Travel Notes

Wed Jan 23 03:58:35 2002 (rr)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: Christchurch
Spent two days in Christchurch at a backpacker's called Bealey International. Got in late on Sunday off the bus and caught Lord of the Rings later that night. I really want to see Lantana, which they were playing there but only for a sneak weekend preview so we'll have to wait until the 31st now. On Monday we wandered around the city centre and walking along the Avon river. A worldwide busker's festival was taking place, so we occasionally wandered past Australians atop twelve foot high poles juggling swords and past 19th century costumed people painted entirely in gold. The botanic gardens in Christchurch are impressive. We spent a number of hours wandering around the various gardens - native New Zealand, Australian trees, herb gardens, rock and heather, etc. The weather that day was sunny and windy, which led to us staying out in the sun a little too long so by the end of the day we felt totally worn out. Saw a lot of the city in the process though.
The next day (22nd) we rented the car and swung out onto the Banks Peninsula to the small town of Akaroa. Akaroa is supposed to be like a French town. This meant that the local Shell station had a mostly french sign (L'essence, Toilettes, ...). A french flag also flew over the town. That was about as French as it got. The town is more famous for its swim with the dolphins excursions. We walked around, ate lunch, drove by the lighthouse and moved on. The peninsula was quite beautiful and the drive scenic (very very windy roads, it must be due to my amazing driving that Nathan did not get carsick).

Wed Jan 23 03:38:13 2002 (rr)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: Dunedin
We're in Dunedin, NZ. Yesterday we finally worked up the nerve to rent a car and drive it on the wrong side of the road. It's not so bad after far we haven't violated any traffic laws.
Since my last entry, we've hiked the Abel Tasman Coastal Trail, which was a fabulous four day camping trip. The weather was excellent with only a little rain the first day and the rest of the days were sunny but not hot. The tramp itself consisted of hiking along bays and beaches and cutting inland across various ridges. Some of the bays could only be crossed at low tide (at which point it looks like False Bay for you San Juan Islanders). The water level changes up to four feet across the tides. One afternoon while waiting for Awaroa Bay to empty, we watched some people cross the bay carrying their packs and their tiny silouhettes kept getting shorter and shorter as they crossed. The water went up to their chests. About an hour later we crossed and the water went almost knee high. People also seem to swim here but the water is almost as cold as in the San Juans. The hike went through some interesting wooded areas, with Nikau palms and what I hear are five types of beech. But I didn't really notice the beech. However, the Nikau palms have fronds that flip upwards, like an inside-out umbrella. As far as wildlife is concerned, we saw the weta, a huge insect (three inches long?), many cormorants (pied shags), and lots of California quail.
After the hike we briefly hung out in Takaka, a town full of organic food stores and crystals and camping equipment. They have the weirdest books in their library (New age New Zealand books). Basically we showered away the accumulated grime and ate everything that we didn't have on our tramp (vegetables, ice cream, meat). The next day we took two long bus rides through Nelson and back to Picton. The following morning we were to take the train to Christchurch. After hiking around and looking at the harbour from a nearby ridge, we went to board the train to find out that the track had gotten washed out the night before. So we got to take a scenic bus ride to Christchurch instead. Not quite as cool. And rather expensive for a bus ride...however, it was faster.
Ah - a note on the roads of NZ. They are all narrow two lane affairs. Very windy. Very hilly. That's all. I could complain about their engineeering, but then I would sound American (don't they know how to make straight roads? kind of thing, but I won't do that.)

Sun Jan 6 02:05:08 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: Auckland
So we are now in Auckland , are rather nice city, I must say , but I'm going to concentrated on Tahiti, out first destination.
We spent spent about a week there, and it was a good way to start the trip.
The day we landed against all reasonablness rachel was full of vim and vigor and managed to get us a wonderfull place on the backside of the island at fare nanao A very cool place with very atisiticaly built bungalows. A nice way to go.
The next day we headed out to Tahiti-Iti the little island attached onto the side of the big island, It's a bit more remote and we camped on the edge of the village Taurina. We walked everywhere , a very cool area. It poured, we where wet. The guy who's property we camped on Mato, was vewry very nice, a cool experience. The next day sunday we got a ride out of Taurina ( no buses ("les Trucks" on sunday) and to papeete , where we stayed overnight and caugt the ferry to Morrea the next day . We stayed at camping morrea for the rest of out time, we go a bungalow and by and large self catered ( which is very nice, even curry without curry paste is a nice change from eating other peoples cooking, particularly when you get to use the native produce , which we did.) We practiced not moving, It was good , we didn't get to sunburned. On the whole tahiti was pretty cool, but also pretty french ( 30 cent baguttes) and amazingly expensive for all the tourist stuff (which we avoided, by and large).

Sun Jan 6 01:57:26 2002 (rr)
Book: South Pacific Moon Guide
Location: Tahiti
Things I like about Tahiti:
  • Le truck -- colorfully painted cargo trucks that now have covered seating on the flat bed that will take you anywhere in Tahiti.
  • Baguettes -- subsidized by the French government so they're cheap and good. We ate a lot of baguette.
  • Waves -- huge crashing waves only for the bravest of surfers.
things i like about Moorea:
  • Mango jam -- made in Moorea and so so so good (see baguette, above)
  • sitting on front porch of bungalow reading Happy Isles of Oceania and the first two Harry Potters.
  • doing nothing
  • asking Nathan what time it was (so as to see how long I managed to do nothing for)

Sun Jan 6 01:44:45 2002 (rr)
Book: New Zealand LP
Location: New Zealand
Got into Auckland, NZ yesterday. Staying downtown, and got soaking wet in a downpour this morning while exploring the city. This morning we learned about NZ drinks -- short black, long black, and flat white. I thought flat white was some weird type of tea. Turns out that its kind of a cappucino and kind of a latte. I asked the waitress for an americano, which I then described to her. She then informed that it sounds much like a long black. And indeed it was. That knowledge should get me through the rest of my stay here very well.

Auckland is a much larger city than I imagined. The economy seems to be doing incredibly well - Seattle circa 1999. Not sure what the secret is here. There are tons of cafes, restaurants and designer clothes boutiques. People are pretty casual dressers but seem to like hanging out in upscale very hip surroundings. Which suits me well since the only kind of look I can pull off on this trip seems to be outdoor traveller "chic".

There are many parks and many hills (ancient volcanoes) that reminds me a bit of San Francisco. In fact, we got caught in the downpour in one lovely park full of trees that I have never seen before in my life. This particular park was planted with 1100 trees. As Nathan told me, even the green landscape looked a little different as we flew in on the plane.

Sun Jan 6 01:42:27 2002 (nmcfarl)
Book: Australia Rough Guide
Location: UI
It has been brought to my attention that the date based navigation of the blog is a little confusing. The Blog always centers on the entries for the current month, to see other entries click forward and backward on the month names in the right hand bar for navigation through all entries.

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