Fun facts about the land near the land down under
Tom trying (and failing) to look innocent immediately after breaking a limb off of New Zealand's
"Tree of Life." The tree was centuries old and planted by the first European to set foot on the
north island, Rear Admiral William Zeal of the H.M.S Sanchez. Shortly after this photo was taken
we declared diplomatic immunity and fled to the south island.
Mangapohue natural bridge, a few miles west of Waitomo's famous glow worm caves. Although the bridge is only
a few yards from the parking lot, getting to the bridge took us over an hour, largely due to
Tom's "walkways are for sissies" navigational strategy. After crossing a few barbed wire fences and scaling a sheer
rock face, we backtracked and arrived at the bridge. Note, however, that although the bridge itself is natural,
the giant hole under the bridge and the river that flows through it are both man-made.
A group shot inside one of the observation tubes at Kelly Tarton's supermontastic Antarctic extravaland.
The giant aquarium features a network of habitrail-like tubes with moving side walks in them. You just
stand there and are shuttled along the tubes, with a 180 degree view of sea life overhead. The real question is,
who's really on display here?...Are you watching the fish, or are the fish watching YOU? The real answer to the real
question is that the FISH are on display, of course. Why? because they're just #%@&ing fish, after all.
New Zealand's war memorial on the top floor of the Auckland Museum, located in, of all places,
downtown Auckland. This statue commemorates those kiwis who were killed in service during World Wars
I and II. It also recognizes all those who fell during New Zealand's brief war with Sweden in the 1970s.
Marokopa Falls, found after getting lost on our last day in New Zealand.
Tom, a lake, and a bunch of lupins. The lupins were imported from England and proceeded to cover pretty much everything.
If you don't like lupins, avoid the south island.
Fake penguins at the Antarctic Museum in Christchurch. Much more photogenic than real penguins.
Sledding in the Antarctic Museum's giant snow chamber. The "sled" was essentially a pizza pan with
a makeshift handle slapped on. Afterwards, Laura was heard to say "this... isn't fun."
Fountain at the botanical gardens in Christchurch. It was much more spectacular about two seconds before I
took this picture. Fire hydrant volumes of water were spewing out in all directions, sparkling lights were shining
in the water, and "wee people" dressed in festive garb were dancing about in the foreground. Also, the water was
full of eels. Electric eels. Electric eels with bees in their mouths.
A hillside covered with Scottish broom (the yellow stuff). Scottish broom, much like the lupins, was imported and
proceeded to cover everything in sight. There's actually a big biological battle going on right now, as the Scottish
broom and lupins fight over the same soil. Alarmingly, both the broom and the lupins have well-advanced nuclear weapons
The three of us and a statue of a prehistoric giant kiwi bird. Heck of a bill on that thing. Thankfully the giant
kiwis are extinct, and only the miniature variety remains today. There's just something unsettling about
a bird that big.
Unidentified people parasailing in Queenstown. Queenstown has a lot of X-treme / adventure
type activities, and is home to the world famous Jet Boats. For about \$200 NZ you can jump off the side
of a mountain with a parasail and an instructor, and it seems pretty popular. Jumping off the side of a mountain WITHOUT a parasail
or instructor is apparently free, albeit less popular.
Myself, while luge racing in Queenstown. It's like an American alpine slide without the lawyers to
take all the fun away. You go much faster, you can pass, and you can quite possibly break something. Note
the very steep slope of the track. This
photo was taken immediately after a daring and questionable passing move which put Tom into the wall for a
nasty spill. "Rubbin's Lugin'," I say.
We took a quick horse ride up Iron Mountain near lake Wanaka. About 100 yards from the top,
we hitched our horses and walked to the overlook at the top, frontin' to some hikers
that we had walked the whole way. Suckers.
Glacier near Franz Josef. We stayed at the Glacier View Hotel, home of the world's worst restaurant ever.