Tag Archives: new zealand

100 Things?

Honestly we were going to keep track of 100 things we wanted to do while traveling. We make promises, and we break your ever-loving hearts by failing to do what we said we would do. Ultimately we DID end up with a list of 100 things we would try on our 2010-2011 trip, but on this most recent trip, we never even kept any sort of list. We could easily just make up a list now, but….uh, we don’t want to. Do not click here because there’s nothing to see.

Instead enjoy this random picture of ferns taken in Hokitika, New Zealand:

Ferns.

Ferns.

Why ferns? No idea. That is all.

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One Night in Sydney

After a fantastic two weeks navigating windy roads and waving to sheep, it was time to leave the beauty of New Zealand behind. Our super-cheap flight back to the States left from Sydney, so we planned one last night there. The only downside: our flight from Christchurch to Sydney left at 7:45am…which meant we had to wake up at 5:15am to make sure we had enough time to drive to the airport, drop the car off, and check in for an international flight. All went smoothly, but we were super tired when we landed after a three-hour flight.

So where did we lay our heads, you ask? Nowhere big…just the Four Seasons overlooking Circular Quay in Sydney. We kept debating where to stay in Sydney for just one night, and Mike realized he had enough credit card points to book a fancy hotel:

We Make Ourselves at Home Quite Quickly.

We Make Ourselves at Home Quite Quickly. Classy.

View from the Room. Kinda Cool Watching Traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

View from the Room. Kinda Cool Watching Traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Slightly different than trying to drown out the sounds of a snorer in a hostel dorm room, yeah? Truth be told, however, we expected fancy extravagance from the hotel, and it was…just okay. The lobby and room were both fine but nothing special.

Our plan for that day was to sit by the pool and then nap. (We woke up super early. Don’t judge.) The sky was quite overcast, so we only sat by the pool for a bit. The nap came earlier (and lasted longer) than expected. We wandered around for a bit, grabbed burgers and fried pickles, and wandered around some more:

Bridge. Cruise Ship. Both Massive.

Bridge. Cruise Ship. Both Massive.

Amazing Sky.

Amazing Sky.

Because of the late lunch, we split chicken schnitzel parmigiana for dinner from the same pub where we watched some of the Super Bowl. Dessert was a huge lemon meringue pie slice. Long story short: food was the priority that day in Sydney.

After a great night’s sleep in an overly big king-size bed, the next day’s plan was to sit by the pool before leaving for the airport that afternoon. The weather, however, did not cooperate. Not much sun was spotted, and it drizzled for a bit. Not exactly the last day in Sydney we expected… We wandered, shopped for groceries, and grabbed some Japanese noodles for lunch. We also worked in some time for a photo shoot by the Opera House:

Mike Contemplating Life at the Opera House.

Mike Contemplating Life at the Opera House.

Textured.

Textured.

Hanna Lovin' Life.

Hanna Lovin’ Life.

Before we knew it, our time in Australia had to come to a close. We left for the airport around 3pm and tried to mentally prepare for our nine-and-a-half hour flight to Honolulu.

Sydney from the Airport. Last Photo Taken in Oz.

Sydney from the Airport. Last Photo Taken in Oz.

Final Thoughts: New Zealand

It’s been over a month since we had to write one of these posts, so we are feeling a bit rusty. Bear with us please, and don’t expect anything earth-shattering.

New Zealand is just as amazing as we remember it. The even more amazing part: Hanna left the country without a trace of pneumonia. After the last trip, Hanna would always say, “Yeah, New Zealand was okay.” Mike would always tell her that the reason she didn’t love it was that she got sick. Hanna tried to refute this point. Hanna finally (FINALLY!) admitted that she didn’t like New Zealand as much last time because she had pneumonia. She admitted that New Zealand is quite beautiful and amazing. Lesson learned: Mike is always right.

There is absolutely no other country that we have visited in which we constantly remark about the scenery. Even sheep got sick of us praising the beauty. Though the roads are winding and often slow, a look out of the car window reminded us that the cliché is right: it’s not always about the destination…it’s about the journey.

While we did go back to places we liked, we are glad that we got to experience new things: canyoning and tobogganing in Queenstown, hot tubbin’ it up in Hanmer Springs, cruising through stunning Milford Sound, actually getting to see Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, and failing to swim with dolphins in Akaroa.

We meant to write a post that included random pictures from our drives around the South Island, but we are lazy and never did. So, uh, here you go:

Up on a Hill in Dunedin.

Up on a Hill in Dunedin.

Proof of Mike Driving.

Proof of Mike Driving.

Sheep. Baa.

Sheep. Baa.

Cotton Ball Clouds in Milford Sound.

Cotton Ball Clouds in Milford Sound.

Clouds over Random Lake. (We Forget Where.)

Clouds over Random Lake. (We Forget Where.)

Wood Structure in Hokitika.

Wood Structure in Hokitika.

Woods on the Truman Track.

Woods on the Truman Track.

Mike: Katie A in New Zealand

You probably thought that I have forgotten about these flying pig posts, right? Nope, untrue. It’s just that we were in Australia for about a month, went to New Zealand for two weeks, and then traveled back to Sydney before heading back to the States. Since we finished seeing New Zealand first, you’ll get this post and a Final Thoughts post before we wrap up Australia.

After visits to Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, a flying pig found its home in New Zealand. It’s no secret that we love Queenstown, and I am sure that Katie A would love this little town too. Beautiful mountains, skiing and snowboarding readily available, perfection. We knew that we wanted to place a flying pig here but couldn’t decide exactly where to put it.

As we walked towards the lake one day, we passed a hostel that had a unique bench outside. This bench was special. This bench was made out of snowboards. Hanna and I smiled to each other, and I knew this was where Katie A’s flying pig would go:

Other Stickers Were Already on the Bench, So We Know This Pig Will Be There for a Long Time.

Other Stickers Were Already on the Bench, So We Know This Pig Will Be There for a Long Time.

A Closer Look.

A Closer Look.

Out of anywhere we traveled during this trip, I don’t think there is another place that Katie A would have loved more.

Hey Paula!

One of Hanna’s most favorite things in all of Christchurch is located inside the Canterbury Museum. This museum has many areas: natural history (think giant stuffed animals behind glass), art, and cultural history. Hanna’s favorite part is tucked away in its own little spot.

Way back in the ancient twentieth century, a Kiwi couple named Fred and Myrtle Flutey lived in the southernmost town in the South Island. Fred would use paua shells (the shiny coverings of sea snails) as ashtrays and would then leave them all over the house, and this drove Myrtle crazy. She yelled at him to pick up the shells so she could vacuum. Fred’s solution? Nail them to the wall of their living room. The collection quickly grew, and the walls of the entire room were covered in shells. Word spread about their collection, and tourists would come to visit. Busloads arrived, and the Fluteys became Kiwi celebrities (clearly the Ice-T and Coco of their day).

After they passed away in the early 2000s, an exact recreation of their living room has been made in the Canterbury Museum…and Hanna cannot get enough of this sweet couple:

Paua House. Organ Music (Fred's Favorite) Plays as You Walk Through.

Paua House. Organ Music (Fred’s Favorite) Plays as You Walk Through.

We saw this exhibit three years ago, and Hanna would refer to the beautiful shells as “paula shells”. We have no idea why. Hanna’s one goal upon our return to New Zealand was to obtain a paula shell, and she is proud that Ms. Abdul is proudly in our backpack now.

Hanna and Paula. (No, Hanna Didn't Steal a Shell from the Wall.)

Hanna and Paula. (No, Hanna Didn’t Steal a Shell from the Wall.)

The Paua House wasn’t the only reason why we like the Canterbury Museum. They currently have an exhibition about street art:

Love the Random Staring Child.

Love the Random Staring Child.

Included in the exhibition are about twenty pieces by Banksy. Back in October 2013, Banksy took over the streets of New York and left a new piece of art somewhere in the city each day. We saw a few of them, but our favorite story goes as follows: a table was set up in Central Park with Banksy originals. No one really knew it was his art, so only a few pieces were sold. Two were bought by a Kiwi woman who was living in New York at the time, and she only paid US $60 for each one. These paintings are now worth about US $325,000 combined. She has lent them to the Canterbury Museum as part of the street art exhibition, so it was cool to feel a little piece of New York while in Christchurch:

If We Would Have Bought One Back in October, Maybe We Could Have Traveled Longer. Hindsight.

The Two Banksy Paintings on Sale in Central Park. If We Would Have Bought One Back in October, Maybe We Could Have Traveled Longer. Hindsight.

Banksy famously posted his own art in various museums around the world to see if people would notice. The Canterbury Museum took a cue from Banksy and placed things that shouldn’t be there in other permanent exhibits:

Mechanical Penguin.

Mechanical Penguin.

Hello (Waving) Kitty.

Hello (Waving) Kitty.

We Know: Crappy Picture. Somehow SpongeBob Snuck into an Underwater Diorama.

Somehow SpongeBob Snuck into an Underwater Diorama. (We Know, We Know. Crappy Picture.)

Julius Haast (Founder of the Canterbury Museum and the Namesake of Our Favorite Kiwi Town) Was Somehow Able to Log on to Facebook in the Nineteenth Century.

Julius Haast (Founder of the Canterbury Museum and the Namesake of Our Favorite Kiwi Town) Was Somehow Able to Log on to Facebook in the Nineteenth Century.

We had a ball searching high and low for these aberrations. One weekend the museum hid 36 tokens in the adjacent gardens, and if you found one, you would win an original piece of art by a local street artist. Very cool indeed. We were bummed to find out that this took place the previous weekend…because you KNOW we would be all over that shit.

A Slacker Post

If you check the right side of our blog every minute of every day, you know that we are no longer in New Zealand. You may even know that we stopped in Sydney again after leaving the beautifulocity of New Zealand. The truth is: we are in Hawaii now, and we still need to wrap up New Zealand and Australia. The further truth? This is the first time in over two months that we are behind the rest of the world in time zones. We are tired and don’t feel like writing posts right now. They’ll come soon enough, reader friends.

Here’s a picture of a turtle instead:

Just Punched a Turtle. #YOLO

Just Punched a Turtle. #YOLO

CHCH

Our last stop in New Zealand was the first city we saw on our previous trip: Christchurch. We were driving to Auckland when a major earthquake struck Christchurch in February 2011. We have seen pictures of the massive damage, but we weren’t sure what to expect upon coming here for the first time since the quake.

Truth be told: it’s heartbreaking. The center city feels like a construction zone and ghost town. Many streets are closed as road crews repair streets. Many buildings are boarded up and left inhabited. Entire buildings are just gone. Granted we have only been to Christchurch once before, we can only imagine how it must feel for locals to see their city destroyed:

Damage.

Damage.

Right in the Center City.

Right in the Center City.

With devastation, however, comes rebuilding, and Christchurch has done an absolutely amazing job at this restart. Public art dots the city, and Re:START Mall (shops in large shipping containers) replace destroyed stores:

Such a Unique Shopping Area Which Brings a Modern Touch to an Area of Devastation.

Such a Unique Shopping Area Which Brings a Modern Touch to an Area of Devastation.

The Christchurch Cathedral is a symbol of the city and survived many prior earthquakes, but unfortunately a lot of it didn’t survive after the February 2011 quake:

January 2011: Christchurch Cathedral.

January 2011: Christchurch Cathedral.

March 2014: Christchurch Cathedral.

March 2014: Christchurch Cathedral.

Most buildings surrounding the cathedral have collapsed or are considered condemned. We knew that the cathedral was heavily damaged, but we had no idea how much damage was done to its surroundings. We couldn’t quite wrap our heads around the devastation and that this was a place we had been before. Unreal.

Since the cathedral is unable to be used for services, a temporary cathedral has been built nearby. Created by a Japanese architect, this church is made mostly of cardboard tubes, wood, and steel, and it’s been built to sustain earthquakes:

Cardboard Cathedral.

Cardboard Cathedral.

Cardboard Tube Beams.

Cardboard Tube Beams.

Across the street from the Cardboard Cathedral is a remembrance of the 185 people that lost their lives in the February 2011 earthquake. 185 white chairs (each one different, each one unique) hold a single flower, and viewers are encouraged to sit in the chairs to remember the victims:

White Chairs.

White Chairs.

A Sea of White Across from the Cardboard Cathedral.

A Sea of White Across from the Cardboard Cathedral.

When we were here three years ago, Christchurch was trying to back on its feet from earthquakes in 2010. There was visible destruction in certain areas, but there was still a vivacious feeling in the center city area. It now feels almost like a war zone in parts. Whole blocks are gone or destroyed, waiting for their turn to be fixed. Our hearts really go out to the citizens of Christchurch because almost everywhere you look is a reminder of destruction.

Here’s to You, Christchurch.

Here’s to You, Christchurch.