Monday, March 29, 2010

last days in NZ

our 4 weeks in NZ has passed quickly, we have two days left. from queenstown we headed down to te anau, with the intention of going to milford sound, probably the most famous attraction in NZ. unfortunately for us, two big storms rolled through and the area got 8 inches of rain overnight and a few thousand lightening strikes. there were landslides on the road, so they closed the road to milford sound for a few days and had to helicopter evac people off the milford track.

we headed down along the south coast to dunedin and did some easy climbing on the beach. then headed to mount cook and it cleared enough to see the lower glaciers. headed back to the coast to timaru, where we spent an hour searching for a climbing area which is supposed to have a 10 minute approach (we never found it) to the sounds of animals (cows?) screaming because they were being slaughtered. a horrific and disturbing sound.

then headed to castle hill, world renown for the bouldering, and bouldered a little. mostly walked around because erick can't really boulder and risk falling on his bad knee and i'm a big wuss, especially when we didn't have a crashpad.

new zealand was nice and fun, although we did a lot less hiking and climbing than we expected due to erick's accident. we think he has a minor sprain in his left knee, probably will be another month before it feels good, another few months before it's at full strength.

next up, we head to australia for our final country. we'll spend some time in melbourne with family and meet up with my parents. then we'll take a week trip with them to tasmania and hopefully some climbing after that, knee dependent. we're looking forward to sleeping in beds again after camping every night in NZ, good food and wine as well.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

south island I

not too much to report, we've been on the south island a week and a half. been driving a lot. first went wine tasting in marlborough sound, hiking in able tasman np, climbing at paynes ford. headed down the west coast sight seeing, climbed an afternoon at charleston on sea cliffs then headed to wanaka. now we're in queenstown, will head to milford sound soon.

lots of driving, easy day hiking, a little climbing. erick got the stitches out of one knee but the other knee isn't doing too well, still inflamed and he can't straighten it. we'll get it looked at again.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

north island

after spending a week touring the north island, we took the ferry down to the south island. it's a bit strange having a car but very nice. we've been staying at holiday parks, equivalent to the commercialized campgrounds in the US, due to the lack of public campgrounds. they've been very nice though, nice kitchens, washer and dryers, hot showers and generally very, very clean.

we first went up to the bay of islands, then down to rotorua to see some of the geothermal stuff then down to taupo, where they had just held an ironman. we spent a day climbing in beautiful whanganui bay. the road down was a bit rough and we scraped up the car a bit, good thing it was a rental and a well-used car. we only got on a couple climbs since we didn't have a guidebook and there were no other climbers there, so it was hard to judge how difficult the routes were.

we opted not to do the famous one-day tongariro crossing (dubbed the best one-day walk in NZ) and instead did a small portion of it and hiked up to the top of mt. ngauruhoe instead (mt. doom in lord of the rings). it's a cool looking volcano but unfortunately it was completely clouded over when we reached the summit so we could barely even see the lake in the crater. the ascent was hard work through loose scree and deep ash but the descent was very quick, scree-skiing most of the way.

went to egmont national park in the west and saw tarakana, the volcano the used as mt. fuji in the last samarai.

which leads us to the ferry. we had some time to kill before catching the ferry and erick decided to play on the trampoline at the campground. he successfully did a few flips but on the last one landed on the edge of the trampoline, hitting both knees on the metal edge and falling to the ground. the result was one badly bruised knee and one knee with two deep gashes (you could see the fatty tissue) but not much blood. fortunately there was a medical clinic close by and they stitched erick up in half an hour for only ~US$21 consultation fee. amazing how much cheaper and efficient the visit was than in the US. so we'll take it easy for a few days until he's able to hike and climb again.

Friday, March 05, 2010

LAX and rarotonga

we spent a nice 10 hours at LAX. we were going to stay in the airport, but after going through security we realized it really sucks. very few food options which are extremely expensive and not even a book store to buy a NZ guidebook. so we went out of the airport. a very friendly and enthusiastic security woman gave us good advise and told us how to get to an in-and-out via a parking shuttle. so we went there and found a baja fresh (burrito fix), trader joes (clif bars and chocolate), panera bread (free wifi), and a bargain bookstore with a NZ guidebook. pretty much we were in heaven. erick's friend ted and his wife jane cane out to meet us for dinner and took us to a ramen place, so pretty much we had the perfect layover.

rarotonga, the largest of the cook islands is beautiful. unfortunately we chose to go there during wet season, so it was really windy and cloudy the whole time with some showers so we didn't hang out on the beach or anything. the first day we rented bikes and biked around the island, 32 km. it was really beautiful with a nice lagoon and picturesque beaches. second day we did the cross-island track with a dutch girl staying at the same hostel. the trail was mostly through jungle, very steep and slippery and led to a big needle in the middle of the island with good views and ended at a waterfall.

we're now in new zealand, on the north island at the bay of islands. we decided to rent a car for our time here so we can climb and easily do hikes, etc. it's weird having a car again and driving everywhere. we are enjoying the english speaking everywhere and the friendly people. a week here on the north island then we take the ferry across to the south island for the remaining 3 weeks.