I’ve been attracted to the idea of visiting New Zealand for the past twenty-some years. All I knew was that the country would show me some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

Waitomo

Kaikora

Arthur’s Pass

Waterspout out at sea, in Hokitika

Fox Glacier

Milford Sound

Mt Cook, and the

South Island Highlands

We spent Christmas Day,

our first day, in the town of Waitomo, North Island

We stayed in this ‘said-to-be haunted’ hotel...

...where everyone seemed to drive a silver car.

Then it was off to the center of the North Island to visit Lake Taupo, the largest Lake in all of New Zealand...

...Followed by a drive up the Thermal Explorer Highway towards Rotorua. This area is recognised as one of the most active volcanic areas in the world

As you do when you go to Waitomo, we saw the Glow Worm Caves.


Glow worms are actually insect larva that turn in to a mouthless adult. Since the responsibility of the larva is to eat, their abdomens glow to attract food into their sticky long, dangling webbing.



You’re not allowed to take pictures within the cave, so here are a couple of Google images of the glow worm and the sticky web that it spins:

Outside the caves, I believe that I spotted an adult specimen and was able to take this shot:

Jeff and I pose for the million dollar photo, taken while on the Glow Worm Caves tour:

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland -

Beneath the ground is a system of streams which are heated by magma left over from earlier eruptions. The water is so hot (temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius) that it absorbs minerals out of the rocks and then transports them to the surface as steam where they are ultimately absorbed into the ground. The so called ‘rotten egg smell’ is associated with hydrogen sulphide.

The Champagne Pool  is the largest spring in the district with a surface temperature of 74 degrees Celsius.

The wide range of colours in the area are all natural and are attributed to different mineral elements.


Green = Colloidal Sulphur/ Ferrous Salts


Orange = Antimony


White = Silica


Yellow-Primrose = Sulpher


Red-Brown = Iron Oxide

Hells Gate in Rotorua

A real, active volcano that erupts every 6 weeks or so.

At Hells Gate, we enjoyed a soft and silky geothermal mud bath.

Also fun in Rotorua was Zorbing - where we rolled and raced down a hill inside a plastic orb filled with water.

And to learn of the Maori culture, we visited a tribal village. We took nature walks, ate traditional meals, saw canoeing warriors and participated in song and dance

WOW - The Wellington Airport was cool!

The most comfortable airport I have ever seen - especially for long layovers!

The Interislander Ferry takes us to the South Island.

Campervanning!

While driving, Jeff spotted ‘Eyes in the Sky:’

Loving the campervan experience...

New Zealand took interesting approaches to get a message across:

First we visited the town of Kaikora, a nature reserve.

A seagull sanctuary

Franz Josef Glacier

Native Kea Parrot

Fox Glacier - formed over thousands and thousands of years:

Ringing in 2013...

in the quaint little town of Wanaka

On New Year’s Day, we went to Puzzling World:

The tapestry on the left looks like this when viewed from either side:

This illusion really needs to be seen in person to be thoroughly understood.


Believe it or not, these heads are engraved into a flat surface. Although they appear to be convex, the heads are actually concave. You could put your hand inside the carved out space without touching the engraving. And when you walked from side to side, the faces would turn to follow you.

Here is a video clip of Nelson Mandela watching me as I pass by.

Here’s a room where you can’t stand straight

Outside, we found our way to each of the four corners of a 2-Level Labyrinth - it took Jeff and me about half an hour to complete.

Next stop, Queenstown - The Adrenaline Capital of the World

Jeff and I pose for the million dollar photo, taken while riding the Gondola:

After taking the gondola up, we then ziptrecked through the forest back down.

Jeff bungee jumping at the location of the world’s first ever jump site just outside of Queenstown.

Here I am!

Fiordland National Park

Homer Tunnel leads you to the Milford Sound.



Wikipedia acclaims the Milford Sound as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.

Jeff getting drenched by a waterfall...

evidently these waters can shed ten years off the appearance of your age

Jeff

Major farm industry in New Zealand appeared to be lamb, beef and venison. Along the roads, we often encountered droves of sheep, cow and deer.

The sheep were curious, yet cautious of us...

The cows came right up to us.

And the deer always kept their distance.

 

Along the roads...

Here, we went into an Antarctic Storm Chamber -

where we experienced first hand a  -18 degrees Celsius storm

Just before leaving New Zealand, we had a chance to visit the International Antarctica Centre

I have now seen with my own eyes the mythical world of ‘Middle Earth.’


As Lonely Planet writes, “New Zealand’s outstanding natural assets will prompt even the most hard-core armchair-dwellers to drag themselves outside.” The country has a lot to share, and doesn’t hold back in doing so.


The weather may have been wet, but that’s what made it so rich. It was an awesome country to photograph, extremely tourist-friendly (especially noted by the two cars that pulled over to help Jeff and me get our stuck van out of the mud); and there was always something unique to do.

Thank you, New Zealand!

Million Dollar Photos

(we paid mucho dollars to the businesses that took the shot)

Baby