A Travellerspoint blog

Farewell New Zealand

overcast 65 °F

Hello Malaysia...

We are currently in Auckland getting ready to leave tomorrow to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Jungles, street food, and beaches here we come! We had to change our travel plans yet again (it's hard to find flights around Xmas) but we're happy with 2 extra weeks in Malaysia.

Though we're sad to leave NZ, we're excited for a change in scene. More adventures to come!

Our last week in New Zealand has been beach filled, and has been very relaxing! We headed to the Coromandel Peninsula where we tried (unsuccessfully) to dig a hot tub at the famous hot tub beach. There were tons of people out there, but the "low" tide was still crashing around the rocks, filling in everyone's hard work. It was still great though, and we were able to relax on a beautiful beach in the sun.
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We then headed to a the famous Cathedral Cove, a beautiful limestone arch that you can walk through...the beach wasn't bad either...IMG_1478.jpgIMG_1483.jpgIMG_1488.jpg

Our last night on the Coromandel we had the most amazing sunset at our beachside campsite.
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Also at our campsite was a great trail that lead to a giant Kauri tree. They are very rare here, and most have been logged. We walked up at dusk and the bird life was incredible as we sat by the old growth. Pretty amazing!
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We headed north to the Bay of Islands where we took a hike out to a waterfall that went through some amazing mangrove forests. It was pouring, and awesome to stand in the rain with the seeds dropping all around us.
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Later that night (Thanksgiving) we began an overnight cruise around the Bay of Islands. It was pouring (even by Juneau standards). By the time we reached the boat all of our clothes were completely soaked through, but they had tea and were playing Cat Stevens so all felt cozy and like home. That night we did some fishing and Matt caught 2 of the 4 fish caught! They were mackerals, and the crew kept them for bait.
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We then had our Thanksgiving dinner, which was mostly meat because we hadn't caught any fish to eat. Matt had a lot of pasta and salad. Needless to say we were missing our turkey, mashed potatoes, jello salad, and PIE...we were also missing the company from home. But, we still managed to have a good time with people from all over the world.

The next morning we did some snorkeling in some very cold water...didn't see too much but we were able to feed the fish with some raw mussels which was cool.
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We kayaked out to a beautiful white sand beach with turqoise waters, took a little hike, swam, and relaxed. On the way home, we tried some sea urchin eggs (a japanese delicacy, $500 per kilo) and some raw mussel...it was pretty tasty, but the cooked fresh mussels were amazing (and huge).IMG_1568.jpg

We had our last night with Herbert (the car) on a beachside campsite. We made a really nice dinner and enjoyed a bottle of wine we had saved from the Marlborough region. We befriended some fishermen and they gave us fillets of snapper for the occasion. IMG_1579.jpg

We made it to Auckland and unknowingly stumbled upon their "Santa Parade" where all of the streets in the city shut down (including the one by our hostel)...we had to change plans and drop off the car and hike all of our belongings through the crazy streets (good training for SE Asia). We made it though and are staying at a great place. We checked out the parade, so weird to see so much holiday cheer in 80 degree weather. Very fun though.IMG_1596.jpgIMG_1597.jpg

We went to a casino last night! Erin had yet to experience one, and was pretty good at the roulette table...betting on black kept us going. We did loose it all at blackjack, but it was a good time. IMG_1599.jpg We almost got kicked out for taking this shot...whoops.

As you can tell, life has been tough. However, it was hard though to be away from loved ones at Thanksgiving, but we're glad to hear that everyone had a great festive time. It's always so good to hear from people back home! Next time...Malaysia

Posted by matterin 17:52 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Flying High

Hello!

We have been busy on the North Island, lots of driving and lots of adventurous activities to do.

To begin with, we went to a thermal area in the middle of the island that had mud pools, steaming springs, geysers, and lots of sulfur. It was incredible to walk along the boardwalks and check it all out.IMG_1256.jpgIMG_1294.jpg

We then travelled to Rotorua, an area known for its thermals as well as its Maori cultural influence. We went to a Hangi, kind of like a luau...though totally touristy it was a very fun thing to do, and we had our thanksgiving dinner!
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We headed to Lake Taupo, where we took a 12,000 ft plunge out of an airplane! We had the plane all to ourselves (with our tandom guys, ofcourse). It was such an exhilerating experience! IMG_4519.jpgIMG_4492.jpgIMG_2976.jpgIMG_2948.jpg

The next day we hiked the famous Tongariro Crossing, a 20 km walk around craters and in between volcanoes (Mt. Doom for those Lord of the Rings fans). Before we went someone told us "you'll be walking in a line of people, but it'll be worth it." They were totally right, we have never hiked on such a populated trail (about 200 people). The sights still outweighed the tourists!IMG_1379.jpgIMG_1415.jpgIMG_1404.jpg

As if that wasn't enough adventure, the next day we headed to the Waitomo Caves, the famous glowworm caves (seen in Planet Earth). We did a inner tube tour on the river that winds through the caves. It was incredible! They suited us up in wetsuits and we floated underneath thousands of glowworms. We even had to jump over a few waterfalls to get through the caves. Unfortunately we don't have any photos (we did look a bit ridiculous).

We took a day lazing around a sleepy surf town called Raglan, and now we're heading across the island to dig ourselves a hot tub in the sand at a thermal beach.

A little change of plans, Bali has very high terrorist warnings (because they executed the guys who did the last bombing) and we've met lots of people who are cancelling their trips there, so we decided to go the same route. We're hoping to go to Australia, but it's still up in the air (Crocs win over terrorists). We'll keep you all posted!

Until next time...
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Posted by matterin 14:26 Comments (2)

Heading North

overcast 50 °F

Thanks so much to everyone who contacted us recently...it's been so good to hear all of the election stories, and to stay connected with home.

We have had a great week filled with kayaking, hiking, cold rain, camping, wine-tasting, and biking. We went to the start of the Able Tasman national park, an area known for its golden beaches and green water. We rented a sea-kayak for two days, and planned to paddle far into the park and then hike out. The sun was shining when we left on our adventure and the forecast was looking good. IMG_1109__Small_.jpgIMG_1129__Small_.jpgIMG_1118__Small_.jpgIMG_1132__Small_.jpg

We paddled a good 4 hours the first day to the Mosquito Bay campsite, unreachable by trails. It was gorgeous!

The next morning we awoke to rain! It was much colder than expected, and we paddled a short trip to Bark Bay where it took Erin a good 2 hours to warm up. It was freezing! We spent the day in the rain, and met some nice people who also weren't expecting the turn of the weather. IMG_1145__Small_.jpgIMG_1144__Small_.jpg

The last day was our 20 km hike out, which ended up being a 6 hour slog with wet feet, heavy packs (it's amazing what you can fit into a kayak) and not enough layers. We made it though, and the sun was shining by the time we finished.IMG_1155__Small_.jpg

The next day we headed to Golden Bay, and were rewarded by sunshine and lots of time for relaxation. It was such a great day...we visited a small chocolate factory, went to a beach that felt like we were in Oregon, and went out to a much deserved nice dinner, and explored the areas local art galleries. We camped at a beachside site with moonlit waves, this was the paradise we were hoping for!IMG_1203__Small_.jpgIMG_1196__Small_.jpgIMG_1176__Small_.jpgIMG_1168__Small_.jpg

It was time for wine! We drove over to the east coast to the Marlborough wine country, where yesterday we rented bikes and toured the vineyards. So much fun! Riding bikes after wine drinking is a challenge!
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Now we're on our way north to do a small hike in the Marlborough Sound before leaving the South Island. We've had such a good time here that it's hard to leave, but it sounds like the North Island has a lot to offer.

Much love from the Southern Hemi!

Posted by matterin 13:31 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Oh so happy!

sunny 60 °F

There is so much to celebrate right now! Yesterday was an incredible day.

It started by us finding out that we have a new nephew! Isaac Jay Sanders was born on Nov. 2, and is a healthy beautiful baby. Mom & Dad are doing great and Maya is taking on the role of a big-sister at age 2! We are so happy for you guys! Can't wait to meet the little guy!

To end the day by seeing our nation elect a great man and create history was an incredible thing to experience from abroad. We wish we could have been there to join the millions of people celebrating, but we did get out and about last night and plenty of Kiwis were very happy as well! It's going to make such a difference in our travels to feel proud to say that we're Americans, and to feel like the world may begin to respect our country!
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We're currently in Nelson, on the northern end of the South Island. We had a great time heading up the west coast of the island, experiencing the change from alpine scenery to temperate rainforest with a strangely tropical feel.

Before heading to the west coast, we spent a couple of days in Wanaka, a small laid-back town offering good cafes, hiking, and lakeside strolls. We went to a really cute movie theatre that served beer and homemade food, while you sat in couches. We also took a day to wander around the lake and go wine tasting! We got a good bottle of Pino Noir to celebrate the election (and it tasted quite good!). We also visited the Wanaka Beerworks, a tiny brewery with only 2 employees, that makes the best NZ beer we've had so far. IMG_0965__Small_.jpg windy hike near Wanaka
IMG_0962__Small_.jpg View from the top of granite mountain
IMG_0949__Small_.jpg Wanaka Beerworks: Matt's in love
IMG_0998__Small_.jpg We miss Gomez! (but like our new friend Toby)
IMG_0995__Small_.jpg Rippon Vineyards, Wanaka
IMG_0990__Small_.jpg Lake Wanaka
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We stayed a couple of days in the tiny town of Punakaiki. We camped close to the beach, drank lots of beers in the sunshine, checked out the Pancake Rocks (a geologic oddity), wandered through a cave, and rented kayaks to explore an amazing river winding through the rainforest with limestone cliffs high above us. Not too shabby. We highly recommend this place to anyone coming here, it was a nice tropical oasis for us.
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We had a little car trouble on our way from the west coast to the north resulting in two tow-trucks, lots of sandflies (itchy!), tons of rain, and a day basically lost to us.
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It has been a good excuse to chill out in Nelson, and to get a nice hotel and give up camping for a few days! Plus, we had to have a nice place to celebrate in for Obama's victory!

It would have been so great to be at home with family and friends yesterday, we're sure that the feeling there must have been electric! Miss you all!

Posted by matterin 14:12 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Catlins, Kepler Track, & Milford Sound...Incredible!

sunny 50 °F

Hello! We have been doing so so much and our muscles are feeling it! It has been an incredible week, full of spectacular scenery and great company...it really can't get better than this

We started out in the scenic Catlins on the southern end of the South Island. We took a day to drive through the sleepy towns and dirt roads where you're more likely to come upon a bunch of sheep than more people. We had some great walks through the native bush, which is strangely tropical but also feels like home. We also went to some beautiful golden beaches and visited the Nugget Point lighthouse.me_226.jpg

Our campground was on a beach surrounded by white cliffs. There were quite a few surfers there but we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere!
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me_249.jpg Our cozy bed/car/home
me_255.jpg Purakaunui falls

We met up with our Juneau friends Molly & James, and their friends Lara & Anna Marie and started a 60 km (about 45 mile) 3 day tramp (that's what they call it in these parts) on the famous Kepler Track in Fjordland. The first day was mostly climbing through mossy beech forest, until we reached the hut right above treeline. The word 'hut' is a bit of an understatement, as it had 45 bunks, running water, and flushing toilets! It was a beautiful day as we were hiking, and once we were there a snow storm came in! The first night was freezing, but the next morning was even more beautiful with sunny skies and everything freshly powdered.me_296.jpgme_285.jpgme_281.jpg

The second day was 6 hours of hiking along ridgelines. Each corner turned provided more spectacular views. We took a side trip to climb up Mt. Luxmore which allowed us to see 360 degrees of mountain peaks all around us. Truly amazing!
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After a steep descent, we spent our last night exhausted in a beautiful river valley. The last day was relatively flat walking, which was good because we couldn't have done much more. All in all it was one of the greatest experiences for us! Thanks Molly & James!me_407.jpg

Yesterday we decided to rest and head to the Milford Sound to do a boat tour of the waterfall covered Fjords. We caught a tour with a bunch of people over 70...but it was still relaxing and we were able to see penguins and a fur seal tossing a fish through the air. me_426.jpgme_418.jpgme_429.jpg

We hope everyone is having fun making plans for Halloween...we'll see how the kiwis do it around here. We're anxiously awaiting the election! GO OBAMA! Cheers!

Matt & Erin

Posted by matterin 13:19 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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