Hello again, everyone,
The third and final leg of my six-week trip was to New Zealand. I flew from Melbourne on March 16, 2004, directly to Auckland on a three hour flight, a half hour less than scheduled.
New Zealand is called the Land of the Long White Cloud. A Maori legend tells of the first landing, which describes the islands as appearing to look like a long, white cloud. My first impression from the plane was "green, green, and green."
The first evening in Auckland my Europe 2002 tour roommate took me to dinner at the Orbit Restaurant high up in the Sky Tower. One revolution took about sixty minutes. We saw impressive views of the city, bridges, and bays. After dinner we went down one floor to the observation deck for some thrilling views and to walk on the glass floor. Thanks so much, Colleen.
The next day my mini-tour of the North Island began with a bus trip north to Paihia (pie hee' ah). Along the way we stopped in Warkworth to see kauri (cow ree) trees, which are immense and very old. Kauri trees existed 36000 years ago. The wood is warm and smooth. The drive north was lovely with hills, mountains, shore all in view. A Maori word of greeting is Kiora (key or rah and roll the r's if you can.) We visited the Waitangi Treaty House, a very impressive building. On a walk around the grounds we saw a kauri tree stump and a war canoe which requires eighty paddlers.
On the following day we boarded a catamaran and cruised around the Bay of Islands, seeing dolphins along the way. We sailed through the Hole in the Rock and backed into the Grand Cathedral Cave and at lunchtime we sailed into a small cove to dock. The restaurant had been frequented by Zane Grey. The captain had vowed that if we weren't on the boat at departure, he would NOT come back for us. But, guess what. He did exactly that when four people missed the boat! He did say he didn't know why he was doing it. We then stopped at Russell, where I booked an hour tour of the area. We had fantastic views from overlooks in the heights. That evening we made our way back to Auckland.
The mini-tour continued with a journey south. We stopped at an Angora rabbit farm near Waitomo and watched a shearing. The rabbits don't shed and would die of heat if not sheared every three months. The fur was about four inches long and white as snow. The rabbit is gently stretched and trussed by its feet and cradled with a hammock-like contraption. The clippers take one strip of fur, the rabbit is turned on its spit, and the process continues. The rabbit appeared to be very relaxed. Fascinating.
We then went on to the Waitomo Caves. The attraction there was a boat ride through the grotto where the ceiling was covered with glowworms, a two-winged insect similar to our fireflies. The guide maneuvered the boat with an overhead rope, hand over hand. Quiet was required, no pictures allowed, of course. That area of the cave was reminiscent of a starry night, with some dripping water.
We then drove on to Rotorua, a place of lots of geothermal activity. Walking on the street, I saw a pipe coming out of the ground, about twenty feet high, with steam sizzling from the top. Also, the walk was enhanced by sulphur smells every so often. Our hotel was on shore of Lake Rotorua and in the parking lot was a hot spring surrounded by a wall and rocks.
Our evening was spent at the Maori grounds, an interesting cultural experience. We took part in the greeting ceremony, wandered through the village and had a wonderful meal, called a Hangi, a feast where food is cooked in an earth oven.
The next day we visited a tourist farm to watch dogs herding sheep, and a sheep shearing which took less than five minutes, a thermal area to see geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools. Then we were off to the Skyline Gondola for a buffet lunch and gorgeous views. At the end of the day we made our way back to Auckland. I stayed with my friend overnight. We had a wonderful catch-up time.
After a much too brief visit with Colleen, I made my way to the South Island on a flight from Auckland to Christchurch, where friends were awaiting my arrival. More hugs all around.
Our first day out included a gondola ride to an overlook of Lyttleton and Diamond Harbour in the one direction and distant Christchurch and the Canterbury Plain in the other. A ride back home over the mountain, beautiful scenery with the usual hairpin curves.
I was fascinated to observe a Northwest Arch, which is a cloud that moves across Canterbury Plain. The cloud can be very dark and it indicates a hot wind coming. We got a strong wind later that day which blew a sunflower over.
The next day we left on a road trip of six days and five nights. Heading west from Christchurch to Hokitika (hoe kah tick ah), the east coast to the west coast, we had the Southern Alps in view a good deal of the time. Very impressive. Our drive took us through Waimakarira (y mack ah rear ee) Gorge, ski fields, Porters Pass, Arthur's Pass, lots of one-lane bridges ( much longer than those on Maui), black beech trees which attract wasps with their sticky trunks, Tasman Sea and into our motel. We prowled the shops in Hokitika looking at gold, jade, glass, and Paua (pow wah) shell jewelry.
Leaving Hokitika the next morning we saw Mount Cook and were able to get pictures. Usually the view is hidden with clouds or fog. Traveling south along the west coast, we saw birds flying out to sea, which is a sign of good weather. We stopped for photos of Lake Ianthe (I an th ee).
I was fascinated with the Red Deer farms on both the North and South Islands. Stopping for a picture the deer looked at us, stood up, mooed, acted nervous and essentially were very alert. I learned that a man named Tim Wallace started the farms and was very interested to learn that he went to Russia to set up deer farms, since when I was in Russia, venison was served daily on the buffet at one of our hotels. New Zealand's venison is sold to foreign countries and nearly all the deer is used.
Continuing along the way, this day, we stopped at the Fox Glacier and Knight's Point which is similar to the Twelve Apostles in Australia. We drove through Haast Pass and stopped at the Gates of Haast for pictures. Lake Wanahea and Lake Hawea, with the mountains, were absolutely stunning. At Cromwell, where we stayed for two nights, we saw Lake Dunstan, a man-made lake built for electricity supply.
A day for touring the area, we drove through the central Otago region, first stop at the Roaring Meg electrical station to watch young people with boogie boards riding the whirlpools. Next stop was to watch bungee jumping off a bridge in very strong winds. In Queenstown, a resorty type town we went in the gondola to view the Lake Wakatipu (wok ah tip ooh) with the Remarkables in the background. Next was a visit to Arrowtown, in a drizzling rain, we browsed the smart shops along the quaint street.
Time to move on, driving from Cromwell through fruit of all kinds orchards headed to Dunedin to stay in Mosgiel (moss gee al.) We stopped at the electric station at Clyde Dam which formed Lake Dunstan. We stopped in Alexandra to shop at The Warehouse to buy Joyce cardigan sweaters for the cold. It is autumn at this time in New Zealand. We had flat whites in a small café. Today's drive took us through the Taieri (tar ee) Plains. After checking into our motel, we drove to Dunedin, up Signal Hill for the lookout view, Otago Bay and the Pacific Ocean by the city. We then visited the beautiful railway station.
Oh - what a cold, windy, rainy day - very fall-like South Otselic weather! I got some pictures that look black and white, but really are in color. We drove across the ridge of the peninsula and came back along the bay to see gorgeous scenery and rough seas. We stopped in downtown Dunedin for a picture of Robert Burns's statue and the Octagon area, where my friends first met.
This day we head north along the east coast to Rangiora and home. Beautiful views of the Waitaki River. Looking out from the car on the left, mountains and on the right, ocean. Spectacular. This evening we did fish and chips take away.
My journey nears its end.
fly wire = window screen (AU)
men perspire, horses sweat, ladies glow
kiwi = New Zealander
When you say “thank you” many kiwis respond with “no worries” rather than you're welcome.
I saw a dump truck labeled “grit spreader”.
We visited the Antarctic Center in Christchurch. We saw displays of equipment, wildlife, and information about Antarctic stations and a wonderful audio slide show. The United States Antarctic Center, a large complex, was just across the street. This is where U.S. expeditions embark to Scott Station in the Antarctic.
As I visited New Zealand, I realize how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends who hosted my trip. New Zealand has it all: ocean, rivers, lakes, plains, mountains, waterfalls, snow, glaciers, thermal springs, foliage of all sorts and much that's not mentioned here. The scenery is spectacular at every turn.
If you go to New Zealand, make sure you have $25.00 (NZ money) left at the end of your trip, because that's what it costs to leave the country! It was quick flight from Christchurch to Auckland (April 1, 2004) and then on to Honolulu, arriving on March 31, 2004. Ah, I got my lost day back. I stayed overnight and the next day (April 1, 2004) headed to Chicago and on to Syracuse to arrive home on April 2,2004. Both my dog and my cat were awaiting my arrival and the next day I was off to see Lee Anne, our new baby girl.
This ends the story of this journey.
The pictures of New Zealand are on my website:
Joyce N. Church
Written April 2004
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