Month: January 2013

The Weather Gods Are Smiling

By Comments are off

We had only the briefest stay in Christchurch before boarding the train for the trip across the Southern Alps. What we saw of Christchurch reminds me a lot of Minneapolis, but we didn’t go downtown, which apparently is still a wreck after the 2011 earthquake and the—literally—thousands of aftershocks (still up to three per day)….

View More

The Bountiful Ocean

By Comments are off

As we left Picton the character of the east side of South Island immediately became apparent. The land was dry, grassy, and alternated flat plains and hilly ranges. Although we were on the main highway from the ferry terminus to Christchurch, it was sparsely traveled and more like a secondary route. After traversing a region…

View More

The Heroic Journey of Karel the Conqueror

By Comments are off

Picton – Wow! What a pretty harbor. By far the nicest ferry terminal I’ve ever seen. This tiny town has only about 3000 full-time residents. About twice that number are here every day in the summer, visiting. We’re at the north end of the South Island, a complicated realm of mountainous islands, peninsulas, bays, and…

View More

How to travel in style

By Comments are off

The Inter-Island Ferry is more like a cruise ship than a commuter vessel. It’s huge, with 10 decks, food court, café, bar, and private cabins. For families with babies, there are private nursery rooms, and for the kids there was live entertainment by a magician and two feature movies during the three-hour journey. The vehicle…

View More

Te Papa National Museum

By Comments are off

When we arrived in Wellington, the capitol of New Zealand, we immediately set out in search of good ice cream, which I’d been craving ever since my big hike. Then we explored art exhibits and did some window shopping. As dinnertime approached we started looking for a likely restaurant. We had just noticed we’d strayed…

View More

Impressions

By Comments are off

We zigged back over to the east coast to spend a couple of days in the town of Napier, the Art Deco capitol of the world. The entire business district was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, and was rebuilt in that stylish mode over the next few years. They had a lot of new…

View More

Tongariro Crossing

By Comments are off

Dawn wasn’t looking very promising. The weather was cold and misty, and Karel didn’t exactly bounce out of bed. The hotel proprietress was knocking on our door and asking after his well-being, however, and she bundled us into the dining room. Never mind what we ordered; they stuffed us with the deluxe breakfast and sent…

View More

Rafting on the Tongariro river

By Comments are off

We just wrapped up a few days of adventure in the vicinity of Taupo and Tongariro National Park. Our first stop was at the impressive Huka Falls. Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake. At 616 square kilometers, it could swallow the entire nation of Singapore. There are several large volcanoes around the lake, some…

View More

Kia Ora (the Maori version of Live long, and prosper)

By With 1 comment

Special treat this evening, a Maori feast and cultural show. We were transported by waka (the Maori word for canoe, but now used for any means of transport—in this case, a bus). Our waka driver, Dennis, is a Maori elder, jokester, and party animal. He taught us the traditional call-and-response chant for paddling a waka…

View More

Language issues

By Comments are off

Kiwis are very kind and will go out of their way to offer help if you look lost or confused. They speak English, of course, but that doesn’t mean an American (or Dutch guy) can understand what they say. Get used to it, because the Kiwi way of saying it is the RIGHT way. For…

View More

In the Crater of the Volcano

By Comments are off

Last night we finished the day in Rotarua, New Zealand’s most active geothermal area. We went out for a splurge, celebration dinner at the Makoia Restaurant. The meal included local delicacies and was served with tips on some of the healthful uses of the ingredients. For example, kawakawa leaves are a natural liver cleanser and…

View More

Digital Warriors

By Comments are off

We have so many photos and video clips every day, we’re unable to upload all the keepers before running into daily data quotas (you can’t find unlimited data transfers here, even if you pay for access). In addition, connection speed is usually just too slow to handle our video clips. We’re also placing a major…

View More

Hobbiton!

By With 1 comment

This morning we “helped” feed the sheep and move the cattle. Then, it was off to one of the highlights of our New Zealand trip: Hobbiton! Neither Karel nor I are the type to go on a pilgrimage to set locations and movie star houses, with this one exception. Hobbiton is a place I’ve wanted…

View More

Gold Country

By Comments are off

A leisurely drive to the south today. We decided to skip the glowworm caves, which cut our driving time by several hours. We’ve learned you have to add 25% or so to the GPS calculated driving time, which is supposedly based on speed limits and traffic conditions. The speed limit is usually 100 kph, but…

View More

Kiwi Dundee

By With 1 comment

I’ve started adding captions to some of the photos, so look there for interesting tidbits. For the past couple of days we’ve been touring the northern end of the north island of New Zealand. This place is incredibly beautiful! Sort of like California, only greener and a lot less populated. Today we had a prearranged…

View More

Traveler’s illness and dolphins

By With 1 comment

Didn’t feel right when I woke up. Karel —my hero— rearranged our plans for the day to give me a few hours to sort it out. I’ve delved into our first aid kit and we’ll see how it goes. … Just a little traveler’s illness. I think I’ve slept or dozed for 30 hours and…

View More

From Auckland to Paihia

By Comments are off

We took a longer route up to Paihia (from Aukland) which took us over to the west coast (Tasman Sea) for a bit. The drive was beautiful, a lot like California, but greener, and you have it all to yourself. There are even big trees — we stopped to see the largest living kauri tree,…

View More

Auckland tours

By Comments are off

Our first day in New Zealand! To get familiar with Auckland, we got a tour of Auckland and the surrounding areas. We tasted our first pies (which are addictive), looked over huge forests, enjoyed walking on the beach (with sand that sticks to a magnet), and had a very nice day. Denise wrote captions to…

View More

Total Lack of Culture Shock

By With 1 comment

We flew on Air New Zealand to Aukland on a brand new jet. The safety video was a humorous spoof of The Hobbit, very cleverly done. In Fiji everyone spoke English, were very friendly, and went out of their way to make visitors feel at home. In New Zealand it’s much the same. Aukland is…

View More

Less of This, More of That

By Comments are off

Today we bid Matamanoa farewell and traveled to the “Mainland” to be close to the airport for an early morning departure. For convenience, our travel agent booked us into one of the major hotels for one night. It was high-end, luxurious, and utterly cold and bland. I’m pretty sure I stayed in that exact room…

View More

It Takes a Village. Or, Two Villages.

By Comments are off

Today we went on an excursion to the village of Tavua, on a neighboring island, where most of the staff of the resort live. It was a very interesting trip—we really learned a lot. The culture and economy of Fiji are so different from western norms, we think it’s fascinating. Tavua has about 200 residents,…

View More

First impressions of Fiji

By Comments are off

Travels to Fiji went smoothly – for the most part. Karel used his iPhone to snap a photo of me settling in for the trans-Pacific leg of our air journey, but somehow misplaced the cellphone before we landed. It may be that the airline has found it already, but we immediately traveled beyond the world…

View More

Where are we?

By Comments are off

We’ve arrived at Matamanoa, a speck of an island in a chain off the southwest coast of the main island. The nearest neighbor is Mondriki, an uninhabited island that was the location for the movie, Castaway. Remember the sheltered lagoon, and the big waves outside the reef? That’s what it’s like. Our boat stopped at…

View More

Our honeymoon has started!

By With 1 comment

Our honeymoon has started! After a few days of preparations, packing, and cleaning the house (kind of), we got a ride to the Denver airport (thanks Jerry, Suzanne, and Riley!). We got onto the plane without a problem and the flight to LAX was uneventful and ahead of schedule. LAX is not our favorite airport…

View More