Thursday, November 29, 2007

How's the Weather?

New Zealand temperatures range from sub-tropical in the north to temperate in the south. The main mountain ranges are a barrier to the prevailing westerly winds causing higher rainfall in the west. Remember, New Zealand is reversed-- warm northerlies come from the north and southerlies blow in from the Antarctic.

Wear old shoes and a waterproof hairdo. You will get wet-- that's why they call New Zealand the Land of the Long White Cloud.


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Monday, November 26, 2007

What Do You Find There?

I certainly can't tell you what you'll find there all at once, but-- New Zealand is three long narrow islands, spread out more or less north-south for one thousand miles, with hundreds of tiny islands scattered like paint specks, some available only to the birds and Department of Conservation (DOC).

The North Island, the second largest in the area, has the
the largest population. The larger South Island has fewer
people than Auckland alone.

Stewart Island, the smallest and coldest is said to be a good place to tramp. I wouldn't know. The closest we got was Bluff, the jumping off point for the ferry, where we spent three days wedged up against a cement toilet, hoping our New Zealand RVing adventure wouldn't end with our movan blowing over. We slept at night with our heads upwind--if we did go over, at least we'd land on our feet. Those boxy New Zealand RVs don't point into the wind like an anchored sailboat.

RV in NZ: How to Spend Your Winters South:
Way South in New Zealand

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

How Do You Get There?

It's a twelve hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland. We like to take an early evening flight, settle in with dinner and a couple of movies, then sleep--or pretend to sleep. An early evening nonstop flight will arrive in Auckland early morning. You can clear customs and change some money in the airport, then pick up your rental car or New Zealand RV (movan) and you're ready to start the day.
Auckland is an international airport about 2/3 of the way up the North Island. You'll probably enter New Zealand there, even if your destination is Wellington at the bottom of the North Island or Christchurch in the South Island.
You'll need a passport and a round trip ticket--Kiwis know how clean, green and spectacular their country is--they want you to enjoy your visit, not move in like an unwanted mother-in-law. If you're staying more than ninety days, you'll need a visa. For a visa, send your passport to your nearest New Zealand Consulate with a copy of your round trip ticket and proof of enough income you won't go on the dole. A credit card statement with available credit will work. You need to provide return postage. And, I always request a delivery receipt since I get a little paranoid about my passport--I don't want to lose that lovely photo. The New Zealand Consulate will stamp the visa in the back of your passport and return it within a week. If you have questions, contact them by phone or at If you're working with a travel agent, they usually handle all your documents.
Don't visit New Zealand if you're afraid of sheep.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Kiwi Connection

With winter lurking and Seasonal Affective Depression ready to pounce, it might be time to head south to the Land of the Long White Cloud. Maybe spend happy hour with a Kiwi, a New Zealand citizen, not the hairy brown fruit or the flightless, sightless, nocturnal bird that spends most of its time grubbing in the dirt.

Why that far south? New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere. Seasons are reversed. Summer is December to March. Time it right in December and you'll leave on the shortest day of the year and arrive in Auckland, New Zealand the longest day of the year.

New Zealand is clean, green and spectacular. Check out
the Lord of the Rings again if you don't remember the spectacular part. Another plus--no creepy crawly poisonous critters. There is a rarely seen poisonous spider but you can slosh through the mangroves or plunk down in the bush without checking first for an unfriendly resident.

Kiwis speak English--sort of. It's a kind of short-hand that's hard to follow. I'll throw in a few words and phrases as we go to get you warmed up so you can pretend to know what in the world they're talking about.

I've covered the where, when, and why--I'll start on the how. Since I'm not a Kiwi, feel free to jump in with a comment. If you have a question--ask. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find someone who does. Just don't ask me about hobbit's feet. I've never seen a hobbit. And I have no idea how to find a man. I was too busy watching the road and reading the map when I was alone--and traveling with a husband kind of limits your finding a man.


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Friday, November 16, 2007

How I Got There

A former single-handed sailor, I spent several summers in the San Juan and Channel Islands on my Pacific Seacraft Dana. I later sailed down the Pacific Coast from San Francisco to Cabo and lived a few winters along the Mexican Coast from Puerta Vallarta to Zihuatanejo.
I met my husband in a marina in Florida and talked him into crewing for me through the Everglades to the Keys--I'm afraid of alligators and hoped he'd be gallant enough to go under and cut the prop loose if we tangled on a trap line. Another year, I agreed to dive with him in the Dry Tortugas if he'd crew for me to Cuba. When we dragged anchor one night and banged into a Cuban gunboat, I'm sure he regretted that day he helped me dock in Cape Coral.
After two more years varnishing, repairing rusty fittings and leaky water pumps, always checking over our shoulders for that next storm front waiting to rock and roll us, we sold our boats. We took a tiki tour of New Zealand and figured the price was right for our limited income. We returned the next year to buy a motorcaravan--and we've never dragged our movan into a Cuban gunboat in New Zealand.

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