New Zealand Time

Friday, April 16, 2010

Final (I think) Post

I've loaded a number of pictures that are representative of my trip. It was interesting looking back at them. The posting and arranging of pictures on the blog leaves something to be desired. I would have expected something easier from Google.

As I was looking at my blog, I realize that I made some predictions. One was that some famous people would die. I looked at a long list of who died, but there was only one that jumped out at me - Robert Culp from I Spy. I also said that health care would still be an issue. Even though a bill was passed and signed, it still seems to be a topic. I also said that Democrats and Republicans would still be fighting. I've come to the conclusion that bipartisanship is dead. The arguments have merely moved from health care to financial reform to judicial nominees. I don't think they will ever work together unless they believe it is to there political advantage, and in today's environment, that isn't going to happen for a while.

I looked at real estate prices in New Zealand - out of curiosity and at the request of a friend who thinks it might be a diversification for his portfolio and a safe haven if things go "south" in the US. Prices were really pretty reasonable and for the most part, on a par with the US. Auckland and the cities more expensive than the remote rural areas.

New Zealand is looking for immigrants, although I heard that it depends on your age. I heard the story of one retired couple that wanted to move there and they were required to show that they had $10 million in assets. I guess they don't want to take on that health care liability (they have "socialized" medicine there) unless you have some money. If you are younger and have a number of years being a productive member of society, come on over!

Thanks for all of the comments. I had a good time on the trip and enjoyed writing comments. It will give me something to go back to when I'm old and just have my memories!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back home

My first day back, Friday, I spent sorting through the 1,000+ e mails that I had. The next couple of days, I burned the parts of the property that my son had not been able to get to. Not wanting to overdo it, I took Monday off and went to the Cubs game (a tradition that has gone on for many, many years)! Tuesday and Wednesday were dealing with a computer that had viruses (this is my excuse for being late on the wrap up) and trying to get my tax return done (filed extension as there is one question that needs to be researched more to get the answer that is right for me!).

It was nice to find that my partners and other team members had done a great job at keeping everything going in my absence. Let's you know how easy it is to be replaced!

It was a great experience. I'm thinking that I'm going to go to S. America in 5 years for the next sabbatical. I'd like to do Machu Picchu and also maybe Brazil and Rio. Maybe I can go earlier and hit Carnival.

Top things and thoughts about New Zealand

I would highly recommend that everyone should go to NZ if they have the time and opportunity. It is a beautiful country. If you go, you should plan on doing some physical activities (hiking, whitewater rafting, etc.) as this is a great way to see some of the country.

My favorite activities were the hikes, the glacier and the time on the farm. The hikes were a great way to meet other people and see a beautiful area. The glacier hike was something I did not have planned, but did this after the whitewater rafting trip was cancelled. The time on the farm was relaxing and it gave me an opportunity to meet some very nice people and learn a bit more about the country.

Stayed in a couple of beds and breakfast places and those were all nice. Also stayed at Novotel Hotel and this was a very nice and reasonable hotel (Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington). All of them were located in a great area near a number of other things.

Driving was a bit of an experience, and I'm not sure how necessary it is. There are a number of buses (particularly on the South Island) and also trains, shuttles, cabs, planes, etc.

In order to encourage someone to go to New Zealand, the first person to plan a trip can contact me and I will send them the $14NZ that I had left when I got home. This may not seem like much, but my last night in Auckland, I found a bar that had $4NZ gin and tonics (turns out it was student night, but I must have looked like an old student) and another one that had $5 bottle beer and free food for happy hour, which lasted until 9 PM.

Restaurants

I think I need to clarify some of my comments regarding the food. I think my expectations were high given that it was wine country and a big grower of various animals. I think it was more the style of food that made most of it unremarkable. I would say the food at a number of places was English "pub grub". This would be fish and chips, meat pies, sausage rolls, bangers and mash, etc.

I did eat in several places that I wanted to mention and recommend to anyone that is heading over there. The first place was the dinner at Treetop. Since this is a resort, you can't just go there for dinner, but it is included in the evening. Very nice!

The second dinner was at Botswana Butchery in Queenstown. This was recommended by the partner from our NZ office that I met at Treetop. It was a great meal with good wines, appetizers (sauteed whitebait), main and a good cheese course with a nice port!

The third dinner was at Pravda in Wellington. Great appetizer that had a bit of everything, and then had the pork belly. Too full for the cheese course. This was recommended by Linda (her favorite restaurant) from Auckland.

The other great meal I had was lunch at the Curator's House in Christchurch. It was a beautiful day and I had a nice meal (house specialty of their own homemade chorizo) and some good wine while sitting outside enjoying the gardens. I notice they had won a number of awards and it seemed to have a great dinner menu.

It seemed like one item that almost every nice restaurant had for dinner was pork belly. While you find this in the states, it is not common everywhere. Pork belly is made into bacon in the US. Since they don't serve much "streaky bacon", they must serve it for dinner at nice restaurants. I had it several times and it was very good.

Advertising

I've mentioned that the advertising is a little different. Here are a couple examples.



Even McDonald's gets into free range eggs. Actually people are more concerned with the production of food (vs. just cost) than in the US. People will not eat eggs that aren't free range. There have been some big controversies over "industrial" food production. I saw almost no row crops, and dairy herds, beef cattle and pigs are kept on pasture. Dairy is very big with 4,000,000 dairy cows (that is one per person). They are big exporters to China and Japan.



















This was a picture on the wall for beer. Sorry about the quality, but it was at night after I'd been sampling some (strictly research). I'm not quite sure why anyone would like a nice cold Virgin though.








This is from the sushi restaurant that I went into in Christchurch. A bit of false advertising as I didn't see anything on the menu like this.














I mentioned how the country is really crazy about rugby. That should be obvious about this clock doing a countdown to a tournament that is 74 weeks away. Actually I watched a fair amount of rugby while doing research on the drinking habits of Kiwis. I really like rugby and I would say it is more exciting to watch than American football. I think I heard that the length of the actual action (plays) in the Superbowl was less than 10 minutes. Rugby is pretty much two 40 minute halves with almost constant action and very little stopping in the game.






Trip home

It is a long flight! I really made a mistake of not taking several days layover in Tahiti. Not only would it have broken up the flight, but it would have been a nice finish to the trip. I flew on Air Tahiti Nui in Business Class. I think it was about the best food I've had on a plane (and better than most places in NZ). Everything was French (including language and wines).

I had a couple of hours in LA, so took a quick shower. Read the whole "The Last Symbol" by Dan Brown on the flights home.

Made it up until about 10:30. Went to bed and fell right to sleep, then woke up at 2 for 3 1/2 hours. Decided I would go with melatonin the next night and that seemed to do the trick!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last post from NZ

I'm in Auckland now, and will be catching a shuttle to the airport in 2 hours. I looked at the forecast back home and it looks like the weekend will be beautiful and the forecast for the Cub's home opener on Monday might be the best ever!

I've spent the last couple of days taking two trains and a ferry to go from Christchurch to Auckland. Really wasn't a bad way to travel. I think I want to plan a train trip in the US. Probably from Chicago to Montana to the Belton Chalet.

I only spent one night in Wellington. Seems like it would have been a good place to spend another day or so. I went to a great restaurant there (Pravda). When I get home, I'm going to post some thoughts on foods and restaurants.

I'm also going to add my pictures to the blog, so people can see the places. I know I was going to do this as I went, but it didn't quite work out. One thing I was really surprised about is that there were almost no free wifi sites. I compare this to the states where you can find free spots in a number of places.

I need to go buy a book (I went through the 10 used paperbacks that I bought from the library) for the 24 hours of traveling from the time I leave the hotel until I get home.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sad Day on Farm

I'm back in Christchurch now and will be taking a train and ferry to Wellington tomorrow and then a train to Auckland and then a flight back home.

Before I left the farm, one of the goats (Hercules) who had been feeling poorly couldn't get up. He was a young male goat, but had been struggling with a variety of ailments. They called someone out to the farm to put him down. The goats on the farm are really pets and their job is to clear some of the rough growth (like gorse) from the pastures. The guy who came out to shoot the goat was a small man who was also one of the stunt doubles for Frodo.

The farm was a great experience and a nice change of pace from hotels and meals at restaurants. I think I'll look to see if we can host some workers at home. We got a lot accomplished on the farm. It always seems to work that way when you have somebody coming over to work.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pictures - Milford Track

Here are a couple of pictures from the Milford Sound Track. Sorry about the one waterfall picture, I can't determine how to get it to rotate! The sunny picture was from the first day. The low part in the distance is McKinnon Pass that we climbed over on the second day. The first waterfall is from the second day, and the last waterfall was on Milford Sound on the third day.





Friday, April 2, 2010

Pounding posts


Spent the day pounding posts into the ground (using a post pounder on the tractor). The weather was beautiful, but the ground was very dry and hard. Broke a few wood posts and a number of others required a number of hits with the "monkey".

Going into Rangiora for dinner tonight!

Pigs

Another interesting factoid on the pigs. The three pigs are males and they have not been castrated. In the US, I believe that it is common practice to cut the pigs if they are being raised for meat. Here, they do not cut them and believe that helps them gain weight quicker. They say that if you harvest the pig before they get too big (about 100 kg), there will be no effect on the flavor of the meat.

So know you know!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Farm work

This morning I worked with the pigs on moving dirt. The pigs churned up a bunch of dirt along a line of gorse (gorse is an invasive from England that was originally brought in for hedges, but went crazy in this climate). The goats had already done a number on the gorse, and the pigs were busy rooting around. I would move some of the dirt to the garden and the pigs would do more rooting. They found some big worms (1/2 inch diameter and 12 to 18 inches long). I have some picture that I hope to post some day!

This afternoon, worked on removing some fences in the paddock, that we will be putting up tomorrow in some different spots. I'm really working for my room and board!

Time change

This weekend they change their clocks down here. The difference from home is that they move their clocks back one hour on Saturday night, and go off of daylight savings time, while we have just moved out clocks forward to go on to daylight savings time. I guess I never really thought about the difference between the Northern and Southern hemisphere. This means that there will be two hours more difference in time know (in addition to different days due to the international date line).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Taking the pigs to market

A project that I'm taking on at home this year (with lots of assistance from son, nephews, brother, brother-in-law, friends, etc) is having three pigs raised by a farmer. Actually 4 pigs. One is for the annual pig roast. We are going to build a smokehouse and do our own butchering of the pigs and making sausage, hams, bacon, etc. We will take the pigs to a slaughterhouse to be killed.



One of the things that can potentially be stressful to the pigs is taking them to the slaughterhouse. I was talking to the couple here, and in NZ, they have someone come to the farm and kill the pigs here. They said is is very calm. They put some feed in the trough and the pigs come up and then they are shot in the head. They then dress the pigs out and remove all their hair and then hang them in the truck for transportation to the butcher. Seems like a much better way to do this than we do it. I'll look into this at home, but I'm guessing that it is not allowed as there probably needs to be a USDA meat inspector there at the time.

Farm visit

I began my farm visit and working today. I got a tour and got to meet the chickens, pigs, goats, lambs, and cattle. Very nice operation. It is definitely something that I can see doing back home. The owners goals are to be self sufficient.

I really like the cattle that they have. They are Dexters. They are a smaller cattle who are good for both meat and milking. They are currently just using them for meat, but are hoping to get a home cow for milking. Dexters are also know for their easy going and approachable demeanor.

The chickens are brown shavers which are primarily used for egg laying.

The three little pigs are a combination of Bershire and Wessex Saddleback pigs.

The sheep are white and fluffy (I forgot what type, and I'm not sure I would remember anyway).

There are a couple of types of goats, but the ones I remember are Angora goats. They have a great coat, and it brings a fair amount of money when they are shorn. They are about the only variety of goats that are shorn.

Today I helped out harvesting potatoes from the vegetable garden and helped with brush and burning a brush pile. I've asked lots of questions and hopefully by the time my 5 days is up, I'll pass my apprenticeship!

Pictures:

1 - Dexter mom and 2 calves
2 - Brown shavers
3 - Three little pigs helping me by loosening some of the dirt. The plant is gorse, which is an invasive from England that was brought over for hedgerows and then went wild. They are trying to eliminate this.
4, 5, 6 - The shaggy goats are the angoras. The others are for eating gorse and the rough stuff in the paddocks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Current News

As I did on my last sabbatical, I've not seen any news (sports - excluding cricket, etc., political, financial, etc.). My thoughts are that I can't do anything about it, and what difference does it make. On the last trip, we made some predictions that came out true. They were that Congress would still be arguing about social security reform, the Pope would still be sick and that several famous people would die. We were right about all of those predictions.

Not watching TV has been easy, since I don't have it at home to watch. There have been a few times when I'm on the Internet that I've been tempted to look, but I've not done it and will not. My goal is to limit the amount of time I spend on the news when I get back. It really seems to be a waste.

My predictions for this trip are that everyone is still going to be arguing about healthcare, the Democrats and Republicans still won't have anything that they will agree on and several famous people will have died. The last one is a no brainer! The thing is, I won't know which famous people have died until a year or two and I get into a discussion with someone and they say that they have died. Most famous people who die are only in the news for one or two days at most.

Train ride

I took the train from Greymouth to Christchurch. It is supposed to be the most beautiful train ride in New Zealand. It goes from the West coast of the South Island to the East coast and crosses the Southern Alps.

This was my first train trip (5 hours) with the exception of commuter trains. They actually had an outside observation car so you could take pictures. I went out there once, as my seat was on a car about 5 cars away from the observation car. There was also a dining car that offered poor excuses for food and beverages, including beer and wine.

They had a very humorous commentary regarding the scenery as we went, so no one would miss anything.

It wasn't bad, which is good since I've got a train from Christchurch to Wellington (including a ferry ride to get me from the South Island to the North Island) and a 12 hour train trip from Wellington to Auckland.



Pictures (from Christchurch):




1- Anglican cathedral from hotel room

2 - Inside of church (no one can say I didn't go to church on my visit!).

3 - View from church steeple that I climbed.

4 - Chess in square for my friend Don

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Sport

At pubs, I've basically been introduced to either cricket, soccer or rugby, with one night of Formula 1. Last night, there was a game that I thought was women's basketball, until I took a second glance. It was net ball (I had to ask the bartender). There is a basket, but no backboard. The basket is only about 7 feet high. They only pass the ball. When they get the ball passed in close, it is like no one can move and the person takes a shot. The defenders can raise their hands, but can't move their feet off the ground. Very strange. Seems to be a big sport over here.

Fellow travelers

I know I've commented on this before, but I find it interesting the make up of the people that I meet. At most restaurants, pubs, resorts, and activities, the workers are from somewhere other than NZ. It seems to be easy to get a 1 year work/travel visa, and then people come over here to do something so they can make enough money to travel.

The majority of the travelers seem to be either younger than myself, or older. There aren't a whole lot in the middle (although, I'm probably starting to trend to the upper middle). On the glacier climb, I was at least 20 years older than the next oldest in our group. At least they didn't call me Dad! Most groups seem to have a large number of Aussies, which is understandable, since it is only a three hour flight to NZ.

I'm guessing that part of the reason for the age spread is that only the young and the old have enough time to make the major travel. I'm also surprised by the amount of time that many people are spending. I thought I would be near the top at 5 weeks, but I've run into a number of people who are spending 3, 4 or even 6 months. These do not include the people going to spend a year working.

The make up of the glacier climb was interesting. It was 1 US (me), 2 Canadians, 1 UK, 2 Dutch, and 6 Germans. The Germans did not all know each other. I was surprised that there were no Aussies. I'm guessing that the older demographics opted for a shorter climb, or the heli-climb (helicopter up to the glacier and then walk around for a bit and a ride back down).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Glacier climbing


















I went climbing on the Franz Josef glacier today. They were sold out for the full day climb, but I was first on the waiting list and got on. It was a fine day! Not a cloud in the sky. This is pretty remarkable since Franz Josef gets about 7 meters (22 feet) of rain per year. They are on the west coast and the winds from the west pick up moisture in the Tasman Sea and then drop it as they start to climb the mountains. The mountains get 30 to 40 meters of snow per year. This all feeds the glacier.

We spent 6 1/2 hours on the glacier. My feet are sore from the crampons that are strapped to your hiking boots. I think I may have gotten some neat pictures of the crevices that we climbed through and an ice cave that we went into.

One of the toughest parts was that we were allowed to use the restroom at 8:30 before we went out and then couldn't use it again until we got back at 5! I saw a lot of blue ice, but no yellow ice!

I promise I'll try and find a place where I can post some pictures. I'm using a machine that gives you internet access as long as you are drinking. The sacrifices one must make in foreign countries!




























Pictures:














1 - Franz Josef glacier before we hiked up to it


2 - View back from the glacier


3 - The ice.


4 - A creavice to walk through


5 - Picture from inside the creavice - wet, cold and sometimes very tight


6 - Chopping out steps for new path


7 - Very tight fit!! Good thing I'd lost a few pounds on this trip!


8 - Just have to climb up there!

9 - Into the ice cave.

10 - Down into the cave


11 - It keeps getting smaller!


12 - That's about as far in as I can go! Pretty cool lighting in there from the sun coming through the ice.


13 - Back up to the exit of the cave.


14 - We'd somehow missed these signs on the way in!







Whitewater rafting

After the hiking, I was supposed to go on a three day whitewater rafting trip. A helicopter flies you up the river and then you raft down and camp along the river. Unfortunately, they did not get the minimum to sign up so had to cancel it.

As a consolation, they gave me a complementary 1/2 day whitewater rafting on the Shotover River. It was a fine (NZ term for beautiful weather) day. The water was cold, but felt great as the wet suits were warm. Flows were pretty good due to storms earlier.

Ended up with extra days due to not having 3 days whitewater rafting, so am headed up the West coast and hope to spend a day hiking on glaciers.

Dart River






After the Routeburn track, we were offered an opportunity (read way to make more money) to do jet boating on the Dart River. Jet boating is a big thing on the lakes and rivers around Queenstown. Jet boats were supposedly invented there. They have tremendous power and are able to go over very shallow waters. They are famous for their 360 degree turns at full speed!

The Dart River is a braided river that the Routeburn River runs into. Earlier in the week it hit a 9 year high flood level due to the storms. This was very unusual since flooding is usually a spring event with the melting of snows.

It was quit exciting to go for a 1 1/2 hour ride up and down the river. We scrapped rocks several times, but never got stuck!






Pictures:

1 - Picture of Dart River Valley
2 - Another picture - Some filming for LOR was done here
3 - I know that it looks like a river of rocks, but that was a lot of what it was. They said each day was different as the river changes channels.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Routeburn Trail

I was right and got my second helicopter ride. The roads were still blocked from landslides, so we took a helicopter to the trail head. It was fun, but not as interesting as the first one when the clouds were so thick we couldn't see the tops of the mountains and had to wait (hover) until they cleared a bit to pop over the mountain.

The Routeburn was different than the Milford, but in some respects it was more interesting. The first day of hiking was raining and the clouds were low, so we didn't get any good views. We did get to walk through a waterfall. It was very large and anything that was dry before that wasn't after crossing the waterfall! The second morning, we woke up to snow covering the mountains. It was their first snow of the season. It was raining as we started hiking, but as we gained in elevation, the rain turned to snow. Pretty soon we were hiking in snow. It was pretty slippery at first and there were some pretty big drop offs, but everyone was careful. There were 22 hikers on this trek, including two women from Chicago. (I have their names and e mails for Greg and Brad!) We reached a stopping point for lunch and there was a summit that we could climb, but they said know as it was very steep and it was still snowing heavily and there would be no view. I'll post of picture of me hiking in the snow in shorts.

The snow stopped on the way down and we had some beautiful views of the Routeburn valley and also some magnificent waterfalls. Unfortunately, the water was flowing too strongly to allow swimming in some of the pools.

The third day we hiked down from the mountains and along the valley out.

I believe that over the course of the hikes and this visit, I've seen some of the most gorgeous country I've ever seen.

I would recommend to everyone to consider doing the treks before age catches up with them!
Pictures:
1 - On the helicopter ride to the Routeburn
2 - This is the waterfall we walked through (taken from a distance)
3 - Snow at the pass
4 - Water coming down as we hiked down the other side of the pass
5 - Myself with the Routeburn valley in the background
6 - Routeburn valley with some snow on the peaks
7 - This is the pool we were supposed to swim in

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lodges


The lodges were very functional. One thing that I thought was great was the drying rooms. They have rooms that are like a dry sauna and filled with racks. You can do your wash and hang up your wet cloths (or just those that you were wearing), and they dry relatively quickly.

Lights were out every night at 10, as that is when they turn the generators off, and then they came on at 6:15 AM. This was your alarm clock.

Restrooms and showers were all in a big room and were unisex.

We did see some independent hikers. They stay in other shelters, but without any real amenities. Glad I had money!

One other interesting thing was drinking water. Only carried one liter with you. When you ran out, you just filled it from any of the streams. No filtering or anything. They said the have the water checked and it is some of the purest in the world. No problems!

Milford Sound Trek (rain, earthquake, landslides and helicopter evacuation!)



At this posting, I've completed the Milford Sound and hopefully (more on this later) start the Routeburn tomorrow morning.

There were 39 of us that left on the bus. I would say that I was close to the median age of the hikers (I think the cost moves the average up). We left Queenstown on a bus and then took a ferry to the beginning of the trail. You carry all your own gear (about 30-35 pounds) and hike from lodge to lodge. They feed you at the lodges and even have beer and wine. Not a bad way to hike! http://www.ultimatehikes.co.nz/mt_home.asp

Dinner was fantastic. I was signed up to sleep in the dorms (4 to 6 hikers), but ended up with a dorm all to myself.

The first day was a beautiful day (they use the word "fine" in their weather forecasts). It was a pretty flat terrain as it followed a river. We did 10 miles, so it was a good way to warm up. Went swimming where this waterfall comes down off the rocks. The thought is that the water, which is coming from melting snow, warms up on the rocks on the way down. I think it warmed up to at least mid 40's! It was invigorating. Needless to say, there were only a select few that took advantage of this opportunity.

This time I was assigned to a dorm room with three women. They decided that there was an extra room, so I elected to move.

Next day was the big day, with going over Mackinnon pass. Nine miles and 800 meters of elevation climb and then 1,000 meters of drop. Unfortunately, the weather was not "fine". Rain varied from steady to heavy, with a little chunky rain (snow) at the pass. Winds were a nice steady 20 to 30 miles per hour. I did fairly well and made good time as there wasn't a lot to see with the rain. I was the 4th one to the next lodge. The trail cuts across a number of streams, waterfalls, etc. I was able to skip across most of them from rock to rock. The hikers at the end of the day were going through knee deep water to ford the streams.

After dropping off the packs, did another three mile hike to see Sutherland Falls, the 5th tallest falls in the world and the tallest in NZ at 580 meters. Needless to say, with all the rain, it was really coming down. If any of my pictures come out, I'll post them.

About 9:30 that night, there was an earthquake. Not a real surprise for NZ. It wasn't too bad, but a number of people had never experienced one before.

Next day was a 14 mile hike to Milford Sound. It was supposed to be pretty flat, but don't believe everything they say. Some good up and down, and the legs were still feeling the night before. Took a ferry to Milford Sound to the next lodge. This was really our last day of hiking Milford Sound.

That night the winds were very strong and the rain kept coming down. In the morning some of the windows in the lodge were broken by the winds. Our schedule was to take a cruise around Milford Sound. There was a lot of rain, and this made for numerous waterfalls. Probably 10 at any one glance. Once again, I'll try and get some pictures posted. video

Came back from the cruise and found out that the road out was closed to to trees down and a number of landslides. Estimate to get the road reopened is three days. The only way to get us out was helicopter, but it was still windy and raining. After a delay, they got a couple of helicopters (this was an added bonus to the trip!) and could take 6 people at a time. Two up front with the pilot and 4 in the back. It was an interesting perspective. We had headphones on so the pilot could tell us what was going on. We went down this one valley and then needed to climb over a peak, except the peak was covered in clouds. We tried going up a couple of times, but couldn't see. Finally, there was a little break in the clouds and we were able to pop over the mountain. It was a little tense. We could then see the road below and all the landslides. Lots of work for someone.

Tomorrow, I hope to start the next leg of the hike. Some people did start it today, but were unable to get there by road, so they helicoptered them in. I may get a second "free" helicopter ride!
Pictures:
1 - Orchid
2 - Spider web
3 - McKinnon pass in the low spot in the middle of the picture
4 - Pond at the bottom is where I went swimming (Sorry, no pictures of that!)
5 - Myself posing
6 - Short video of Sutherland Falls, the highest waterfall in NZ and 5th highest in world (1,904 feet)

St. Paddy's Day

After jumping for St. Paddy's day (I did not have a drink before the jump even though the bars opened at 8AM for St. Paddy's day), I took it fairly easy. I decided not to sign up for the pub crawl that was $25NZ and got you 6 free drinks and specials at 15 different bars. You also got a great green hat to wear. Did see a number of these people through out the night.

Went to the orientation for the hike that was starting the next day. It is called the Classic and combines the Milford Sound Trek and the Routeburn Trek.

Bungee jumping



Have you ever noticed that things seem better the night before than they do the next day?

I met Andy at 11 to go bungee (or do you say bungy?) jumping. We decided to go to Kawarau Bridge, which was the site of the first bungee jumping. Boarded a bus in Queenstown that goes out to the bridge. It was a pretty quiet bus ride. Everybody was a little apprehensive. I think that I brought the average age on the bus up by a couple of years!

Andy went first (he was smaller and there was a shorter line). The height of the jump was 43 meters, or 142 feet (about a 14 story building). Andy got up there and went to the edge and then looked down. They tell you not to look down, but to go up there and jump on the count of 3. He backed away twice and they told him that if he backed away once more, it would be best for him not to jump. He finally jumped.

I went up there and moved my toes up to the edge. In the pictures that I have, it looks like I'm about 7 months pregnant, as I have my feet up there, but I'm arching my back to make sure I don't fall over. I did not look down, and jumped on the count of three. (see pictures above!)

I was supposed to hit the water, but missed it. They must have misjudged. They weigh you so they know how much cord to give you. I guess being short is better than the other alternative. You bounce a couple of times, and then they lower you down to the river to a boat that brings you back to shore.

I probably will never do this again. It was fine except after bouncing and spinning, I got a little dizzy from the motion.

I did get the picture package and a DVD. I'll try and post the DVD later. They also give you a free (!!) t shirt to commemorate your jump.