Good Old Relaxing New Zealand


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Queenstown
October 13th 2011
Published: October 30th 2011
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Once again I am back in New Zealand. I remember from my trip 12 years ago (man, i’m getting old) that I did kinda prefer NZ to Oz because everywhere you go there is just jaw dropping landscapes. I did have trouble getting through passport control again, I didn’t have a printout of my flight out of NZ so they made me try to go to the airlines desk to see if they would print me something. So I rushed over to the desk cause now time is an issue and the lady proceeded to lecture me saying “I cant believe you people these days traveling without a printed itinerary.” After asking her again if she would just print me the ticket she said she couldn’t do it so I told her in the future just to say that instead of holding me up explaining how travel used to be and showing her how many stamps i have in my passport already. I did just buy some internet and get it on my computer. Once we landed in NZ, Nicci tried to smuggle some honey through and we were once again quarantined but not searched as much as Oz. One cool thing about being in NZ this time is the Rugby World Cup is being held here. This is good cause the atmosphere is even crazier then normal but bad cause the prices on everything have doubled. Even the entry stamp for the passports was changed to include the world cup logo! Rugby is everything here, by far the biggest sport and since the USA team was eliminated by the time we got here (yes, USA has a team, i didn’t even know that but I also didn’t know that rugby has a world cup), so now I am cheering for the NZ All Blacks!

Christchurch: Sept 22nd-23rd, 2011

We had heard from other travelers that Christchurch was completely destroyed by four major earthquakes and five thousands of aftershocks in the last year and a half but we didn’t really think they meant everything was closed. These earthquakes caused many deaths and completely leveled so many buildings, none of which have been fixed. In fact, they are still knocking down almost every building cause they are expecting more earthquakes to come and it is impossible to drive through the city for this reason. ***Just to note, while we were still in NZ another 5.7 quake hit about 2 weeks after we were there. When we looked for a hostel we found a choice of only 4 and we picked Avon City Backpackers. It was a funny house type of hostel and only two other guest were there but lots of cats. It turns out that Christchurch was completely closed except for one fine establishment. The earthquakes might have destroyed the city but nothing can stop me from going to McDonalds and Nicci was forced to eat there once again. The next morning the hostel owner Mike was driving us to meet the Stray bus and he was telling us stories of what the quakes felt like and a story of a friend of his whom lost his wife when the school she worked in collapsed but she was able to call her husband who remained on the phone until she passed away while waiting to be rescued. Such sad stories that make you appreciate how lucky we all are.

The Stray bus is a hop-on hop-off bus that can take you all around NZ. There are several big companies like this in NZ, the biggest being the Kiwi Experience but that is aimed more at the 18 year olds that want to party ALL day whereas Stray takes you a little more off the beaten path while still having a good time at night.


Kaikoura: Sept 23rd-24th, 2011

After meeting our first Stray driver Nat, Nicci and I got on the bus not knowing what to expect really. After calling Stray that morning, we figured out the best route for us to take was to head to the north island first before heading back down to the south island and catching a flight back to Auckland when we leave. There were roughly 16 other people on the bus ride to Kaikoura. After everyone started to wake up Nat had everyone draw on the windows of the bus something about their home town. I drew a guitar and mic to represent the birthplace and home of the rock and roll hall of fame. Before we even knew it we had to sign up for our first activity, which turned out to be one of the best of the trip, a chance to swim with wild dolphins. The second we got to Kaikoura we were dropped off at the Dolphin Encounters and rushed through to put on a full wetsuit including jackets, fins, boots, mask, hood, gloves and snorkels. I was expecting to be in a big pool of dolphins like you see in many peoples photos when they travel but after a short video I learned thats not what we are doing. After getting on a boat that just drove for 45 minutes right out into the ocean (we even saw some seals and many birds including a giant albatross) we found the first pod of dolphins. They quickly told everyone to sit off the back of the boat and when they tell us just slide in and enjoy. The first pod was roughly 200 wild dolphins and I jumped into the water and was instantly surrounded by dolphins. The water was FREEZING but after about 5 seconds of dolphins swimming next to you, underneath you, and jumping and landing inches from you, you don’t think about the temperature of the water (until you get out). We stayed in for about 20 minutes with these playful creatures before we moved to another location and did the whole thing over again with new dolphins. After that we did the same thing at a third location. The funniest part was if you acted and sounded like a dolphin the more they would come up to you, so you had 15 people in full wetsuits making squeaking noises flapping around the water, but it did really work. On the way back to shore the dolphins didn’t want to leave us and swam next to the boat and started jumping out of the water and doing flips. Absolutely amazing experience! Afterward we were knackered (a British term for being tired), and just went to eat before heading back to the Adelphi Lodge to sleep.


Wellington - Part 1: Sept 24th-26th, 2011

To get to Wellington, first we had to stop in Picton to catch a ferry to the north island. On the way we stopped along the coastal highway at Ohau Point Seal Colony to see the spots where the seals come to rest on the rocks and a little bit inland where they have their pups. After lunch in Picton, we caught the 3 hour ferry into NZ capital, Wellington. We checked into our hostel, XBase Wellington, and Nicci and I
Rugby World Cup FanzoneRugby World Cup FanzoneRugby World Cup Fanzone

Watched NZ All Blacks destroy France
went on a search for some warmer clothing, cause it is cold compared to the rest of the spots on our trips. I bought a winter hat supporting the All Blacks and a shirt, she bought some gloves. To get into the rugby atmosphere, Nicci and I went to an Official FanZone area where they had giant screens setup outside for everyone to watch. Luckily we got to see the New Zealand All Blacks beat France (as it turns out, this turns out to be both the teams that made it to the finals to be played on 10/22)! Good times had by all

The next day Nicci and I went to the Te Papa museum, a free national museum. We first saw the skeletons of many animals, the best being a giant blue whale that took up the entire ceiling. They also house one of the only giant squids ever found. We learned about the national disasters throughout history in the area and got to go in a house and they simulated an earthquake. Next we continued on and heard a concert going on that turned out to be a Maori performance that was a special presentation
Te Papa MuseumTe Papa MuseumTe Papa Museum

Giant squid
just for the world cup. We stayed and watched the whole thing, and the coolest part was the warriors and the ladies kept coming out into the crowd to teach their ways and their dances. After the museum, we walked around for ages in the rain while Nicci looked for more warm weather clothing, although she never bought anything else. That night we watched the Scotland v. Argentina game in the basement bar, I guessed correctly in picking Argentina.


Raglan: Sept 26th-28th, 2011

The day started with us heading to Auckland but on the advise of Nat our driver, we decided to just spend an extra night in a city called Raglan rather than spending the day driving up north just to leave first thing in the morning. On the way to Raglan, we stopped in a neat city called Bull in which every store and sign had a clever play on words somehow incorporating the word “bull” into it. For example, at McDonald’s they had a sign saying “Consum-A-Bull” or the police department had “Const-A-Bull” and the town hall “Social-A-Bull.” The only bad part of todays trip was having to figure out our own way
Te Papa MuseumTe Papa MuseumTe Papa Museum

Maori show
to Raglan, Nat dropped us off a the closest city she could and we had to catch a school bus the last hour. We stayed at the Karioi Lodge which was also Raglan Surf School, a very remote lodge with some great views. The Raglan area is known for the glowworms all over, especially in the vast networks of caves.

The next day was spent in Raglan waiting for the new bus driver and new people on the bus. Nicci and I did take a walk to the beach, saw some surfers and just relaxed. When we got back to the lodge the new people were there and we met the new driver, Captain Planet. The bus drivers are supposed to think of clever names that they are supposed to use for everything, even bookings which made things a little more entertaining. Captain Planet’s real name is Chris but I never heard anyone refer to him by this. Did some washing but more of a relaxing day.

The next morning we headed to the Waitomo Caves to see the glowworms and do some adventure climbing but due to a small group limit, we were unable to book this, I was pretty disappointed but we did take a free walk on the Waitomo Walkway which took us almost two hours. It was pretty muddy but we climbed a lookout, walked through some cow fields (another animal that ran from Nicci) all the meanwhile thinking the walk would take us in a circle. How wrong we were. We ended up 2 hours away and tired of walking so we hitchhiked back to the city with a Swiss couple in a campervan.

That night we spent in Maketu at Uncle Boys Maori Culture to get some of the Maori Culture. After a fun introduction we had a buffet dinner and got ready for a welcome show they had prepared after which we had to do our own show. For our show the boys preformed the Haka, a scary challenge song and dance you see the NZ rugby team preform before matches, look it up, its real scary to be on the other side watching. We threw on our grass skirts, for a lake of better words, and the male warriors taught it to us. After doing the dance and chant, the girls preformed their little dance and after they recognized me as having the best warrior face and they recognized Nicci for being the best girl dancer! We cleaned house! That night the whole bus slept in a hall together, and three of us had a late night. Bad idea since the next day we had planned to do a skydive.

Rototura / Taupo: Sept 29th-30th, 2011

After saying our goodbyes to Uncle Boy we drove to Rototura. Here I did a thermal hot springs & spa at Hell’s Gate. First we had an hour walk around the springs and thermal volcano all smelling of egg’s from the sulfur. After we went into some hot mud pools that were about 37 degrees Celsius and then into some regular thermal pools before having a freezing cold shower. Did a little woodcarving and met up with the rest of the group. After the night we had, Nicci and I decided to wait a little to do the skydiving as there are a few spots on the trip you can do it. We then drove to Taupo stopping to see Huka Falls and our first view of Mount Doom (more on this later). Between Rototura and Taupo we said goodbye to many of the people on the bus and got a whole new group. We ate dinner at the hostel which was nachos and watched a funny live band.


Whakahoro: Sept 30th-Oct 1st, 2011

Along the drive to Whakahoro, we saw many more views of Mount Doom and some of the other volcanos in the area. This was a very scenic drive thru many country towns. We spent the day and night at Blue Duck Farm, a very remote country farm that isn’t a place tourist go very often, which made it very cool and unique. The owner is all about conservation projects and slowly bought all the farms out around him to show how you can live and profit off what the natural land has to offer. We were more excited about the ax throwing. While Nicci did some yoga, I pirated a whole bunch more movies from several of the new members of the bus. We took a short walk around the farm and got ready to do the Tongariro Crossing the next day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sleep cause we shared a room with a serious snorer, not good before doing a very serious 8 hour hike in snow.


Tongariro National Park: Oct 1st, 2011

Today we signed up to do the “Best One Day Hike In New Zealand,” the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We took the northern circuit which took us over volcanic craters, glacial valleys and steaming thermal areas. On the right of us was Mt. Ngauruhoe (2,291m) otherwise known as Mount Doom for all those Lord Of The Rings fans its where they drop the ring and scream “precioussss.” We didn’t really have the cold weather gear so we had to rent and borrow things like boots, socks, crampons, thermals, gloves and jackets. The second we stepped off the bus we were given an ice ax and split into four groups based on the speed you think you can go, we were in the third group or second slowest but remember we are on tours with real outdoor enthusiasts that do this stuff all the time. After about two hours of walking on rocks, boardwalks and tons of steps we finally reached the top, just kidding, we finally reached snow. Up to this point we are basically carrying everything we brought cause it was sunny and hot. Now every step is much more vertical than forward and it got colder and colder. Another hour or so later we reached the top of the first part (the hardest cause of the steps) and on to the more technical snowy part which requires crampons this time of year. For those that don’t know, crampons are these spikes that you attach to the outside of your boots that make it easier to walk on ice without slipping to much, very important to climbers. Another 30-45 minutes of walking straight up ice cliffs with our crampons we finally reached the summit. I wish I could show you some amazing photos but its just my luck that a big storm was moving in quicker than expected which is why the guides wouldn’t allow us many breaks. When we reached the top it was so foggy and snowy that we couldn’t see much anyways. At this point we are all dying for lunch but we had to start the way down the hard part in case the storm hits. Finally a 20 minute lunch and a chance for us to warm up a little. Right then the snow started and the visibility was only about 20-30 feet so the four groups now joined up into one to help the four guides. We continued the walk down but now it was extremely slippery even with the crampons and everyone was falling all over the place, many people just slide on their butts down this steep hills with deep snow. Finally we reached an actual path again and out of the snow but back into the sun. This made things easier but we still had about another 3 hours before we finished. The last hour was through a forest and every time we thought we reached the end, it just kept going and dragging on. I was so tired from not sleeping the night before that I actually started to fall asleep while I continued to walk the last kilometer. Just as I was telling Nicci to put me out of my misery, we did reach the end about 8 hours after starting. The guides had beer waiting for us at the bottom before taking us back. When we got back to the hostel (which conveniently had a hot tub) it was a race to get in. After some nice relaxing showers, we ate and watched some more rugby in the packed bar. It was one of the toughest hikes I have done but it was a nice sense of accomplishment when I look back on it.


Wellington Part II: Oct 2nd-3rd, 2011

Now I am on my way back to Wellington to spend the night and catch a ferry back to the south island. On the way we made a stop in Taihape, and in case you didn’t know already, its the where the annual gumboot (or wellington boot) throwing competition is held and the gumboot throwing capital of the world. This is why i came to NZ. All my years of practice are going to be put to the test. Somehow I got chosen to be the first thrower. So without getting into too much detail, the temperature was a brisk 56 degrees and we had a southwest wind of about 6 mph. I slowly remove my hoodie, do a few arm stretches and grab the official gumboot. My heart was beating but I had to keep the emotions in check. Everyone is watching... I step up. First throw is under way. I release it with all my power and boy, what a throw. At first I thought it might go outside the cage it was so high but it decided to stay in with the slight curve I put on it. It was glorious and was enough to win the whole competition, including a throw from the fitness obsessed driver!!!!

Anyways, as we pulled into Wellington we saw the two rugby teams buses pulling into the stadium for the big game, NZ All Blacks vs. Canada. We checked back into XBase and headed right to the Basement Bar again and started drinking by 3pm. The All Blacks dominated that game, after which we got some pizza, drank some more, got dressed up in whatever Irish gear to watch the Irish beat Italy in an Irish bar with our new Irish friends with live bands and Irish dancing during the half. Another good night but we were covered in green face paint in the morning!


Abel Tasman: Oct 3rd-5th, 2011

We had to be up early to catch the ferry back to the south island where we picked up loads of new people on the bus. We spent most of the day driving to Abel Tasman but stopped to do a wine and fudge tasting at Bouldevines, went to the supermarket to get loads of stuff for a group meal where everyone had jobs to do. We had tons of steaks, sausages, salad, crisps, mussels, chocolate and bread. Also, Nicci and I signed up to do a skydive the next day but it wasn’t looking promising due to rain.

The next day turned into a relaxing day cause of the rain. We called the skydive place at 11am to see if it would still go and they said there might be a chance right before sunset or we can try the first thing the next morning. We spent the day watching movies and decided to take our chance the next morning. So we started getting mentally prepared.

SKYDIVING

October 5th, 2011. The first time I took off on a plane but didn’t land with it. I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Thats right, I went skydiving. I signed up for a 16,500 foot jump, the highest in New Zealand and one of the top 10 greatest skydives in the world with a company called Skydive Abel Tasman. Unfortunately, heavy clouds up there made us do the jump a little earlier then planned, we actually jumped at just over 15,000 feet, but that was still good for over 65 seconds of free falling. We did get a discount and ended up paying 500 NZ dollars ($100 off since we didn’t get as high) for a 20 minute scenic flight, the skydive, over 100 photos, DVD of the jump filmed by another jumpmaster and a t-shirt.

I was pretty nervous when I woke up that morning but had to keep it together to impress Nicci. As we walked in the people there did a GREAT job of settling us down pretty quick, showing us a video of what it will be like and answering questions before signing my life away. Right away they put me in my jumpsuit right over my clothes and met my tandem skydive jumpmaster and the cameraman. We had to wait about 15 minutes for the weather to clear up a bit during which the jumpmaster spent maybe 3 minutes explaining what I should do through the whole thing which was basically crossing my arms to begin with and bend my body into a banana shape until he taps my shoulder and then i can throw my arms out and float. I got into the plane with my team and Nicci’s team only. As we headed up they were pointing out all the national parks, mountains, glaciers and such but I was just thinking about the jump and trying to take it all in. When we reached about 14,000 feet they started to give us oxygen but because we had to jump early it was only for a few seconds. Before they opened the door my guy asked if i had any questions while attaching himself to me. I just realized he didnt explain what I am supposed to do when we land to which he replied, if we make it to that point he would explain it to me right before. They door opened and suddenly it became real, I was first.

The cameraman was the first to step to the side of the plane and was waiting for me. I shuffled my way to the edge as the wind was blowing right into me. I was told when i get to the edge to make sure my feet are under the bar on the side of the plane. So thats what I did. Suddenly, my divemaster gave me one more shuffle forward and now I am hanging in the air attached to another man’s chest. He pointed to the camera attached to the wing and yelled to make some gang signs. By the time I made my signs I noticed out of the corner of my eye the cameraman letting go and dropping. By the time my brain processed this i was pushed out and we were off. We started by doing a somersault out of the plane which kinda disorientates you but when i was upside down i did see the plane above me. Next i see the ground so far away you don’t get the feeling that you are falling. I got the tap on my shoulders so I spread my arms out and made our way closer to the cameraman. We did several 360 degree body turns when I made the mistake of looking straight down and getting a rush of cold wind in my face almost blowing my goggles off. After taking it all in on my way down it was time to pull the chute. As my jumpmaster did it, I noticed the camera still zipping by which gave me some perspective of how fast we were really moving, despite not being able to feel it. The chute opened smoother than I expected it would and my guy let me take my helmet and goggles off since I dont have hair that would be blowing in his face. After about 30 seconds he gave me a quick lesson on how to steer us on the way down before he just let go and let me control it up until the last 45 seconds when he finally explained to me how to land. We had over 60 seconds of freefall and about 5 minutes with the chute before we reached the ground. This was an absolutely amazing experience I would definitely do again. As with most first skydivers, it is a scary thing, and yes i was trying to act tough to impress a girl but it does take some courage to do it. The entire team at Skydive Abel Tasman did a amazing job of having fun with us but making us feel good. Everything in your body tells you that you are not supposed to be doing this but you do it anyways. Despite having whiplash for the next week due to accident nearly two years prior, i would do it again and again if i could.

Well since the whole bus was already waiting for us to do our jump, we had to wait a few days to get the dvd’s and pics which they said they would send to our next hostel in a few days. We continued our drive to Greymouth. Along the way we stopped at several viewpoints like Kilkenny Lookout and Irimahuwhero Viewpoint. We also stopped at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Blowholes which are eroded limestone tunnels that when the ocean rushes thru during the tides the openings become blow holes.


Franz Josef: Oct 6th-7th, 2011

On the way to Franz Josef we stopped at Bushman’s Museum to show us what life is like on the wild west coast. Basically think “a man’s man.” The wild west coast is a lot like our old time wild wild west, and mining gold is still the biggest industry here. They taught us how they use the forest and the animals to live off of. They showed us a video on how they used to jump out of helicopters on to wild deer to catch them for farming. The best part of it for me was the sense of humor the owner had was EXACTLY like my dad’s and he had funny signs all over the museum just like my dad did. When we did get to Franz Josef we had to first book our glacier climb for the next day. I picked the Full Day Glacier Adventure for 170 NZ dollars.

So the next day we had to be up earlier and once again geared up for another full day hike, but this time they provided everything you need at no extra cost. Once again they split everyone into four groups and I tried to get the third group again but it was already full so I was stuck with the last group. This would have been fine with me but we did have two REALLY slow people (one older lady and one young lady that stopped to take a photo every three steps but for some reason put her camera away after each one). We didn’t really miss out on anything but we were on the ice for over 8 hours which the other group finished in 5 hours and the last two hours it was raining and the other were back and dry. Oh well, I’m alive so it doesn’t matter.

Franz Josef is a huge glacier that we are hiking up and climbing on. We started our walk and after about an hour we reached the ice and had to put the crampons on. The guides with us have a general idea of the path we are going to take but since it’s an active moving glacier always changing shapes, they had to cut steps for us with an ice ax throughout the whole thing. Up and down we went, through small and tight passages and over huge deep crevasses. Another amazing experience and once again the weather didn’t like us and ruined some of the pictures. Afterward we didnt have to race to the hot tubs cause the price included entrance into huge hot pools that were right across from the hotel.

Makarora: Oct 8th, 2011

On our way to Makarora, the next city, we stopped at Lake
Tongariro CrossingTongariro CrossingTongariro Crossing

Finally the top
Matheson. Lake Matheson is known for being a reflective lake but due to heavy cloud coverage and a little rain, it wasn’t so reflective but we did take an hour and a half walk around it. There were several stops this day. Knights Point, a coastal lookout. Thunder Creek Falls, an extremely tall waterfall. And lastly the Blue Pools, which had a few long swing bridges to reach a point were several rivers meet in pretty blue water. We finally arrived in Makarora, another off the beaten path and remote place with rooms that look like little smurf huts. Tonight is the first round of the the quarterfinal rugby matches in which Ireland lost to Wales and England lost to France. We all dressed up to support some team, I was cheering for England to support Nicci and we both wore the Where’s Waldo costumes while others wore flags and had face paint. We had a nice meal at the hostel of New Zealand lamb but we were stuck with a bartender that was pretty rude to us. After much drinking, somehow we all got caught stealing cake! Oh well.

Wanaka: Oct. 9th, 2011

As we started our drive to Queenstown, we stopped in Wanaka making several more roadside photo stops including Lake Hawea. In Wanaka, some new people did a skydive and in the meantime several of us went to Puzzling World! This place was craziness. They had crazy paintings even in the bathrooms. Think Salvador Dali paintings all over. Some special rooms in Puzzling World were a 3D holograms room, turning faces (they are always looking at you) room, a slanting room which was the best of them all, and lastly, a perspective room for some unique pictures. Once we finished the rooms, we did a huge wooden walk through maze which we did in the average time of 42 minutes.

Queenstown: Oct 9th-12th, 2011

On the way into Queenstown we stopped at AJ Hackett’s. He was the person who invented bungy jumping and the attraction is on the site of the first bungy jump, the Kawarau Bridge. Nicci booked to do the Nevis Bungy Swing but due to the whiplash I was still feeling, I didn’t sign up for anything. We then checked into Nomads hostel. Nomads is usually a hostel I avoid, it is usually a crappy, dirty hostel full of 18 year olds that don’t stop drinking and never clean up after themselves. However, this turned out to be one of the better places we stayed. Nicci and I went for a short walk through Queenstown and saw a mini festival going on and did some shopping. I ended up buying a winter hat and scarf made of possum fur, it was sooo soft. Next we went to the bar to watch more rugby and NZ beating Argentina. Right away, both Nicci and I fell in love with Queenstown. We were expecting a bigger city (for NZ anyway) and it was nothing like that.

The next day we took it kinda easy and caught up on some research for Fiji and did some washing. We did play Frisbee Golf with everyone from the bus and of course, Alan won. We had an early night cause Nicci had the bungy swing in the morning.

Said my goodbyes and good luck to Nicci and put together a package of all the stuff i don’t need from my bag anymore and sent it home. $99 to send a 6.2 kg package back to the states, but that was about 1/3 of my bag, huge difference for backpackers. The Nevis Swing that Nicci did is the worlds highest swing, which you get dropped and fall for a few seconds before swinging you across a canon. She loved it but was really scared, the guys running it didn’t help. It is also next to the Nevis Bungy Jump, the second highest in the world. To celebrate Nicci surviving, we went to a world famous burger spot, Fergburger. Nicci had a burger made of deer meat and I went with the burger that shared a nickname Nicci has for me, Mr. Big Stuff. Since this was the last night with everyone, we started drinking by 5pm and played some drinking games. Went to several bars early before spending most of the night dancing and drinking at the World Bar. At about 2am, I had another craving for Fergburger and went back just to get some yummy onion rings and aioli.

The next morning we hat to be up real earlier (less then two hours after we went to bed, not good after a night of drinking). We caught a bus to the airport and caught a flight to Auckland, where we fly to Fiji the next day. We booked a hotel that was close to the airport and offered free pickup. Once we got our bags, we waited like crazy for the hotel to pick us up, we had to call them 3 times and each time we called they told us a different color van we were supposed to be looking for. They also kept switching the door numbers on us. After over two hours of waiting, we finally connected and they claimed we told them it was an international flight (they had our flight info and saw we were coming from Queenstown) and they continued to argue with us that we didn’t wait over two hours that our flight was supposed to land an hour after it did (looked at the flight info again and they clearly were wrong). But wait, it gets even better. Finally they gave us our room, at which point it was about 3:30 pm and our flight landed at 11:30, and we walked in to see the room still wasn’t cleaned and the bed sheets were all over the floor. Since we didn’t want to give any more money to the hotel, we decided to look for another place to eat, unfortunately nothing was in walking distance. One hotel worker told me we needed reservations at the hotel anyway for dinner but we took our chances. Wouldn’t you know it, not a single person in the dining room. Surprisingly, the food at the hotel was pretty good but when we asked if we pay now or charge the room they said pay now but never came back with any check, so once again we had to wait and wait but finally sorted it out. The hotel did give us a free lift back to the airport the next morning.


Now we are on the way to Fiji to get our tans back. New Zealand does compete with Cambodia as my second favorite country I’ve been to (Israel being #1). The people here are so friendly, they hosted the world cup without any issues and everything is beautiful here. I would even fly half way around the world again to come back a third time!



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Watching the Irish win in an Irish bar with new Irish friends


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