Australia and new zealand photos
Trip Start Nov 02, 2003
70Trip End Feb 14, 2006
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Other than my sometimes rough reintegration into 'civilization,' though, the trip really was great. It started with a night at the apartment of Avril Alba, a staff member at my university's Hillel until my junior year; it was really nice to see her, and to spend the day at the outdoor mall near her house! My parents and sister arrived the next day, and we flew on to Auckland, NZ. My mother adored Auckland, but in all honesty, I best remember the grocery store. :c) After a day in Auckland, we drove to a city called Rotorua by way of some glowworm caves, filled with incredible little buggers, found only in New Zealand, that glow blue to attract the tiny flying things they eat. The caves reminded me of a planetarium with blue stars - just gorgeous.
Rotorua features bubbling hot springs and geysers (the smell of which had my family gagging, but I didn't notice) and a great Maori cultural show. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, and unlike their counterparts in the US and Australia, they are completely integrated and celebrated in white NZ culture. Lots of signs on the north island, which has 90% of the Maori population, are in both English and Maori and, in Rotorua, we stumbled on an outdoor concert that featured both popular (NZ Idol winners, for one) and Maori acts, and that drew about the entire population of the town. It's a great model for how things should be in other parts of the world.
From Rotorua, we flew to Queenstown, a ridiculous but quite fun tourist trap on the south island
We rented a car in Queenstown and drove north along the west coast, a beautiful (if slightly harrowing) trip as my father negotiated the left lane of winding mountain roads. Our destination was a tiny town that's the base point for trips to climb Fox Glacier, a half-day hike that includes wearing cramp-ons (metal boot attachments that dig into the ice) - I felt so cool! The hike was deemed too rigorous for my parents, but Jen and I had a good time, particularly getting photos with one of the ice picks the guides use to carve temporary steps into the glacier. The best part for me, though, was the glacier's blue glow - I could have stared for hours longer.
We then took a cross-island train to Christchurch, a lovely city on the east coast that made me really nostalgic for Cambridge. We looked at the botanical gardens and greenhouses, then found a teddy bear picnic and it was Jen's turn to be nostalgic.
From Christchurch, we flew to Melbourne, where we took a couple of day trips out to kangaroo and koala country
After the day trips, we made a three-day loop to small towns along the coast near Melbourne, where we saw lots more kangaroos, wallabies, and silver-crested cockatoos.
We also stopped every few miles along the coast to check out a different water-carved rock formation, most of them arches with the ocean spectacularly running around and through them. Our last night in Melbourne, I dragged my family on a search for Jewish food, which I'd been craving my whole time in Madagascar, and reveled in the matzo ball soup and blintzes we finally found in a German restaurant.
My sister then flew to Sydney for her semester abroad orientation and my parents and I flew to Cairns, in the northeast of Australia
From Cairns, my parents and I flew to Sydney and met up with my sister. We got to see her room (in the Jewish dorm) in her school for the semester, the University of New South Wales. The school is huge but lovely, close to great beaches and downtown Sydney
My parents flew out a day before I did, and I spent the last afternoon with Jen at Bondi Beach and the last evening at a Mexican restaurant (something that would make a killing off Madagascar PCVs if one existed in this country.) Saying goodbye to all three of them was really tough, but I had one more night of vacation to look forward to: a paid-for layover in Mauritius, courtesy of the country's airline. Incredibly, they put me up in a gorgeous hotel right on the beach (with craggy green mountains framing the view) with buffet dinner and breakfast thrown in. The rooms also received South African tv, so I watched an episode of Kelly Osborne's My So-Called Life-esque teen drama and actually enjoyed it. On the Sydney-Mauritius flight, I'd noticed a young man wearing a Madagascar tee-shirt and made friends with him and his fiancée, who both work in Tana; they had the same layover, so we swam in the ocean and had our meals together, which was great.
Then back to Tana and Peace Corps
The last thing I wanted to mention is that the internet connection at my site is down, so I won't be able to respond to emails as quickly as I used to. Keep writing, though, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
And now, some legalese:
The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are those of one individual Peace Corps Volunteer. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor.