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"It's a good idea to obey all the rules when you're young just so you'll have the strength to break them when you're old." -- Mark Twain

New Zealand

378--New Zealand: The Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki
@ CherieSpotting     Mar 01 2007 - 05:23 PST
Cherie with the sculpted limestone sea stacks called "the Pancake Rocks" because the unique rock layers look like pancakes piled on top of each other.

Cherie with the sculpted limestone sea stacks called "the Pancake Rocks" because the unique rock layers look like pancakes piled on top of each other.

cherie writes: Marjo and I couldn’t resist going to Punakaiki, New Zealand because we couldn’t say the town name without bursting into giggles. In the lush river valley of Punakaiki, we turned into little girls. We stayed in our hostel’s “penguin room” and spent hours bouncing on the trampoline and making silly shapes with our shadows.

Then we ventured to the Tasman Sea and entered a strange limestone dimension formed by glorious erosion. We climbed amongst the sculpted sea-stacks called "the Pancake Rocks", admiring each layer of the 30-million year old pancakes. Of course, we ate "real" pancakes before our journey and brought a gallon of pancake syrup with us!

Finally, we hopped aboard the train. The 224-kilometer Tranz Scenic train journey between Greymouth and Christchurch is heralded as one of the most fantastic train rides in the world. In case the scenery was a disappointment, we assured ourselves a good time with wine, cheese and chocolate. Since Marjo is Dutch, we nibbled on Gouda cheese (although I still can't pronounce 'Gouda' the way the Dutch do—the they say "How-dah".) Sixteen tunnels and five viaducts later we arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand.
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377--New Zealand: the Charm of Akaroa
@ CherieSpotting     Feb 28 2007 - 11:57 PST
Cherie needs a little more lipstick to match her outrageous hair color.  Favorite comment: Did you do that on purpose?

Cherie needs a little more lipstick to match her outrageous hair color. Favorite comment: Did you do that on purpose?

cherie writes: Nestled in a volcanic crater, a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, NZ is the French/British settlement of Akaroa. The town lured us to its shores with its promises of charm and relaxation.

Trimmed with flowers and gardens, Akaroa is a place to simmer down and unwind. In fact the settlement has its own giant town cauldron (to simmer down in). Too bad we didn’t find any witches!

My Dutch friend Marjo and I let the town enchant us with its simplicity. We spent days exploring the hillsides, sipping wine and nibbling on cheese at little waterfront cafes. We even rented a moped and scooted around the shore. Let Akaroa seduce you:
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345--New Zealand: Cruising Cape Reinga in a Shagzda
@ CherieSpotting     Mar 25 2006 - 12:32 PST
Cruising Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea crashes into the Pacific Ocean, in the "Shagzda" MX-5.

Cruising Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea crashes into the Pacific Ocean, in the "Shagzda" MX-5.

cherie writes: What is an American doing with an Irishman in New Zealand in a car with the Union Jack on it? Exploring! My Irish buddy Hugh and I drove up the northern coast of New Zealand to Cape Reinga. The famous lighthouse at the Cape looks over the Columbia Bank, where the Pacific Ocean smashes into the Tasman Sea creating waves up to 30-ft high. Since Hugh and I didn’t want to boogie-board on waves taller than an apartment complex, we opted to boogie down the local sand dunes. Leave it to New Zealand to create an adrenaline-pumping sport out of a heap of sand! After we exfoliated our skin properly by rolling down the sand dunes, we headed for one of the longest beaches in the world.

Driving down the “official highway” of Ninety-Mile Beach (actually about 60-miles), we gave the car a refreshing salt-water splash in the Tasman Sea. It turned out to be our lucky day...not only did we avoid getting stuck, but we also found a Mercedes! You never know what treasures are waiting for you just beneath the sand.
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344--New Zealand: Minus 5, the Coolest Ice-Bar
@ CherieSpotting     Mar 22 2006 - 10:48 PST
Cherie at "Minus 5", a bar where everything is made of ice...even the "glasses" you drink from!

Cherie at "Minus 5", a bar where everything is made of ice...even the "glasses" you drink from!

cherie writes: If you want a unique experience you have to go to the coolest bar in town--Minus 5. Of course, inside the bar it's minus five degrees, so the bar loans you jackets, mittens, hat and shoes. If the clothes don't keep you warm, the delicious Absolute Vodka cocktails will.

Chill out at Minus 5 while sipping from your ice glass, as you admire the ice art, sitting on the ice furniture while photographing the ice sculptures. But don't come here before you get married...you are liable to get cold feet.
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343--New Zealand: Glacier meets Rainforest
@ CherieSpotting     Mar 21 2006 - 02:04 PST
Cherie ice-climbing on the Franz Josef Glacier.  One of the fastest flowing and steepest glaciers in the world, Franz Joseph moves 10 times faster than other valley glaciers.

Cherie ice-climbing on the Franz Josef Glacier. One of the fastest flowing and steepest glaciers in the world, Franz Joseph moves 10 times faster than other valley glaciers.

cherie writes: Franz Joseph Glacier surges down the narrow valley gap oozing forward at an astonishing rate of 2.5 meters a day. One of the fastest flowing and steepest glaciers in the world, Franz Joseph’s solid river of ice pours dramatically into a rainforest only 240 meters above sea-level. The glaciers flow-rate began exceeding the melt-rate in 2005, and the most recent advance of the glacier has attracted ice-climbers from all corners of the globe.

Colin, Dan, Sarah, and I took a guided day tour of the glacier. The labyrinth of absurd ice formations was mesmerizing. Glaciers, like English muffins, have lots of nooks and crannies. Find out more by clicking on Franz Josef Glacier Guides
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342--New Zealand: Sacred Waters of a Thermal Wonderland
@ CherieSpotting     Feb 04 2006 - 04:17 PST
Cherie near the Champagne pool of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. *Photo by Sarah.

Cherie near the Champagne pool of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. *Photo by Sarah.

cherie writes: The sacred waters of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland have enchanted the Mauri people for centuries. Nestled in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, Wai-O-Tapu is home to collapsed craters, swirling ink pots, bubbling champagne lakes, gurgling mud pools, erupting geyers, volcanic waterfalls, and crystallized sulphuric caves.

Colin, Sarah, Crystal and I spent the day letting the shocking colors of New Zealand's thermal wonderland dazzle our senses. For more info click on Thermal Wonderland
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341--New Zealand: Greetings from the Ngapuhi Warriors
@ CherieSpotting     Feb 02 2006 - 06:30 PST
Cherie became a part of the Ngapuhi tribe on Motu Maire in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  (I need to work on my bulgy eyes.)

Cherie became a part of the Ngapuhi tribe on Motu Maire in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. (I need to work on my bulgy eyes.)

cherie writes: The Ngapuhi believe that all things have a vital essense or "maori." To learn more about the beliefs of the Maori inhabitants of New Zealand I jumped aboard a waka (canoe) with a local Ngapuhi tribe. After meeting the chief and getting paddling lessons, I headed for the sacred island of Motu Maire to watch the "friendly warriors" perform a ritual welcoming ceremony.

After I was welcomed to the Ngapuhi tribe, the warriors greeted us with songs, prayers and chants. They waited patiently as a few tourists and I tried to come up with something to give them in return. We ended up singing "You are my sunshine" (since we didn't know the words to any another song except "row, row, row your boat".) Our poor singing skills may explain why the Ngapuhi warriors are sticking out their tongues in many of the photos. Click on Taiamai Tours to find out more.
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