Friday, December 5, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Flying high, we got a bit of story to go along with the ride which is definitely the norm here. You see there is always the Maori legend and then the European story. The Maori's still own a great deal of the land here and are respected all over the country. The islands and streams are typically known to be God's or Goddesses with stories of love and war. If you were to ask me, I'd say it definitely looks to me to be a land that spirits would dwell upon.
From the air you could see the rolling hills scattered with kiwifruit bushes, vineyards, avocado orchards, citrus farms, dairy and beef cattle farms and pine forests. We started up the west coast to check out 90mile beach which is considered a State Highway and you could see cars getting on there way racing the coming tide. There are only 3 entry/exit points so there sort of is always a sense of adrenaline when you're using this route. Not much else to choose from though for this part of the world is certainly rugged and the local people still live by hunting and gathering. We made our way all the way to the northern most part to Cape Reigna where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. A spot that gets winds of around 90 knots on a typical day so we obviously landed prior and were on a bus for this section. Next came massive sand dunes and sand boarding (see video below) which was a riot and comes highly recommended by me:) To get there though we needed to take another State Highway which was actually by my perspective a stream. As we cruised down it at higher than normal speeds for our bus, we were told that it was actually considered to be quicksand!! Yea so if we were to actually park the van then it would disappear in 4-5 hours. Ha...I thought that was pretty cool.
Back to the plane and I made friends with just the right person b/c as we approached the pilot I overheard him ask if I could go ahead and be co-pilot. So my smile grew to astronomical proportion as I geared myself up sitting next to the pilot surrounded by all sorts of controls, levers, buttons and screens. A bazillion pictures were captured and I was surely ready to land the plane after 50 minutes of taking in the prompts.
No, not quite but I did enjoy a smooth landing and a content smile for the remainder of the day.
Thanks so much to all the great people that blessed me in my travels and financially supported me to enable such great things to come into my day.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Rippon vineyard on Lake Wanaka. The pic depicts the start to something beautiful but look carefully in the background and you will see timeless beauty......
So I've said my goodbye's to the South Island and I have to admit that it was somewhat hard to do. I was mesmorized by the depths of the country and again, the lacking population to cover so much land. Made an express route from Wellington (the southern most capital in the world) back to Auckland and I will say that the North Island has a beauty of it's own. It has been about a month since I've been here and the season change is well on its way which makes the already green land just sparkle. There are texturized hills in these parts which compares to nothing I've ever seen before. Of course add sheep and lamb to them and you can really get excited b/c I tell you...those things sure are cute.
Along the way:
*Christchurch was the biggest city in the south no doubt. A refreshing spot to be with it's European influence. Nice to take in some architecture but it still held onto that NZ vibe. The kinda vibe that makes you think that although these stores look like holes in the wall, they could very well turn out to be a secret spot.
I met up with a friend I made on the ferry crossing from north to south and we have turned into great wine and dine friends. So, to be true to ourselves we found a great all natural joint w/ outdoor heated seating and lively music and treated ourselves to seafood and complimented it with Wild South Pino Noir. A beautiful walk around the city till we felt the need to come back to our reality of bunk beds made for a night that makes you forget about your backpack. :)
*Wellington sits on the south of the north island and it takes a 3 1/2 hour ferry ride from picton to get there. I tell you, it was so hard to board the boat knowing I was sitting in NZ's finest wine making region-- marlborough sounds. It was time though and I was excited to spend a bit of time in 'Welly'. We posted up on Cuba St. which is surely the alternative part of town and although it was halloween I got the impression you could dress to fit your fancy anytime of the week, month or year on this street. So yea, I liked it! We did important things like browse the art show featuring skateboards, fill up on information at the Tattoo museum (in which a swiss friend I'd found the day before decided to get tatted), drink flat white coffee's whenever the music of a cafe called us in, and move & shack around the town w/out our maps. It was a proper day!! The days to follow also consisted roaming and shopping b/c there were fancier sides of town and parts designated just for eating and even a district specific to theatre. I liked the vibe here a lot and there was plenty to suit anyone just as long as you could with stand the weather. 1 day we had crazy winds and rains that litterally swept you off the street. Watched a tree come down right in front of me and the people near by just lifted it off the roadway like it was any other day. Hmm.... I guess you can get used to anything.
*Auckland at the moment and I was not a fan when I initially flew in over a month ago. Then again, we played it safe and not smart and stayed in the middle of town. I'm in Parnell @ the moment and it has a bit of fanciness to it with it's cafe's tucked into side streets and gardens growing up the sides of buildings. The sun is shining too though and you know that can make everything look grand. I have to say I like it though but not enough to stick around. Bay of Plenty tomorrow for a 3 day trip around the north of the north island.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Abel Tasman National Park located on the northern west coast of the South Island. This is the view along the 4 hour hike and that is the waters I got to sail on:) Here is also were I spotted a penguin; He was having a grand time swimming around in the frigid waters while we all indulged in the warm air and sunshine.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The south of the south island is breathtaking. There are mounatins covered in luscious greenery & blooming foliage and filled with the smallest of birds with the biggest callings. Spring is in the air at eye level but let your eyes drift toward the sky and you still get freshly coated snow capped mountains! What lies at the foot of these mountains are prestine rivers and creeks that harbour the sea life but not so much of the traffic and activity we have grown accustomed too. It is a spectacular site to take in- untouched beaches and no sign of destruction to be had. This is a magnificent island that seems to have kept its secret. Although tourism is growing, the land is not changing. The local kiwi's are thrilled to share their home and believe every town, no matter if the population is 40 or 25,000, is 'sweet as'. I'd have to agree.....
So- Queenstown is truely NZ's adventure capital. One can choose to paraglide, sky dive, bungy jump, jet boat, fly a plane, take a helicopter ride, sledge (white water rafting on a boogy board), ski/snowboard, luge and/or swing in a canyon if their heart so desired. I opted to try the luging and what a riot!!!! Germany vs. the States is how I rolled and it was surely a close competition. When all was said in done though, I think my friend Laura and I did more laughing than keeping score. To safe a few bucks (b/c I'm in the mood for fine foods and samplings of lovely wine(which we make room for almost daily) I found much excitement in hiking up the top of the hill and doing some yoga in the woods all by myself (and I mean by myself----nothing but a bird for an hour). Oh how you can forget why we go on vacations in the first place......
Some time to myself and a little relaxation came with my loop around the south-south. 1st I started by gladly hoping off the bus in Wanaka. It is thought to be similar to Queenstown but without the boost. It stole my heart with it's crisp fresh mountain air, clean streets pumping with dub from all the local art boutiques, and vineyards that surrounded the lake. It was a place I will return to and recommend to anyone who will listen.
Too soon I was speding more time on the bus traveling through gorgeous streets you'd think were only in fancy car commercials. To Milford Sounds which provided a lovely boat cruise that took us through a fiord carved out by a glacier back in the day. Today it is filled with overflowing waterfalls and the scenery described above. The cool thing about this boat trip is that it let you get up close and personal with a couple of these beauties...... check out photo.
Next came a couple of towns that I couldn't really get a grip on. Places where the population truely was around 200 and you could walk the main street in about 2 minutes. On the plus side, the star viewing from the southern hemisphere..... breathtaking!! Shooting stars to be had on 5 minute intervals.
(although Laura (pictured above while luging in Queenstown) tried to photograph this spectical; the photo is unfortunatly not available.....ha; you can guess why)
Also to note was the weather. I definitely could tell that the next stop was Antartica!! The wind wipped through you and in the morning you would always find a fresh coating of snow on the mountains that rose above the city limits. The chill didn't keep me away from checking out some wicked surf and spotting sea lion along the way. Sadly, no piguins came to play. So yea, the weather was pretty cool to experience but it was a day for the park when we got back to Queenstown for 21 degree sunshine. Anyone know the conversion? Regardless, the sun was welcomed and the shorts were pulled from the bottom of my pack. Ahhh...nice to know that maybe, just maybe, I did pack appropriately. Moving north should help the situation.
So, I'm on my way back up via the east coast. I am sad to put the west coast behind me but I already have my return trip planned out. (For anyone planning, @ this point I recommend Wellington-Queenstown via the west coast but not to rush through the north of the south island. Time to be spent on the treks, beaches and caves along the way) It feels rather yummy in my tummy to be making the loop though b/c that brings me closer to home. I know, I know.... have you ever...... it is true though- my heart feels love in the States. The traveling and the adventures are not to seize but it's time to share them-- Mark my love, has a spot right by my side! He deserves mad props b/c he's been there and it is evident that he loves even the crazy lady that lives inside of me. He cares about my dreams and my days. He loves me and is teaching me LOVE along the way. So, all the way on the other side of the world and this is my lesson-- Distance does make the heart grow fonder. So much so that nothing else really seems as appealing!