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February 2008

Week One:

Our week at home was busy. Visiting with family and friends, and sifting through months of mail. We had a super brunch party given by our neighbors Carol and Keith. Vanessa went into work for a day and on Friday we were again packing cases for New Zealand.

En route we spent a lovely couple of days in Los Angeles with Vanessa's brother Mark and his family. Jill, our sister-in-law put together a great brunch for many of Vanessa's relations, some of whom she hadn't seen in 23 years. it was great catching up with everyone. 

Our flight from LA (Sunday night) took 12 hours and was relatively comfortable. We arrived in Auckland bright and early on Tuesday morning, collected our car and headed for the city. We saw the  NZ Americas Cup boats in Viaduct harbor. Spent an afternoon at Okaru Bay celebrating the Waitangi Treaty. On Thursday morning we were back at the airport to pick up Jan and John (Andrew's sister and brother-in-law). Then we started our adventure in earnest. John drove us to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. We stayed in a beautiful apartment. Day one was spent visiting Russell (an old English settlement) via ferry, and a trip to the Waitangi Treaty grounds, rich in Maori history.     

Mark,Jill,Rachel and Adrian in Los Angeles

This is the next boat we are interested in!

Let's get serious about fish and chips. I think the diet can start tomorrow.

Black sand beach, Auckland

Andrew loves this sort of countryside.

Waitangi day in Auckland

Maori war canoe on display at Waitangi

Lunch in Russell

Bay of Islands

Maori meeting house.

Week Two:

Lots of sights to see, oh my! We took a day trip to the Kauri forest and Hokianga Harbour on the West coast by the Tasman Sea. We were lucky enough to witness a local wedding ceremony - very casual affair compared to those in the UK and USA.

After a 3 day stay in Paihia, our northern base, we then drove south to Rotorua for another 3 day stopover. Accommodations so far have been excellent. In Rotorua we visited a Maori village, geothermal areas with geysers and Okere Falls, Andrew and Jan did the Luge(See photo). Next stop was Taupo. En route Andrew decided to take the "Rapids Jet" (a fast boat/thrill ride). He came back drenched but exhilarated.

That meant Jan, John and I needed to find our own adventure. Thursday morning John took a fishing trip on Lake Taupo (we all joined him for the ride). He caught the Big One (a rainbow trout)! We then took the catch to a restaurant where they cooked it for our lunch. Hmmm ....John doesn't like trout, Andrew refused to eat it and wanted a burger, so Jan and I ate the thing.  Hope we get a good dinner tonight we're starving!

Thursday afternoon it was time for the girls to have some fun so, Jan and I went Parasailing on the lake. It was GREAT. We also went to the bungy jumping station (and watched!!). A bit too extreme for us all.

Friday we drove towards Wellington to get ready for the ferry ride early Saturday to the south island.


Hokianga sand dunes and harbour

Largest Kauri tree in NZ

Watching the wedding in Hokianga

Black swans in front of our house in Rotorua

Chefs hard at work

Janet and Andrew on the luge.

View of Lake Rotorua from our house

One of many bubbling mud pools.

John and his new Maori friends

Prince of Wales Feathers geyser.

Sweetcorn cooking in the hot pools

Maori village surrounded by geothermal activity.

Are we getting wet yet?

Andrew having some fun.

Andrew needing some air.

Catch of the day.

Jan on the way up.

Jan flying high

Vanessa - look no hands.

Up Up and Away

Week Three:

Before departing the North Island we popped in to visit Jan & John's sons future in-laws in Waikanae. Graham and Ann were superb hosts and we had a wonderful evening with them. We left early the following morning and had a relatively pleasant crossing aboard the the Inter Island ferry to the South Island. It was rather cold but not too choppy. We drove to Kaikoura for the night, along the way we saw the largest seal colony on the South Island and it was such fun watching them in their natural habitat; and then we continued on to Christchurch. We spent a couple of nights there, visiting the Akaroa Peninsula (our trip included a detour to Birdland Flats, home of a rock museum and a very interesting curator).

From Christchurch it was on to Timaru via the scenic route 72 (don't trouble yourself with this one if the clouds are low). We were not impressed, except in Geraldine we met some very friendly people (They seem to be everywhere in this country!) and that was the highlight of rte. 72. We spent the night in Timaru at the Grosvenor Hotel (choose another if you go there). It was an experience! Then we soldiered on to Dunedin, stopping briefly at Oamaru and Moeraki...interesting rock formations.

We stayed at Dunedin for 3 nights and were able to visit the Otago Peninsula where we saw albatrosses (one actually, but that was good), and yellow-eyed penguins, along with more seals. We saw the city sights via bus and rode the Taieri Gorge railway, then finished the day with an evening at Last Night of the Proms(click here for video). Are we packing it all in? YES!

We left Dunedin for our next experience............the remote South Catlins. Our accommodation was on an estuary leading out to Porpoise and Curio Bay. A beautiful view. Went to the petrified wood forest at Curio bay and saw the rare Hector's dolphins in Porpoise Bay. We also happened on a sculpture workshop in the village (Waikawa). It was great to see the students of all ages working on Oamaru limestone....what fantastic creations they made!

Tomorrow we leave for Te Anau!   

Our hired car at Waikanae hotel.

John, Jan, Anne and Graham - Had a great meal

Our Ferry ship for the crossing to the South Island.

The Sourthern tip of the North Island as we crossed over the Cook Straits

Jan and John enjoying the breeze.

We could approach the seals to within a few feet and they still did not move.

Crayfish feast at Kaikoura. Cost a fortune - but great!

Kaikoura the morning we left. On arrival it was thick fog!

Christchurch - view from the top of the gondola.

Lyttleton Harbour, the main port for Christchurch.

Christchurch via tram.

Andrew with Mr. Johnson - great store.

This was an interesting stopover. Jan would agree!

In the main entrance to the Grosvenor Hotel on our return from dinner!

Timaru's local colour.

Moeraki boulders.

Yellow-eyed penguin on the Otago Peninsula.

look - more penguins!

Views over the Otago Peninsula.

Baldwin Street, Dunedin. The steepest street in the world, per the Guinness book of records.

Taieri Gorge railway.

J & J in the Gods at Last night of the Proms in Dunedin

"Last Night of the Proms" concert in Dunedin.

The rock man.

And the Rock man's Museum

Fish and Chips again.

Had to have a picture of some sheep.


Week Four:

Our last evening at Waikawa was spent enjoying the views of the harbour from the deck and taking photos of the finished sculptures.

Then it was on to Te Anau at the base of Fiordland. We arrived at midday and went straight to the information centre to book our next adventures. That afternoon we took a guided tour of a 700 acre farm and saw sheep shearing along with a lot of other very interesting sights (ever heard of "Fly Blow")....ask me about it sometime! Our tour ended with afternoon tea and scones in the farmers kitchen - a real treat.

The following morning (7 am) we started our trip to Doubtful Sound. We were told we were lucky to see so many waterfalls, because it was raining! Hmmm...it would have been nice to see a little sun. The next day it was on to Milford Sound via one of the "world's most scenic roadways" (actually it's the only road there is to get there). It truly lived up to it's name - magnificent waterfalls, mountains and rainforests. The Homer tunnel and resident Kea parrots were also highlights of the trip.

Saying goodbye to Te Anau early the next morning we then headed for Queenstown to see the extreme sports. We saw paragliding and jetboating on the lake in town,  and then we went to Kawarau Bridge to view the bungy jumping..(site of the first bungy jump) ..couldn't get any of our party to participate. Shame!! After that we continued on to Wanaka where we stayed for two nights surrounded by the ever changing scenery of Mount Aspiring National Park. 

Vanessa, Jan & John at our house in Waikawa, South Catlins.

View from the living room overlooking Waikawa Harbour.

Curio Bay. 180 million year old petrified forest. This is one of the fallen trees!

Limestone sculptures made by the locals in Waikawa. This was a two day project - fantastic!

One of the students. This started as a rectangular block.

Dinner! No Fly Blow we hope.


Graham, the farmer. Glen Monarch farm well worth the visit.

Showing us the land. The land rover is 1954 vintage.

Taking in the view.

Oh deer, venison is big business in NZ.

Lake manapouri. On the way to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound.

Very doubtful!

On the way to Milford Sound.

More Milford.

Kea.......the only native parrot in NZ.

Bungy - whoa!

The "doo" boy!

Andrew and Vanessa having cocktails

Bike on the road.

Old English cars at the Museum.

At the local Transportation Museum

John and Andrew went to the local brewery and met some local folk.

Archery shooting