Monday, April 16, 2007

New Zealand

These are pictures from our recent trip to New Zealand. Hope you enjoy...

The driver stopped on top of this small mountain (Mt. Eden) on the way from the Auckland airport to our hotel. The mountain was formed by a volcano, and the crater is behind the stone wall (filled in with grass now).

On the ferry from Auckland to Waiheki island (city of Aukland is in the background)

We rented a car on Waiheki and drove around to several wineries. Of course the steering wheel was on the right, and we had to drive on the left. I drove at first, but after a couple of close calls, LP wouldn't let me drive anymore (he had experience in Australia). This picture is from the 2nd winery we visited.

Pixie in her element... a giant
herb garden.

This was at the 3rd winery we visited. Notice I'm starting to smile a little more here

Pix and LP went out behind the restaurant and started sampling the olives off the trees. Notice LP likes to pick them with his mouth. Like I said earlier... this was the 3rd winery we visited.

Pixie with her life long ambition... to have a bourganvillia (sp.?) this big.

This was at the 4th winery... notice the mischievous look on LP's face.

The next morning (after the wine tour) LP and Pix in front of a thermal mud pool. The steam bubbles up through the mud. This was at a Maori village. The Maori are natives that have lived in NZ for hundreds of years.

These rock seats were built over the thermal areas. They are naturally heated year-round by the steam coming out of the ground. Notice Pix getting a hot seat.

A boat coming out of the glow worm caves near Rotorua. The worms hang on the ceiling of the caves, and glow like a lightening bug (except they don't blink).

Hard to see, but there are four rainbow trout in the right half of this picture that was taken near the glow worm caves.

LP and Pix with a sheep that's about to go onstage at the Agrodome... a place where there are shows daily about sheep and cattle farming.

A sheep shearing on stage. It took this guy about 1 to 2 minutes to shear this sheep. The champion shearers take about 30 seconds for each sheep.

They showed us about 15 breeds of sheep, many of which are in this picture. Notice the three sheep dogs that climbed on top of some of the sheep. The Merino (at the top with a dog on his back) produces the most valuable wool.

Pix and some new friends she made at the Agrodome.

Some performers at a Maori feast.

This was just after landing in Queenstown. Coming in for a landing, we looked out of the right windows and saw mountains going by. Then we looked out the left side and saw mountains going by. It was a little scary.

This is one of several one-lane bridges we crossed. Notice the traffic lights at each end of the bridge to direct traffic.

We saw many deer farms (like the one at left) and elk farms, and venison is common on menus in restaurants. But sheep "stations" are by far the most common.

Mirror Lake is in the background of this picture. It's known for the reflections you can see in it. It runs along this glacial valley.

This was taken in a rain forest between Queenstown and Milford Sound.

We took a cruise to the mouth of Milford Sound and back. The peaks on the edge of the sound go as high as 6,000 feet, with waterfalls over 500 feet tall

In Queenstown LP and I planned a fishing trip one morning, but the weather didn't cooperate, so we took a gondola to the top of the mountain on the edge of town, and LP took another chair lift to the top of the "luge" track where he rode a luge once (it was too cold... actually snowing if you look close in some of the pictures).

In the background of this picture (covered with snow) is Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere.

This is a neat little church somewhere between Mt. Cook and Christchurch. It was built completely with materials from the area around the church. The back of the church is mostly glass. Pictures are not allowed to be taken in the church, but the angle of this picture is looking through the front door and through the glass in the back of the church. If you enlarge this picture, it gives you an idea of the spectacular view if you're sitting in a pew looking toward the pulpit. The view is of the lake and snow-capped mountains. It is truly amazing.

This was in Christchurch, the last night before heading out from NZ. This is an old bridge over a stream that runs through the middle of town.

LP had an earlier flight, and after he left, we took a stroll through part of the 500 acre Hagley Park in Christchurch. About 85 acres are botanical gardens that have every kind of plant you can imagine. We got this shot of some mallards on the edge of the stream that runs through it. New Zealand is an awesome place. The people are very easy going, and always friendly and helpful. In the eight days we were there going through several cities and hundreds of miles of highways, I never heard anyone blow a car horn. Also, I counted hearing only five sirens the whole time. The only cross word I heard the whole time was a girl giving her boyfriend an earful late on a Saturday night in Queenstown. I don't know what he did, but he was getting an earful. It was a great trip.