On January 15, 2003 I left Boston Massachusetts and headed for a night in Los Angeles before continuing on to New Zealand.
After spending the day on the West Coast of the U.S., it was time for fly to New Zealand. It’s a 12 ½ hour flight from LAX to Auckland.
After arriving in Auckland, I had to catch a flight to Nelson. Tony and Katrina were at the airport in Nelson waiting for me. After leaving home on Wednesday afternoon, it was suddenly Saturday morning.
After arriving in Nelson we drove out to Abel Tasman National to do a hike along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which is a great walk. For the next 3 days, we hiked along the coast and stayed at spectacular campsites along the beach. After 3 days on the trail, we headed back to Nelson for a few days before Katrina had to fly out.
We decided that it was time to do some wine, so we made the trek to Marlborough, which was about 120km from Nelson.
The next day (Thursday, January 23), Katrina had a noon flight from Nelson back to Auckland and from there back home. We saw Katrina off at the airport then started the 6 ½ hour drive south to Christchurch.
The city of Christchurch is the largest on the South Island with a population of 331,400. Tony is a student at Lincoln University, which is near Christchurch.
On Saturday, January 25, we flew to Auckland to start our adventure on the North Island. We rented a car and put a lot of kilometers on it. That night we drove to Tauranga for the Creedence Clearwater Revival concert.
The next day we drove south east to the city of Napier.
Hawke Bay is also the location for one of the largest wine producing regions, so we sampled some of the wine, of course. One of our goals was to find a place that would be showing the Super Bowl. As you might guess, American Football is not a sport that anyone follows in New Zealand. This was actually Monday at noon, because of the time difference.
After the game, we drove south (towards Wellington) to a town called Masterton (population 19,900). We spent the night there and the next day got some supplies for a 3 day backpack trip to Mt. Holdsworth.
After the backpacking trip, we headed back towards Auckland to attend the Waiheke Island Wine Festival. To get to Waiheke Island, you take a ferry from Auckland. When we got to Waiheke, we spent a couple nights at the house that Tony lived at when he worked on the Island. We took the ferry back to Auckland on Sunday were then got in the car and started driving south again. We ended up in Rotorua. It’s surrounded by thermal pools, geysers, hot springs and a very nasty sulfur smell, which was like rotten eggs. We basically just spent the night there and then continued the drive back to Hawke Bay for some more wine tasting. After all this wine tasting, we head back north to Auckland.
The next day, there was lots of wind, probably blowing about 20 miles per hour. It was probably the best sailing day we had, it was also the day before we returned the boat. The eight days went very fast.
On Saturday, February 15 we got a chance to participate in the “peace rally” that was held in the city. This day was also the start of the America’s Cup race, which I was very interested in seeing. The race started about 1:15pm, but Team New Zealand was in trouble from the start. The race was over for Team New Zealand in a matter of minutes. Race 2 was held the next day (Sunday). We had made arrangements to see the race from the water aboard a very cool sailboat called Arcturus. When the race finally started, we were very close to the starting line. We had a great view of the race.
The next day was Monday, the 17th of February and time for me to head back to the US. Tony left in the morning to fly back to and I flew to Los Angeles and back towards winter. When I got to LA I was informed that my flight to Boston was cancelled because the Blizzard of 2003 was just getting started on the East Coast. I wouldn’t be able to get a flight back to Boston until at least Wednesday. So while everyone was watching the snow fall around them at home, I got stuck in LA until Wednesday. Other than they delay, it wasn’t too bad.