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Rookie goes rafting

Today was one of my favorite days in New Zealand and my first ever white water rafting trip. A van picked Lara and I up at 8:00 a.m. and drove us 2 hours to a section of the Rangitata River situated at the base of the northern end of the Southern Alps. The rafting company,…

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Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

By and large, I’d say this week could be deemed “Animal Week.” We started with a stroll through an enormous 100-hectare public park in Invercargill while we waited for our new brake pads to be installed after thoroughly abusing what remained of ours in the mountains. To our surprise we found an impressively stocked aviary and an animal park inside, among other cool things, like the most-fun-but-risky-looking playground I’ve seen in years. The collection of different pheasants in the aviary took our breaths away. I don’t believe either of us had ever seen a male pheasant before. Queen’s Park wasn’t the only striking thing about Invercargill. We were also impressed…

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From North to South and Starting Back Again

Jason and I have done a lot since I last wrote a complete entry, so I’m going to do my best to summarize our experiences, reactions and excursions over the last week or more. We’ve seen microclimates and geographical landscapes that vary from the golden beaches of the South Island’s northwest coast, to the wild and windy dunes of the northern West Coast, the massive layered granite pillars at Punakaiki, the temperate rainforest that surrounds Fox and Franz Josef glaciers about halfway down the island, and the arid high desert that begins after crossing eastward over the Southern Alps. It’s quite an experience running through three of these regions in…

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New Set of Pics Is Up!

South Island connectivity has been a little sketchy so far, especially since we’ve been doing some sleeping in the car, but we’re in Queenstown today, (FOR MY BIRTHDAY!) and we have unlimited internet. Hurrah! We spent several hours after going jet boating today with Skipper’s Jet on Skipper’s Canyon catching up on our photo albums. We’ve covered our ferry ride, Abel Tasman Park, our week on the farm and our visit to Farewell Spit so far. Coming soon will be our visit to Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks, the West Coast glaciers, horse trekking in Wanaka, our day of skiing yesterday and jet boating.

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A Walk in the Park

I’m writing from the dial-up connection at the Innlet, a very homey, impeccably cared-for backpackers about 10km past Collingwood on the way to Farewell Spit, the end of the world for northwestern South Islanders. The Spit is home to 100 species of birds that make their home in its windswept dunes, bordered on both sides by water, and extending out into the Tasman Sea like the long probing beak of a kiwi. After a beautiful two days in the Abel Tasman, during which we spent a VERY chilly night in our insufficient summer sleeping bags, we made our way to Golden Bay and Farewell Spit, hoping to catch some sights…

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A Sunny Day Out in Golden Bay

Yesterday was a beautiful day, and we’d worked inside for 8 hours the day before to pass the time during the rain, so we took the day off and made our way west to check out Te Waikoropupu Springs, Australasia’s largest and the world’s clearest springs, and Rawhiti Cave, 2.2km up on a mountainside. We ate an incredible lunch out at the Mussel Inn (NZ’s famous green-lipped mussels, folks!) and played Jenga while sipping on their craft microbrews. Tomorrow is our last day at Orchard View, after which we’ve booked an overnight hike at Abel Tasman National Park and a kayak back the next day. We’ll check in with pics…

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Stormy Weather at Orchard View

It’s been raining in Motueka pretty much since we arrived. This is supposed to be the sunniest part of the country, but a storm larger than Australia has encamped over New Zealand and doesn’t seem to want to let up. It’s snowing all over both south and north of us, but here it’s just rain. The farm is covered in muck and all the animals are sodden, but we’re eating really well, and we’re happy to have our own little place to ourselves looking over the kiwi orchard. Mornings here consist of greeting Perry the paradise duck on the porch, then going around to all the hen houses and collecting…

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New Landscapes, Same Wet Weather

We crossed the famous Cook Strait yesterday, and while the water there is reputed to be rough and rolly, we had a pretty smooth ride. The morning was supposed to be clear, becoming cloudy and rainy toward the afternoon, but as we’ve found the pattern to be in New Zealand, it’s almost always uglier than the “experts” say it will be. While the seas were calm, the skies were gray and dreary, and visibility was quite low. Myrtle (that’s the station wagon, folks) was cosily tucked away on the lower decks, parked athwartships in the hold, with her parking brake on hard. Everyone else was parked fore and aft, and…

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