Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bikin' and a little politics

A break from photos today - here is something I found from back home - check out this article, and make sure to scroll down to the photo at the bottom!

It's been interesting to see the Obama speech and the coverage it gets here - it has been very pro-bama - one of the editorials in the NZ Herald said "The US has found its soul again".

Interestingly, Condi Rice visited here last month and the papers heralded the visit of the "most powerful woman in the world". I dont think most Americans think of her that way.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Today's photo journey is through the middle of the North Island:

- Waitomo is a land of glowworm caves. Glowworms are not worms at all, but insect larvae that live inside caves and glow in order to attract food. they create this otherworldly luminescence inside a cave that is extremely cool. Cant get good photos of it though.

- At Waitomo we stayed in a novelty hotel that was a "Hobbit House" - I know, it sounds cheesy, but it was pretty well done, and the girls loved (even though none of them know what a Hobbit is). The pics capture it well.

- Then we went to Lake Taupo and Rotorua, the geothermal wonders of NZ. Burping mud and steaming ground everywhere - it was stinky, but fascinating.

- finally, you can check out a video of us Zorbing (I'm getting good at this YouTube stuff)- Zorb is the latest of NZ's weird and wild adventure culture of jumping off bridges, airplanes, and the like. This is much less scary, but quite fun - they roll you in a big plastic ball like a hamster down a hill. The ball is filled with water so you slosh and slide around as you roll down the hill. Bizarre, but a blast.

Photos if you click below:

New Zealand Travels 2

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Travelling with Kids

Travelling with kids makes for a much different trip (obviously) than we would have had if we were alone. It means 1) shorter car rides - the kids start to poop out at 2-2.5 hours in the car, and they got very road-weary as the trip went on - so you can only get so far in a day. 2) less adventure - hikes of more than an hour or two are just too difficult. 3) more downtime - the kids don't care (that much) about travelling far to see scenery, and they love staying in the hotel, jumping on beds, going to the pool, etc. 4) visiting more kid-friendly sites - which tend to be more touristy rather than adventure-y, like kiwi houses and the like. 5) you make sure to find a playground in every destination.

It can be hard...sometimes you want to browse a nice bookstore or want to go on a little wandering hike, but if the kids are antsy, it just isnt possible. We didnt see as much as we wanted or do quite as much, but we saw and did a heck of a lot. And seeing a new country through our kids eyes was quite priceless.

Also, the playgrounds here are just awesome. We found some really awesome playgrounds - often with something called a flying fox, which is like a long zip line that allows you to fly across the park. I'll try and post a YouTube video so you know what I'm talking about. (update: here it is)

I've posted the first of a series of photo albums on our trips around NZ. I'll go in chronological order - this one is our first trip to the Northland a few weeks ago - click on the photo below to go to the album on Picasa:

New Zealand Travels 1

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back on the grid

hi all! We made it back to Auckland/Devonport after three weeks on the road. Whew! We didnt make it everywhere we wanted but who cares...around every corner was a new adventure. For those that know NZ or have a map handy, our route was:

Auckland-Bay Of Islands - Cape Reinga - Whangerei - Auckland - Waitomo - Taurangi - Taupo - Rotorua - Wellington - Picton - Nelson - Abel Tasman - Kaikoura - Christchurch

the kids are very happy to be back to our 'home' in Devonport.

lots and lots of stories to tell. Now that I am back in my office at Massey U, I'll try to dish out stories on a regular basis - plus photos of course!

I'll also try to get to questions that have been asked in the comments...Cindy asked what it is like to watch Olympics in another country. It was quite interesting, none of those syrupy personal stories like NBC likes to show...but of course the focus was on NZ atheletes, and we saw all of the rowing and kayaking you could imagine. NZ won 9 medals, and all of the winners are rock stars now. They finished in 26th place among countries, but, as they like to remind viewers, they were 9th in medals won per capita! Although they are generally pissed off that Australia won more medals, even per capita.

Friday, August 22, 2008


We are currently camped out in Kaikoura, on the East Coast, an absolutely beautiful spot on a little peninsula jutting out into the Pacific. We woke at 6:45 this morning to see a glorious sunrise over the Pacific...the pictures wont capture it but I'll post them when we return to Auckland next week.

V has a fever now, so we are taking it easy in our hotel which none of us are too upset about because it is so beautiful a spot.

Love you all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick Update

Hi all! Just a quick update from an internet cafe in Nelson, NZ. We spent the last week tooling around the south part of the North Island...seeing freaky glowworm caves in Waitomo, beautiful Lake Taupo, and two days in the stinky, mud-bubbling, earth-steaming geothermal area of Rotorua. The highlight was our Zorbing experience, a truly NZ thing where they put you in a big plastic ball and you roll downhill in it like a hamster (check it out - Google "Zorb"). Pix to come when we get back to civilization....

Yesterday we took the ferry to the South Island - a three hour tour on the ferry which was more like a little cruise ship, with a kids playground, and several restaurants. None of this was needed because the scenery was phenominal! Now we are in the "sunniest spot in NZ", Nelson, which is in some kind of rainshadow and the sun always shines - a welcome event for us as we have chosen to visit NZ in a winter with record-setting rain!

Itinerary: stay in Nelson a few days to enjoy the sun, then off to see dolphins on the East Coast, and fly back to Auckland next week. Won't make it all the way to Queenstown, which is where the most dramatic Lord-of-The_Rings type scenery is....the drives are too long and the winter weather is too unpredictable . But, as they say here, no worries. We'll just have to come back in the summer!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Off to the Southland

Claudia made it safe and sound and after a day of laundry and rest, we are off on our biggest adventure, down to explore the heart of NZ - glowworm caves, more volcanoes, maybe some skiing, snow capped mountains, maybe some penguins, etc etc. not sure if I will be able to blog - we'll be away for two weeks. Hope all of you back in the homeland are doing well! We love your comments and emails...keep em coming!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lose a Camera, Save a Daughter

We just got back from our trip to the Northland, and it was amazing. We toured the Bay of Islands, travelled to Cape Reinga and basically zigzagged the top portion of NZ. The weather finally improved too, and we had some sunny, if chilly days.

Cape Reinga is the northermost point on NZ, and juts out on a peninsula where the Pacific meets the Tasman Sea. Words cant describe the beauty, so photos will follow in the coming days.

This photo was taken on an idyllic stretch called 90 Mile Beach, which is not quite 90 miles, but close. It is just a vast expanse of beautiful beach, and the bus drives along it. You drive for miles and miles and dont see another human. It's unbelievable.

V loved it, and she was mesmerized by the gentle surf slowly sinking her feet in the sand. Moments after this photo was taken, a slightly bigger wave came up over her knees, knocking her over. I rushed in to save her, but in grabbing her out of the surf, our camera got soaked, and is no longer with us. Needless to say it was worth it! Unfortunately, V was quite distraught over the whole thing which was quite sad because she was having the time of her life (She did get quite wet and sandy).

Anyway, there was lots more on our little trip - cave explorations, sand dune tobogganning, kiwi bird sightings - but I must go to sleep now.
C's Aunt Claudia arrives tomorrow morning and soon we will head out on more adventures.....cheerio...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

off the grid

Today we head out of Auckland - north - to the Bay of Islands, and to the 90 Mile Beach, which leads to the Northernmost point in NZ. Im not bringing the computer, so we'll check back in in a few days.

Friday, August 1, 2008


I was perhaps too harsh on NJ towns in my last post. After all, NJ is host to my favorite place name of all time.