I am struggling to figure out the best way to blog about my travels and really why I am blogging about it in the first place. I’m not sure if this is a way for my family and friends to see what we are up to, for my clients to get to know me better, for other travelers to get tips on places to visit, or just for myself to remember. I guess if it was purely for me to remember I wouldn’t need to publish anything to the web (and honestly my teenaged daughter, and maybe my husband, would probably be happier if I didn’t). Ah well, here I go.
I know when I was planning this trip I enjoyed looking at other travel reports on blogs so I suppose I do want other travelers to get tips, and it is a fun way for family and friends to see where we are. In any case, please forgive me if my blogging is sometimes more personal and sometimes more journalistic as I try to find my blogging voice as they say.
Our long flight from Hawaii was just as uncomfortable as you might expect it to be, but we arrived safely in Auckland and getting through customs was a breeze. It was about 7am when we dropped our stuff off at our hotel and we tried to keep busy so as to adjust to the time change quicker. Along with various chores (getting nz cell phone and bank account) we decided to walk to the Auckland Museum. I’m sure the museum is great, but I struggled to stay awake and probably should have saved my money as I was starting to see just how expensive New Zealand is. A gallon of gas is about $11 bucks, sunscreen is around $15 a bottle (!), meat and fish are about double what I pay at Wegmans (and I thought they might be cheaper here since we are close to the ocean and near lots of sheep). I could go on, but I have decided to just close my eyes when the bill comes.
I will be including photos that Jason has taken as well so that I am in some of the photos. I was told that it isn’t fair to only include my photos.
So here I am looking as awake as I can muster after all that time on a plane.
Sadie is looking wide awake as we head out to explore Auckland.
On our first full day in New Zealand we took the advice of a friend and took a quick ferry ride over to Wahiheke Island.
It is windy all the time. I need to learn to pull my hair back.
Waiheke Island is known for it’s wineries, but it also has some beautiful coastline hiking trails. We started off with a hike and I had hopes of coming across a winery or two along the way.
After an hour or so the kids were complaining pretty hard despite this view.
And where are my wineries?
Finally we found a few wineries and even though the menu pricing should have scared us off we couldn’t resist this view for our lunch. They even had a kid’s menu where Sadie found out that when you order a hot dog here it is really what we call a corn dog.
And Jason found a bug in his wine–but he was cute. We tried to rescue him, but I’m not sure he survived.
After lunch we found another winery with an outstanding view.
The lawn behind the winery had bean bags where most people were lounging. We were starting to think it was weird that nothing was crowded. I mean I would think a place like this on a weekend would be packed full, but it was really only about 15% full(if that), but as we traveled more in New Zealand we started to realize that there are just not that many people in this country, and really nothing has been crowded yet.
Notice that I am still wearing my Hawaii uniform. My luggage was finally found right before we left for New Zealand, but my clothes was all so wrinkled that I found it easier to stick with my new uniform.
After visiting three wineries total we wandered around the main part of town and found a spot to get an early dinner.
This is the view from the restaurant. Really–every place on this island has an amazing view. If I were to visit Auckland again I’m pretty sure I would want to just stay on this little island the whole time.
By the time we got back to our hotel that evening we were all ready to crash. The island had been great and we felt okay about our wine tasting after all the hiking we did that day.
The next day we picked up our rental car and headed north to see some big trees and do some camping. It should be noted that rental cars are a bit different out here. Instead of getting a spiffy new car, our car had about 90,000 miles on it and was from 1999. I will say it did just fine.
Our first experience camping was a bit different. Instead of getting an actual campsite there was just a big lawn with a few tables for everyone to share. You just put your tent up wherever. I do like how all campgrounds seem to have shared kitchens. So, if you don’t want to cook at your site you can use the kitchen to cook and most had shared fridges and sinks to do the dishes.
I also enjoyed not worrying about bears, or raccoons or snakes or spiders (I do worry a lot) or really anything. The bugs were not even bad and no squirrels either. Just a lot of strange birds. The have a really cute possum here in New Zealand (different from the possum back home), but they are really invasive and so people are encouraged to kill them. Many shops carry clothes made from possum fur. We have been told they can be a best to campers as well, but we didn’t spot any.
The campground (on the north of the north island at Trounson Kauri Park) said that it could have 20 tents, but there were only about 6 tents by the end of the night.
There was a nice trail that left right from the campground.
Kauri trees are the largest trees in New Zealand and also among the most ancient in the world.
I loved the moss that grew off of them.
Walking in a forest where everything was slightly different was really exciting–even for me.
Once it got dark we went looking for the national symbol of New Zealand, the kiwi. Kiwi’s are nocturnal so we waited until it got really dark. We were told that this park offered one of the best opportunities to see the rare bird in the wild. It didn’t get dark until pretty late and there were lots of new bird sounds out so Sadie decided that she really didn’t want to go out of the tent. While Jason stayed back with Sadie Echo and I went out. You are supposed to put some red plastic over your headlight so as not to disturb the bird. We walked for a short while along the same trails and then turned our light off and waited. We were told to do this and wait to turn on our light until we heard these flightless birds scratching about. After a few minutes we heard something, turned on our headlights and glimpsed a kiwi running away from us. Since it was fairly easy to get our first kiwi spotting I thought I would have another opportunity to see one a bit closer later, but unfortunately this was to be my only wild kiwi spotting.