Posts Tagged With: Oceania

Jade Factory and a Real, Live Kiwi!

The next morning we met eight new people who were joining our tour, and I bonded with a sweet American girl who sat next to me.  We marveled at the amazing views that were passing our window and had lots of stops to take pics of the mountains that surrounded us as we crossed into the NZ alps. This huge mountain range divides the island in two and made for some interesting crossings over the next few days.  We stopped for a break in Arthur’s Pass, and sat back sipping our coffees as we drove over bridges, under waterfalls (!) and up the sides of the valley to the other side of the coast.

 

The west coast has rapidly changing weather due to the influence of the mountains, and we got a taste of that when rolling into Hokitika for our lunch break.  The sky opened up on us as we were wandering over to the Kiwi Experience museum, and we got inside just in time.  It was time to see a real live Kiwi!  Kiwis are New Zealand’s wingless endangered bird, a very cute and very strange little guy who motors along the ground at night searching for little bugs with his long beak for dinner.  The museum cleverly has the Kiwi on European time, so that means it was night when we showed up to watch the Kiwi go about his business.  We entered the darkened room in a hushed silence – we had to be quite if we wanted to see the little guy!  After a few minutes he came out of his hidey-hole and started running around his large enclosure, digging in the dirt for his dinner and generally being super cute.  We must have watched him for over half an hour, laughing when he banged into things (he can’t see very well) and “squee-ing” when he came up close to the glass.

 

The sky had co-operated while we were inside the habitat, and it was almost sunny again as we went in search of some lunch.  We also visited a Jade factory in Hokitika, watching how the artisans craft the beautiful jewelry and weaponry in traditional Maori designs.  Lunch was whitebait fritters (a local NZ fish, yum), and it was only a short drive after that to our destination for the night in Fox Glacier.  We went on a gorgeous walk that afternoon around Lake Matheson, and had a chance to exercise our legs and see some gorgeous views up close.  The dinner at the Fox Glacier Inn that night was delicious, and I daresay I got into the wine a wee bit and had some laughs with the group by the cosy fire that evening.  I was loving my group!  So many interesting people from around the world, plus there were eight new people to get to know who had only joined the day before.  Tomorrow: it was time to see the great white glacier.

 

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Auckland Daze

My flight to Auckland was bright and early, but I didn’t get into Auckland until the afternoon due to the time difference. Last year in Thailand I met two lovely Kiwis on my travels, and I was graciously invited to stay with my friend Hannah when I arrived in her hometown in NZ! She picked me up and drove me to her family home just outside of the city, and I settled into the guest room, complete with my own bathroom – Bliss! That night she took me down to the bay where we caught up over delicious Mexican food and had KiwiYo, a make-your-own-yogurt not unlike our North American Menchies!! MMMmmmm. The next day was a beach day, the weather was fantastic so we took a wind-y drive to Piha, a black sand beach just over the hills with unreal views along the way. The beach was beautiful, and I’d never seen a black sand beach before so it was a novelty when I found out it was quite warm! We chilled on the beach all day, enjoying the unusually warm spring day and tanning – my last tanning day of my whole trip 😦 Lunch was at a cute pub, and in the evening I was treated to a family dinner at Hannah’s house – Thanks to her family for making me feel so welcome and for making me such a fantastic dinner. It was comforting to have some “family time” after being away from mine so long. It was also great to hang out with my other friend Chanel who I met last year, she’s a flight attendant now – see you in the skies, girl!

 

My last day in Auckland was busy – after a long lie-in and a spot of jet lag, Hannah and I ate eggs benedict at a local cafe and visited the art gallery where I saw some fantastic Maori art and cool modern installations. My favorite was this huge flower chandelier that opened and closed as we walked by. I also got to see Mount Eden, where we took in a panoramic view of the city and got some gelato in the cute suburb of Mount Eden afterwards as a treat! I also got some shopping time in the evening at the local markets, where there was tons of international food to eat and some kitschy shopping too. Overall, my favorite part about Auckland was catching up with Hannah and meeting her fantastic family, it’s a great city but not super touristy – very beautiful but not a ton of “historic” things to do and see. The downtown area is very hilly and compact, with lots of cute shops and restaurants, but I didn’t get to explore it too much cause I wasn’t living the backpacker life – thank GOD!!

 

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