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Archive for February 6th, 2010

New Zealand Wrap Up

Our last night in Auckland, we had dinner with Ben and Jo and took a walk around the harbour during sunset.  I love New Zealand and truly consider it my ‘home away from home’.

The landscape and weather

The New Zealand landscape is extremely diverse and dramatic, especially for such a small country…it’s no wonder that Peter Jackson decided to film ‘Lord of the Rings’ here, with its staggering mountains and volcanos, rolling hills, pristine lakes, lush rainforests, and golden sand beaches.

It was the beginning of summer when we were here, so the weather was warm, but still chilly at night. Unfortunately, we also got a lot of rain, which was unusual for this time of year.

The people

The Kiwis are absolutely wonderful – polite, friendly, and extremely helpful. In Wellington, Kelly and I were standing on the street outside of our hostel and a local man stopped and asked us what we were looking for and if he could help us. So nice.

We were also fortunate enough to have my old flatmates take us into their homes. Becky, Gavin, Ben, and Jo…thank you so much for your hospitality! You really made our time in New Zealand special (and cheaper!)

The food

Kelly and I were looking forward to some more variety after South America so it was no surprise that we went a little overboard here. Plus, I was dying to taste some of my old favorite Kiwi foods. This sounds weird, but the dairy products in New Zealand are outstanding. The chocolate, the cheese, the yogurt, the ice cream. My favorite is the orange chocolate chip ice cream and the hazelnut yogurt…Kelly HATES yogurt and still thought it was delicious.

We also went through god knows how many boxes of my favorite ‘biscuit’ in the world…the Tim Tam. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, caramel, double dipped…I’m seriously going to go through withdrawals from these once I get back to the States.

The most amazing cookie you will ever put in your mouth

Other than sweets, we ate our share of New Zealand green-lipped mussels, crayfish, lamb, meat pies, and tasty Thai and Indian food.

 The booze

New Zealand has great beer and wine (particularly whites). Our favorites were Monteith’s Original and Summer Ales, and of course, Speights. We also drank way too many bottles of the Lindauer sparkling sauvignon blanc.

Costs

Costs have really skyrocketed since I was here eight years ago, primarily due to the popularity of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and also because of the crappy American dollar. Accommodation ran us about about $20 – $30 per night, per person.  Food and booze were comparable to the States, if not more expensive. You couldn’t get breakfast for less than $8. Our transportation costs weren’t too bad since we rented a car and split the costs between 5 people. With gas, I think it averaged out to $15 a day/per person or something like that. Adventure activities (bungy jumping, glacier hikes, skydiving) are super expensive…Kelly’s bungy jump cost around $150 and a sky dive will cost you twice that.

Other random thoughts

-‘Sweet As’ is a popular expression here. For example, ‘Do you like my t-shirt?’ ‘Yeah, it’s sweet as’. The first time I heard this, I thought some ten year old was telling me I had a sweet ass.

-Prostitution is legal here. At least Kelly and I had a job if we ran out of money. (Kidding, Dad).

-There are no one-cent coins in New Zealand. Their lowest coin denomination is ten cents…change is rounded up. Why don’t we do this in the States? It makes soooo much ‘cents’. Ok, sorry…I love a good cheesy pun.

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