Our Travel Blog
We flew to Christchurch, New Zealand on the 2nd of June, just in time to make it there for our 1st wedding anniversary!  During our first night (of the 2nd) we slept in the airport because it was very late by the time we arrived and collected our bags (see www.sleepinginairports.com to have more information on the quality of the airport you intend to spend a night in).  Besides that it was also far warmer than camping outdoors.  Our arrival to the South Island of New Zealand coincided with the start of colder winter weather - lucky us!!!  The next morning we booked into a very cold backpacker place which was simply an older house converted into a hostel.  Thankfully we were given a heater with no problems.  Here we met an interesting young couple from the Czech Republic and a young man from the Netherlands.  During the day we visited the town square and a museum of art where a multi-cultural music exhibit was performed.  
We spent our 3rd evening in Christchurch visiting with friends at a Bahá'í devotional gathering.  Afterwards we spent the night in another cold house where we were hosted by a hospitality club member.  We were learning that the houses in New Zealand were mostly built with single pane glass windows which would explain why they were mostly very cold on the inside, sometimes colder than the out side!!  Thankfully, the warmth of the people was there to take care of us!
From Christchurch we made our way to Picton in one evening, from where we would catch the ferry to Wellington on the North Island the next afternoon.  New Zealand is actually composed of two islands called the North Island and the South Island, the first one being the smallest, the most populated and the warmest, while the latter has colder winters, is much less populated and is much bigger having a mountain range through the middle of it called "the Alps".  That was our first night to camp outside under the clear, cool sky.  The next afternoon we were able to enjoy an amazing view of the New Zealand coast from the ferry.  
Wellington is the capital city of the country but is the second biggest town of New Zealand after Auckland, where we were heading to to meet with some Bahá'í friends.  We camped out again in Wellington under very windy, clear skies, followed by Taupo, a town in the center of the North Island bordering a big lake, under cold, drizzly skies.  We made it to Auckand by the 8th of June, where we stayed with friends for 5 days and visited several activities among the Bahá'í community.  One of them being a memorial service of His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, King of the Samoa Islands, who passed away on the 11th of May 2007. (Samoa is a group of islands situated in the pacific ocean between New Zealand and Hawaii).  This king, who was the eldest monarch in exercise in the world, died in his 95th year.  He was a member of the Bahá'í Faith, the second royal person (after Queen Mary of Romania) to become Bahá'í.  Many pacific islander Bahá'ís who happen to live in Auckland were present and it was a very intense moment to hear their choir.  While in Auckland, we also visited one of the numerous extinct volcanoes in Auckland, and the local museum.
From Auckland, having found a relatively cheap flight to Dunedin, we flew back to the South Island, where we stayed for 2 nights before making our way to Queenstown.  Our first night in Dunedin was spent with a member of the hospitalityclub.org, who showed us around the town the next day.  As he knew also the Bahá'ís (!!), we spent the second night in Dunedin with a local Bahá'í family.  The next morning we headed out for Queenstown, passing some of the most beautiful mountainous scenery on the way.  We made it to Queenstown by the early afternoon in the beautiful sunshine.  It is a small town at the foot of the mountains that becomes very populated when the winter sport season starts.  People come from Japan, the US, Australia and many other places, to spend some vacation time or the season, to ski, to surf, to do some paragliding or to do the famous "bungey jump" (we have been told that it is from this town that the sport started) or simply trekking in the heart of the Alps!  The town is located on the shores of a very tranquil lake and host to many friendly birds, mostly ducks, who enjoy the close company of all of the tourists with food.  By chance we met the right person by internet (someone owning a hotel) and we stayed in a hotel room for a very low fee for our one night in Queenstown.  
The next day we left Queenstown for Haast.  We passed some very scenic crown landscapes on the way through Wanaka to Haast.  We actually waited very long for our ride to Haast.  We persisted just a little bit longer into the evening and were fortunate enough to have someone who happened to be going directly there, pick us up.  We camped out during that night in the tent.  It was very cold this time.  The next morning we started walking from Haast, in the direction of Fox Glacier, our next destination, and not one vehicle passed us for 45 minutes.  The road along the west coast of New Zealand was much less travelled.  Fortunately, the first vehicle that did pass, picked us up.  It was a camper van with a young Australian family who dropped us off at Fox Glacier.
We spent the late morning at the site of the magnificent blue sided glacier.  New Zealand actually has some glaciers that are almost at sea level which is a very uncommon occurrence on our planet and knowing the problems of global warming, you would surely guess that soon this type of glacier will unfortunately not exist anymore...
We then tried our luck at getting a ride out of the small town of Fox Glacier and ended up that evening in the warm house of a man who picked us up on his way home to Ross. He let us stay in his spare bedroom!  He was very hospitable and we were very thankful for not having to spend the night camping out in the cold.  From the very small town of Ross on the west coast of the South Island, we made it back to Christchurch on the east coast on the same day in the late afternoon!!!  This trip took us through the very picturesque mountainous route, through Arthur's Pass.  It was here that we met up with the alpine parrots who were not in the least bit shy.  We were told that they would eat the rubber off of your car when you weren't looking!!
It was in Christchurch that we spent our last two nights in the country.  The first one was at the Bahá'í friends we met when we arrived in Christchurch and went to the devotional meeting, and the second night was spent in the Christchurch airport since we were flying very early in the morning of the 20th June to Sydney in Australia.  
You must certainly have understood with all our descriptions and comments, that our impression of New Zealand was so positive that we have already decided to go back there someday!  It is probably the most beautiful country that we have ever visited together.  It is not by mistake that the movie the Lord of the Rings was filmed there!
A year ago, we were thinking of celebrating our first wedding anniversary in France, amidst our friends.  As it did not happen this way, let's say our party will happen sometime in the future!
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Beautiful New Zealand!
Queenstown scenery, South Island, New Zealand.

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