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 […]

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 […]

After polishing off our ginger beers at Hobbiton and leaving the bucolic hobbit holes to their New Zealand evening, we all piled into the cars (me into my compact Toyota; everyone else into the giant people-mover) and drove to Rotorua, where we would be staying for the rest of the week. Rotorua is a smallish […]

New Zealand was the Middle Earth of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, and Hobbiton is one of the Things To See when you’re here. On top of that, it was also my rendez-vous point to meet up with Heather and Taryn, two friends of mine from high school, and their spouses and, in […]

Legend has it that everything south and inland of Auckland is just not that cool. A lot of ranch land and unremarkable small towns. Most of that proved true on the drive from Auckland to Hamilton, but there’s a gem of a garden on the outskirts of Hamilton that was a complete delight. Built on […]

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 […]

Sunday was my day to explore Auckland. I caught a mid-morning ferry to the CBD . . . . . . and made my way to the Auckland Art Gallery, which with its striking wooden awning is my certainly favourite building in Auckland so far. The gallery has an impressive collection of Maori art . […]