Sunday, April 12, 2009

Final New Zealand Blog

As our time in New Zealand has wound down, Ash and I have had ample time to reflect on the last 6months.  For our final post of this adventure, here is a list of the things we have learned throughout our experience in New Zealand. This list is in no particular order.

1.  Toilets are obsolete; sticks and leaves are just as good as TP.

2.  One can live on Beer, Wedges, Gummy Bears, and Gelato.

3.  Why would anyone ever pay for accommodation?

4.  All food worth eating can be prepared with boiling water.

5.  It’s completely acceptable to get ready for the day in parking lots, (even with old men peering through the window).

6.  It’s not abnormal for a stranger to take our picture (with their camera).

7.  Why build a two-lane bridge when one lane will do?

8.  We really do have best friends we hardly know.

9.  Israeli guys are hot.

10. We always have money for beer and coffee.  ALWAYS.

11.We’re really good at doing nothing (we knew this before though).

12. The Southern Night Sky is amazing.

13. Everything is Sababa.

14. Always say thankfuls.

15. After 10days, a shower is warranted.

16. Deodorant is only necessary when in a strangers company.

17. “No camping” signs suck

18. When we grow up we will have “Please Camp” signs on our lawn.

19. People don’t tend to sing as much as we do.

20. Shadflies are everywhere we want to be (they are the bane of my existence).

21. When presented with a “2-4-1” voucher always share the first, and decide later if the second is a good decision. 

22. Not only does New Zealand make exceptional wine it brews quality beer.

23. Kiwi birds are a ploy to recruit tourists (Hello, they’re nocturnal).

24. When you go on a 10day tramp you should bring 13days worth of food and fuel.

25. Bringing 40 Cliff Bars apiece across the Pacific Ocean was clearly the right decision, Thanks Gary.

26. Now is clearly a good time to not be in the United States (good thing we’re simply home for the summer).

27. We love Pirates, Ninjas, Sharks, and Dinosaurs.

28. The Colossal Squid… definitely not disappointing. 

29. You don’t need shoes to go into the grocery store or restaurants…actually you don’t need shoes anywhere.

30. A queen size air mattress does not fit in a 2person tent (learned that one the hard way)

31. A tent isn’t suitable for permanent residence? Huh.

32. Cattle are much less hostile than moose and bears.

33. All I can say is our lives are pretty plain; we like watching the puddles gather rain.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Camping W wild Cattle
View from our beds
Regular Dinner Feast
View on One lane road
First shower in a week
The volcano we scurried up
Psychos running down

Oh Yeah!
What's Up Crater?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sheep and Volcanoes

After taking the ferry from the South Island to the North we were able to spend about 4days in our favorite NZ city, Wellington.  Luckily, Dana had been in Wellington a couple of times and had met a really great guy named Derick.  He was amazing and let us crash at his house for our time.  This turned out super well because his house is literally on the edge of down town.  We were able to stay up later than the sun, and cruise around the house until we were ready to leave for the day.  It was just really nice to be stationary for a few days.  The highlight of Wellington (other than sleeping inside) was between having our hair-cut and seeing the colossal squid.  I know this doesn’t sound super exciting, but Wellington rocks! 

After Wellington, Dana decided to hop on a cheap ticket and head to Fiji for her last week before home.  So, it has been Ash and I exploring the North Island solo, well duo.  We started our voyage on the Surf highway, camping with the wild cattle on the sand dunes, and from there we headed interior toward the North Island’s volcanoes.  Generally when we head to a new spot we use the “Let’s GO Book” Kort gave for directions.  This has been very reliable and definitely gets us from point A to point B.  On our journey to the volcanoes Ash saw on the map a more direct road.  Once we were on this road we realized why we hadn’t heard much about it.  It was a one lane, winding, dirt road, with many bumps and potholes.  My prayer driving this was for our tires to hold out and for no other drivers to come in the opposite direction.  We decided about half way down the road to take a break at a scenic waterfall.  This turned out to be a great stop because we ended up camping there.  We decided it would be fine, because we didn’t see a no camping sign and there was a picnic table.  We were slightly worried though, because we were obviously camping in a pasture with sheep.  If you remember we have had some issues with shepherds and sheep in the past.  No worries this time though.  We arose quite early the next morning to head to the North Island’s coolest walk, volcanoes.

Ash and I decided to take a day hike to “Emerald Lakes” but soon got distracted by a volcano peak.  Instead of hiking to the lakes we hiked up the volcano peak.  This was by far the most ill thought out plan, but neither of us were prepared to admit this to each other and just headed up.  About ¼ the way up the mountain we realized what we were in for.  For every step taken up we would slide about ½ backward.  ½ way up the mountain Ash and I were quite aggressive and began swearing at the rocks.  One of the most impressing things was as we were going up people were running down.  Now I don’t really care if they run, but as they were running huge boulders were following and preceding their paths.  A few times we had to will rocks to stop before they hit us, quite scary actually. Once again we were fine and not injured don’t worry Mom.  When we summited we quickly forgot how scary the last couple hours were as we stared into the crater of the volcano.  Seriously cool.

We arrived in Auckland a couple of days ago to sell our car before we fly home.  We opted to splurge and stay at a hostel for our time in the city.  Now don’t think too crazy, we have rented a space for a tent cite only (we’re still sleeping under the stars).  Since being in Auckland we have realized a couple of things about camping for months at a time.  We are allowed to use the hostel facilities including showers, couches, internet, and kitchen; but we have not yet utilized all of these comforts.  We seem to be more comfortable staying outside bundled up instead of being cozy inside.  We eat outside, change outside, pack our bags outside, sleep outside, and last night we even watched a movie on my laptop outside.  Funny how things change.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Today We Sail!"

It’s our last week on the south island so we decided to splurge and not go for another walk.  Don’t get me wrong we absolutely loved all of our hikes, but it has been nice to not have 10hour walking days.  Instead we chose to kayak the Able Tasman, “Today we Sail”.  This basically turned out to be a vacation… from our vacation. Most nights we tend to go to bed around 8 or 8:15pm, because when you are sleeping in a tent you are not able to stay up later then the sun.  The thing that we can’t figure out is why we don’t sleep very well at night.  Clearly we have packed days; we should be completely tuckered out.  Seriously, we wake up with the sun (around 10am) take our time getting ready by sipping coffee and eating our oatmeal on the beach, head out around noon, paddle for about an hour (half of which we would just sit on the water being pushed by the tail wind), and then we would head in for the day.  Once we would get to our campsite we would lay out in the sun.  I mean come on a good night sleep would be really nice for a change. 

Needless to say we had a great time kayaking.  The highlights for sure were visiting a couple of seal colonies.  We would just sit and watch them play and sleep.  As we were watching the seals we had a drawn out conversation about how it would be nice to be a seal.  All they do is swim around and play, and when they get tired they just go to shore dry off with the sun and take naps.  At the end of this conversation we turned up our chins and pondered.  “Wait, that sounds a lot like my life.”  I am a seal!  One of the neatest parts was pups had just been born a couple of months before.  When we had seen them, they were really playful and showing off for us.  They seemed to be just as curious about us as we were about them.  They would come right up and watch us, so cute. 

Since we have been gone our main diet is pita, noodles, tuna, clif bars, and the occasional greens.  Luckily New Zealand has some pretty drastic changes in tide, and when we were there the tide is quite low at dinner time.  On our last not camping we noticed mussels on the rocks next to our site.  Dana had the brilliant idea to change up our diet by cooking up fresh seafood for dinner.  We collected as many as we could eat boiled them in our primus stove and had a great change of taste from the 2months prior.  I must admit I did feel a little bad the mussels, but they tasted so good I wasn’t upset for too long. 

Because we are so used to going at our own pace not really living by a clock the last day we were in a bit of a time crunch to return our kayaks.  We were meant to be back to return our kayaks at 330pm.  Well we underestimated the time it would take for a side trip and to get back to camp….sound familiar?  We headed out for the day just after 1pm, and at 245pm we realized we had to get moving.  Keep in mind we were about 3hours away from our final destination.  We seriously need to get better about time estimation.  We had a mad paddle for about 1.5hours, and finally made it back to the beach at 440pm.  Only 1.5hours after we were meant to be back.  We were all pretty nervous they would make us pay for another day, but luckily Kiwi’s are not as money hungry as Americans.  They told us everything was “sweet as” and we needent worry.  They were just glad we were back safely.  After taking a long deserved shower we headed east to Blenheim. 

There really isn’t much in Blenheim other than vineyards.  Luckily we like wine, and by we I mean Ash and Dana (I think it’s ok, beer is better).  Well, we were given the tip to rent bicycles in Blenheim and go on a wine tour through the vineyards.  Have you ever ridden a bike in a dress?   Well I have; I guess I should have considered the fact that wind might be an issue, but I wasn’t concerned because it was a warm day and I liked my dress.  We were just all happy as boiled mussels, and I am sure that the cars going in the opposite direction were quite happy as well.  We had gorgeous weather so we braved the 22*C day and headed out.  We ended up hitting 4 or 5 wine tasting vineyards and bought a few bottles.  At one of the vineyards we bought bottles the woman seemed concerned and asked, “You girls aren’t riding bikes are you?” “Well as a matter of fact we are; we’ll just put the bottles in our baskets.”  We were meant to return our car by 5pm.  Once again we were not very on top of watching our watches and ended up returning our bikes at 540pm.  Also, pretty cruisy Kiwis and they were sweet with us being a little late in returning.  We seriously need to get better with being on time.   

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The South Island

A lot of you have wondered the proximity of where we were and where we were headed.  I have posted this map of the south island so it will make it easier to understand what we have done.  We were living in Queenstown for three months then headed to Stewart Island.  From Stewart Island to the Catlins (between Invercargill and Dunedin).  From Dunedin to Mount Cook, to Te Anau, to the west coast (Haast to Westport.  From there we headed to see our friend Robin in Nelson.  We kayaked the Able Tasman for a week outside of Nelson.  Then we headed to Blenheim for the night and rode the ferry to Wellington.  We are now on the North Island.  I am working on writing about our Able Tasman experience so please be patient- it'll be up as soon as I get my act together.