Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Zealand: Flashback - January 2007

  • Book a ticket to New Zealand.
  • Rent an RV.
  • Mix one Brazilian athlete with one German writer.
  • Add a Portuguese driver and a Chinese comic.
  • Sprinkle an American girl throughout.
  • Simmer on low heat for one week.
  • Season with wine, chocolate and wasabi cheese to taste.

During the summer of 2007, four of my international friends were the key ingredients as we spent ten fun-filled days on the open road exploring the north and south islands of New Zealand.

For our ultimate road trip we met up in Auckland on the North Island. The first stop was to the small down of Matamata, one of the locations where "The Lord of Rings" was filmed and referred to in the movie as the village of Hobbiton. We posed in hobbit houses and danced around the Party Tree; having never seen the films, I was content enjoying the green rolling hills and quaint dairy farming landscape. Next up we explored the steaming geysers of Rotorua before driving our tripped-out RV onto a ferry in Wellington to reach the South Island. 

Navigating twisting roads with incredibly polite drivers, we took the coastal route and headed south. Sheep dotted the hillsides and we jumped fences giving a couple little lambs a good chase. With awe-inspiring scenery, like Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Mt. Cook National Park, every day looked like a painting. Although it was summertime, there was just enough chill in the air and often a bit of drizzle to require a jacket.

With no shortage of wine in our comfortable ride and our sights set on the snow-capped southern alps, we ventured all the way down to the Milford Sound before turning inland. The glacier water run-off opened up into vast lakes colored the iciest blue. We rode on to the adventurer's paradise of Queenstown joining fellow campers and backpackers as they enjoyed the myriad of outdoor activities in the area like bungee jumping, canoeing, boating and zip-lining. Our adventure came to a close in the European-esque city of Christchurch with its city squares and ornate architecture. After a week of incredible photographs and unforgettable memories, we bid farewell to the beautifully wild kiwi nation and hopped our short flight back to Sydney, Australia.


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