Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Zealand (Waitomo)

After Rotorua we headed over the West coast of New Zealand. We had heard so much about the caves of Waitomo we decided to go and check them out. They are famous for the glow-worms that live in the caves, but they don't let you take any pictures of them.

On a walkway built over a river along a high limestone cliff on the hike to the Mangapohue Natural Bridge.

A suspension bridge in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve.

We were the only people for miles. What happens at the Mangapohue Natural Bridge stays at the Mangapohue Natural Bridge...

It may not look scary, but it wasn't easy to get on top of that outcropping for this picture.

Hey Leah. Which way to the Marokopa Falls? Oh...nevermind.

Marokoap Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand (if I am remembering correctly)

Me coming out of a cave. I thought I might have seen Gimly in there, but it was pretty dark.

If you haven't noticed by now, Leah really likes crossing bridges. Lucky for her there are so many in Waitomo.

These lambs were owned by a blond lady from England who bottle fed them every morning and evening. Every time Leah walked by them they got really excited because they thought she was that lady. They made funny noises, jumped around in their pen and waggled their tails. You can't tell in this picture, but Leah was actually scared of them!

Leah inside the Waitomo Cave. There is a river flowing through it down below and some people float through on inner-tubes.

Welcome to the Hotel Waitomo
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel Waitomo
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis

We explored a giant apple on the side of the road and ate ice-cream at the cafe next door.

Leah enjoying her Jaffa flavored ice-cream. What's Jaffa? Exactly. We had to try it. Apparently it's orange and chocolate mixed together. I gave it a 5/10...

Leah sampling my much tastier ice cream (seen below) in front of a vineyard in Napa Valley...I mean...New Zealand.

This was my liquorice ice cream!!!! 9.5/10

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Zealand (Rotorua Region)

After our time in the Coromandel Peninsula we headed south to Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand. The Rotorua area is a highly geothermal area with many hot pools, boiling mud pots, geisers, steam vents and thermal sulpher springs. It is kind of like Yellowstone Park except there are no bison, elk, deer, Old Faithful, it is not in the USA, it is an ancient holy Maori land and it is not a National Park (so you can go inside the pools).

Leah enjoying the hot water (105 degrees) of Kerosene Creek. It was one of our favorite things in New Zealand. It was a couple of miles down a dirt road and a short hike to the waterfalls and swimming hole. We heard stories from people in town that it might be dangerous to go to certain spots. The local Maoris are kind of territorial about their land and we met a couple on the hike to the creek. They were a little protective at first but after we told them how beautiful their land was they welcomed us to visit the creek.

Leah and I underneath the hot waterfall at Kerosene Creek. The rocks under the water by the falls were really hot to step on so we didn't stay in one place for too long. Leah always accentuates my skin tone with her golden tan. At least nobody is looking at me in this picture. Thanks Leah.

Whero am I you ask? At Rotowhero Lake (Green Lake). We called it boiling lake because it was so hot.

Sheep are kind of big deal in New Zealand. Some of the locals suggested we go to the Agro-dome to check out the sheep shearing competitions and the sheep dogs. We didn't have time though and we've been to the state fair before so I didn't feel to bad about it. Luckily for us we had the priviledge of meeting Woolie, the queen of sheep in Tirao. If you look at the above picture closely you can see her standing behind me crouching by some tall grass and a tree.

Of course the queen of sheep was carefully guarded by the Kih Kih, the king of sheepdogs. He also gave Leah a well needed bath. Tons of buildings in New Zealand are made from this corrugated metal (we only saw two that looked like animals).

New Zealanders call themselves kiwis after the odd birds found there and not the fruit. Never tell them you like to eat kiwis!

And never ride a kiwi bird statue! Sorry Mr. Zookeeper;)

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Zealand (Coromandel)

So after a few days in Sydney we were off to New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud. How did we get around once there? Where did we stay? I'm glad you asked, and I can answer with one picture!

May I present our campervan, aka the wicked-wagon, aka the shaggin'-wagon, aka Fern (its actual name according to the key chain). Fern was equipped with 2 sun-roofs, 2 bucket seats, a table that breaks down into a double bed, a sink with pumped water (prime the pump!) and curtains for privacy. Campervans are definately the way to see New Zealand. I would say one out of four cars on the road are rented campervans.

Now the New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road and making it even more confusing is the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. It was disconcerting to say the least. I only drove into oncoming traffic a couple of times. After a while you kind of get used to it, but it was pretty awkward the whole time and I had to really pay attention. What was the hardest thing about driving? I'll tell you. Using the blinkers. Every time I went to make a turn I turned on the windshield wipers and Leah would laugh and laugh. The blinker is on the right side of the steering wheel and up is left signal and down is right signal (the total opposite of what we have).

After getting Fern gassed up and some groceries, our first couple days in New Zealand were spent in the Coromandel Peninsula.

This is after my first potty break along the way. Thanks for waiting until I was done before taking the picture Leah!

Leah carefully crossing the perilous stream to get to Hot Water Beach, a beach with a thermal hotspot directly underneath it causing the water to....well I guess you can figure it our from the name.

Leah enjoying the sand on Hot Water Beach. The hot area is by the rocks in the background.

Leah getting excited the water was hot!

On a hike to Cathedral Cove. It is summer in New Zealand and everything is in full bloom (including Leah's shirt).

I am about to enter a grove. No hobbits in there....this time.

What do Michael Jackson and I have in common? We both like zombies, we both like singing in falsetto and what else?....Oh yes, we both like to climb trees! No hobbits in there either:(

New Zealand has some of the most picturesque landscapes I have ever seen. Leah is pretty picturesque herself!

 I have always been a master of disguise. I have an uncanny ability to blend in with my surroundings. If you look at this picture closely you can see that there is actually only one curly plant. The other one is my finger.

Cathedral Cove. Probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. It is very remote with aqua blue water and cool rock formations. And like most beaches in New Zealand there is hardly anyone there if at all.

A rock off the beach in Cathedral Cove.

Inside of the Cove. There was a sign forbidding people to go inside, but we decided to live on the edge.

The other side of Cathedral Cove.

Leah enjoying the clear water at Stingray Bay and me enjoying Leah enjoying the water.

Up Next: The hot springs of Rotorua!

Sydney (Part I)

Leah and I decided to take a last minute trip (thanks to Seth and Maria) to Australia and New Zealand. We're actually still in Sydney now. We got a couple of bonus days here due to a cancelled flight...but there are worse places than Sydney to be stuck.

Leah riding a wave of sticks. She totally wiped out a second after this, but I didn't have the camera on.

(Manditory Opera House Photo) Leah and I at Farm Cove across from the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Leah looking cool in downtown Sydney when it was actually sooooo hot!

"Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?...Morons"

 Leah on the greens of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a downtown backdrop.

 Leah's favorite trees in the Royal Botanical Gardens were these purple ones. My favorite? Any tree with the giant bats (flying foxes) hanging upside down in them. They were seriously the size of Ginger with giant wings. I'll post a picture in Sydney Part Deux

Leah doing what she do standing on Mrs. Macquarie's Chair. 

So ya'all need to Hyde yo kids, Hyde yo wife and Hyde your husband cause Leah's climbin’ in your windows, she’s snatchin’ your people up tryin to get them in Hyde Park.

Leah in front of St Mary's Cathedral. Good eye!

Chinese fortune cookie say Leah find no new friends at Chinese Garden of Friendship. Maybe next time.

My darling in Darling Harbour.

Leah's manly man at Manly Beach.

Nothing Manly about this! (well, maybe the hair)

On the ferry ride home from Manly Beach. The wind kept on blowing this lady's blond hair in my face!

If you don't about Prince Albert you won't know about Prince Albert. (Warning: do not google Prince Albert)

Swimming is really big down under. I worked on my form (and accent) and I think I am pretty convincing as an Australian swimmer if I do say so myself.

Next: On to New Zealand!