Sunday, August 16, 2009

Long delayed post....

Okay since I have now been back in the US for 3 weeks it is probably about time I at least finish up some post-action updates from New Zealand! So I will start where I left us off in Rotorua for this post and try my darndest to remember! Also, in a effort to be succinct I'm going to do the "twitter" version of the trip (i.e., a series of "tweets" to describe our experiences) Granted, I don't even have a twitter account so we will see how this goes....

-Freezing in our kiwi batch
-Yes--Erica and mom found water bottles--fill with boiling water, lay them in the bed, and ta da--warm beds!
--Awesome breakfast next door at the B&B--fresh squeezed kiwi, apple, and orange juice!
--after a late start, checking out the geysers!
--tour guide took a liking to Erica and gave us free tix to the Maori cultural performance-Liam loves the haka!
--Erica is rolling down a hill in a giant ball (aka "zorbing") Liam keeps asking to go too
--On a mission for Erica to get a pic of an "oreo"cow she spotted with a heart shaped spot
--Dinner at subway--too tired to do anything else
--Up and ready to head to Kiwi 360
--pit stop at the manuka honey place--who knew how many products you can make from honey? Loaded up on lotions, etc.
--Did you know that the kiwi is the most nutritional fruit in the world?
--Asian tourists love Liam--they all want to take pictures with him (not just of him) There must be many pics of Liam now floating around in various Asian homes!
--Lunch in town and scheduling appointments at the thermal spa
--Evening at the spa for a dip in the thermal pools and massages for all (except Liam)
--Quote from Liam--"this is a stinky pool"
--Don't care that it's stinky--it feels great!
--Overall, nice trip to Rotorua now back to Auckland via Waitomo
--Raining the whole way to Waitomo--let's hope the caves stay open
--Some caves open--mom, Liam, and I will do the walking tour--Erica's giving blackwater rafting a try
--Erica is looking awesome in her wetsuit and already freezing--just wait until she has to get in the ice cold water in a tube!
--Checking out the glow worms!
--Back to pick up Erica--she said she has finally thawed out after a freezing trip through the caves
--Back home to Auckland--goodbye "monster car" (liam's name for our rental)

Alright then--our trip to Rotorua in a nutshell! I will add some pics once I'm back on my computer (in Horseshoe Bay with the padres right now--loving days spent on the boat and by the pool. Must say I did miss that aspect of summer while doing our second winter in NZ!)

Slowly but surely I promise I will capture the rest of our trip here! Josh is still in NZ until September. We are missing him a ton but I suspect he may miss us even more (especially since Liam is here with me) He's trying to make the most of it though and gave blackwater rafting (said it wasn't as cold as he expected) a try last weekend and then headed this weekend to the Gold Coast of Australia for a little warmth and beach time. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it from him!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Last pics from Queenstown

Okay--so to finally wrap up our trip to Queenstown (weeks later) Here are the last pics of our adventures there. Our last day was spent jet boating on the Shotover River (very cool and very cold--apparently about the coldest they've ever done it, because much colder and it ices over) followed by a quick trip to Arrowtown to wander through the shops. Then we stopped by the home of bungy jumping--where it all started (we opted to just watch not jump!) and then lunch and a tasting at a nearby vineyard.

Getting ready for Shotover Jet

On the boat

Liam really wanted to ride with us but this is as close as he could get!

The closest we got to bungee jumping!

The bungee jumper!

Who knew the fam had their very own store in Arrowtown!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Delayed pics--finally posting

Okay before I fill you in on the rest of our Rotorua trip and the awesome waterbottles in my next post--why don't I go ahead and at least share some pics from our trip to queenstown. The bulk of day 2 was spent doing a flightseeing trip to beautiful Milford Sound followed by a cruise through the sound. The plane trip over was awesome although I think mom found it a bit scary (we were in this tiny plane and at points felt like we were so close to the mountain that we could just jump out and go skiing!) The day was beautiful which is so unusual since it rains 300+ days a year in Milford Sound. We even managed to see some dolphins (we even saw a baby nursing underwater with his mom!) I'll let the pics speak for themselves:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Still here!

Sorry for the insanely long delay in updates. It has been busy here in New Zealand! Between work and all of our great visitors, it has been tough to fit in the blogging. Mom and Erica (Mimi and EE to Liam) have come and gone. We had a great time and it was so great to have both of them here (and Liam loved it too--I think he may go into Mimi and EE withdrawal!)Now Dianne (Josh's mom and Liam's GiGi) is here and Dennis (PawPaw) will be joining us Thursday. Then, if you can believe it, we head back home Wednesday for Bryan's wedding. I can't believe it's already time to head back, it has gone by so fast. Liam and I will stay behind in Texas (probably much to the excitement of all of my work colleagues who are probably happy to have me back on normal time--I don't blame them)but Josh will head back to Auckland for another 5 weeks or so. We will miss him so much! Skype will definitely be getting used a lot! I should warn you in advance that this will have to be a picture-less post. Internet here can still be spotty and it seems to be particularly slow this evening. Tomorrow I promise to add pics from Queenstown (which I know I left off on Day 1!) as well as from Rotorua and the Coramandel Peninsula which I will update you on now!

So Mom, Liam, Erica and I decided to rent a car and take 4 days to head south to the Rotorua area for a long weekend. The day we left was beautiful so instead of going through Waitomo (home of blackwater rafting and the glowworm caves)we decided to spend the day above ground and head to the Coramandel Peninsula east of Auckland before heading to Rotorua. The drive proved to be unbelievable in both good ways and bad. In the good sense--it was absolutely stunning driving along the coast around the peninsula--every second was a kodak moment. We stopped in a town towards the top (when we were about to cross over to the other side of the peninsula) and had a nice lunch and shopped in the cute little shops there. While there--some woman who clearly was directionally challenged told mom and Erica that it would take us about 2 hours to get to Rotorua from there, so we prepared ourselves for a nice leisurely drive south. Ha--little did we know what we were getting into.

So it turns out that Hwy 25--the little road that heads around the peninsula must be the windiest road in the world. Seriously, I'm going to google it--it has to be on the list. Basically all of us with the exception of Mom (who we made drive) ended up green around the gills. Even poor Liam who looked like he had never felt like this in his short life. We would have made more stops along the east side but we were quickly running out of time--2 hours didn't even quite get us to the bottom of the peninsula! So we made one quick pit stop at the hot water beach (you can dig a hole at low tide and voila--your own personal hot tub) and that was it. Unfortunately low tide had been at 9 AM (make sure you check with the Hot Water Beach Store the day before you go!) so we weren't able to experience the "hot water" phenomenon--we may try that with Dennis and Dianne. We completely bypassed Cathedral Cove where some of Chronicles of Narnia was filmed--once again--a trip for another day.

Well--we thought the winding would stop once we were out of the peninsula--no such luck--we continued to wind around until about an hour from Rotorua. 5 hours from the time the lady told us it would be a 2 hour trip--we arrived at our destination: the Waikeke (I may need to correct this--I'm too lazy to look up the correct name right now!)Lodge B&B. There we weren't actually staying in the B&B but in the little bach (pronounced like batch not like Johann) that the owners also owned. It was a great tiny little 2 bedroom lake house built in 1934 (and still pretty much like it was then!) Only problem was that the heat hadn't been on (no central heat--just space heaters) so we were freezing our tushes off that first night. My room had an electric blanket on the bed (I still feel guilty about that) but Erica and Mom didn't, so they put to use the Kiwi art of the hot water bottle. I'll leave you to guess what that is (must have some suspense in this blog!) and will let you know about that as well as our other Rotorua adventures tomorrow! (pics included then I hope) Good night (or good morning to most of you!)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Queenstown more photos from day 1 (and day 0)

Hello to anyone who is still interested after my last few rambles. I already filled you in on day 1 and the escapade that was "day 0", so I thought I'd share a few pictures for our memorable 8 hour bus ride. As you can see--it was beautiful--just unplanned! (and the $80 dinner left something to be desired--how on earth pre-made sandwiches and bad fish and chips cost so much--I have no idea. At least we had vouchers.)

Also, here are a few more from Day 1:

On the gondola

View from the top with Mimi

Walter Peak Farm

Getting a kiss from the deer

Feeding the furry cow

With the baby lamb

Feeding the sheep

Check out the sheep dog giving the stare down--he herds the sheep without any barking--just by the way he looks at them!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Queenstown--day by day

Well--we are back in Auckland after 3 great days in Queenstown and 1 lovely day in a bus (see previous post if you have no idea what that means). Fortunately our trip back was not nearly as eventful as our trip there (despite all of the pessimism from Josh, my mom, and I--we were so certain that another disaster was imminent). Rather than give you one long download of our goings on--I figured I'd break it up by day and post it over the next couple of days (mainly because I'm too lazy to write it all in one sitting, but also because I figured you could only handle my ramblings in smaller doses). So here I go with day 1!

The start of day 1--Liam ready to go in front of our apartment!

We had two big activities on our first day there--a trip on the Queenstown gondola and a boat ride over to Walter Peak Farm. The gondola basically takes you up the side of a very large hill (don't think it quite meets mountain standards) and from the top you have great views of queenstown and the lake it sits on (not to mention the beauty of the surrounding mountains). They also launch a few paragliders from up there and there is a bungee jump so if you get lucky you might see some crazy person attempting that (Queenstown is the home of bungee jumping and considers itself-with reason--to be the adventure capital of the world). While we did not attempt either of the above while at the top--we did see some great views and got to do the "luge". The best part about the luge was that Liam could ride as well and he absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, we don't have a ton of closeup pics to see his happiness so you will have to take my word for it.

View from the top

Liam and Josh at the top

Liam and Josh headed up for the first luge run (the trip up made mommy aka me very nervous for my little boy!)

Liam and daddy on the luge

Mommy and the "helmet" aka Liam on the luge

Even "Mimi" took part!

Heading back down in the gondola

After the luge we had a great lunch in town at a pizza place called Winnie's. Great food, great atmosphere, and great fireplace (did I mention we were freezing our patooties off?) What more could you ask for?

Lunch at Winnies

After our tummy's were full--we jumped a boat to Walter Peak Farms which may have been the highlight of Liam's trip to Queenstown. Chasing after baby lambs? Feeding sheep that were bigger than him and thus constantly knocking him over? Chasing sheep dogs? It was a dream come true. The visit to the farm involved all of those things. They really did just let us loose with the sheep (sheep have no top teeth thus biting isn't a concern--apparently due to their long time vegetarian status =)) Plus Liam got to feed some really cool longhaired Scottish cows (they have a much better name than that, but I can't remember) and many other animals. We also saw a cool sheep dog demo and got to watch them shear a sheep. Plus we got to take some time out for a "cuppa" tea and some great treats to go along with it. A great way to kick off our mini-vacay! Unfortunately, my camera battery died midway through our visit to the farm. My mom got some good pics but she left her camera cord at home so I may not be able to share those until much later!

On the boat ride to the farm

Feeding the deer

Feeding the "furry cows"

Up close and personal

After all that excitement, Liam was out for the count on the boat ride back (as were we). Dinner was steaks on the grill back at our apartment. Our place was just off the courtyard and included some gas grills that guests could use, so you know we put them to use!

I'll write more tomorrow to tell you about our other adventures in queenstown. I'll also make sure to add some pics of the real day 1-the AWESOME bus ride from Christchurch!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Welcome to Queenstown...errrr...Christchurch?

So our trip to Queenstown proved quite the adventure. We left from Auckland at 9 AM on Saturday and were due to land in Queenstown at 10:50 AM. Apparently Jetstar (the airline we were on that has only been operating in NZ for about a week) doesn't have the right navigation to land without full visibility in Queenstown and since there was low cloud cover--we were out of luck and were diverted to Christchurch. (and by the way--Liam was on his worst behavior ever--he was that screaming uncontrollably two year old for basically the last half hour of the trip. Poor thing was just beyond tired and couldn't fall asleep so he turned into crazy irrational boy. All we could do was apologize to everyone around us profusely!)

Upon arriving in Christchurch we were told to go to baggage claim and they would let us know what we needed to do there. Of course we get there and there is no one to be found. When my mom finally finds someone to ask, they tell us to go to the end of the terminal and there would be someone there that would tell us what to do. So we walk and walk to the end of the terminal where a woman who works for Jetstar waves us outside and points us to some buses. So we think- okay--are they taking us to another terminal? Oh no--the woman next to the buses tells us to get on and we ask--uh to where? Oh to Queenstown of course. WHAT?!! Queenstown, mind you, is an 8 hour bus trip from Christchurch!! So of course we ask the most important questions--when do we eat? are there snacks on the bus? Oh we will be stopping in 4 to 5 hours or so. WHAT?? That will be 5 pm...and we left at 9 AM..and we have a tired, grumpy, two year old, people!! So to say the least, we tell them they need to wait a few minutes so we can change a diaper and grab some snacks or something.

Seeing the bright side in this--we did get to see some beautiful scenery and the weather (ironically) was beautiful the vast majority of the trip. Liam got his nap soon after we got on the bus and was back to his sweet self the whole time. The ironic thing was that before the trip I had considered flying into Christchurch and doing the road trip (over two days) to Queenstown with stops along the way, but opted against it. I ended up getting the abbreviated, no scenic stop, version after all. =) I took a lot of pics which I will add once back in Auckland but they are all through the bus window as it drives by!

We finally arrived and got to our great 2 bedroom apartment, which has proved to be perfect for us, and the rest of the trip has been amazing so no complaints here! It just started a little off plan.

I will tell you all about it, and include some beautiful pics, once we get back to Auckland (I failed to bring my camera cord so I can't upload any pics until we are back to our NZ home)!