New Zealand

 

Log Entry #54 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Kiwis Along The Highway

One thing we learned about New Zealanders, before we were even near the shores of their beautiful country, is they are a hospitable group.  As we traveled across the Pacific we met many Kiwis and were amazed that most of them would extend an invitation to stay at their homes upon our arrival.  Therefore it came as no surprise to see this hospitality prove to be the norm.  We not only had David’s family and friends from his teenage years here with his parents, but we also had the great fortune of previously meeting a darling Kiwi couple, Brad and Ari, when they were visiting our buddies Todd and Judy in Anacortes.  Of course we got in touch with them when we arrived.  Brad happens to work for New Zealand Fisheries, so he set in motion our introductions to other “Kiwi Fish Cops” along the way.  And they were all amazing hosts!  From gorgeous rooms and homes with fabulous views, to delectable meals and interesting and funny conversations, we were well taken care of and properly entertained!  We were even invited back!  While it is true that New Zealand is an amazingly scenic country, the friendliness of its people is what we will remember most!

Log Entry #55 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Caves, Abseiling & Insect Poop

Descending into a cave on a little rope, flying through a dark tunnel on a thin wire, jumping off a small ledge with an inner tube around your backside into a chilly, dark, underground river, admiring glowing strands of florescent insect poop (glow worms) were all experiences we were willing to pay dearly for?   We were!  I decided to rationalize it by considering it a “conquer my fears” experience!  David was in awe that the person he lived with, the one who as a teenager had one time spent hours crying on a rooftop too afraid to climb down a ladder, was actually eagerly awaiting the experience!  But what could I do?  My buddy Judy said it was one of the best experiences of her life when she had done it on a vacation to New Zealand a few years earlier.  Jane, another buddy, had set such a good example by her willingness to participate in many adventurous sports with her husband.  There were also all of my other friends who I was trying to be a good roll model for, not to mention that inner coach reminding me if I could cross the Pacific Ocean, then surely I could do this!   Well, we did do it, and it was fantastically fun and worth every penny!  It was truly a life adventure that would have been sad to have missed!

Log Entry #56 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Camping On The Move

Camping has always been one of our favorite activities, even after moving aboard Talerra.  In fact, keeping our camping gear when we took off on this cruise was a high priority!  We had two little grandsons who we wanted to continue to share this outdoor experience with, and fortunately a son and daughter-in-law not only willing to store the gear, but also to use it!  So it wasn’t out of character for us to want to camp while on our trip.  Thankfully Henk and Robyn were willing to loan their tent, stove, and a few other items.  We came up with the other essentials such as two chilly bins (ice chests) and a queen-size air bed, miraculously crammed everything, including a table, chairs, and plastic tub as our kitchen sink into our little Ford Laser, and off we went!  Although we were able to do some camping along the way, we did discover trying to travel and camp is a bit more hassle and not as comfortable as we thought it would be.  Autumn was approaching, nighttime temperatures were dropping, and campfires are not allowed in New Zealand.  For us, being mesmerized by dancing flames, toasting a marshmallow to perfection, and warming cool hands by glowing embers are all essential to the camping experience.  It is also a bit time-consuming to set up and take down camp when your main goal is traveling from place to place, so we most often stayed in cabins at the many holiday parks along the way.  We just needed our own bedding, which of course we had, and we cooked in the communal kitchens.  We could check email, do laundry, and sometimes watch television in the guest lounges.  Of course the best part was it provided more opportunities to meet other travelers, many from as far away as Europe, as well as though friendly, funny New Zealanders!

Log Entry #57 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Cities

New Zealand cities are all exceptionally beautiful.  Of course, as with developed areas anywhere in the world, there are places you stay away from at night, but otherwise we always felt quite safe and free to investigate all of the sites we wished.  There are a few things New Zealand villages, towns, and cities all seem to share.  In addition to the usual markets and takeaway (fast food) establishments, they all have at least one lovely park and play area for children.  The other excellent feature was having a well-maintained and interesting museum.  Almost without exception we left each with the feeling we would love to return for another visit!

Log Entry #58 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Tasman and Pacific

What a thrill it has been to be able to see the Tasman Sea from Cape Reinga in the north to the little town of Bluff on the southern tip of South Island!  The west coast of New Zealand is less populated and always scenic.  While the roads require a bit more concentration when being driven, the trip is worth every picturesque minute!

Log Entry #59 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Mountains

We heard it said that if you flattened all the hillsides and mountains in New Zealand you would have a country the size of Australia.  While that is a bit of an exaggeration, it is true there are very few areas where you can drive down a straight road.  Of course this is one of the main reasons New Zealand is such a picturesque country.  However it is also why driving here is not for the faint of heart!

Log Entry #60 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Rivers

I’m sure most people think of fly-fishing when they think of rivers in New Zealand!  It is true fishing is a huge sport here, but the rivers provide so much more!  Some are so cold you could use the icebergs floating in them to cool your chilly bin!  Others are so cozy warm they could provide a relaxing bath.  And some rivers even provide entertainment because crazy people actually pay money to use big rubber bands to fall from bridges over them!

Log Entry #61 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Glaciers

Being able to go tramping (walking) right up to a glacier or sitting by a lake with icebergs floating by was quite a thrill.  It is also something New Zealand citizens should be very proud of.  The New Zealand government has done a fantastic job making these areas available to its citizens and visitors!

Log Entry #62 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South – Milford Sound

Our bus and boat trip to Milford Sound (actually a fjord) was a special treat to ourselves.  It not only allowed us to see the fabulous views without the worry and hassle of driving, but it also made it easy to meet and socialize with other visitors such a darling couple from Germany and a group of technology folks from the United States.  The weather that day was sunny and beautiful, which made it a perfect drying day after an exciting shower under one of the exquisite, cascading waterfalls!

Log Entry #63 – July 2008

New Zealand Road Trip – Kauri Forests

David’s old high school mate Henk and his wife Robyn were game to take a road trip with us, so we packed up their car and off we went to see the majestic Kauri forests on the northwest coast of North Island.  We started our trip with a visit to the famous Kauri Museum.  It was so informative and packed with excellent exhibits that there was no way we could see it all in one day.  We had to move on, but definitely hope to go back.  Our three-day trip included a forest night walk to try to see a legendary Kiwi bird.  We were not successful, but we learned a lot from our guide anyway.  We did agree they could learn a thing or two from Disney and have a remote-controlled Kiwi for the times the real guys don’t show up!  It was also a thrill to see the 1200 to 2000 year-old Kauri trees, the peaceful little towns on the west coast, and once again the magnificent Tasman Sea!

Log Entry #64 – May 3, 2009

Leaving New Zealand

It’s known to be one of the most challenging ocean passages in the world, so it should come as no surprise that choosing the safest and fastest sailing weather for our exit was as much work, and as frustrating, as when we prepared to sail to New Zealand from Fiji.  Since misery loves company, it helped having about one hundred other boats in our little port of Opua trying to do the same.  Just as in Fiji, we spent hours studying multiple weather forecasts and discussing observations and conclusions with fellow cruisers.  We watched one migrating weather system after another march eastward from the Tasman and Coral Seas across our planned path to Pago Pago, American Samoa.  Finally our weather window arrived and off we sailed, bidding a bittersweet farewell to the lovely country and people of New Zealand.  Even though we were excited about being able to leave, we also knew we were so fortunate to have been able to spend our year and a half there and were leaving with a multitude of wonderful memories.  Still, the mighty Pacific was waiting for us, and as we began our long journey back home, a group of dolphins swam along side Talerra and escorted us out to sea.