Monthly Archives: May 2007

Sounds Good

Posted by on May 31, 2007

Queen Charloette Sound

Tomorrow I’m off to Milford Sound. The place which is usually rated the #1 attraction in New Zealand. I hope I get good weather.

I decided to stay in Queenstown and take a tour bus to the Sound, rather than drive. Once gas and everything was factored in, I was about the same just staying here and taking the tour. Either way, you have to hire a boat cruise to visit Milford Sound, so this way I don’t have to drive in the dark in the rain, plus I get to stay at a hostel with free wireless access all night.

That means all the photos I’ve been unable to upload the last week are getting sent to Flickr while I sleep. I can also burn all my photos from Easter Island and Rarotonga to DVD tonight too.

I’ll be in Queenstown tomorrow night as well after the bus gets back, then on Saturday I’ll start the drive back to Auckland via Dunedin, Christchurch, the ferry and back up the North Island.

I expect the trip back to go much faster if only because I wont be driving on winding mountain roads on the east side of the island. It should be somewhat straight shot both South Island and North Island.

How to Jump Off a Cliff and Live

Posted by on May 30, 2007

1) Lie to yourself

No rational person would throw themselves off a ledge, so you have to lie to yourself to do it. Just like how everyone lies to themselves when they do something unnatural that human beings aren’t supposed to do… fly. We tell ourselves that flying is the safest form of transportation, accidents are rare, etc. etc. The fact remains, you are flying in the air and you are not a bird and if you crash, you will die.

Likewise, you need to convince yourself that bungee jumping is perfectly safe. There have been no serious accidents at this bungee location. You are more likely to get hit by a car crossing the street, get the ebola virus from a rogue New Zealand sheep, or getting hit by a meteor. The truth of those statements is irreverent. You just need to believe it’s true.

When I was standing on the edge, I realized that it was safer to fall forward that it was to fall backwards.

2) Recite the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear*

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

3) Take one step forward

That’s it. Now you can bungee jump.

Seriously, it was pretty neat. Falling through the air is a very disorienting experience. The first second your arms and legs just flail around like in a cartoon because you have no control. By the time you orient yourself, its pretty much over and your hanging on a rope hundreds of feet below the ground. That is probably more scary because you can sit and look and think about the fact you are hanging there by a bunch of rubber bands.

I should also mention that it was raining while I jumped, which makes it even more impressive….to me at least.

* That one is for all the geeks out there.


Posted by on May 30, 2007

Fox Glacier

After a day of glaciers, driving, and a LOT of photos, I have arrived at Queenstown, NZ. For the first night since I left Auckland I’m staying in a hostel tonight (or a Backpacker as they call them here). I want to stay right in town rather than on the outskirts.

This is, by far, the hippest town I’ve ever been in. It’s nothing by extreme sports, internet cafes, hostels, and outdoor clothing stores.

I’m also on my own laptop for a change and will be upload a bunch to Flickr shortly. If you don’t see new photos there now, I’ll be doing it in the morning (afternoon US time).

Tomorrow I’m going bungee jumping.

I’m absolutely serious.

The rest of my schedule for NZ is: Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound (if I have time), Invercargill, Dunedin (Hopefully to see penguins), Christchurch, back across the Cook Straight, Napier, and Auckland. I might try to visit the set of the Shire from Lord of the Rings, but honestly, I saw photos and it doesn’t look anything like the movie anymore.

I’ve been taking the advice that everyone has given me on where to go. Today I went to the Blue Pools of Haast.

I Conquer Global Warming

Posted by on May 29, 2007

Gary on Fox Glacier

Just a quick update before I hit the road to Queenstown.

I just had this photo taken about 30 min ago up on Fox Glacier, NZ. I had never been in a helicopter before. It was amazing. I got about 15 min of video footage too.

Not having packed much in the way of cold weather clothing, I am wearing like 5 layers of clothes and a new wool sweater I got here. I also have my video camera, and a bunch of other stuff in my pants pockets, adding to the illusion of being much fatter than I really am.

…and to think I was scuba diving in the tropics last week.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…

Posted by on May 29, 2007

I got a tattoo last week in Rarotonga.

It is a Cook Island Maori tattoo. The symbols are designed to tell a story, that story being my trip. In the center row, there is one character unlike the others. That represents me. Its a solo man. The other characters are birds which represent travel. On the top are mountains with birds that represent far away lands and on the bottom are shark teeth which represent protection and a safe journey.

No, I don’t plan on getting any more.

I’m currently in Franz Joseph Glacier, NZ. I’m sitting under the Franz Joseph Glacier which is really an odd glacier, because its not really cold here and the vegitation is very green and lush. Nonetheless, the glacier comes down pretty far.

Tomorrow I’m scheduled to take a helicopter flight over the Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers and near Cook Peak (highest in New Zealand) and then land on one of the glaciers. I’ve never been in a helicopter before, so it should be fun.

Today I did nothing but drive. The drive was really nice through the Buller Gorge and along the upper west coast (a drive which rivals the Pacific Coast Highway in California). The forests here are odd in that they are heavily forested with ferns. Huge ferns. Some ferns which look like trees.

Once again, I have internet access, but no way to upload my photos. I expect to take a ton more tomorrow on the glacier and on the way to Queenstown. I’ll also be stopping at the Haast Blue Pools tomorrow. From Queenstown, I’ll be going to Milford Sound then Invercargill, before heading north again to Christchurch and back to the North Island. I have to be in Auckland on June 6 and my flight to Fiji leaves early on June 7.

South Island

Posted by on May 27, 2007

I did the ferry crossing to the South Island today.


I must have shot almost an entire memory card of photos just in the Queen Charolette Sound on the way in. It must be what an Alaskan cruise is like.

Once again, I’m at a computer terminal at a campsite. I can’t get my photos up. I got in a bit early, so I’m going to go into town and see if I can find a Starbucks where I can use my laptop and upload photos.

I think I’m going to drive to Christchurch tomorrow to buy some warm clothes. I have a lot to say about New Zealand, but I’ll wait until I can get online with my laptop.

Kiwi Update

Posted by on May 27, 2007

I’m in Whangerei, NZ right now at a McDonalds/Internet cafe.

I drove from Routura to Whangerei today via the Tongarori National Park (aka Mount Doom if you saw the Lord of the Rings Movies).

I’ll be in Wellington tommorow and hopefully take the ferry to the south island.

Absolutely beautiful landscape. Amazing. You will love the photos.

So far, I haven’t gotten into an accident driving on the left.

To the Bush!

Posted by on May 25, 2007

I spent yesterday doing nothing. I saw Spiderman 3, purchased some random camera gear, got new razor blades, bought a new book to read, and had some sushi.

In about three hours I’ll be picking up my campervan which will be my home/vehicle for the next two weeks. My first stop will be Rotorua, which is know for its sulfur smell and its geothermal pools/spas. I should be there tonight and tomorrow. After that I’ll head to Tongariro National Parkand then the Capitol of Wellington to take the ferry over to the South Island.

Driving on the left should be an adventure in itself. Thankfully, I’ve been doing it the last week on a scooter, so it shouldn’t come as a shock. Expect a ton of photos as I hit the road. I expect to have good internet access while I’m out and about. Certainly better than I had in Rarotonga.

Auckland Ahoy!

Posted by on May 24, 2007

I’m safe in Auckland. It’s dark and I’m tired, but so far I like the city. It reminds me of Toronto.

I’m going to spend all day here tomorrow cleaning my clothes, getting my hair cut, and figuring out my schedule for the next two weeks.

It rained all day on Rarotonga….until I borded the plane when the skies become blue. Go figure.

Buh Bye Cook Islands

Posted by on May 23, 2007

I’m leaving Rarotonga in a few hours. I’ve enjoyed my time, but I’ve basically spent the last two weeks with overcast skies and rain. I leave here with a very sore right ass cheek (which I got from sitting in an inflatable dive boat going over rough seas), a cut on my right index finger (from diving), a sting from a small jellyfishy or something on the knuckle of my right index finger and my left arm, and a scrape on my right leg from falling over on my scooter (it wasn’t moving, I just fell over).

I’ve also lost my international drivers license. I don’t know what the hell happened to it. I’m pretty careful about my stuff because I don’t have much of it and losing anything is a big deal, but I can’t find it. I hope I’m not screwed when I land in Auckland.