Saturday, November 18, 2006

New Zealand

Hello to family and friends-
Kpr and I have been in New Zealand for well over a week now, but it seems like we have been here a lot longer. There is so much to do and see every day, yet this is a very small country and we're really only doing the highlights.We started out in Auckland and went to Glyn and Ang's wedding (some of you might remember our friends from our wedding- they were the ones from New Zealand- go figure). We were finally able to meet their kids, J and E (who is Kpr's goddaughter) and were folded quite nicely into their family during the weekend at the vineyard where the ceremony and reception were held. Everything was so beautiful, from the little b&b where we stayed, to the amazing flowers and vines to the sunshine that peeked through the clouds just as the outdoor ceremony began. Gly and Ang had both rain and shine on their day and I think that makes them doubly lucky.

While in Auckland we went to this amazing little island called Waiheki and had lunch on a top of a mountain overlooking these beautiful green coves. Everything in New Zealand is green and looks very fluffy, like you could just lay down in a field and it would be super comfortable. There are sheep and cows all over and they eat very well. Every setting looks like it is out of Lord of the Rings (as it probably was) and most of our pictures are of the awesome landscapes and vistas.

After Auckland we traveled through the North Island, stopping in the Coromundel Pennisula to go to Hot Sands Beach, where you dig a hole in the sand and it fills up with hot water and you sit in the hole and drink wine. Unfortuneately, we weren't there during low tide, do Kpr dug a a lot of holes, but never hit water. We then did a hike to Cathedral Cove, which was an amazing rock formation and, well the pictures we have don't do the place justice.

We drove to Rotarua and had an afternoon in the famous Polynesian Spa, bathing in the hot springs up to 42degrees Celcius, which is really hot. The next day we went to the Tongaririo National Park and climbed a volcano. We got all the way to the top and had to turn back around because it was so exposed and so windy (the weather was pretty horrible) that I almost got blown off the side. We then had to retrace our steps and hike three about three hours of desert brush to get to where the car would pick us up. A six hour trip over the volcano turned into an eight hour 'oh my god is this ever going to end' trek.

We made it to Wellington and took the ferry to the South Island, where we met up with Glyn and Ang and the girls on their honeymoon. We went to this little resort called Punga Cove where you have to drive up a mountain over the twistiest road full of more turns and cliffs and falling rocks- all while driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. We made it though and it only took about an hour and a half to go 45km.

After Punga Cove we said our goodbyes to Glyn, Ang and the girls and made our way through Marlborough Sounds, to wine country. We stayed in this lovely b&b and drove to as many vineyards as possible before they closed for the evening. We had dinner at an English Pub, and went to bed early, gearing up for more wine tasting the next day.
Despite the on and off rain showers, we decided to bike through the countryside, figuring we were wearing helmets, and that meant we could drink as much as we wanted. We had a great time, learned a lot about wine that we promptly forgot, drank a lot of savignon blanc, pinot gris, pinot noir, and the one that starts with a ger- something or other. We biked through the rain and earned our pasta dinner that night.

Yesterday we drove from Marlgorough all the way across the south island to the West Coast, which is so amazingly beautiful. We stayed in a little cabin last night after trecking through the Truman Track. This morning we went to the "Pancake Rock" formation, which are rocks that look like stacks of Pancakes, right on the coast and at high tide the water is sent up these little 'blowholes' and looks like geysers. It is pretty neat.

Tomorrow we take a heli ride up a glacier and hike around a bit and then Tuesday we fly to Sydney and meet up with Anthony and hopefully spend a lot of time on the beach and get to see all our friends in Sydney. Kpr leaves next weekend and I spend an extra week in Australia and return on 12/2.

Hope all is well in your world. It has been great to be unplugged from everything going on back home, but of course we miss you all! We've had updates from the Rs and Barb and both Bonnie and Champ are doing well- but we miss them terribly!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Kpr and I are going to have to have our own little Thanksgiving Feast when we return, as we'll miss it this year.


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