Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Zealand, Part 1

I am, in a word, behind, when it comes to documenting our trip to New Zealand. I'll apologize for the length of this post in advance.

We went on Halloween weekend, which is not a big deal in Oz. It is becoming an excuse to party for the adults, but it's not like kids go out for candy. We flew out on Friday night on Air New Zealand from Melbourne to Christchurch. It was a nice flight - about three hours, and you get a meal service and drinks, easily equaling the service you would get on, say, UA SFO-FRA. Oh, and mints at the end of the flight.

Leaving Christchurch the next morning, the weather was lovely.

Then it became less lovely as we went across the mountains on Hwy 73.

Then it just turned to crap. Really heavy rain for most of the drive over Arthur's Pass. But, the scenery was still amazing.

It would seem, this is acceptable condition for a major state highway.

We wound up driving down to the town of Fox Glacier (oddly enough, this is where Fox Glacier is located) and staying at a backpackers in town. We got the last double, had dinner, and went to the local pub to watch the New Zealand All Blacks play the Australia Wallabies in what seemed to be a very important rugby match. We shared a table with a lovely British couple who helped explain to us what was going on. Oh, we also got to talk about the state of the world, travel, and cultural differences. It was pretty cool.

The weather turned lovely for our second full day in New Zealand. We went to Fox and Franz Josef glaciers and did a bit of hiking around.


Franz Josef

At Fox Glacier there is a swinging bridge that made someone happy.

Driving north back up highway 6, we ran across one of the more picturesque spots on the trip, complete with amazingly clear water.

We passed back through Greymouth, and went on to Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks. The formations are amazing. I'm not sure the photos I got do them justice. It's also pretty cool to see the (still) angry Tasman sea crash into the formations. I read somewhere that some of the formations are starting to fall into the sea, which isn't surprising, I guess, if you think about it.

The coastline was really impressive between Greymouth and Westport. And, it would seem that New Zealand has penguins, too.

Upon arrival into Westport, we found a lovely dinner special at the local bar with a pretty good beef or pork roast plate. We then found a place to stay based on a recommendation from the bartender. It was a hotel in the most classic sense of the word. In both Australia and New Zealand (and perhaps in the US, I don't know) hotels used to be a place to eat, sleep, and drink, in any order you like. The Albion Hotel certainly fit the bill. It was essentially someone's house, with a bar attached to it. Common baths, small but clean rooms, an amazingly friendly hostess, and two old guys in the bar who were more than willing to chat about anything and everything. We made sure to have a couple of beers and talk about everything from the local economy, to 1940s aviation (one guy was a former pilot) to Obama (before the victory; they wanted Obama to win). Great folks, and a great experience. And a damn fair rate for the room, too.

This got so long, that I've broken it up into two parts. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Lollies! Not mints!