More of my photos from New Zealand


New Zealand Archives

March 19, 2006

i'm in auckland!

after a week and a half offline while in Fiji's Yasawa islands, i'm now in Auckland, New Zealand!

i'll be backfilling in the Fiji blog posts in a day or two, but in the meantime, just wanted to let you know the latest. i've uploaded the latest photos to my flickr account from fiji and new zealand as well.

gotta run, off on a bus to Rotorua in 5 minutes!

March 21, 2006

raw steaks and hot stones

we arrived in the town of rotorua yesterday via the "magic bus", one of the several backpacker-oriented bus lines that run through the country of new zealand.

very few countries are attuned to the needs of backpackers in the way that new zealand is. it's good stuff here.

jean and i ate out at a restaurant called stonegrill and cooked our own raw food (400 grams of steak in my case, la-a-a-a-mb in jean's), on hot stones. it was actually really tasty and good fun all around.

then we went drinking with a mix of locals, italians, and irishmen. needless to say, we barely made it to the bus then next day. but we did, with 5 minutes to spare.

so here we are in taupo, with off-and-on rain and the tonganairo crossing closed for the forseeable future, so we're pressing on in the morning to wellington, and then christchurch, where another array of hiking, extreme sports, and llama farming awaits us.

vive new zealand!
PS: i just finished posting a bunch of older blog posts to the fiji section written on paper when I was offline and had no internet access. check them out at http://www.goneliving.com/fiji/

March 26, 2006

phantom buses and netball

after spending the night in christchurch, jean and i ended up missing the 3pm bus to queenstown, which (depending on which person we asked) was either:

1.) sold-out but on schedule
2.) 45 minutes late and *might* have room
3.) not running at all that day

we ended up waiting a while for the bus (which never appeared), and just bought tickets for the queenstown bus tomorrow bright 'n early at 7:30am. with any luck, we've have done type of hike or "extreme" activity by day's end tomorrow.

so after missing our bus, we headed off to the pub to try and comprehend netball (go kiwis for winning the gold medal in the commonwealth games tonight). Tonight has ended up being a quiet night of dining on korean bbq, doing much-needed blog maintenance, and spending some time reflecting on the events of the last week and a half.

look for more photos of foolish activities and amazing hikes in the next few days!

March 27, 2006

morning in christchurch

woke up at 6:40am to the jostling of my co-traveller jean trying to get us out the door to the bus on time, followed a few minutes later by the insistent beeping of my Casio watch alarm.

time to get up, listening to rain on the corrugated translucent plastic skylight, then ducking under the mysterious metal strips running across the ceiling a foot over my head, down off the bunkbed, and quickly packing up while trying to not wake up everyone else in the dorm. one last look at this attic/loft/dorm with beds shoehorned into its awkward architecture, then checkout by leaving my room key and pillowcase at the front desk, and then out in the early morning rain to catch the 7:30am atomic shuttles bus to queenstown.

March 29, 2006

queenstown days

i've been in queenstown for a few days now, and what was a 2-day stopover has become a full week, after which we return to christchurch and fly to australia.

queenstown is in flux. one street is bursting with bungee jumping/skydiving/rafting/river surfing/canyon swing/anything adrenalin stores and snowboard gear shops and everything else in that vein. then one street over there are signs in kanji for fine new zealand wines and wool clothing, boutique clothing stores, and whispers about the house that johnny depp bought out here. brand-new ultra hotels are almost side-by-side with NZ$26/night backpacker hostels. maybe this place is becoming (or is) the new Aspen, i don't know, but there is an awful lot of construction going on here. whatever this place is turning into, it isn't done transforming yet.

of the five million "activities" you can do here (as long as you can foot the bill, of course), we went "river surfing" yesterday with serious fun, and ended up surfing on boogie boards through class 2 and 3 rapids clad only in wetsuits and crash helmets. we survived with only a few scratches, and had a generally great time. this was followed by surpisingly expensive thai food and surpisingly cheap drinks, and finally cocktails at the Minus 5 ice bar, when we got a bunch of random pictures.

more stuff to come: hiking, kayaking, and maybe some things a little more pulse-pounding than that. we'll see...

March 30, 2006

the little differences

after a few weeks in a new zealand, i'm starting to wish they had a "brochure for clueless americans" which is handed out on arriving flights along with the immigration cards and customs declarations.

sure, i expected the usual differences that you find in the course of international travel -- driving on the left side of the road, the way cars will painstakingly stop for you at zebra crossings (and not give too much of a damn about avoiding you when you're not in one), and removing the "0" when calling a NZ phone number from overseas.

the thing which threw me off at first, and then proved to be a source of fascination as i learned more about it, has been the postal system. new zealand has opened up their mail system to private competition, which evidently means that any company can start offering mail service, but the NZ government mail service (New Zealand Post, who owns a bank called Kiwibank and has them operate out of their post offices, which also double as bank branches) is still around as well. in practice this means that there are (at least) three main brands of mailboxes -- DX Mail, Universal Mail, and New Zealand Post. (and the actual list of authorized postal operators is far longer) all of these companies issue their own stamps, which are carried by different stores, so when buying postcard stamps it's always a bit of a surprise to see which brand of stamps you'll get.

none of these mailboxes indicate that they will do anything with mail stamped with another company's stamps besides chuckle, shake their heads at the futility of man, and then throw the mail into the roaring fire keeping them cold in through the oncoming kiwi winter. however, i've been informed that the mail put into the wrong company's mailboxes DOES eventually make it to its destination (my last round of postcards were proof of that), but that it usually adds about a week to the delivery time.

my favorite part about this is that the list of postal operators apparently includes some indivduals and very small companies who are a fully authorized postal serivce in themselves... now if i can just find someone from "New Zealand Farm Show Limited" to deliver my next postcard home!

activity time!

in the last few days, i've been hiking, river surfing in rapids, canyon jumping/swinging, zorbing, and whitewater rafting. i'm sore in many places, sleepy, and generally ready for a little break. this place (queenstown) is activity central -- there is a near-constant wave of paragliders over the city like seeds cast from some bright nylon tree high on the hill, and most people under 40 are either returning from or heading off to one activity or another.

the one activity that i simply did not get was the albatross encounter in kaikoura. if the ancient mariner's own albatross encounter didn't end well, how can i expect any better? (and check out how it stacks up against the dolphin encounter)

early tomorrow morning is my return to christchurch, which will mean the end of the new zealand portion of this trip. just a few days to say goodbye to friends and run some final errands, and then we're off to sydney.

March 31, 2006

what are you doing in my bathroom?

on our last night in queenstown, jean and i ran into allyson and bryan in the kitchen of bumbles backpackers. clutching my packet of peanut satay instant noodles in my hand, i was shocked to see brian sitting at the kitchen table.

since our last encounter in fiji, we had vague plans to meet up again in new zealand but we never did anything about it (aside from some not-quite-completed plans about possibly visiting/working at the llama farm. but nevertheless, there they were in the same city, at the same hostel, in the same room, at the same time as us.

after our initial chat, allyson excused herself to head back to her room for a few minutes. when i made a quick bathroom stop in my dorm room, i walked into the room only to find allyson a the sink of our shared bathroom. this meant that allyson had somehow ALSO ended up in the exact same section of bubmbles that we were in. my statistics class skills area a little rusty, so i don't know the exact odds of this, other than "ridiclously small".

we proceeded to celebrate our happy coincidence by going our drinking (where jean was also able to consume a mighty leg of lamb), and we proceeded to take random pictures of each other.

since we coincidentally had the same itinerary for our quit-work-and-go-travelling plans, we're all headed to australia next. my bet is that we'll run into them in broome while watching movies from deck chairs...

About New Zealand

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the New Zealand category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Nepal is the previous category.

Oman is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.