Greeting from New Zealand's South Island!

Thursday, November 21, 2002
I am now the proud owner of a Gold 1985 Ford Laser. We promptly named it the Moon Unit. Neill, Carla and I bought it after spending less than 24 hours on the South Island of New Zealand... it's probably the only time I'll ever pay for a car in $20 bills! It's funny owning something as big as (one third of) a car after traveling around for almost six months with only a little backpack. Although, I suppose the car really is just another place to PUT my backpack. It's also a standard, which somehow I have NEVER learned how to drive. I guess the time is right...

Here's some stuff to ponder from New Zealand:

  1. Got harassed by customs on our way into the country. It took almost two hours as they searched my bags. Carla and I both got questioned, but I always get the third degree. I must look guilty?!?
  2. The most popular chocolate bar in NZ is the Moro. It's like a Snickers minus the peanuts and not as good. I found this out on the Cadbury tour.
  3. I went to a church that was converted into a bar called The Mission. Carla and I played pool against two dairy farmers. We lost.
  4. There are more sheep than people in NZ. There are 4 million people and 40 million sheep.
  5. Citizens of NZ are called Kiwis. It's a local bird.
  6. I saw the albatross in flight. NZ is the only place other than the Galapagos that you can see them - they spend 80% of their life flying over the ocean. Their wings span over 9 feet!
  7. We saw a reserve of yellow headed penguins. They mate for life, but a woman can "divorce" her man if he is a bad parent.
  8. At the backpackers we stayed in the other night they had a cat named Neko. Neko means cat in Japanese.
  9. Went to a glacier today and are spending the whole day hiking through another one tomorrow.
  10. Saw two famous New Zealand bands the first two nights we arrived!!
  11. Traveling with Neill who joined up from the UK for the month. We also met a Kiwi on our first day who helped us buy the car and he also traveling with us for a while. He's a skydive instructor and we might jump with him!
  12. Carla almost burned down the backpackers this morning trying to make me toast, then she put a liter of diesel in our non-diesel car, and then she bought a $50 phone card not compatible with any phone we have access to. It all worked out fine - but we decided she wasn't allowed to drive the 25 kilometer switchback road up to the glacier in the rain today. Thanks for the entertainment, Carla!
It's been great hearing from you all so often, thanks for keeping in touch! Congratulations Andrea on your engagement!!

Love, Alison

Travelling in Tasmania

Friday, November 15, 2002
As it turns out, I was born to drive on the left side of the road! We drove endlessly around Tasmania for 10 days, putting over 2500 kilometers on the cute little copper colored Toyota we rented. Our Tasmanian friend, Bridget, who we met in Greece gave us detailed information about where and what we should do while in Tassie. AND, we met up with her parents for lunch, AND her brother took us out to his favorite bar. Thanks, Bridget!!

Since I did most of the driving, it was inevitable that SOMETHING would go wrong. All in all we survived... but alas, the possum did not. I hit an animal for the first time. My first roadkill. Poor little guy, he looked terrified as I ran him over. I was traumatized for a few minutes, but the mourning period was short. Then, 10 minutes before we left Tasmania a very large metal sign fall off a roof and onto the car. It left this huge scrape down the side. We were convinced that we'd have to pay for it, somehow they managed to overlook it though. Oh, and did I mention Carla locked the keys in the trunk?? She claims they "fell into the trunk". Roight-o.

We also hashed four times and spent the majority of our time with hashers. They were always organizing something for us - seeing a band, letting stay at their place, taking us out for lunch or even lending us a spare mobile phone! Thanks Paul, Sean, Juan, Bridget's family and Grizzly! Tasmania just might be the friendliest place I have ever been.

Not too much more to tell, but here's a few details...

  1. While hiking in Freycinet National Park we saw a whale and her calf in Wineglass Bay.
  2. Buying Tasmanian tiger souvenir socks at the Chardonnay Hash in Hobart.
  3. Going to the historic town of Ross and getting lots of Ross souvenirs for our friend Ross in Melbourne who went to the airport FOUR times for us. "My friends went to Ross and all they got me was this lousy t-shirt..."
  4. Talking about the meaning of life, love, and happiness with Carla and Juan in a bar until 4 am.
That's all... until the New Zealand installment where I'll tell you about the car we just bought!

Love from Alison!!