Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
One of the best parts of the trip was meeting new people from all over the world. Our tripmates hailed from Bulgaria, Germany, Malaysia, England, Holland, various parts of the U.S., and Australia. About half of the people we met were Aussies, who had a lot in common with the New Zealanders so they were able to teach us a bit. Here are some helpful translations we picked up on the trip.
~= close to equal
!= not equal
** just different
~= close to equal
!= not equal
** just different
U.S. => Australia/New Zealand
Hello == Gidday
Friend == Mate
Guy == Bloke
Vacation == Holiday -- "i'm on holiday in new zealand"
French Fries == Chips
Chips == Potato chips -- but our potato chips are better than their potato chips
Bathroom == Loo -- like "your poo goes in the loo"
Right == Left -- you drive on the left and your steering wheel is on the right
Australians == Aussies
New Zealanders == Kiwis -- yeah, like the fruit. but the fruit was named after the kiwi bird which is all the rage over here
Breakfast == Breaky
Lunch == Dinner
Dinner == Tea
Midnight snack == Supper -- so eating could be a bit confusing.
$1.00 USD ~= $1.20 NZD -- but things are a little more expensive here so you don't get much on the conversion
$1.02 == $1.00 -- they round everything to the nearest 10 cents in New Zealand. this is awesome.
$2.00 ** $2.00 -- prices include tax and tip. no mental math necessary when dining out.
21 == 18 -- they get to start drinking a bit earlier
Fosters != Beer -- they hate Fosters and they're embarrassed by the commercials.
McDonalds == Mackers -- it's a cute little nickname for our nationally recognized fast food chain
Absolut == Smirnoff -- they love the smirnoff over here. it's the premium vodka. we laughed when we found that out
Rum == Bundy -- which is their brand of rum over here. it's awful, even in a rum and coke.
Peter Jackson == God -- they really like lord of the rings over there
Soccer == Football
Football == Australian Rules Football -- this is like a cross between american football and rugby
Rugby == Awesome -- i watched a few games on the flight over and in the bars. this sport is sooo much fun.
Coffee ** Coffee -- they have the most delicious espresso drinks. julie says it's only because we're drinking from a ceramic cup, but i think they make it better
Ketchup == Tomato sauce -- they call it tomato sauce over here (pronounced like "i say tomato" in the song that goes "you say tomato, i say tomato")
Ketchup packets ** Tomato sauce packets -- their packets are awesome. it's kind of like the little jam packets you get in breakfast restaurants, except there are two little butts of ketchup on the back instead of a big square. you just squeeze the butts together and ketchup comes out the other side.
Ketchup ** Tomato sauce -- they need heinz because their ketchup is awful
* Kiwi pride
We did notice a huge amount of national pride over here. We think it's partly because NZ is on the small side (~4M people) and also because they have a national rugby team called the All Blacks which unites the citizens. Everyone is a rugby fan.
* Anzac Day
We were fortunate enough to be here during Anzac Day, which is their version of Veterans Day, sort of. The difference is that over here they are much more into it. It is a holiday celebrated in New Zealand and Australia to remember and give thanks to the combined Australia New Zealand army which entered WWI together. They were our allies in the war and lost a lot of men in the battle of Gallipoli. They dedicated this day each year to remember that battle. The amazing thing was how grateful everyone still is for their sacrifice. You don't see that type of gratitude in the US, even for our WWII or Desert Storm vets. The 20 yr olds telling us the story of Gallipoli had tears in their eyes. It was touching.
All across NZ and AU people would get up at 6am to go to dawn service where you hear the story of the battle. Dawn service is very similar to our Passover Sedar, except there are no jews involved and all that stuff really happened. Also, there isn't any food, wine, or jewish ghosts to drink said wine.
Contiki tours are pretty interesting. It's a tour bus filled with 18-35 yr olds and a tour manager and bus driver. The idea is to travel as a group so you save money on transportation costs while at the same time you get to meet a lot of new people from all over the world. And you have a group to go out with at nights. It's mostly for singles since it's a great opportunity to hook up with strangers. But we weren't the only couple on board and it wasn't really awkward or anything. We were still able to make some new friends even though we're really hot but they never had a chance to hook up with us.
Our typical day was something like this:
- Wake up at 7am, eat breakfast, and get on the bus by 8am (earliest we were on the bus was 6:55am)
- Drive for a few hours to our next destination
- Eat lunch or grab a coffee on the way
- Arrive at our destination in the afternoon and check into the hotel, get situated
- Activities all afternoon -- this is the real fun part
- Then dinner, usually with the group, and usually something special for the area (like a dinner cruise, a cultural event, etc)
- Go out for drinks/fun after dinner
The trip was pretty awesome, and we really liked meeting everyone. It was also great to have the transportation and lodging completely taken care of. The activities were pretty good since they've done this so many times they know what's good and what's overpriced, not worth the time, etc. We didn't stay in the nicest hotels, but for the price they weren't too bad. They were clean and warm, and that's all you really need for a trip like this. You don't get any price breaks on the hotels or activities, but it's not a bad deal at all. You do spend a lot of time on the bus though, and there are some times when it does suck to be part of a large group since you have to wait for everyone.
Summary: We would do Contiki again if we didn't feel like planning a trip or if we didn't know enough about the area to do a good job on our own. But we'd prefer to plan our own trip if possible. We'd definitely recommend it for our siblings to at least try though, since it is a lot of fun.
Now, on to the city highlights.
|Day 1 - Christchur|
- We saw the Church. It had swastikas on the wall, which they said were egyptian symbols, but I think they just hate jews
- We saw the Botanical gardens. There were flowers.
- We spend a lot of time the next day driving/ferrying to Wellington. The ferry made a few people sick to their stomach since it was pretty choppy, but we were ok
|Day 2 & 3 - Wellington and Taupo|
- We rode a cable car to the top of a big hill then walked all the way down (~1 hour) with friends from the trip.
- We saw a museum. It was ok.
- We went to the grocery store and got fun New Zealand food
- We played the lottery and lost
- We rode a Huka Jet which is the fastest most awesomest boat you'll ever see. The driver had so much control over the boat (traveling super fast) that we would head straight for the wall and he would turn on a dime and we'd miss it by inches. It was awesome.
- We went on a Contiki dinner cruise which kinda sucked since the food was bad, the drinks were bad, and it was overpriced. This was the only really bad activity. Question: how do you screw up a rum and coke? Answer: by using awful rum from australia
|Day 4 & 5 - Waitomo and Rotorua|
- The town kinda stinks because of the sulfur springs
- We went in the sulfur springs (cost us $20NZD). They were warm, but a smelly.
- We had a nice dinner just the two of us at a fancy restaurant that was on a mountain outside of town. The restaurant drove even picked us up and dropped us off. It was delicious and there was a great view.
- We went Zorbing! This is the most fun you will ever have in a giant bubble surrounded by another giant bubble.
- We went luging! This is the most fun you will have on a little plastic car that you ride down a hill.
- Sheep show. We got to see someone shear a sheep on stage (very cool) and I got to go up on stage in front of everyone and milk a cow. It felt weird and slippery, but a pretty cool experience nonetheless.
- Black Water Rafting. This is where you put on a wet suit and raft down a river that's inside a cave using an inner tube. There were glow worms in the cave to light the way. One of the more amazing experiences in NZ, this was by far the coldest thing we've done in a long time.
- Bar night. We had a few nights at the bars with our Contiki trip mates, but this was the best. The bar had good beer in chilled mugs, decent music, and a good time was had by all.
|Day 6 & 7 - Bay of Islands|
- The best fish n chips (fried fish and french fries) we've ever had
- We rented a car and drove on the left side of the rode. It was kinda scary at first, but not too bad. They gave us a giant van though, and I hate driving big cars.
- We drove all the way to 90 mile beach (actual length, 72 miles) which is unique because the beach itself is a registered highway. You're allowed to drive 100kph on the sand!
- The rental agency said we were not allowe to drive on the sand, but we thought what the hell, we'll do it anyways. [Despite this warning sign]
- The sand driving was going ok until we tried to turn around. It turns out that you want to drive on the wet sand, not the dry sand.
- We got pretty stuck, but we flagged down cars filled with some nice blokes who helped us push it out.
|Day 8 & 9 - Auckland|
- Minus 5 ice bar
- Public transportation
- Tower jumping (didn't happen)
- Davenport (another ferry ride)