Tag Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand, home of the kiwis

Interlude: Tales from Customer Support

Customer support is a thankless task – you have to deal with all sorts of befuddled, confused, and angry customers. But occasionally, you have an experience so out of the world, that it must be recorded in the annuls of time, in the tales from customer support.

During my travels in New Zealand, I rented a campervan – a Jucy Cabana. It’s been a year since I last drove, and yet I now found myself driving thousands of kilometers, on the left side of the road. To make things easy, the rental folks (Jucy) provided a concierge phone number, which I can call with questions. Hilarity ensues.

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Travelogue: Christchurch

After almost a month and a half of travel, we reached our final destination on the south island – the recently shaken (not stirred) city of Christchurch. A little over two years ago, a major earthquake hit the city, destroying much of the city center, and the city still has not fully recovered. Here, I took a couple of days to relax and recuperate, before flying out to my next destination – Bangkok!
Christchurch - fountain

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Travelogue: Fiordlands

During my travels of New Zealand, there was one place I knew I had to visit – the southwestern Fiordlands in the south island.  Carved out of mountains by retreating glaciers centuries ago, the Fiordlands are supposedly the most beautiful but remote place in all of New Zealand. It is true that you can get tired of anything, even breathtakingly beautiful scenery, but I was still pretty damn impressed.
Fiordlands - scenery 10 Fiordlands - scenery 12

Warning: this post will be text-light and photo-heavy.

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Travelogue: Queenstown

Queenstown in the south island is known to be the adrenaline rush capital of New Zealand – from here, you can go skydiving, bungee jumping, swinging over a gorge, or whitewater rafting.
Queenstown - scenery

Personally, I found the entire place to be over-hyped, over-priced, and under-impressive, but you can do all sorts of crazy things here – if you have the cash. For example, I’m not crazy enough to do this, but there are a variety of ways you can swing across a canyon – jumping off, tipping over backwards while sitting on a chair, riding a tricycle over the edge, etc:
Queenstown - adrenaline posters

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Interlude: I Hate Tourist Towns

I hate tourist towns, AKA, how I got my first speeding ticket:

While passing through Wanaka, a tourist town in the southern island, I got pulled over for a speeding ticket, for allegedly going 11 km (less than 7 miles) above the speed limit.  In an area right after a 100 km limit transitioned to a 50 km limit.  Going downhill.
Tourist Towns - speeding ticket

The accompanying fine was $80; if I had been measured at going 1km / hour less, the fine would have been $20.

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Travelogue: Fox Glacier

Check one off of the bucket list: climb Fox Glacier, on the Western edge of New Zealand’s South Island
Fox Glacier - mountain in distance

So what exactly is a glacier?  It’s this giant block of ice that’s slowly sliding down a mountain, carving out a path through the valley.  The iceberg gets something like 10 meters of rain per year, which freezes and adds to the iceberg’s mass – as the iceberg grinds its way down the mountain, it continues to melt, so the iceberg shrinks and expands depending on rainfall and temperature.
Fox Glacier - ice path Fox Glacier - scenery 1

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Travelogue: Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, on the northwestern tip of the south island, is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”, hosting a multi-day trek through the wilderness.
NZ South Island - Able Tasman venturing out

This was the real deal!  We paddled a double kayak, complete with skirts to keep waves and water out of the where-we-are-sitting compartments, and neoprene hatch covers over our gear compartments, where we carried food, sleeping bags, tent, clothing, and all the other gear we needed for a 3-day trip.
NZ South Island - Able Tasman beached kayak

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Travelogue: South Island, New Zealand

The South Island of New Zealand is quite different from the North Island – whereas the north has a good balance of beautiful natural scenery and civilization, the scales of the south island are quite lopsided in favor of nature.  More often than not, I had zero bars of reception on my cell phone – and no radio stations either!  (Though I didn’t mind the lack of radio coverage – as it turns out, my travel partner and I have zero overlap in our music tastes).

From Picton, a tiny town on the top of the South Island, we drove down the western mountainous coast of the southern island, taking hikes and climbing glaciers, before visiting the breathtaking fiordlands to the southwest corner of the south island.  Then, we followed the southern scenic route down the southern edge of the south island, and traveled back up through the eastern coast to earthquake-shaken city of Christchuch.
NZ South Island - scenery 3

My route plotted on Google Maps!

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