Monday, October 12, 2009

New Zealand Part 1

Apologies for the lack of info coming out of NZ, but as you will read we have been pretty much tied up by the most excellent country of New Zealand. I broke down the update in 2 parts so you can leave room for dessert if the first two days fills you up.

Day 1
The Places You Will Go...To be quite honest, New Zealand was not a place either of us thought we would ever visit in our lifetimes and so far we are terribly pleased with our decision to go south of “down under.” We arrived in Christchurch on the south island of the country after 30+ hours of traveling, which, as you can imagine was a hard on the body and a bit on the mind. A quick breakdown of that portions of the trip reads like this. Chicago to Los Angeles to Fiji to Auckland to Christchurch. We got into LA in time to watch the best team in baseball win the American League Central against the hated Tigers (sorry Natalie) at the beloved Homer Dome. As I write this I am pretty sure they are 2 games down to the much more hated Yankees...The flight to Fiji was uneventful as we slept and read most of the way, in flight entertainment was out of order for those of us stuck in economy class. I had a pleasant if not a bit of a confessional conversation with a woman of Indian decent for 10 plus hours, I am pretty sure she is in therapy somewhere after listening to me. Deb slept happily as I had a new listening friend for that long...

Getting into Fiji was great as we were ready to be off of a plane if only for 3 hours. The weather in Fiji at the time was about 85 and sunny, there were reports of snow in New Zealand, but I passed it off as crazy Fijian weatherman trying hype up a slow news day. I was wrong, Fijian weatherman actually report the realtime weather, no speculation. Not that Al Roker or name your favorite weatherman lies to us, but it seems more times than not they have no clue as to the weather the next day. Anyway, flying into Auckland was like Christmas Eve, we could see
bits and pieces of what looked like a beautiful country below us, but the clouds never unveiled much and left us wondering what the land looked like (Dan Greene-the land is the present and the clouds are wrapping paper, we didn't know what was inside). After getting into rain soaked Christchurch and jumping a cab to Stonehurst Accommodation we were pretty well knackered. We grabbed a quick bite at Winnie Bagoes. Great pizza, better beer. Tired, full and not on an
airplane made for an easy nights sleep.The following morning was a day of firsts for us. We first found out that the weatherman in Fiji was not lying as the snow he told us about the day before was most definitely falling across the southern island and our plans to head west out of Christchurch were not possible. Before dealing with that issue we had to collect the campervan. Wally as the van (see pic) is affectionately called was waiting for us in downtown Christchurch a
friendly man name Gris Gris helped us get setup, by help us I mean he went thru a 10 point checklist, swiped my credit card, let me kick the tires, told me he did not have maps and said going to the west coast might be a bit of trouble. By this time the credit card cleared, he dropped the keys in my hand and said “remember, stay left. Good luck”. Keys in hand we picked up Wally from the garage below and after a few laps around a city block we were on the road to Lake Tepako.
(Deb and Wally)

The drive south was fine, getting out of the city was the hardest part and I am semi proud to say that I ran my first NZ red light
, got honked at the first time in another country and am pretty sure that a youth group saw me say the F word to a fellow driver, classy as usual says Deb...We headed south thru rain, snow and some sleet and arrived in the mid afternoon at the Lake Tepako Motor Inn. We parked about 75 yards from the stunning blue/green lake (see pic) I have ever seen. Lake Tepako is surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, snow peaked still and
absolutely beautiful. This is where some of Lord of the Rings was
filmed or so said the local information board. We got our hike on almost immediately, tackling the 1000 meter Mount John, it felt good to walk and the weather was clearing so we made the summit in little under 2 hours with plenty of picture stops along the way. There is an observatory on the top, but we opted to enjoy the view from a small bench on top.

Back down at the bottom we made dinner and then suffered thru a bitterly cold night in the back of Wally as the heater was not working and my expert RV repair skills were not what I thought they would be. More snuggle time with Deb is all I was looking for anyway:) I cannot put into words the beauty of Lake Tepako or the country itself. At every turn there is another “do you see that” or “WOW” site to be seen, needless to say staying on the road has not been the top priority.

(On top of Mount John)

Day 2
We did another hike on Saturday morning around the peninsula of the lake. This one took about two hours and was highlighted by our lunch on the beach after we slid down 50ft banks from the walkway above, not part of the trail, but when in Rome...After the walk we jumped in Wally and cruised south to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. The weather had cleared at this point and the drive in was easy. Queenstown has the look of a small Swiss town, but the excitement of Vegas. And then you meet the locals and realize that Minnesota's international partner in nice is Queenstown.

Read more in New Zealand Part Deux...

(Hanging out in Queenstown)


  1. Love the updates!! Can't wait to see the pictures...thinking of you guys. Love to you both!! - Amy

  2. Where are the updates? We await breathlessly!
    Kathy and Riley.

  3. How come Joe looks taller than Deb in this picture? Are you standing on a block or just wearing Deb's heels again?