Tuesday, December 24, 2002

December 24, 2002 - Wellington, New Zealand

Merry Christmas!!  We are having an extremely lazy morning here in Wellington.  All the Christmas shopping is done (1 present each) so it should be a very stress-free day.  The biggest challenge will be scouting out a good restaurant to have dinner tonight.  We are staying in a lovely apartment-hotel right in the centre of Wellington and will be here until the 26th when we begin the last leg of our journey up to Auckland.

Our time with Johnny and Carolyn couldn't have been better.  They showed us a fantastic time and it was a real pleasure to see them again after a couple years.  On our last weekend they took us to a place called Hanmer Springs which is a lovely little mountain town a couple hundred kilometers from Christchurch.  They organized a beautiful house with stunning views of the town and mountains and only a short walk from the hot spring pools where we enjoyed a good soaking in the afternoon.  We had the most chilled out night sitting in front of a crackling fire in the fireplace with some great wines, cheeses and music.  Johnny and I learned that it is actually possible to have an enjoyable night together without getting absolutely blind.  But for old times sake, we got the big guns out for our last night in Christchurch which resulted in a magnificent hangover the next morning.  I was happy to wave Johnny bye-bye one last time as he trotted off to work with bloodshot eyes and this alcohol vapour seeping out of him which gave him the appearance of being surrounded by a force field.  He called me from work to report that the staff in the office had taken up a collection to go buy him some breath freshening gum.  Mission accomplished!


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

December 17, 2002 - Christchurch, New Zealand

I was born to be a biker, of this I am now sure.  Our Harley ride was spectacular and to make the experience complete, day two was a complete washout and we looked like eels after spending a full ten hours on the bike through torrential rainstorms.  Luckily, we made it back safely and had pure sunshine on our last morning's ride into Christchurch, which was a stunning ride through Allan's Pass which had some incredible views.  We did a total of about 1200 kilometers which isn't too bad considering it was very slow going on many of the mountain roads.  One of the most scenic things was the proliferation of gorgeous yellow and purple wildflowers in the fields around the mountains.  Now all we need to do is settle down somewhere so I can get myself a bike!

We are nearing the end of our visit here in Christchurch.  We leave here on Thursday and will be heading up to Nelson for a few days then we'll take the ferry to the north island and spend Christmas in Wellington.  After that we only have a few days to get back up to Auckland for New Years and the next leg of our journey... to Chile!


Tuesday, December 10, 2002

December 10, 2002 - Christchurch, New Zealand

It's been a busy time in New Zealand!  We arrived in Auckland about a week ago to gorgeous weather and decided to bus north to a town called Paihia which is on the coast of the Bay of Islands, an idyllic island paradise off the northernmost part of the north island.  We took a 24 hour tour on this unbelievable houseboat called "The Rock" and packed in a lot of activity including fishing, snorkeling, diving for mussels, sea kayaking, hiking, billiards, dolphin watching, and even some relaxing on the beach!  I also did a half day fishing excursion (Ana passed on this) and caught a pile of red snapper which we ate for dinner that night.  We returned to Auckland and then flew to Christchurch where Johnny Eyre-Walker was there to meet us with a smile and three cold beers.  It was great to see him again!  We moved into his and his girlfriend Carolyn's house then settled in for a night of hangover construction.  I made sure to arrive on a weeknight so I could wave Johnny bye bye as he left the next morning for work - revenge is sweet!

It was Carolyn's 30th birthday last Saturday so they had a big barbeque party at their place where we met a lot of their friends and family.  We got a little rained out, but that didn't stop anything - it was a great party.

We are now getting ready for our tour of the South Island and have reserved a Harley Davidson Softail Classic for two days beginning tomorrow!  I am so excited I can hardly contain myself as I've never ridden a Harley before.  I think we are going to ride to Queenstown then back up the west coast and over to Christchurch, as it's meant to be a spectacular drive.   We will return on Friday then are planning a weekend away with Carolyn and Johnny, destination unknown.  Next week we'll likely hang around for a few days then make our way northwards and find a nice place to spend Christmas.  We'll be missing you all but at the same time enjoying the weather!