In January 2005, I went to New Zealand for vacation/destination wedding. It was the first time I had traveled outside of the country by myself and I found it to be such an amazing experience. I promised myself that I would plan a trip like that every year from then on out. I haven't followed through on my promise to myself but I did move to a new city and live there for a while (that counts, right!?!?).
So I'm telling you all of this because I found my copies of the emails and I want to share those memories with you - plus I want to make sure I don't lose them. I have pictures to go along with them and I'll have to work on getting them posted - they're digital but I have NO idea where the cd is so we'll see. But here is the first email:
January 27, 2005
I'm here and I'm alive and this place is AMAZING!!!
I feel very much like I have stepped back in time to the California life of the 50s. The country is green and sunny - it's summer time here! Nice and warm... 26C (you all do the conversion)I arrived in Auckland which has a very similar feel to San Francisco - strong Asian influence and winding roads, right on a bay with beautiful bridges.I'm with my friends Alison and Alex from Camp and we've stopped to see some other camp people who are from New Zealand.
The Kiwis are a friendly and hospitable people. Everyone says hello and our friends are excited to share their country and culture with us.We ate dinner at the top of the Sky Tower in the observatory resturant. 192 meters tall (again, you do the math) but think Hancock in Chicago. Very cool and great views of the city. We got there at 8:30PM and it was still light as day... the sun doesn't fully go down until about 10PM - another thing that seems to throw me off. And it rises later too. But the sunsets are amazing.
Yesterday we drove from Auckland to Paraparamumu which is a small beach town (think Seaside, Florida) but without the commercialism. There are no billboards here but they have lots of signs for veges. ("veggies") We're on the West side of the country, south part of the North Island which is on the Tasman Sea. The Pacific Coast is on the east... another weird change to get your mind around.
The strangest thing is the driving... we constantly feel like we're on the wrong side of the road. It's made for some funny moments. And walking to wrong side of the car to get in.
Halfway down the country was a lake called Lake Taupo (gotta love the names here) which is HUGE. I took pictures but I don't think my camera could capture the magnificence of it. And right beside it was a huge mountain with snow on it... tall enough that the tips and peaks were surrounded by clouds... made it look like the snow was coming from the clouds. Very dramatic country side and breathtaking views the whole way. It was mainly farmland with lots of cows and sheep ( yes, Leah I took pictures of the sheep for you) but then we'd come around a curve and have dramatic scenery. Great drive.
I've only been drinking New Zealand Wine and Beer. I haven't found any wines beside the Villa Maria Savignon Blanc that I already liked. But there's a great IPA beer called Tui that I like! Highly reccomended.
Today we've walked on the beach and eaten at a great little seaside cafe. We're about to go meet the bride and get involved in all the wedding festivities... should be interesting. We're staying in a National Park called Tatum Park.
We'll run into some other camp people here and then everyone seems to be going their own way. Alex and Alison are going to Australia and I'm going on to Wellington for a couple of days before heading up the Pacific Coast to the wine country.
I'll write more later. Internet cafes will be along the way!
Love you all!