Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Zealand Recap

Those of you who have followed the blog for the last two weeks don't need to be told this: I had a great time in New Zealand. I got to hike all over the place.
Taranaki Falls

I saw some interesting sights. This wasn't the only car I saw with gumboots on the back bumper.
Somewhere not far from Upper Hutt

I even fit in a jumping photo. (Here you go Wei Siew. This one was for you.)
Makara Beach Walkway near the wind farm. Photo credit to Dad.

And I came away with some neat finds. The yarn was covered on the Yarn Day post. But most of these books were found while I was near Auckland. The books, left to right, are as follows: Tribulations of a Chinaman, King Lear, Chronicles of Avonlea, King Solomon's Mines, Further Chronicles of Avonlea, Pilgrim's Progress, Wuthering Heights, Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals, Romance & Legend of Chivalry, Ancient Legends of Ireland, Gulliver's Travels (with Rackham illustrations!), and Picture of Dorian Gray.

All in all it was a great, albeit not restful, trip. I hope I can go back soon. But until then, I'll be pressing my nose upon the grindstone to get The Book finished. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Time Traveller

Our last few days in New Zealand were spent in Auckland. There aren't too many photos because most of our time was spent taking care of family business and visiting old friends. Dad and I did take the ferry twice into Auckland. Both days were spent visiting a tall building with important people. (I was, at one point, very high up in the building with the weird halo over it.) Although there was business to attend to, I managed to visit every second hand bookstore in the area. 

The photo below and the photo above are of the same thing, just a different perspective.
We left Auckland around 8PM on the 24th.

We flew and flew and flew until day broke.

Thanks to the international dateline, the day was May 24th.

We landed around 12 noon on May 24th in San Francisco. So technically we landed in San Francisco before we left in Auckland. That part of travel always messes with me a bit.

After a bit of a nap, I was wide awake. So my brother and I went out to see Star Trek, which was loads of fun. And so ends my adventures in New Zealand. For now...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Seeing how we were in Middle Earth, we stopped by the last remaining set from Lord of the Rings: Hobbiton. All the other sets have been pulled down. Although as we saw in Rivendell, there were a few signs explaining the area. Our guide in Hobbiton, Steve, was excellent. 

Some of the hobbit holes are made much smaller to enhance the illusion of Gandalf being much larger than everyone.

We also learned that in order to age the fences, this lichen isn't actually lichen. It is paint and bits of wood, and other things that were added to look like lichen. I think it's quite convincing.

As we walked up the hill in Hobbiton, we were given a peek of some future hobbit holes not yet seen in the future Hobbit movies.

I think I would make an excellent hobbit. I've already claimed my hobbit hole.

At the top of the hill sits the most famous hobbit hole of them all: Bag End. If the Baggins family were to ever move out, I think I might choose this hobbit hole instead.

The view from Bag End is quite good. You can even see across the pond to the Green Dragon. 

Although the inside of Green Dragon was built and filmed in Wellington, they later chose to build an interior in the one in Hobbiton. It's actually the second Green Dragon. The first one was burned for a scene in the Lord of the Rings and had to be rebuilt for The Hobbit.

I had the pleasure of enjoying a drink at the Green Dragon with Miss Pickles, the resident moggy (cat). She looked like the happiest creature ever, sitting on her chair next to the fire.

After the drink, we had to say goodbye to Hobbiton. Although before we left I snapped a quick picture of the Party Tree. I only wish we could see everything lit up at night like it was in the movie.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Farmhouse Views

Dad had promised me that I would get to sleep in a bit in Raglan. That lasted until about 7:30AM. A rapid pounding on the door was followed by, "Get up. It's really pretty outside." I grudgingly pulled on some trousers and stepped onto the porch to see this. 

And this.

Hardly seems fair. I wish this was my morning view more often.

Norris gave us a tour of his farm, including the milking shed. The cows get milked twice a day at the beginning of the milking season, just once late into the milking season, then not at all to give them a rest. They currently weren't milking the cows. 
I was impressed to learn about all the different checks that go on at the farm to make sure the milk is of a high quality. 

After the tour we headed back the the house before leaving. The farmhouse had been built in the early 1900s, and later had an addition put on. The wing we stayed in was part of the old farmhouse, which looked similar to how I imagined the manor in Wuthering Heights would look. 

We said our goodbyes. I was especially sad to leave Buoy, the six month old farm dog. He was a sweetheart. My favorite bit was watching him get tangled up in my Dad's shoelaces while Dad was trying to tie them. Buoy just wanted to be part of the action.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Passing Through Mordor

Dad and I awoke to find that all the rain in New Zealand had decided to pour on our location. I had hoped to go on a hike, but the wind was howling and the rain just wouldn't let up. As we packed to leave there was a break. So we checked out quickly and ran to the Taranaki Falls trailhead. 
This is the view from above Taranaki Falls

After an hour of walking, we came to the falls. Chris had let us know about this one. It is a waterfall you can walk behind, which I did. (I'm the blue speck on the right hand side of the waterfall.) I would recommend that if you are going to walk behind a waterfall on a windy, cold day, wear waterproof pants. I only had jeans, so I remained wet the rest of the hike.

The whole area is simultaneously beautiful and haunting. And with such heavy mist, it felt like we were walking through Tolkien's world.

Although the mist was enjoyable, it did obscure the view of all the mountains the entire time we were in the area. So Dad and I drove up Bruce Road up to the ski area to have a look higher up the mountain. Turns out the higher you go, the worst the visibility.

I wanted to take pictures of my Smaug socks in Mordor. We got about two pictures before large, cold raindrops suddenly started to pelt us. A quick retreat was made back the the heated car.
 Photo credit to Dad.

We drove north, skirting along the east side of Lake Taupo. I'd never seen the lake, but had always wanted to. The eruption that created the lake apparently spewed so much ash into the air, the Romans and Chinese noted the change in the color of the sky.

After lunch in Taupo, we drove to Raglan to stay with my Dad's childhood friend. Bit of the Raglan area looked eerily similar to the mountains back home. The only difference was that there were more cows in the area.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

From Gumboots To Alpine Fog

We left Chris in Wellington and headed up north towards National Park. I briefly practiced driving on the "wrong side" of the road. It was the most terrifying 30 minutes of both Dad and my life. I still got us safely to Taihape. 

I was sad to find that we were too late to see the Quilted Gumboot. It closed a little before we arrived in town. I peered through the window to see all the yarn and fabric I missed out on. Dad breathed a sigh of relief.

After lunch in Taihape, we continued on our way. We stopped for a quick picture by the Army Museum. Then onwards to National Park.

A fog surrounded us as we got to the Skotel, our accommodations for the night. It was thick and periodically rain showered by.

Dad and I went a little ways down a track to have a look at the area. Mist swirled by. Droplets collected on the alpine plants.

The clouds dampened every sound. We headed back as dusk approached.

For a very brief moment I spotted a bit of a mountain. Little did I know that this was the most I was going to see the entire time we were there.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tunnel Gully

Mum told me that I hadn't put any coffee pictures from the trip on my blog and she was rather disappointed. Last time I was in New Zealand I had a coffee picture nearly every other post. So this one is for you, Mum. 
We started our last day in Wellington by going to Cafe Du Parc. I had a mochaccino. Dad and Chris had cappuccinos. Mochaccions always seem to come with marshmallows and cappuccinos don't. I gave Chris my marshmallows.

Last time I was here I had the eggs benedict, but I ate it before I took a picture. I remembered to get a picture this time. It was really good. We were trying to figure out how they prepare their eggs. The eggs look like dabs of whipped cream. And the centers are left in a glorious semi-soild state.

After breakfast we went to Tunnel Gully. Here we've got a Kahikatea full of Nest Epiphytes, colloquially known as widow makers.

They are called widow makers in reference to what would happen if it fell on you. They are quite large. This widow maker lived in a Hinau tree. It was really funny watching Chris trying to identify the tree. He said, "I know what it isn't, but I don't know what it is." Of course of all the trees in this forest, for some reason this one had it's name on a plate that was tacked to the trunk.

There were all sorts of beautiful bits along the hike. We stopped by this waterfall for a short while. I'm giving my best Lord of the Dance impression.
Photo Credit to Chris

At the end of the hike we stopped by the old, abandoned train tunnel. This tunnel was incredibly long. And dark. Very, very dark. We all took turns talking about what kinds of scary things might be in it. I secretly imagined I was Frodo in Shelob's lair. I'm glad I'm not Frodo. It would have been quite frightening if Shelob had shown up.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Today we had a long hike at Makara Beach Walkway. We started out far down at the beach. Then we walked up and up and up. Everytime we crested a hill, there was another hill, followed by a collective groan.

We passed by some sheep. (I've had a request for sheep photos, so here you go.) They looked like they were on the wrong side of the fence.

Eventually we reached the top where there were old gun emplacements left over from WWII. The unfenced in ones were full of sheep poo. There was also a nice bench up at the top. But a sheep had gotten on top of that and had a poo as well.

We ate lunch and enjoyed the view. There was a wind farm placed in a sheep farm. It is a well placed wind farm.  Chris' hat has disguised the gustiness pretty well, but as you can see from my hair, the wind whipped around us all.
Picture credit to Dad.

Eventually we walked down, down, down, to the beach. There were Paua shells littered all over. Many of them were only a touch smaller than my hand. And all the rocks on the beach were blue.

There were some tidal pools. Chris and I hopped along the rocks looking for treasures. I found a sea urchin that had recently died. It still had it's beak.

As we left, it became clear that the predicted storm was sweeping in. We stopped for a coffee before driving back home.
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