Journal

Archives: March 2006

Goodbye to Godzone (NZ) 30 March 2006

Hard to believe, but I am HOME now. And my last two days in “Godzone” were as full as any other. For my last morning in Tongariro National Park, my delightful and very gracious hosts at the Tongariro Crossing Lodge, Sharee and Steve Fawlk, took me into Whakapapa Village where I headed off on a 2.5 hour walk to Taranaki Falls, about 6km. It is in between Mt. Ngaruhoe (Mt. Doom) and Mt. Ruapehu, so the views of the perfectly shaped cone of Mt. Ngaruhoe were wonderful… I kept a close eye on it to see if the summit would peek through the clouds, but except for one small corner, it was not to happen. But the rest of the scenery was still worth it. (more…)

Mt. Ruapehu 21 March 2006

This morning (barely :)), one of the lodge owners here took me up to the Whakapapa Ski Field on the Mt. Ruapehu volcano. Some of you may remember it… this is the one that erupted in 1995-1996, and there were photos on the internet of people skiing while the mountain is erupting behind and above them (I have been looking but haven’t yet found them)! So yes, it is another active volcano. All of the volcanoes in the park today were shrouded in clouds, but even though I dressed pretty well (thermal shirt, vest, raincoat, gloves, and headband), I had on thin capri pants and only ankle socks, so my lower legs were bare. (more…)

Mt. Doom!! 20 March 2006

Hi all – I DID the Tongariro Crossing today! And I was able to view and walk right past Mt. Doom (Mt. Ngauruhoe) – you can hike to the top, but it was just too much of a side trip… as it was, the 17 km (10.5 mile) hike took me nearly 9 hours. It was about 2600 (800 meters) feet up, and 3800 feet (1150 meters) down, and the landscape was absolutely stunning. I am so sorry I could not take photos – it felt like being on another planet. (more…)

Rotorua, central North Island 19 March 2006

Rotorua is a beautiful city in the heart of the volcanic region of the north island – I wish I could have taken more photos of it. But it does have a stinky sulphur smell about it – didn’t really bother me, but it does a lot of folks, even though they say you get used to it.

Here is a beautiful, true story whose history is part of Rotorua, and that we heard at the Maori village on Thursday night: Hinemoa was a young woman who lived on the western shores of Rotorua, and Tutanekai lived on Mokoia Island, a large island in the middle of the lake. (more…)

Cave Tubing! 17 March 2006

Thursday early morning we all headed out in a van hosted by Adventure Specialities, a NZ non-profit group whose mission is to work with at-risk kids and families. Our destination was Waitomo Caves, toward the central west of the North Island, about 4 hours’ drive. We made it about 1/4 mile and the engine overheated, so we spent a little over an hour waiting for a replacement van, on the grassy portion between freeway ramps! (more…)

Last work day 15 March 2006

Today was our last day, and I will …sort of… miss it! :) It has been hard work, and it has been really great to be able to switch work sites, though I *did* get tired and sore from painting. Today I was at the experimental house site most of the day, but it was quite hot and I am coming down with a cold and I found myself losing steam so I bugged out the last couple hours and went back to painting – out of the sun. (more…)

Exotic black flower 14 March 2006

My *sweet* little camera is broken. I am so bummed. I think what happened is that something was dropped on it, or it was (unknowingly) stepped on! I pulled it out tonight to take a group shot at dinner, and found an exotic-looking black flower on permanent display with delicate lines through it. (more…)

From dirt to boating 12 March 2006

Yesterday, Saturday, was our 6th workday, and I **really** worked (not that I hadn’t been already!) – I got to work on the new site for the first time.

In case I had not mentioned it earlier, our team is actually working on two new houses under construction. The one most of us are working on is the traditional Habitat house here in Auckland, made out of a heavy, thick “tri-board” (wood chips and glue – very strong) with aluminum siding and roof…very nice looking. The other house has just been started, and is using an experimental design by a local university student architect, who is also supervising the build. That one is using a type of concrete block (I’ll have to find out more later), and we are preparing the foundations for the garage and the house. (more…)

Sanding, sanding, and more sanding… 10 March 2006

Today was our 5th workday on the house we are building for Juanita, the single mom who will be the new homeowner. She had sick kids on Monday and Tuesday, but has been at the building site for several hours the last two days, working along side us as much as possible when she is not at work. (more…)

Habitat, Manukau, NZ 7 March 2006

Wow – what an adventure this trip has been! When I arrived in Auckland on Sunday (March 5th) at 9am, I was just an hour too late to join the team’s short city tour, so the director of the Manukau Habitat affiliate picked me up and took me to their house to help prepare for the big brunch for the team and all the other kiwis that would join in. (ALL New Zealanders refer to themselves as kiwis.) And it turns out I was really lucky I didn’t make that tour… when they were stopped at a high point above the city and the stadium where the All Blacks (national rugby team) play, the van was broken into and 3 lost passports, IDs, tickets, money, cell phones, cameras, etc! So that was a rather inauspicious beginning, but we have had a great time so far, in the midst of those three having to deal with that. (more…)

Queenstown to Nelson, South Island 7 March 2006

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long delay in updating my travelogues here!

Friday (March 2), Karen and Phil and I drove over the mountains north out of Queenstown to the small community of Fox Glacier. It was a lovely, relaxing drive that took about 8 hours, including all our stops for photos and lunch. Luckily, Phil is almost as much of a camera nut as I am. We could see many of the same mountains I had seen before, from different perspectives, and then many new ones as well – all are incredibly rugged and ragged-peaked, with long, sharp jagged ridgelines and shiny granite faces, sheared by glaciers. (more…)

The Milford Track – “Finest Walk in the World” 2 March 2006

NOW UPDATED! Karen, Phil, I, and 48 other unsuspecting hikers in our group survived the Milford Track – unbelievable!!! It was **very** challenging – it was not 33 miles in 5 days, as I thought, but 33.5 miles in THREE days – I just didn’t read the fine print very carefully! (more…)