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Five weeks in New Zealand

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Apparently the day before I did the hike it was just gorgeous there - perfectly blue skies. And for a couple days after, the trail was closed. So it looks like I just managed to squeeze in a hike before the shutdown, but was a bit unlucky that I arrived there when I did - 1 day earlier and my pictures would have been far more spectacular!

    I remember one place in Queenstown that had pretty good pizza - Winnie's. It came recommended by someone or other so I checked it out, but other than that I don't remember eating pizza elsewhere.. and I think I remember Winnie's mainly because my waitress was Canadian, so it's not that their pizza was amazing or anything. Why do you ask?
     
  2. CavLancer

    CavLancer This aint fertilizer

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    If it was good then I was going to ask if it was different and what the difference was. I'm building a wood fired pizza oven and we'll be opening a pizza place so I look for ideas. :dunno: Don't know what I was expecting...Tasmanian Deviled sausage? Maybe something with the cheese...they sell NZ motz here, haven't tried it yet.
     
  3. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I'm surprised they let you hike in that weather, if the trail wasn't better marked. Seems dangerous.
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    The menu was definitely not traditional in terms of what you'd expect on a pizza, so you might be able to use it for inspiration related purposes. It was definitely good pizza, I just might have been more critical of it due to the price they were selling it at. :p The place was definitely trying to be a "super trendy gourmet pizza joint", so my expectations were very high.

    I'm looking at their menu trying to figure out what pizza I had, but it was just too long ago. Then again I just did a search for bacon, and only 2 pizzas came up, so I probably had one of those:

    Luigis Italian gf
    Crispy bacon, pepperoni, mixed capsicums, red onions, and mushrooms

    Tri Factor
    Winning combination of prime steak cuts, bacon, mushrooms, caramalised onions and BBQ sauce

    I think I probably had the tri factor based on the fact that there's steak and that it's a winning combination - that sounds like something that would win me over just based on the steak part alone.

    And I read about your pizza oven idea and support it 100% :goodjob: You're living the dream. Especially if you end up baking pizzas with bacon and steak on them and making money off it all to help support your estate.

    And speaking of different.. well.. yeah, turns out Winnie's is kinda different, I just took a closer look at their menu:

    Thai Chicken nt
    Flavoursome thai chicken curry sauce , red onions, capsicums, roasted peanuts and coconut topped with crispy noodles

    Morroccan Lamb
    Marinated lamb leg fillets with zucchini, red onion and tomato served with Winnies minted yoghurt

    Zucha gf
    Baby spinach, oven roasted pumpkin, olives, feta, red capsicums and sprinkled with toasted almonds

    Chicken Cranberry & Brie gf nt
    Cranberry base, smoked chicken and brie sprinkled with fresh rosemary

    Okay, maybe don't go that crazy for your pizzas at first, but maybe you can find some inspiration on their menu anyway.

    It was well marked for the most part, but yeah... I wasn't expecting the visibility to get that bad. If I didn't have a hiking buddy it probably would have been dangerous enough... There were other people on the trail, most starting within an hour of eachother, but by the time you got to the cloudy part everyone was split up into dispersed groups. And the markers were for the most part close enough, but at times you had to walk for a bit to see the next one... and if there was a change in terrain you wouldn't see it until at the very last second.. The general agreement between me and the German guy was "If we're smart about it, we'll probably have no problems, so let's pay close attention to everything and not let our guard down"

    This is also relevant, I didn't know about it even until I skimmed through the wikipedia article on the walk just now:

    When I read articles like this one, which I'm just finding now, it makes me feel that maybe what I did was slightly stupid.. but then I remember that I ended up being well prepared for the elements in terms of the clothing I had and other gear I brought. These guys didn't seem prepared at all.. Plus they got bad advice about the weather, which ended up being worse from what I encountered, from the sounds of it, except for the visibility.. Almost a deadly combination in their case..

    So I guess one of the morals of the story is: come prepared, you might get bad advice.. and if it's bad enough, turn back.
     
  5. CavLancer

    CavLancer This aint fertilizer

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    Now there's an idea! They sell US streaks here that look really good but the price always put me off. However I could pick up a couple and add it to the menu. Plus they have really good Hormel Black Label bacon here. Could prep the whole thing and freeze it and if someone came in here willing lay out a few extra pesos, I'll give em the best I got. :b:

    Thanks warpus!
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    No problem, good luck with your pizza venture. And now I'm officially hungry
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 23 - Tongariro Alpine Crossing part 3

    On the way down a lot more things smelled like rotten eggs. The appearance of vegetation told us that the toughest parts of the hike were likely behind us.



    We were ahead of schedule because the sidetrip to the Mt. Doom summit was out of the question - and we did not need to stop anywhere to take pictures of anything either, except pretty much for what I am showing you here.

    At one point we were passed by a group of Australian marines, in full uniform. Or infantry.. or.. I have no idea what exactly actually, but they seemed to be on some sort of a team building and/or training exercise with their unit. I was very surprised to see them!

    Eventually the trail became an actual trail you could see, which made me feel a lot more relaxed.



    Visibility still wasn't great, but we were closer to the trailhead now. Still 2 hours at that point I think but we were running into a lot more people at this stage and still had a lot of time left.. Any worries we might have had were gone at this point, and I wouldn't say I was worried about the bag with all my stuff in it meeting me at the trailhead either, but it was on my mind.



    Yours truly with Mordor behind me.



    There was a definite sulphury smell in the area. It came and went, but at this part of the trail it was far more prevalent that at any other point.

    You can sort of see some green in this photo - perhaps related to the smell?



    When we got to the trailhead the rain had started and at least 100 people were huddled together under the only human-built roof there, everybody else standing on the sidelines, trying to get cover. Every once in a while a bus would show up and pick people up. Eventually my bag arrived - and then later the bus that would take me to Taupo. Everything was good and I was on my way to my next destination! My convoluted plan to save a day had worked.

    Just over an hour later I was in Taupo, the skydiving capital of New Zealand. I walked around town a bit, but couldn't see much of Lake Taupo - the largest lake by surface area in the country - due to the stupid clouds and rain.



    I found a hostel, ate dinner at a Turkish restaurant, explored the small town a bit, and inquired about skydiving. I had met a couple people on the south island who skydived for the first time there - and according to them it was an experience you just could not pass up.. the idea terrified me, but if I was going to skydive anywhere, I might as well do it in the skydiving capital of New Zealand... The whole cliff jump in Queenstown was terrifying as well, but the payoff was incredible. It made me feel just amazing for a couple seconds. Skydiving promised a much longer and more intense payoff - I was definitely tempted, so I signed up at my hostel. The guy behind the counter told me to check back in the morning to see if anyone was doing skydiving runs.. It would all depend on the weather system making its way through the country and how much it cleared up by the next day, if it did at all..
     
  8. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Days 24, 25, and 26 - Rained out on the north island

    There are no photos from these 3 days as the rain just wouldn't stop coming down.

    Day 24 - Taupo

    I walked around town plenty, but didn't even bother to take any photos as not even the lake was really visible - and the lake and the mountains/volcanoes behind it were the only things I wanted to take pictures of as it usually provides a compelling backdrop. You can't see it here, but you can see the general setup of what I'm talking about - Taupo, with Lake Taupo behind it, with the volcanoes I hiked beside in the distance behind the lake.

    I found a movie theatre and figured that would be as good of an activity to kill time as any.. There wasn't really anything interesting playing.. I went with Devil. It wasn't great or anything but I was actually the only person in the theatre. That's never happened to me before and it actually made things a bit scary..

    For dinner I had a burger with a fried egg and beetroot on it, a kiwi classic, spent a bunch of time in an internet cafe, and later did a lot of reading. I checked back at my hostel's front desk about the weather and skydiving opportunities every once in a while, but no dice.

    Day 25 - Rotorua

    In the morning I tried the skydiving people one more time, but it just wasn't going to happen. I decided to jump on a bus to Rotorua - an hour north - a cultural, tourist, and geothermal centre on the north island, famous for things like geothermal spas, mud pools, geysers, other things that smell like rotten eggs, and Maori cultural displays like the Haka.

    I ended up seeing none of these things. The rain just wouldn't stop and to be honest I was getting a bit tired of all the travelling. It seemed like a perfect excuse to just sit around and relax a bit, after all the hiking, sea kayaking, travelling around, and sightseeing.. I spent the time wandering around town, drinking beer, eating good food, buying my first Iain M. Banks book, reading a lot, and wasting time on the internet at expensive internet cafes.

    In Rotorua I went to see Due Date, which my notes claim was "funny".

    I put my name on a skydiving list in Rotorua too, but it wasn't looking like it was going to happen there either.

    Day 26 - Rotorua

    The rain was even worse and skydiving was right out. I thought of going to see a Haka or some geothermal displays, but the geothermal stuff was all outdoors and to be honest I really sort of enjoyed my lazy days 24 and 25. The cultural displays were geared towards tourists who don't know any better it seemed anyway, and it was all overpriced and maybe worth seeing, but.. screw it. Iain M. Banks, the internet, good food, and beer won out.

    The change of pace was extreme, but kind of welcome and even awesome. No rain was going to dampen my spirits.

    I looked into options in terms of what to do with my last couple days in the country, such as glow worm caves, zorbing, white water rafting, cathedral cove beach, and other options, but in the end "screw it" won out and I had a bus ticket to Auckland for the next day. There were enough things to see and do there, even with the rain - and the weather was making all other options not feasible or cumbersome at least. The Tongariro Crossing was still closed, even. This stupid weather system was affecting the whole country.
     
  9. CavLancer

    CavLancer This aint fertilizer

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    I'm amazed you managed to get through The Black Gate undetected...

    If I got to the top I'd be tempted to toss in my wedding ring, looks just like the One Ring. Wife might not be too pleased...

    White water rafting sounds good. If its been raining heavily though...
     
  10. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

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    Too bad you couldn't take photos of Taupo, its quite a scenic mega-volcano they have there.
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I've never been white water rafting before and this trip seems to have been a bit of case of "never done it before? sign me up!".. so if the weather was better, it might have very well made my list. There was a white rafting mecca on the south island that was initially on my list - so that I could go and do that for the first time ever, but in the end it didn't make the cut, as it was a bit too much out of the way..

    I was going to bring a ring to throw into Mt. Doom and for the photo ops, but then I totally forgot about it. Plus I'm sure there's a plethora of rings there anyway, I wouldn't want to contribute to the pollution or whatever. PLUS wouldn't it have sucked if the volcano erupted just as I was throwing the ring in? Given my luck, that's exactly what would have happened.

    Yeah, I was looking forward to spending a relaxing couple days in Taupo, sitting by the lake, taking in the sights.. Ah well, you can't win them all, I guess. I had amazing weather for my first 2 hikes - parts of the country that see the most rain on average were very dry and the skies were blue - so I can't really complain.
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 27 - First day in Auckland

    After a rather uneventful bus commute I found myself in the central business district of Auckland, the largest city in the country, home to over 1/3rd of all New Zealanders. I checked into a hostel just off Queen St., one of the main streets running through downtown, and went for a walk.



    That's the Sky Tower, the tallest free standing structure in the entire southern hemisphere! That sort of blew my mind, because the tallest free standing structure in the northern hemisphere used to be the CN Tower - which is almost twice as tall.

    Aotea Square - where some stuff was in the process of happening. It's one of the big paved public spaces downtown, with enough room for 20,000.



    Christmas in the summer? It still felt weird to me. The decorations just looked really out of place.



    Looking back down Queen St. My hostel is basically right beside that big Santa.



    Big streets are fine and dandy, but I enjoy exploring side streets. I ran into a mural commemorating the 100th anniversary of New Zealand giving women the right to vote - the first place to do so, in 1893.



    I walked here and there and ended up at the University of Auckland.



    And right beside it, Albert park.



    A slow relaxing stroll through several nice parts of the city - It suit my mood just fine. The clouds seemed to be clearing up a bit too!

    And yes, technically I was already in Auckland, at the beginning of my trip, for 6 hours... But airports shouldn't really count.
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 27 - First day in Auckland part 2

    Things started clearing up a bit, so I figured I might as well start thinking about perhaps going up the Sky Tower. I mean, who knows what the weather could be like the next day? And the day after that was my flight home, so I started heading back.





    Not ideal weather to go up for, but whatever. On the way there I stopped by Vulcan Lane, right in the middle of the fashion district, for a horribly overpriced pint of Leffe.



    Lineups were short, so it didn't take me very long at all to get up to the observation deck.



    Does anyone remember the first GTA?



    There wasn't much to see, really, but it was the best I was going to get.

    At the top there is this thing you can do where you "fall down" from the top of the tower connected by a wire (that's what that black line you saw earlier was, if you were wondering). You go down at 85 km/h for about 11 seconds. It seems like one of those potentially good corporate team building exercises, but it's overpriced, so unless somebody else is paying for it I really wouldn't recommend it.


    Link to video.

    The one fun part of it is that they let you go whenever they feel like it.


    Link to video.

    The next bit is a bit of a warning about poor life decisions. At the end of the night I went to a movie theatre I had found earlier. The movie I selected to see seemed fitting enough - Skyline. It was horrible. Pure garbage. Worst movie of the year for me and one of the worst of the decade and quite possibly even ever.

    I went to bed with the plot and characters still bouncing around in my head. Why did this have to happen? I was fine with the rain, but this was crossing the line.
     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Hey guys

    I've been meaning to finish this thread off before my trip to Thailand, but I've gotten incredibly busy with activities lately and won't be able to do so. Tonight I'm packing and tomorrow I'm off to the Toronto airport, so unfortunately this will have to wait until at least December and maybe January.
     
  15. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Have fun. :)
     
  16. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton How much Parmesan to put on your umbrella?

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    "I can not finish the picture thread of my awesome trip because of my new awesome trip."
    /firstworldproblems
    Have fun!
    And is it just me or does the whole city of Auckland look like a homage of those pictures where everything is gray accept a few colored spots.
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I think the camera I used enhances colours in certain conditions, so sometimes a lot of things will come out greyish due to the weather & lighting conditions, but then a couple select things come out incredibly colourful, usually things that are yellow, red, or blue, and usually things that are closer. I've seen this exact effect come out in some photos so I know exactly what you're talking about. Sometimes that effect was intended by me, but not usually, at least not on that trip! I've gotten a bit better at photography since then I think - and I have a much better camera.
     
  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 28 - Second day in Auckland

    This was my second last day in the country :( I decided to walk the 16km Coast to Coast Walkway, a marked path through the city that takes you from one end of the isthmus to the other.

    Yeah, Auckland straddles an isthmus! So basically...



    The weather was much better today. You could even see the top of the tower!



    Albert Park



    Then I entered.. The Domain.



    It was probably the nicest domain I've ever seen, with many trees, bushes, hills, some buildings, and even water, but first I went to check out the Auckland War Memorial Museum.



    The museum has 3 large floors, one dedicated to Maori and other Pacific peoples, one to New Zealand's involvement in various wars, and the the third to things like flora, fauna, and geology, with an emphasis on volcanoes, plate movements, and so on.







    Austronesian expansion started by settlers from Taiwan and contains the Polynesian subculture, which contains the Maori, the first human settlers of New Zealand.



    Here's a larger picture of what happened that I found online, for those of you who are into maps:

     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 28 - Second day in Auckland part 2

    The museum was pretty damn interesting.. not to mention varied in terms of exhibits.





    Not sure if anyone on here is into planes, but there's probably some people into planes



    This was probably the coolest part of the whole place: a volcano room. A furnished room made to look like a house. Every once in a while it'd simulate a volcano explosion that you could watch through the "window". Lights go out, room shakes, etc.


    Link to video.

    The museum sits on top of an extinct volcano. It's slightly elevated.. you can even see parts of the harbour!



    I continued down the Coast to Coast Walkway and ended up on the summit of Mt. Eden, the highest natural point in the area.



    You can see quite a bit from the summit! Here's Eden Park, New Zealand's largest stadium

     
  20. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    That volcano room is cool. And nice airplane pics.
     

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