Wednesday, December 28, 2005
New Zealand - Could it be any greener (or have any more sheep?)
You can view more of our pictures of New Zealand online by viewing our SnapFish album.
New Zealand has got to be the most beautiful place we have ever seen! Everywhere we looked it was green, green, green, grass, grass, grass, rainforest, rainforest, rainforest, sheep, sheep, sheep!!!!! We hear a lot of people talk about wanting to retire in New Zealand, they couldn't pick a better place.
Troy has been going to Auckland off and on for the past 6 months for work. I have been wanting to join him but wanted to wait until it warmed up down there. The timing finally worked out that he had to go for business meetings the week before Christmas so I joined him and we spent 10 days on the north island over Christmas.
As I was doing research of what we could do while we were there, I was bombarded with how much there is to do. There was no way I could pack all of it in in 10 days. Especially since this was a working vacation for Troy, I had to keep that in the back of my mind and not have him on a horse or kayak or mountain bike all day, everyday.
We did get to do some really cool things. As you have probably heard, Auckland is known as the City of Sails and are huge competitors in the America's Cup sailing races. We signed up for a match race aboard one of the America's Cup boats where we competed against another boat to see who could get the best time around a course in the bay. Everyone on the boat got a chance to grind (work the crank to get the big ass sail raised) continuously throughout the race. Our boat lost horribly because the staff on our boat couldn't communicate and kept fighting. It had nothing to do with our grinding skills!!
Troy and I love doing adventure tours like rock climbing, rappelling, mud slides, cave tubing, etc. There are companies all over NZ that take people out to do this sort of stuff. We absolutely had to do at least one of these canyoning adventures while here. We knew we were in for some cold water when the company we signed up with outfitted us in full, thick wetsuits, with a wetsuit jacket over the top.
After a short hike to the beginning of our canyoning "tour" we had an option to jump into a pool from a ledge about 3' above the water or from a side jump that was about 12' above the water. Troy and I, of course, chose the higher jump. But me, I thought jumping was too boring. So instead I chose to slip and tumble down the side of the hill into the freezing water. Oh, was I embarrassed. The rest of the trip, Troy was given options from one of the guides to do "special" jumps with him. I, for some reason, was not invited to participate with Troy and the guide on these "special" jumps!!!! The rest of the time was spent rappelling down cliff sides next to waterfalls, jumping into deep pools and even rapelling directly down a waterfall. I could not stop laughing with the water just pounding me and my helmet.
When we knew Troy didn't have to attend any more meetings and was safe to leave Auckland, we took a very out of the way scenic route to the bed and breakfast we were staying at the next few days. On our way, I couldn't get over how absolutely beautiful the country was. Troy even let me drive, although at every curve around the mountain I think he was about to have a heart attack because I was still getting the hang of driving on the left side of the road. For some reason he didn't like it when I barely skimmed by the guardrail or side of the cliff.
We stayed at a great little bed and breakfast that was hosted by the two nicest people. Every morning they would bring us breakfast on our own little cottage patio where after we ate we would go and say hi to their donkey, sheep and pigs.
During our time in this area we did some hikes along the coast and some horseback riding. On our hike I couldn't decide which was more gorgeous: the beautiful beach and teal blue water on our right or the rolling green hills and flowers to our left. For dinner we would drive about 15 minutes to this little town and take a small ferry across a very, very, very small harbor. You either did the ferry or drove 45 minutes to get to dinner. The distance the ferry crossed was a joke. By the time I had the change counted out for our fare we were there. It was also expensive. For the two of us round trip was $4USD!!!!! Trust me, this was very expensive. Somebody is making a killing here.
Our last destination was Rotorua which was in the heart of all the geothermal activity in NZ. Neither of us have ever been to Yellowstone so seeing the mudpools, geysers and steaming lakes was pretty cool. We didn't quite have the fresh air here as we did other places because everywhere we went was the smell of sulphur.
When we arrived in Rotorua on Christmas day we were hungry and wanted lunch. Either every place was closed or the restaurant only served lunch from noon-2pm. We missed lunch by 20 minutes. We ended up having (you'll love this) wonton noodle soup from a Chinese restaurant. It was even called the Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant. We're suckers for punishment. For Christmas dinner our hotel was having a buffet dinner. It was by far the most pathetic buffet dinner I have ever had. Not to mention that it was supposed to be Christmas dinner. But we had wine that I had bought at a winery and we were enjoying our time in NZ so it was all good!
It was a great vacation, but we are back to everyday life in HK. Oh, wait a minute... what's this in my calender... oh, I forgot! We are leaving in 5 days for a 9 day diving trip in Thailand! This lifestyle is just asking way too much of me :)
Just a few after thoughts:
NZ is still an 11 hour flight from HK. I can't imagine doing that flight from the US.
All of NZ has a population of 4 million people. During birthing season, there are 75 million sheep!
Auckland NZ is the 4th largest city in the world by area size. They have so much room, they just spread out.
One more afterthought: Troy and I were pleasantly surprised at the number of Christmas cards that we received directly in HK. I was even more surprised at the number that arrived here with just a .37 cent stamp. (It costs .80 to send a letter from the states to HK). So for those of you that used an .80 cent stamp, I apologize for you having to make an extra trip to the post office. I guess we all know now that things will get here with only a .37 stamp. Either that, or the post office just didn't care during the busy mail season!