Well, we stayed home for a little while, but now we’re back on the road (not really – we’re on a boat so we’re on the ocean, not the road!) This time it’s an ocean cruise, but I’ve already decided I’m not going to do a day by day for this trip. I just can’t imagine it’s all that interesting, so I’ll just do updates every once in awhile and hit some high points.
We flew from San Francisco to Auckland (pronounced Oakland, down here) New Zealand to start our cruise. Until we started planning this trip I didn’t even know that New Zealand was two islands off the coast of Australia. I thought it was just a little chunk of the top (sorta like North Ireland is to Ireland) so I began learning right away, and in the few days we’ve been gone, the learning is continuing.
For starters, did you know that when you travel from the West Coast of the US to New Zealand, you cross the International Dateline? We left the evening of the 3rd, and flew for 13 hours and ended up 3 hours behind, but a day ahead? Yeah. When we go to Hawaii, we’re 3 hours behind, but on the same day. In New Zealand, we’re 3 hours behind, but in the next day. It’s pretty crazy. Hannah can’t quite wrap her head around the fact that Gaga and Da are in tomorrow…I love it!
Then, did you know kiwi are grown on a vine, much like grapes? And did you know that they were first called Chinese Gooseberries, but berries had a higher tariff attached to them, so they reclassified them as “kiwi fruit” to avoid the tariff? And that they are picked hard and last a whole year if stored properly? And did you know they taste better here? It’s probably all in my mind, but man, they’re good.
And did you know that even in New Zealand the fun shopping is WAY better than in the United States? At least by where we are. All the fun little shops are gone and we have little other than the big boxes. They are convenient, and the prices are usually better, but they just aren’t FUN! Note to self: when I get home, I’m searching out small mom and pop shops. I’d forgotten how much I love silly shopping vs. necessary shopping.
(Sad, but true…I can sniff these places out like a bloodhound!)
And did you know that kiwi birds are nocturnal and flightless, and that only 10% of the eggs hatched in the wild survive to be grown up birds? They’ve gone from a population of over 2 million to less than 700,000, thanks to predators like pigs and weasels that are not native to New Zealand? They have a great program to bring eggs in to hatch, then keep the hatchlings until they are big enough to fend for themselves then release them into the wild, thus saving them from extinction.
(Confession time…This is a photo of a poster – I didn’t REALLY get to hold a baby kiwi)
Or that the Giant Sequoias from California actually grow much better in New Zealand? One of guides said that New Zealand is famous for growing others place’s stuff better than they do!
Or that there are geysers and stink pots and hot springs all over the place in New Zealand? No kidding. You’re driving down the road and all of a sudden there is a mess of steam coming up outta the ground. It’s really cool. A little scary, too, I guess. They have a lot of earthquakes here, as the tectonic plates are very active.
Today we went to a rookery for Gannets. It was pretty darn amazing. It was on the edge of a cliff, on the end of a long peninsula. They roped off an area where the birds stay on one side, and the people stay on the other. The birds aren’t afraid of people, and they stay on their side of the rope. How do they know to do that?
We took about a gazillion photos, and this time it wasn’t just me. Mr. Tattered was intrigued and took the best slow-mo movies! I’ve weeded down a bunch of them, but they are just too stinkin’ cute. I’ll end up with WAAAAAY too many!
We’ve also seen white swans, black swans, and a flock of black teal that just hang out in Lake Rotorua. They never leave, and the people don’t know why.
And just for the heck of it, here’s a fern. The Maori people used to tear them apart and leave the silver side up on the trails so that when the moon shone on them, they’d light up and show the way. I just think it’s a cool photo.
Side note…in New Zealand advertising, the fern is their logo. Cool.