Sunday, March 2, 2008
I flew in to Auckland airport to meet my grandfather, and we picked up a rental car with plans to drive to my mom's on the South Island. We had not made it very far before I realized that driving in NZ was a bit much for me. In addition to driving on the left side of the road, the roads are narrow, curvy, hilly, and not cambered for easy turning. My grandfather says "someone handed the keys to a bulldozer driver and said make a road. There is no engineering involved!" We drove north to see the beach and the huge Kauri trees. I also went scuba diving at the Black Nights Islands, where I saw a large stingray and many other wonderful things swimming amongst psychedelically colored seaweed. Then we went back to Auckland and took a flight to Christchurch, where we met my uncle and picked up another car to drive to my mom's house in the Central Otago region. Most of my time in NZ was spent hanging out with family rather than sight seeing, but if you want to see photos of New Zealand's nature you can look in the archives for last year's trip.
New Zealand has some beautiful natural mountain scenery along the West coast of the South Island, but for the most part, it is probably the worlds biggest farm, with lots of sheep, cows, horses, deer, and even trophy elk. I find the elk most fascinating; people pay tens of thousands of dollars to bag elk bred especially for their trophy size. The selected elk is driven to a portion of the paddock where it can be photographed without any offending fences showing in the background, and the ¨hunter¨ is driven into the paddock where he can practically walk right up to the somewhat tame elk and shoot it! I also went to a couple of county fairs, which were very farming oriented, complete with parades of high tech farm machinery and classic cars along side of sheep competitions. For now I've only posted a few photos from the North Island, but I will post more later when I can find a good computer to upload photos.
Walking through New Zealand's Kauri forest. These forests used to cover most of the North Island but are now confined to a couple protected areas.
The "King of the Forest". This tree is over 30 feet around.
Another huge Kauri, not as tall but about 45 feet around
Grandpa looking at Kauris
A bit of North Island beach
Forest opens on to Agricultural land