Sunday, April 23, 2006 

Dare to Be Different!

There's so much to do and see here in New Zealand, that I never want to leave! Newt wanted to do something different and suggested spelunking or bungyjumping.

I don't see how anyone would enjoy having their feet tied together with a big rubber band, then jump off a bridge!

Being the Queen means my word is final; and being the water creature that I am set up a trip that I'm sure you'll love!

Ever been Cave Rafting? The Wild West Adventure Company in Greymouth offers some pretty exciting trips. It was different, squeezing through little openings in the rocks, and jumping off cliffs. Cold, too, even though we wore wet suits. The inner tube "rafts" helped keep me warm somewhat, but my recommendation to you is to keep moving! The glow-worms looked like neon green things in the rocks - it was creepy and dark! The hydroslide was a natural "slip-n-slide" and I highly recommend it. Don't worry about the rocks scraping your bum. They've been worn smooth, so you'll never feel it! And at the end you get this nifty cetificate, get a snack and lounge around in their hot tub. They have a gift shop too. Newt bought a glow-in-the-dark tee shirt boasting "I Did It in the Dark!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Over the River and Through the Falls

Whew! It sure took a long time to reach the top of this mountain, but we made it. The scenery is so beautiful! On the way up, we saw an amazing waterfall cascading down the side of the mountain. It was obvious this was a ski resort from all the cleared paths running through the forests. Moments later, this was confirmed as we spotted the ski lift. When the bus finally came to a stop, I could see the rafts were already here, so we posed for a group shot, then everyone piled into the rafts. The rafts were made of hard rubber, and could carry 7 passengers. The guide sat at the back - it was his job to make sure the raft was headed in the right direction. Two male humans sat in the very front, their task was to assist the rudder in keeping us from hitting the rocks. The rest of us had paddles, too, and our job was to help keep the raft moving; by alternating paddles on the right or left side, it prevented us from tipping over.

The ride started out fairly smooth. The Queen was not very impressed, at first. The gentle singing of the water nearly lulled me to sleep. But just as I was beginning to nod off, we heard a loud rush of water. I tried to look up river to see what was coming up, but large boulders on the shore blocked my view. The water began swirling around the rocks, carrying us faster and faster through the rapids. Suddenly there was white capped peaks everywhere! The water slammed into the side of the raft, sending us spinning in a circle. I could barely hear the guide shouting directions to the men in front, as I struggled to paddle as fast as I could. "Paddles up!" our guide sang out. I pulled my paddle out of the water and clung to the center ring to keep from falling out of the raft. "Things are going to get a bit rough, so hang on."

Newt had barely time to change his grip when suddenly the raft dropped through the air. I turned to see what happened, and got a faceful of water for my efforts. Rocks jutted up through the white water like fins on a shark. I could see a large waterfall behind us that had an eight foot drop. As I sat in awe of the feat we had just accomplished, I had forgotten about my duty to paddle. Paddles down!" was the sharp rebuff from our guide. He obviously didn't know who I was, so we let it slide for the moment.
Paddling furiously, we narrowly missed a rock jutting up from the sandy brown bottom. As I glanced over my shoulder, I saw our companions raft hit the side of the rock we had just missed, and it tipped over, sending the occupants into the icy rapids. Our guide slowed our raft til he was sure our companions were okay, then we finished our ride down the river. It was very tiring, but exhilarating at the same time. Moments later, the second raft pulled in beside us. Good natured shots were exchanged as the navigators jibed one another, while others collected on their bets. True to their word, lunch was waiting for us at the end of the ride!

Friday, April 14, 2006 

Rafting Anyone?

Queenstown is well known for its challenging white water rafting, so when opportunity knocked, we answered the door. Our guide bet Newt that we would tip before reaching the end of the rapids. Newt couldn't pass up the bet, so it will be an exciting day. When the ride is over, we will all meet back at the hut for a classic kiwi lunch of barbecued lamb chops, sausages, and of course burgers.

First we must get our equipment: wetsuits, helmets, life preservers, and a paddle.

Next we all pile into a bus that will take us to the top of the hill. Catch that view out the window!

The constant chatter slowed to a few murmurs and we stared down at the long, winding river, the bus slowly climbing the hill. The white foamy peaks were spinning and frothing around its rocky bed. The water’s movements made me dizzy, and I began to have second thoughts about the impending journey. My thoughts wandered back to the pub the evening before, when we met some people from Ireland, here on holiday. Anxious to make new acquaintances, we had no trouble convincing them join us for the day. But the gauntlet had been thrown - damn Newt and his bets! It was time to put up or shut up. The rapids below were waiting to be conquered. “I can do this,” I muttered to no one in particular. And though it was not an impossible task, the whole idea smacked of drunken bravado.

Sunday, April 09, 2006 

Good to See Ya Mate!

We're so happy you could visit us here in Christchurch, the Garden City. Christchurch is located on the south island of New Zealand, and it's the most beautiful city we've ever seen. As we drifted over the top of the city, it was like looking at one big garden, though the snow has killed some of the more delicate plants. My pixies and I could sleep in a different flower every night, and never sleep in the same blossom twice! There are floral designs in the median strips made from different colored petunias with marigolds added for punch.

Things are very different here. Although it is the 21st century, the pace is very laid back, people are friendly and eager to help. We see lots of bus stops with people waiting to go into town, and flowers everywhere. That's good! We don't have to worry about transportation, and Newt doesn't have to worry about driving after spending the afternoon in one of the pubs. Just kidding, Newt.

Before we go off on any tangents, I want to show you the city of Christchurch. It's a bit too far to walk, so let's wait over here for the bus. We want the Riccarton Road bus. But even if we did walk, there's plenty of room for a group to walk together without pushing anyone off the sidewalk. Oh. There's the bus.

The homes are mostly brick with shutters and wrought iron fences, although some are using wood fences. Have you noticed? Most of the homes don't face the street, but instead, an exquisite English garden bursting with hollyhocks, foxgloves, and bluebells, greets visitors. Nearly everyone has a garden of some sort - lots of flowers and a few vegetable.

Okay, here we go - this is our stop, Cathedral Square.

I've noticed in our travels, that people sure spend a lot of money on their churches!

Anyway. This cathedral has to be the most ornate I've ever seen. Isn't it beautiful? I've heard that someone has a webcam on top. Maybe we can get a peek.

I see the wizard's here today.

Who's the wizard?

Well, it's a guy dressed up as a wizard. He's a regular here in the square. He's usually preaching to anyone who will listen. I couldn't tell you what he's saying - it all sounded like garbledy-gook to me. Faeries don't understand kiwi very well. I hear he has a website, though.

Do you like to play chess? This is a big chessboard, and anybody can play.
What do you think of those huge chess pieces?

If you're hungry, there's all sorts of stands that sell fish and chips, souvlaki, chicken, and anything else that you could think of. I highly recommend the souvlaki - you can get beef or lamb. Just walk toward the wizard, and you'll see the food stands.

It seems the big draw today in the square are three guys in a bed, suspended in the air, to protest world famine. There's always something neat going on here.