Raderstorf World Wide Adventure

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New Zealand from Ben, Max and Quin

North Island

The approach into Auckland was beautiful. Rolling green hillsides dotted with thousands of small white specks, just a small percentage of the fifty million sheep in New Zealand. It was so beautiful that we almost forgot our nasty brush with Garuda Airlines and the N.Z. immigration rules the night before, but that is another story for another time. Unfortunately no matter how beautiful it is, New Zealand is a western country. We realized this when it became apparent that they wanted you to book ahead to rent a campervan instead of just showing up. We, after hours of searching, found the last campervan in the north island. That is when we found that they actually wanted a driver’s license to rent a car. Obviously, Mom and Dad’s had been lost in the Tsunami. In Vietnam, you can rent a Tank without a license if you wanted to. I guess we’re back in the western world. Thankfully, we got a copy faxed, and they were nice enough to take it. By the time we got to bed that night, we were all very tired, even with the time change.
The next day’s drive was very beautiful, but compared to what was coming up, it was quite boring. That night we stayed at a trailer park on the beach. This was a mistake because half of us were not able to sleep due to the pounding surf. You would think we would learn, but we stayed by the shore of Lake Taupo among roaring surf a few nights later.
From the east coast we worked our way inland visiting Hobbitton and Tongariro National park. The Hobbitton set was interesting but a little overpriced. As for Tongariro, it cost nothing at all and was one of our highlights. It was the LOTR filming site for Ewyn Muil, Mordor, Mt. Doom, and the forests of Ithlien. It is made up of three Volcanoes, Rupehu Ngruahoe, and Tongariro. Many wonderful hikes wound their way up to the very crater of all the volcanoes.
One of the worst things we did in the next three days was the Agradome sheep show. It was the touristiest thing we have done and expensive. Mom had heard it was a “must do”. Before long we arrived in Wellington, Capital and third largest city (200,000 people) in New Zealand. We had a few days to burn so we rented a small apartment. A friend in Boulder has friends in Wellington so we met up with them. Wellington is a fabulous city. It looks big, but you can walk across it in less than an hour. Wellington is wonderful city and Sunday evening came far too soon. The Interislander ferry was very cool, but we were all sad to see the lights of Wellington disappear around the bend.

South Island

The ferry unloaded in Picton, a small town in the Marlborough sounds. We drove a half an hour to Blenheim, the largest town in the area. There we met up with Eric Kloor, a friend from Boulder. We spent the evening with him and the next day drove to Nelson. From there we explored Abel Tasman National park. It’s like a mix between Jurassic Park, southern Thailand, and New Mexico. We half expected a dinosaur to cross the road at any minute. From there we went to Kiokura. We swam with the seals and had a great time (I’m sure you would love it here Spencer). From there we took the train to Christchurch where we exchanged the camper for a minivan. Christchurch is very cool (only one cathedral so far) Tomorrow we are off to see Wanaka, Queenstown and the Southern Alps.


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