Australia, New Zealand · 13 Days · 42 Moments · April 2017

Stacy's adventure in New Zealand

26 April 2017

A few of my spoils from New Zealand.

25 April 2017

Home (away from home) sweet home... I can hardly believe that I just spent 10 days in New Zealand, and now it's beginning to feel like like a dream. But I have the souvenirs and photos to prove it, so it must be real. I pray that I'll be able to return one day, and am thankful I've had at least this once chance. 8 survived driving in the "wrong" side of the road, saw many places that I thought I'd always just wish I'd be able to see. All in all, it was definitely a trip of a lifetime for me.
Yay... For layovers... Oh, well, it's given me the chance to complete a 4th book in less than two weeks. It's been forever since I've crammed that many books in at once, but it feels so good!

24 April 2017

Sadly this trip is coming to an end in about an hour... I spent the day wondering Christchurch, where I found a place called "Nature's Discoveries" where I worked on some 3d puzzles. After that, I just wondered aimlessly until I decided to jump on the bus for the airport. Upon boarding the bus, I discovered I needed 40 cents more to pay the ticket. So off I ran to the closest atm, where, of course, the smallest withdrawal I could make was $20. Once I reached the airport, I found a Keychain an t-shirt, leaving me still with about $6 I don't what I'm gonna do with.
Yesterday we got a late start before heading off to the Otago museum, Dunedin Botanic garden, and then the settlers museum in Dunedin. We were loaded up on the bus at a 1715 for the 6 hour drive back to Christchurch. We were an hour late, so instead of using the city bus as planned, we settled for an Uber.
Oh, and I made another stop at Starbucks before leaving this beautiful land. And found a neat place to make your own mixes for candle waxes. And the 3d puzzle I did.

23 April 2017

Otago settlers museum
Paradise ducks and Dunedin Botanic Gardens

22 April 2017

Finally leaving the airport after waiting around for several hours. Once 8 get back to the hostel, I'll drop of the extra stuff I've got and hopefully I can find a place that's still open to feed me.
On our way back to town so I could clean the car and return it, we stopped and did some photo taking and walking around at Glenfalloch Gardens. After that was done, we came back to town where I dropped off Hannah at our accommodation before finding a place to fill the tank up and clean the car out before returning it to the airport. And now I wait... For the shuttle to take me back to town...
Upon leaving the reserve we headed on down to Otago Peninsula. While driving to the end, we decided to make a stop at Larnach Castle. I would've enjoyed seeing the inside of the castle, but that was another $16 more than the $15 we already had to pay in order to enter and simply see the gardens. After we left the castle, we headed on down to the Royal Albatross Centre. Therw they offer tours to see albatrosses, sea lions, and the Otago penguins, but the prices were outrageous. Instead we wondered around a bit, and I headed down to the little boardwalk along the bay where I discovered about 6 sea lions that I was able to get some pictures of.
Today was a lot slower and began at about 8:30. The first place we went was Burns Park Scenic Reserve. There we spent some time walking around enjoying the view. I also found these nice toadstools!
(Horses - continued) The second ride was done in the Paradise Valley, and this time I was assigned to Peaches. I was once again allowed to stay at the rear of the group so I could do my own thing, but I didn't find many good places for anything other than a walk. On this trip, I got to see many places from the Lord of the Rings from my favourite place - that back of a horse. We saw the forest where the orcs race down near the river to capture the Hobbits just as Aragon tells Frodo to go in alone,we saw where Boromir is shot, the full scene of Isengard and the valley of Ents,and a few other scenes. Now, even if you don't enjoy horses, the drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy is absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, in the morning I though I was racing against time and in the evening I was racing against the sun to get good pictures. And with a lack of turn outs, that task is even harder. So I got as many pictures as I could. Yesterday was about 21 hours long for me, but so worth it!

21 April 2017

So, the horse ride yesterday didn't turn out quite like it thought it would, but it was still worth it. I arrived ahead of time, so ended up standing around for nearly an hour waiting. When I got on, I was assigned to Beer for the first 3 hour leg of the journey. Since I was the only experienced rider, I was allowed to remain in the back of the group and do some trotting and cantering on him. On that trip we saw these views I have pictures of on this post, because unfortunately my phone was nearly dead by the second ride. On the first ride, I saw the thicket where the inspiration for Ents cake from, the Misty Mountains, Mt. Ernslaw and Alfred. We also saw snippets of where Isengard was. After that ride, I was taken into the little one horse town of Glenorchy for lunch. I spent about 2 hours there looking around before being taken back to the stables. Back at the stables, the new riders filled out their paperwork before we headed up to another piece of land for the second leg of my ride

20 April 2017

Not much to report today, as I spent the 7+ hours traveling by yet another bus from Christchurch to Dunedin (pronounced dune-eden). The name is the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh. After arriving, we checked into the backpackers,l and wandered around the town a bit before catching the shuttle to pick up the rental car. Once we got the car, we came back before taking another walk t in find food. Now, I'm just trying to shut my brain down for sleep to prepare for a very early morning, lots of driving, and an 8 hr horse ride.

19 April 2017

Most of today was spent on a bus from Picton to Christchurch, and it was just as spectacular as the train and ferry the last two days. I got to watch it turn from tropical to deserty back to lush. I barely got my lunch in time at the cafe we stopped at for lunch. Then didn't the afternoon talking to the gal next to me. Once we reached Christchurch, at hopped on a risen bus to our place tonight, which is a bit removed from the center of town which I rather like. I discovered a pier lit by LEDs from a local and didn't a whole thing to capture the different patterns, but didn't get them all. Anyway, I'm on to Dunedin tomorrow!
A pretty pier a local told me of here in Christchurch.
I know they're not much or very fantastic, but here are a couple snapshots from today's beautiful bus ride!
Thankfully, we provided ourselves with plenty of time to reach the ferry so we could stop in museums along the way and take the more scenic route along the water's edge. We then boarded the ferry for three hours. It was such a magnificent ride! Once we landed, we hunted down a shuttle to our place for the night. We stayed in a small, but very comfortable camping cabin. This morning we were up by 6 to catch the shuttle back to the ferry terminal to catch a our bus to Christchurch.
Well, yesterday began with a tour at the WETA cave where props for many movies have been done, but the most important ones to me are Lord of the Rings and chronicles of Narnia. It was neat to get an insiders view of the happenings there, unfortunately, no pictures were allowed throughout the tour because of licensing. But it was fun nonetheless. I wanted to get a little trinket, but nothing was affordable for me... Though, I nearly got a screen cloth and wish that I had to use for my camera lenses and such. Oh, well... After Weta, we went back to town where I tried to hunt down some decent wifi so I could hopefully complete the stages of travel in certain places. Unfortunately that didn't go so smoothly, so I ended up having to do it on the ferry and miss some opportunities getting pictures since I was trying to do that and I was left to babysit our belongings while my partner went on walk about instead. Once my partner caught up to me where I was using wifi, we headed to the ferry.

18 April 2017

Weta workshop.... It's a cave troll!
WETA workshop tours are definitely worth the time. It provided an interesting look inside the art of movie making, especially for the Lord of the Rings fans.

17 April 2017

Today I spent 12 hours on a train traveling from Auckland to Wellington. The trip was absolutely beautiful! Anyway, tomorrow is explore Wellington day before taking the ferry to Picton on the South Island.
Snow and mountains! Along the Transalpine Kiwi Rail scenic train route.
Snow and mountains!!
Here's a (lousy) picture of the cathedral I sat in in Mass yesterday. Wish I could've gotten photos that did it justice...
(Easter Sunday finale) Now, I'm uncertain as to whether Starbucks here is truly different from home, but think it has better flavor than home. Maybe it was what I got, or just because I've forgotten what Starbucks tastes like. Anyway, after that, we headed back to the hostel for the night, where I discovered my missing coin purse (only missing about $1 worth of change and a couple receipts), my phone charging cable, and Seb's powerbank. So instead of taking a shower, I raced back out to try to find a charging cable before all of the shops shut for the night. Thankfully, I found one and was back within 45 minutes. After that, I went back and plugged my phone in and took a shower. When I got down to the showers, I discovered I'd left my soap in the room, do I substituted for shampoo... Then near the end of my shower, the lights decided to power off on me. So I finished up as quickly as I could, went up and straightened my belongings out and curled up for the night at about 2200.
(Easter Sunday continued - 2) When we departed from the petrol station after tidying up and topping off the gas, we heard a thump from the back. That thump, near as we can tell, was Seb's powerbank tumbling from on top of my bags in the back down underneath the carpet on top of the spare tire, so when we double checked to make sure we hadn't left anything behind, we didn't notice those items... Until I was ready to plug my phone in for the night... Anyway, before that... Once we returned the car and checked into the hostel for the night, we decided to explore Auckland. We ended up at a cathedral and wanted to look inside. Instead there was mass beginning in 10 minutes, so we decided we may as well stay since we hadn't made it to a Easter service yesterday. After the mass, we spent a few more hours exploring Auckland by foot. We found some nice buildings and I found a Starbucks and decided to try a Tahitian Vanilla latte just for kicks and to see what their coffee tastes like here.
(Easter Sunday continued) ... In the attempt to prevent any more silly mistakes throughout the day. That is probably the best coffee I have ever had! I'm not sure if it's because of the novelty of my being in Hobbiton, or of it is legitimately the best coffee ever. Just as I finished my coffee and souvenir shopping, it was time to hop in the tour bus down to the actual Hobbiton site. Hobbiton really does look like the place Tolkien described it as in the books, even without the hobbit holes! There I took between 2-309 hundred photos throughout the tour of Hobbiton. The tour ended at the Green Dragon where we got 1 complimentary drink, and I purchased my "Elevensies". I got myself a "cheesy moustrap" and a scone. After that, we unfortunately had to go back to the Shire's Rest where we first got on the tour bus. From there, we set back out to Auckland. We arrived in Auckland with plenty of time to spare before turning the rental in, so we took our time cleaning it before returning it.
Delayed update for yesterday (Easter Sunday)... Yesterday was anything but smooth sailing... When we (Hannah and I) went to leave hostel we slept at the previous night, I screwed up in my half-awake state and dropped the car keys instead of the room key in the drop box. Thankfully, I only had to wait five minutes for opening in order to retrieve the keys and turn in the correct ones. After obtaining the correct key, we set out to Hobbiton. Shortly after we began driving, I noticed that the ETA was three hours instead of one, so I decided that I had better pull over and be sure that I was being directed to the proper place. Good thing I did, because it turned out it was set to take us directly to Auckland without going through Hobbiton! That could've ended in a very disappointing way... Even so, we arrived in Hobbiton about an hours prior to our tour. We decided to take our skate time taking photos, perusing and purchasing from the souvenir shop, and I bought myself a cup of coffee...

16 April 2017

Tried a Tahitian Vanilla latte at a Starbucks in Auckland!
Oh, Hobbiton!
At last!

15 April 2017

(continuation of previous...) they often meet they're death by cannibalism to the larvae. Next, we went to Piopio to scope out the rocks near where Bilbo meets the trolls in the Hobbit. As we followed a road, we found "Hairy Hobbit Tours" which led us to a fourth generation operating farm that was used to stage many of the scenes from the Hobbit. We turned down the tour since it was a little late and a bit more than we wanted to pay... Not to mention, I didn't feel like being drenched by rain for 90 minutes. After that, we sought out a beautiful waterfall before heading to Rotorua for the night. Tons of pictures were taken between the two. 9nce in Rotorua, we checkef into our hostel before wondering around town and finding a place to eat. Unfortunately, due to the limited time her ins New Zealand and lack of turn offs, I'm not getting anywhere near enough photos to do this beautiful country justice. Anyway, I shall now head to bed so I can see Hobbiton tomorrow!
Just to wrap up today, I arrived in Auckland at 0545 NZT, and then had to find a way to the car rental. I had to settle with a taxi since my data wasn't connecting and therefore I couldn't find the info needed to get the right bus. Once we picked up the rental car at 0800, I drove the three hours two the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Unfortunately, you're not allowed to take photos there, and of course their photos are expensive... So I settled for 3 postcards that I could have gotten close to had I been allowed to take photos. There we learned that the caves are operated by the local Maoris (90% are directly related). The glow worms only live for ten months. They send their first three months in eggs transforming to larvae. During the larvae stage, thats when they have bioluminesence and the time they eat. They capture small insects by dangling a mucus string down from the ceiling. At about 9 months, they turn into cocoons to become adults manifested as flies which have three days of life
Waitomo Waterfall
3 hours of driving later, and we've reached the first place! 2 wrong stops first, bit third time is the charm. Waiting in line for a tour of Waitomo Glow worm caves. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to take any pictures...
Been in Auckland for an hour, trying to find the way around is a bit tougher than I initially anticipated...
Landing in ten minutes, here's hoping the weather isn't too nasty this coming week... Didn't get much sleep on the plane, but my excitement should keep me up for the duration of the day, and it's a pretty light day anyway.

14 April 2017

On the way to airport, still can't believe it's happening!

13 April 2017

Can't believe I'm going to be seeing New Zealand in just over a day from now!