Category Nature

Kiwis and geysers

My last day in New Zealand dawned and I still had not seen a single living kiwi bird. Stuffed dead ones? Yes, in the museum in Auckland. Living ones? Not a one. Apparently they are “elusive” and “on the verge of extinction”. But so help me, I was not about to get on a plane […]

Redwoods treewalk

Too late in process of deforesting their island for timber and agriculture, the New Zealanders discovered that their native trees took much longer to regrow than the trees they were used to in Europe and the Americas. They needed to figure out a way to replenish their forests and timberlands without having to wait hundreds […]

Rotorua canopy tour

New Zealand is a land of nature adventures — we had already glimpsed this during our hike to the waterfall, and Karl’s and my trek through the volcanoes, and on Friday we continued with a ziplining tour of one of the regions virgin forests. Because the little kids were too small for the harnesses, we […]

Maori evening

Friday night, after ziplining, we went out to a nearby Maori cultural center to have dinner and learn more about the Maori traditions. We were led down a small ravine to the banks of a crystal-clear stream that flowed from a nearby freshwater spring. The Maori men rowed up the river in a traditional boat […]

Tongariro Alpine Crossing (or tramping past Mount Doom)

Aside from hanging out with the Hettingers and Kallmeyers, my only agenda item for New Zealand was to go “tramping” (as the locals call hiking) through the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Touted as one of the best day hikes in New Zealand, the 12-mile trail takes you through a nest of volcanic cones — including the […]

Okere Falls hike

What to do on New Year’s Day in Rotorua? Nature walks! We took our time getting up in the morning, enjoying the leisurely pace of holiday life (and in some cases recovering from jet lag). We had no concrete plans, but the weather was sunny and warm, and we saw no reason to stay indoors […]

Beach, brunch, and a breakdown on Waiheke

This was supposed to be the highlight of my stay in the Auckland area: a day trip to the island paradise of Waiheke for brunch at Mudbrick vineyard, an afternoon of beaches and hiking, and then dinner at Cable Bay vineyard before a sunset ferry ride home. Let’s just say that’s not exactly how things […]