This is the first ever created ” Honeymoon Elevation Graph.”
The Ups and Downs of a Honeymoon
32,000 feet- flight from LAX to Sydney, Australia
40 feet deep-scuba dive depth Great Barrier Reef
1.7 miles straight up-hike to top of passage peak in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity
300 feet-how deep we went exploring in the glow worm caves
1,076 feet up-lunch spot at top of Auckland Needle
12,316 feet-height of Mt. Cook (that we ooh’d and awe’d at)
800 feet-cruising height of whale watching helicopter
Stick with me on this.
0 (zero) is no joy. 10 (ten) is very much joyful. As always, joy is a good thing.
Repetition of Nikki saying “she wanted a Koala to take home”=extreme joyfullness bordering on insanity (10)
$12-cost of one load of laundry Hamilton Island=anger instead of joy (0)
Four human feet in the ocean water on our dock dinner night=blissful, joy levels are abundant (9)
How stinky Roturua “Sulfur City” was=I found no joy (0)
2240 miles-we put on the Red Rocket 2 rental car in just South New Zealand=periods of joy and despair (0-9)
5-number of wineries we visited=chemical induced joy levels (Blood Alcohol Content Joy Level-6)
150 kmh-top speed achieved with rental car (about 93mph)=joyfearfulness (6)
3 inches-depth of water at which our Extreme! speed boat could operate-Extreme! joy (6)
1-number of bike cops Nikki hit with a Ford rental=hubby joy and smirky satisfaction (10)
7 miles-how long the glacier was that we climbed about=icy joy (7)
Faux hawk and abalone hunting on my snorkel dive escapade=mission accomplished joy (9)
22-number of meat pies consumed by yours truly=fading and fattening joy (7)
15-number of flights taken during honeymoon=there is no joy here (0)
Modes of Transport
Planes, Jet Boat, Flip Flops, Horse, Kayak, Scuba Fins, Helicopter, Ferry, Red Rocket 1, Red Rocket 2, Bus, Taxi, Lift (elevator), Bicycle, Cable Car, Bridge Tramping, Crampon.
Pickled Pete (drunk oil painting artist)-moved into our home, drank all my beer, moved out to the potting shed, said he would stay until Memorial Weekend, still drinking and painting
Nitrous Nikki, Seal Expert Nikki, Koala Thief Nikki, Left Side Drive Scream Nikki- by miracle of all miracles…still married to me
K-man (my seafood diving dude)-no longer takes dirtbound tourists into the ocean with him
Spikey Haired Bridge Tour Punk (Sydney Bridge tour guide, who had a crush on Nikki)-still probably looking for Nikki on The Facebook
Molly The Horse (horsey on our hike)-still eating and crapping
Red Rocket 2 (our rental car)-taking a holiday from the “drive it like you stole it” mentality of his last American renter
Rodney (The Cave Tour Guide)-lit his last firework, has not been seen since
Mr. Hamilton-(the owner of the most expensive island on earth)-much, much richer
Pickin’ Pearl (glacier tour guide)-retired her axe and now has her resume out to all golf swing coaching establishments
All Koala’s-formed a union, now have 24 hour armed security guards on the lookout for “Nikki Koala Stalker”
Geoff’s Top Picks
Meat Pies, Having long discussions with tall dudes in speedos, urinating in wet suits to keep warm, (there are two types of people in this world, those that admit to peeing in their wetsuit, and those that lie about peeing in their wetsuit), bottle of broken makers mark spilled in my backpack…which I now claim is the best manly cologne ever worn, being a proud and loud American, and having one helluva honeymoon with Nikki.
A lot of you have emailed and asked me what kind of travel plan and destination I would now recommend. Here is my advice…go for around 2-3 weeks and go only to South New Zealand. You will not be disappointed. Also, invite Nikki and I…
I hope you found some humor and fun in these posts. I got some great feedback from a lot of you. From what I have heard so far, I didn’t bore you too much. I actually imagined and thought of a lot of you when I was putting together these tales. I can imagine some of you laughing out loud, some excited to read them every morning with their coffee, others cracking a beer and sitting back to see if I was dead yet, and finally some of you saying “he did not just type that!”
I knew with some people reading this I would have to watch my language and some of you would want more drunken sailor language rants. But, I hope you all enjoyed it. I was also amazed at who tuned in every day, and who never even tuned in once. 🙂
Some of you have even gone out of your way to recommend that I continue blogging in some way or another…with that comment, we will just have to wait and see.
No matter where you go. No matter how far you travel. No matter the most exotic location. The best place on earth is HOME with Nikki. It is good to be home with Nikki!
As they say “the honeymoon has ended…” This concludes the Honeymooner Blog.
We are entering our last couple of days of the honeymoon and that is making me hungry for some fresh New Zealand seafood.
So, Nikki and I stopped by the side of the road at this Seafood Barbie Truck. If you have never tried real truck food (not in a drunken street meat escapade) then you should. A good place to start in Columbus is a recommended Taco Truck. They got some real authentic Mexican grub coming out of them there trucks. But I digress.
Green lipped mussels is what I am in search of. And I found them at a Lonely Planet and a locally recommended food truck spot. They are the best mussels I have ever tasted and they were simply grilled with butter and spice. The green lip name comes from the shell having a small band of green stripe around it. Very fresh, the divers walk up to the truck every morning for their first sales of the day. Tasty…we are talking meat pie levels here, folks.
Crayfish is a type of unique New Zealand lobster. Kaikoura is known for having the best. You will pay out the nose for it though. ($115 per lobster at a restaurant) While waiting in line at the seafood truck, I had an interesting conversation with a local diver. He was so friendly he told Nikki and myself, “I get crayfish all the time in these waters when I dive. Hell, if I had a crayfish at home, I would give you one, but I don’t, so sorry about that.” He explained how you catch a crayfish, very technical, I will explain, you reach out and you grab it.
He then gave me the best local advice I had heard on this trip yet. He told me there was a local diver named Kelvin who was always diving this time of year and he sold his catches daily to the local food trucks. Kelvin would have a green hat and could be found on the side of the road, near the north beaches, in the late afternoon grilling up his catch of the day for his own dinner. I made a honeymoon commitment, I would find this guy.
Up and down the road Nikki and I drove. Then I found him! Eating crayfish by his truck, grill on and green hat faced out to sea! I approached.
“Hey man, sorry to break up your meal here, but I heard about you from a customer at the seafood bbq truck. Anyway, could I go out with you tomorrow for some crayfish hunting?” He gave me the once over. “You got snorkel gear?” “Yes sir, all the way from Columbus, OH.” He did not care. “You got a wetsuit?” “No sir.” He looked me up and down again. “You are gonna need one, meet me here at 2pm tomorrow and bring some cash.” I shook his buttery hand and walked away with the biggest grin ever. I had no idea how to get a wetsuit, and I wasn’t about to ask him where in town I could get one. But this dive was ON!
I rented a wetsuit at the local surf shop. Then in eager anticipation, I got all my gear ready and went to meet Kelvin. As promised, he was there, and he threw most of my tourist gear on the beach saying “you won’t need that, mate.” Into the ocean we dove.
He had his wetsuit, a floating device with a bag tied to his wrist and his snorkel set. This guy could dive, deep into the water, about 20 feet down, under reefs for up to 40 seconds. He was hard at work, and I wasn’t going to get in his way.
But then I saw something he had pointed out from the bed of his truck before. An abalone shell! This is like a huge scallop/Portobello mushroom like hybrid. Back home, a close friend of mine told me to go abalone hunting. I wasn’t going to fail getting an abalone on this hunt.
I yanked on the rope and underwater screamed his name. He rushed over, kicked the shell that had long ago maybe held an abalone, rolled his eyes, and disgustingly told me to stay with him. “Yes sir K-man!” I gurgled thru my snorkel hose. He rolled his eyes again and I followed him until he pointed down. There it was. A real abalone. I dove, and pried the sea creature off the reef with a custom made knife that Kelvin had made. Into the bag it went, and even deeper we swam out.
Sucking in sea water and treading trying to keep up with Kelvin’s lung capacity, I saw him go deep…and come up with two crayfish…one in each hand!
I yahoo’d with the site of his catch…and he told me “there is another crayfish, down there, 15 feet, 2nd reef, give it a go mate.” I dove down, with my lungs burning, I saw the crayfish and he saw me, he backed up about 3 inches and I took my shot. That crayfish powered back and was gone before my hand even thought of the catch. “Damn it!” I blurted at the surface. “Too slow, mate.” was Kelvin’s response and he dove down after some other creature his sea eyes saw.
In the end, we got two crayfish and three abalone. We grilled it up and got ready to chow by the side of the road. But, something was missing. I was looking around for Nikki so I could impress her with what K-man had caught. She was not to be found and I was bummed.
Right before the meal was ready, Nikki pulled up in the red rocket and brought us a six pack of Speights beer on ice. We all ate and drank by the sea discussing the days dive. Yet another reason why I married this incredible woman!
We leave tomorrow, so up next, a fun little recap of the honeymoon. Stay tuned for the final blob/blah/blog entry.
If you want to see a sperm whale in the middle of the ocean… and your new wifey can get the sea sick legs, then you really only have one option. It is an awesome option.
A helicopter ride! I have never been on a helicopter and I sure have never seen a whale, so let’s get to the air and chase some sperm whales, shall we!?
My only experience with a helicopter has been with the movies. They are always used for war time flicks or cops and robbers chase scenes…so you can imagine my childhood excitement level when the copter blades were chopping at the air on its approach.
At the launching site, I even made Nikki run up to the chopper, hunched over while I screamed “faster soldier-move your ass, I love the smell of Napalm in the morning, get on that bird private, she is coming in hot!” Nikki rolled her eyes, and the pilot rolled up his sleeves.
Into the helicopter hub we climb. ($440 per couple). The pilot closes the flimsy doors, you put on your seatbelt and headphones…make a twirl signal with your finger like you are in charge, and we are ready for flight. The engine rumbles and the blades quicken. The chopper takes off, it’s like being on roller skates, it shifts right and left underneath you. What a rush.
Quick ascension, the shore fades away, we are above the bubbly ocean surface and over 800 feet up. Occasional boats are below you trying to keep pace with their white wakes etching their path behind them.
Around 2.5 miles out, we see the ocean break and the foam splash. A sperm whale!
54 ft long. But from this distance up it looks small swimming in the ocean mass. As the chopper circles closer, our pilot cracks in over the radio…”the head of a sperm whale is so big, you could park a station wagon in it!”
What the sperm whale can do is amazing. It can hold it’s breath up to 2 hours. It only needs 6-8 minutes on surface to breath it all in. Most oxygen gets stored in its blood, for use when its lung capacity is burned up. The tail can be the size of a plane wings span. Whales have been tracked diving 3000 meters below. This is around 9000 feet down and equivalent to around 1.75 miles depth!
Our whale was a regular and the pilot knew him. We got so close we could see scars on his face and head. “What the hell are those wounds from?” I cracked into my radio mike. Our pilot told us “they are from battles with deep water Giant Squids, can you imagine the fights they go thru to eat dinner?” I had done my homework and crackled back “you know each tooth size can be 2.2 lbs, mate.” I had dropped some Wikipedia education on him and even finished my wisdom with some of his own mate lingo. I looked at Nikki with a ‘whatta think of your man now, baby…I may not be flying this thing, but I got the sperm whale dental hygiene down pat.’ Our pilot responded, “no one here quotes weight in pounds mate, we use grams like the rest of the entire world.” Nikki laughed at me and looked back at the whale. I shrugged knowing that this was the one animal she MAY not ask me to bring home.
The sperm whale starts amping up for his dive down. He breathes in and out, each time blowing water foam in huge arcs above his head. Our copter circles around waiting for the dive. One last breath and off he dives…Nikki captured these pictures with a 300mm Nikon lens.
Our pilot notes the GPS location and calls the whale watching boats, so that in an hour or so they can find him surfacing, probably less hungry then.
It was a great to experience the whales from high above. You can see how big and long they truly are from the air and to see them breathing and diving is something to behold.
Seal The Deal
Kaikaura is brilliant. This is not a city, or a town. It is a beach with a few buildings lucky enough to be built around it. Simple. And a perfect last spot for unwinding our final few days of the honeymoon.
We got in late that night and found a place to rest our head. We could smell the ocean air and were excited for the morning. Up early to explore our surroundings, we found a main drag with a few cafes, a library the size of my car, a couple open air pubs serving local fare and suds, a pier with a sign that says “Robert will be back 9am tomorrow.” Looking good.
Friends and books told us that this was a marine animal lovers perfect nook. They were right…and Nikki was ecstatic. First thing in the morn…she sprinted from our hotel door towards the street looking for a whale, or a koala riding a whale down the sidewalk. Regrettably, there was none. So, the first thing we did was book a kayak adventure to go around the peninsula and to introduce ourselves to the native seal colony.
Simon, our kayak tour dude, told us, they are just like napping dogs, unless they go swimming or if you get too close. “What do you mean Simon, too close?” I inquired. He nonchalantly answered, “The males will stick out their chest, bum rush you, and bite you…they are quite aggressive.” I told Nikki that she could ride up front then.
Off we paddled. The sun beat down on us, the ocean swelled. I smelled something off, something that reminded me of college. It was vomit. And it was on my lifejacket. “Oh, Yeager-bombs Simon, someone puked in this jacket and it stinks, son!” His response was priceless…”Oh, we haven’t had someone spew for years out here, but yesterday, oh yeah, that’s right, she was a spewer, that must’a been her jacket.”
I flipped it around and kept paddling. This was the only solution I could think of in the middle of the ocean…I was going to be breathing in someone’s rotted DNA for the next few hours. Nikki could have cared less and told me to paddle harder towards the promised seal-land.
Around the bend. Up to the cliff line…there they were on the rocks, huge seals. Chillin’.
The seas got rougher. The seals (or sea dogs, as they called them in Europe) got sleepier. I was instructed to keep the kayak steady so that Nikki could call to them and see if one would jump into the boat with us and go home. As our kayak boat pounded into rocks, she would scream without looking away from the seals…”look at them bat their big brown eyes at me, they are grinning, they love me and want to come home to sleep on our doggie beds.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the “grin” they were showing was their fangs ready to attack the two stranded kayakers stupid enough to paddle all the way out here smelling like puke.
In life, the official Nikki pecking order is all animals first, with me in a close 6th place. Upon seeing this seal scratching his back in the water, I was not surprised when Nikki nudged me out of the way with her yellow paddle to “make way for the seal that wants to jump in the boat with us.”
Room With A View
We wanted to find the perfect little spot for our final two nights. So off we went to explore. Our patience paid off. Barbara’s B&B had one of the best views yet. Barbara however was out for a night on the town and left her 90+ year old mother, Phyllis to run the place. Cash only, Phyllis told me. “Alright Phyllis, I gotta go to the ATM.” No problem, she responded, but I need a deposit…and held out her hand. All I had was American and gave her a couple twenties. She did the exchange rate in her head, told me that I had just put down exactly 32% of the room rate and she would need the other 68% before the sun set. Reminding me of an old western and with the deadline looming…I responded “OK, Phyllis, I am on it!” and raced to the car. She smiled in satisfaction, for when her daughter returned she would have achieved 100% occupancy for the night.
Off to the ATM and back before my sun setting deadline. I slowly counted out the money and to test Phyllis I said, “how much more do I owe ya?” She had the math down exact as she finalized the counting, and with a frustrated sigh, informed me, “you still owe me $70 dollars.” OK, Phyllis. So, I intentionally over paid her by $5. She looked at me with two versions:
-one look was, don’t test me sonny boy, I got years on you!
-and the second look was, now I need to go get you $5 in change and you don’t even know it you stupid product of the American Math System.
Nikki and I picked up some Speights in bottles and some crackers and cheese and walked about 10 feet down to the beach to watch the sunset. Barbara and Phyllis sure had the life and we were happy to steal the views for a few days.
With Nikki behind the wheel, we were desperately trying to exit a particularly confusing parking lot. Around and around we drove in the rain. We needed some type of person smarter than our 30 day old vacation brains to help us leave this dastardly asphalt puzzle. I saw a bicycle cop behind us and too excitedly yelled to Nikki “there is a bicycle cop!” She of course slammed on the brakes in anticipation of a front end collision with a Huffy. The bike cop however was behind us, and he slammed on his bike brakes, went front end over his handlebars and slammed both his hands into our trunk and disappeared under the back of our Red Rocket.
“Oh shit” was my response, and I got out of the vehicle ready for a ticket or at least a verbal lashing. The cop was on the ground, behind the rear tires laughing. I helped him up, dusted him off and apologized about a dozen times. “No worries mate, bones are fine, why did she stop?” “Well, we can’t find the exit and thought we would ask you…” “Right over here mate” and he took us over a curb, around the pay lines and towards the road out of town. Shows you what kind of people the New Zealanders can be, even when we run them over with a Ford.
The next adventure will be code named “Chopper Blubber.” I will leave it up to you to try and decode our next assignment. See you in a day or so…
Quote of the Day
“I am wearing a bikini top for the rest of the trip, because I only have one clean bra left and I will need that for the flight home” Nikki Sharp
Mt. Cook, South New Zealand.
12,180 feet towering in the air. The highest Mountain Peak in all of Australia, Asia and New Zealand. The locals made it clear, wear your sunscreen, since you are so elevated, you could get cooked.
On the drive in however, it was raining, in buckets…and as usual Nikki was napping. To the left of me was pristine green waters andcliffs of Lake Pukaki. As I drove closer, the mountains were growing in stature. And because of the rain, huge cascading waterfalls were falling off their edges.
In The States, I always get an anxious feeling when I drive from the airport to the mountains out West for a ski trip. It is an exciting feeling. A humbling feeling. Knowing that humans could never make something so grand like these mountains. Their faces touching the very clouds we can only fly an airplane thru. The mountains have been part of this earth many years before us, and will for sure, be there many more. I started getting that excited and anxious feeling driving into Mt. Cook National Park.
But where was it? Sure it was raining, but it had to be there. I could see the other mountains that surrounded her. But ahead of me, all I could see where large grey rain storm clouds. I tried to focus. But after a long afternoon of driving, all I saw was the mass grey of the rain clouds and water. Then Nikki woke up and she realized, that mass grey structure in front of me, skying over both of us…was Mt. Cook!
Even in the rain we were both awed. Nikki had never seen a mountain of this size before.
We would sleep well, hoping that tomorrow morning it would clear up. The odds were against us though, only 20% of the time are you able to actually see the top of Mt. Cook. It is so high up, that often it is enshrined in clouds.
We got lucky, as we have been most of this trip. The morning light shining thru our lodge curtains brought nothing but blue skies. Our hike was on! Mt. Cook’s skyscraping snow capped peaks would be our only map.
The hike in to the base of Mt. Cook is relatively untouched by man, except for a couple swing bridges over rapids and one plank area over a marsh. The rest has been “thrashed” by what thousand year old glaciers left behind… huge rocks, cliffs and erosion gashes into the soil and rock. It is very rocky, the hike is challenging. The weather perfect, and the locals were right, the sun was relentless. This was going to be our kind of hike.
Here are some pics once we reached the base of the mountain.
We had a packed lunch at Hooker Lake in the shade of a huge boulder, and prepared for the return hike home.
Nikki and I have about 4 days left for our honeymoon. We decided at the last minute, covered in a film of sweat and sunscreen, to road trip it all the way to Kaikoura.
This is a sleepy little beach town known for it’s animals, like seals and whales…and Nikki was not going to pass up any animals. While I don’t expect you to help drive, I do expect you to enjoy our final couple of days surrounded by animals…see you there!
Molly and Flash
Nikki gave me a list of TTD (things to do) before our arrival on the honeymoon. The top two in the animal section of the list was illegally transporting foreign Koala’s home and petting each dog that we see within a 1 mile radius. The third was horseback riding.
So, off we went to the base hills of Waiho Flats where Molly and Flash, two horses who had a hard time staying awake, were obviously thrilled for our hump in the hot sun. As they stood, tied up in the shade waiting for hundreds of pounds of human beef to ride them up hills and valleys, their heads bobbed and eyes sagged.
But Nikki’s equestrian ear piercing squeal when she saw the fat, small white horse awoke every animal on the plantation. “I want to ride THIS one!” she belted as she bounded towards that now freaked out white horse. You know that look in a big animals eye, the one that says “what is going on!?…you are human, give me a hint, I am freaking out.” Molly, the fat white horse, had this look in her eye as Nikki gave the horse a big kiss on the snout.
The private training by Basil, our tour guide, was intense. Wake them up, put on this helmet and let’s go out for a gallop. On the way into the wilderness…we passed two newborn colts, at which moment Nikki said to our guide, “Basil, can I trade in Molly for those two babies…”
Basil gave us the inside scoop on each of our horses. Molly was indeed fat. Because “she liked to eat her way thru every horse riding tour.” Flash was so called because he liked to be in front. Rule of most importance, Basil added, “let them know who is boss, give a swift kick in the ribs if Molly eats, and pull back on the reigns when Flash bolts.”
“They don’t call it horsepower for nuthin’ Basil, I ain’t afraid of no horse race” this kid from the suburbs of Dublin, OH said in his best country twang. Time to cowboy up, let’s ride!
Then Flash ran off down the river bed and up into the woods… and I was not having it, even as my eyes widened with fear and compliance. Why couldn’t I have gotten the fat white one?
Flash did not appreciate my yanking of his reigns as he sped towards his desired location. So he ran me off into the nearest low branches. “Flash, not cool, man…take it down a notch” I instructed. He bellowed and then ran towards some heavier tree branches. Basil was screaming “show that horse who is boss man, pull dem reigns!” I was much deeper now in the forest, when I screamed louder at this horse, who was obviously in charge. When Flash decided to finally take a break and stop, I looked back for my trusty guide. There was no one. Just me, Flash and the cicadas.
Flash decided to walk to higher ground and I saw was Nikki heeling Molly with all her force, as her horse chewed on a fern leaf. The guide was next to Nikki instructing her on how to get Molly actually moving, while I was about 200 meters away being run into tree trunks.
The next hour or so would be filled with two types of tour guide commands. “Flash, NO!…oh damnit, there he goes again, pull back Ohio” and “Nikki, kick Molly to get her to stop eating.” This tour dude, named after a herb (Basil) had Noooooooooooo trouble remembering Nikki’s name but kept referring to her husband as “Ohio.” Here are some pictures of the well trained horses, their highly trained riders and the landscape.
Jo and Ian
Locally owned Bed and Breakfast’ are where you will find the soul of the people and town. Where stories can be exchanged and where memories are forged.
Nikki selected our next accommodation, off Wanaka Lake. She is damn good at selecting soul spots.
Lonely Planet said of this location “you would be wise to stay for a 2nd cup of coffee.” I would heed these words and as a result meet the two of the coolest proprietors.
Let me explain the decision making process of my beloved Nikki.
Upon arrival to the homestay, Nikki sprinted to the natural spring water garden in Jo’s backyard. Jo approached wondering who was this photograph princess snapping away in her garden and her road weary homeless looking troll (me).
She walked Nikki thru the garden…then got down to business with me. $140 a night and we only have one room which is two twin beds. Being our honeymoon, I looked to Nikki for courteous support in our exit. Her exact response “who cares about the beds, I don’t want to sleep next to your snoring ass anyway…look at the size of these flowers!” Room booked.
In the morning, I decided after a couple weeks, it was time to shave. My electric shaver disagreed with me and proceeded to shut down about half way thru.
Now, at the Hilton, I would have been screwed. But out to our hosts kitchen I scampered. Embarrassed, I showed them my half ass shave job. After the laughter, and jokes like…”just keep walking in a circle when you meet people” or “as least you do have a good side.” Ian got me a brand new Mach 3 blade (which he called Mack Part 4 shave device).
Out to a breakfast at their table complete with stories from around the globe. They insisted that I put a pin in their map of where people had come from, and said “Colombia, I don’t think we have had anyone from Colombia!” I didn’t have the heart to break the news that it was Columbus, OH, but I put a big Scarlet pin in our hometown of C-bus.
After our 2nd cup of coffee, and some palate pleasing lemon/passionfruit pancakes… it was time to hit the road. Ian would not let us depart without proper hydration. He went to his natural spring, washed out the “filth” of our bottled water remnants and filled up that bottle with clear, fresh and perfect aqua.
Once again folks, you will not find natural spring water at the Hilton. Jo and Ian invited us back anytime we wanted.
Running count of how many people have CRIED at the pictures and story of Nikki’s wedding-4
Jet and Boat
Jet and Boat (in the same word!?…waa, waaa, what!)
We rolled into Queenstown and decided to take advantage of the extreme offerings the city has. Everything in Queenstown is Extreme! And ends with an exclamation point. Jetboating Extreme! Extreme Bungee Jumping! Even Mini Golf is Extreme! I would highly recommend the JetBoat Shotover. ($123 pp)
This boat goes in excess of 50 mph on water anywhere from 3 inches (3 inches!) deep and up. It can do 360 degree turns, and you know they are coming because your driver twirls his finger in the air to say “hold on, or you will fly out and hit the rocks and I will keep going because I am Extreme!”
To see a quick video of them racing around with no caution of your physical well being, youtube “Shotover Jet New Zealand”.
We loved the race down the river. Nikki has two things in her blood…adrenalin and boating. So, this was a perfect match. Notice our hair. This was not a Hollywood wind prop. This was Extreme!..because all my boat training has taught “don’t go near the rocks, watch out for other boats and always remain in control”. Not a part of this boat tour.
Go towards the rocks. Swerve at the last second then jump waves made by other JetBoats. 360 degree spins at 50 mph into the shore. Extreme!
Of course, I was inquisitive at every stop. There were only two stops, so I had to make my questions quick. Hey Speed Demon Mike…you ever hit the rocks? Yes. Hey Mike, you got insurance? We don’t play that game in New Zealand mate” Mike, you ever beach this thing? You keep asking questions like a scared tourist and I am going to beach you. Tour back on. Extreme!
After our first 360 degree spin, I was doused with salt water. The boat accelerated and in the excitement, I had forgotten to keep my mouth shut. Not thinking of the 4 tourists seated behind me, I spit out a huge white logy of foam and salt. Just like spitting out a car window on the freeway, this spit projection came back and hit the Romanian dude behind me. I laughed at my stupidity, he did not. Extreme!
Here is a picture of how this boat kicks ass. There is no prop or motor hanging off the bottom. The boat hull is the lowest point. The water sucks up from the boat floor, thru a grate, then a mass internal propeller and out the ass. When the Extreme! Driver turns the boat, the stream of water actually is diverted into the turn.
When Mike docked the boat, he just slammed into the wood dock and said “hope you enjoyed it, NEXT!”
The rain came. The exhaust settled in at street level of Queenstown. The kids would have their city to party in. It was time to move back to what Zealand is known for, the views and nature. A few hours north towers the highest Mountain in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It is named Mt. Cook. Nikki and I are heading that way and I hope you will join us…
Franz Joseph Glacier.
Let’s not look from afar, let’s climb this icy bitch, shall we!?
The Glacier Climb ($123 pp). Way high up on yonder mountain. Where the ocean winds meet the cumulus clouds, and this precipitation collision causes the glacier to grow mass. Where you are so high up, that even when it is 80 degrees out, the glacier stands rock hard.
In 2009 they used to let tourists climb the bottom sections. Two people died in a wild collapse of a very large ice wall. Now, you can only get up on the ice with a private tour. So strap on your boots, check your safety straps and head up with me! Thru the rainforest, across the silver river rock beds and up the gravel debris that reminds you of climbing at construction sites when you were a kid. Only much, much higher.
Finally, to the ice edge. Here we were instructed to put our crampons. At which Nikki would snicker every time the word crampon was mentioned. And she would whisper in my ear…”tampons” or “cramp is on for tampons.” You get her humor.
If you put crampons on your feet, it means you’re going someplace slippery. And a huge block of ice that is over 7 miles long and over 1000 feet deep would suffice.
Our tour guide mentioned this was the best weather of the year. The sun shined bright, but being on the ice was like being surrounded by cool air conditioned air. Amazing. Huge blocks of ice fall off cliffs. Carefully stutter step over racing rivers of turquoise blue water. All this while the tour guide screamed “don’t step there, you will fall in and slide away forever”…this will keep your average land walker on their crampon’d toes.
When the glacier “retreats” or melts, it spreads like fingers down the mountain side. This glacier moves about 10 feet every single night. What it leaves behind is dangerous, but mesmerizing. Crevasses. Huge, deep, dangerous.
Here are some pics of Nikki and I testing ice fate.
Pearl was our 2nd guide at the Glacier. She was very, very cautious. She carried this huge ice pick or ice axe. It was about as big as her. And she would swing at ice, carve out steps and tap on crevasses with her massive axe.
Pickin’ Pearl was also slightly ahead of schedule. So, to kill time at the end of our 2 hour glacier tour, she called in the reinforcements. She needed an extra support rope for this tramp down a particular part of the glacier tour. While we waited, she chopped and swung and picked ice with her axe. Making the path all the much safer for the moronic tourists behind her.
I am not a patient man. So, I started climbing a wall with my new crampon toys. She screamed “get off of the glacieeeeeeeeer wall”…everything with Pearl was drawn out, like she was French and trying to impress me with extra syllables in words that quite frankly, are not there.
“I saw something up there, Pearl…I am going to go climb it!” I yelled back. “No you’re not, you will fall into a crevaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasse…get down from that now!” Being stubborn I responded, “you are picking at the ice Pearl, pick pick pick… which doesn’t even need any more ice work, and we are doing nothing, I wanna climb this wall!” She responded, “what I am picking at is very important to your safety, now down off the wall!” I climbed down, and like a defeated child, I put on my best stubborn face. I had grown a beard for this damn ice hike and I wanted to climb that wall.
The extra rope was installed and we all climbed down the path. I was 2nd to last with an old man from Denmark behind me. About halfway down, where the new rope was installed, he fell into the back of me and we both skirted across the ice with our crampons in the air. I looked up and saw Pickin’ Pearl with the greatest look of “I told you so” on her face.