New Zealand and the Cook Islands
I went to New Zealand last month to present at an applied linguistics conference, and decided to stay for another two weeks to travel around both the North and South islands and also head up to the Cook Islands. I had a feeling that I was going to love New Zealand, and I was right, of course. These pictures do not do this country justice. It is incredibly beautiful!
The conference was at Victoria University in Wellington and yes, it rained almost the entire time. However, I suppose that is perfect conference weather… I had been warned about Wellington’s windy wet weather, though it wasn’t quite as cold as I had feared. I had a lost luggage crisis the first day of the conference (and so didn’t attend sessions until the second day) and presented at the end of the third and final day when the sun decided to come out. That was also the day that Michelle arrived to start our annual vacation / holiday.
We took the ferry and train to Christchurch, then another train to the west coast. I highly recommend them, especially since they are such scenic journeys and there is a viewing carriage on each train so it’s much easier to take pictures.
Then it was rental car time. Driving around the South Island is so much fun! We stopped at Fox Glacier before heading to Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford Sound.
We flew up to Auckland from Queenstown on Air New Zealand which of course has a Middle Earth-themed safety video. We did the silent boat tour of the Waitomo Glowworm caves and headed over to Rotorua (it really does smell like rotten eggs!) and Matamata to visit Hobbiton.
I hadn’t really heard much about the Cook Islands before since the South Pacific tends to get summarized by “Tahiti and Fiji” (neither of which I have been to yet). But since they are in free association with New Zealand, they use the NZ dollar and not having to exchange money makes traveling just a tiny bit easier. Plus, Cook Islands Maori is very similar to the variety of Maori used in New Zealand, so it was a fun and nerdy Polynesian language adventure for me.
I’m already planning my next trip to New Zealand. Bay of Islands, Lake Taupo, Abel Tasman National Park and Dunedin are on my list so far! As luck would have it, there is a conference I am planning on attending in Dunedin next year… See you in 2014, New Zealand!