Thursday, February 28, 2013

Random Shots of the Week - New Zealand (2/17-2/22)

An innocent looking Australian brown bush tailed possum just minding its own business

Until Paul gives it a good one, two punch!

It looks like Captain Cook gives your beer an extra special something here at this Dunedin bar

This is a log of ground meat for your dogs, found conveniently next to eggs and OJ

Crazy, narrow tunnels on the way to Kaikoura

Venus italica (marble), Studio of Antonio Canova (1757-1822)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We made it to Australia

On February 23 we had a super early flight to Sydney from Auckland. We haven't had access to wifi but wanted to let everyone know that we made it. Staying at a hostel called Funk House in the Kings Cross neighborhood and boy, is it funky smelling. It's horrendous...thankfully heading to Cairns today (and the Great Barrier Reef).

More posts to come...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Last two days in New Zealand

Our last day in Christchurch on Thursday, February 21 was spent lounging around. It was a perfect day for a movie so we headed to the mall to watch, "A Good Day to Die Hard" - which was awesome! Hey, it's the cheapest movie ($8.50 USD) we've been to in awhile and who doesn't love Bruce Willis as John McClane? Yippee Ki-Yay, Mr. Falcon!

But little did we know we'd be equally entertained by the fashion choices of Christchurch residents...Paul and I have decided that Kiwis age 15-25 are about 25 years behind and stuck in the mid to late 80's with acid wash jeans, mullets galore and animal print tights. I only wish I took some pictures to prove it. You'll just have to take my word for it.

2 minutes before the movie started we were the only ones in the theater with assigned seats (6 people did show up)

Today we finally returned the Vitz (Paul is happy he doesn't have to drive anymore) and flew to Auckland. We took the airbus to the city (only $16 per person) and met my cousin's wife, Li for lunch. Thanks again Li for treating!

Since we were staying with my cousin one last night before an early flight to Sydney (we leave for the airport in 4 hours) she let us leave our bags at her office while we strolled around the area.

The annual Auckland Lantern Festival was just getting set up at Albert Park and we walked around the Auckland Art Gallery since it was free!

It's too bad we weren't able to see this at night - heard it's really pretty
This was our favorite scene

This one wasn't bad either...
At the Auckland Art Gallery
Te Hokioi by Brett Graham

The End of the Twentieth Century by Peter Robinson

The Song of the Frog by Michael Parekowhai

My favorite - Environment III by Luc Peire

He's falling!
Tomorrow, we head to Australia (country #3) on a 6am flight. We are going to regret not getting any sleep. Darn that strong latte this morning!


Since there wasn't too much to see in Christchurch, we headed to Kaikoura (a 2.5 hour drive north) on February 20. Kaikoura is most famous for whale watching and because we didn't want to spend 3 hours on a boat to look for the sperm whales, we booked ourselves on a 30 minute plane ride with "Wings over Whales." It wasn't as pricey as a helicopter and was really the most efficient (and less sickly way) for us to see them.

We were supposed to be in a slightly bigger plane with 4 other people but it ended up just being us and the pilot

Kaikoura coast

You can't really tell from this perspective but the male sperm whale is 15-20m (49-65 ft) long and weighs about 36,000kg (80,000 lbs)

Having the boat in the photo gives you a better idea of how huge this whale is!

Blowing out his blow hole

Diving for food - they usually dive down 1000m (3000 ft) for approximately 45 minutes...but they are capable of diving for more than 2 hours and some whales even dive down to 3300m (10,000 ft)

Going down

Bye bye bye

Flying back


After another 4 hour drive, we made it to Christchurch on February 19. We had heard the city was still recovering from the devastating 2011 earthquake so we weren't sure what to expect but figured if anything, the 3 nights would give us time to rest before heading to Australia. We booked a room at a hostel (Haka Lodge) that said it was a 10 minute drive from the city center.

We figured it couldn't possibly take that long to walk to the city center and after being in a car for 4 hours, we really didn't want to drive. So, we ventured off. 90 minutes and a pool of sweat later, we made it to the city center. I didn't take too many pictures since a lot of the city was still being rebuilt and it was actually very depressing. By the time we got to Re:Start (the newly developed city center), most of the shops were closed or in the process of being closed.

Bridge of Remembrance honoring those who died in WWI was damaged in the earthquake and hasn't been repaired

Canterbury Museum by the tourist info center

We ended up taking a taxi back to the neighborhood of our hostel to eat at a lovely restaurant, Holy Smoke, which was only a 10 minute walk from our hostel.

The first dinner was just one of the many meals we had here at Holy Smoke

There was one place that really caught our eye as we walked back to the many funny (and scary) things about this. Can you name them?

Identity crisis for Bob the Builder...don't call Bob, call Dave!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Otago Peninsula and the Taieri Gorge Railway

The thing to do in Dunedin is to not be in Dunedin...the popular thing to do while visiting is to see the Otago Peninsula and all the wildlife. So, on February 18, we booked another tour to see some of these animals. Yes, another boat. I must be getting more used to boats since I don't get as sick on them as I used to.

Flock of geese (not seagulls, sorry 80's fans)

Along the Otago Peninsula

Hey, there's a bird over there

The serene waters. I was lucky that it was so calm that day.

Port Chalmers

Northern Cape Petrel

Northern Giant Petrel
Spotted Shag and their nests; the shags are waiting for the sun to get higher

New Zealand Fur Seal


Looking into the middle distance - well done, baby fur seal!

More baby fur seals

Chillin' on the rocks

White capped albatross

The albatross wing span is almost 3 meters - that's almost 10 feet!

The east coast of the South Island is also known for the endangered Yellow Eyed penguins (one of the rarest penguins in the world). They estimate only about 4000 left in the world with about 700 living in New Zealand. We got a good look at these birds as well but since it was during the day, we didn't see many adult yellow eyed penguins because they were out getting food for the kids.

Otago Peninsula, home of yellow-eyed penguins

The sheep here have a great view of the ocean

Baby yellow eyed penguins have grey eyes until they are ready to mate

The penguins' homes

A juvenile penguin that is beginning to moult

A bachelor yellow eyed penguin

A close up of the bachelor penguin

The day didn't end there - we also took a REALLY long train ride once we got back into town. Advertised as "one of the world's great train trips", we got suckered into take the Taieri Gorge Railway.

We thought it would be fun to ride the Taieri Gorge Railway from Dunedin to Pukerangi
We took this train, an old passenger car without AC...not that much fun
Paul thought it'd be a good idea to move the wheel 
But he didn't really think it'd move...oops. Glad we didn't go off the tracks

On a bridge - I'm such a daredevil sticking my hand out to take this shot

Reefs Hotel - a 3 star hotel along the way

We wanted this train ride to be over after the first 30 minutes