Just a quick post right now, seeing as we finally have Internet after a HUGE deprivation which lasted … 3 days? Oh my. That’s not actually very long and I can’t explain to you what an eternity it has felt like. Pitiful. I guess it’s harder when my main creative outlet requires Internet (blogging) and when all my connectedness to friends and family does too. At least that’s what I’ll tell myself. :)
We are in Queenstown (southern New Zealand) until Friday, when we fly to NZ’s North Island where we’ll spend another week before coming home. We really like New Zealand! It has a very wild and unique beauty to it. I liked a quotation I read by Ian McKellen, the British actor who played Gandalf in “Lord of the Rings”:
Everything here is more magnificent. The landscape is familiar in the sense it’s been formed by rain – just as Tolkien’s Oxfordshire was – but the vegetation is unusual and the mountains seem so much sharper. If you’re looking for what the poets used to call ‘the awful’ – a sense of awe – that is what you find in New Zealand. And it’s wild in a way that England isn’t wild.
He articulated my thoughts exactly.
New Zealand is considered by many to be the “adventure capital of the world,” and Queenstown is called the “adventure capital of New Zealand.” So there is no end of bungy jumping, sky diving and other thrills offered here. I’m actually quite impressed with their creativity. Some of the more unique things I’ve seen advertised here include a luge (wheels, not ice), acrobatic flights in an airplane, whitewater sledging (a little kickboard type thing you hold onto through river rapids), river surfing, or guided quad or dirtbike tours.
Well, of course Daniel and I want to enjoy some of this adventure business, but having a toddler in tow makes that a bit tough. So we decided we’d each get some time to do an adventure on our own while the other watched Naomi. We’d planned to each take a day, but decided to each take one half of the same day when we discovered upon arrival that the weather forecast was for rain all week except Wednesday. :( (True to our experience in Australia, however, it seems that the weather likes to flaunt its independence in the face of all the forecasters and yesterday was super warm and sunny, while today may have been gray but not a drop in the sky. We’ll see how tomorrow ends up.)
Tomorrow is our big “adventure” day. In the morning Daniel will head out on a jet boat for 6 hours, which is a really fast boat that can go through water as shallow as a few inches (due to where its motor is located or something), which means it can go far up some of the beautiful river gorges here. Then we’ll swap and in the afternoon I’m going paragliding! I’m so excited – this is something I’ve always wanted to do. Thursday Daniel’s going to do another adventure – a Nevis Swing, which makes a 300-meter arc (about 1000 feet), at speeds of up to 75 mph. I might do something else too but haven’t decided yet. There is a tour that has a series of ziplines that sounds pretty cool.
Tonight we enjoyed a chat with some of our friends from home who were having a Halloween party. That was a lot of fun, because we got to see all their Halloween costumes (and wish that we were there too!) Here in New Zealand, Halloween is acknowledged but it’s a very very small affair. I almost didn’t know it was Halloween yesterday, except that a cart that sells meat pies was selling a pumpkin pie on special in honor of Halloween (I didn’t buy it but I suspect it was hunks of cooked pumpkin in a savory pie, rather than the custard kind of pumpkin pie we in the US are used to – no other countries seem to do that kind of pie).
Another highlight of today was visiting the nearby aquatic centre. I had resigned myself to no swimming for the next 10 days because there wouldn’t be any local pools in the vicinity where we’d be, but then I learned there is one here in Qtown, and that it also had a fun kids play area, so we went there for the morning. I got a bunch of laps in and Naomi had a great time in the play area and lazy river. She’s not super crazy about water (apart from baths), so today she made a lot of headway by blowing bubbles and kicking.
Now I’m off to watch some Lord of the Rings for the evening, while Daniel is out taking photos. We are smack in the middle of LOTR territory, but it’s hard to appreciate it when it’s been forever since I’ve seen the movies, so I thought I’d revisit it. On our drive here yesterday we passed through Wanaka, next to the alps which Gandalf flew past after being rescued from Orthanc; and also drove past the River Anduin and the Pillars of Argonath (which of course were digitally added but the scenery is still the same). This was also where scenes from Eregion were shot from the Fellowship’s journey. Nearby are the Remarkables (a range of peaks), which played the part of the Dimrill Dale in LOTR 1 (where the Fellowship fled after they lost Gandalf).