E-mail From New
Long Lost Adventures of Being a Kiwi
This is quite a bit late considering I left New Zealand a bit over 2 weeks ago…but better late
than never, right???
Compared to others, this is definitely going to be a much more brief ‘re-cap’ than I have
done in the past. The main reason I didn’t do this one earlier was because I normally do
these on the airplane ride to my next destination. Fortunately for me, I was on Air New
Zealand on my flight home and got to watch my choice of 50 or so movies – many that are
up for Oscars. I spent no time on my computer and a lot of time catching up on some great
movies that have come out. Then I was in San Francisco for three days where I barely had a
second of down-time. And then, before I knew it, I was on a flight out to South America.
But I felt like I would pay my trip to NZ some respect by at least writing a bit about it (even
though it seems like it was ages ago)…
I finally got to experience driving on the other side of the road. I had a couple of friends
(Kat and Jim) with me. They were less-than-confident with my driving skills. Kat was wary
of my lack of driving for 9 months. Jim’s problem lied more with the fact that he kept
feeling like I was going to drive off of a cliff (I guess I tended to drive a little close to the edge
of the road which did play a role in the one-time clipping of the side-view mirror). In the
end, the only non-survivors of my driving were three different birds. The good news was
that I did manage to swerve a couple times (when it was safe) to save two other birds lives.
It’s really not my fault that they are stupid enough to fly into cars.
The weather could have been a bit better while I was there. There were moments that it was
clear and the scenery was simply stunning. There were other moments where it was gray,
drab and wet. Such was the case when I was supposed to heli-hike on Fox Glacier. What can
I say…you are at the mercy of Mother Nature when you are on the South Island.
Queenstown was amazing when we were there and this was when I got to do something
that I have always wanted to try – Hang-gliding. Absolutely incredible! I can’t wait to do this
again in the future. Definitely one of my highlights of the country.
I’m sure it goes without saying that another highlight of this country was the wine tasting.
Is it shocking that I tested out the grape-goodness in five different regions? I want to point
out that despite being from California, Central Otago had the best Pinot Noirs I have ever
tasted. If you ever find one from Mt. Difficulty, get it! On another note, the actual wine
tasting experience in Martinborough was one-of-a-kind. The center of town is in walking
distance to loads of wineries. What better way to wine taste than to not have to drive
anywhere??? From this area, might I suggest the Alana Estate Chardonnay…if you ever
happen to come across it. ;) While I was in this town, I did a homestay with a woman who
enjoyed the Food Network. What a treat for me! I had gone 9 months without it. This
wouldn’t be something to tell you guys about if there wasn’t something special about it. And
there was. Of course I had to do a double-take but it turned out my ears were not deceiving
me – they were dropping f-bombs all over the place when using adjectives to describe the
food. Funny that the Food Network in Oz/NZ would be Rated R back at home. Crazy, huh?
I met up with some new friends from San Francisco (we came into contact through a
mutual friend) and after dinner some girls at the restaurant were freaking out. It turned out
that the Auckland Rugby team was across the street waiting for their bus to pick them up
from a movie. They were naming each guy off. I guess this would be the equivalent if I saw
a bunch of the starters for the San Francisco Giants. She told us we should go over there
and take a picture with them. We had nothing to lose since we had no idea who they were.
We did this and were seen as Gods in their eyes when we came back across the street.
My last stop in New Zealand was the Bay of Islands where I did a great day trip out to Cape
Reinga. It was near here that I got to go boogie-boarding down sand dunes. To walk up the
sand dunes was like doing the StairMaster on level 20. To go down the dune was both
frightening and exhilarating – it was impossible to not have a huge smile on your face once
you got to the bottom of the hill. It was such a great feeling that you had to do it again. And
I got to experience many adventure activities I had never done before. Plus I was able to
meet up with friends that I met in other places during my travels. (Sharon – thank you
again SO MUCH for your incredible hospitality while we were in Christchurch!)
And a side note to say ‘Happy 2007’ since this is my first email of the new year. Kat and I
rung this in while in Fiji. If you thought the pace of life was slow there, you haven’t seen
anything until you have seen a resort full of Fijian employees with hangovers. I just hope
nobody is even in dire need of a cup of coffee within 30 minutes of ordering it (and keep in
mind…it takes at least 15 minutes for them to even come by to take your order) on January
1st while in Fiji.
And that is a complete ‘summary’ of that part of my trip. Stay tuned for an email from me
very soon about my time in Antarctica (as I just got back this morning)…