Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Zealand Packs a Punch

Hey all! So I figured I'd put together a little update for you on the
New Zealandness...Oh and if you haven't done so already, check my
pictures that I have been updating at

So my flight to Christchurch turned out to be a long day. We flew down
(about 45 minutes), circled around Christchurch for an hour and a
half, were unable to land after three attempts, and forced to return
to Christchurch because of Fog. After clearing customs and having
hiking boots thoroughly cleaned before I could enter the country, I
visited Auckland for a few hours amongst the hustle and bustle of New
Zealand’s Largest City. I finally caught a domestic flight down to
Christchurch and arrived just after dark in New Zealand's Second
Largest City, on the South Island.

After spending the night in a renovated prison (converted into a
backpacker hostel) in Christchurch (a very English/British little
city) I was ready to head toward somewhere scenic. After a stroll
through Canterbury University I headed to the Southwest of town and
began my hitchhiking adventure.

I had barely turned around to face traffic (and didn't even have my
hand out) when a French girl by the name of Carine pulled along
offering a ride toward Queenstown. We spent some time stopping along
the way at Lake Tekapu (where there were some killer hotsprings), the
Clay Cliffs, and Wanaka (my favorite town thus far) before making it
down to the winter party-central of Queenstown. The drive in parts
down to Central Otago reminded my very much of the drive from Lake
Tahoe to my parent's place in Sisters Oregon. Semi-arid plains full of
agriculture, lakes and rivers all along, large snow-capped mountains
surrounding at all times...what a trip.

I spent the next four days hitting the town in Queenstown (to include
my birthday). I spent the time in Bungi Backpacker meeting plenty of
other travelers (mainly European) and found a great group to tackle
the bars for my birthday. I splurged a little bit on the 2nd and did
and aerobatic stunt-plane ride and fast-paced rally on a jet-boat
through a magnificently tight river canyon. It seems that most
travelers in New Zealand have found this to be their final destination
for the winter season and there are hundreds of 20-somethings about
looking for seasonal work...the word from the locals is that jobs will
pick up there in about two weeks with the ski season (the slopes just
opened yesterday).

I was ready to move on and see some more of the beautiful country so I
decided to head south and see what the good word is. I've had
incredible success hitchhiking thus far and as before, along came
Polly (that really is her name). After spending some time chatting
with Polly she told me that she worked on a cruise ship that goes out
on the Milford Sound and that they were doing an overnight trip that
night. Polly offered to hook me up with a room on the ship for the
night (an not to mention the beautiful view, wonderful dinner and
breakfast, and kayaking adventure in the morning - see the pictures on

On the ship I met an Australian Girl, an Englishman, and an Irish Girl
who offered me a ride back over the hill as they were on their way to
Queenstown. They dropped me off in Te Anu and I spent the afternoon in
the sun of a beautiful park and made some calls back home (I have a
cell phone down here now +64 21372133).

The next day (being yesterday) I caught a ride down toward Manapouri
with a lovely older lady named Tricia Cave (a former school teacher)
and after a chat with her, was offered to come by for lunch (and of
course a spot of tea). After helping her husband Mervyn out with a bit
of concrete work in the yard they offered for me to spend the night.
The have a wonderful house that they relocated from the farm that they
sold (sheep farm) and are both retired working on their bit of land
closer to town. We had great conversations all evening about politics,
New Zealand antics, American qwerks, and their three kids.

I'm just writing this short note on their computer with dial-up and am
about to head out on my journeys once more...

Again make sure you get a chance to see the pictures
(, they do a far better job of
describing what I’ve seen...