Entries from February 2010 ↓

Watching the Wheels

I love listening to my tunes on shuffle…. esp when it gives me hidden (almost forgotten) treasures like this!! Touche & Thank you, Mr. Lennon! I <3 !

People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I’m lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don’t you miss the big time boy you’re no longer on the ball

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Ah, people asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry
I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go

- John Lennon

“Watching the Wheels” from album, Double Fantasy, by John Lennon & Yoko Ono (11.17.80)

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Zealand Update (5)!

Friday, February 12, 2010

  • Woke to catch the 8:30am bus from Rotorua to Manukau (to be picked up by Lundy’s extended relatives).
  • Shortly after noon, arrived in Manukau, where we were met by L’s uncle…. who drove us back to his place to meet the rest of the fam.
  • After a lil chit chat, and showing of our skydiving and hang gliding videos, we were called to the feasting table for some lunch: rice, duck, bbq’ed pork and fish/veggies soup —– felt like I was home! :-)
  • After which, we took a walk to check out the vegetable and fruit garden — sweet and juicy plums, peaches, persimmons and various mints, cabbage, chili peppers, squash! YUM!
  • I got to really know their family dog, Levi as well as a 5 yr old girl cousin in the fam .. playing random games with a tennis ball down the driveway.. had to butter her up a bit..and win her friendship…. After I was victorious in that, she wouldn’t leave my side…and eventually got a lil’ jealous when she saw me playing with other little ones!
  • Meanwhile, L got to know his uncles “good neighbor,” Graham, as they chit chatted away in the driveway; Uncle and Graham had been neighbors for many years to the point where they considered themselves as “family;” Graham was invited to the evening bbq..and of course he took us up on the offer with a wine bottle in hand.
  • Early evening came and the party started with a few opened bottles of Corona.. which later turned into some Kiwi Beer…and eventually Wine and Champagne! This family was going all out!!
  • Beverages were met with grill-fulls of lamb, steak, pork, fresh mussels…. and side dishes of fried rice, sticky rice, potato salad, etc.!
  • GREAT FUN was had by all into the weeee hours of the night… filled with tasty food, thirst quenching beverages of sorts, story telling….and laughter! :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

  • Woke and were out the door by 9:40am’ish to visit L’s relative’s homes for thank you’s and farewells.
  • With just shy of (2) hours to kill before L had to be dropped off for his flight out, his cousins took us on a speedy tour of Auckland tour to include the beautiful viewpoint of Mission Bay and drive-by of its infamous, 328 meters (1076 ft)-tall, Sky Tower.
  • We returned to the house and picked up our bags…and started the 2-car’ full parade to see L off.
  • We eventually made our way to Auckland’s International airport at our designated time of 12:40pm in time for what we had thought was L’s 3:30pm departure flight….. only to learn that the flight was ACTUALLY at 2:30pm and that his flight had already begun boarding!!!  After that quick episode of confusion and panic, and some hearty farewell hugs from his fam and myself :-( ,  L managed to get himself on board just in the nick of time!
  • Thereafter, it was my turn to express my appreciation to the fam’s extremely sincere hospitality, and was given a ride to my hostel (another YHA spot) in the city center by L’s generous cousin.
  • After check-in, and collecting myself with the thought of being back on the solo-trek (not so easy, especially being so accustomed to having a partner 24/7 for the last 2 weeks), I headed down to the Internet Room to book myself a bus ride for the next morning up to the Bay of Islands.
  • Timely enough, there were 2 young  Austrian lads, Andreas and Chesco (short for Francesco), who struck up conversation..and yada yada, I was invited to join them for their evening roaming in the big city. PS. I’m no fan of Auckland…”just a big ol’ city……… once ya seen one, ya kinda’ve seen ‘em all…” …and yup, that’s come from this decade-long New Yorker!! PPS. NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU… but sometimes, you ARE  a beast!!
  • We grabbed a quick bite to eat and were off to…….. the nearby PHARMACY! YUP!  We were rushed for time, because well, errrthang in NZ closes super early..and we were nearing the 5pm mark… that’s call-time for alotta places, including this grand pharmacy!  Why pharmacy? Welps, because Andreas needed a few items, to which I ended playing, “token girl with a couple dudes,” in terms of being asked for advice on random items, ie. bug spray, sunscreen….and eventually a belt….and Europe/NZ adapter….and flip flops ….and sunglasses!!  I was selling the entire store to them! At this point, the owner of the shop, officially locked his doors…but was nice enough to shout out, “you guys can buy the whole store, I don’t mind staying later..” So… more stuff on the counter…and Chesco had made a comment to the owner about hiring me as Sales Manager… I laughed and said, “Seriously! I should be getting commission!” The owner jetted back after locking the doors, grabbed a chewy peanut sesame bar and put it in my hand…and said, “There’s your commission. Come back Monday morning for an interview!” HA! Good sense of humor all around!
  • Aaaaaaaaafter that, we walked down to the wharf and stumbled upon the Minus 5 Degree Ice Bar. One of 5 locations around the world (Vegas, Gold Coast, Sydney, Queenstown and Auckland), this spot wasn’t so bad  of a deal, for the novelty of it. We chose the $35NZD package…that gave us a long coat and boots, along with 2 drinks inside the ice bar. What is it? It is EXACTLY what it sounds like. A (in this case, small) room, made of ice all around — meaning, bar, bench, walls, sculptures, EVEN the cups.. 100% ice!!…. Andreas quickly read the menu and suggested for me to get the “Ice Queen.” I laughed out loud…. Is my royalty THAT obvious??!! HA! And on the second round, I went for the Frisky Penguin…… YUM!  We ended up staying in there for a good hour and 20min… only to find out that the “regulation time was max’ed at 30minutes…” OOOOPS!! AND THEY SHOULD DONE BETTA IN INFORMING / REGULATING that suggestion!!  Phew!! Thank goodness, we came out alive!
  • Next up, dinner on the waterfront at a restaurant called, ummm.. “Waterfront”..and I had myself an alright beef burrito.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

  • Woke and caught the 8:30am Intercity/Northliner (GREAT GREAT!!!) bus up to Paihia / Bay of Islands.
  • Arrived in Paihia around 12:30pm and checked into the first hostel I found on “backpacker’s road”: King’s Road. I got myself a bed at the Saltwater Lodge (good stay, CLEAN and friendly!)  and made my way to the sands.
  • Evening time, I shopped around for a good “Swim with Dolphins” deal. I mean, there are a good handful of different companies that do this, and they pretty much all amount to the same: $89NZD. HOWEVER, I found a ticket seller with a slashed price of $80NZD. I popped my head in there and asked my questions and his suggestions for which boat would allow me the best chances of swimming with my smiley finned friends. Dude was super informative and I said, well then, “SIGN ME UP WITH AWESOMENZ!” (smaller boat) for a session tomorrow AM (AM gives better chances to see dolphins)!…and the company was called AWESOME!  SOOOO, I was already so giddy with the fact that I saved $9NZD, esp since EVERY OTHER PLACE had for $89. I was told to pay the 80, then tomorrow, if conditions allowed for swimming, I’d pay the skipper an extra $30 to go in. Made sense to me!

Monday, February 15, 2010

  • Awoke and arrived at the dock at 7:45am for 8am departure. Boat ride was of course beautiful and scenic and all that jazz. Saw MANY dolphin friends in their natural habitat in the bay…and I caught one of them, full body, it the air, mid jump, on camera!! I was TOTALLY STOKED!
  • We were allowed to head into the water 3 times at appropriate locations, (cleared by the skipper) to flap our tail fins with our friendly finned friends. The water itself was a bit murky, and those dolphins are swift creatures…so to this day, I am not sure if I was around and over one…  I know that on the first go, I swam too far out and the so the 2nd round, I stuck near the boat..and 3rd, I kept getting water in my snorkel/goggle….but whatever! The experience was worth it!
  • After our swim, we were unloaded onto another dock for a 20min chill out session, for quick picnic and/or quick hike up to a fab look-out point…. with a complimentary Just Juice juicy box! (L and I lived off of Just Juice! MMMmmmmmm! mango/orange and mango/pineapple…) So, I opted for the latter and chatted about with some other swimmers, on our way up to the viewpoint…… despite the path being filled with sheep poo…. the lookout was super serene, peaceful and beautious!
  • Got back on the boat…. and drum roll, the skipper never came to collect my $30! Soooo I scored a good $39 “discount/savings” from my life-long dream excursion of swimming with dolphins!! SCOREEEEEEE!!
  • Got back to Paihia and decided to trek over to Ti Beach for the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

  • Grabbed some chicken n’ chips for lunch and took a $11NZD roundtrip ticket to “Romantic Russell” — historic, charming lil’ seaside village about a good 15min ferry ride from Paihia.
  • Hiked up to another lovely viewpoint, and trekked over to the “other side” of Russell, home to the fabulousssss Jones Beach! << Recommend this!!! :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

  • Woke, did some internet ‘ish, hit the post office, grabbed a grilled ham sandwich and returned to Ti Beach.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

  • Woke to some clouds (first time in my stay in the Bay.. I guess it knew that I was leaving later this afternoon…)…and there was some sprinkling rain too!  So, I decided to be productive and load the rest of my flicks on FB (bc doing it in the ‘Hai would just take uber long via the vpn)… hit the post office for last minute send-outs…and I returned to the hostel to stay dry.
  • 4:30pm bus return to Auckland (= BLAH!!)
  • Arrived in Auckland at 8pm, walked down to BASE Hostel on Queen Street — figuring I should give the other, more famous chain of NZ hostels a try…and was rather disappointed. I think it also came from the fact that I was back in a big city setting, the hostel was HUGE… and felt super college dorm-like, and despite its supersize hostel, there was only 1 chic at reception…and well the accommodations weren’t the worst I’ve been in (Come on, I’ve done Asia…) but! it was certainly the worst of all that I’ve stayed in. Soooooo YHA Chain gets a 2 for 2 from me….and BASE gets a 0 for 1. Winner: Team YHA.

Friday, February 19, 2010

  • A putzed around for a bit, caught a lil catnap and was out the door at 5:20am for the 5:35pm Airbus Shuttle ($14NZD for backpackers) to the airport…. pick up stop, conveniently located just around the corner from Base. (I’ll give Base for its central location, but that’s about it.)
  • 8pm (‘Hai local time aka 1am NZ time)… I landed back in Shang’eezy…. super loooonggg day of travel!!

Today and still…..

  • Daydream about New Zealand…. ho hum….. pictures/videos soon!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Zealand Update (4)!

Ok, I know I’ve been slacking on the blog tip, but I just spent a long ass time on this computer and slow ass connection.. only for my post to not save and have the computer shut down on me.. ugh!!

So, let me try to remember it all and pick up from the last post:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

  • Drove from Wanaka up the west coast for our 3pm Half-Day Hike excursion of Franz Josef Glaciers. (Drive was approx. 5 hours or so)
  • About the glaciers: The Franz Josef (Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Maori is a 12 km long glacier, located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km to the south, it is unique in descending from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest.
  • We got a lil giddy as we neared Glacier country with some sprinkles falling from the sky, thinking that perhaps the hike would be cancelled and we can use the day to rest from our previous adventures. So, I used the handy mobile phone provided by our campervan hire, and phoned the Glacier folks…. only to be told, “honey, it rains 200 days of the year over here, so yes, the hike is still on.” Sigh and Doh!
  • We parked our camper at 2:45pm, just in time for check-in, and get our gear on: rainjacket, waterproof over pants, socks, hiking boots and a fanny pack filled with spikes – specifically for ice climbs.
  • And onward we were! After a short bus ride to the glacier valley.. we walked through the valley under conditions of cold winds and rain spittings….
  • Some parts of the glacier were rather steep, and I had many a times asked myself, “why? why do i get myself into these things? whyyyy??”
  • But with a lil’ push (literally) here and there by Lundy, I made my way up to our finish point.
  • I only wished conditions weren’t so wet, so that camera footage could’ve been used more,,,, but ahh well.. our pics look like we’re meterologists on site!
  • The glaciers were def a cool (literally and figuratively) experience!  You gotta be in decent and agile shape for this one!
  • Tired and spent after the hike, we parked our camper at the nearby Holiday Park and cooked ourselves a fabulous glazed lamb chop + pesto fettucine meal! SOOO YUMMY!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

  • Woke and continued on with our Round Two of lamb chop + fettucine pesto for breakfast…. Delicious AGAIN!
  • Eventually started our drive up the west coast towards Hoktika and then eastward via the infamously roller-coaster, twisty turvy Arthur’s Pass, to bring us back to Christchurch at approximately 7pm. (The drive took about a good 6 hours with a necessary one hour nap somewhere in the middle of that drive.)
  • Lundy’s good eye on the road even found “Saigon Star Restaurant” and I happily agreed to switch things up a bit for a lil’ home-cooking esque meal of vietnamese food..I opted for the simple pork and vermicelli while Lundy went for the special that included pork, beef, egg roll and sugarcane/shrimp with vermicelli…and of course, we ordered some egg rolls for apps!
  • We took the food to-go.. or as “take away” as they say here and in the ‘Hai.
  • We checked ourselves in back at the So Hotel, dropped off our stuff in the room, loaded laundry, and head back downstairs to bring the campervan to a nearby park for drop off, where our renters would pick up. Just as easy as that!
  • After a short walk from the park to our hotel, we devoured our meal and settled in for the night with internet/laundry etc.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

  • We woke for a 8:45am Super Shuttle pick to the airport for our 10:15am flight to the North Island; first destination: Rotorua.
  • We arrived at Rotorua on time at 11:55am and swiftly got our bags and checked in with the Car Rental Booths… only to learn that due to high season, all cars had been rented and all that was left were larger vans ..that were uber expensive for our short stay.
  • Thus, we headed to the Super Shuttle outside and had him lead us to a rather dandy and nice hostel, YHA Treks. (YHA and BASE are the two major hostel chains throughout NZ.. and I highly recommend.. clean and good space..and CLEAN!)
  • We checked in and headed out to purchase our bus ticket for Manukau City (just outside of Auckland) as since this would be our next destination for the day after… to visit some of Lundy’s distant relatives. After which, we settled at Art Cafe for some grilled sandwiches. I had the egg and bacon, while Lundy opted for the mushroom, advocado and cheese. YUM!
  • After a quick internet run, we grabbed some popsicles on this sweltering day and chilled on the park benches of the nearby park … with surrounding geysers and mudpools! The sulfur is FOR REAL here! But pretty nifty to see!
  • At 7pm, we were picked up to attend a Maori Culture excursion.
  • About Maori: The Māori (commonly pronounced /ˈmɑaɔri/ or /ˈmaʊri/) are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand (Aotearoa). They probably arrived in southwestern Polynesia in several waves at some time before year 1300,[6] settled and developed a distinct culture. Māori society was destabilised from the late 18th century by the weapons and diseases introduced by Europeans, and after 1840 they lost an increasing amount of their land, and went into a cultural and numerical decline. However their population began to increase again from the late 19th century, and a marked Māori cultural revival began in the 1960s and continues.
  • We were introduced to the whole Maori Heritage via our enthusiastic bus driver lady, who picked a gray-haired man (after no one volunteered), named “Herb” from Texas (in the chocolate business) to be our chief. Herb would be our representative for the evening… along with 2 other chiefs from 2 other busses.
  • After a ritual introduction ceremony consisting of some chant and spear moves by Maori warriors, we were invited to enter in the village where various “ways of life” things were taught.. including participation in some Maori games. Lundy was bold enough to partake in one of the games..and well rather than explain now, I’ll post the video some other time. (Lundy truly believes he was a Maori warrior in his previous life…and ya know what? I think he might be right! All signs make sense afterall!)
  • Next up, was a very entertaining show of story-telling, song and dance.
  • Then finally, an all-you-can-eat  Hangi Meal aka “Thanksgiving-esque” buffet was had by all…. turkey, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, fish, mussels etc..!!! and yummy dessert!
  • Overall, GREAT TIME with the Maori… thoroughly entertained and well-fed.. I can’t complain! Definitely a must-do in Rotorua!

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Zealand Update (3)!

And here we go again… kudos LB on the ghostwriting… and eventually my tweaks….

Oh my sooo, here I am again..this time at blazing hot Lake Wanaka.  Well I’m going to make this report as brief/cliff notes as possible due to my exhaustation from the extreme adventure activities Mimi and I have done.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

  • Drove 3 hours from Te Anau to Milford Sound and the view was absoluetley AMAZING!!!  Several thousands feet snow capped mountains with  turquoise-rivers rivers flowing into the pine forest dense valley with a small 2 lane highway snaking it’s way there.
  • The drive was filled with crazy tight twists & turns, so TIGHT that when I made a sharp left turn on a bend…our bug spray and pen flew out the open window!  We were only driving 15km/hr but Mimi can attest that she had to keep her elbows inside the car to avoid “brushing” against the mountain wall.
    Then we drove through the one lane Homer Tunnel through a mountain and eventually made our way to Milford Sound.
  • Eventually we made it to Milford Sound harbor, where stood mountains, dense ferns and trees, and the inlet of Sea Water from the Tasman sea.
  • Mimi & I took a 1.5 hour cruise (*sound like Gilligan’s Islands) around Milford sounds and here are the highlights:  Surrounded by High Mountains, Sea Lions, Light house, dotted with water falls as high as the Empire State building and even DOLPHINS! 
  • Then Mimi & I took a long well deserved nap in the van for 2 hours and drove back to Te Anau for another 3 hours to camp out.
  • With the recommendation from Pete (Soan’s fiance) we had dinner at RedCliff.
    We started out with battered oyster served with Soy Sauce and chives.
    Mimi’s main Entree consisted of: Medium-Rare cooked Hare servered on top of a heaping pile of sweet potatoes and the most amazing sauteed Shitake Mushrooms EVER!..cooked in olive oil and garlic, served with a 2007 Pinot Noir.
    My taste buds enjoyed: Venison (deer steak) laid on top of the same amazing sauteed Shitake Mushrooms, with large beets and soft & moist turnips, and I washed it down with a 2007 Reisling White Wine.
    For Dessert we had good ol’ finish Rice Pudding served with local strawberries and cream….absoluetly DEELUSH!

Sunday, February 7, 2010
The next morning, we went grocery shopping at “Fresh Choice” in Lake Te Anau then drove to Lake Wanaka. (left at 9:30am and arrived at Lake Wanaka airport at 12pm)

  • Mimi & I enjoyed a lunch of crackers, cheese, Pancetta (Italian Bacon), Dijon Honey Mustard, and 3 cheese Black Pepper Corn & Chive Cheese.  Then washed it down with water and Mango/Orange “Just Juice”.
    We checked in at “Sky Dive Lake Wanaka“  at 1pm by the Lake Wanaka Airport.
    After selecting the 12,000 feet dive (45 seconds) option with 2 DVDs (a video of your free falling with your tandem parter and another video taken from a seperate sky diver) and Free T-shirt.  We signed the liability waiver (including medical condition notification) and a personalize sound track of our 2 DVDs!
  • Mimi & I both took seperate video interviews as a our Intro for our Sky Diving DVDs.
    Then we hopped on a small puddle jumper single propeller airplane and took off the air field.
    The plane was circling around the airport, every increasing it’s speed to catch the altitude of 12,00 ft; during this time we got a great view of Lake Wanaka and town, several smaller lakes, flowing of the river, green grasses, cows, sheeps, clouds and of course the surrounding Mountains!
  • The plane ride was pretty smooth;there was 11 people in about a 20sq ft space with a ton of parachute gear.
    During the flight, I was actually really clam and relax throughout the ordeal, even ask Mimi herself.  I kept going over the instructions for the pre-jump.
    1. Put your legs behind the plane.
    2. Move your hips forward.
    3. Lay your head back on the right shoulder of your sky dive partner…then off you go.
    I heard the constant “thump, thump” of the propeller engine, then the door on my left hand side, slowly opens, the gush of the cold 12,000 ft altitude wind fills in the tight compartment of the plane.  I heard my heart beat but I remained calm and breathed in slow-consistent patterns.
    Being the FIRST PERSON out of the plane, I know I had to set the example and did my best to follow the instructions.
    As instructed, I reached up and grabbed the cold white metallic pole above me on the ceiling of the plane’s interior.
    Then I sat down on the edge of the plane and feeling the gash of the wind go across my body.
    I tucked my legs tight underneath the body of the plane, with my breathing picking up pace…moved my hips ever slowly forward and then laid my head back on my tandem partners shoulder.
    Then ALL of sudden, the coolness under my butt from the plane was gone and I felt nothing but a push forward,..then I tumbled and rolled forward into a tight flip.
    Next thing I know; I see clouds flowing passed my face, then the hurdling speed of wind going across my body as I flew down to the ground at 200km/hr.
    My instructors tapped my shoulders; indicating that I can release my hands from harness and be free to do what I want.
    I instinctly started dancing with my hands as I was ecstatic of “flying” again through the wind (went Hang Gliding at Queenstown a couple of days ago). 
    The surrounding view is totally breathless…words can’t express so it I won’t go any further.
    45 seconds later; I float down in a parachute and land on my bum on the field.
    I actually remained calm throughout the experience and I have the DVDs to prove it!
    Overall I must honestly say, it was one of the most thrilling and exhillerating events in my LIFE.
  • After sky diving; it was soooo hot in the upper 80s; we took a dip in the cool refreshing Lake Wanaka.
    We rented a kayak and let’s just say that was an ADVENTURE itself…as Mimi would put it “It was supposed to be Relaxing!!!”…however the winds from the mountain proved to make it another adventure…our shoulders & arms got a work out…which would be needed later in our next Adventure (“Deep Canyoning in Niger River”)
  • After we battled the elements of Wind & Water, we arrived onto shore with my broken sandals. :-(
    We got a well deserved ice cream dip: Mimi had “Cookies-N-Cream” and I had a “Hokey Pokey” (New Zealand ice cream of Vanilla with chips & bits of caramel…hhhhmm”.
    So we ate our ice cream on the park bench as we watch the sunset over the mountains and lake…HOW ROMANTIC!
  • Then we settled into the Holiday Park for our camper van and prepared a home cook meal of Spaghetti, Spanish Chorizo and Fresh Garlic bread; with “Speichter” to wash it down. “Local New Zealand beer…kinda like an IPA).
    After the scrumbtious meal, we settled in the night to gain our rest for “Deep Canyon of Niger Creek”.
    I wrote A LOT MORE than I originally intended and I apologize if it takes to much time.  However, I highly recommend sky diving and ice cream if you’re in the mood for adventure & relaxation!  Till the next time….Cheers Mate! :-)

Sooo basically…… I ditto the above, aside from me being #2 off of the plane for skydiving…. To be honest, I was totally chilled out about it all… wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be/should be. I more or less, had a “ain’t nuttin to it, but to do it!” mentality. Wanaka Skydive staff and instructors were super calm, professional, funny and fun to work with. I most certainly recommend them for sure!  But I will admit, after I saw Lundy just tumble off like a lil’ nugget, I had the immedite: “oh shit, I’m next” thought whirling ’round my head. But I really didn’t have time to react to my thoughts as my tandem instructor, Eric said.. “Ok Mimi, move to the edge.” I did as told, tucked my legs under as had been advised, flipped my head back and gave him the “OK, GO-SMILE”….AND DOWNNNNNN I WENT!!! I closed my eyes for the first .2 seconds but quickly opened them because I knew closing would just give me a more heightened/faster fall experience, and plus, I wanted to enjoy the freeeeeeee fallllllll riiiiiiide. Eyes Wide Open…… the scene was beautimousssssssssssss as described by L. I was totally rockin’ out to the camera lens (esp with Mac, my cameraman who flew besides us to capture it all — he was super charged up in getting me all pumped wayyyy up in 12,000 ft above ground!!!)  Landing was super smooooooth…….. and all I can say is, the next time…. I’ll opt for higher! :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

We just finished another magnificent adventure of deep canyoning today, which involved: hiking, climbing, waterfall abseiling (repelling with harness; think: rock climbing), jumping, sliding, zip-lining, swimming through AMAZING creeks, crevices, gorges etc etc…

Tomorrow: Hiking up Franz Josef Glaciers

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Zealand Update (2)!

Another round of updates, courtesy of Lundy’s quick thinking bullet points because, frankly, I am just too lazy! :-)

 Friday, February 5, 2010

  • Drove 3 hours from Queenstown to Manapouri/Te Anau to visit my old college friend Soan.
  • Mimi & I, picked up a bottle of Champange & NZ Merlot for Soan’s fiance Pete’s birthday.
    We arrived at Soan’s fiance’s family farm around 3pm NZ Time (21 hours difference in PST, 18 hours different EST)
    Soan’s future in-laws consisted of: Pete (fiance’), Keith (Pete’s dad), “Mum” (Pete’s mom…hehe…so cute!) and the family sheep dogs: Katie & Jess.
    Soan’s future in-laws were soooooooo generous in sharing their 1,000 acre farm filled with 50 Bulls, Cattle, several white & red huns, dogs and over 4,000 sheep!!!!!
    We all enjoyed a cup of tea, strawberry milkshake, chocolate brownies, and desserts during Tea time, a great reprieve from the hot sun.
  • The farm was absolutely amazing, totally organic/free range farming which is a rarity in the states.
    We saw how Keith “shaired” a 6 month sheep, (shaving a sheep with motor power razor) and threw it into a huge pile of wool.
    Then Pete took us in his pickup truck and we went off roading on his family’s farm to see the bulls/cattle and sheep free range over the 1,000 acre farm…it totally felt like I was in a Kiwi safari!
    Afterwards, we got a chance to play with the sheep and the pet the sheep dog which round up the sheep. ( Jess barks to herd the sheep, while Katie uses the cool/calm approach of staring them down).
    Keith and Mum worked exceedingly hard in the blazing hot sun (in mid 80s) 12 hours a day for 7 days a week while their in their 60′s!!!!
  • We departed from the farm at 5pm, so that Pete & Soan can make their way to the Lake Wanake Music Festival to celebrate “Pete’s b-day weekend”.
    From the long hard day of hanging out on the farm, Mimi and I rewarded ourselves with a gourmet “Godfather” Italian Pizza dinner by the lake front at 6pm…hhhhhhmmm..
  • Then we took a glow warm cave in Te Anau.
  • After the tour, we settled into a camp ground with full bathroom/bathing facilities, electric (to plug in our camper van to run the refridgerator) and a play ground set.
    Finished the night drinking beer on a swing set and looking at the night sky to see shooting stars!

Now we’re off to to a day cruise in Milford Sound

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Zealand Update!

OK soooooooooo much has happened in the last ummmmm 4 days!!! All thrillingly and chillingly worthwhile! :-)

I’m gonna have to introduce a guest blogger and my travel buddy, Lundy this time around and give him credit because these are his notes of our trip so far…(with just a few tweaks by yours truly) Enjoy!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

  • Landed in Christchurch, checked into uber-futuristic So Hotel and dined at Stone Grill restaurant for some ridiculous lamb shank with potatoes and Land Lover’s selects: lamb, pork, beef cooked on a slab of stone!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

  • Met up with my former co-worker at my school last year / Kiwi friend / Christchurch native, Charlotte for some brunch at C1 Espresso and city frolic with our local tourguide.
  • Picked up our campervan from hospitable and attentive Andrew of Cruzy Campers and drove from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

  • Slept in the camper van and awoke with a breakfast picnic spread alongside Lake Tekapo -stunningly blue-turquoise waters, surrounded my snow capped mountains, while feeding duckies…
  • Drove from Tekapo to Queenstown, roughly 4 hour drive.
  • Checked into a fab-luxurious hotel The Rees
  • We have a balcony view of the turquoise color Lake Wakatipu surrounded by several mountains with tiny building and hamlets making up Queenstown.
  • Celebrated my birthday w/ an  8 course dinner at the Rees restaurant which was absolutely delicioso!…including but not limited to: Pan Smeared scallops, grilled salmon salad, organic raised beef cutlets, lamb with white wine sauce, strawberry Pavlov dessert…and local brie cheese platter.
  • Celebrated the rest of the night popping a bottle of champagne w/dessert on our room balcony overlooking Lake Wakatipu under with a clear night sky filled with beautiful bright stars…with some gift exchanges… let’s just say that “I’m alla dat and a bag o chips!!” :-P

Thursday, February 4, 2010

  • Today, we went JetBoating on the Shot Over Jet – a white knuckle, fast paced, adrenaline packed trip, consisted of blazing fast boat ride through turvy mountainous caverns and splashing waters….We felt like a James Bond – Indiana Jones mash up!!
  • Then to dry off, we went hang gliding off of Coronet Peak  (about 4,000 feet)…flying even higher between soaring, majestic mountains with a pine forest, lush green valley…dotted with several sheep….hahaha.
  • Now we’re about to head out to the Queenstown waterfront for some Fish & Chips and possibly a Pub Crawl.
  • Planning to finish the night with a bottle of red wine on the balcony and watch the sun set over the mountains and feel the cool pine fresh air.
What’s Next:
  • Hitting the road early tomorrow to go bungee jumping.
  • Then driving down to Te Anau & Milford sound for some glow worm caving, kayaking and cruise!
  • Afterwards will be heading to Franz Glacier for some ice glacier hiking.
  • Andddd.. to get a better perspective of the south Island, we’ll hit up Sky Diving at heights of in/around 15,000 feet!!!!!!

Pictures to come… but here’s one for now to keep ya’ll smiling…. I AM FLYING!!!! (errr hang gliding!!!!!)

. . don’t burn the day. .