Monday, June 18, 2007

It's a Zoo Out There

To most people, firefox is just some sleek anti-Microsoft, tab-multiplying, add-on rich internet browser.

What they don't know is that fire fox is a nickname for the red panda, which we came across at the Wellington Zoo yesterday. -->

Sure, it's endangered, and it leaves a musky scent all over its territory, but who doesn't these days?

That's a good bear-cat. Good boy!
We saw all sorts of others too. Kiwis, talking parrots, some lazy roos, an evil monkey tribe, zebras, lions licking each other's privates, tigers, sun bears, tarantulas, otters, the whole bit. Nice.

<-- Oh yeah, that's a mama bear...

...and this is the first zoo to carry miniature giraffes! -->

Well, things down under are winding down. Trainer worked his last night at Nicolinis as an Italian waiter on Friday, and had his last all-you-can-eat pizza Monday at Hell Pizza. If things go to plan, he'll have his last Tuesday at Mermaids, and then that'll be that. Heading for home - the Bay Area and back down. Dunne leaves for a South Island tour on Tuesday as well, and then he's off to school in the states too.

Calvert, as is often the case, remains the last man standing. He manages his own bar now, and will keep the flag flying in Wellington as a sort of living history of the NZBoys - bold, roguish, and serving alcohol to the younger crowd.

It's been a sweet journey. We'll miss the clean skies, rockin' locals, and late nights. Sometimes it does pay to get out of the house, I guess. Yeah. Take a walk on the wild side.

So long!

[Screen fades to music: Nothin But Mammals by Bloodhound Gang]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The All Blacks

Rugby - a sport most Americans haven't even heard of - is the central most important thing to New Zealanders. And the All Blacks, the New Zealand national team that earned its name back in the 19th century, is the most important thing to New Zealand rugby fans.

So, we thought: "We've been here six months. We've eaten kiwi burgers, drunk kiwi beer, kissed kiwi girls...we might as well watch some kiwi sports." And we bought stadium tickets - the cheap ones, of course.

  • Sidenote: Rugby vs. American football...who's the boss? The debate can't be won. They're different sports, with different strategies. Rugby guys don't wear pads, but most kiwis feel that football players "hit harder." (They've been watching a lot of American football movies.) I'll tell you this. The average rugby player is a huge, huge dude. And he's fast, and he has to think on his feet, without someone planning everything for him, and he can take one hell of a hit......And almost every New Zealand guy is a New Zealand rugby player. You get the picture.

We've seen it on TV, and we've gasped at how raw the sport is. We've heard the hype. We've watched the news. It was our turn to see it for ourselves.

So we pre-gamed, dressed up, and joined the black tide of fans heading for the Wellington Westpac stadium. Oh, what a night.

It started with the haka, an ancient Maori war challenge that's been a centerpiece of the All Blacks for time immemorial. It looks savage, and powerful, and spiritual. It means the players are out for blood.

As is turns out, our seats were three rows back from the field. We could feel the players breathe.

And because we cheered so hard, we even got on national television. Maggie saw a closeup of the three of us on the megatron, and the guys back in the penthouse caught the same shot of us yelling like idiots on tv.

We looked kind of like this:


Saturday, June 02, 2007

New Zealand South Island Tour

As promised, we've logged, mapped, and uploaded pictures for the South Island tour of New Zealand. Completed in about 3 weeks, the trip was a mix of close encounters with wildlife, non-stop vistas, sidetrips to off-the-path wonders, and the usual local flavors and parties.

The Complete Travel Log says it all. Made with Google's new "My Maps" feature, the map allows you to click on interesting spots and pull up our stories and pictures from the area. It also shows our route through the whole thing, in case you'd like to find these beautiful spots yourself.

We rode with Kiwi Experience the whole way, so this is also a good way to take a look inside what their South Island trips offer.

If you'd like bigger pictures, and more of them, then check out the South Island web album. It's a great way to get an up-close look at what New Zealand's South Island has to offer.

Later, we made our own way through New Zealand's North Island, and you can check out that travel/adventure map if you're into it. The North Island Web Album has all the pics.

There a lots of stories to tell of these journeys, and the travel maps have all kinds of inside scoops for you there. So check them out if you're into...say...

swimming with dolphins, jumping into waterfalls, petting giant boars, feeding carnivorous parrots, hiking glaciers and tunneling through blue ice, kayaking in baby-blue water with seals and golden beaches, hitting up the world-famous wineries, jet-boating, horse-back riding, sheep shearing, beach lounging, brewery touring, river swimming, bungy jumping, sky diving, white-water rafting, black-water rafting, glowworm watching, paint-balling, off roading, tim-tam slamming, watching sunsets on the beach, or just having a drink and a good time.