Thursday, March 26, 2009


Wow, time flies when you are having fun! We have been in Australia for 3 weeks and I’m trying to wrap up New Zealand. Fox Glacier proved to be spectacular with a little added adventure bonus. We left the van lights on in the car park. This shouldn’t be an adventure in and of itself, after all the van company did give us a set of jumper cables. However, we couldn’t find the battery. Nope. It wasn’t under the passenger seat where the engine was located. There were no compartments on the front of the van to open. We peeled carpet back, scratched our heads and even asked nice gentlemen walking past the van. No one could find the battery! The nice Englishmen and their wives offered to give us a lift into town and dropped us at a service station. We explained our situation to the mechanic who just grinned back at us. Ryan said “I bet this is not the first time this has happened.” The mechanic replied with a grin, “Well, it is the first time today!’’ The mechanic drove us back to the glacier and in less than a minute he located the battery behind the drivers seat, under the carpet and below a metal plate that was clipped into place. The van started in no time and we were off!

The next day we had an incredible guided hike on the Franz Josef Glacier with crampons and all! It was incredible to get up close and personal with Franz, but also terribly unnerving! There is no feeling like standing high up on a glacier looking down into it’s cascading depths while trying to walk with your toes pointed down hill on the slippery cool surface without lines or ropes. Other parts of the glacier were cut with stairs to climb and ropes to hold onto in “dangerous” areas. We told ourselves that this downhill slope must not be “dangerous” because it did not have ropes to hold onto. But, you could not help feeling that if you slipped, that was it. Down you went to dance with Franz.

The day on the glacier was fantastic and we finished it off with a soak in the glacial waters hot springs. Yes, this is counterintuitive, so we had to ask. The freezing cold glacial water is heated to a steamy 39-40 degrees Celsius. We soaked our wounds and felt like new people ready to greet the next adventure!

We made a mad dash for Abel Tasman National Park famous for it’s sparkling turquoise blue water, fantastic hiking and tranquil kayaking. Our one day of hiking offered birds eye views of the many bays dotted along the coast as we weaved in and out of the dense forest. At the end of the hike we were greeted by the tranquil ocean waters that lapped us up leaving us refreshed. The following day, as the Easterly blew in, our hopes for tranquil kayaking dissipated. The rain pounded, the wind howled and the white caps frothed. No kayaking for this crew. By the next day, the seas were still too rough and we said goodbye to Abel with promises to return another day.

Back to the North Island via ferry crossing we went with short visits with Jodi’s family, again. This time we got to have a lovely lunch with Jodi’s Granddad Laurie. A fascinating and loving man who shared tales of travels, lessons learned and days gone by. What a joy it was to spend time with him!

The Coromandel was our next stop and never a dull moment did we have. Hot Water Beach, a place where geothermal water bubbles up from the depths to create boiling sand. You can dig a hole in the beach as the tide goes out and have your very own hot tub with an expansive view of the ocean. Fascinating! There were 70 year old men in Speedos running around giggling like school children! We also enjoyed a walk to Cathedral Cove, a beautiful rock arch by the ocean.

Our time in New Zealand closed with a little drama after the van key broke off in the driver side door and we did not have a spare set of keys. After a locksmith extracted the key from the lock, made another key that did not work and modified the key in the motor camp with my metal nail file we were driving back to Auckland to fly to Australia. Farwell New Zealand, we will be back!

Our Photos:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


1. Grocery stores sell VERY large chickens. I wonder if you can buy dresses for them, too?

2. There is no “tooting” near national monuments.

3. While driving on a major highway you may find yourself on a single lane bridge with train tracks running down the middle and you are giving way (yielding) to a train! (thanks for the reminder Sharon)
4. Taking a tramp in the bush means taking a hike in the woods/forest.

5. On the North Island, grazing sheep run frightened from cars that drive by their fenced in pastures.

6. Visiting the Galapagos Islands and standing a couple feet from the animals has ruined all other animal encounters.

7. When a brochure says an activity is appropriate “for most agile people,” they really mean you better be able to run a marathon, scale a mountain and walk on water in order to participate.

8. If you are barefooted in the supermarket, no one thinks twice about it.

9. New Zealand has 2 of only 3 glaciers in the world that are located in a rainforest (the other is in Patagonia).

10. Heaps = a lot. For example, New Zealand has heaps of nice people.
11. Tip Top is the best ice cream ever! Favorites are Passion Fruit and Gooey Gooey Gum Drop.

12. Sand flies at Milford Sound are vicious.

13. 70 year old New Zealand’ers rent Wicked Vans to travel in, too (they were given an AC/DC van and had to ask someone at the motor camp to play the band on their iPod because they had no idea who the band was).

14. Roads are straighter on the South Island.

15. New Zealand just maybe the most beautiful country in the world!


(Based on real-life experiences at a motor camp in Te Anau, New Zealand)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first girl to jump into the boys one-seater bathroom when the women’s line is 6 feet deep. The concept of a free for all for the loo makes sense to me. But, the concept of commingling numerous toilets and showers in one unisex location is just weird. I can’t shake the feeling that some Peeping Tom is lurking around the corner waiting for a show from some innocent Betty who forgets she is in a unisex bathroom.

It is weird to hear toilet noises from a complete stranger of the opposite sex. We’ve become accustom to sharing facilities with strangers of our own sex. But, a complete stranger of the other sex…….weird! Men, let me put it into perspective for you. You are in the loo, you hear quite a production going on in the stall next to you. Joe Bob walks out, no problem. Gorgeous svelte Betty walks out of the stall…..weird!

Sure I could put my grown up adult hat on and say “it’s great.” After all I have had to say “nuts” to a 12 year old boy in the ER with a straight face. But, when I’m standing at the hand dryer near the door and a 60 year old man walks in, sees me and at first has a look of sheer terror on his face because he thinks that he has just walked into the wrong bathroom, I say weird! Or, when you are brushing your teeth next to the 22 year old stranger shaving his face and neither of you can make eye contact, I say weird!

So, to Tom the Peeper, no peeping here because my husband is in the next stall!