A Travellerspoint blog

Rotten Eggs

sunny 79 °F

Since I had a very busy day on Saturday I decided to take it a bit easy today. The tour left Rotorua to Taupo and we left around 9:00 AM. Of course I woke up with bruises all over my body because of all the activities on Saturday....as one guy from Ireland put it "I bruise like a fruit"......which is so true.

First stop on the tour today was Wai-O-Tapu Geo Thermal Reserve. This is the largest boiling mud pool in New Zealand. This was a mud volcano that was washed away by a flood. The smelled like rotten eggs....actually maybe worse.
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The tour then stopped off at Lady Knox National Geyser. This geyser errupts at 10:15 AM daily. This geyser is 150 years old.
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For lunch we stopped at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. This has the largest area of surface thermal activity of any hydro thermal system. I took an 1 hour walk thru the termal wonderland. I saw many craters and different color pools. This place also smelled like rotten eggs.
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After lunch the tour stopped at Huka Falls on the Waikato River which throws over 200,000 liters of water a second. Instead of seeing the falls from the bridge I went on a jet broat ride to the the falls up close and personal. The boat goes 65 - 70 kl per hour and does 360 degree turns. Nigel was our boat driver and during one of the wicked turns a girl got smacked right in the noggin.
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Finally the tour arrived at Taupo and some of us headed to the lake for an afternoon swim. This by far has been the most beautiful scenery of the trip. The lake being surrounded by snow caped mountains....just beautiful. The water was a bit chilly but quite refreshing.
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Everything in New Zealand seems to shut down around 4 or 5 PM....so the only thing to do is eat and drink. A bunch of us headed to Mulligans bar with our tour guide Rick for a food and drink special.

I know I am a bit behind on my posts but the internet connection has not been the greatest. I am hoping to post more tonight. I have tons more to post. Also, if you want to check out the video I posted the other day the sound is now working.

Posted by hmccurdy 00:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

I am being Lazy....and well I deserve to be.

sunny 83 °F

Sorry the video for some reason did not have sound when I posted it yesterday. Click on the below link and it should work now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m156XBR82M&feature=email

I am hoping I find some time tomorrow (Tuesday here in New Zealand) to update on what I did on Sunday and Monday. Sorry I am just being lazy...because I have been a busy girl.

Posted by hmccurdy 03:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (5)

Have you ever walked across a field in a Wetsuit before?

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Kia Ora (I wish you good health or hello. It is customary to say this back pronounces keyaura), I have made it safely to New Zealand! I actually landed Friday night so Saturday was my first official day in The Land of the Long white Cloud. I started my day off in Auckland by stopping at Mt. Eden which is a dormant volcano and the highest point of Auckland City with a huge 50 meter deep crater.
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After I stopped at Mt. Eden the tour proceeded to Rotorua. On the way to Rotorua we traveled through Waikato which is a dairy farming district. New Zealand has more cattle then the actual population. New Zealand has 4 million people, 5.1 million cattle, 40 million sheep, 1 million deer, and 80 million possums. So Dad I think this is the place for you.

We stopped at the shearing rabbit place near Rotorua. We saw an angora rabbit getting sheared. I was a bit disturbed by it then I realized the rabbit was not being harmed. I was goofing around outside of the sheering place imitating the rabbit they had outside. CIMG1829.jpg

Once we reached Rotorua I went Black Water Rafting. Before I could go Black Water Rafting I had to put on a wetsuit, booties, and a cave helmet. Let me tell you I was one sexy girl in that wetsuit and booties.
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The tour contained 8 of us and two tour guides. After we had our gear on to go Caving and Black Water rafting we had to get into a van and drive to a top of some hill. When we got to the hill the tour guide said it was now time to take a 1 mile walk to the caves…..my initial thought was “hello we are in wetsuits it is about 80 some degrees out and you want me to walk a mile in these boots across an open field with no shade……he must be joking????” No joke…because that is what we did.
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Let me tell you it was awesome once we got to the caves. I saw tons of glow worms and then we did a great deal of hiking through the caves. It was a good thing we had those wetsuits because I was informed that the water was about 12 degrees Celsius (I am too tired to do the math to find out what that is in farenheight...all I know it was cold). Our tour guides asked if anyone was claustrophobic and nobody was so he picked a guy on the tour John who was from Ireland to lead out group through a very long opened tunnel that leads to a waterfall. I literally had to crawl through the muddy water for a few minutes like I was in boot camp to get to the waterfall because we could not stand. I still had a smile on my face though.
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After we saw the waterfall we had to go back through the small tunnel to get back to our tour guides to finish the tour. At this point is when the rafting began (FINALLY). The rafting was basically floating in a cave raft. I jumped a waterfall and then went down a slide at the end. 29_Nov_12pm_030.jpg
After the Black Water Rafting, I headed onto to Roturua.

At Rotorua I went to a Maori cultural show and that was very impressive. This basically gave me an authentic introduction to Maori culture. I saw warriors in traditional dress and watched them do the poi dance. There tattoos that they have on their bodies are significant because it tells a story of that worries life. I had a traditional hangi meal which was cooked in the ground all day. I took video of the entire ceremony and took many pictures. I will only post a few of them.
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Saturday was action packed and just thinking about it I have done so much and it is only day one of my adventure in Northern New Zealand.

Sunday I am heading to Taupo which is still in the North Island. I am planning on visiting a thermal reserve which has geysers, hot pools and boiling mud. I will also be stopping at Huka Falls on the Waikato River for some boating near the falls. I am hoping tomorrow does not involve walking across an open field with a wetsuit on.

Posted by hmccurdy 03:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Schoolies

semi-overcast 78 °F

Schoolies
I finally made it to the Gold Cost beach to Surfer’s Paradise after work today. When I got to the beach I noticed a great deal of high school students. It was brought to my attention that it is Schoolies week at the Gold Coast. Schoolies week is an Australian tradition for high school seniors after finals are over to head to the Gold Coast for what they call a holiday. Back home this is basically senior week when everyone went to Ocean City. I walked thru some of the stores and had enough of all the schoolies. I then took a walk on the beach. From what I understand Surfer's Paradise used to be known for Surfing. The beach had some nice waves and there were some surfer's out. They only recommend going in the ocean when flags and lifegaurds are posted. You should only swim in between the flags because that means that area of the beach is safe. Australia also has nets in the ocean to keep the sharks out of the swimming/beach area. I put my feet in the water and somehow ended havin gwater to my knees. After a nice walk on the beach I stopped for some fish at a local fish place near the Gold Coast. I have attached some pictures from Surfer’s Paradise.
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My trip to Oz is about over. I am heading to New Zealand on Friday afternoon to begin my journey all over Northern and Southern New Zealand. I have enjoyed the time that I had to explore parts of Australia. I definitely want to come back too much to see and do and not enough time. I will write when I can from New Zealand.

Hugs and Love from FAR FAR Away.

Posted by hmccurdy 03:48 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Botanical Gardens and Kangaroo Point

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Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I started my trainin in Brisbane on Monday so I have not had much time to go exploring. I did have an opportunity to make it to the Subtropical Botanical Gardens before work one morning this week. They have many weddings in these gardens throughout the year. The gardens have different themes and also geographical displays. I have attached a few pictures from the garden.
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Below is a picture of a carving that was in the garden. I thought it was very different.
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I have only seen one tree here in Australia with some color...which I find odd.
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While I was in the botanical garden I had a friend crawl right over my feet….which made me freak out a bit! See picture below.
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On Wednesday I actually went to dinner in Chinatown and had some amazing Chinese. After dinner I went to Kangaroo Point to see the Brisbane Skyline at night. I am not sure why they name it Kangaroo Point because I did not see any Kangaroos. The view was amazing. There is a park and also a nice trail for runners, bikers, and also they have rock climbing available.
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On Thursday after work I am heading to the Gold Coast to check out some beaches. Thursday will be my last night in Australia then headed to the land of Kiwi's in New Zealand. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and a nice long weekend.

Posted by hmccurdy 04:26 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Random Things about Australia

sunny 84 °F

I have noticed a few things about Australia:

1. Ketchup – I ordered a Cheeseburger and Fries (or Chips as they call it) the other day. When I asked for Ketchup the woman looked at me like I had 4 heads. She brought me some tomato sauce which had no taste at all. It was basically watered down ketchup. I am not sure how people here eat fries without real ketchup.

2. Happy People – Everyone that I have encountered here is so darn happy and pleasant. I have come to find out that Australia has about 300 days of sunshine. Now if we had that many days of sunshine I am sure we would all be a bit more pleasant.

3. Food - Everything here is in very small portions. I went to a fast food place in the airport because I was starving. I ordered a drink and a sandwich. Well when I got the drink is was basically what the size of a kid’s cup that we get back home. Also, when purchasing a soda they do not have plastic bottles the soda comes in a small glass bottle which is about 8 ounces. They also do not believe in free refills here.

4. Skinny People – I have not come across many overweight people here in Australia. I think this has to relate to the small portions of food. Also, there are so many outdoor activities here which I am sure helps…..plus all the nice weather.

5. City – Basically Brisbane shuts down around 6 PM. I am not sure why but all tourist attractions and shopping close around 5 or 6 PM. Basically all you can do after 6 PM is eat and drink. I found out other cities in Australia are opened a bit later like Melbourne and Sydney.

Posted by hmccurdy 00:51 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Weekend in Australia - Part 2

sunny 77 °F

Sunday I did the most amazing thing I went to Springbrook National Park which is part of the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia. I had to walk to another hotel just up the street to get picked up. We left Brisbane around 7:30 and headed out towards the Gold Coast to pick up some other people for the tour. The park is about a 1 ½ hours from Brisbane. Once we got into the park we stopped to have tea before our long walk. I think Aussie's are bing on breaking for tea and cookies. I do not understand drinking hot beverages when it is so hot outside but I went along with it anyway.

We headed on our long walk into the rainforest. My tour guide Nevel the very first thing he talked about were all the poisonous plants and animals in the rainforest. He showed us a leaf that has little needles on the one side of it. If you accidentally touch the leaf you will have sharp pain for about a year where the leaf touched you on your skin. He also talked about the many poisonous snakes and spiders that we might come across. One of the most deadly snakes is the red-bellied black snake. If the snake happens to bite you, you have about an hour to live if you do not get treatment right away. Another deadly snake is the brown snake and this snake is the second most venomous snake in the world. The brown snake is very aggressive. If this snake bites you; you have only about 30 minutes to live without treatment. Nevel told me that 3 people died last year from snake bites in Australia. I was very careful what I was touching and what was around me at all times on this tour. Luckily I did not have the opportunity to see one of these snakes.

This park has many cliffs and waterfalls. We walked about 7 miles on the walking tracks throughout the park.
I took so many pictures today that I cannot include them all. The waterfalls in this park are simply breathtaking….the pictures do not do it justice. So here are just a few I picked out. Enjoy.
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I had the opportunity to feed some birds. Which for me is huge……my mom’s side of the family has this fear of birds for some reason….I am not afraid of them I just don’t like them. The birds really seemed to like me because they kept flying around me for some reason. I had one sitting on my head but a girl on the tour with me couldn’t get a picture in time. I just wanted the thing off of me so it wouldn’t poop in my hair.
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At the end of the day we went into a glow worm cave. We were not allowed to take pictures of the glow worms because it would disturb them. Basically when looking at the glow worms it almost looks like a bunch of bright stars. The glow in the worms is produced from an organ which I was told is equivalent to a human kidney. A female glow worm produces 130 worms and it takes 10 days for the glow worms to hatch the female glow worm will then die shortly after. In caves the insects light up at any time of the day or night. Outdoor glow-worms start glowing shortly after dark and usually shine all night.

Before we headed back into Brisbane we stopped at a fudge store. I of course got two pieces of fudge I couldn’t resist. I must say today was an amazing day walking in the rainforest.

Posted by hmccurdy 16:02 Archived in Australia Tagged ecotourism Comments (4)

Weekend in Australia - Part 1

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My original plan this weekend was to go out to the Great Barrier Reef on Saturday. Well my trip was cancelled because of weather. Something about 30 knots. So instead I went on a Hop on Hop off City Sights tour of Brisbane. Some of the highlights of the tour were the Windmill which was built by convicts in 1828; this was the first industrial building in Brisbane.
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Suncorp Stadium is where the World Cup Rugby game was held Saturday night. Australia vs. New Zealand and Australia was favored. New Zealand actually won 34-20 and this was their first Rugby League World Championship. From what I understand Australia has won the last 6 World Cups in a row. So you can say that there was a lot of unhappy Aussie's walking around today.
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One of my favorite parts of the tour was going to Mt. Coot-tha which has beautiful views of the city. Mt. Coot-tha has a restaurant, bar, and gift shop at the overlook. I had a drink and sat up there for a good hour just enjoying the view. I am sure at night it is spectacular. If I have some time at night this week I definately want to go back and see the view. Here are just a few pictures that I took from the overlook.
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Posted by hmccurdy 00:10 Archived in Australia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Koala Bears, Dingoes and Croc's........Oh My!

sunny

Okay, so I am a bit depressed. Some of you may be wondering how could I possibly be depressed being in Australia in 88 degree weather? Well let me tell you why…… I didn’t watch the Steeler game. Let me rephrase that I couldn’t watch. Can you believe that Steeler Nation hasn’t opened up a Pittsburgh Steeler bar in Australia? The nerve, I thought for sure someone could get the NFL ticket half way across the world. NOPE. My friend Grant would tell me that I have let the city down. I know Grant I am ashamed. Not only did I miss one game but I will miss the next two. I hope Hines won’t be too upset with me for not being able to watch.

Yesterday I wondered what could possibly cheer me up…..then it came to me that I needed a hug from a Koala Bear. So I headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and see some real Australian animals. The Lone Pine Sanctuary has over 130 Koala Bears. The one that I got to hug his name is Tigger. Holding Tigger was one of the coolest things I have ever done. Tigger was very soft and he really clung onto me. I must admit I was a bit nervous holding him because I was afraid I might drop him. Then I realized this koala is not going anywhere once he has a hold of me. I really wanted to bring him home but I do not think customs would approve. Oh well.
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I also fed some Kangaroos. This might have been the strangest part of the day. All these kangaroos were just hanging out in an open field. I bought some feed at the gift shop. I was a bit hesitant at first after I saw one of them hoping across the field. I figured my luck one would knock me over. I sat and watched some people feed the kangaroos for a bit. I then decided I had nothing to be worried about. I held my hand out flat to one of the kangaroos and he ate it right up. I just couldn’t get over these kangaroos there were at least 30 to 40 kangaroos in this open field. Some were just lying around while others hopped all over the place. I guess they are used to humans by now.

I went over to the Tasmanian devils for a bit however one of the staff at the sanctuary said they were just delivered to the zoo yesterday and have been underground ever since. Oh well. I then went over to the dingoes to see if they were out and about. They have two dingoes one was up and moving around and the other was sleeping. One of the staff people told me that they one dingoes are very gentle while the other one is a bit feisty.
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The sanctuary also has the world’s first artificially inseminated koala bear. I felt bad for this koala because he was in a cage all by himself. The sanctuary had tons of birds but I am not a big fan of birds so I sort of breezed right thru that section. I saw a few other animals such as crocodiles, wombats and possums. I took a lot of video which for some reason I cannot upload to the website right now. So I will have to share those later.
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Posted by hmccurdy 02:03 Archived in Australia Tagged animal Comments (4)

Danger Left-hand Side

sunny 88 °F

Let’s just start this entry off by noting that my mother probably thought that most dangerous thing I would consider doing on this trip would be bungee jump or jump out of a plane. Well mom I think you should have probably been more concerned with something else. I drove….now that is dangerous. I drove for a total of 30 minutes or so...now please take a moment to remember that in this country they drive on the left side of the road. Driving here is like learning to drive all over again -- especially because the controls are on opposite sides too...turn signal on the RIGHT. It's practically inconceivable. It's a damn good thing they don't switch gas and brakes (the only thing they don't switch...), otherwise accidents would definitely occur.

Anyway, I was a Rockstar, although every time I made a turn I had to keep telling myself "think left think left think left" and then pray to god that I am actually on the correct side of the road.

The left-side-driving thing has another interesting effect: people walk on the left-hand side of the sidewalk/other walkways here. So I am always running into people (I know this might not shock the people that really know me well since I tend to be a klutz). But of course, the few times I remember to stay to the left as a walker, I inevitably come across other people who are for some reason staying to the right -- Rebels? Americans? Idiots? Who knows. Walking here is hard.
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Posted by hmccurdy 23:56 Archived in Australia Tagged transportation Comments (3)

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