March 19, 2008

A Trip to New Zealand

Usually on a holiday, one of the main attractions for me is the shopping. Even if it is the usual department store stuff I can get back home, I still do it. When it comes to the actual tourist attractions, likes views and such, I am the type to just take a picture with/of it and be on my way. But lately, I've been feeling a need for change of scenery, probably because I've been living in the concrete jungle,where whenever I step foot out the door there is shopping- and they're not even on sale yet!- for too long.

My trip to Auckland, New Zealand was just the retreat I needed! It was all so incredibly peaceful and tranquil being there. So refreshing to not be accosted by shop after shop of merchandise tempting me. In fact, the experience was completely different from my usual vacations. Instead of finding the prospect of being outdoors very scary and frankly rather boring, for once I actually stopped and appreciated it all- and it was nice.
Our first stop on my arrival was a drive up Mount Eden, which is an inactive volcano in the middle of Auckland. Now you can only see the the crater of it covered in grass, with cows grazing in the center of it (left). Tourists are not allowed down into the area, because it is really quite steep (not to mention tourists would errode the grass). Mount Eden also happens to be the highest point in Auckland, and as you can see (right), affords us a very nice 360 view of the city.
The next morning, we went for the America's Cup Yacht Sailing experience as part time members of the crew, helping roll the sails up/down and taking a turn at the wheel- its hard work! And even though the weather had been summer-like all week, out on sea, it was surprisingly cold. Not at all what I'd imagined sailing weather to be- good thing I brought a sweater!
Despite the unexpected weather, it was a wonderful 2 hours. The weather was perfect and the view was absolutely breathtaking. Shown here is the view of Auckland downtown and the view of the Rangitoto Island- which my friend tells me looks like this from all around. How cool! I especially love how the white clouds/ blue sky compliments the scenery (I have a thing for blue skies and white clouds).
Seeing as how I was in the land of the sheep, I thought it was only appropriate that I went to see a proper sheep show (even though one can see sheep/cows practically anywhere over there). It was surprisingly interesting. Basically they put on a show very much like the one in Babe (the movie), except using dogs instead of pigs of course (left). It was impressive how well the dog is trained, it was like a robot! Then we were shown how a sheep is sheared (right). It was really quite cool! And afterwards we even got to feed the lambs and they were just darling!
That night, we then went to Parnell for dinner. Its an adorable old quaint street full of cafes etc. Unfortunately by the time we finished dinner, it was already pass 10pm and the Chocolate Boutique Cafe was closed. It is the most darling-est place ever, luckily I got to go back later for a cup of hot cocoa, which was divine.

Then we headed to our next stop (yes it was a LOONG day)- the Minus 5 Bar.
Basically it was a small room made of ice, decorated with ice sculptures that is very very cold. Even the cups they served drinks in were made of ice! It was VERY cool. I absolutely loved it. Way better than the little "ice room" we have here at Balalaika in HK. Unfortunately even with borrowed uggs (they have hygiene socks- thank god!), gloves and coat, it was still very cold, so we didn't stay for too long. Kind of reminded me of my days waiting for the bus to come during the Chicago winters. Haha.
The next morning (Sunday), we woke up at 7.30am and participated in the Round the Bays charity walk/run! This is definitely not something I'd usually do in my home town. Definitely unique. I heard that so many people on the streets at once is not a common Kiwi sight. Luckily the weather was really good, cool and cloudy- perfect for a walk. We completed the 8.4km walk in 1 hour and 33 minutes!
After THAT we recovered with a 3 hour nap and a few further hours of laziness at the Piha beach, munching on pizza, reading and waiting for/watching the sunset. Its a truly beautiful beach a hour away from the city. The sand is supposedly volcanic dust or something, so its darker than usual. Not a swimming beach though, cause the waves are too strong. But its fun to walk along the shores. It was soo nice, I actually wanted to stay there forever- and I'm not even a beach person! I do believe I am now a newly converted beach at sunset/out of direct sunlight person!
And on my last day in Auckland, I jumped out of a plane. It seemed the thing to do in Kiwi land. Once I got there of course I started freaking out. The idea of defying years of well trained instincts and jumping out of a plane seemed like an insane idea. What if the parachute doesn't open? What if I die? But then I figured that I've come half way across the world for this and its now or never. If I do it when I get older, I have a higher chance of dying from a heart attack! So I paid and before I knew it, I was strapped and was on an one-way plane that will take me up to the height of 12,000 km. One way because it wasn't designed for landing with passengers (no seatbelts!). 20 minutes later I was up there. And then, before I knew it, the door was opened and I was pushed out into the sky. After the initial shock/scare though, I realized that I was falling down in the sky and the feeling was INCREDIBLE. I'd imagined it to be like one of those things in the theme park where they drop you down from a height x 100, but no, this was nothing like that. Your heart stays inside your body and there's just this RUSH coursing through you as you fall. And too soon, the parachute was opened and I was floating comfortably down to land. It was AWESOME. I am so glad I did it. The experience was totally worth all the nerves and scare going up!

Sigh I wish I was back there! Now I think I know what "retreat" means and why people want to go to the middle of nowhere and just relax and enjoy the scenery and be away from the hustle bustle and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the city from time to time.

Ps. Click on the images for a better look!

38 Comments:

Anonymous Kate said...

That's sound like such a fun vacation. I hear New Zealand is one of the coolest places to go.

3/20/2008 3:34 AM  
Blogger alis said...

ooooh so cool. i HAVE to try skydiving soon. also if were you I'd probably get in the "elf-mode" (because new zealand is the pace lord of the rings was filmed).

3/20/2008 4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to New Zealand a few years ago...hah i actually went to many of the places you did. C:
i fell in love with it and have decided to move there ina dew years.

It is a marvelous place

p.s. i absolutely love your blogs, not to mention you have the amazing pictures.

3/20/2008 4:55 AM  
Anonymous Grace said...

Oh wow. I can't believe you went sky diving. it's always been a dream of mine to do that, but I would freak out and be in hysterics before i jumped. But since you went, I have a renewed trust in my ability to jump into the sky. Gosh, this feeling better lasts.

3/20/2008 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey good to see you enjoyed nz, ive been a fan of your blog for ages, never thought i would see a post about little old nz! i live here but in the south island - if you ever come again you should definitely come here too.

3/20/2008 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

incredible.....but what did you wear??? ;-)

3/20/2008 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is absolutely SO very cool, cool being inadequate. I'm 61 now but at age 16 I jumped out of a plane in Orange, Mass. Very wonderful and I'm glad I did it too. Congratulations and welcome to the club!

3/20/2008 1:34 PM  
Blogger Mint said...

Oh wow, I live in Auckland, and I might have walked by you without even noticing! Of course, I haven't been to Mount Eden, or Parnell, or Piha or any of the places you've been in the past week, but it could have happened in theory! That would have been so cool.

Glad you liked Auckland. I'm not particularly fond of it myself because it has become "cityfied" so much. However, if you live far enough away from the city, like me, it's not so bad because it seems as though you're living in a bach close to the beach all year through.

Next time definitely go to Cape Reinga at the northernmost tip of the North Island, explore the central North Island full of thermal activity, and definitely visit the South Island in all its untamed glory.

PS: You've almost inspired me to jump out of a plane, and I am PHOBIC about heights!

3/20/2008 2:41 PM  
Anonymous mimi said...

haha, i can't believe you showed the minus 5 bar. i was in auckland last july for a UN conference, and i must say, the minus 5 bar is DEADLY! the alcohol hits you like anything as soon as you're back at normal temperature.

but i do agree with you about parnell. it's absolutely gorgeous and quaint and lovely.

i loved auckland, fun place. however, all the kiwis i met said the north island has nothing on the south island, so im keen to go back and explore more! :)

3/20/2008 3:32 PM  
Blogger Fashion Tidbits said...

if it weren't my fear if heights i would do it truly

3/20/2008 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lived in Auckland for 10 yrs and never went sky diving...I have been thinking of jumping off the Sky Tower for a few months though.

3/20/2008 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Mer said...

wow, I need a trip like that too! :-)

3/20/2008 7:37 PM  
Anonymous shoppingfeet said...

Wow...you had a fun trip. I wish soon i hv enough saving for this kind of trip. :)

3/20/2008 8:47 PM  
Blogger Barneys Girl said...

Grace: Its always been a dream of mine to sky dive too! It was pretty scary before I jumped, but I didn't have time to freak out. Before I knew it, we were in the sky.

The beauty of skydiving is that you don't have to jump out yourself. Once you are on the plane, you have no choice. You are strapped to your tandem instructor and he just jumps!

Anon 4.25/Mint: I'd really like to go to the South island and see the untamed wilderness and the LOTR scenery! And also the thermal activity in the North Island. Its just hard to go too far away from the city to explore. Definitely next time though!

Anon 4.43: For skydiving, they give me a bright blue jump suit to put on (good thing blue is in this season). Unfortunately you also have to wear a hat thing that looks like those things you wear in the pool. Its attached to these clear goggles-- THE most unattractive things ever.

Mimi: Haha. I'll keep that in mind. I had a mocktail myself and the bartender pointed out to me that you can see how the drink freezes on the edges of the ice cup!

Anon 11.34: Oo I thought about the sky tower too. But its bungee and you have to voluntarily jump yourself. I don't think I can't bring myself to jump! Plus I heard the rebound is very strong and not very pleasant. Much scarier than skydiving.

3/21/2008 1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i opened up your blog and thought to myself, have i got the right page.. when i saw the heading lol. I'm from New Zealand, Auckland myself and wouldn't have ever thought you would have come to visit us here. Reading through your blog you definitley made the most of your travels and visited all the best spots. Im so stoked you headed out to Piha!! I swear i live out there during summer. But the swimming can be awesome there.
Still completely amazed that there is a post about NZ but its so cool :)
Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself very much
XO

3/21/2008 5:12 AM  
Anonymous Olga said...

It's unbelievable. I live in Russia, but for last 2 weeks I had traveled a lot in New Zealand, visiting both islands. For me , New Zealand is the best place to live, espesially in Auckland. I fell so envy you are living in such beautiful country and city!

3/21/2008 6:18 AM  
Blogger Mica said...

Wow, what an amazing holiday!

The scenery looks great, and you managed to do so much there!

Congratulations on the skydiving - I'd be way too scared!!!

3/22/2008 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Heya,
it is absolutely amazing for someone to talk about nz in that way, since iv been here all my life..it feels like such a small world. Glad we made quite an impression!
make sure to visit again, then u'll have time to do things beyound tourist attractions - that would be another experience!
x

3/22/2008 1:48 PM  
Blogger -findmee said...

haha
you should have come to christchurch

3/23/2008 5:16 AM  
Blogger Lizzie said...

It really maddens me when people come to NZ and go only to Auckland. I'm from NZ and the rest of it is way nicer then auckland. But i guess with time constraints and unable to travel out ect its hard but still a shame. Next time spend some time going around! Theres waaay more to NZ then auckland :)
xoxo love the blog

3/23/2008 3:39 PM  
Blogger sixteensecrets said...

I am so glad you came to Auckland! And yes, Lizzie, the rest of NZ is cool too, but not everyone can travel round. I'm sure it maddens the French when people only go to Paris. Auckland rocks and I'm so glad you picked here! Next time, go to Queenstown. Skip ChCh. They're all racists.

3/24/2008 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your site!! I invite you to take a tour on my jewelry website, and if should more information is required. http://www.or-jewelry.com

3/25/2008 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hope you did go shopping though. i live in Auckland and there is some really good shopping

3/25/2008 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this post. I am from NZ, but live in Chicago now. Great photos, and interesting to read about your experience there : )

3/27/2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger GeezLouise! said...

Nice work coming to NZ :) and Piha is my favourite beach - the other beaches along the West Coast are just as beautiful, if not more beautiful than Piha.

4/06/2008 8:41 AM  
Blogger belhana said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة *مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه

أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه

كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه

بالله سل خلف بحر الروم عن عرب * بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا

وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه

هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه

الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا * وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين مـجراه

يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته * الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه

يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ، وملوك الروم تخشـاه

يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

7/05/2009 8:28 PM  
Blogger belhana said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة *مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه

أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه

كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه

بالله سل خلف بحر الروم عن عرب * بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا

وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه

هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه

الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا * وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين مـجراه

يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته * الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه

يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ، وملوك الروم تخشـاه

يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

7/05/2009 8:28 PM  
Blogger belhana said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة *مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه

أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه

كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه

بالله سل خلف بحر الروم عن عرب * بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا

وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه

هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه

الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا * وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين مـجراه

يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته * الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه

يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ، وملوك الروم تخشـاه

يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

7/05/2009 8:29 PM  
Blogger freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,

9/25/2009 5:21 PM  
Blogger houston Kenna said...

I am very glad to see such information which I was searching for a long time. las vegas skydiving

5/20/2010 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

коттедж
восстановление зрения
зеленый лазер
электрошокер

7/15/2010 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Jeans said...

Buy Jeans and Fashion Jeans online only at our clothing store!
JeansPilot blogspot

9/26/2010 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Poppers said...

Its Pleasure to read your blog.The above articles is very impressive, and I really enjoyed reading your blog and points that you expressed. I love to come back on a regular basis,post more on the subject. Thanks for sharing...keep writing!!! Tattoo Cover

1/20/2011 7:09 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Simply, admirable what you have done here. It is pleasing to look you express from the heart and your clarity on this significant content can be easily looked. Remarkable post and will look forward to your future update. Anaheim Locksmith

2/25/2011 6:04 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

I am not much of a guy who thinks in so deeply about web design but I think your post had some valid points in it. Like designers are forced to design stuff within the limited code available and not go beyond it. Aliso Viejo Locksmith

2/25/2011 6:05 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

I admit, I have not been on this webpage in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues.
Brea Locksmith

4/04/2011 12:43 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.
Miami Web Design Company

4/04/2011 12:44 PM  
Blogger Online Shopping said...

I loved the way you have said it! It’s simple mindboggling. This is really a great blog to read out.

Online Shopping

6/27/2011 1:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home