Monthly Archives: February 2014

My Golfing Students

Being the amazing golfer that I am, I have given back to the community by providing free golfing lessons.  By amazing I mean barely average and by community I mean two great friends of mine who do their best to put up with me.  I don’t think either of them had swung a golf club many times before they started taking instructions from me, but now they can hit the ball almost every time they swing.  Sometimes it’s even in a straight line.

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Meet Nina.  No shortage of power, but her accuracy can be lacking at times.  Famous for her mighty whiffs followed by a flurry of curses and swear words.  A proper golfer.

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Meet Holly.  The best way to describe her swing is dainty and graceful.  Keen to take direction, she’s hitting the ball further than ever.  She got it almost all the way down the hill one time!

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Today we had our last driving range session, and it was bittersweet.  In between swings there was lots of picture taking, friendly banter, and some general horsing around.  Speaking of horsing, we had a little putting competition in the style of HORSE, the game being you get a letter every time you miss and the first person to get to HORSE loses.  We got bored with the game before it was finished, but I think I remember Holly being a ho.  Sorry, I mean a HO.

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I fully expect both of them to continue with their golfing after I leave.  They’ve both made me so proud as students, and I feel very lucky to have them as friends.  Fräulein out.

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Wrapping It Up

When I reached the North Island again, it hit me that my NZ tour would soon be over.   There were still a few places left to see and a few surprises yet to come.  The east coast of the North Island is beautiful and well known for it’s black sand.  My stop in Raglan turned out better than I expected because I don’t know how anyone can expect a beautiful sight like this one…

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Right in the middle of the North Island is the Tongariro National Park, home to Mount Ruapeho, also known as “Mount Doom” from the Lord of the Rings movies.  I had planned to do the one day trek that takes you around the mountain and past some beautiful lakes and scenery.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and I didn’t get to go.  I did, however, get a chance to get some pictures from the park the next day on my way out of town.

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All that was missing were some dirty, dehydrated hobbits.

My next stop was the Wiatomo Glow Worm caves.  Glow worms are found in caves and other dark places and use bioluminescence to draw insects up into their sticky strings hanging from the ceiling.  When you find a high concentration of them it can be quite beautiful.  I toured the famous glow worm cave and then explored another of the region’s caves that I found much more interesting.  The formations inside were incredible!

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At the very end of my trip I decided to treat myself and stay in a proper hotel room in the Bay of Islands.  It was so nice to have my own room and bathroom!  When I arrived I didn’t have anything planned and I decided on a whim to book the four hour boat tour around the bay.  It ended up being a brilliant whim because on the trip I got to see Orca, Manta Rays, and Bottlenose Dolphins!

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I wish I could say my amazing photography skills contributed to this picture, but it was completely by chance.  There were three Orca in the bay, two adults and a baby.  They only come in every 6 weeks or so, so we were very lucky to see them.  The Manta Rays were almost impossible to photograph but they were enormous!  The skipper said that he had only seen them one other time in his six years on the job.  I’ve never seen dolphins in the wild and I’m amazed by how cheeky they are!  They actually look at you whenever they pop out of the water.

My last stop before I headed back to Auckland was Cape Reinga, the spot at the very top of the country.  I considered skipping it because it was going to be an eight hour drive, but I’m glad I went.

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I’ve only got a few days left in NZ and for the past week I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my favorite people.  Lots of pictures are being taken and lots of drinks are being drunk.  This is so much different than last year when I left the states.  I knew that I would be seeing my friends and family in a year.  When I leave NZ, I don’t know when I’ll see everyone again.  I’m so excited to see everyone at home, but at the same time I’m dreading leaving this place behind.  Luckily, it’s very easy to stay in touch.

The end of my trip in NZ means that I won’t be posting on this blog for awhile.  Perhaps when I travel again I’ll update it, but until then it will be on hiatus.  Thanks, everyone, for following along.  I hope you enjoyed it!

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Heading Back North Again

At the moment I’m in Nelson, at the top of the South Island.  Since Milford Sound I’ve been to Queenstown, Wanaka, Greymouth, and now Nelson.  Working my way back north has made me a bit sad, but still excited for what’s yet to come.  It’s hard for me to choose which has been my favorite stop since Milford.  Each has been delightful in it’s own way.

Queenstown was a life changing two days for me.  The bungy jump was the life changing part, in the sense that I feel like I can do anything now.  If something in the future makes me hesitate because it looks intimidating, I can say to myself, at least it’s not jumping off a bridge.  Not that jumping off a bridge wasn’t fun, of course!  It was very fun!  Just not in those few seconds when the technician is counting down, 3, 2, 1, and I’m looking down at a river 141 feet in the air.

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Wanaka was a stark contrast to Queenstown where everyone participates in adventure activities during the day and goes out to dance clubs in the evening.  Wanaka was just incredibly chill.  I spent about 3 hours down by the lake under one of the many, (I want to say Willow, but honestly I have no idea what kind they were), trees and relaxed.  It was a perfect way for me to unwind after an adrenaline filled couple of days.

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In between Wanaka and Greymouth are two glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef.  The glaciers themselves were spectacular, but the deep valleys they carved and receded back from were just as spectacular.  All along the steep walls you can see where huge boulders gouged the rock face as the ice slowly forced them forward.

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The west coast near Greymouth is gorgeous, and I was sad to leave it to head inland toward Nelson.  Staying in Greymouth also gave me the chance to visit Arthur’s Pass again, which I traveled through by train earlier.  It was just as beautiful the second time.

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Tomorrow I’ll be heading back over to the North Island and will soon be hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  It is considered to be the best one day trek in NZ.  I am really looking forward to it!

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Catching Up

It’s been just over a week since my car broke down.  It seems like so much time has passed since then, but I guess that’s because I’ve been so busy.  Internet has been spotty, so I’ll give that as my excuse for not posting as often as I should.

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The wildlife in the South Island is quite exotic to me.  Whales, penguins, and sea lions are not native to Maryland so seeing these creatures in the wild is quite a treat.  Of course, one animal that is not exotic but never the less gives me joy to see is sheep.  I get to see them every day.  Like, almost every five minutes.  I love it.  One day, while I was driving down a back road in the Catlins, I turned a corner to find the road full of sheep heading right at me.  I literally squealed with delight, while I dug out my camera.  Unfortunately the field they were heading into was in front of me, so the herd turned instead of passing me by.

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One of my more memorable days was my train trip from Christchurch to Greymouth and back.  The ride goes through Arthur’s Pass in the Alps, and the views were spectacular.  They had an open-air carriage on the back that let you take pictures without having the reflection of the windows in your way.  I spent most of the trip out there and got some great photos.

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My favorite part of the trip so far has to be Fiordland.  Slartibartfast would be proud.  And if you don’t get that reference, shame on you.  I took an overnight cruise through Doubtful Sound and then spent two nights at Milford Sound.  It’s hard to explain the beauty of the place.  I spent most of the two-hour drive into Milford Sound with my mouth hanging open, marveling at the sights in front of me.  I’ve taken heaps of pictures, but I know they will never do the place justice.  This one is my favorite.

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I am writing this while I’m in Milford Sound, and will be posting it when I get to Queenstown, my next stop.  I’ve gone the past three days without internet, which has been rough but liberating.  They do offer it at the lodge, but it costs $3 for 10 MB.  Yes, MB.  I’ll pass.

After Queenstown, I’ll be heading to Wanaka and then north to see the glaciers and the Able Tasman National Park.  Enjoy the photos!

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