Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Zealand - Where's Tum Now?

Some of you had started to question me as to whether I had left every ones email inbox in peace since it has been such a long time between emails.

The 2 month whirlwind tour of NZ came to an end a fortnight ago and I am now adjusting to life without a shadow. Brad flew back to Aussie and left me to face the Kiwi's on my own. I promptly left the car at the airport and scored my old job back within the hour he left, as realised I needed something to do apart from having a shower, a monstrous load of washing and should start paying off the credit card.

What did we see? What did we do? Where did we go?...Not really sure but the 5gig of photos might jog some memories.
I guess I start by breaking the trip in two and going over the highlights and noteworthy memories.

North of the North Island (~3 weeks)
Highlights: Trout Fishing (by fly casting), First of many suspension bridges, Reverse Waterfall (the wind was so strong that no water ever made it to the bottom...most was blown back over the top), Hobbiton (location for the township in movie, danced on the party field, crawled around in their houses), Auckland - Home of the JAFA (Just Another F'n Aucklander) Skytower / The "I once did have" One Tree Hill, Lion Red Brewery, Climbing up a Volcanic plug with great views and drops straight down to sea, Jet Boating (2x850 Hp Engines, so, so fast and got plenty of airtime off swells), Kauri Trees (old trees that have a base diameter of >10 metres, Cape Regina (northernmost point of NZ and the meeting point of Tasman/Pacific Oceans where the swells break on each other), Coromandel Peninsula (the views, JAFA backdoor-step so huge x80 bed hiking hut and a hot water beach where you soaked at low tide while burning your bum on the sand), Lake Why-carry-marijuana (Maori name comes out something like this involved walking over soaring bluffs next to pristine freshwater lakes), Cape Palliser Lighthouse and caught ourselves fresh Paua (Abalone) to go with our mushroom risotto.

South Island..."Mainland" New Zealand (~5 weeks)
Highlights: Wine Tasting in Marlborough, the Queen-Charlotte Sounds on hired mountain bikes (we were glad they weren't our bikes and that we didn't get hurt going down massive hills over large rocks...very very fast/or in dark), Abel Tasman via sea-kayaks (this area has golden beaches) and the "little" tidal estuary that turned out to be waist -> neck -> swimming depth (whilst carrying a pack), Nelson Lakes (EXTREME HIGHLIGHT OF SOUTH ISLAND) straight after first snow of the year and 5 days of sunshine immediately after it to walk the national''ll understand why this was the highlight when you see the photos, the Heaphy Track is classified as one of the a great walks in NZ (we'll remember it as the "massive walk" - 64kms in 1 day), the West Coast and the Southland is Glacier country and hence has the magical water colour (cloudy blue), Glaciers (ignoring warning signs to see them up close), Lake Matheson (renowned reflection well as everything was in cloud/rain), Haast Pass and driving in 10cm fresh snow whilst it was snowing, Wanaka & Queenstown (sking and jetboating), Milford Sound...anytime they plug NZ tourism they use photos of this area...a MAGIC drive into there let alone the Sound itself, Invercargill & Bluff (southern most point of NZ), the Catlins (after 25+mm rain it was simply too muddy for crocs/boots, went barefoot like the hobbits and waterfalls were pumping), Dunedin (combined brewery/cadbury's tours, beautiful town/city of old buildings), Donating blood and then tried to go bushwalking uphill without passing out, Cave Stream (wickedly cold creek that entails a waist deep 500m walk through cave...apparently the water does warm up in summer (maybe we should have came back) and I can sing like Justin cold!), Hanmer Thermal Springs (sat in thermal pools with snow falling around us), crisp cold days around Christchurch (-2 C at mid afternoon), Mount Hutt Sking (-9 C), Arranging job in 1.5hrs and flying across the country back to NZ mums cooking/carrot cake (maybe they were taken by the insults thrown at me from a disgruntled Maori psych out-patient..."Big are a Big Cock...You have a Big Cock"...non-stop laughs now but at the time wasn't sure if the cage would stop her (>100kgs) from chasing me around the pharmacy and finding out!).

Best places to freedom camp/"sleep in car" keep an eye out for dirt tracks off the main road, lookouts, lighthouses, monuments, schools, cemetery's and DOC campsites if all the above fail. Freedom camping is illegal/not allowed apparently...if you get caught I guess!

The South Island in particular takes FOOD and BEER to a full time holiday! Each town prides it self on some other noteworthy delicacy/liquid. many varieties of black beers, the Kiwi's sell 2 litre plastic soft drink bottles as Riggers or you "fill your own" from the tap at the Brewery ~$7 for 2 L of beer!, Brewery tours with all important tastings (normally 15min to drink your fill),, Salami, Pies (a Shazza specialty, wrapped in foil and cooked on the engine block), Fudge (Maple and Walnut was best, the best name = Aucklander Fudge (orange/choc)), Cask wine as bottles are to heavy to carry, sadly most "chateau de cardboard" tasted like cordial...a great mixer with duty free Rum to warm you up, Possum Pies (avoid the ones with 1080 apparently), All-you-can-eat (learnt that I can still eat enough to feel ill still), Camping stove delicacies...gourmet is possible!, Peanut Butter sandwiches, Tuna Pasta, BRUSSEL SPROUTS...dirt cheap and were the basis for every meal over the last 2 months...mmmm.

Kiwi Tales: Morgue-leys or Morgitions (tried as often as possible to convince people that we worked in the hospital morgue, two blokes travelling together...they must be Gay, Twins/Brothers (poor Brad if he looks anything like me but most people seemed to think otherwise), Crazy tourists (dangerous driving, scared of getting car jacked), Hippy/Gypsy buses, Donations as entry fee...every ones out to make a buck off the tourist.

Limited washes or simply our faces at public toilets (record 14 days), sleeping bag stench, washing in Minus conditions or near frozen water

Shazza (Nissan Terrano): Rattles, bumps, 4wd gear shift falling through floor, ice on inside of window/snow outside when sleeping in her, didn't need chains...bring your own grader (driving behind grader for 20km), South Island roads are straighter...they build through the hills rather than around them see the tunnels at Milford, Christchurch, East Coast H'wy, No fridge but nothing ever went off (Milk, Pork/Chicken) and even froze over on most nights, Beer was easy to keep cold, Red Wine had to be held near your body to warm up enough to drink at room temperature!

So where am I now and headed?

New Zealand (obviously), would you believe Wanganui yet much for locuming around the South Island...cant knock back a good deal or familiar company though.

Looking forward to holidaying again when family come across (October-ish) and testing out the metal work of mums hip!

Hooroo for now,


PS: I finally have started using Facebook, might get around to uploading photos

PPS: After the results of this weekends tri-nations game and the netball things will be fun tomorrow at work, particularly if I wear my Wallabies jumper.