The road less traveled…

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Fun times in Auckland…and the surrounding Islands

Auckland skyline...the prettiest day I have experienced this far.

Auckland skyline. On an actual nice day...doesn't happen often.

Somewhere on Rongitoto island...
Somewhere on Rongitoto island…
The top of Rongitoto with Auckland city barely visible in the background.
The top of Rongitoto with Auckland city barely visible in the background.

And then we had some good nights out with some new friends from all over the world: England, Italy, Auckland, Canada, and even someone from Miami, Florida!!

One day Brian, Helen and I decided to venture off to Waiheke Island and rent a car and make a day of it. We saw plenty of sheep, tons of winery’s (that were sadly closed on weekdays), some big boulders, beaches galore and a crappy waterfall.

Chillin' on the beach at Waiheke and avoiding a dog attack!
Chillin’ on the beach – Avoiding a dog attack!
Amazing views everywhere!!
Amazing views everywhere!!

Me - on a big Rock. Now THAT is a nice boulder!
Me – on a big Rock. Now THAT is a nice boulder!

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August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Back to Auckland

After the Geo-thermal wonderfullness…

Kat and I started another road trip towards the Coromandel Peninsula which proved to have amazing beaches and stunning views no matter where you looked. Eventually we made our way back to Auckland where my entire journey began. The reality of our adventure soon ending hit me as soon as we got into the city and Kat started to pack her bags for home. We spent the next few days hanging out now and then and had one last blast involving a large quantity of alcohol consumption on the night before her flight.

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Kat is now gone…and is terribly missed! But I know that she is having a blast back in Missouri beating the socks off of everyone who has been challenging her to ping pong battles.

In the meantime I have had the exciting task of trying to find a job! Basically hanging out in Auckland, meeting tons of new people, enjoying the city life and some days doing nothing at all. I’ve traveled to the nearby islands surrounding Auckland, explored most of the city parks and even spent an entire afternoon in a Museum without getting bored. I got to pet a rat,too! Not something I would normally expect to do in a Museum, but apparently in Auckland, they have live rats in their museums.

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So good news! Got offered a job on the South Island and I took it! I will be working at a Motel in Fox Glacier as a “general assistant”. I am really excited to get down there and start working again. I leave on Monday and will keep you all filled in on what happens.

PS – 24 years ago, on August 28th, a beautiful thing happened…I was born. So I will be celebrating my birthday in a week and I know that you ALL want to send me lots of goodies so here is my new mailing address: (i’m finally going to have a home again)

Lake Matheson Motel

Cnr Cook Flat Rd & Pekanga Drive

PO Box 23

Fox Glacier

New Zealand

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

the beginning of the end….

I know its been a while since I have posted anything….so I will try to catch you up….

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After Wellington we headed to Tongariro National Park. We were hoping for some good weather….and we did not get it.

The park is home to 3 volcanoes that are still active and has a variety of hiking along with some good skiing for the North Islanders. We were hoping to do the hike that takes us around the volcano but mother nature intervened. Kat and I still decided to get out and do something in the park so we didn’t drive all the way there for nothing. We opted for the hike to the Tama lakes. It was supposed to be a simple 4-5 hour hike, no biggie, we’ve done worse.

HA! I don’t think so! Turns out this hike would be pretty easy to do in the summer, but in the winter months….with the snow, and the rain, and the mud…..it was not so much fun.
We couldn’t even see the trail! Thank goodness for the posts that mark the trail, we just kept looking for the next post and hoped we could reach it without sinking in a mud-hole or stepping into and ice-covered hole of water that reached up to our knees…..we succeeded only half of the time. Oh ya, did I mention that once we got to the lakes it was too cloudy to even SEE them. And then it started to rain. Not SNOW…..but rain. Which meant that it started melting the snow around us creating an even more unpleasant surrounding of mud!

Notice how happy we were at the end of this hike....

Notice how happy we were at the end of this hike....

By the time we reached the car we were ready to get out of freakin’ nature and back to our warm hostel.

And of course the next morning when we had to get up and leave, we saw the sun rise….and it was GORGEOUS outside. A perfect day for hiking all over the volcanoes…..I think God was mocking us.

The gorgeous morning sunrise.....

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The next day we ended up at Rotorua. We stopped at Waiotapu for the “geo-thermal wonderland”. I saw my first geyser erupt, the Lady Knox shot up about 21 meters in the air. Then after that we walked around the steaming trees and boiling pools of mud and saw all types of crazy geo-thermal wonderful-ness. My favorite part of the geo-thermal wonderland was that everything we saw was either named after or signified something satanic…..the devil’s bath….hell’s hole…..I can’t remember them all…but they were good ones!

My very first geyser experience! Look how impressed I was!!!

My very first geyser experience! Look how impressed I was!!!

Geo-thermal-ness

Geo-thermal-ness

More geo-thermal-ness

More geo-thermal-ness

Because of all the sulfur springs and geothermal surroundings, Rotorua has plenty of touristy things to do. Kat and I opted to check out the Blue Pools which were naturally heated from the surroundings and then we decided we needed a night out!

We splurged a little more and booked a cultural excursion called Mitai. Basically like a Hawaiian luau, but not. We learned all about the Maori culture, the food they ate, etc. It was good times! Even better since we once again doctored our drinks and started the party on the bus ride over there! We knew our trip was coming to an end and that we needed to finish up whatever other goodies we had stashed away. Now being the classy girls that you know, we took the rest of the Captain and poured it into a “TO GO” water bottle. I think that we had the BEST bus ride out of everyone else in the group. Thankfully we took plenty of photos and video so we could remember more of the night…later.

Maori warriors making an entrance in the war canoe...or waka.

Maori warriors making an entrance in the war canoe...or waka.

Warriors performing the Haka, the Maori war dance.

Warriors performing the Haka, the Maori war dance.

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August 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Adventures of Booge….and Chucky….Take Two!

Still feeling less than 100%, Suzanne decided to hang back in Picton and Kat and I took off for another adventure. We headed out to the Marlborough Sounds determined to get as much outdoor fun accomplished as possible!

We had to park the car and hike for 3-4 hours to get to the “resort” we were crashing at, so we loaded down our bags mostly with food!! Because of all the nasty weather the hike was a little muddy and I will admit I wiped out a few times. But we made it to Endeavor inlet and had the entire place to ourselves. Kat and I even had our own rooms, which is the first time I slept in a room by myself since I arrived in NZ. (I may have had a few nightmares….)

The best part about the Endeavor resort was the free use of their Kayaks and other water toys. So OF COURSE we headed out on the water…….then realized we were in the kayaks backwards…..I don’t think we were totally awake at this point.

On our way to the resort.

On our way to the resort.

Endeavor Resort...not too shabby of a place.

Endeavor Resort...not too shabby of a place.

How gorgeous is that view! This is what we woke to every day we were in the sounds.

How gorgeous is that view! This is what we woke to every day we were in the sounds.

It was so bright....it burned....

It was so bright....it burned....

The best rowing team ever...wait a sec...who is holding the camera and who is holding the oars??

The best rowing team ever...wait a sec...who is holding the camera and who is holding the oars??

Every now and then the seals would pop up to see us and we saw tons of Jellyfish and other wildlife!

We later decided to do the waterfall hike…..now when I say waterfall hike, that usually means hiking to a waterfall. But because of the weather, AND the fact that it started to rain as we were hiking, this uphill trek was more like climbing up a river. There were parts of the trail that was a constant flow of water and we were completely drenched by the time we got there! (more pictures to come)

I think we took 18 photos at this waterfall - this is my favorite!

I think we took 18 photos at this waterfall - this is my favorite!

The next day we decided to hike up to a mine. This was by far one of the MOST difficult hikes of my life. But it felt amazing reaching the top. It was a continuous, STEEP, uphill climb for a few hours until we came upon this view.

And then we were like….Awesome, let’s keep going and check out these mines! So we kept going…..

Where the F&%@$ is the mines???

Where the F&%@$ is the mines???

And we came upon a road……and that was it. At this point we didn’t even CARE about the mines anymore because we couldn’t believe how far we had already climbed/hiked. It was an awesome morning and when we got back we took the dinghy out on the water and proved how amazing of a rowing team Kat and I turned out to be! (it was a sight that some would pay money to see)

And sadly our adventures on the South Island have come to and end and we are now in Wellington once again. We enjoyed the ferry ride back, not only because we finally got to see Mamma Mia in the theatre, but we also snuck in our own doctored beverages, making it a much more interesting movie-going experience!

So back up towards Auckland we are heading, and soon I will have to say goodbye to the girls…..(*tear*)

PS – Here’s more photos – up and waiting for your criticisms!

Ice Ice Baby!

Pretty in Pink…..

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Detour….

Wow. I had to read my own post because I couldn’t even remember how long ago it was that I had written!

Sadly Suzanne has gotten sick. She’s nearly better but for the last week she has been miserable and laying in bed. So Kat and I have spent a lot of QUALITY time together. We first headed out to Mt. Cook national park which is supposedly where a lot of professional climbers train to do the bigger climbs and also where a lot of climbers have lost there lives.

Do not fear. I am still alive. Kat and I did a few hikes and one of them was EXTREMELY disappointing. The blue lake hike……was not very blue…..and I don’t think it would clarify as a lake. I won’t even repeat the things that came out of our mouths at that point!

Kat looking a little pissed about the NOT BLUE POND!

But then we continued on to a different lookout and it was worth trouncing around in the snow to see more glaciers!

Out by the glaciers at Mt. Cook

Out by the glaciers at Mt. Cook

Ice Ice....and water....

Ice Ice....and water....

After we left Mt. Cook we were faced with some not-so-friendly NZ winter weather. Because of all the rain and snow many of the roads were closing up, and flooding or getting blocked by landslides/rockslides/mudslides…..So, we took a detour. Which led us to the city of Timaru.

We ended up having to stay there for a few days before the roads were passable but we made the most of it! First and foremost – we saw The Dark Knight. Anyone who hasn’t seen that movie needs to! It was amazing!

Secondly – the hostel we stayed in wasn’t officially open yet for the summer season, but the manager and another fella from Boston ended up hanging out with us. Once again we began a series of drinking games and 12 hours later there were lotsa bottles and over 20 dirty glasses to clean…..there were only 4 of us….still a mystery.

Thirdly – Kat and I went oot-n-aboot the town of Timaru and ended up having a fun “child’s play with chucky” day. Meaning we went to the candy store, we went to the toy store, we went to the park and played…..and then later we went to the bar and drank with the boys……

Crazy teeter-totter thing....we were PROS!

Crazy teeter-totter thing....we were PROS!

Swing Swing Swing.....

Swing Swing Swing.....

King of the mountain...I'm better than Kat is!!

King of the mountain...I'm better than Kat is!!

Candy Candy and more Candy!

Candy Candy and more Candy!

Toys! It was like a mini toys-r-us

Toys! It was like a mini toys-r-us

Our times in Timaru were good times. We enjoyed delicious nachos….watched tons of wheel of Fortune….and met some awesome new friends!

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments