Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wellington New Zealand: Kia Ora from Middle Earth

Kia Ora (Maori for hello) from the home of hobbits, orcs, and elves, the land of Narnia and Hollywood’s most recent obsession, New Zealand. This is also the land of humans, and the Maori, the country’s indigenous people have also been featured on celluloid in the films Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors.

We’ve been in New Zealand since December 29th, and it’s a place of reunion for us. Not only are we returning after a ten year absence, but my parents, Scott and Stormie, left a cold Colorado winter to meet us halfway here across the world, while Andy’s parents Mike and Phyllis have already arrived to their “winter” home near Charleston, on the west coast of the South Island.(still in New Zealand). After being on the road for so many months it’s a soothing balm to homesickness to have some familiar faces around us.

We spent New Year’s Eve in Auckland, the country’s largest city (1 million) and got to see fireworks shooting off the Auckland Tower from our hotel room.

There are not a lot of cultural differences in New Zealand, which makes it easy to travel, but lacks the fantastic monuments, odd animals and exotic sites that Asia, Australia and Europe offer. What New Zealand lacks in culture, it makes up for sweeping landscapes, lush verdant fields and miles of windswept coasts.

Although Andy and I have traveled through the South Island before, the North Island is an entirely new territory for us to explore. We rented a car and drove from Auckland to Rotorua (where we went to a Maori hangi, or dinner and performance, and soaked in sulfur-smelling thermal springs),

to Wellington (home of NZ’s most famous kiwi du jour, Peter Jackson director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong), where Stormie oohed and aahed over the botanic gardens and we learned about NZ history in the Te Papa museum.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a ferry over to the South Island, and then drive through Nelson, Abel Tasman Park, and further southwest to Charleston. We will have a belated Christmas celebration, and it will be the only time that Dylan has ever been together with both sets of her grandparents. After we bid adieu to Scott and Stormie in mid-January, we will continue to stay on the South Island until January 30th, when we strap on the backpacks again and dive back into Asia. For now, we wish you a healthy and happy start to the new year!


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