HOT INFO On The Road

Margaret and Keel's Asian Adventure
Riding Tigers: REPORT #18
Feb 14, 2000, Wanaka, New Zealand

Sorry to have been out of the loop for so long but New Zealnd has captured us and we have been spending most of our time in the fabulous New Zealand bush.

Before relating events of our most previous wanderings I wanted to discuss the current "Indonesia travel scene" as experience by this vagabond. We were in Bali and traveled to Java and back just about the time the unrest was breaking out in Lombok. Essentially, Indonesia has a well established tourist infra structure that caters primarily to Australians and others. As a result of the unrest, not many people are coming. While this may seem like an ideal time to visit because we all look for places that are not full of tourist, I would submit that a feeling of desperateness among the people who make their living from tourist is in the air. The sales pitches are very heavy, even yelling through your hotel window to get you to engage them for business. Just about every transaction has some attempt to rip you off, if only for a small amount of money. I spoke with veteran Indonesia travelers who admitted that things were in fact different than at previous times in the past. Some were very discouraged as they truly loved Indonesia but simply were weary of the hassle that current Indonesia travel requires. So while it is not my intention to discourage people from traveling to Indoensia, must be aware that the current situation makes it a bit more of a challenge. We had enough after three weeks, changed our tickets and left for New Zealand ten days earlier than originally planned.

New Zealand is probably best summed up by Margaret who said " if it wasn't so far from home I would move here" This country celebrates the outdoors and the people are so friendly, so funny and truly make it a pleasure to travel. Also being ripped off is simply not an option. If your going to travel here be sure to give your self plenty of time. Although it maybe a small country, every square meter of the place has something fascinating or beautiful to see. I have never seen such beautiful environments...gin clear rivers, erupting volcanoes, the best of tramps ( walks for those of us that don't speak kiwi ) snow capped peaks, its all here.

A quick run down of our itinerary: arrived in Auckland and rented a car where we took a week to make our way to Wellington via Rotorua for the volcanic wonders, Lake Taupo and Tongarario National Park. We did the Tongarario Crossing which is billed as the best one day hike in all of New Zealand. 10 miles of scenic wonder. On to Wanganui then to Wellington to enjoy some fabulous hospitality from a Kiwi I met in Thailand. Crossed to the South Island and went to Nelson to visit other Kiwis we had met in Thailand. Took the train to Christchurch then down the coast to the Catlins area, don't miss Nugget Point for the fabulous marine life. From there to TeAnu where we just finished the Milford Trek. This trek is billed as the "most beautiful walk in the world" and while I won't debate the point is could be called the rainiest walk in the world. We had to be evacuated by helicopter as a result of floods preventing us from continuing the trek. We headed to Queenstown to have a look and are now north of Queenstown hanging out for a day to catch up on laundry, email and maybe phone home...need to contact my Maine friends Rick and Izzy to discuss our upcoming adventure in Nepal...can't wait...will write again as soon as possible...thanks for tuning in...keel

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