My family and I visited the Australian continent in (our) summer 2008 (after my sister graduated high school yay!). We flew from Houston to Los Angeles (spent a few days there visiting my mum’s cousins/my uncles) and then Los Angeles to Auckland (14 hours of pure pain). I’m afraid of the ocean. Also, I have motion sickness. So, a 14 hour plane ride suspended over the Pacific Ocean for most of the time is not my idea of fun. Nope. I think I repressed the memory because I don’t really remember if I was extremely sick afterwards.
However, the reason we decided upon New Zealand (except for the fact that Lord of the Rings was filmed there, duh!) was because my aunt (my dad’s sister) lives in Auckland. Howick to be exact. Her house was in the cutest most New Zealand-like neighborhood ever. The houses were mostly dark wood & glass and the suburban streets were all perched upon hills. It was the NZ winter, but I don’t remember it being extremely cold. It was nice. And that’s coming from a native Houstonian–where we don’t really have winter.
As soon as we got acquainted with our cousins (We hadn’t seen them in 9 years! Can you believe it?), we headed off to see this crater. I had to do a google search to find the name, Mount Eden
. It was a really confusing thing for my jet-lagged self to see. At this point, I hadn’t really seen any geologic formation quite like this (later on I go to Hawaii & Yellowstone National Park to get schooled on all that), so I was pretty amazed at the fact that there was once a volcano here.
There’s no way my aunt could’ve known about the coffee shop obsession I would develop years down the line, but maybe she did? Because she took us to Cafe Paris
— a quirky coffee shop (that still exists!) in Howick (the area of Auckland they live in). I seriously wish I had kept a diary back then, but I didn’t so I don’t remember my thoughts on this place. Or this trip really. (This justifies me starting a blog now before I forget everything!)
I’m not sure where the next pictures are from (a beach in Auckland I guess), but I apologize in advance for my ridiculous jumping photos. I was an enthusiastic teen. I loved jumping photos.
I remember being amazed by this next place. Cathedral Cove was used in Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian when the Pevensies re-enter Narnia. I recognized it immediately because I think I watched the movie on the plane ride over. I love seeing filming locations IRL. It is SO WEIRD and awesome–basically an inexplicable feeling. It increases your connection to the film, even if you didn’t especially care for it before (like with me and Prince Caspian).
We basically were driving around the north island of New Zealand, seeing the sights. I remember it was very stress-free for my family and me because our aunt & uncle were taking care of all the planning, lodging, driving and food. It was a first since usually the Singh Family vacations are a whirlwind all planned by my mum (up until my sister & I got old enough to plan them, of course).
Okay, let me tell you about this giant statue of a soft drink we’re standing next to. This is called Lemon & Paeroa. My cousins (They are the two pictured on the right, I am the stunning vision in a Harvard sweatshirt and hideous waterproof capri shorts. My sister is the one with the long hair.) were saying that this L&P is a soda that’s pretty common among the Kiwis (“Kiwi” is a term used to describe the national bird, of which I bought a stuffed animal, as well as the citizens of the island. Oh and delicious green fruit with furry brown skin.) Anyway, finally my sister and I tried L&P and it was pretty damn good. For some reason, I can’t remember what it tasted like anymore–apparently lemony & tingly
? I looked up some stuff about it and apparently this big bottle statue
is in the town of Paeroa (where the drink was born). It was created originally from lemon juice & carbonated mineral water from the town. Anyway, I can apparently go to Gourmet Burger Kitchen (a Kiwi chain in London) and find it there. Seriously, I love when there are food items that are extremely commonplace in specific English-speaking countries. Like Scotland and its Irn Bru (more on that in my Scotland post).
As you can see, we got kind of outdoorsy! You can’t go to NZ and just sit around. Unless you’re in a kayak while you’re doing it. That’s my Papa doing most of the work and me slightly cheesing for the camera.
Random parrot outside of a tourist info place I think?
My first time seeing sulfur springs! AND my first time SMELLING them. Boy was I not prepared for that. To this day, my parents and I always argue about the pronunciation of ‘geyser’ because the tour guide dude back on August 9th 2008 (thank you, timestamp) made fun of the way Americans say it. However, my family is weird because my parents are Indians who grew up in Catholic schools while I’m basically an American who grew up with these parents with weirdo accents. So, we don’t really say geyser the American way but what is the RIGHT way?? Nobody cares.
I feel like this is Rotorua. Probably. Rotorua is where we went to the top of a hill on a cable car and then came down on a LUGE! I don’t have pictures, but it was sooo fun and I had never heard of it. It’s go-karting but for the nature-lovers. As you can see below, you get a view & a thrill.
The cool ~~different~~ fun didn’t stop there. My sister & I went ZORBING after that. What is Zorbing you ask? Basically your’e in a soft plastic Hamster-ball esque sphere. The inner sphere that holds you is full of water (not FULL, you have to breath of course. It’s just lubrication.) and then they push you down a hill! I’m surprised I wasn’t more scared, but my sister was in that ball with me, so it was okay. She’s a bit of a daredevil though. She later goes on to swim with sharks (see my Hawaii post for that). Anyway, it was also extremely fun and something I still talk about. I’ll never forget the rush. I wish the hill were steeper & longer!
Ah, ever the trend-follower with my sideswept bangs and semi-flared jeans. Oh MAN I loved that knockoff Dolce & Gabbana bag I bought from Chinatown in NYC the winter before. I still like that jacket though!
We went to this botanical garden in NZ and it was just a gorgeous day (as all the days kind of had been?) and my mum has a green thumb. So, we spent some time walking around looking at cool flowers (even in the winter). It reminded me of the botanical gardens we had gone to in Vancouver a few years before.
That’s the end of my New Zealand adventure! I definitely recommend for families and basically anyone–I want to go back and visit Wellington & the other island. There’s something for everyone to enjoy (beach, hills, mountains, city) and people are extra friendly.
Not to fear, we weren’t done down under yet. We headed to Australia right afterward and a blog post for that will be coming very soon.