First picture I snapped in NZ. I expected it to be something a bit more picturesque, but this was a little too funny to pass up.
Only in the country they filmed LoTR in.
First thing I want to hear them rationalize is the place's existence.
Cricket. You see this just as often as you see baseball in parks back home.
...that isn't an oxymoron? What do they serve?
Park in Auckland
Downtown Auckland-- that's the SkyTower in the background (so, Seattlites... look familiar?)
Lots of festivals in Auckland around the end of Summer. Check the posters and banners.
Customer feedback. Next to the rubbish bin. Strategic placement? Subliminal message?
The bird is a Kiwi-- national pride of New Zealand.
The cows followed me.
Morning mist of the north island.
Original, and genuinely New Zealand. Still not sure who the heck I'd feel comfortable buying them for.
Morning mist lifting.
What's concealed here?
It's the country. There's a rusted out car, so I know.
It's not a palm, its a fern tree. They're all over here, and very impressive.
This is the cave we rafted in in Waitomo.
Strands left by glowworms to catch food.
Waitomo cave number two, known as cave of the spirits. There's drafts of wind that come out from holes in the ceiling here. The Maori said they could feel spirits going by here.
View of outside from the cave of the spirits.
Reflected stalactites. (remember, StalaCtites are the ones on the ceiling, that's what they have a c in them)
The bones of a giant Moa. It's a land bird the shape of a kiwi and bigger than an ostrich, now extinct.
It's really hard to capture the glow of glowworms on camera without a tripod, but I did my best. Its the blue lights.
A UFO flight simulator. In the middle of a national park. Hunh?
Redwoods. Californian redwoods.
This is what the wetter forests of new zealand look like. Kind of how you always pictured they looked in the time of the dinos.
Check out the ferns.
One of the few kinds of flower I kept seeing in Redwoods Park. Another looked a bit like lavender and smelled exactly like honey.
Pine trees. they grow them back home for timber too, but not lined up like this.
This is the problem we face. Deforestation.
This is what we stand to lose.
The aptly named Blue Lake.
Smells just like honey.
"A shortcut to what?"
Pines and lone fern.
This takes some getting used to when a bike comes flying around the corner on the side you're not expecting.
Nice reference! Learn to count next time. 7-8 is not greater than 9 3/4.
The beehive- brought to you by the government of New Zealand.
The pine cones seem a lot less likely to fall off the trees around here and much more likely to stick for a long time. Odd.
"You mean you'll lower your price?"
"Nah, we'll just break both your legs so you can't go back to the other store."
These sort of alternative looking churches were everywhere on the north island.
I really wanted to ask them if they'd give me a free drink for teaching something cool involving their name.
For those not in UT, repeat after me, out loud.:
I'm the pheasant plucker!
I pluck mother pheasants.
I'm a pleasant mother pheasant plucker.
I'm the most pleasant mother pheasant plucker who ever plucked a mother pheasant!
Tourists here to see the dragonboat race practices in Wellington.
If you sit in one place long enough, you meet more wildlife, especially birds. Though it doesn't take much to see the mussels.
These plaques around Wellington wharf seemed to bring home something more than other's I'd seen. They tell stories with a little adventure to them, then end with the main characters putting the plaque up you see today.
The interislander ferry service going from the north island to the south island. See any cows?
Picton harbor. Welcome to the south island.
The kiwifruit's actually from China originally, but this "golden" variety is only sold here in NZ and Italy right now. A lot less fuzzy.
By the way, people here are called kiwis, but it's after a little flightless bird, not the fruit.
This is pretty typical New Zealand. Great view + Sheep. The place is Cable Bay.
I have done nothing to touch up any colors in these photos.
This isn't where I was swimming...
THIS is where I was swimming.
Low tide launch, courtesy of a tractor I should be able to identify by sight but can't.
Abel Tasman National Park as seen from the sea.
Sea kayaking is pretty popular on the Abel tasman. The water taxis take you out with a boat, drop you at a beach, and you come back. There are multi-day camping options too.
This is the Coastal track at Abel Tas. Officially designated one of NZ's "Great Walks" by the Department of Conservation.
The kind of forest on the track changed a great deal depending on elevation.
I love these things. Swing bridge in the forest over a river.
So I can almost capture how clear this water was. Almost.
I spy with my little eye something... green.
The low tide crossing-- you have to wade through some streams barefoot. Made a lot more interesting by the sight of hundreds of tiny crabs running around your bare toes.
This is the kind of view you get regularly through breaks in the trees in this park.
Alfred Hitchcock moment?
Nothing like coming upon a sign like this in the middle of a trek to make your day interesting.
I admit, every once in a while I'll see a view of something and I'll think "So this is why they picked it for the Lord of the Rings" This is one of those views.
Alfred Hitchcock on Valentines day?
Nice day at the beach near Abel Tasman.
Live mussels are in tons of grocery stores here.
The west coast-- Paparoa national park. For scale, those waves must be about ten feet tall each, easy.
The face finding feature on my camera snapped on at this point focusing on a point in the sky. Did my camera just see God?
A path to the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki.
Some goofball foreigner with top missing off his backpack.
In the forests of the Truman Trail
Near the river running through Punakaiki
One of the tastiest things I have had in a very very long time.
Maori art. Sorta.
A (stuffed) kiwi
Somebody climbed the top of the queenstown hill and felt romantic about it... Those are the Remarkables you can almost see through the clouds in the background.
Do NOT eat this.
Road block due to a slide.
We were sitting in the front row of the bus to Christchurch, and
i pulled out my camera. Hilarity ensued. There are a lot more pictures that she took of me than that I took of her.
Best chocolate wrappers ever.
I promised my family I'd get a pic of me with some sheep. Sorry to say this is the best I could do...
Inside the Loft
Hey, at least they're up front about the place.
Sometimes we need reminding.
You know how foreign you are by how bizarre the birds in public parks look and sound to you.
The of horrors part must have fallen off.
Tons of statues everywhere.
Look carefully at the foam of that guinness.
Bondi (pronounced Bond-eye) beach
The first part of a little obstacle course from one beach to another.
That's the first part of what we climbed over.
Confidence isn't everything.
Bondi junction, Sydney
Part of a multicultural festival in Melbourne.
First couchsurfing host in Mebourne had chickens out back.
The Yarra river.
Aftermath of a hotel party. Pretty sure the glass to attendee ratio wasn't really 1:1.
Melbourne's royal botanical gardens. Very peaceful, just what I needed after a long night.
Not your north american honkers.
Does anyone else think there's something strange about a wholesale Buddha?
Split second after I sneezed.
Yes, the lighting conditions were terrible for pictures. But they're still wild kangaroos!
Orion-- one of the only constellations visible in both the northern and souther hemispheres.
Please don't let it be one of those recycled rubber roads.
Inside the rain forest of the Great Otways Park.
Eucalyptus tree to scale.
An art gallery. In the middle of the forest.
Exactly what I needed after a day of hiking. Life's rough, huh?
Temptation on a stick.
A beach of the Great Ocean Road.
These are lot more impressive to scale. which is why I took this picture. Look at the biggest "Apostle", on the right. Look straight above it, in a darker section of cloud, and you'll find a black speck. That speck is a helicopter flying above the thing. These guys are big.
The Twelve apostles. After burning. That plume is definitely not in my first couple pictures.
Limestone formations of the Great Ocean road.
Friday night in Fitzroy.
A snake show. they just kept picking the poor thing up and turning it around, then threatening it with a boot when it stopped moving. i felt really sorry for the poor thing by the end.
In the blue mountains, people observing the "Three Sisters" formation.
Taken from the Blue Mountains. According to my guidebook, this park has more plant diversity than the entirety of Europe.
Just a spot right off the Darwin's Trail near Wentworth Falls.
Small falls leading up to Wentworth Falls.
See path? See cliff? See drop? See view? This is where I hike.
The uppermost part of Wentworth Falls.
On the forest floor below Wentworth Falls and Overcliff-Undercliff track. There could be dinos somewhere behind those rocks.
The Blue Mountains.
Snapped this one for the Monorail. So the Seattle people can see what Sydney's looks like, the simpsons fans can start chanting "monrail monorail monorail", and the scav judges can start chanting "monowheel monowheel monowheel." Scavvies note-- it's a joke from last year's hunt, not this year's. Don't think about it too hard and hurt yourself.
Seen in the Museum of Contemporary Art.
I snapped this from the walkway of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I think there's a story behind this...
I guess only an American would find this funny.
Found on the ferry dock in Sydney, Central Quay. Gives new meaning to what UK comedian Russel Brand made headlines doing not far from here recently.
View from the ferry to Manly.
Bats! Big ones too. I wasn't expecting them. When I think bats, I think dark caves and attics, but tons of them sleep here in the trees of the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Noisy buggers, even during the day.
Of all the uses of the word Manly I found, this one made me laugh the hardest.
This boy was not alone. The sea was full of surfers. From a distance, I couldn't tell how many of them were children.
This will only make sense if you know something about The Northwest School in Seattle. Look at the last item on the list.
Surfers of Manly Beach. (Manly surfers?)
Sydney Harbor Bridge at night.
I rolled into Port Macquarie in time to see the Australia Iron Man Triathalon. Swimming was the first leg. If you look at the timer, you'll see these guys have been in the water for an hour and a half! Sure made me feel out of shape when I walked up a hill, stopped to catch me breath for a second, and had five of these guys whiz by me on their bikes.
Kookaburra! Swooped right in front of me to nab a snack outside the koala hospital.
This koala is the oldest one in the hospital. She's as old as I am. This is during feeding time, she's getting a soy-milk mixture from the soft plastic feeding syringe. You can tell they love the stuff because they keep grabbing at the feeders when not actually eating.
Albino kangaroo. I didn't even know they existed before I met these ones.
Baby on board. Well, Joey, actually.
This friendly little Rosella followed me around its cage no matter where I went. Another one kept chasing it away, but it came back every time.
Signs of Australia.
Now I thought this was really interesting. Note the "Australian owned and made."
That's the spot right there. They'll stop and lean into your hand if you get it right.
A walk in the woods.
On a good day you can spot wild koalas in these trees, but nobody had seen any for a while by the time I got there.
Did I mention this walk was right in the heart of town?
Sign at entrance to the main beach in Byron Bay. You have been warned.
Good for you and the environment, maybe... but I was just petting one of these... oof.
The bus stop regulars of Byron Bay.
You can take the Irish and British out of the British Isles, but you can't the the British Isles out of them. Apparently that means the weather follows them wherever they go too.
Barbecue! ...on good Friday.
Digital cameras. The world will never be the same. Now we can watch the video of the guy in the dress rolling down the hill into a fence immediately and as many times as we want.
Right next to the etrance of The Forest.
It's gonna stick! It's gonna stick! ...no it's not.
I think I saw more people rolling cigarettes on this porch than I've seen on the rest of this trip combined.
Sanchez the possum and family. There was some speculation about gluing HIM to the ceiling too, but I think part of that plan hinged on him playing blues harmonica for us too.
These rooms held at least 15 of the 22-35.
Inside The Shed. Really, the ants were the only problem for me here.
Brisbane at night, me experimenting with timed exposures.
Farmers Market in the middle of Downtown? Why not! One of the better ones I've been to, based off the tons of free stuff I got there. Still very different from the street markets of Latin America.
Found on the Sunlander train from Brisbane to Proserpine.
I first saw this in Byron Bay, and it's taking the backpackers places by storm. Goon is the terrible and rediculously cheap boxed wine in Oz.
The S/V Domino riding the waves of the Whitsundays. I took this shot right before taking the tiller. Sailing boats are always photogenic.
I think this kid might have been the first person I saw on Magnetic Island. He's riding a unicycle.
Rock Wallaby and Joey in pouch!
They're not stars. They're the eyes of rock wallabies reflecting my flash after dark.
Magnetic Island as seen from a viewpoint above Arcadia.
Munitions bunker from WWII. The thick walls are there for a good reason. It was part of an Australian military base on Magnetic Island during WWII. A sign next to one of the two mounted gun bases says that they never fired a shot in anger, though one was fired in "mild astonishment" when a US Navy ship appeared unannounced.
Balding Bay. Also, incidentally, a nude beach. Irony?
His name is Guy, he's 74, and he's from Mauritius. One piece of travel advice I have for anyone is to talk to people who are older than you. The oldest ones remember the stories of legend and often really know how to tell them.
Plenty of fish around.
There's something funny about watching turtles eat. They peck at stuff, like birds, only a bit slower.
This is the one photo where I switched off the "vibrant colors" setting. It's hard to say whether or not it's closer to what I actually saw...
Probably the most colorful picture I took.
It's not an actual turtle head. Coral topiary, perhaps?
Giant clam. we saw one of these things I could have stuck my head and shoulders into, if I'd been a bit dumber.
Underwater photography at work.
Meet Wally. This big Wrasse circled around me a couple times before escorting us back to our boat. He's a local favorite of the dive crews.
These falls usually aren't nearly this dry, but even as they are they're pretty spectacular.
The canopy walkways in the rainforest near Cairns were pretty cool to see.
When my friend Gena said he wanted to go see a fig tree, I thought he was joking. Then I saw the fig tree. This is me about ten feet or more up the trunk. (Come on, just try to tell me you don't want to climb this thing).
Road pit stop for a lake. The ducks were fearless. I was afraid I was going to step on one by accident.
Traditional Aussie bacon ad egg burger, complete with lettuce, tomato, and beets. Often they come with pineapple too.
The cow lane.
This would be one of those "Hey Joel!" "Whaa?" candid shots. Still, the setting makes up for it.
Gena taking a photo break. The two of us did that a lot on the road trip.
I left Cairns of Australia's version of Memorial day: ANZAC day. There was a parade with all the local veterans of wars from WWII on. I'd seen things like it once or twice, but nothing like this part here-- a Korean community center thanking the Australian military for their service in the Korean war. That was new and moving.
What I ate while writing the first part of this entry. It's a crocodile burger. I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've ever eaten the meat of a carnivore, let alone one known to eat humans for time to time. It was breaded and heavily sauced, so the taste wasn't very distinct, but it was a bit chewy. Served of course with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, pickles, beets, and pineapple.
Darwin was one of the few places in Australia attacked by the Japanese in WWII. They were destroying oil storage. As a response, they built these oil storage tunnels to protect their supply.
We spent a good chunk of our time with saplings like these.
Pandanas tree-- typical northern territory tree. That soccer ball thing is a pod of massive seeds.
This is what the place looks like 10 years after the conservation work starts.
Fungus! Strong enough to hold my camera for some group shots...
Several people tried to convince me to lick the green part. One of them went so far as to do it himself.
Breakdown of the reserve's tree system on the dunes.