Saturday, August 26, 2006

okarito, west coast, south island

the most beautiful beach in the world

nathan on the western rim

south island I

winter vineyards,
marlborough region

crayfish, north of kaikoura

sperm whale, kaikoura


sky ocean road traintracks

sheep possessed

farm country

oh the wooliness!!!


Friday, August 25, 2006

rest of the north island, heading south

on top of the world

pukeko, flightless birds, only in new zealand

lake rotorua

wai-o-tapu, "thermal wonderland"

criterion backpackers, napiers

craggy range vineyards, hawkes bay

windy wellington

leaving wellington for the south

southern edge, north island

northern edge, south island

south island

Monday, August 21, 2006

and so it begins

auckland, sculpture fountain

view from mount eden, near nate's house

first day on the road

oyster flats


foliage, coromandel coast

pig v. dog, route 309, also home of on-your-honour honey shack

dawn over the pacific, whitianga

Sunday, August 06, 2006

coming home

I've been home for a week and four days now, after being away for nearly three weeks wandering the wilds (and the not so wilds) of the great nation of New Zealand. Such a wonderful, beautiful trip it was that it's been hard being home again. Not only because of the 100-degree weather, made worse by soul-sucking humidity, though that certainly hasn't helped any. But because the trip itself was so very magical, these weeks spent driving around truly stunning countryside, seeing amazing things--sperm whales just before their descents into the deep to feed, a group of baby seals playing at dusk in a pool at the bottom of a 150+ foot waterfall, penguins, glaciers, dolphins cavorting around our boat in the middle of a fiord surrounded by mountains, waterfalls too numerous to count, an entire town that smells constantly of sulphur, eels lurking in murky stream water under a bridge, kiwis and other strange and exotic birds, cows mounting each other and parakeets flagrantly getting it on, sheep at pasture in the vineyards, an unlit tunnel of living rock gouged through a mountain to get to the sea, an underground power plant hewed out of stone two kilometers into the ground, a sky so full of stars that I thought it was cloud cover only to have Nathan point out to me that no, this is the Milky Way.

And the food! Delicious mussels and oysters, fish and chips, lamb, venison, and more wine than we knew what to do with. Actually, we drank it all, with the exception of a couple bottles horded and brought back to the States. We stayed in hostels, usually in our own room, and cooked amazing meals, at one place in a tiny cabin with no hot water, no bathroom, and heated only by a wood stove.

It's Sunday night, and I'm home and alone and bored (just finished making a small present for Mom for her big 60th birthday coming up, though that can't possibly compete with my brother's present to her--being home for her birthday), and so I was perusing the website of a huge wine store here in Manhattan. Particularly I was looking at their New Zealand wines and recognized quite a few of them from our three days of wandering around the various wine regions there. And it's fun to think that I saw where they grow these grapes, where they make these wines, that I know if they're any good or not, at least to my untrained tastes. They have a Seresin sauvignon blanc, and I happen to know that this particular vineyard is all handpicked, the wine all organically produced, and delicious besides. I know that Spy Valley is trying to market itself to the younger, hipper crowd, with its space-invaders style label, its brand new cellar door blaring techno music, its t-shirts and outdoor sculpture. Their wine, however, sucks, in my humble opinion. We visited the winery that buys its grapes from the vineyard where Nathan worked last winter (their summer, of course) and it was gratifying to find out that their wine is actually pretty good despite the one bad bottle we had here in NY last year. Framingham, just for the record. Good stuff.

But the most magical thing of all, in this trip full of special moments, was being able to spend this time with Chris and Nathan, the two people in the world most dear to my heart. The two people who, more than anyone else, make it okay to laugh and giggle like a child at the beauty of the world (or a good or even a not so good fart joke) and even okay to cry sometimes. The two boys are still traveling together, in Australia now, and even though I find traveling to be pretty stressful, even though I'm a complete homebody, it was sad to leave them, to end this time together. But Chris will be home, for awhile at least before heading off to begin school in New Haven, in less than a week. And Nathan, that dear silly boy who can't help but wander all over the globe it seems, might be coming back to New York sometime in the not too distant future too. He has to see about a girl, you see. And what better reason is there than that.

Pictures to be posted soon, when Chris comes home with the digital camera.