Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Yesterdays lunch spot was next to the most easterly lighthouse in the world!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Volcanoes at the black sand beach

New zealand is cool.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Swapna and Ryan, Part I

Back in November, we got a much anticipated visit from our wonderful friends Swapna and Ryan. All up, I think they were away for two weeks, including travel time. It was great to finally get them down to this part of the world, and great to get to travel around a bit with them. We got to see a lot of new stuff while they were here!

Since somehow we had five sets of visitors in 2011 (!), we couldn't take the full time off with them. So, on the North Island, we did a couple days trips together, and Swapna and Ryan did a couple day trips on their own.

We joined up for a trip to the Coromandel Peninsula to go to Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. HWB was a new stop for us. The deal is that if you go an hour or so ahead of low tide, you can dig a pool, and the hot springs under the beach fill into your pool, and you can regulate the temperature with ocean water. It's a really popular spot on the backpacker circuit, so real estate is at a bit of a premium.

It's pretty sweet though - you go lie in hot spring water, and let a little more in when you get too cool. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday (I think).

From there we shot over to Cathedral Cove, which is worth a look if you're already over. We had been before, but I think it was a hit with our guests.

After a little interlude back in the office, we rejoined Swapna and Ryan in Wellington. Shannon and I hadn't been at this stage, but it had been majorly hyped, as the word on the street was that Welly is just like San Francisco. It is.

It's got cable cars, nice gardens, and funny shaped buildings. It's got a slower pace of life, friendly people, and a vastly improved beer culture - more selection than anywhere else we had seen in New Zealand.

It's got the waterfront and mountains in the background. It's got more cultural events and arts going on. It really is just like SF.

We loved Wellington. Being there for only a day was the real shame, but, we had to move on to the South Island, from here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tongariro Crossing, Winter Style

The Tongariro Crossing is one of the premier single day walks on the North Island. It's about 19k, and it's a point to point event, going between active volcanoes, across craters, and past strangely colored sulfur lakes before dropping back onto the central plateau. In the summer, it can attract about 800 people per day.

Back in August, Shannon and I decided that we wanted to do it in the winter, which is widely done, but it's high enough that it's buried in snow and ice. It's a bit out of our depth, so we opted to go with a guide company. Bonus - they loan you crampons and ice axes.

We booked the day before, for some reason hell bent on going on a Saturday, and knowing there was a risk of weather, but we went for it anyway. It wound up being rainy at lower elevations and sleeting at the peak with winds in the 45kph range. It was a pretty epic way to slog across the crossing on the ice. On a sunny day, you can see for miles. We got this.

We never saw the volcanoes (including Ngaurahoe, which features as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies), never saw the lakes, only knew we were in craters when it was flat. And yet, it was still a hell of a good time. Totally different than we expected, but sweet.

And about 5k from the end, we descend out of the clouds and gets some views to the north. You can kind of tell that some people were pretty shattered by the whole thing...

Naturally, Sunday was the day that postcards are made of. You may recall a previous stop in the central plateau where we didn't see the mountains either. Sunday was the opposite.

Ruapehu is the wide one, Mt. Doom is the classic cone. Tongariro isn't pictured because it's surprisingly hard to photograph from the Desert Road.

Obviously, and with foreshadowing, this means we have to return...