Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Zealand revisited

New Zealand!

I'm not sure what exactly to write about, as writing about everything would take way too long. I guess I will tell you some of the highlights.

Favorite thing of mine: the penguins. We went to see the Blue Penguin Colony and the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Reserve in Oamaru. The reserve was free, and it was along these huge cliffs where the penguins liked to rest. They had climbed up probably 100 feet. I couldn't believe it. We were allowed to take pictures (without flash). We watched a nest of penguins that was pretty far away for a while, but then Ethan spotted two penguins walking along the cliff. They were about 10 feet away from us! It was awesome.

Penguins walking along the cliff.

The Blue Penguin Colony was a fee area, but it was really cool too. The Blue Penguins come in from the ocean every night to sleep and tend to their families. Watching them swim through the waves was like seeing them flying underwater! Then when they walked up the ramp to their homes, they were really funny. They would gather together in groups of about 30 or so. They walked up the ramp until they reached the (unused) gravel road. Then they would wait until they felt safe enough to cross, and then run across the road as fast as their legs would waddle. They were so cute!

Favorite thing of Ethan's: I think it was kayaking in Able Tasman Park. The water was very clear and turquoise, and the sands were golden. It was sunny and beautiful. The water was little chilly, so we didn't swim, but it was very relaxing all the same. We saw sea lions (they called them seals) along the rocks. I liked it a lot too.

Abel Tasman Park.

Abel Tasman Park from the water.

Least favorite thing: The Tongariro Crossing. This is a 10 mile hike across volcanic territory, supposed to be the best scenery in New Zealand. You can see Mt Nguaraho, which is Mt Doom from The Lord of The Rings movies. That is, if the weather is good. The weather was shit when we tried to do it. It was cloudy/rainy, but worst of all, the wind was blowing 40 mph at the top. It kept blowing me around. We couldn't see a damn thing. I felt like I had flown 8000 miles for an experience I could have gotten in Alaska.

Tongariro in the fog.

We did New Zealand the cheap way, by taking our tents and sleeping bags and camping out at a lot of hostels and holiday parks. We also got some private rooms at some of the hostels. I would totally recommend it, although you have to be careful about asking what sort of supplies the holiday parks had -- some of the kitchens did not have plates/utensils, and then we were screwed. The hostels were great, though. There was only one we didn't like very much and that was because it was overcrowded and worn down. But we were desperate for a place to stay and didn't have much choice. The rest were quiet, friendly, and had great kitchen facilities.

View from one of the campgrounds/holiday parks.

Overall, I really really liked our trip. We had a blast hiking, driving and seeing things. I liked floating through the caves to see the glowworms, relaxing in the hot springs at Rotorua, watching the bubbling mud at Rotorua, driving down the west coast (much like Big Sur), seeing the alpine parrots in Arthur's Pass, wandering through the Christchurch Botanic gardens. My only regret is that we didn't have more time. Hopefully, one day we'll go back again, maybe for longer.

Our final breakfast in Auckland.


Anonymous said...

It looks like it was an amazing trip *jealous*

Happy New year!

Alpha Monkey said...

It sounds like you had an awesome trip! I love your photos!