so another 30 minutes and quebec will be in the new year and another 2 hours after that and alberta will join them. i hope you guys have a blast. dunedin (the city i'm in right now) had a cool fire works display coming from the roof of a building on the main square last night. and also a music show with local talent (at least that's what i figure, not knowing any of the ppl on stage). some drinks were enjoyed with locals and other backpackers and that's how 2007 started. other activities this year have been walking up the steepest street in the world (baldwin street with a 33% gradient in some places) and getting lost in th botanical garden in the rain. most thigns being closed today, i also saw a good part of the otago museum with exhibits about the area and nz in general.
another 6 hours and it will be 2007 here in new zealand. it's a bit weird having new year in another country, there is a lack of cold, well snow really since it's pretty cold here considering it's the middle of summer (about 12 degrees). and i'm a bit unaware of what has happened this past year in the world other than bush fires in australia, heat waves in europe, icebergs off the coast of new zealand, a coup d'etat in fiji, saddam hussein's conviction and the unfortunate events at dawson college in september. a lot of good things have also happened with ppl graduating, moving to new cities, new members being added to the family and all the other cool things ppl have been up to this year. so have a great new year and enjoy yourselves.
un autre 6 heures et ce sera 2007 en nouvelle-zelande. c'est bizarre de celebrer la nouvelle annee alors que la plupart du monde que je connais vienne de commencer la derniere journee de l'annee. il y a aussi un certain manque de neige, mais bon c'est quand meme l'ete ici. j'espere que vous avez tous passe une bonne annee et que 2007 sera plein de bon evenements. 2006 l'a ete avec la graduation de plusieurs personnes, le demenagement de d'autres et de nouveaux venus dans la famille. alors bonne annee, amusez-vous bien!
photos of south island part 2
the next stop on the trip was barrytown. the only things of interest according to the lonely planet is a bar/pub/hotel and a cafe. luckily there is more to do there than just eat and drink. you can make your very own knife and also enjoy a giant swing with the sea as the view in front of you and the rainforest right behind you. the poles for the swing are former telephone poles.
this is the middle of the entire process. you start you with a piece of rusty metal, some old wood (that comes from the old women's psych ward from hte neibouring town, the trees were 2000 yrs old when they were cut down to make planks for the building).
the end result
the next interesting stop was at franz joseph glacier and a nice glacier walk there. you get outfitted with boots, socks, jacket, rain pants, mitts, tuque and crampons so you don't fall down some crevasse in the ice and are found 15 days latter when the glacier has moved and metled enough to give up your body. that was a really cool experience because you end up walking on ice that is several hundred meters thick surrounded by rain forest (we had to leave the glacier early because they were predicting 330 mm of rain!!! not snow but rain on the glacier, meaning 3 meters of snow were going to fall further up).
you can see the ppl at the bottom of the crevasse and how insignificant they are compared to the walls of ice (they are the tiny spots at the bottom of the V)
this is the view looking into the valley from the glacier
photos of the south island part 1
so as mentioned before here are a few photos from the south island. being boxing day in new zealand right now there isn't much to do so i can take a break from the travelling for a day before heading south of queenstown tomorow. queenstown is on the 45th parallel south so it's pretty far south for new zealand.
this is anchorage bay in the abel tasman national park. the water was incredibly clear and the native trees made the place look wonderful.
this is from the beach where i had a break for about an hour and went swimming. the only way to describe the water was refreshing. after walking for several hours, the cold water was nice but no one spent much time in it.
abel tasman is the first european to see new zealand (he was dutch and only named the country) but he never set foot on land because the maori killed some of his men, so captain cook has the pleasure of being remembered as the guy who explored new zealand. you can do a 4 day hike in the national park but because of the wonderful system of water taxis, just walk part of it on any given day. so in 2 days i ended up walking about half of it. definitely worth it.
heading down the west coast of the wouth island, the bus stopped at the pancake rocks. it's a rock formation that literally looks like stacks of pancakes, just layers upon layers of rock with some erosion that has occured because of the sea.
NZ is a really cool country, there are so many things that you can do here that you could probably do else where but either you would never think about doing them or you would have to travel a lot further to be able to do most of them in a limited period of time. so in the south island, i've made a bone carving, a knife, gone for beautiful walks, sailed in the marlborough sound, gone for great walks along the abel tasman national park (the water went from a really deep blue to a light clear green near the shore), and gone glacier hiking. and met amazing ppl both the locals and the other ppl travelling around the country.
this was started a few days ago, and was going to include a few photos. it still might at some point but i figured i would just mention that i did the most crazy thing i think i've ever done in my life. i jumped off a bridge with a bungy attached to my legs, no matter if my travel insureance doesn't cover any accidents associated with that. it was absolutely crazy! and cool. i'll post the link for the photos soon, don't have it with me right now. anyways really really cool! still can't believe i did it!
since the last post, i spent some time in wellington and enjoyed the non-wind. it's apparently the most windy place in new zealand and the place landings can be a bit rough but it was pretty calm while i was there. the museum te papa is a must see. it covers so many subjects and you sort of get lost in there b/c it's a more modern design. i also saw the botanical gardens that are on a hil so you catch a cable car to the top of the hill and then sort of wander down seeing all the different plants. i also enjoyed a tour of the new zealand parliament building and saw a bit of the question period. it was totally chaotic! no wonder nothing gets done in politics! i got to the south island about a week ago and will update for that soon!
according to the lonely planet, the tongariro crossing is one of the best day hikes in new zealand if not the world. it's suppose to take 8 hours. one guy from the group did it in 5, i managed 7. you've probably never heard of the tongariro crossing but you have definitely seen some of the views. Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom) loomed over us for most of the walk. and as mentioned about the views, they were absolutely spectacular. the sky was completely blue (a rare thing since my arrival in NZ) and the winds were really really strong! and did i mention that there was snow on the ground? we had a snow ball fight since the snow was perfect for it. since we were walking next to an still active volcano there was steam coming out of the ground in various areas. a huge contrast to the cold that you felt along most of the walk. and did i mention that it was cold? everyone was wearing all the warm clothing they had: tuque, gloves, sweater, scarf. and it was a real crossing, there were very steep parts where you would climb over rocks and feel like gollum and then really flat parts where you would in what seems to be the crater of a volcano. and the change of scenery was incredible. from snow covered rocks at the beginning to moon like flat areas to forest at the end of the walk.
i got back from the east cap and stayed in rotorua (the smelly place) an extra day. so i headed out to the waiotapu thermal park. they have anything you cold ask for smell and colourwise. boiling mud, green sulfur pools, and champagne pools with all sorts of colours in them. the place was really cool. and the usual realization when you travel the world is really small. there were 2 canadians discussing things to visit in alberta and quebec respectively as they were from there. turns out that the guy from quebec was not only from laval, but went to the same high school as i did (although there was at least a 10 yr gap b/w when he was there and i was there). and the girl was from pincher creek in the more southern part of alberta (well further south than edmonton).