05.18.2009 60 °F
We returned to Auckland on Sunday, and Susie left last evening to fly home to NYC via LAX. Her brother Steve will pilot her home on Virgin America. Cool, eh? I spend today in Auckland and fly home this evening. Due to a situation at home, I had to cancel the Sidney and Samoa trips. I am a little disappointed, but New Zealand has been such a wonderful trip that it makes the cancellation okay.
Susie and I spent yesterday walking through the Ponsonby neighborhood of Auckland. Lonely Planet recommended the Ponsonby Village Court as a quick eat with many international flavors – Italian, Japanese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and food from Laos. We both loved our dishes, and afterwards took a leisurely walk through the hood visiting the various boutique stores, a used book shop, and bought cupcakes and scones from The Bake Shop. Love this bakery! We then picked up Starbucks coffee and headed back to our neighborhood and spent an hour hanging out at the Sky Tower. Pics below.
I started out this morning with a run at Victoria Park and spent a good part of the morning hanging out and packing up. Had a great lunch at a vegetarian restaurant called Revive. My body needed good greens and grains after all the fish and chips meals. I’m hanging out at the coffee shop to post one final entry to the blog. It’s been a great trip. Susie is a lovely travel companion, and we saw amazing sights. There are so many places to see in this world, but I know that I will be back to New Zealand, heading directly to Queenstown. This trip cleared my head and lifted my spirits in so many ways and accomplished what it was intended to do – lowering my Type A- personality to a B+. It has reborn my love of hiking and made me remember that seeing the world is important. In addition to New Zealand, South Africa, Malaysia (including the Perhentian Islands), Vietnam, and the islands of the South Pacific are on the short-term list.
Susie and I came up with lists of things we like and didn’t like about New Zealand. Enjoy.
Things we like...
There are many things to love about New Zealand. We’ve raved about the incredible scenery, but the people here are so friendly and helpful. There is a real appreciation for enjoying leisure time, a way of life that we’re trying to adopt to create balance in our lives at home.
Food: Pic’s brand peanut butter made with only peanuts and salt, peanut butter with honey, Copper kettle chips in lime & pepper flavor, date scones, feijoas fruit, fish and chips, lamb, Arnott’s mint slice cookies, soy and linseed bread, English breakfast tea with milk, Savs (Savignon Blanc wines from Malborough), New Zealand apples and pears, Tin Tam chocolate cookies, Mac brewjolais beer, ginger beer soda, and Anzac cookies.
Places: Abel Tasman National Park, running on the beach in the early morning at Hokitika, seeing Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea at dusk while driving on Motorway 6, Franz Josef Glacier, the Marlborough Vintner Hotel in Marlborough, Malborough vineyards as seen while running a half-marathon, Halo restaurant in Queenstown, Tasman coast, and the New World Market.
Favorite sayings: No Worries, Cool, Cheers, Hiya, and our hands down favorite, Sweet As.
Things we don't like....
Blenheim Town Center, restaurants and stores that aren’t open during the hours they list as open, major highways with only two lanes, mussel patties, rain, small car batteries, soft rock played on all the radio stations except in Queenstown.
Hopefully we’ve piqued your interest in visiting New Zealand. If so, here are our travel tips:
• Pack light. Most NZ hotels have guest laundry facilities (DIY). Pack five pairs of underwear, comfortable shoes, and fleece and you’re good to go. Fly Air New Zealand. Go in March or April. No longer the busy summer months but still warm. The Milford Track closes in April.
• If you only have time for one island, go to the South Island. If you plan to visit both islands, give yourself at least three weeks and start North, working your way to the South Island. Going in reverse order will lead to disappointment.
• It’s not really that cold here, but it often rains. In the fifteen days we spent here, three days were solid rain outs. Other days were filled with full sunshine, or will start with rain but the sun appeared before noon.
• Distances on map take longer to drive than they appear because you’re driving through mountains on switchbacks.
• Don’t be afraid to wing it if you’re traveling during the off season. There are many vacancies at a wide range of accommodations.
• Filtered coffee addicts should lower their expectations. Tea drinkers will be great company.
• If you run, pack your shoes and run everywhere. It’s a great way to check out the scene around town before heading out on foot.
• Pack a converter to recharge your electronics, especially if you're blogging for family and friends.
Thanks for taking the trip with us. We’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Cheers.