California Bill\’s Travel \’n Other Stuff

Travels and occassional rantings of an old guy.

Finally, a little about our New Zealand Trip!

I know, you’ve been on the edge of your seats waiting for this.  Well, I am not totally organized on this stuff.  I just got around to putting some pictures up on Flickr (please see  In the meantime, we’ve been on some other trips, including New York, Las Vegas, and a Baltic Cruise, which is my next blog/flickr project. So if I get organized, maybe I’ll have the Baltic thing up by Christmas.  Don’t hold your breath.

So you all know that we went to New Zealand in Feb/Mar of 2006. Bill came off the ice in February, and he and his Antarctic friends were hanging around various parts of New Zealand getting used to colors, particularly green, and smells, after being at McMurdo for 5 months or so.  We were fortunate enough to meet several of these wonderful people, and consider it an honor.

So Bill and friends showeBill drives a Hagglundd us around some, leaving us on our own for part of the time.  He met us at the Christchurch airport where we toured the Antarctic Center.  He proved a wonderful guide, as he explained the exhibits in great detail only because of his first hand knowledge.  Our ride in the Hagglund was special, as he drives this vehicle at times on the ice fields of McMurdo.annalees-merino.JPG

Akaroa is a special little seaside town that has a unique charm.  A short trip out of Christchurch.  Many “ice people” were de-toxing there.  An idealic retreat from the world.  We visited the Arts Center, Christchurch Museum, and Botanical Garden whilst in Christchurch.  Then we took  off in our rented car for The Wilderness Lodge in Arthurs Pass. (No, it was not particularly hard to learn to drive on the left.  We just don’t talk about a few little events.)

Up on  Arthur’s Pass, we had an encounter with an operating sheep ranch, and Annalee adopted one.  on-top-of-fox-glacier.JPGWhen they are held correctly, they go completely limp.  The dogs are incredible to watch.  From there, to the west coast town of Hokitika and southern alps village of Fox Glacier.Doubtful sound

We helicoptered Fox Glacier and hiked to its terminus, where Bill retrieved some 1000 year old ice. (It didn’t taste any different).  The helicopter ride was awesome and we flew over two glaciers; Fox and Franz Joseph.  We landed on the neve of Fox Glacier for photo ops.

Then over Haast Pass to Queenstown, where fortunately, the wind caused a halt to bungy jumping.  Otherwise, I would have been challenged.  Our next few days was spent in Fjiordland, a magical, mystical place of fiords and sounds and snow capped mountains and thousands of waterfalls.  I think the highlight of our trip was the overnight on Doubtful sound, where it was so quiet you could hear the dolphins talking. 

Later in Dunedin, and the Otago Peninsula in SE New Zealand, we saw Royal Albatross and Ooops!molting penguins and very curious rocks and gorged on scrumptuous meals, one after another.  After two weeks on South Island, where we endured cold, rain, and wind, we flew to Auckland, and drove north to the Bay of Islands.  At last, warm again. 

Our apartment in Pahia was terrific, overlooked the bay and Russel.  We toured Cape Reinga, the northern most point of New Zealand, where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans meet.  It is also the place where the souls of Maori depart for their mythical home land.  Our jaunt on 90 mile beach was great, as was the boogy board ride down a 60 meter sand dune.  Mom and I did it once; Bill went up and down thrice. The surf is dangerous, and rental car companies don’t want their cars on the beach.  We dug up Pipi’s, a mussel like shell fish on 90 mile beach, and dined on them back at the apartment that night.

We ended our trip in Auckland, where we took care of some business and Bill got his suit for the big wedding that has since ocurred.  We loved New Zealand. We loved the humor and character of the kiwi spirit.  We loved the natural beauty and wild feeling of South Island.  We want to go back.  Three weeks is not enough.

For more pictures, just click on the flickr link to the right, or click on  You might also want to check into Bill’s blog,  He will be starting his third season in August.

July 23, 2006 - Posted by | Travel

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