I just arrived in Fiji, my 50th Country overall and the 31st new Country (and last) on this years journey before getting back to the States. That is if I can make it through this category 4 tropical cyclone Evan that is bearing down on us here. Apparently it is now packing 165 km/h sustain winds and up to 235 km/h gusts – It sounds serious in kilometers, but even at 100 mph with 150 mph gusts is a pretty solid storm. It is heading a little north of us, but the hotel and the island are preparing for it all well. And I have stocked up solidly on all the essentials – cheese and crackers, red wine, white wine and beer and sausage – I am set – All I need now is a few house guests!
They are preparing for us to potentially be off electricity for a while, so I thought before it goes down I would post one last post before getting home from my past 10 days in New Zealand. A good friend of mine back home has talked about moving to NZ for a while, and now that I have visited it, I can attest and support that it would be an amazing place to live!
I LOVED Wellington on the North Island and Queenstown on the South Island is an amazing outdoor activity paradise – It was amazing even before I found out they have an ongoing scheduled bar crawl there like three or four nights a week… seriously; – heaven!
All I can say is GO visit! It is amazing – A postcard every time you turn your head!
So as an attempt to show you that postcard view of New Zealand, below is a quick update on pictures and happenings from my time here in middle-earth – along with one closing comment; that the biggest and best thing about being in my 49th and 50 Countries is that it brings me one step closer to home and seeing and celebrating the holidays with family and friends!! – Cannot wait to see you all so soon!! Life is too good!
Arriving in Auckland
I actually got in late and stayed in a pit of a hotel out by the airport and was downtown early the next morning to catch a train to tour the north island in route to Wellington, so these pictures of downtown are actually from the end of my trip when I got back to Auckland, but Auckland they are…
KiwiRail – Northern Explorer Tour of the North Island (Auckland to Wellington)
Now here is where the fun started! – It was a full day tour and train ride down the North Island from Auckland to Wellington and Cook Straights at the southern tip of the island… the start of seeing middle-earth!
This is the place I can see living. Great people, great scenery, great bars, great restaurants, great culture, …and great weather while I was there (minus a rain storm!)
Christchurch – World Winefest & meeting up w/Robert and Mount Beautiful
The sole goal of going to Christchurch was to meet up with Robert, (but sadly no Krista), good friends from DC, who now live in Sonoma, but it turned into learning and living in the midst of all the wreckage from the Earthquakes that hit here on Tuesday, 22-Feb-11 at 12:51 PM. – Serious carnage to the city infrastructure and sadly to the people. 185 people lost their lives that day – 120 in one building clasped – very sad. – But they are rebuilding (as there are tearing down) and I got to celebrate with them at their World Wine Tasting in the main park – along with meeting up with Robert and his group of good people from Mt. Beautiful Winery out of Cambridge, NZ – South Island, north of Christchurch!
The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey
Reference to the Hobbit was everywhere, and I am glad to say I was able to see the new movie while I was here in New Zealand. It opened here on the 12th of Dec – 12-12-12 and I went to see it on the 13th in an IMAX 3D theater, which was very cool. Although all the pictures from New Zealand Country side give you the feeling of the movie set, here are a couple more obvious ones…
If the country was not beautiful enough already, Queenstown put an cheery on top of it all – Amazingly beautiful City and Region! – With Pub Crawls to boot!
Some sad tragedies happened while I was traveling through New Zealand – Obviously the unimaginable sadness up in Newtown, CT – All my thoughts and prayers go out to the all the family and friends of those who have been affected by that happening, but in addition, with things happening in three, a friend of mine that I met in Ghana with AOV lost her daughter earlier in the week and as I arrived back in Auckland I found out from a friend no FB that a close friend that we had growing up back in Antigo lost his life and struggle with some tough times here on earth. May the peace of heaven and the love of God be with all of them.
Can’t wait to see you all soon!!! – Happy, happy early holidays to you all!!
Love and good cheers!