Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kiwis and birthday suits.

You know that movie, the one with the ring, and the lord, and the hobbits and whatnot? Well, remember how they live in a pretty amazing place? Well, I've been there! And funny side note about that. For the release of The Hobbit they are officially re-naming Wellington to “The Middle of Middle Earth”. Cool eh. Absolutely everything about New Zealand was pretty amazing. I stood on a beach where the arctic winds had churned the sea up so violently, that the entire beach was covered in foam. I walked through lush green rainforests past crystal blue lakes, rivers, and waterfalls that suddenly opened up into massive (although receding) glaciers. I watched dolphins swim in bays back dropped by huge snow capped mountains. I wore my birthday suit into the ocean. I panned for gold and actually found some. I even watched baby seals climb up a stream in the forest and play in a pool at the base of a beautiful waterfall. The people were almost all nice. If there was a bare spot of land it was almost always green. There are a plenty of ski resorts and good surf breaks that could easily both be done in one day. I may be rethinking my future, and it may involve this place with a small flightless bird called a Kiwi! But as for now, the time has come to leave. Sad face emoticon. But, a part of me will always be in New Zealand, well, my clothes anyway. I left them in the laundry room which was then locked at the last place I stayed. No one around to unlock it at 4am. So, it's just the clothes I was wearing that day now! Actually, I've got new clothes now, for pretty dirt cheap, but you'll have to tune in next time to find out where I got them!

This foamy beach was one of the strangest things I have ever seen.

Everything in NZ is big.  The vastness of the glacier that used to be right here was no exception.

The black riders didn't read the sign.  (hehe, nerdy LOTR reference)

Danger, no stopping to take pictures of boulders rolling down hill onto your head.

Headed to the Fox Glacier.  50 years ago, it was about 300 yards behind this.

Lots of ice.

Sophie, Chris, Sam, Dallon.  Glacier.

Made a new park ranger buddy.

Sam looking stexy (I just made that word up, style+sexy) in the hot pools after hiking.

This thing is from Himalaya, don't remember what it's called.

Those tiny specs on my finger tip, are the fruits of my 30 minute gold panning labors!  Maybe 50 cents worth!  Woowoo!

Kaikoura Bay.

This guy was not pleased with my vicinity.

North end.  South Island.

Trying to cook our last dinner, in the cold wet rain...again.

Pup seals in the waterfall.  This was REALLY cool.  Better than the zoo!

Baby seals.  Waterfall.  Me.

Can you find them?

The vans.
Do not zoom in.  Trust me. Just keeping with a little tradition here.
 Well, I'm not in NZ anymore, and in my current locale I'm half way through my travels with two more countries to go!  Guesses for where I'm at now?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Aotearoa: The Land of the Long White Cloud

When I was a kid I used to rent vhs tapes from the library that were nature tapes.  David Attenborough type stuff.  And though I don't remember particularly which one, I know that sense then I have always wanted to come here.  And now I am finally in New Zealand!  And it is absolutely everything I hoped it would be.  Everything is beautiful, and everything is amazing.  I am still with Sophie and Chris but I've traded Andy for Sam as my van buddy.  I'm the only American again...  We got vans from the same company but they're much nicer this time.  We started in Christchurch, which unfortunately is still in a sad state since the earthquakes a few years ago.  Then went down to Queenstown.  This is the area I almost moved to a few years ago, I still want to move there now.  There are several ski resorts in the area and some of the best mountain biking mountains I have ever seen.  We tried to make it to Milford sound but a rock slide and nasty weather kept us away.  Instead we went to puzzling world!  (see photos)  Pretty fun place actually.  All you have to do in this country to be satisfied is drive around and look.  But there are also tons of adventure options as well.  Unfortunate I had a little misunderstanding with the Australian Tax Office and my funding is not what I thought it to be, so I'm skipping the highest bungee jump in the world.  (good excuse to come back now though!)   The sheep here must be the happiest in the world, I have never seen such perfectly green hills to pasture on.  With crystal blue lakes and rivers, snow capped mountains, and lush green forests everywhere, who would complain!  There are lots of sheep so it must be good!  I'm in a rush so I'll let the photos tell the rest, though, I have been letting Chris and Sam take all the scenery photos with their fancy cameras, so mine are sub-par and of course don't do it justice! 

Meet Sam.  He's tall.

Fierce competition to get the best photo!

The new van.  Nicer, still painted stupid though.

Lake Tekapo

Downtown Queenstown.

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With Rosie, who lives in Queenstown.  We slept in her drive.

Sam smells funny

The pose was not my idea...

We actually finished the maze in record time without cheating!  Even though Sam could see over the walls...

It's cold here.