Catching up on some New Zealand pics

by Brad on March 27, 2011

First off, we have to share our favorite pictures from our sealing during our visit to Utah. We LOVED having Becky as our photographer. Call her when you need someone to take some awesome pics.

wedding dance

Now, onto our New Zealand visit.

So how about this: the scenery is gorgeous, everything is clean, the roads are nice, the people are great, the fresh produce is cheap and the meat and dairy are expensive. Does that sound like our kind of place or what?

We were able to see a lot in two weeks, but it actually feels a little like torture. Two weeks is not nearly enough time in New Zealand and we are itching to go back. I’ve never seen anywhere like it. We peeked into paradise and then had to leave. Maybe we were better off not knowing. Nah. We just gotta go back, that’s all.

After arriving in Auckland and overcoming our fear of driving on the wrong side of the road, we made our way down the freeway to Hamilton. If there’s a Provo anywhere outside of Provo, Hamilton would be it. There’s the temple, the stake and mission offices, the church high school (now closed) and a whole neighborhood called Temple View that is three wards big and 100% mormon. Right away we were blown away with how pretty the area was, and we had a fantastic setup with great hosts. Maybe a little too much Mormon, though, if you know what I mean.

Our Hamilton hosts, Gordon and Jerry. We couldn't have asked for anyone or anything better to get us started off right in New Zealand.

This is where they filmed the Shire scenes in Lord of the Rings. No exageration at all, this is what the whole north island looks like. The whole island is the Shire!

On Saturday we drove out to the East coast just to see what it’s like – Tauranga – and then drove over to Rotorua, which is like our Yellowstone, but with a whole modern city around it. We had a chance to use a private, two-person hot spring jacuzzi right on the edge of the lake, which was amazing. Picture an indoor hot tub but with the fourth wall missing, and where the wall should be you have a view of Yellowstone Lake and mountains all around you. Yeah, that was nice.

Imagine this setting: a private, thermal heated spa overlooking a thermal heated lake. "But we didn't bring our swimsuits." No worries. Just lock the door. :)

I just had to share this one. We, I mean I, didn't see to many urinals in New Zealand. It's just a wall. No privacy. Only one rule when other blokes are around: don't look down.

This is in the Maori area of Hamilton Gardens

India Garden, Hamilton

If you haven't seen Rocky Horror Picture Show, then just forgive me for the weird pose

Sunday was a drive out to the West coast to attend church at a small branch in Kawhia (wh is pronounced “f”, so it sounds like Kafia) where our Hamilton hosts attend. When I say small, I mean small. Besides our group there were maybe another 6 or 7 people there, so guess who got to speak in sacrament meeting. “Thanks for coming today. What are your names? Great. I’m the branch president. We have a little time left to fill on our sacrament program today so we’ll have you two take a few minutes. Nice to meet you.” And just like that we were on the program. That was actually the most fun we’ve ever had with a speaking assignment. No time to get nervous, no time to prepare, so you just talk. Love it.

After several days in Hamilton, visiting the city’s famous gardens, we did a straight shot down to the capital city Wellington. Beautiful. If you could take away the San Francisco type weather, we’d find a way to make it our home. Week one ended with a beautiful drive down to the capital city Wellington. Imagine a really green, clean, straight San Francisco.

We stayed with some locals here as well and that made it even more enjoyable, even if we did have to sleep on the floor. Ouch. Wellington is laid out between three big hills and the Cook Strait to the south. So you can imagine there were plenty of ups and downs coming in and out of the city. The downtown area is fantastically nice, and we also walked by the theatre where they did the world premier for the Lord of the Rings movies. Yeah, the LOTR craze is still loud and proud here.

Wellington would be an easy place to live. We enjoyed everything about it except for the fact that there we were on a summer day, the wind blowing, rain coming in sideways, and our hosts told us that we were lucky to have such nice weather. Too cold and windy! We read an official sign saying that the city gets 235 days of near gale force winds every year. Yikes.

Overlooking Wellington

We were planning on making a visit to the south island to see Christchurch. The earthquake happened the day before we were going to head down there so that quickly changed our plans. It really was sad to see that happen there. The country has been put in a state of shock because of it. After meeting a few tourists who were there for it we felt lucky to have not been there. So we headed back north.

Mt Doom. More incredible NZ landscapes on The Great Desert Highway. Even their "desert" is gorgeous.

This is the bungee tower we both jumped from.

After a quick bungee jump, we stopped by the Taupo Falls on our way out of town...

Then had a good time sawing logs and shearing sheep at the Billy Black show...

Kelli doing the Shepherd ancestors proud...

And then we got suited up for our venture into the deep, dark, Waitomo caves, famous for their glow worms. Something about the Spice Girls outfits got everyone feeling a little goofy.

Yep, Brad too.

Kelli's rappel down a cold, wet cave

Cold water, tight cave. Let's take a picture.

This is the traditional Maori village of Whakarewarewa. Imagine a whole town powered by thermal heat from the ground. And it stinks like sulphur.

The Maori version of a luau is called a hangi. Worth going to when you feel like being slapped up side the face with a reminder that you're a tourist.

Auckland skyline on a cloudy day

{ 4 comments }

Mary T April 5, 2011 at 9:12 am

Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Trying so hard to not be jealous of you guys. What fun experiences you both are having! The kids and I watched your bungy jumps and they all had their jaws dropped. Kara kept saying, “No way.” Ha ha! We sure miss you! I enjoy reading about your adventures so keep us updated!

Brad May 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Tell Kara we’ll be happy to take her bungee jumping, if she dares. The Zorb ball was definitely a highlight though. The kids would LOVE that one!

Susan Taylor April 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Wow, what an adventure. Love all the photos and descriptions

Brad May 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Thanks! We’re having a blast over here on this side of the world. More stories and photos to come….

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