Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Winter in the Southern Hemisphere

One of the biggest misconceptions we had about New Zealand is that it would have copious amounts of snow. To us Northern Hemisphere types, winter means cold, ice and snow. The only saving grace of the 5 hour drive to the Christchurch airport was experiencing some real winter weather. Although the drive was a bit sketchy at times, I don't think they believe in snow plows in New Zealand, it was very beautiful. And when the kids got out to touch the snow and make snowballs there were no complaints about the cold.

Overall we thought New Zealand was brilliant!


On July 15, 2009 the south island of New Zealand moved 30 centimetres (12 inches) closer to Australia all because of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Unfortunately we had already returned home to Melbourne, so the price of our plane tickets wasn't affected.
Photo from Ethnojourneys.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

Milford Sound

As noted in a previous post, we went to Milford on my birthday. We had debated whether to take the kids skiing (because that would have been seriously cool to ski in June), but decided that with the after effects of swine flu we would be better off not doing anything too strenuous. Instead, we decided to drive 8 hours for a 1 1/2 hour cruise on the sound. A couple of hours into the drive we were seriously questioning this decision (there are a lot of sheep in New Zealand), but as you can see from the pictures it was clearly worth it.

The picture of Colin was taken right before going through Homer Tunnel. The tunnel is straight, narrow, dark, long and downhill. I don't think we have ever been in a tunnel where you come out further down the mountain than when you went in.
(Photo from NZ transit)
We took the following pictures before getting on the boat for our afternoon cruise. Mitre Peak (behind Brooklyn) is one of the most photographed mountains on the sound.
This is the Milford Monarch, the boat we went on, with Mitre Peak behind.

There are two permanent waterfalls on the sound. However in the rainy seasons there can be dozens of waterfalls cascading down the cliffs. The following pictures show how large the waterfalls appear up close and how small they are in relation to the mountains.
There is no soil on these mountains - the trees hold on by intertwining their roots with other trees. Sometimes, one tree lets go and this causes a "tree-slide", as other trees lose their grip.
This waterfall is supposedly twice as tall as Niagara Falls.
An awesome look back at Milford Sound, which is really a Fjord.

Jenny's Birthday

How lucky is Jenny? She gets to spend her birthday at Milford Sound in New Zealand. This is not a picture we took, but it looked just like this...totally worth the 8 hour road trip.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Deer Park

Upon arrival into Queenstown we went to the Deer Park, which has been used as a filming location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the X-Men Origins movie. We really enjoyed feeding the animals and interacting with them. Our favorite memories include: the goats jumping on the side of the car to get at the food.
The llama and alpaca sticking their heads in the van and watching the alpaca spit at the llama

The line of goats followed our van around the entire park begging for food.

The bison boxed us in and we were unable to drive anywhere for ten minutes and then after they moved off of the road came up right next the window and had a staring contest with the kids.
And finally the spectacular views.

It was awesome!

Mount Cook (Aoraki)

Our next stop was Mt. Cook National Park where we enjoyed the towering peaks above a glacier fed lake. The highlight was the suspension bridge where other walkers stopped along the trail to watch our children as they sprinted across the moving bridge.

The short bushwalk was very memorable and not only for its name.
Within Hooker Valley there is the 40 mile long glacier fed Lake Pukaki. The unique turquoise color comes from the glacier flour.

The Winking Game

During dinner in Queenstown we practiced winking. Here are our favourites.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Only in New Zealand

As if driving on the wrong side of the road weren't hard enough, in New Zealand they try to further throw you off with odd road signs.
Interpretation: curve ahead, 65 alternative routes possible.
Interpretation: We don't plow our roads so watch out.
Interpretation: Watch Out! Something very dangerous is coming up, but we are not going to tell you what it is. Seriously, they have these signs all over, but rarely mentioned what you should be looking out for.
Interpretation: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
Interpretation: Here's your chance to break wind!
Interpretation: Kiwis can't fly and aren't necessarily fast, so don't hit them.

We thought that only Australians made huge animalia edifices, apparently we were wrong because we spotted this trout in Rakaia, New Zealand.
New Zealand even takes it one step further, it has large fruit monuments as well.