Archive for January, 2013

New Zealand Slide Show

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3 Days Until India!

We have survived New Zealand and even managed to have some fun towards the end of our time here. Now we have 3 days before we head to India, and we are really excited. We picked up our visas today from the embassy so it’s official! We have a bus back to Auckland tomorrow then we’re flying out to India. We decided to stay in India for a shorter time so we’d have money to do a ton of fun things. We want to do a camel safari in the desert, do some whitewater rafting, and go tiger spotting in a national park, just to name a few. Not to mention all of the ancient temples and forts we’ll be able to see! We’ll also be there for Holi, the Hindu festival that celebrates the beginning of spring. They celebrate by throwing colorful paints at each other. I’m really excited for that! We’ll also be in Dharamsala, the city where the Tibetan government is in exile, for Tibetan New Year. I’m pretty nervous for the first couple days where I’m sure I’ll be a bit culture shocked, but I am really, really excited!

The Kiwi Bird

The Kiwi Bird

I would be willing to pay no more than $4 to see a small, flightless, nocturnal bird. Unfortunately the place charged $30 so this will be the extent of my interaction with New Zealand’s national bird.

10 Really Fun Things I’ve Done in New Zealand (Not in Any Particular Order)

1. Beaches

In New Zealand, you’re never more than a half hour drive away from the coast. Liza and I have seen many beautiful sunsets like the one in the picture.

Fun Fact:

Minnesota has about 9 times as much coastline as New Zealand!

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2. Camping

There are no dangerous animals in New Zealand so you don’t have to worry about getting mauled by a bear in your sleep when you’re camping here. Plus, with all of New Zealand’s natural beauty there’re plenty of great places to camp.

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3. Hobbiton

Hobbiton is where the hobbits live in the Lord of the Rings movies. I’m not the world’s biggest Lord of the Rings fan (I believe that title belongs to Liza), but it’s nice to feel tall with all the hobbit sized houses (or Hobbit Holes as I’m sure Liza will yell at me for not using the proper name) around.

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4. Lord of the Rings Tour

It made Liza happy plus we got to go a day without worrying about anything. 

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5. Our 2nd WWOOFing Host

Earl, our 2nd WWOOFing host, was incredibly nice. He was working on subsistence farming, and I felt like I was really making a difference. He also made the world’s best bread, and I stole his recipe!

6. Working in Franz Josef

This is what we’re doing now. We’re working at a place called the Rainforest Retreat. It’s more of a hotel than a retreat. Liza and I have been doing house keeping in exchange for food and a room. The other house keepers are really nice. Most of them are from the Philippines and spend all day asking me questions about basketball.

7. Hiking to a View Point in Franz Josef

There are a ton of fun hikes nearby that start within walking distance of where we’re staying. It rains a lot here, but whenever we get a nice day we try to do one. We’ve done two so far.

 

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8. Hiking to a Gorge in Franz Josef

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9. Warm New  Year’s Eve

It was weird being outside on New Year’s Eve in shorts and a t-shirt. Picton, the town we were in, had a big celebration with a band playing whiny teenager covers of not whiny teenager songs. Then at midnight there were fireworks. It was pretty fun!

10. Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman wasn’t nearly as intense or isolated as Cajas was in Ecuador, but it was still very beautiful despite being so touristy.

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Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

Just One of the Many Lord of the Rings Scenes We’ve Replicated (Against My Free Will)

Just One of the Many Lord of the Rings Scenes We've Replicated (Against My Free Will)

5 Things That are Still Bothering Me about New Zealand

Okay New Zealand has not been all bad, and I promise that after this I’ll put up some pictures and write about some of the fun things we’ve done. These are just a couple things that have been frequently causing me grumpy-ness:

1. Prices/Businesses

People told me that New Zealand would be a bit more expensive than I was used to. I can now tell you, for sure, that New Zealand is WAY more expensive than you’re used to. Worse than that, though, is that the businesses seem to be dedicated wholly to making the business owner maximum profit at the expense of his employees and customers. “Food” is the next victim on my list anyways so I’ll use a restaurant experience to demonstrate this. When you walk into a restaurant, don’t expect do be seated and given a menu. There are no hosts or waiters. The only staff in one person at the counter taking orders and one cook. Next you’ll look at a menu only to see that the very cheapest thing is $12. You need to be careful ordering because everything is going to cost extra. Don’t expect free ketchup, refills, or sides. Some places charge extra if you want to take your food to go, and some places charge extra if you want to eat there due to “limited dining space.” Also, I already posted the picture of the place charging 15% extra because it was the day after a holiday. Then, since there’re only two people working in the entire restaurant, it takes really long for the food to come. This is just an example. All the businesses are like this: understaffed and overpriced.

2. Food

They eat mostly British food in New Zealand. How is it that the British colonized India just to make their food have flavor, and it still tastes like nothing, absolutely nothing?

3.“Free Spirits”

Okay I get it, you’re a free spirit, but you’re in a restaurant. Put on a shirt and shoes. The food is hard enough to choke down as it is without looking at your hairy feet and pimply back.

4.Other Travelers

I didn’t have much experience with “people” in Ecuador so this might not just apply to New Zealand, but all travelers in general. My peers seem to me to mostly be people who had trouble making friends in high school, who dropped out of college, and now have their daddy’s credit card because they need to travel to “find themselves.” So they go around repeating what they heard their professor say in their first semester, freshman political science class and proclaiming that the world would be a better place if everybody was like them. There would be fewer wars, which is great, but there would be a lot fewer of all of the things that allow society to function too. In all fairness, we have met some nice, generally interesting people as well.

5. “WWOOFing” in New Zealand

WWOOF stands for world wide opportunities on organic farms. When I looked online for pictures of this, I saw people all over the world working on organic farms. I made the fatal error of assuming that I would also be working on organic farms. However, in New Zealand, WWOOFing has taken on a new meaning. WWOOFing hosts in New Zealand have consistently been business owners who don’t want to pay their employees and people who want a free, personal landscaper. I’m bummed about this because the website made it look like I would be learning about sustainable agriculture and making a difference and stuff.

Sorry I just needed to get that off my chest. Now I can start talking about all the fun we’ve had!