Blog - New Zealand (part 4)

Added on Monday, 2015-02-09 22:18 CET in category Traveling
(This blog post is part 4 of a series. You can start with part 1.)

Glaciers and helicopter flight

After another long drive (go cruise control!) we had reached Fox Glacier, which we'd be visiting by helicopter! Unfortunately due to heavy clouds our trip was canceled :(, so we decided to walk up to it, as far as we could.

As you can see from the meltwater the glacier is not particularly clean :P

Meltwater from Fox GlacierFox GlacierThe serrated top of Fox Glacier

Lucky for us the weather had cleared up the day after, so we did finally go up! :D

Take off!Glacier view (1)Glacier view (2) Us on the glacierGlacier topBlue water

We had originally planned to go on a glacier hike, where we'd walk around the gletsjer for two hours or so, but in the end were happy we did the shorter tour: after ten minutes of playing around we didn't head straight back, but instead flew around some more!

Helicopter view (1)Helicopter view (2)Helicopter view (3)

Doubtful Sound cruise

In the very southwest of New Zealand lies Doubtful Sound, "a very large and naturally imposing fiord". It's inaccessible by car, so we took a one-day cruise there. We first crossed Lake Manapouri:

Low cloud in frontTowards the Tasman SeaA stream

We then drove by bus to the second boat, and were explicitly told not to squash the sandflies on the windows :P The sandflies were even more numerous than they were in Abel Tasman National Park, and we could very well imagine the satisfaction one gets from squashing the annoying buggers…

The second boat trip was even more impressive than the first: we drove out to the open sea, and while we were driving a group of dolphins came to the boat and started to play around :D

Nautical flag of New ZealandSeals Doubtful sound cruiseDolphin jumping from the waterDoubtful Sound from the top

Auckland

Before we could head back home, we first had to get back to Auckland. (Told you I'd get back to it ;) That evening we went to the Classic Comedy club, where we were assigned front-row seats. Hoorah… Like in the Netherlands, front-row seats means getting mocked, called up on stage, or both :P We were asked where we were from:
  • "From the Netherlands."
  • "Yay Dutchies! Welcome! How long've you been here for?"
  • "About three weeks, going home tomorrow…"
  • "Aww… What did you visit? Did you go to Hamilton?"
At that time we had no idea about Aucklanders' attitude towards Hamilton, but my answer "I think we just drove right past it" couldn't've been more on the money, judging by this image of Hamiltonians :P

One of the comedians, as soon as he showed up on stage, started off with "So what about this terrorist attack in France, huh?", a mere two days after the attack… Can you say "shock humor"? But as the guy went on about the attack, along the lines of "there were like, what, 11 dead or so?", a voice from the back suddenly calls out: "eet was twelvuh actualie". "Oh crap, are you French? I hadn't really counted on that… Different topic? OK, different topic…"…

Besides this completely failed attempt the rest of the evening was great, and I even got called up on stage to assist in a card trick :)

The next day we visited the Auckland Art Gallery, which hosts the cubic structural evolution project, or in other words: thousands upon thousands of white Lego bricks to create with :)

Lastly my wife had arranged a high tea as a closure for our amazing trip, at the restaurant in the Sky Tower, about 190m from the ground, providing a spectacular 360° view of Auckland:

Lego bricks!Sky tower (So yeah, they do controlled jumps from the floor above :P)

The long way back

After three long and absolutely fantastic weeks in New Zealand it was time to go back home. But we first needed to get there. The first step back to Auckland had been made, but from the other side of the world it took us another two very long days to get home…

Fortunately it wasn't only travel, we had some great fun along the way too: we had another stopover in Taipei, an even longer one this time, so we visited Jeremy & Rebecca again, saw their new flat, and met up with his parents, where we had stayed during Chinese New Year last year.

After yet another 15h or so of flying, we had finally made it back, fully charged after an amazing vacation, and ready for work :)

Thank you, New Zealand, for an unforgettable vacation, thank you, Lee and family, for a great Christmas, and most of all, thank you, Alina, for making all this possible ;)

P.S.: random oddness and coolness

Like every country New Zealand has its "huh?s" and "ooh!s". Some are great, some not too much, and some make you think a bit :)
  • Kind of a no-brainer, but hardly any language barrier! The New Zealand accent was sometimes a bit hard to decipher, especially by phone, but after a few days it had sunk in. It was so nice to not have to hold back, talk slowly or simplify. Not that any of that is to their merit, English just happens to be their native language, whereas in most countries we visited it wasn't, but still, it was very pleasant :)
  • Because of the earth's inclination the seasons on the southern hemisphere are shifted half a year from those on the northern hemisphere: summer in the Netherlands means winter in New Zealand, and vice versa. Leaving the rainy, windy and cold Netherlands for full-blown summer was great, but it did come with a tiny drawback: last year was the first year I had hay fever twice: one during spring in the Netherlands, and one during summer in New Zealand…
  • Another strange thing about the southern hemisphere is having the sun in the north. So instead of the sun going from east to south to west, it goes the other way around: from east to north to west. This can get kinda confusing when you're used to orienting by the sun :P
  • New Zealand money is waterproof.
  • Unmetered internet hardly exists in New Zealand, and therefore it can be hard to find proper free WiFi anywhere. It's either ridiculously slow, or you get only 50MB for free, or you pay $0.05/MB.
  • Opening hours, especially around New Year's, are very limited. Quite some restaurants were open only from 12:00-14:00, and then again 18:00-late, or they were closed altogether until the 12th of January or so.
  • The food was great, with some interesting flavors, like passionfruit Fanta, honeycomb candy bars, or the Kiwiana pineapple lumps.
(See also the Taiwanese version and the Russian versions.)