Thursday, December 30, 2010

South Island

So far South Island has been great.  We started down the east coast of the island, but only went as far as Kaikoura.  A man who worked at the holiday park we were staying at suggested we skip Christchurch, since it was just another big town.  Not a bad idea from the looks of it, according to the paper they've been having aftershocks from their last big earthquake.

While hiking in Kaikoura I managed to sunburn my feet and legs pretty bad, so heading to Hanmer Springs meant more walking/hiking.  No trip to the hot springs pools for me.  I still find a hot shower uncomfortable.  We didn't manage to see any whales on our hike, but it sounds like they live much further from the coast than those we see in Hawaii.

Last night we saw our first glow worms.  It was pretty cool.  Across the street from the holiday park we are in there is a natural grotto.  When we first arrived around 10pm it was still a little light out, so only a few worms had started glowing.  We stayed for about half an hour and watched more of them start glowing.  No pictures, though they were bright enough to see they weren't bright enough for the camera to pick up.  I tried with video too, but it was just too dark for the camera.

Now we are in Hokitika, which is the hotspot for New Zealand jade (it has a real name, but I don't have the brochure with me).  We're staying right on the beach, and after a quick walk through town we relaxed on the beach, Doug with his book and me with a glass of wine and travel brouchures planning out the next move.  So far planning only for the next day has been great, we've seen things we probably wouldn't have otherwise by getting suggestions from locals.  The only set things in our timeline for the remainder of the trip are the ferry crossing back to North Island (which can still be changed) and a plane ticket back to Honolulu.

Probably won't get another update til we're home, then pictures.  Had to buy an extra 4GB card for the camera, and now we have over 1,000 pictures plus some videos.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hello From Picton

So, we've been out of the States for over a week now, and this is first we've been in an internet cafe.  (And just so you know, it totally sucks. The keyboard is sticky and Doug's computer won't even load pages. Of course the guy has stepped away from the counter, so he's just staring at a screen that won't load, wasting his time. I can't even check my hotmail.)

We tried to find online contact yesterday, but no luck.  I was able to connect a couple of times with my phone, but Skype wouldn't work so no Christmas calls home (sorry parents!).

The trip thus far is going great. We crossed to South Island last night, arriving a little after midnight.  "Camping" was sleeping in the van in a carpark.  At least it was cheap.  After this quick blog post (and hopefully email checking) we'll be heading south towards Christchurch.  No real plan in mind, just taking our time and enjoying each other.  We've taken over 600 pictures so far, so we won't be posting any til we get home. It would be too much to search through them to post a key few, so you'll just have to wait.

Auckland was great, so was Rotorua and Napier.  I've tried a couple of fantastic New Zealand wines so far.  One from Marlborough region when we went to a fancy dinner in Auckland (I had the roast lamb. I only want to eat that forever), and then another from Hawkes Bay - picked it up when we were there.

Our last night on the North Island (and Christmas Day here) was spent with other travelers, sharing stories over dinner.  The food here is a little expensive compared to the mainland, but so far the beef and dairy is MUCH better.  There is something to say for grass-fed free-range cattle.

Only got 10 minutes left on my time (sticky keyboard + crap internet connection = 20 minutes to write this short post), so I'll catch you later.  Next time we'll look for a real internet cafe, instead of using the computers in the lobby of a hostel.