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. 


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hanging out on the Pirate Ship
Went on a 5minute nature walk and needed to break halfway up the hill
Sunset on the Tasman Sea
Waving to Tatty in Oz across the sea
On our trip being eaten by sandflies

Since being on the Dusky we have had a full on road trip.  We have had a bit of luck on our trip, some bad and some good.  We camped on the Tasman Sea a couple of nights ago.  After waiving to Tatty Oz we watched a beautiful sunset and saw so many stars.  As we walked onto the Beach Dana spotted a Right Flip Flop.  This is great news because now I have 2shoes.  Mind you they don’t match and the new one is about 2sizes too big, but I now have flip-flops again.  We have also had mainly really beautiful weather.  This is really a treat because we have been camping in the rainforest, and sleeping in a wet tent is not really that fun.  Basically we spend each day pulling off the road at interesting sites and setting up camp in a wide spot on the road or on the beach.  

Within the first hour of leaving for this road trip we ran into a bit of car trouble.  Not surprising to anyone in our car (as this type of thing tends to happen to us) but still worrisome.  Like a professional bus driver I scan my mirrors and dash every 7seconds.  On one of my scans I noticed the check engine light flash then the temperature gauge rise rapidly.  I fought our first response to just continue driving, so I pulled over to figure out the problem.  It turns out that our engine was overheating because we have acquired a hole in the bottom corner of our radiator.  Luckily, Ash and I had dealt with this a couple of summers ago with my car “Tugs”.  As we were waiting for the car to cool down, (you can’t open the radiator hot otherwise it will scald you with hot coolant) two very well dressed Kiwi guys pulled over to see if we needed help.  I attribute this to the fact that Kiwis are very kind and help wherever needed, but it could be because we were three girls in skirts standing next to car with the hood-up.  Whatever it was they were still very helpful.  Come to find out, these two guys were actually golf professionals in town for the New Zealand Open.  Their names were Gary and Philip if you want to google them (the Open was in Queenstown).  Since then we have been keeping a close watch on the temperature gauge and filling the radiator with water whenever it is needed.  Keep our safety and our car in your prayers, we need to make it to Auckland. 

We have tackled the west coast by sleeping on beautiful beaches and lakefronts while being attacked by sand-flies.  Luckily we have built up a bit of immunity to these nasties and they don’t itch nearly as bad as they used to.  We have hit up numerous small   towns on the coast, and have overnighted in the intriguing ones.  We meant to pass through a town called Hokatika, but fortunately for us Hokatika has tons things to offer including a kiwi exhibit, a sock factory, and a pirate ship.  Well needless to say we ended up staying 3days.  We ran into some friends from camping a couple weeks prior, and set up camp on the pirate ship replica.  It was awesome.  We were able to watch the sunset over the ocean, have a bon fire, drink local beer, sail around the lake, and spend St Patty’s day with our new Israeli friends.  On the last day in Hokatika the weather was less than optimum.  It was pouring down rain so much that we couldn’t see any of the natural beauty.  Luckily New Zealand has tons of activities to do indoors… oh wait New Zealand doesn’t have anything to do inside.  This day we definitely felt homeless and we were longing for a comfy sweater, a fireplace, and a book.  We settled on going to the cinema.  Because this town was so small they only have one screen so we were at the mercy of the box office.  We walked into a documentary called “Man on Wire” it was pretty strange, but definitely a close second to a cozy living room…. Well maybe 10th place… oh well.  

Three Wire Cables

   Got stuck Thigh deep in the mud Dana Picked the only place to sink in and got stuck thigh deep
On top of the Saddle, you can see all the way to the sound!
    Finished the Dusky Unscathed and with tons of energy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NZ"s Hardest Track

To get another perspective that includes things I may have forgotten remember to check out Dana and Tatty's Blog at

Well, after finishing our post Stewart Island Adventures we headed out to tackle New Zealand’s most difficult hike, The Dusky.  This hike is notorious for flooding, mud, and emergency rescues.  Before each hike we are very good about heading into DOC (Department of Conservation) and give our intentions in case anything happens to us on trail.  Dana, Ash and I marched into DOC wide eyed and excited announcing we would be heading out to do the Dusky.  The DOC worker we began talking to ,Ralph, looked us up and down, rolled his eyes, and exclaimed, “It’s not a walk in the park ladies.”  Dana quickly thought back, “Ralph, we are a frequenters of parks; if we had wanted to go to the park we would have visited the Botanical Gardens.”  Too bad we know how to hold our tounges, or we just can never think of comebacks until 10minutes later … oh well, we smiled at Ralph’s statement and asked for the paper work to complete.  After DOC basically telling us we were going to be rescued from the hike, we scheduled ourselves to head out Monday morning. 

We had a day to kill before our adventure, so we decided to head out on a spelunking voyage.  We had a couple barely lit flashlights and headed down into the caves.  We saw tons of glowworms, limestone crevasses, and pools of really cold water.  From this excursion we started to realize things that we talk about on a daily basis: Dinosaurs, Sharks, Pirates, Ninja’s, and Space.  It’s been brought to our attention that we may be 8year old boys.  We understand why one might think this, but it is counter balanced by the fact that we are also obsessed with Disney movies.  We might just be 8year old children… not sure yet.

The morning after our cave experience we woke up bright and early, 530am, drove an hour to our hikes pickup spot, packed our bags, caught a bus, and jumped on a water taxi across Lake Huroku (NZ’s deepest lake).  From here we began the Dusky.  When we reached the first hut at 330pm we decided to carry on and go to the next hut.  This worked out great because we didn’t have to share a hut with 6 other people, instead we had a hut to ourselves plus one, Steve a Chiropractor from Melbourne.  We learned that when Steve went into DOC he was not told he was going to be rescued, but instead he was told where all the sweet side trips were.  Lucky for us he shared information about this sweet peak just a few hour walk from where we were.  We had amazing weather and when we reached the summit we saw rows and rows of spectacular mountains all the way to the Dusky Sound.

We finished this side trip mid-afternoon (330pm-ish) and decided once again to carry on to the next hut.  Our thought was the next hut was only 5hour walk away so we should make it there with plenty of time before the sun goes down, 830pm.  We just forgot to consider the fact that we had just finished summiting 800meters and our muscles were quite tired.  With nearly every step down I wasn’t quite sure my legs would hold up.  Well needless to say we didn’t make it down the mountain before the sun went down.  Luckily our new friend Steve had an awesome headlamp, which saved us from hiking in complete darkness, (which is super helpful since you might remember we don’t have “sonar vision”).  My favorite part of this “night walking” was the fact that we still needed to cross a cable bridge over a river to our hut.  A cable bridge is a lot like tight rope walking in the circus.  Instead of making a bridge, there are 3 cables in a “V” configuration pulled tight over the river- the lowest cable for your feet, and one cable on either side for balancing.  This is tricky in the best of conditions, so imagine it in the dark with wet boots.  Steve went first lighting the way for each of us to cross one at a time.  We finally made it to our hut around 1030pm, unscathed and in one piece. 

After each day of walking I am pretty good about stretching to avoid the next day’s soreness.  Apparently I looked as if my back was in a bit of pain, and Steve offered to take a look at it.  From there he adjusted my back, hips, shoulders, and ankles.  In return he received a Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar.  He commented later, “This is the cheapest adjustment I’ve ever done.”  I love being adjusted.

When we woke up the next morning we were talked into doing a 2day side trip to Supper Cove. We knew one was able to walk though the sound on low tide.  On the way back we chose this option because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (even if it means walking through water).  About 100ft into the sound the water was higher than our hips and Ash exclaimed, “I’m SWIMMING, I’m SWIMMING!”  So we decided to give up on walking and float our packs and swim.  This just lead to bursts of giggling and high spirits.  Dana and I stated, “Luckily, we are good swimmers, otherwise this would be a bit tricky.”  Ash, “I suck at swimming; I don’t know what you guys are talking about.”  Obviously we made it to the other side safely.  Unfortunately, the plastic bag covering my pack had a hole in it, so all my stuff was wet for a few days, but we had really nice weather so it wasn’t too big of a deal.  When we reached our next hut we heard many voices coming from inside.  Turns out the NZ army was on the track doing “field exercises”, really they were just getting paid to go on an awesome hike for 9days. The biggest bummer about the NZ army sleeping the night in our hut was the no sleep due to excessive snoring, causing the walls to shake.  At least it was only for one night. 

Because the army was there we were able to get the weather forecast and we were warned heavy rain expected for the next 2days. 

We headed out fairly early in the morning to avoid the weather as much as possible.  A couple hours after arriving at the hut the rain came, and kept us hut bound for the next 2days.  We decided not to brave the track because we knew we were meant to go up and over mountains that had fresh rivers and waterfalls which weren’t present 24hours prior.  Luckily Dana and Ash brought embroidery thread and we spent the days making friendship bracelets.  Definitely a better options then walking in torrential rain. 

On the day we were able to leave the hut we reached the saddle of the mountain pass and were walking through snow.  It was so beautiful to see, but we began to lose sensation in our extremities and decided to not linger and move on.  We tried our best to ignor our frozen hands and toes continuing to lower, warmer elevation.  When we reached the hut we collectively decided we had enough energy to carry on to the next hut.  I know what you are thinking, “Haven’t you learned your lesson to not walk 2days in 1day?”  The answer is definitely, “NO.”  We became slightly nervous when we met a couple walking the other direction and the informed us they had been walking for 7hours from the hut we were headed to.  No worries, we made it in just over 4hours with sunlight to spare.  From there we wondered why it had taken the couple so long to walk this stretch and decided that they were either walking backwards or blindfolded; or had a broken leg or were playing lep-frog the entire way.  

Because we walked out a day early we were able to make the first shuttle across the lake back to town.  Being awesome at time management we almost missed the boat, and started running down the road to the terminal.  As we were running all of the sudden a large tour bus pulled up and offered us a ride.  As we were standing in the isle of the tour bus surrounded by clean, sweet smelling tourists, so we began apologizing as much as possible for our aroma and cleanliness.  The bus driver explained to the group we were known as “trampers” and had been without a shower for 10days.  From this explanation we were a bit more accepted. 

We made it back to town and are showered, safe, and rested.  The Dusky is definitely our favorite treck.  Needless to say we have been Shitting all over Ralph’s predictions by kicking the Dusky’s ass.    

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vagabond Lifestyle

On Valentines Day Ash, Dana, and I moved from Queenstown to live the “Vagabond Lifestyle”.  Our new address is ’91 Blue Subaru.  We have been camping as much as possible to cut down on costs and have seriously been checking things of our list by heaps.  To start off our homelessness we decided to go hiking/camping for 9 days.  We braved a walk called the Northwest circuit.  This walk goes around the perimeter of Stewart Island (South of NZ’s South Island).   The walk is about 130km, so it did take a bit of effort, especially with our packs carrying 10days worth of food.  When we left for the track we were warned about flooding rain that causes knee high mud.  God definitely wanted us to enjoy this trip because we had awesome weather for the first 6days.  The last 3days were a wee bit rainy, but as we love puddles we made the best of getting wet.  We walked on gorgeous beaches occupied by no one, and saw landscapes that reminded us of the Pacific Islands.   Half way through our trip we all noticed our pleasing aroma, and decided it was time for a swim in the very South Pacific, about 55*-60* water.  Because we were the only occupants, and none of us had our swim gear we had a definite mermaid time.  Seconds after we were clean and nearly dressed a couple of helicopters flew overhead dropping deer hunters, PERFECT timing on our parts, for sure.    Stewart Island allegedly has Kiwi’s, Penguins, Seals, and Prehistoric Lizards.  I can only attest to penguins, as I did not see any of the other animals.  I’m pretty sure there is a conspiracy going on lying about what animals are “native” to New Zealand. I’ve seen heaps of “non-native” animals (cows, sheep, and deer), but few famous native animals.

On our next to last day walking I noticed that my pack was missing an attachment.  Quickly I realized I had lost an essential traveling possession, my Right Foot Chaco.  This may not seem like the end of the world to most of you, but believe me it is close; I no longer have the perfect walking sandals.  I left a message in the Visitor logbook to contact me if found, but I haven’t had any punters yet (it’s probably stuck in the infamous mud).  I am still in denial, and wear my Left Foot Chaco without a mate (yes, this does cause my neighbors obvious confusion).  I’m even considering writing Chaco to see if they will have sympathy and replace my beloved shoe.  Our biggest frustration (beside my lost shoe) was on the first day our only camera quit working.  I know what you are thinking, “How can we be sure you even went to Stewart Island without proof of photos?”  Well have faith, we made a German Friend named Frank, and he is uploading his photos onto a CD for us.  Let’s hope is good at keeping promises and can help us prove our journey.

After we had finished our walk we jumped on the ferry seconds before it was meant to leave the port, and headed back to the South Island.  As we had been carrying our packs for 8+ days we knew how pleasant they smelled, so on the ferry we made a point to set them down away from where we were sitting.  Unfortunately the people who chose the seats directly behind our packs did not have this same inside knowledge, and were trying to the best of their ability to cover the noses… highly unsuccessful. 

For the last few days we have been stopping wherever our hearts desire and have been seeing some awesome things (we have photos of these).  We have seen Penguins, Sea lions, Aquariums, Museums, Botanical Gardens, Prehistoric Boulders, Dinosaur Fossils, Baby Wallabies, Billions of Stars, and Mt Cook. 

We ventured off the beaten path a bit, walked down and the beach and quite literally ran into Seal Lions…. well not literally, but nearly ran into…. they were about 2meters away and were looking super adorable.  On another side trip we ventured to see the wallaby lady.  Wallabies are basically little kangaroos.  Wallabies are not native to New Zealand, but have been introduced for gaming purposes (I think) and are in a specific area of the South Island that has natural boundaries so they cannot venture out.  We paid $10 to “cuddle” a 6month old and to feed numerous others, seriously cool.  As we entered town we were given the option to partake in “wallaby-pie” but fortunately the restaurant was closed, as they are so adorable. 

We have been “freedom” camping where we are able, and paying for hostels otherwise.  Last night we ventured to Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak.  We decided we would do a quick 3hour hike and camp at one of the DOC’s huts for free.  Keep in mind the sun sets at 830pm; we started our treck around 630pm last night, Brilliant.  At about 904pm last night we realized that we were not going to make it to our hut without breaking an ankle due to lack of “sonar senses” and made the executive decision to sleep under the stars.  We walked 10minutes back down the track and set up our sleeping bag site.  Luckily each of us had packed extra warm clothing, hats, and mittens.  We were pretty much set for our unsheltered night.  From here just prayed for clear skies and no rain.  We all agreed we could see billions of stars, and the Milky Way was spectacular.  Both Dana and Ash saw numerous shooting stars, but I was less fortunate and only saw one (I was distracted by my story telling skills).   Finally I asked, “Are you looking up? or down?”  Ash responded, “Um, I’m pretty sure I’m looking up!”  Dana added, “Oh you mean I’m not supposed to be lying on my stomach?”  Luckily we were the only people around sleeping under the stars, because we definitely did not try to stifle our uproar.

This morning we were awoken by a Kea (Large Bird) thumping around our sleeping bags and picking up our things.  Despite our best efforts to scare off our feathered companion with rhetoric (we were armless in our sleeping bags) he still managed to steal my Right Reef Flip-Flop.  Now I have two non-matching sandals for my one left foot, awesome.  Cheeky bird.    

Monday, February 9, 2009

I love Complimentary Rafting

In Queenstown there are two types of bars, backpackers/travelers bars and the locals bar.  I am the bartender at a local’s bar called Red Rock.  Basically what this means is tend to see the same customers everyday or just about everyday.  Some of our regulars have been coming to Red Rock for years, which is why we call them “seniors”.  Our other regulars are the local adventure guides.  We have the AJ Hacket Crew (bungy jumpers), the Mad Dog River Surfers, and more commonly we have the Queenstown Rafters.  Well last week we were sitting in the famous beer garden (my day off work) at Red Rock and a couple of Rafters made their way to where we were sitting.  After a bit of discussion I decided to brave the question, “so, when are we going rafting with you?”  Dean-o happened to be the leader of the trip the next day and said if there was room he would love to take us.  Keep in mind the idea of space available.  There were three of us that wanted to get on space available, so we didn’t get our hopes us just in case of disappointment.  We woke up on Monday super early, 7:15am, and then drove to the rafting site.  When we first arrived Dean-o called me aside and told me there wasn’t enough room, and we wouldn’t be able to go.  I asked if it would be all right if we stuck around until all the guests showed up just in case someone didn’t show.  This turned out to be a great idea, because at the last minute Dean-o called Ash, Dana, and I down to go rafting.  The girls and I were so excited that Dana did a bit of a happy dances, and I waved my arms with glee.  This was by far my favorite thing that I’ve done in Queenstown.  We basically just coasted through an amazing valley for a couple of hours with some really fun guys.  The serious upside of serving at a locals bar is definitely free the easy target for jokes and river throw ins.   It was all worth it, so fun.  When I asked the Rafters about payment their answer was simple, “You take care of us daily, so we want to take care of you today”.  Fair enough I think.  

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Circus Anyone?

This morning Ash and I awoke at the crack of oh 1pm. I turned to her and asked, “So do you still want to go the circus?” Last night a couple of customers asked me if I had ever been to the circus, basic, standard question not really anything out of the ordinary.  The circus doesn’t really make its way to Alaska very often, so obviously I have never been to the circus. The next thing I know I am being invited to the circus in Queenstown.  This afternoon Ashley and I ventured on gifted tickets to the traveling New Zealand Circus, “Out of Africa” showcasing the spectacular 6yr old hoola hoop extraordinar. As I was watching the acrobatics of the day I realized that I have a pretty cruisy job considering I literally do not have to perform back flips for my paycheck.  Usually I complain about having to carry heavy boxes and breaking glasses, but my life isn’t in danger from fire limbo and ring.  These guys were either amazing or insane.  I asked my new friend Erik from Kenya what makes one decide to join the circus.  His answer was simple and reasonable, “It was work.”  Then my next thought was how does one advertise themselves to be apart of the circus?  I’m still waiting for an explaniation to this question.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

3 weeks left in Queenstown

One of our roommates just moved to Sydney, which is so sad considering she is amazing and our life in Queenstown seems somewhat void without her here.  Since Tatty has moved we have acquired 3 more roommates.  Keep in mind we live in a two-bedroom apartment with 3 beds.  Basically we just keep our philosophy “sharing is caring”, so we share the floor, beds, food, and clothing.  The upside of close living quarters is we have much cheaper rent.  Downside is definitely never a clean apartment, and personal space is quite tough to find.  All involved it’s still pretty great.  As of now our plan is to leave Queenstown by February 13 and head out on a massive road trip.  Basically we are planning on hiking, camping, and exploring the country.  Because we are planning to leave in less than a month we have been utilizing our last bit of time in Queenstown to the best of our advantage. 

We only have another 3 months before we head home.  So we have decided to leave Queenstown and explore the rest of the country with our remaining time.  During our last few weeks of being in Queenstown we have been trying to take advantage of all there is to do in the vicinity.  We have spent the days swimming, hiking, and camping.  We live about 5 minutes away from a place to go swimming and cliff jumping.  We have been warned against swimming in Lake Wakitipu because apparently it is frigidly cold.  Obviously we did not take this suggestion seriously (come on how cold could it actually be?)  Well the cliff to jump from is about 15 meters high, so there is no way of testing the water before jumping.  As usual I was the first to go, I guess to prove it’s safe (which isn’t logical now thinking about it… oh well).  So Ash followed soon after my jump, and surprisingly the lake is fairly chilly.  After about 2 or 3 minutes of swimming around the water started to feel warm, and we began to mock those that told us it was to cold to swim (it could have been that our bodies were in shock on no longer had and sensation- just a theory).  We braved this excursion to “Little Thailand” with two of our friends Dana and Katrina (they didn’t jump). 

We have taken two camping trips one to the Greenstone Caples track all I can say about is my feet were completely blistered afterward (I hate walking on roots), the sand flies were horrific, and my legs still itch.  Even though this walk wasn’t optimum we still had a blast being gone from Queenstown for a short bit.  Basically our plan for the next 3 months is to walk the country, so I should start get used to soar feet.  We are very excited to start our trip. 

The second trip we took was to a neighboring town called Wanaka.  We went to try out their infamous movie theater.  It was pretty cool considering we watched the film on couches eating our snacks of chocolate cake and cookies.  But really we still think Bear’s Tooth is much cruisier.  After the movie we had planned to pull of to a wide spot in the road and set up our tents.  This is especially tricky in New Zealand considering livestock are in all of the fields.  We found a place right off the road and set up camp for the night, only to be woken up numerously throughout the night by bah, bah, bah.  Ash had a nightmare that there were dinosaurs in the field and we were in danger (I think this might be to our recent viewing of Jurassic Park).  Well we meant to wake up and leave before anyone found out we had even been in the field.  This didn’t work out for as well as planned.  At 8am we were woken up by the shepherd’s dog.  We quickly packed the car, but unfortunately not quick enough to escape the harsh rhetoric of the angry shepherd.  I nodded at her annoyance and agreed to leave with all our rubbish.  I remember a story Lang had about sleeping in a field in Europe only to find out it was a livestock field.  Well I have also been apart of this scenario, but our escape seemed to be a little less covert. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Christmas this year was very interesting especially since this is the first year either of us have been away from family for the holidays.  Although we missed you greatly, we had a surprisingly fantastic day. We had played around with the idea to move Christmas to another day and go camping instead but alas we couldn’t get the time off work so we were stuck in Queenstown.  For me the holiday started on Christmas Eve.  I actually had to work, but luckily there is a law stating that alcohol isn’t to be served on Christmas day, so it was a short shift.  After work I headed home around 2am; Ash and our two other roommates had made a fantastic Christmas Eve feast.  We had pasta and red sauce, homemade hummus, and red wine (it is New Zealand).  We all headed to bed after dinner to wake up late to pancakes and the viewing of one of my Christmas favorites “National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation”.  It was a perfectly leisure day!  Because of so much activity on the day we each took a well-deserved nap. 

Because we don’t have an oven in our little apartment we weren’t able to make any kind of meal for the day, so we headed out for Chinese.  Nothing says Merry Christmas like Chinese food.  Well actually it was the only restaurant in our prince range that was open on the day.  It turned out to be a great decision, seeing as we hadn’t left the flat all day.  We dressed in our best clothes (well really it was whatever we had with red, white, and green) and headed out of our apartment. 

While living with Dana and Tatty we have been reminded to say our “thankfulls” daily.  We have been so thankful that our time in New Zealand has not been in vain, and we have met people that we have genuinely connected with.  I am thankful that I could spend Christmas with people that know and love me; especially when those that know and love me most are so far away.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fun in the Sun

We jumped off that cliff into Lake Wakatipu.

Rugby and beer... a productive afternoon.

Lake Hayes.

On TOP of the Remarkables. It was windy.

The Catlins

Alrighty. This is my (ash's) attempt to blog. The girls and I had a few days off and journeyed down to the south of the south island on a little adventure. Poor mel was working viscously and vigorously so she unfortunately was not able to embark on this 3 day excursion. So, in order to fill the beloved followers of our blog in on the most recent significant occurrences in my life I would like to direct you to Dana and Tatty's blog. They have uploaded pictures and comments of the trip.

THe most wonderful time of the year...

New Years. 

Christmas and Chinese Food... good combo.

Ginger Bread Houses!

Our beautifully decorated apt. on Christmas Eve.