February 9, 2001 (30-days)
Ora (key-or-a) – greeting in the native Maori language,
Having a Kiwi (New Zealander) as a friend for years, I've heard many sheep
jokes directed at Jeff. Even
so, I didn't realize the mass number of sheep until I arrived in New Zealand.
On the bus from the airport
I noticed a baby stroller with a sheep skin rug, then cars with sheep skin
seat covers. I couldn't help
but giggle to myself... sorry Jeff :~)
Thanks to my Kiwi friends, Kelvin (met in Nepal) and Jeff (worked with in '91), I had an amazing tour of the south island
of New Zealand.
The south island has it all – beautiful mountains, huge lakes, clear
streams, and tons of wild flowers. It
also has beaches and a coastline similar to San Francisco.
I was impressed by the natural rock formations.
Pancake Rocks are thin layers of rock stacked up like pancakes.
There are caverns and underground passages that capture the sea
swell and erupt in a powerful geyser of spray.
The Moeraki Boulders are perfect round boulders that keep appearing
in the shore as the land erodes. Several
boulders are on the beach. Eventually
they get washed out to sea. It's
a continuous cycle.
I did a lot of "tramping" – have to go with the local lingo
– in the mountains: Franz Josef Glacier,
and Tongariro Crossing. Mt.
is my favorite. It has a shape
similar to the Matterhorn. This is where we did a steep
hike through a mixture of forest, snow grass, and rock up to Cascade
Saddle where we set up camp. The
Kea birds – fat high altitude parrots – were curious at dinner time.
They showed their lack of fear as we chased them off.
After watching a sunset at
10:00 p.m., with
as the focus, I jumped in my bivy sack and it didn't take long for the
Keas to surround me. I threw
my legs in the air and my hands out to scare them off.
Then they would run to Jeff's tent and it wouldn't be long before
they were back to me. Throughout
the night I couldn't figure out if the wind or the wing of a Kea was
brushing across the top of my bivy. I
thought of "The Birds" and decided I just needed to forget about
them and go to sleep. Surely
they wouldn't hurt me. In the
morning when I woke, there were two holes at the foot of my goretex bivy
sack. At that point, I didn't
really care if the little buggars are protected.
I was ready for target practice.
They've obviously never seen me shoot skeet.