Extreme sports, dark skies and lupins

For those who celebrate Christmas, we’re in that purgatory between Christmas and New Year where nobody quite know what day it is, where they are or what they’re supposed to be doing.

It’s a perfect time for a blog post!

I promised the rest of New Zealand, but after the franticness (is that a word?) of the past 3 weeks, it seems like our trip was a long time ago.

Funny how time has a way of doing that.

When you read the words “extreme sports”, I know that AGMA is the first person that comes to mind.  Just like tRump is the first person that comes to mind when you read the words “honesty and integrity” right?

AGMA has a very strong sense of self preservation.  Because of that, I’ve never really done anything even remotely dangerous.  Unless you consider not putting my seatbelt on in an Uber as living on the edge.

And sometimes it is.

But on this trip both hubs and I caught the New Zealand extreme sports bug and indulged in activities outside of my itty bitty, teeny weeny comfort zone.

(FYI, each picture has a caption.  If you want to read it, just hover over the picture.)

After visiting Middle Earth, we finished our visit on North Island in…

5. Auckland.  A beautiful city sitting inside the innards of multiple extinct volcanos.  Or so they say…  And quite a diverse city with wonderful energy, great restaurants and a beautiful harbor.  They have this tall structure in the CBD (just 1 1/2 blocks from our AirB&B) called the Auckland Sky Tower.  It’s kinda like the Seattle Space Needle.  And hubs decided to jump off of it.  Jump.  OMG.  192 meters (630 feet) straight down.  Of course he was in a harness and it was all super safe, but he still had to step off a ledge into a free fall (for the first 1/2 of it).  OMG. AGMA stayed at the bottom and watched.  Call me a chicken, but at least I had clean underwear at the end of the day!

6.  Blenheim.  We flew from Auckland to Nelson (on the South Island) and immediately hopped into our rental car (sadly, because Nelson looked very cool!)  Destination,  Blenheim, at the heart of the famous Marlborough wine district.  There’s a lot of sauvignon blanc there and somebody had to drink it!  On the way (which was incredibly scenic over unexpected mountains), we stopped in Havelock, the self proclaimed green lipped mussel capital of the world.  Who knew?  These mussels are MASSIVE and put US and European mussels to shame.  Kinda like tRumps imaginary brain.

7.  The Wild West Coast of South Island.  Going across South Island on the way to Greymouth on the beautiful west coast, we drove along the gorgeous Buller River.  In keeping with the extreme sports theme hubs inaugurated in Auckland, we opted to walk across the Buller River swing bridge and come back across via a zip line.  Okay, so maybe those just a demi-extreme experiences, but for AGMA it was cray cray!  A seal colony in Westport, the fascinating Pancake Rocks, and gorgeous coastal scenery are just some of the reasons we would LOVE to go back to the west coast to do more exploring!

8.  Lake Tekapo.  AGMA was pretty excited about our drive to Lake Tekapo.  It was going to take us over the Southern Alps through Authur’s Pass National Park.  This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world.  “Supposed to be” being the operative phrase.  Unless it rains.  And is foggy.  Like it was the day we did the drive.  Damn.  It was still lovely even in the fog and rain, but I feel like I need to go back someday to see it in the sunshine.  But the incredible beauty of Lake Tekapo helped heal our broken expectant tourist hearts.  And the lupins.  So many lupins.  And the night sky.  Tekapo is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve which is the worlds largest dark sky reserve.  Clear skies and few people along with strict regulations on exterior lighting results in some of the most amazing dark skies in the world with (to quote Carl Sagan) “billions and billions of stars”  The opportunity to do the Summit Experience at the Mt. John Observatory, I think, was the main reason we returned to New Zealand.

Okay – so I’ve been at the coffee shop for 3 hours now and AGMA’s pretty sure they are going to kick me out. There are a few more highlights, soooo…it looks like there will be one more post on New Zealand.

Sorry.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to figure out what day it is, where I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.

A typical day for AGMA.