Saturday, June 30, 2007

The last days in NZ

I've spent the past couple of days just hiking around Wanaka. More ambitious plans fell apart either due to the weather (flight to the fjords at Milford sound) or lack of snow (heliskiing), but it's been nice to relax in the beautiful scenery of the southern alps.

Tomorrow it's time to ship the vast majority of warm stuff back home, then catch a bus to a plane, and start the long way to Beijing, which appears to be a cool 88 degrees this week (down from 100+ last week).

I'll miss this land down under :)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ice Climbing

Ice climbing was great, super, amazing, exhilarating, tiring, a word awesome!

We started the first day with a beautiful drive to Fox glacier, and then did some basic crampon, ice ax technique. The 2nd day was really a highlight...after hiking in two hours into the Franz Joseph glacier, we did some ice bouldering, easy toproping, and then I got to do an ice lead! It was on easy ground (ice :) but nonetheless, very exciting and a bit tiring. After learning to build anchors, and a few rappels, we did an overhanging toprope. Around midnight onto day 3 it started to rain heavily, but no fear, because Franz Joseph has an indoor(!!) ice climbing wall (3rd biggest in the world, apparently the biggest is in Scotland). So we spent a few hours there before the long drive back to Wanaka.

My guide, Marty near a wall on Fox glacier.
On approach to the climbing spot at Franz Joseph..

Overhanging toprope...not particularly good form :)
Better form.
On the top!!
I have more pictures, but they'll have to wait until I'm back in the states.

Overall, I must say the rock climbing experience helped quite a bit. A lot of the technique is very similar (keep you weight on your feet, etc etc). But also helping a very experienced guide (he's leading a trip to Everest in a few months, if anyone is interested) all to myself was wonderful!

Now I'm back in Wanaka where it's been raining all day, and is scheduled to rain for the next couple of days. I was hoping to get a chance to go heliskiing (weeeee), but it may not happen due to the weather, so I'll probably just end up going skiing.

In the end, two thumbs way up for ice climbing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


After some adventures after my flight got canceled this morning, I am in Wanaka. The south island is simply gorgeous, albeit a bit chilly. Most people are here to ski, so everyone is hoping for snow. I'm going against the grain, hoping for sun, as ice climbing in the snow is no fun (i presume).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another day, another rainbow

I know I've been obsessing over them, but this is simply ridiculous. This image doesn't do it justice, but this is the closest I've been to that pot of gold...The road went right by the right end of the rainbow, but by the time I got there it started raining and the rainbow was gone.

I was thinking a lot today about traveling off season. Sure, some things are closed, some towns seem (or are) completely dead, and the weather is more often rainy /too hot / too cold/ etc. But then, you get that perfect day (weather wise), but because it's off season there's absolutely no one else around. This is what the first half of today was like - a gorgeous sunny day. So I headed up to the beach on the east coast and did some light hiking with only a handful of people joining me. Alas, not too many pictures from there, but I stopped by a waterfall on the way back.

One second a nice, quiet, peaceful waterfall.

The next, a bunch of whitewater rafters flying down it. (In case you were wondering, I was not one of them )

Tomorrow is a travel day, and then the ice climbing begins. I just got a note saying my course was moved from the mountains to the Franz Joseph glacier, so no waterfall ice climbing, but rather glacier ice climbing :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More adventures

Well, first the promised pictures from yesterday...I have no access to photoshop or picasa to touch these up, but they should give a sense of what i was talking about.

The rainbow:

Sheep dotting the landscape:

Today I went to see one of the geysers that Rotorua is famous for. It erupts (or rather is induced to erupt with some soap to loosen to surface tension) daily at 10:15. As you can tell it's a little windy here :)

In the afternoon I decided to be a big tourist and saw a sheep show :) which culminated with a guy shearing a sheep on stage... it was just as touristy as it sounds, but I'll save you from the pictures (for now).

Friday, June 22, 2007


My first 36 hours in NZ saw me:
  • learning to drive on the left (not that bad really, the hardest thing so far has been the fact that the rearview mirror is in the wrong place)
  • Doing some caving, including a zipline in complete darkness
  • Seeing many rainbows (I think I am up to 6 or 7 today), NZ should fight Hawaii for having a rainbow on the license plate.
  • and much much more.

I'd post a few pictures of the lush rolling hills dotted with sheep, but the computer I'm at won't let me connect my camera, so for now you'll just have to imagine them...

The plan for tomorrow is to explore Rotorua and the thermal areas around it.. Today the weather has been unprecitable, partly cloudy on eminute, raining heavily 5 minutes later, and sunny 5-10 minutes after that. The only thing that has been consistent is the fierce wind. Speaking of the weather, Queenstown, the airport I'm scheduled to fly into next Tuesday has been completely snowed in for the past couple of days. The radio was blaming it on wintry antarctic winds...go figure :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Onwards from HK

July 15: Jetstar 692. Leave HK 11:05am, arrive SIN 2:40pm
July 17: Jetstar 595. Leave SIN 6:00am, arrive REP 7:05am

Amazingly this costs less than $200, while all of the other direct / one stop options from HK to REP that I was able to find were $500+. It also gives me a chance to see Singapore.

off to the airport in a few minutes...

Current Travel Plan:

5 weeks, 6 countries, roughly 30k miles to fly. All very much subject to change.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

China tickets

July 7: China Eastern Flight 5714
Leave Beijing 8:20
stopover at Kunming
Arrive Lijiang 13:20

July 11:

China Eastern Flight 5723
Leave Lijiang 12:20
Arrive Kunming 13:10

DragonAir Flight 761
Leave Kunming 15:15
Arrive Hong Kong 17:40

New Zealand Day 1 Plan

Caving in Waitomo with waitomo adventures:...might as well go for the longest one...


Friday, June 1, 2007

Return ticket

Friday, July 27

Northwest Flight: 28
Leave Bangkok 6:00AM
Arrive: Tokyo 2:35 PM

Northwest Flight: 86
Depart: Tokyo 8:00 PM
Arrive: Seattle 1:00 PM

Northwest Flight: 4021 - Alaska Flight 0384
Depart: Seattle 3:00 PM
Arrive: SFO 5:10 PM