Alright this is a little late, and because I’ve left it so long it may not be as detailed as it should be…sorry. But I’ve still got pictures!
Basically, New Zealand is one of the most kickass countries I have been to, it has everything a country could offer in terms of landscapes in the size of…well, New Zealand. You can drive from mountains to beaches to glaciers within the span of a single day, and you can have a beer while doing it. Unless you’re the driver…but that’s a bit of a grey area, supposedly.
Dennis and I flew into Auckland and spent 5 days with my excellent compadre Eric, who we met on a tour of Laos a few months earlier. He was a most hospitable host, and made such an impression on us of his lovely city that I thought I may want to live there forever. He took us out surfing at some beautiful black sand beaches, and cooked for us until our bellies were more than full.
Piha beach, great sunsets and awesome surf!
After Auckland, we headed down to Rotorua to do some cultural Maori activities and see what their story was. New Zealand is quite unique in how well they have come to terms with their native population. Canada, the US, and Australia all have problems with their indigenous tribes, and yet Kiwis accept the Maori culture as their own in a way, and everyone seems to get along just fine. It sure helps out with the tourism!
From Rotorua we headed down to Wellington to visit Brendon, a friend we had met in Greece at the beginning of our trip a few Mays ago. Stayed with him for 5 days and did some supercool hikes, sightseeing, and of COURSE a bit of partying! He introduced us to Weetbix and our lives will never be the same!
Sweet forest hikes.
From there we hit up Christchurch to visit Matt and Karen, friends we had also met in Greece (and the same couple we did the Running of the Bulls with). They were amazingly good hosts (as all Kiwis must be by this author’s account) and showed us around the city, took us up to Matt’s cottage for a few days (and a few beers!) and also taught us everything there is to know about rugby (union and league), cricket, and even a bit of AFL. Talk about confusing! We hit up a Rugby match in Christchurch and even got out to the park to play a few games ourselves.
At this point, Andrea (my cousin) flew in from Australia to meet us and the three of us rented a car and planned a 2 week roadtrip all the way around the South Island and back up to Auckland on the North Island. Matt made sure we weren’t short of Nutrient Water (he works for them =), and off we went! Thanks Matty! We hit up all the hot spots, travelling to Mount Cook (the highest mountain in NZ), Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Franz Joseph Glacier, Abel Tasman Park, and Lake Taupo. A whirlwind tour! Along the way we did some pretty cool things:
Looking at weird rocks!
Drinking (from glaciers)!
Socializing (with elves)!
Bike riding (with skeletons)!
Ice climbing! (Hehe…her life is in my hands…)
Who even climbs like that?!?
Laughing at Andrea playing Monopoly!
Hiking ridiculous mountains over Queenstown!
BBQing like MADMEN!
Beach posing with cool people!
Do it yourself knife forging!
MORE knife forging!
Something we noticed throughout our trip on the islands was that Kiwis have a very funny way of naming their landmarks. We saw such gems as: Kaka Creek, Stinky Creek, Bonar Creek, and my favourite of all, Pu Pu Springs.
Yeah ok, I’m immature. But a wise man once told me “Growing up is for kids.” Ok he wasn’t that wise, it was just Bertus. But I love him all the same. Anyways, I wish I had the creativity of the Maori. I also wish I could grow 10 foot ferns like they can, I love ferns. I love ferns so much sometimes I hug them. Oftentimes I would prance around when I saw ferns and talk about how much I love them. I don’t even know why.