Around the world… and home

Almost a year away from home.

We’re home!  After just 24 days less than a year away from home, we’re back.  According to the airline, we flew 29,000 miles, from Boston to Paris to Bangalore to Sydney to Auckland to Fiji to Charleston to Boston, not to mention all the layovers in between.

It’s nice to be back, although a little strange.  The house is pretty much the same, though I now see it through different eyes.  It seems huge, and we seem to have so much stuff.  The cat recognizes us, and seems to he happy that we’re back.  We’re buried in boxes, having shipped home almost two dozen bags and boxes as well as the 10 checked and 6 carry-on bags we brought with us (and which, believe it or not, I managed to fit into my Prius along with all five of us, to get home from the bus stop.)

I’m not sure I’ll be adding much to this blog for a while. I think it will be nice to not be traveling.  If I find some time, I might dig through some of the videotape I shot while in India; although I focused most on still photos, some of the videos might be fun.  


This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2021, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

South Pacific favorites

A dozen favorite photos from each place.

For those readers – if I have any – who may have been overwhelmed by all the albums I’ve been posting in recent weeks (I know I have!), this blog entry is for you.

I selected a dozen favorite photos each from AustraliaNew Zealand, and Fiji, for your viewing pleasure.  Well, actually, New Zealand’s “dozen” has 15 photos, because I could not bear to part with any of them. 

The index page also provides links to the start of each country’s visit.


This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2021, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

New Zealand wrap-up

Our drive up the western side of the north island involved a lot of beautiful green countryside, with rolling hills and sheep pasture like this one.

We completed our tour of the south island with another visit to Blenheim, in the north-east corner [location].  In the morning we quickly toured some of the local vineyards – and it seems there are dozens in this area, known as Marlborough.  We found excellent wines at Cloudy Bay, Spy Valley, and Villa Maria. I understand that Villa Maria is readily available in the US. Read on!

Much of the countryside was rolling hills.
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Franz Josef glacier

We walked to the face of the Franz Josef glacier.

Early on this winter’s morning we took a hike to a glacier.  The Franz Josef glacier (named by an Austrian explorer for the then emperor of Austria) is one of the most accessible and indeed very impressive glaciers on the west slope of the southern alps. [location] Read on!

A steep icefall just above the main face of the glacier. South Island, New Zealand.
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The west coast

The west coast of the south island is rugged and beautiful.

We drove, in parts of three days, up the west coast of the south island.  Or those parts that are drivable, anyway, because the southwest corner (Fiordland) is roadless, and the northwest corner (Abel Tasman park) is remote with few roads. The southern alps loom close at hand on your right, and the hills drop steeply into the sea on your left.  At times the road was winding and twisting along these hillsides.  Rarely, we encountered a beach made of smooth rounded stones.  All in all, it was beautiful. Check out those photos and read on for more photos!

Coastline, as seen from Knight’s Point. South Island, New Zealand.
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Aoraki – Mount Cook

Aoraki is the highest peak in New Zealand, at 3754m.

Aoraki, the Maori name for Mt. Cook, is 3754m and the highest point in New Zealand  [location].  Aoraki means “cloud piercer”, and it was living up to its name as we arrived late Sunday afternoon to stay for a night in the valley.  “Spectacular” only begins to describe the drive in, and the mountains surrounding this gorgeous valley. Read on!

Windswept Aoraki’s triple summit at sunrise. New Zealand south island.
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Wanaka and west

We leave the dry eastern slopes and encounter the rainforest of the west coast.

We finished our hike at Aoraki around noon and drove south along the alps until we reached Wanaka [location].  This is the route to the west coast, indeed, the only route this far south, but nonetheless we bypass the entire Fiordland and Southland regions. They are gorgeous, I’m told, but with our limited time (and a severe weather warning for deep snow in that region) we skipped it on this trip. Read on!

Rainforest! The southern alps are a strong rain shadow. Haast pass, South Island, New Zealand.
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Akaroa and Christchurch

Akaroa, outside Christchurch on the east coast of the south island.

We stayed in Christchurch [location] two nights, mainly so that we could spend a day driving to Akaroa, on the beautiful Banks Peninsula on the east coast of the south island.  It is tempting to call Akaroa an “island”, and indeed Captain Cook once thought it was an island. It is actually a peninsula, rugged and hilly and gorgeous, with neat villages snuggled in the many bays and inlets. Read on!

Akaroa peninsula, late afternoon. New Zealand.
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Kaikoura whale watching

An incredible encounter with whales.

New Zealand is on a major whale highway, and we took this opportunity to get out and see some whales.  In our 3-hour tour of the deep waters just off the coast of Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island [location], we had four sperm-whale sightings. Twice we spotted a local resident, whose name escapes me, and twice we spotted different non-resident sperm whales. Read on and check out the photo gallery!

Tutu (the resident whale). Kaikoura whale watching, New Zealand.
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The Cook Strait

The Cook Strait separates the North Island from the South, and can be a wild and rough passage.

We drove straight through from Rotorua southward to Wellington, at the southern tip of the North Island; although it was a cloudy and drizzly day I did get some nice photos. We stopped to meet an old friend for dinner, in the little town of Featherston a bit north of Wellington. Read on for our ferry ride across the Cook Strait.

New Zealand Cook Strait. The ferry is big and actually rather comfortable.
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