Friday, December 29, 2006

yellow-bellied tizzle torts

well, the pohutukawas are in bloom, which means that it's christmas, or it's been christmas, or christmas rode a lemming off a cliff catching a pleasant summery breeze while plummeting into the briny depths; aucklanders are flocking to their former-baches-now-holiday-mansions; and beaches are over-run with hooligan teenagers and children with abrasive squeals. this new year's will be spent at the coromandel peninsula ("where the beer flows like wine, where the women instinctively flock like the salmon of capistrano"), specifically at hahei.

spent a few days down in wellington. had the pleasure of crashing at 128, a community house and hangout for the anarcho-activist-pinko crowd. there i met more people than names i can remember, made friends and acquaintances with a few members of the community, including a dog--shock horror--named willow. besides the lovely company, the house boasts a vegetarian kitchen with a glut of free bread from a fancy bakery, as well as a library filled with radical books, and a bike shop; but seems to lack a shower with hot water. the advantages i feel far outweigh the drawbacks. i look forward to spending a few days there upon my return while brendan and i find a flat and some jobs.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

yeah, whatever.

a brief photo dump. just some highlights, but by no means all of it. gotta post before the internet cafe closes. click to enlarge.

just got back from here... being able tasman national park

the routeburn track

the milford track

patagonia: dessert! it's what's for dinner... and breakfast.

penguins at a reserve near dunedin

and some other ones...

best big-screen internet spa-pool in arthur's pass. the campervan conference garden is also nice.

takahe's are awesome.

ladies, brendan makes good funny faces. that's talent.

...says it all.

not funny, but ferny... so bad, yet so, so good.

Monday, December 11, 2006

camels are momos.

last we met, i had yet to walk about on a river of ice. well, i now can check that off my list. our first effort at fox glacier was a bust. three days of driving rain made sure of that. instead we watched a bunch of films on their giant projection tv, including new zealand's most famous domestic flicks whale rider and once were warriors. we ended up deciding to push on up to franz joseph, the other glacier of note on the south island's west coast. we were lucky to be gifted a lovely overcast afternoon sans rain, allowing us to go and stomp on some ice. as usual, photos tk.

from there it was off to hokitika, jade carving center of the universe. after an afternoon carving cow bone, which is cheaper than jade and a softer object to work with. we then bounced off to greymouth, which is pretty much solely known for the monteith's brewery, where i had a tour and tasting (i recommend the black, radler, and summer ale, though they all seemed to be pretty decent beers to me, as beers go).

we made it all the way over to nelson, where we're presently stationed. today is probably the best day of weather we've had since arriving in the south island. it is warm, sunny, with clear skies and a light breeze. most of the day was spent wandering town looking at art galleries. i also paid a local artisan cut my hair off for the low, low price of NZ$10, which is like $6.70 in real money. the coiffure took about two and half minutes to complete.

other things accomplished in the past couple of days:
1. ate fresh fruit: banana, mango, cherry variaties
2. saw new bond film: bad ass. best bond since goldeneye (same director... go figure)
3. made more bone carvings: tutorial by german immigrant stephan, who refused to breath when he talked, preferring to push out every syllable from his thought process until he ran completely out of breath.
4. went to the world of wearable art.
5. saw the holiday: not bad for a holiday-based romantic comedy, a little bit too much on the cheesy side though. kate winslet and cameron diaz are fine. jack black doesn't play a complete ass, which is surprising. the same can probably be said for jude law, who plays an awful lot of jerks. it's the first likeable guy i've seen him play since he was in enemy at the gates.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

baked goods make for baked brains

first, happy barfday, mara! normally i keep family out of this, but my sister's birthday is today and i thought you all should know.

we've been in the hinterlands of nz for the past couple weeks hence radio silence. we conquered two of new zealand's great walks, the milford track and the routeburn track, were boxed out of renting a car, still managed to putter our way down to invercargill and stewart island, and are currently living it up in the oh-so-scottish dunedin. somewhere in there we spent a number of nights in queenstown and te anau, where we didn't do much but watch films while recuperating from walking. we did arrive in queenstown just in time for the opening of patagonia, a new dessert cafe, where i ate no fewer than three desserts for dinner. i also applied for a job there, which i later turned down, as by that point i was already in invercargill. it also occurs to me that i don't yet have a government tax number.

the milford and routeburn tracks were outstanding. photos are currently being handcrafted one pixel at a time by the little gnomes that live in my camera. by the time we arrive back up north they should all be compiled into a series of picturesque scenes that i'll be able to show publicly. i think brendan said it best though, when he said something to the effect of, "the north island has lots of nice sections, but the south island is just epic." both of these great walks were packed front-to-back with nature's grandeur. mountains, waterfalls, forests, rivers, avalanche zones, and freeze-dried meals (not natural, but still grand at the end of a long day of hiking). it also had smaller pleasures too, like a couple of fantail birds that buzzed about us while we had a brief respite. brendan almost got one to land on his outstretched finger.

y'know how people who live above the mason-dixon line make fun of/fear people below it? well, invercargill is below the non-existent mason-dixon line in new zealand. it is the southernmost city in the country (there are towns further south, but they're all pretty small). via a connection i made while in wellington, we ended up crashing on the floor of some students at the local polytech university. they were a very hospitable bunch and we had some good conversations about music, food, and politics. we were even able to catch an episode of the daily show: global edition, which was much appreciated after months of a jon stewart-less existence. okay. anyway, i re-learned the term "munted," which means "beat-up" or "damaged." for instance a wrecked car would be considered munted, as in "that car is totally munted." or, another example might be "michael jackson's face is totally munted." or, "michael richard's career is munted." et cetera.

up in dunedin, we've checked out the local art scene (which is thriving), gone to two design exibitions, gone to the movies, talked to a very reasonable born-again, eaten a ton of baked goods ("not baked goods, professor! baked bads!"), found an excellent saturday farmers market, and done other sundry city-related things, like walking.

some south island stats...

live music acts heard: 11
movies seen: more than can be remembered
movies seen in theaters: 3 (the departed, borat, children of men)
movies seen featuring selma hayek: 2
books read: 1 and about half-a-dozen partially completed.
crepes eaten: 2 (nutella with banana and strawberry-rhubarb jam fillings)
cars driven: 1
pizzas consumed: 1
casseroles maquerading as pizzas consumed: 1

have a nice day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

South Siyeeed!

mexico in christchurch

big flower at oamaru's public garden

this is what i have to deal with

oamaru is victorian

oamaru is blue penguins

spherical boulders at moeraki

queenstown: i forgot these mountains existed

Arrived in Christchurch a few days ago. Bummed about town there. No sign of the Wizard, a man who dresses in a wizard costume who stands on his soap box and rails about the social ills of humanity. Apparently he's in semi-retirement. Good, cheap asian food abounds. There are a ton of art galleries about as well. The town itself feels like an amalgam of New England and English cities. Found a copy of Cathedral by Raymond Carver at a local 2nd hand establishment. Brendan and I also purchased a rugged two-person tent, which we have subsequently slept in twice. Camping is kind of fun, even if the camp sites around here lack fire pits. (Malm, if you're reading this, I haven't showered in four days. I thought you'd be proud.)

Hey. I'm using capitals again. Just realized. Weird.

Anyway, we rented a car in Christchurch and drove down the east coast to Oamaru, where we planned to do some penguin spotting. Oamaru is known for being a good place to see both the blue and yellow-eyed varieties. We managed to see the former, but not the latter. Oamaru apparently also has a bit of a Victorian theme to it, lovely public gardens, and a magnificent bakery.

From there we cruised on to Queenstown, stopping briefly in Moeraki, where we ambled around perfectly spherical boulders. Queenstown is known for being a booming tourist town, but I have to say that the town center isn't much bigger than I remember it when I was here 12 years ago. The number of swanky houses, apartments, and hotels has vastly increased though. And the town has spread outwards. It's been infected with suburbs. There are also mountains about that I don't recall being here. I'm pretty sure they were imported from Colorado, but don't quote me on that.

This morning I awoke at 7:10 am voluntarily. Around 10 we hiked up a hill somwhere around town and took in the views. That was pretty much it for todays activities. Tomorrow we're bussing down to Te Anau where we'll prepare ourselves for the Milford Track, a four day hike through fiordlands. At some point we'll probably end up back in Queenstown.

* * *

Backtracking a little bit (just for you, dad), we did a jaunt out to White Island a couple of weeks ago. White Island is an active volcano a few miles off of the east coast of the North Island. It was mined for sulfur a number years ago. The sulfur mining was ultimately abondoned I believe because the conditions were too harsh. The atmosphere is extremely acidic, the winds whip through the island at consistently high speeds, and of course, the operation was perpetually at risk of being 'sploded. The island itself is kind of like a hyperactive Rotorua. There are steam vents and sulfur depsits all over, as well as mud pools, a boiling lake, and streamlets filled with sulfur. There are some remains of the mining operation there. The metal objects--some large gears, beams, container drums--are all completely rusted and corroded. The only thing left that seems like it's in any kind of decent condition is a rubber ring around a train wheel. All in all it's not a particularly pleasant place to hang out. Interesting though.

There really isn't much to say about the Tongariro Crossing. The first half is pretty difficult. The section nicknamed the Devil's Staircase is a strenuous, near-vertical, natural stairway. We were rewarded for that by a beautiful view of cloud covering. Then things get cold and windy. We hiked through slush, which did not do my feet much good as they were wrapped in very not waterproof shoes. I had to stop and quickly wring out my socks and then get them back on so I could get moving again in order to avoid my feet from going numb. I didn't notice the dampness after a while. And once we got to the Emerald Lakes, it was all worth it though. The views were spectacular (as I hope my photos show). The rest of the walk was nice, but nothing in comparison to the views at the saddle. I wish we'd known how quick the rest of the walk had been so we could've enjoyed the top more. We ended up finishing an hour before the bus arrived to pick us up. Bummer. But maybe we can do it again later this summer.

* * *

Speaking of backtracking, here's a video from the Tamaki Tours gig in Rotorua. It's a welcoming ceremony for unknown visitors (us) to their village. Apologies for the shoddy sound and camera work.

* * *

Don't know when I'll get to post again. Be thankful for what you got.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


as promised, i have uploaded a metric shit ton of photos for you to enjoy or ignore or enjoy ignoring. the following six posts are most of the halfway decent shots from our trip through the north island. at some point i hope upload the cream to my flickr site to give them a bit of nicer digital setting.

b and i fly down to christchurch on monday. we're going to gayly skip along the milford track starting on the 7th of november. it is my hope that our expedition south will include some penguin watching, cycling, kayaking, and lots and lots of hiking. blog entries and photos will be posted when technology and time are available. for now, enjoy the photos. or don't.

* * *

as you may have noticed i've given the blog another makeover. i've switched over to blogger beta. not much to report about it other than there seem to be a few more options for templates. general layout and standard utilities are otherwise pretty much identical. uploading new posts is much faster now, though. i'll hopefully be tweaking the color scheme a bit, but we'll see if i get a chance.

* * *

i'm nearly finished reading jonathan strange and mr. norell. i have to say, i don't know what people were so enthused about. granted, i've never been a much of a fantasy fan, but it's halfway through the book before there's any real conflict established. that's 500 pages in. it's not until about two thirds of the way through that what's billed to be the main conflict of the book, that between strange and norell, actually develops. and even once that's established, susanna clarke still can't keep the pace up. that said, i'm 850 pages in and i'm not giving up now.

wrap it up already

Sculpture at Te Papa in Wellington

Uh... yeah.


The following are shots of White Island, an active volcano off the east coast.

views of wellington

the beehive, new zealand's parliament building