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New Zealand: Santa Wears Burmudas

a travel blog by TwoSouls

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Auckland, New Zealand

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 14, 2007 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: New Zealand: Santa Wears Burmudas
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Yes, We Made It!!

Pukekohe East, New Zealand

Hey everybody! We've done gone now.....
We are in NZ now and staying with a lovely couple (Wayne and Kathy) at Alabar Ranch about 45 minutes from Auckland. Alabar is a breeding center for horses on about 300 beautiful acres with views across the water of Auckland and the surrounding areas.
(Thank you for the connection, Tom!)
Wayne and Kathy made a not-so-frequent trip into the city to meet us at the airport. The drive out to Alabar was nice but strange since everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road. I guess the US is one of the few countries that people drive on the right side. (Does that make us the weird ones?)
In the eve, Jen and I took a walk down to the beach, going through a few paddocks on the way. Curious mares would come close to check us out (which spooked Jen a-time-or-two).
It's breeding season here and there are lots of foals sticking close to there mothers. Two more were born last night.
We slept hard last night after being graciously hosted and well fed. I wouldn't mind staying right here for a long time but we're off to see the wizard (I mean "The World"), so we'd better embrace the "on the road" idea.
This morning we were shown the breeding process- Collecting the sperm from the stallions; into the lab for analysis, processing, and shipping; and also the artificial insemination of the mares. Wild!
This afternoon we'll say goodbye and catch a train back into Auckland.

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 14, 2007 from Pukekohe East, New Zealand
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Auckland, New Zealand

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 16, 2007 from Auckland, New Zealand
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Thames, New Zealand

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 21, 2007 from Thames, New Zealand
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Coromandel, New Zealand

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 21, 2007 from Coromandel, New Zealand
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Into the city and right back out again...

Tauranga, New Zealand

G-Day from Harry's Cyber-Cafe!

Well, we've been to a few new cities since our last blog... after the quick, but memorable stay at Kathy and Wayne's outside of Auckland, we took a train into the city and found our way to a hostel downtown. We got a lot of funny looks as we lugged our huge packs 20 blocks up the main drag, but it's easy to see that this area is very backpacker friendly and they were likely impressed by the size of our loads (that can be good or bad). Unfortunately, I ACCIDENTALLY reformatted the camera disk and lost the photos from the first couple days of the trip, but the memories will live on in our hearts and we will make up for it by posting as many photos as we can down the road.

Auckland was a fun city, but a bit touristy for our taste... and a wee bit expensive as

well. We wandered around the main strip, stared up at the Sky Tower and hung around the Harbor a bit. The main highlight was the purchase of "Lucille", a 1985 Toyota Van that we will live in for the next 2 months. After looking more into public transport, we decided that our own wheels would allow us to camp more freely and cover more ground. I just about fell over as we withdrew the money to cover the (unplanned) purchase, but we think it will save us money in the long run and has been the perfect shelter for the rain. It's been RAINY and OVERCAST the last few days and it's driving me crazy to be on the beach and not be able to lounge in my bikini... I am so pale that no one believes we are from California!

After grabbing a few groceries at FoodTown, we left Auckland and drove a couple hours

up to Thames - it was late when we arrived, so the town was pretty much shut down. We stopped for a tinkle and found a spot along the highway to camp in the van. After a quick breakfast, we headed north to Comorandel - a quaint little harbour town. We stretched our legs for a few hours and lounged in the van reading to wait out the rain. Then we headed to Hahei along a scenic, but very bumpy dirt road (Tim was not pleased). We hiked to Cathdral Cove and had a snack on that beach, then to Hot Water Beach, which was, well... a little unimpressive. Here, you can dig your own hole on the beach at low tide and "relax, share a bottle of champange and watch the sunset" according to all the guide books... but there were a zillion people there and we decided to skip the $5 shovel fee and move on. Tim and I seem to agree that the overly crowded spots aren't for us and that we prefer the mellow little towns rather than the city scene. If we were 25 and single, things might be different, but we are pretty happy to lounge in the van together after some sight seeing, a hike or a coffee at a locally owned cafe.

After a long drive down the coast and a quick overnight stay in the van outside of

Tauranga, we headed for Mt. Maunganui, a spot where a lot of the locals go to holiday. We found a killer campground on the beach and set up camp for 2 days. We relaxed in the hotwater salt tubs next door, walked around town, did some laundry and a few errands, took a hike to the top of the mountain and got to know the coming and going neighbors a bit. So far, we've chatted up folks from London, Australia, Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Santa Cruz of all things... I saw one guy with a "Pizza My Heart" shirt on and the manager at the hot tubs is a former UCSC BananaSlug!

We are now in Tauranga... after logging off, we will walk "the Strang" and giggle at all the holiday craziness - not as crazy as it is in the States, but you do see quite a few runners with santa hats on and have walked into many establishments with the Christmas CD spinning. Next stop is Rotorua - home of the Maori people and another great hot springs spot. We plan to stay 2 days and catch a Maori cultural event of some sort. We are also hoping to catch some live music soon and some beach time for sure... I can't wait to dig my buns in the sand and cuddle up with a good book.

We miss our family and friends, but are really enjoying the beauty of the country and are

trying to live in the moment. Tim and I get in a few spats a day, but we are quick to make up and try to give each other space to breathe. We both get a bit irritable at times, usually because we are tired, hungry, dirty, or short on caffeine (never thought I'd really get caffeine headaches). We hope to have at least one day a week were we can stay put in one spot and refresh - that should help. Oh and coffee - that should help too, and thanks to our friend Bob from the campground, we've got a new french press! Ask and you shall receive....

So we gotta give Harry a few bucks for use of the internet and move along... thank you all for the e-mails and we are thinking about you... and be sure to check out our photos!

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 21, 2007 from Tauranga, New Zealand
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Quick update...

Rotorua, New Zealand

For those of you that heard about the earthquake down here, we wanted to let you know we are safe. It was a 6.8 out of Gisbon, which is about 200 km southeast of us, so we did feel the tremor, but it was mild here. It was strange though, because I didn't know that they had earthquakes down here... I thought I was having a head rush when I first felt the rolling - then my tummy got a little queasy, but once we agreed it was a quake, it all made sense - it was actually quite exciting. Come to find out they have at least one quake a day in this area - most a re too small to even register.

So there you have it. Tim is at a natural geyser with a friend from the hostel and I decided to skip it and wander into town - the sun is peeking out a bit and I'm going to see about getting a chocolate bar to hide in the van for later (Tim doesn't really get my desire for chocolate, so it's best that I purchase these items while on my own).


permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 21, 2007 from Rotorua, New Zealand
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Taupo, New Zealand

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 22, 2007 from Taupo, New Zealand
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Rotorua to Taupo

Rotorua, New Zealand

Hello again family, friends, and fans!

Jen and I are now in Taupo. The journey here from Rotorua was through beautiful farmlands and countryside. Travel time in Lucille (our cozy '85 Toy van) was about 1 hour. We stopped by Huka Falls on the way in for a look at the only outlet from Lake Taupo. It is a very popular spot and offers great photo ops Last night in Rotorua was a blast! We went to Matai- a cultural spot with the Maori's performing in their native attire, cooking food in the ground (what a meal!), and sharing the history of their culture. When asked of the crowd for a volunteer to be Chief (to represent the 16 countries or nations in our group), I raised my hand. Little did I know what I was getting into... First, I accepted a gift after having a stare-down with a very intimidating warrior with a spear. Then greeted the Chief with a speech and thanked him for sharing the of experience, food, culture, etc. Last but not least, I shook hands and rubbed noses with him (the typical Maori greeting ).

Well.....after the warrior came at me with that spear, lunging and dancing around the whole while staring right through me - I really think I blew the speech. The peoples of my many nations came to me afterward, congratulating me on a job well done- but I don't know. At our table for the fabulous meal; we had a couple from Australia, a young couple from Isreal, a gal from Finland, and a guy from Germany. Everyone was great and we'll probably see most of them again later in our travels.
Once we returned to Kiwi Paka (the hostel), we had a couple of drinks with Nina (our Finland friend that lives in Australia) and a chap from Holland who seems to be on the same track and time schedule as us. Very good times!!!!
Backtracking.....Earlier in the day I left Jen in town to venture out to Wai-O-Tapu with a gal from Germany to see a very diverse geo-thermal area.

We took tons of pictures and had a good walk for about 90 minutes. Also saw the guy pour soap into the Lady Knox Geyser to set it off (kind of cheesy way to make that a timed attraction- if you ask me). This morning to Taupo we gave a lift to a very nice and very well travelled older lady (78) from Scotland. She shared tons of stories and we really enjoyed spending time with her.
Well, I've been sitting in this internet cafe almost 3 1/2 hours and I need to get.
Love ya'all!!!
Chief Tim of 16 Nations

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 22, 2007 from Rotorua, New Zealand
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Ugh... we must be on Santa's naughty list!

Taupo, New Zealand

Well... we've recently stumbled upon one of the things that we as travelers are warned about regularly... theft. Not to fret, we are going to manage just fine and after a few grunts and groans about what we lost, we both feel lucky that it wasn't worse... it could of been WAY worse.

After a great afternoon boat cruise from the harbour to some art carvings on the lake,

Tim and I snuck out to soak in a spa area that was recommended to us - a spot where the steamy water from the thermal pools meet the cool water of the river. It was fantastic and quite a treat, but it was not such a treat to find some things missing from our van upon our return to the parking lot. An update - it was worse than we thought, but we are doing our best to take care of all the loose ends, and thanks to my sister, I think we managed to get everything under control... probably the worst Christmas yet. We are hopeful that it will all work out and are trying to view this as a (crappy, but) meaningful lesson in truly SIMPLIFYING. We don't NEED a phone (although we miss the sound of your voice) and we certainly don't need music... going without the tweezers is debatable, but most of that stuff can be replaced if necessary and all we truly need on this trip is each other.

So... after helping a few German gals to and from the camp park this morning, we did a bit of grocery shopping and spent some time at the beach relaxing - I finally got a bit of a suntan (well, burn really, but not on my face - I'm not that crazy) and am feeling better as we look to make our way out of town. We will head south to Taurangi this evening and have vowed to live on the cheap for the rest of our stay in the North Island. We can certainly find free spots to sleep in the van and have plenty of food to get us through the new year... a couple good books, some hiking trails and a bit more sunshine will be plenty for now - and if our stuff ends up tossed on the side of road and turned into the local police station, I wouldn't mind a drive back through town for the possible rescue of my SPF30 chaprstick and Tylenol PM.

Your prayers are welcome, but we don't want you to worry - this is all a part of the journey. We will be more careful with our valueables in the future and will probably end up buying a local calling card to make the occasional phone call. For now, the promised Christmas calls will need to be delayed... just know that we are thinking of you and wishing you and your loved ones all the best for the holiday.

Much, much love,
Jen and Tim

P.S. Since the Maori experience, we are offically calling Tim "Chief"... it makes his chest puff up with pride and puts a big smile on his face - try it sometime :)

permalink written by  TwoSouls on December 24, 2007 from Taupo, New Zealand
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We are going to explore the unknown and there's no turning back now. Why explore? Here are a few reasons why we start on this journey...

- To breathe deeply, appreciate the moment and SLOW DOWN
- To let go of our fears
- To rebel… prove that we can live outside the system
- To challenge...

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