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Archive for March, 2005

March 30th, 2005: 2:31 pm

Wow I only have about 5 minutes to rattle something off, so this will be pretty brief… we spent a few days in Melbourne.  It was a nice city, but there was nothing spectacular about it.  No major attractions either, so I cannot say that there was awesome things we did there.  They do have the Queen Victoria Market, which is over 100 years old, and that is very neat.  It is full of people selling souvenirs, produce, and meats.  And there is swarms of people.  The city also has a very well run tram system for public transport.

We are now in Sydney (as of yesterday), and will start exploring in the coming days.  Today we saw the Lord of the Rings exhibition that is wrapping up at the local museum, and it has some cool articles about how some of the movie was made, and how they carved up the New Zealand landscape to fit the movie scenes (and then restored it back after).  Believe it or not I actually haven’t seen the famous Opera House yet!  Other than in the postcards that are all over the place.

Got to run.

March 25th, 2005: 8:54 am

Once upon a time Chris went to a chocolate factory and bought chocolate cream eggs in the factory store.  Two days later, he got up at 3:45 am and flew to Australia.  Then at two in the afternoon he sat on his bed to rest his weary feet.  "Maybe I’ll eat a cream egg and then have a nap," he thought.  But sleep overcame him, and he awoke to find that he slept on the egg, which was now mushy and barely retaning its egg shape. 

The end.

In other words, there are not really any impressions to write about yet (but the egg might tell you otherwise).

March 23rd, 2005: 5:32 am

  Tomorrow we head out for Australia at the ripe time of 6:45am.  Don’t forget to check in two hours beforehand too.  Why bother sleeping tonight???

   New Zealand has been a fantastic place.  The buildings are a neat blend of old and new, with many splashes of colour, that make the buildings at home look boring.  The people are good humoured, and very friendly.  This actually suprised me, but makes sense as the country of this size is pretty tight knit.

   We logged about 1900 km (and 36 hours) of bus time, and the 100 km ferry across the Cook Strait.  Getting around is very easy, and can be done at decent prices once you are here, whether you want to bus, rent a car/van, or even buy a car for a short while.  As for accommodations, we mostly were in YHA Hostels across the country, which are very clean, and are used by young and old travellers alike.  Getting a Hostilling International membership (or something equivalent) is a good idea.

   The only thing is convenience food (snacks) were fairly pricey.  For what they are, their dollar is a little high on the currency conversion.  A 600 mL bottle of pop will be about $2.50NZ, and a chocolate bar or something like a small chips will be $1.50 to $2NZ.  But supermarket groceries have been comparable.

   So here’s the Australian checklist of what I hope to see, more or less:

  • koala
  • kangaroo
  • rugby (didnt see it here, but there is still hope)
  • boomerang
  • platypus
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Great Barrier Reef

   Oh and also, at work Chris M and Jon T are locked at 99 foosball wins each.  Who will walk away with 100 wins bragging rights?  I’ll be the last to know!


March 22nd, 2005: 9:26 am

We are currently deep in the South Pacific.  I am guessing that this may be as far south as I will ever be on this planet, but at least we saw….


The town of Oamaru was a major economic centre of 8,000 people in New Zealand in the mid to late 1800’s (current population 13,000).  Many of the same buildings still stand strong today, and are a reminder of the town’s Victorian-era developments.

In and around this town are some penguin colonies, and this is a definite must-see!  We had the priviledge of encountering two different kinds of penguins.  The first was a Yellow-Eyed Penguin.  There are 5000 remaining in existance, and this particular colony has 25 of them.  We got the good fortune to see 5 swim up to land and waddle into the brush just before dawn.  This was very exciting, as one of the things I wanted to see while in New Zealand was penguins.  These guys are about 70cm tall.  Next, and just after dawn, we went over to a blue penguin colony, and watched about 25 of these little guys (they are little — about 20-30 cm tall!) swim ashore and head up the rocks to their nests.  The blue penguins are interesting because they have a light blue coating on their backs.  They usually stick together in groups, so between 5 and 10 all went up in a pretty tight group!  (Check out more info at http://penguins.co.nz/ )

Christou and the Chololate Factory

Dunedin is home to the worlds steepest road (Baldwin Street, at a 37% grade), and is as far south as we will venture.  This town is home to a Cadbury Chocolate Factory, and they offer tours, complete with free samples!  Hey!  Who were we to argue?  So for two days prior, this was all we were talking about.  It was pretty interesting, and even outside on the street beside the factory it smells like chocolate.  Here is some of the neat things we were told:

  • 10,000 (regular size) chocolate bars are created and packaged per hour
  • New Zealand’s "energy" chocolate bar called Morro is consumed at a rate of one bar every 2-4 seconds
  • Easter chocolate is produced between the months of June-January.  It is a major portion of their business!
  • http://www.cadbury.co.nz/cadburyworld/visit.html


Having seen Penguins, I will have at least one item checked off on my list (Penguins, Kiwis, Rugby).  We never got to see any Kiwi birds.  This flightless nocturnal creature, I am beginning to think, is a New Zealand legend that is used to fool tourists.

Observations: You know how your grandma’s house has those awkward sinks with separate faucets for the hot and cold water, and they are rammed right up by the edge of the sink, so that you cannot fit your hands under the water?  Every sink in this country is like that!!!

March 19th, 2005: 11:20 am

  I read this book mostly during the plane flight over to New Zealand, and liked it a lot.  It is one person’s recollection of growing up in North Korea, and a prison camp which many are subject to in that country.  I am pretty curious about how things are run in North Korea, mostly because it is pretty close curtained to the rest of the world, and this book provided a curious insight.  Here is a link to this book on Amazon.ca

March 17th, 2005: 6:51 am

We have spent a few days around Wellington, New Zealand. Not doing too much, but we did go to the National Museum (Te Papa Museum – http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/Tepapa/English ) which is six floors of various and interesting displays. The neat thing is that the museum is free! Good stuff…

The other thing we saw was the Wellington Zoo. They have some interesting animals from Africa there, but sadly (and humorously for me) the pinnacle of that afternoon was when Tiffany and I saw a giraffe smelling another giraffe’s bum, and we were standing there laughing like idiots. But whatever, it was funny to us.

Tomorrow we head down to the South Island on what is supposed to be a very scenic ferry ride.