Monday, February 11, 2002

New Zealand Adventures


Hello Friends and Family,

The trials and tribulations of email! I just wrote an entire dissertation on our stay in New Zealand, just to have it all be erased. Argh!!! Anyhow, if one must leave New Zealand, a rainy day is a good time to go. We arrived to Auckland and spent our first day in brilliant sunshine, one of the hottest days of their summer. We had met a beautiful Brazilian couple on our way from the airport into the city, and we joined them on an outing to Waiheke island. As some of you know, Dan has a thing for Brazilians - he certainly didn't mind hanging out with a beautiful blonde, bronze goddess (her beau wasn't too bad either!)[I'm really not this sleazy Mom, really-D]. There we spent our day visiting the many different beaches, dreaming up ways in which we could move here. The property is incredibly affordable. It is actually possible to get a 2-3 bedroom home for around $100,000, and the land is gorgeous! We really enjoyed our time in Auckland. The people are very stylish, and there are more blondes than in Southern Cal. We tried to visit more of the trendy, less touristy neighborhoods, and were impressed by the amount of ethnic restaurants and boutique stores.

Since we were already on a spending spree, blowing our budget, we decided to continue on this vein. We rented ourselves a campervan (approx $55 a day), and toured around the Northland for our last week in NZ. Our campervan was our little home away from home - we had a foldout bed, a refrigerator, sink and a stove. This allowed us to stop at the most scenic roadside spots and enjoy a hot tea and grilled sandwich. New Zealand is THE outdoors country, with some of the most stunning scenery. I was gaga for all of the lush fern trees. Each turn brought a new vista of rolling farmland, kauri forests, private beach coves with emerald, turquoise waters, little bridges with gurgling streams, or sand dunes, rich with waving pampas. Our campervan allowed us to lead the perfect camping lifestyle. Dan fished by the side of the road, and Sarah lounged with Harry. (Potter that is) I'm addicted to these kiddy adventures. There really are pros to this way of traveling. The only con is perhaps how isolated you can become. We really didn't meet many locals or fellow travelers. When you stay in B&B's and backpackers, I think that you have more of an opportunity for socializing. We pretty much stayed to ourselves, and only ate two meals out (once breakfast, another time lunch (today!). If I had longer to spend in NZ, I would imagine a mix of the two traveling styles would allow one to have better understanding of the country. I wish we had stopped at more pubs for a beer and a game of pool.

D-[I was actually rather excited to get back on the road again. It was nice to have control over our daily itineraries departure and arrival times and to be behind the wheel of a campervan/bus again. Sarah did a fantastic job with coming up with "creative" meals and reminding me to stay on the LEFT. I would say that I too would have like to have seen more pubs though...]

Just to cap some of the highlights of the North Island: The Kauri forests are amazing. These trees, that were almost entirely eradicated by the timber industry in the 1800's, are thousands of years old and immense. I enjoyed our brief walks in the forests of ferns, moss, vines, old trees, little rivers and falls, all accompanied by a cacophony of crickets. The beaches were beautiful, the sand so good on the bottom of my feet, and the marine life around the rocks was fascinating. Dan caught a few snapper in the Bay of Islands, and after much determination and persistence, managed to snag a barely legal one. Most of our time was on the road, twisting through farmland. Dan did quite a good job with driving on the left side of the road and using a left hand shift. The most scenic and pristine places were reached via unpaved roads, and our camper took a little beating. Our refrigerator flew open a couple of times, creating mini-havoc in the back of our van - all part of the adventure. Dan took a break from driving, and we took a tour up the Ninety Mile beach to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. This is where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific Ocean. Besides the gorgeous open land, the little townships were equally charming. We visited the oldest stone and wood house in NZ, in KeriKeri (1820's?). Kiwis (the nickname for New Zealanders) are very health conscious. Most of the farms are organic, or becoming so. That is the big buzzword and restaurants and markets. From what I here, their rules for what is considered organic are much more stringent than in the U.S.. This is also a less commercialized country - there are no big billboards out of the cities, and we rarely saw any roadside litter. This place is a treat. I can't imagine someone not appreciating this country and its' inherent lifestyle. May you all get the chance to visit!

love,
Sarah and Dan

PS. We have more pictures up on the web - http://www.pbase.com/dgsc/new_zealand

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