to Milford sound (if you can't tell, this is looking straight down from the top of the waterfall and on down the creek)

Mom and Dad at a lookout near Milford Sound

Quintessential Milford Sound

Because it was raining, new waterfalls showed up all over the place

This is one of the permanent waterfalls, and it was absolutely beautiful

On the way back from Milford Sound, I was having serious whitewater withdrawals. We passed this awesome class III looking creek, and I would have given anything for a little bit more water and a creek boat. Being in NZ made me seriously miss the whitewater at home.

The next day we had to leave Queenstown behind, and head to Mt. Cook and Christchurch. The drive was fairly monotonous, but we had some great stops along the way.

This is Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapu. Lake Tekapu was the brightest blue green water you have ever seen, mostly from rock flakes in the water that were ground up by glaciers, and what better backdrop than the highest peak in the southern hemisphere.

This is the Church of the Good Shepherd on Lake Tekapu. Pictures weren't allowed inside the church, but from the pews looking to the pulpit through the windows was one of the most spiritual views you could ever ask for.

Overall, New Zealand is by far my favorite place that I have ever travelled to, and I'm sure that I will be back soon to take in the many sights and sounds I did not have time to experience in this short week. It was wonderful to get to see Mom and Dad after two full months away, and it gave me a little push to get me through the rest of the semester.

1 comment:

ashley seawell said...

Wow you are turning into quite the photographer! I wish I was there!

Love, Ashley