Archive for January, 2004

Now Its COLD!

Saturday, January 24th, 2004 by Ian

SO in case you hadn’t figured it out from the web page, we’re back! Until now the weather was quite reasonable, but today’s high is -17C and it’s supposed to be -31 (HIGH!) by Wednesday. Bah! I’m looking for jobs in New Zealand. I even went and took the immigration test to see if they would let me in, but they’ve since changed the test. I’ll have to find the new one or (heaven forbid) do it on paper!

Also, I had told Scott that I would post this picture of a missle going through a truck window. I find it fascinating, but that’s just me….

Jan. 13th Leaving paradise

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004 by Shelley

Yes, we did make it to Hawaii, and sadly we are now back at the airport, ready to leave for Vancouver. We had a great 5 days here, lots of great time on the beach. The weather was great, mostly hot and sunny. One day the waves on the North shore were 25-30 feet high, so we drove up to see. The beaches were closed for swimming there, but it was still really neat to watch the huge surf, and the sufers.
The kids really enjoyed the ocean water – very warm and just the right size surf. We picked up a boogy board and a tube the first day and it was a blast riding the waves in on them. On our last day at Waikiki, Ian rented a surfboard and he and Dylan took it out and gave it a whirl – they didn’t do too badly for first time prairie boys!
We spent one day at Hanauma Bay, the fish and nature preserve, for snorkeling. It was wonderful – we saw lots and had a perfect beach day.
One day we rented a car and drove out to the houses we lived in and schools that we went to in 1975-76 when we lived there. Got a kick out of showing the boys my old haunts!
Well, it is back to the cold tomorrow, so we will wander off now and enjoy the last few minutes of warm air before we have to check in and board!
Hope to see you all soon

Jan. 7th Auckland – last night in NZ

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004 by Shelley

Hello again from NZ – for the last time! We are just packing up and then heading to sleep before going to the airport in the morning. This week on the North Island has been very rushed, unlike our sometimes lazy days in the South.
We ventured further into Auckland today, found new running shoes for Quinn (his old ones were rotten and starting to smell so bad I made him leave them outside last night!), dropped off some films for developing and then went back to “touristing”. We went to Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater Adventure. This is an aquarium and antarctic experience that we really enjoyed. In the Antarctic area, they have a very large and seemingly quite well run penguin “pen” with 2 kinds of penguin: the King and the Gentoo. They produce something like 2000 thousand tonnes of snow a day to keep these penguins feeling like they are in the arctic – perhaps their staff could all get hired at our ski hills making snow! After watching the penguins play for a while, we entered a replica of Scott’s hut – Scott was one of the first explorers in the Antartic and his hut is still there, and Scott base is still the NZ base for antartcic operations and research. It was fascinating to see their living conditions and to learn of the hardships these men endured. Our Canadian winters are nothing in comparison. We then boarded a snowcat – think Bombardier, just like we have at home – and took a tour around the peguin habitat. We all got a real chuckle out of the way many of the birds actually seem to pose for us tourists!
We moved from the Antartic to the oceans surrounding NZ, taking a moving walkway through a tunnel made of clear palstic – you could see all of the creatures swimming all around and over you – very cool. We saw sharks, stingrays, lots of fishes and huge tuna! One of those must fill a lot of tuna cans!
It continued to be a rainy, although warm, day in Auckland, so we headed for the movies. Not something we would normally do on holidays, but once again, Lord of the Rings was the driving motivation.Quinn was really counting on seeing The Return of the King IN New Zealand, so he and Ian went off to that, while Dyl and I saw “Elf” and then poked around a few stores. Auckland downtown really does shut down at 5 or 6,, so not much to do!
As I said, we are back at the hotel, packing and organising – a big job after 4 weeks!
Our flight leaves at 12:45, so any of you who know Ian’s obsession with being early for planes know we will be out of here well before 10!
I hope to find internet service easily in Waikiki, but if not, will get in touch and update as soon as we get back to Canada. I am hearing that is very cold there, so am glad I bought myself a pair of sheepskin boots!

Jan. 7th Auckland

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004 by Shelley

Yes, we made it all the way back to Auckland! We spent most of yesterday in the Waitomo Caves area and then drove here. Tuesday morning we went on a tour of the waitomo Gloworm cave. This involves a 30 minute bus drive through steep windy roadsto the entry of the cave. There our guide outfitted us with helmets complete with little falshlights – felt like we were all going into the coal mines! He then led us into the cave, to see beautiful limetstone stalagtites and stalagmites, by the side of an underground river. After a short walk we loaded onto a raft and floated further into the cave. All around us were little pinpricks of glowing lights, like tiny stars. These are the gloworms: tiny fly like insects that in the larval stage glow to attract their prey ( other insects). It is a really stunning sight, and as we pulled our raft up to the side again, we extinguished all lights and walked further in to the cave – a little disconcerting in the complete dark, but in when our eyes adjusted, what a sight. We took seats in a little grotto and were surrounded by twinkling atrs like lights, accompanied by the sound of rushing water. we then returned, by raft and foot, to where we started.
What an experience, complete with tea, coffee and cookies at the end! Our guide was great – a real exoert in rocks, and caves, he actually has a degree in geology! He also found a few snails to smash and handfeed to the the eel hiding under the rocks in the stream. Quinn and Dylan both had a go feeding him, and Quinn even wandered offf and found his own snails, smashed them and fed the eel a second helping!
After that we headed for the sun and sand of the beach at Kawhia, This is a black sand beach with hot springs under the beach. If you dig your feet in at the right spot, the water is actually hot enough to scald. The boys had a blast body surfing – took them a liitle tile and some yelled instruction from Mom and Dad to get it right! The water is much warmer than the South Island beaches, closer to what they will get in Hawaii.
Then, after a quick picnic lunch, it was off to Auckland! Not a very scenic drive, and the outskirts of Aukland are veruy much like the sprawl of the vancouver area – pretty seedy looking actual;ly. I can see why the South Islanders say ” it is just another big city” !
Today we will head down to the waterfront exploring and hopefully find the nicer parts of Auckland.
More later

Jan. 5th Otorohanga

Sunday, January 4th, 2004 by Shelley

Once more, i have a few minutes on the computer, so will continue the saga.
At Rotorua still: yesterday afternoon, after the museum we met up with Tony, Tyler, Kolina and Austin at our motel. Great to see them again and in less than 6 months instead of waiting a whole year! We went off for a maori Hangi – a traditional feast at a replica maori village and marie ( meeting house) , complete with warrior greetings, artisans, dancers and a concert, and then a great meal. The buffet style dinner was fairly western in that it was roast chicken and lamb, but cooked very traditionally in a maori hangi or earth oven. It was a really good experience and a great visit with our friends. After a drink back at ther motel, we all turned in, and were up early to pack this morning. Then it was off to the Skyline Luge adventure centre. There we piled into gondolas for a ride up the hill, and rode “luges” – really just like little go carts, down the side of the hill – really a lot of fun !!
After lunch – the kids won (5 of them, 3 of us) – we went to McDonald’s- we did some last minute shopping for souvenirs and headed off in search of Hobbiton. We didn’t actually find the exact site, at least it isn’t marked, but had a lovely drive through very hobbit -like country side – kept expecting to see the little furry-footed creatures emerge from a round door in the side of a hill!
here we parted with the Kretzschmars, Tony and kids to go back north to Auckland and on to a week on the Gold Coast in Australia, and us to the South to Waitomo caves. So here we are now – it is 6 p.m. on Monday the 5th and we are checked into our little cabin. We have 5 beds, a small fridge and a TV ( Quinn is thrilled), and a communal washhouse and kitchen. We will head into the town of Otorohanga to find food and check out cave tours for tonight or tomorrow. That is, after I get the laundry done – again!!
More soon from Auckland – we go there for tomorrow night and Wwed. and leave New Zealand on Thur. at noon