Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bits and pieces

Dunedin (out of the backlog...) I liked Dunedin quite a bit, though it was shite weather while I was there. Among the sites I took in while there:

--Baldwin Street is the steepest in the world. I didn't dare try to drive up it in my shitmobile for a car.

--Lots of wildlife. Saw a fur seal colony and wild blue penguins. It was night time, so I don't have any penguin photos, unfortunately.

--Toured the Cadbury factory. Hershey really does make a shitty product.

Puzzling World Went to Wanaka's Puzzling world on Monday with some folks from the hostel. I suddenly grew by four feet:

Took the Roman toilets for a spin:

And found my way through a maze:

Afterward, we climbed Mt Iron for a great panoramic view. You can see Wanak behind us.

Heading back to Queenstown today. I want to decide where I'm going to stay soon. Going to check out the job prospects this evening. I'll be honest--despite Queenstown's total awesomeness, it's hella expensive. To support my goal of traveling Asia after New Zealand, I may be better off in a city so that I can conserve my money a little better. I will figure that out over the weekend.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


As I said in my last post, I'm now in Wanaka. It's quite a bit smaller than Queenstown. In fact, I could quite possibly lose my mind here after a few weeks. But there's plenty for me to do for a few days or so. Lots of good hikes, and today I'm going to Puzzling World! Photos to come.

Here is where I am staying:

And if I turn 180 degrees...

A little closer...

Oh, and take a look at this photo. Something doesn't seem quite right eh? I see this all the time...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Some great views

I am in Wanaka now. It's a little over an hour away from Queenstown, and the scenery is no less stunning. There were only two of us on the bus, so the driver made a couple stops so I could get out and take photos.

In this one, Queenstown is in the distance. You can see the airport and a bit of Lake Wakatipu.

AND, here's a video I took of one of the other fliers from the other day. She's still building momentum, so imagine it going even higher than this (and not coming down sideways).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Burned alive

Well, 90 minutes into my trial run at the restaurant, it was abundantly clear that it was not going to work out. In fact, once I told her I didn't have much practice carrying three plates at once, I knew that I was hosed. But more than that, I don't have experience in a restaurant quite as classy as this place. I need to set my sights on somewhere more casual. And I'm glad that she was honest with me about my poor fit, because I'd rather spend my time searching elsewhere than feeling like a fish out of water, carrying everything on a tray, including extra knives and empty beer bottles.

So, Operation CV Handout continues today. I have a few leads, so I'm optimistic. The only thing that is dicouraging is that it would seem many places may not want to hire someone for another couple weeks. I don't know what I would do with myself with no job for that long (without spending an exorbitant amount of money, that is). I'll deal with that possibility next, if need be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Trial by fire

Fourty-eight hours from now, I may be employed. Or I may be nursing a really bad hangover after drinking away my sorrows. Five minutes after submitting my CV to a local restaurant yesterday, I got a phone call asking if I could do a trial shift on Thursday. Seems the local practice here in Queenstown is to throw you into the deep end, with very little training, to see if you're up to snuff. This prevents them from wasting time training people who suck and only want work because they blew all their money on thrills and beers and need to earn funds for a plane ticket home. So they gave me a menu and a wine list and said, "See you at half past five."

So, wish me luck. Good thing I was waiting tables for a few months before I took off, though I don't exactly have the "couple years" of experience that most venues require. But the manager obviously knows good people when she sees them.

Oh, and the wages are $10 plus tips. Beats the hell out of the $2.15 I made in Omaha.

Check out the restaurant: Captains Restaurant

Monday, October 22, 2007

A hike with a payoff

I've never been a huge fan of recreational exercise--I only do it because I know it's "good" for me. But today's hike certainly paid off. Now I don't know what the difference between a mountain and a hill is. A lot of what I saw on the north island were definitely hills. The snow-capped dealies across the lake from me are most certainly mountains. But right next to my hostel is a 1,500-foot, tree-covered monolith that I will call a mountain so that I can sound cooler. I don't have a photo from the bottom of it, but I'll get on that.

Anywho, you can either pay 20 bucks to take a cool gondola ride to the top, or you can hike up. Since money and I keep butting heads, I chose the cheap-ass route, which involved lots of sweating and plenty of huffing and puffing. But defnitely worth it. At the top, an amazing view of the town and the lake.

And at the top, there's a ski lift.

And at the top of the ski lift? Luging!

I nearly threw myself over the embankment going around one turn, but three runs later, I was unscathed.

And how about getting back down the mountain? Well, it just so happens that no one checks for your gondola tickets, so we hopped on and enjoyed the ride--and the view.

And now...the job search kicks off.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Six weeks into my trip, I've finally completed my first adrenaline-pumping activity (unless you want to count beekeeping). Fly By Wire puts you in control of a small fan-driven "plane," which you send careening around a valley, as you are tethered to a cable hanging about a hundred meters or so above the valley floor. Here I am getting strapped in:

And ready to go:

Once you're all harnessed in, they lift you up and pull you up along the side of the hill. About 75 meters up.

You're nearly vertical, hanging face first toward the ground. The ascent stops. Then you squeeze the release trigger and the accelarator and begin your flight, first swinging back and forth between the sides, building up height and speed (up to 170 km per hour, or about 100 mph), in a figure eight. Then they have you start turning the same direction on each pass, allowing you to start swinging out into the open air, away from the hills. At the peak of each pass, you're weightless for a few seconds, before you hurtle back toward the other side. It doesn't feel like you're falling because you're going so fast. And when you're done, the engine cuts, and you slowly swing back and forth, until they bring you back to the ground. Feckin awesome!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

This place rocks

File this one under weird, unexplainable things... About 50 minutes north of Dunedin, there is a town called Moeraki. What puts Moeraki on the map? Why, rocks of course. Not just any rocks, mind you. They are some 60 million years old and look oddly crystaline. And they were a good photo op.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sensory overload

Well, got into Queenstown yesterday. This place is effing amazing! It feels kinda like a Colorado ski resort. It sits on a crystal-clear lake and is surrounded by mountains. I definitely won't mind staying here for a few months. Photos hardly do the landscap justice, but here's just a taste of what I'm surrounded by.

I will have more on what I've been up to the last couple days soon...Good stuff!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pinch me

Every single day that I'm here, I see something absolutely incredible. Monday was no exception.

I drove out, east of Christchurch, to the Banks Penninsula and the former French settlement of Akaroa. (This stop was highly recommended by Paul).

View Larger Map

Simply stunning. The Penninsula was formed by volcanic activity and they've carved out roads that take you on a sweet-ass tour around the top.


Akaroa from above

After stopping in Akaroa, I drove around the spine of the Penninsula and down into Le Bons Bay. I'd say this was the coolest place I've been to yet, as far as scenery goes. I had the whole beach to myself and was surrounded by high hills.

And a little video...

I didn't spend much time exploring Christchurch. I thought my time was better spent getting out into the surrouding area since I have a car...I'll likely have time to revisit Christchurch. Now I'm in Dunedin, which has the steepest street in the world (the one my hostel is on isn't far off, either). More on that later.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More great views

While the North Island is quite stunning, the things I've seen in two days on the South Island have me awestruck. And there's still places I have yet to see that are supposed to be even more breathtaking. It's an unbelievably beautiful country, and I'm glad that I am here.

While in Nelson, I went for a random drive around the countryside with Heather from Ontario, who I had met in Auckland. We found this crystal-clear river.

I can take photos and drive on the left at the same time! This was during my drive today from Nelson to Christchurch. It's in the Marlborough region, which plays host to countless vineyards and wineries.

I stopped in Kaikoura for a bit as well. Unbelievable.

And I made a friend there.

Random stop along the highway

So hurry now to Kayak and book your tickets to come visit me! I know you want to.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mary Kay calling!

"Um, isn't that pink?"

"No," responds the rental agent, "I think it's champagne."


I present to you my wheels for the next six days:

Not the coolest-looking car I've ever driven, but it gets good gas mileage and only costs me US$25 a day, including unlimited Ks and full insurance coverage.

AND it allows me to take my time while I'm traveling and get views like this:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

South Island starts on a positive note

I've been on the South Island for just over an hour now, and I'm already pleased--The crappy weather in Wellington didn't follow me. It had been misting in Welly since I got there Wednesday night.

Thankfully, right as the ferry was nearing the channel that would take us into Charlotte Sound, the clouds broke and blue sky came through.

Now I'm in Picton for the night. It's a nice town of about 5,000 and is tucked into a little hill on Charlotte Sound. Tomorrow, I'm off to Nelson.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Quick update... Got into Wellington last night. No photos to post, because the weather is pretty miserable, but it is a very nice city. Kind of San Franciso-ish, hills and all. I went to the Te Papa museum this morning. It's free and it's a really nice museum. Tomorrow, I will take the ferry over to Picton, and Sunday I will start traveling south. I may deviate from my original itinerary a bit, as lots of people are telling me that Nelson is quite nice. So I think i'll go there on Saturday, and perhaps extend my rental another day. Stay tuned...the adventure has just begun

Monday, October 08, 2007

Point of clarification

It has come to my attention that some readers find it funny that I have been wearing a Healthy Choice t-shirt. I do not view this as something that goes against my anti-corporate whore philosophy. Because while you wear your Healthy Choice t-shirts to company events and while working out, I wear mine while doing such un-healthy tasks as sitting at the beach, driving on the left side of the road and drinking beer.

Therefor, I win. And if that argument is not good enough, I'm in New Zealand and you're not.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I know you want more photos of me

Today's adventure took Annie, Vida and myself up to Mahia (you can use Google Maps like a big kid, can't you?).

It was my first time driving on the roads in New Zealand...right side of the car; left side of the road!

Visited a very cool beach of rock, carved out by the surf.

I caught a crab. That's crab singular. See?

No, I did not eat it. Yes I know I need to shave.

And for those of you playing at home, I'll give you a rundown of my tentative itinerary for the next 10 days or so. On Wednesday, I am leaving Lancaster Citrus for Wellington. I plan to spend two nights there (I'll see it more on the way back up), and take the ferry to picton on Friday. Then, on Saturday, I intend to rent a car (or hire, as they say) and leisurely drive to Queenstown over the next five days, via Christchurch and Dunedin. This will allow me to enjoy the scenery of the beautiful New Zealand Pacific coast.

Once in Queenstown, after I track down my liver and nurse it back to life, I hope to take on gainful employment in one of the city's eating establishments, where I will remain through the busy season (March-ish). Wish me luck!

(I'll help you out this time)

View Larger Map

Friday, October 05, 2007

Life outside the cube: Bee keeping

I've heard that bees make a different sound when they're pissed off. I'd like to take this opportunity to confirm that. Thankfully this was done without a single sting marring the handsome figure of your hero. Have I found my new calling?

1400 hours: The call comes in. One of the neighbors has spotted something. Annie and Vida (helper from Taiwan) suit up. We load the van and head off. I'm ready with my camera.

1412 hours: We arrive at the scene and interogate the resident. This isn't the first incident here.

1415 hours: We investigate the scene. It's a swarm all right; a massive one.

1420 hours: The containment device is deployed. The bees are swept from the tree and onto a board.

1425 hours: Success. They are marching into the containment unit. (No, seriously, they all just started marching right into the damn box!)

1435 hours: My turn.

Kinda Marty McFly, no?

I go out to the orchard to assist with some hive maintenance. The bees surround me. I can feel them throwing themselves at the suit; their buzz becomes high pitched. They're effing pissed. I have to slowly walk away from the hive--they can smell fear, after all. I'm careful not to swat at them, so they don't sting through the suit. Successful mission.

Quite a departure from my desk job, but I don't think I have a future as a bee keeper.