Posts Tagged ‘farewell’

5th April
written by Hazel

The day after the San Fernando Vendimia was my dad’s last day with us.  We decided to have a final birdwatching expedition to try to get the number of species seen up – after all, we had a bet.  We headed back up north towards Santiago and went to the Rio Clarillo National Park to try our luck.  On our way we had to stop for one last reineta lunch, which was really tasty, but HUGE.

Up to this point I haven’t explained about the road signs in Chile.  Or the maps.  Navigating in this country is surprisingly difficult.  There is an unpleasant trend for stuff to be signposted once or twice and then the signs just disappear.  And then there is a T junction and you have to randomly pick a way to go.  And then when you finally realize you’re going the wrong way you turn around and realize that there are more signs to where you are going, but you couldn’t possibly have seen them from the direction you came in.  Many towns are not marked on the maps (we had a map in the guidebook and one we bought).  You pretty much need a combination of lucky guesses, a willingness to turn around several times, and a lot of extra time.  It can be hugely frustrating and very time consuming to get anywhere.  We managed ok, but on this trip to the park we spent over an hour lost if you count both coming in and going out.  We made it eventually though.


23rd January
written by Hazel

Days spent: 49

Cost of postcard to US: NZ $1.90

Exchange Rate: NZ$1 = US$0.75

Average coffe price: NZ$3.75

Average price of petrol per litre: NZ$2.00  (that’s US$5.729/gallon!)

Vinnie’s average km/litre: about 11.  Not so bad.

Kms we could go on a full tank: about 300.  But sometimes the gas stations were REALLY far apart.

Fish and chips eaten:  Hazel 2.5, Justin 3.5 (unless we have another tonight!)

Pages of our NZ atlas not explored: 14 out of 91.  15%

Hours spent surfing with Steve: 6

Hours spent in caves: about 3

Hours spent in museums: about 5

Trigs climbed: 3

Most nights spent in same place: 4 (Christchurch, but on 2 separate visits)

Road most traveled: Lake Tekapo to Twizel.  5 times.

Most expensive internet: NZ$2 for 10 minutes.  Insane.

Longest camera exposure: 60 seconds

Biggest bird: Shy Albatross (we think)  8 foot wingspan!

Biggest fist: The shark caught on our cruise.  5 feet long!

Longest hike: 19.6 km

Hours until we leave: 13

23rd January
written by Hazel


  • Our cruise with Captain Fiord and Fiordland Expeditions.  This was an overnight cruise and we truly cannot say enough about how much we loved it, how pampered we were, and how much fun we had with the fishing, kayaking, and amazing food.
  • Paua Nite!  Chris and Leah-Anne are some of the most gracious people we’ve met anywhere!  And good cooks!  And they have awesome kids.  It was so incredible to meet people who live here and chat with them and hear about their lives and we absolutely hope some day they will come and visit us!!!
  • Mt. Cook.  Incredibly beautiful.  Awesome DOC campground.
  • Franz Josef glacier.  It’s so cool.
  • Blackwater rafting and surfing.  Both absolutely great experiences and things I had never tried before.
  • Christmas in Christchurch.  We liked that town!
  • The Twisted Hop Brewpub.  Best beer in NZ.  Awesome sweet potato (kumara in NZ) fries.  Awesome atmosphere.
  • Hiking and wildlife and all things outdoors.  There are birds and trails and swimming holes and seals and strange scenery and waterfalls and cool tree ferns EVERYWHERE here.  It is not hard to find an awesome outdoorsy adventure every single day.
  • The Tongariro Crossing.  Totally unique.


  • Being rained out a couple of times.  Most notably at Arthur’s Pass where the trail had turned into a flooded river.
  • One or two of the DOC camps were a little stinky.  Filthy smelling restrooms and right next to the highway.  That being said, we stayed in tons of them and it was only two that were a little unfortunate.
  • Mosquitos and sandflys.  If you do a little research it’s not hard to predict where you’ll find them.  But they are totally evil and Vinnie (our van) had no screens on his windows.
  • Queenstown madness.  This was actually in a couple of places.  Crowded town designed mostly to get tourists to spend their money.  Not hard to avoid, but a bit of an eyesore, and sad because the countryside around needs no money spent to have an amazing experience.  We mostly avoided these touristy places.
  • NZ coffee.  The same everywhere, but always a milky, mediocre experience.  (Except in Raglan and one place in Christchurch where we had very good coffee)

All in all, hardly any lows, and only minor.  We’ve loved New Zealand and would definitely come back for another vacation, short or long.  It’s an incredible country to visit.  Easy to get around, friendly people, incredible scenery.

23rd January
written by Hazel
  • In New Zealand deer live on farms.  This is where all the delicious venison comes from.  But it’s still really strange to see an enormous fence with a very large herd of deer in a pasture.
  • Burgers here come with “salad.”  That “salad” consists of the usual burger toppings – lettuce, tomato, etc.  So if they ask if you want salad with your burger they are actually asking whether you want veggie toppings in your burger.  Live and learn…
  • There is at least one “USA” themed restaurant.  The food there is nothing like the food in the USA.
  • Kiwis pretty much only eat turkey at Christmas.  We asked for some in a deli and were told they just don’t eat it that way.
  • We learned what a trig is!  And if your hike has trig in the name then you should expect a long climb!
  • That the West Coast of the South Island really is the “Wet Coast.”
  • Lots of facts about livestock and NZ wildlife.
  • The ABC’s of surfing (which don’t start with A or C)
  • About Moas.  Awesomest extinct flightless birdlike creature ever!
  • What a Giraffe Weevil is.  One landed on Justin and then we later found a specimen in a museum, allowing us to identify the beastie.
  • In New Zealand they love lager.  In fact, this is almost the only type of beer you can find anywhere.  Even if they name says it’s something else.
  • Kiwis (the people, not the birds) are really friendly.  It’s awesome.
  • The glowing part of glow-worms is actually their poo!  Gross but true.  They use it to attract other tiny bugs who are then caught in their sticky little ropes and eaten.