En Zed Delivers

Trip Start Oct 10, 2010
Trip End Jun 29, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Waldo and I had been really looking forward to going to New Zealand. After hearing a lot from people and doing our own research, we unintentionally raised our expectations to a high level. Usually when that happens, you end up being disappointed, but New Zealand delivered huge. 

We began our NZ journey by flying into Christchurch. Now unless you live under a rock, you should be aware that Christchurch had been recently devastated by an earthquake. When we arrived, there were over 70 people sleeping in the airport because of the lack of available accommodation. Although the quake hit over a month ago, the entire downtown was still roped off and off limits. Even the famous Hagley Park was mostly shut down. We looked into any volunteer work, but most the work that was being done at that time was contracted out to professionals. Christchurch is known for being more English than England and the beauty of the town was still evident. 

Waldo and I headed down to Queenstown, the adrenaline junkies paradise. It was a hard place to be when traveling on a budget because all of the amazing things to do... sky diving, bungy jumping, white water rafting, para-sailing, stunt plane flying, river surfing, gondola accessed downhill mountain biking, street luging, Fergburger eating, and a whole bunch more. I had to pick one to do so I decided to jump the Nevis Bungy Jump. Its the highest in New Zealand and used to be the highest in the world. It was a small leap of 134 meters or 440 feet... a nice little rush, but Waldo chickened out. While in the area, I hitched a ride down to the small town of Glenorchy, where some of the footage of the Lord of the Rings was filmed. Close to Glenorchy I did a hike (New Zealanders call it a tramp) through the Caples Track and the Routeburn Track. The route that I took is usually done in 5 days and I did it in 3 days just because I wasn't equipped to trek much longer than that. It was a ridiculously beautiful hike that went through valleys, rivers, forest, and mountain passes. Back in Queenstown I got a ride to Milford Sound with some new-found friends. Milford Sound is a must see when on the south island and is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. We took a boat cruise to really enjoy the scenery. Leaving Queenstown was a little tough because it was so fun and actually reminded me a lot of home (South Lake Tahoe). 

Next we went north along the west coast to hike around the Franz Joesf Glacier and then up to the town of Nelson. Nelson was a great little town close to the gorgeous Able Tasman. The Able Tasman is a national park with some stunning coast-line and forest. I hired a kayak and went up along the coast for a bit before getting out and hiking along the coast. From Nelson, Waldo and I went to Wellington. Wellington is San Fransico's sister city and easy to see why, its a very similar city. They had just begun filming The Hobbit in Wellington so I auditioned for a part, but they said I was too ugly to be a hobbit and too hairy to be a dwarf. Waldo was offered a part as a background character, but he declined because of salary negotiations. 

After Wellington, my addiction kicked in again and I headed straight to Hamilton, and on to the small beach town of Raglan. Raglan is an awesome, super small town. I showed up there with some rainy, windy weather, so I stayed inside with some fellow surfer travelers and watched the movie, The Endless Summer. In the movie, they feature Raglan for one of their stops, and soon enough, the weather calmed down and we got some clear skies and great waves. I was able to surf Manu Bay (the wave featured in The Endless Summer) with a small crowd, cleanish conditions, and about 4-6 foot faces. It was really amazing. I was also able to surf Whale Bay (another left hand point break) with only a handful of people out as well as Ngaruni Beach break with only a friend of mine to share the waves with. The surf forecast looked flat in Raglan, so I made the call to go to the opposite coast on the East.  

I went to the town of Gisborne; Its the first city in the world to see the sunrise (its 19 hours ahead of my home in Cali). I stayed in a place called Chalet Rendezvous Surf Lodge (http://chaletsurf.co.nz/) that was directly across the street from Wainui Beach, the main surf break in the area. My call to go to Gisborne payed off HUGE. The swell I saw in the reports hit and I was surfing some of the best waves of my life. There was never a crowd, there were always offshore winds in the morning, and it was at least solid overhead most days. I surfed a couple of times a day and saw some seriously powerful waves ranging from super hollow beach break A-frames to a fun right hand point break. Between Wainui Beach and nearby Macarori Bay, I had over 8 surf breaks within walking distance, and even more just a short drive away. The location of the Chalet is amazing, after a solid sesh, I could chill out in their hot tub and watch the surf, which was just across the street in plain view. 

Sadly, I had to leave Wainui, but I was happy to get away without breaking my new board (or me) in that surf. I went up to Auckland, where I checked out the city for a bit before leaving NZ. New Zealand met and exceeded just about all my expectations. To get around the country, Waldo and I took a bus or hitch-hiked. I think we hitched about 20 different rides and we were picked up mostly by some awesome locals. If you ever see a hitch-hiker on the road, please never wave at them or give them a thumbs up... its a terrible thing to do. I'm headed now to cross the Pacific to where I don't think I'll be doing any hitch-hiking and explore South America!



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Weeze on

Seriously! These pictures are fantastic! So awesome! I'm so amazed and jealous! Love ya! Now for South America! :) xoxo

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