Friday, January 14, 2011

Kiwi Bites! vol.3

  • Ouch! I’d forgotten about the “Roaring Forties” :s Crossing Foveaux Straights from Bluff into Stewart Island made me feel very queasy! You’d think crossing that region (and back) two years in a row to the Antarctic would have taught me that lesson… Thankfully the one trick I did remember –getting fresh air and eating an apple- did help. Felt better real fast, and the sea spray in my face was fabulous! As were those sooty shearwaters (called muttonbirds here) flying just above the waves.
    Muttonbirds flying over the waves of the Foveaux Straights
    • This trip is confirming my previous assessment from 3 year ago, that (most) Kiwis are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met! Whether it be the girl at the Te Anau DOC centre talking about Fiordland penguins and other birds and the advantages/disadvantages of their various Nature guidebooks, or the skipper on the dive boat who used to work on fishing boats out of Bluff telling me fishing tales and good tidbits about Stewart Island. Ditto the 3 bus drivers today who conveyed me from Te Anau to the Stewart Island ferry at Bluff. They helped clear some of the confusion about not being on "the" bus I had booked (but one run by a different company) and being passed along to another bus twice (when we thought we had a direct “drive”). The 2nd driver was particularly fun. I sat behind the drivers on all three rides and he was chatting with me most of the way, talking about his job, things along the route, the beauty of Stewart Island where he’d live if the missus would consent! ;o)
    • On the other hand I think I’m going to stop listening to the advice of the STRAY bus drivers on places to stay… ‘cause this backpackers I’m in now at S.I. is pretty bad! No internet (even though they say yes on the website, but 2 old computers who don’t work well don’t count! I'm in the bar of the gorgeous little South Sea Hotel using their Wi-Fi and drinking cider), problems with the gas oven and stove… and outdoor access to the bathrooms in a place where it’s very chilly!!! :s
    • LOTS more sheep in the fields crossing Southland… rolling hills with good pastures it seems. Ditto with deer. Still seems weird to see those behind a fence like cattle!
    • Stewart Island is FABULOUS! Great place to relax… and wait ‘till I tell you about the birding paradise that is little Ulva Island, and going kiwi spotting at the beach at night! :o)
    gazing across the harbour of Oban, Stewart Island's main township
    Stewart Island Shags nesting on a rock in the harbour

    Kiwi English:
    • A dish towel is called a “tea towel” (but Brits use that as well, I never did get it…)
    • You leave your car in the car park, and you don’t rent a car, you hire one!

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Flying South for the Summer

    Well, I’m here now. And it's a lot cooler than up North!  :s

    Down in the South Island and on my own. Sniff! I loved my two weeks with my sister, we had a fabulous time (as proven by my state of fatigue and lack of time for blogging!), but her holiday is over so I’m letting her get back to her thesis (yes, there are two of us in the family crazy enough to have started a PhD) and I’m going to take in the southernmost part of the South Island,

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Kiwi Bites! vol.2

    Argh!!! Blogging problems… travelling with a “local” (i.e. my sister and friends) means staying in all the good spots, off the beaten track… but with no internet access! Add to that exhaustion at the end of the day and socialising (i.e. hang out with people and not glue yourself to a computer and completely ignore everyone else) means I’ve been behind in my blogging about this trip pretty much since Day 1! Sorry ‘bout that. But I’ve been making little notations in a notebook I carry on me, and whenever possible copy them out onto a Word doc and choose the photos in iPhoto so that when I do have internet time I can spew out (hopefully) interesting blog posts about this adventure! And I’m “back-dating” them to the date I would have written them if I could, so don’t be surprised to see posts appearing dated before this one. Namely posts on the Tongariro Crossing, Mt Taranaki, the Forgotten World, Veil Falls, beer tasting, surfers in Raglan or Cathedral Cove in Coromandel.

    As of tomorrow I’ll be travelling on my own which means nobody to hang out with (sniff!!!) so more time for the blog. I’ll try whenever I connect to post something recent and something “late”.

    Kiwi English:
    • Tea towel -> dish towel
    • Slips are rock falls or land slides on the road

    • A Dairy is a small convenience or grocery store

    Random shot from the road:

    sheep in a quarry!

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Beer Tasting in Taranaki!

    While most people think of the visual senses (landscapes) when it comes to New Zealand, there is plenty to entrance the other senses as well: songs of odd birds and the crashing of waves (hearing), wild flowers or hot pools (smell), texture of boulders or sand through your feet or grass under your feet (feel) and last but not least: food and drink (taste)! There is some excellent cuisine to be had in many restaurants and caf├ęs around the country, but the most interesting way to tempt your taste buds is by visiting the small wineries or breweries and see where the wine/beer your enjoying is being grown and talk to the people involved in it!

    When I was here 3 years ago we stopped at Rimu Grove winery in the Nelson region and ended up buying several bottles of the delectable red and white wines we tasted. 

    This time it was an organic brewery that crossed our path, so my sister and I pulled into their driveway and decided to try Mike's Premium Organic Beers (from left to right: dark mild Ale, malty Lager, Bohemian Pilsner and the hoppy Double India Pale Ale, with a glass of cider as a bonus -clicking on the names takes you to their tasting notes-):

    Here's the result of that tasting:

    Oh, perhaps I should have told you that I HATE beer? lol!!! So don't judge them by my faces (full screen is even scarier)... my sister said they were fabulous, particularly the ales! All I can say is: thank God there was a delicious light apple cider to wash it down with! ;o)

    And as a bonus, here's what I thought of their blue cheese: