New Zealand / Sydney Trip Diary

In the spring of 1996, I met Renee, a native Kiwi, at UCSD's International Café, and we spent that summer exploring San Diego and California together. The next year, after she had returned home, she invited me along on a river trip she had planned for herself and a bunch of her friends.

This was all the excuse I needed to hit the road and explore New Zealand. What follows is my trip diary. It's not meant to be read cover to cover (or should I say <body> to </body>?) and includes many details no one but me would ever care about. I post it mainly to assist others who are thinking of doing a similar backpacking trip, and for my own reference.

At the time, a friend from college was living and working in Sydney, Australia so I arranged to stop off there and visit him for a few days on my way home.

Jump to:
North Island
Rotorua (first time)
Wellington (first time)
Palmerston North
New Plymouth
Rotorua (second time)
Auckland (first time)
Wellington (second time)
South Island
Franz Joseph
Queenstown (first time)
Te Anau (first time)
Dunedin (first time)
Stewart Island
Te Anau (second time)
Routeburn Track
Queenstown (second time)
Dunedin (second time)
Auckland (second time)

Up about 08:30. Shower. Pack. DQ came over to do laundry and bring me graduation picture. Talked to Dad. E-mail from Kai. Last minute email to Kai and Takeda-san. DQ drove me to WF ATM, to post office, to office (I entered through HFT since I didn't have my key), then to SAN commuter terminal where we parked and DQ and I hung out: checked in, called NW to get my FF number, in bookstore. On Trans States 1599 to LAX. To terminal 2. In line a few minutes, then sent to "Express Check-In" which took forever. They realized I didn't have a visa for Australia so they applied for an electronic one for me and it was approved. Udon at "Tanpopo". NZ001 to Auckland, sitting next to woman from Winnipeg. Watched movie with `Clint Eastwood who saw the US president with another woman and also "My Best Friend's Wedding."

(in the air)

Arrived AUK. Waited forever for them to inspect my tent. To ATM to get NZ cash. Bought bus ticket into town and on to Rotorua. To Intercity terminal about 07:30. Ate fruit salad while waiting for 08:30 bus. On bus, with driver waving at every other bus and truck driver, most of whom ignored him. Tea stop about 09:45. Talking to guy. Arrived 12:15. Checked in to Central Rotorua Backpackers. Walked around, eating Thai Chicken Salad at Fat Dog Coffeehouse. Back to hostel: slept 14:45~16:45, then showered/shaved. Called Renee's house, but not home yet. In lounge talking to 4 nihonjin (3 female, 1 male). Guy is working in a Thai restaurant. One of the women was picked up by a lady and went to Hangi. Tried Renee again: talked to her. Her flatmate and she picked me up at bus stop and we went to their house. I gave her SD Reader and two CDs (Male Favorites 1997-10 and Kelly Hoyer 1997-98) and we ate rice and veggies. Talking. With Renee to her classmate's house to deliver cookies. We drank tea and ate cookies. Her kids woke up and came to the table. Walked back. Her flatmate dropped me off on the way to work at 21:55. I was in TV room, then to sleep.

Walked down to Polynesian Spa and looked around a bit. Saw walking track so I followed it. It went around Sulphur Bay and to main Lake Rotorua. Lots of black swans. Ate at café on the lake (potato, chicken, onion, bacon casserole), then walked further and into residential neighborhood. Back by Government Gardens and back into town: ate passionfruit sorbet cone. Walked back to hostel eventually and called Renee about 15:35. Talking to nihonjin guy then to Fat Dog to meet Renee. Drank juice while waiting. With Renee to Warehouse to buy fireworks then to meet her friend Alex. We drove together to forest. No place to hire bikes so we decided to hike. Took tramp to lookout, then 3 of us sat on rock for a while, then completed loop and back to the car about 19:30. To Renee's car, then to her house for Guy Fawks BBQ and fireworks. About 22:15, Renee, Alex, and I to Fat Dog (I had hot chocolate w/ soy milk: Mmmm!). Renee dropped me off. I went to sleep about 23:00.

Up at 08:45. Shower. Out about 10:00. Headed south out of town on foot., stopping at Pack'N'Save supermarket to buy trail mix, bread, and film, then walked to Whakarewarewa, through "living village", many pools, bush tracks, ran into roommate, into paid area with geysers, mud pools, tracks, saw kiwi in kiwi house, looked at English<->Maori dictionary in craftys store, drank tea and ate my bread and trail mix at Café Left and walked back to hostel, with slight detour at end to see Korean/Japanese restaurant. In TV lounge. Called Renee at work at 15:40, then in lounge until 16:07, got ready, and met Renee. To her house. Checked email. With Renee one hour out of town to Casey's mother's house/farm to get some camping equipment. Back to town with only six liters left of petrol. To Renee's house: she sent email and I looked through South Island photos. Walked to Judy's house. After her husband came home, she and a friend and us to meet Alex at Fat Dog for "tea": I had Reamura (potato) filo. There until 22:30. I walked back to hostel. In TV lounge.

Up at 08:45. Sh/Sh. Packed up. Checked out before 10 and left pack. Out shopping: haircut, to outdoors shop to buy cup, plate, silverware; also bought water purification tablets. Tried on NZ$79 sandals but didn't buy them. To DEKA and bought $10 sandals. To deli and ate foccacia slice. To Farmers and bought new togs (swimsuit). Back to hostel. Out. Called Renee. She can't get off early but she gave me a shopping list. To get waterproof matches. Ate some Chinese fast food and bought rice drink at Korean shop. Bought underwater disposable camera. To Warehouse but no 400/36 film. To Pak-n'Shop and bought four rolls of 400/36 and one liter of OJ/Mango. Back to hostel. Retrieved my pack. In lounge talking to two Japanese. Renee picked me up at 16:30 and we went to secondhand shop to get pots & pans, then to Big Fresh for $235 of groceries for 10 people. To her house. I went to Julia's to get some pots. I made scrog (trail mix) from several ingredients. Listening to CD of My Friend The Chocolate Cake while Renee was at cocktail party. She returned and took a shower. Tim arrived in his 1978 Escort. Having electric problems but parked car and we took off. Burger King stop in Taupo. On to Tamaranui and Kelly's Motel, where Brad was already sleeping in our room. To sleep about 01:00.

Alarm at 06:50. Shower. Other people already up. Waiting for cars (Phoebe and Boon) to arrive. Waiting for Wades Landing Outdoors. They showed up and we packed all our stuff into waterproof floatable containers. Loaded up and into van. Steve drove us to launch point at Ohinepane. He gave us some instruction, life jackets, paddles, and we took off down the river in three kayaks and three canadian (2-person) canoes. First I rode in the front of one of the canoes with Tim in back. Lunch stop (ham & cheese & bread), then I rode in back with Renee in front. At 14:00 we were only 3/5 of the way there and the pink canoe was very slow. At 17:30 or 18:00 we finally reached the tributary we were supposed to go up, but (due to the recent and current rain) the currents were too strong and none of us could make it up. Stopped on rocky island for a while, unaware there was a landing close by. Continued on a bit until we saw the iron that Steve had told us about. We stopped there (Whakahoro) , and waited for Megan to scout the area. She found a road above, but no other landing farther down. So we tied up there and started hauling our gear a little ways up the hill. People opening all the containers, looking for various items and importance of each. Tim had gone and spoken to hut warden, who told us to tie the boats 3 meters up, so some people went down to lift all the boats out of the water and tie them up. We started forming human chains to get the canisters and plastic bags up the hill, leaving only some tents and bedrolls down below. Kept passing everything up until we finally reached the road. Then we each carried one to three items and walked down the road to the hut, through two gates, one of which was padlocked. Finally got to the hut about 23:00, all wet, cold (I was wearing only my swim trunks, polyester top, and waterproof jacket), and tired. Drank hot instant pumpkin soup. Some people made dinner, then we all ate pasta. Some people showered. To bed around 01:00 on the floor in my sleeping bag under a table. Overall, probably the most miserable day of my life.

Up at 07:30. No one really wanted to continue. Breakfast. Packed up. Steve arrived and hung out a while while people were doing their stuff. Some of us with Steve back down the road and down the hill to get the rest of our gear. Back to the hut. Steve removed rear seat and we loaded the gear in back. All 9 people and Steve squeezed into the van (I sat next to Phoebe Lam and talked to her) and we were driven back to the motel in Tamaranui, where we unpacked all the cannisters and divided up the remaining food. Some of us to local fast food shop: I had chicken sandwich and wedges with sour cream. Renee, Tim, and I to thermal baths in Tekaanu. Rented private room for 20 minutes, then Renee and I took short tramp around as it started to rain. Headed down to Wellington, with a few photo stops. Arrived at Phoebe's about 19:45. Her place reminded me of a Hong Kong apartment and Wellington sort of reminded me of Hong Kong. Phoebe brought home KFC and we ate while watching movie "The 'Burbs". More talking. To sleep about 1. EO-V Pirates. Sony Playstation.

Chinese toast for breakfast. Showered. Tim and I walked down to local bottle shop and bought wine for Phoebe and Vince. Back. Drove to Victoria Peak (very very windy). To "Beehive" (the parliament building). Walked around there, then put more money in the parking meter (made in USA) and walked into town and to Renee's friend's office. 4 of us went to lunch (I had salami and spinach quiche), then down to the docks. We realized we'd left fireworks on car and drove off and they must have fallen off. Back to car just as the meter expired. Headed North out of town. After a stop, I drove for the first time (used Toyota? from Japan). We drove to Palmerston North and Massey University. Dropped Renee off at the Humanities Building and Tim and I parked the car and went to Registry Building. I called Bill Cohen again and finally spoke to him, who had just arrived home. Agreed to meet on campus at 16:30. I wandered around the Humanities Building, then outside to wait for Bill. He drove up in his Subaru. All of us outside talking. I went to move car from 15-minute zone. We decided to head to a café. I rode with Bill and the others followed. We had afternoon tea (Renee and I shared a cheesecake slice) at a café on the sunny side of the street. After, Bill walked us around and to the citypark. Back to our cars. We drove to Wanganui, looking for Boon's place (his home/office/surgery). Called him on his GSM, and he gave us his address, but he's on his way back from a golf game. Waited for him. Ate the beef noodle dish he cooked. To hospital dorm to put clothes in a washer. Up to tower on hill to set off some fireworks. Then to hill on other side of town to light the last of the sparklers. Put second load of laundry in the washer and waited. Put clothes in the dryer in other place on the way home. To sleep about 1.

Walked into town to look in a few camera shops. Back to Boon's and drove to city park with lots of neat playthings. Rode rope swing. Petrol stop. Hit the road. Stopped at a few ocean overlooks. Stopped for lunch at Dairyland (big cow out front): I ate spicy lamb curry. Continued on with views of Mt. Egmont / Taranaki (2518 m). Drove close, then hiked a trail to the base of some falls. Boon took off for home and we continued to New Plymouth, with food stop at Pak'n'Save. Looking for campsites at a few motor camps, before finally settling on one. Set up tent, and Tim cooked dinner. They had beef and I had just salad and veggies. Tea after. I washed dishes. Tim and Renee playing cards in tent. Three of us out for beach walk (designs in sand). Caretaker drove by site and gave us shower key. In tent.

Woke up before 09:00 and rain started. Breakfast in tent. I went to wash up and shave and when I came out our car was driving towards me and I hopped in. To office to pay, and talked for a while. Drove. I took over the driving after the hardest part. Lunch stop in Te Kuiti ("shearing capital of the world"). On to Rotorua to Renee's. Rested. Unpacked car. Shower. Labeling Male Favorites CD. To town: to Greek-owned Italian place and ordered two pizzas. Renee and Tim to Blockbuster to get a movie. Home to eat pizza and watch "Clerks". Watching news ("Nightline"), then Whitney Houston, not Madonna with child, 23:30-00:30 watched NYPD Blue, then to sleep.

Up about 09:30. Updating diary. Renee came in with water gun. Finished labeling Kelly Hoyer CD. Showered and packed. Banana bread and cereal for breakfast. Tim and Boon left and Renee and I went to Casey's mom's in Reperua to get his trousers, picking up a hitchiker on the way. But no trousers. Back to Renee's in Rotorua. I drove to Auckland with a stop at Blockbuster to return video, then a petrol stop. To Renee's parents' house. Her sister Roseanne was watching movie "Braindead" for a class so I watched most of it with her. Tim and Boon came over. All of us to dinner at Albany Inn, where Casey was our waiter, then Casey came with us as we toured around including a photo stop at fountain. I went to Boon's to spend the night.

Up at 09:30. Renee and Casey came to Boon's after 12. To Camera Exchange for Renee to buy a wide-angle lens. Back up Mt. Eden to settle Boon/Casey bet but too cloudy on top. Renee and I were dropped off at her sister's medical school graduation and I headed into town on foot, stopping at Albert Park Backpackers for travel advice to Wellington. Walked Queen Street with stop for breakfast/lunch (at 15:00) at Chinese noodle shop. Down to the water, popped in to computer store, up Quinn St., inside "Kiwi Hilton" hostel: asked about "big McDonald's" where I'm supposed to meet Renee. Down to that McDonald's. Ordered a hot fudge sundae and waited for Renee, who arrived about 17:00. Walked with her back down Queen Street with stops at a clothing store and an outdoors store. Along the pier out to the end. Walked up Queen a bit, then over to find Rendezvous Restaurant: up and down Hobson a few times, then found it. Rhea and her fiancé Brad and Boon and parents and Roseanne for good Chinese meal. Boon, Renee, and I after to Queen Street. Checked out cinema, but nothing interesting. Boon and I played air hockey. To Ceroc dance studio for a while, then in car to Parnell section. Walked street looking for a café that isn't too loud. Finally stopped at Strawberry Alarm Clock. I had my usual (Hot Chocolate w/ soya milk). Back to Boon's. Grabbed my stuff. To Renee's house to sleep.

Up at 8. Shower. With Roseanne (Renee's sister) driving to pick up her boyfriend. Back to Renee's. Reading NZ Women's Weekly on front stairs. Diary update. Casey, Renee, and I to Rhea's engagement party (I walked around for the ten minutes they were there). To Bom's and we convoyed to Hamilton, driving ~140 km/h, with a gas/food stop. They arrived about ten minutes late. I took the car, turned around at aquatic center (poked my nose in), then to BP to vacuum and wash car. To City Centre and found Flying Hedgehog Backpackers. Snooped around, then checked in and paid. Walked down Victoria St. (almost all shops, including visitor info, were closed). Back along river for a ways, then street back to Flying Hedgehog. Drove to Hamilton Gardens: many under reconstruction. Drove along Grey St. (Malaysian restaurant promised to open after 08-31!), then back to hostel. Walked to Cambodian restaurant for dinner: "spicy chicken" and rice (very good), and finished reading my two week old Economist. Back to hostel (now raining). Out to Irish pub and live Irish band "The Reel Men". Checked out a few other places, but the band was just leaving one. To Metropolis (a coffeehouse) and ate banana, cinnamon, butterscotch, white chocolate cake. Free postcard. Walked back to hostel after brief stop again at Biddy's to hear more of Reel Men band. Got back about 23:20 and found Renee in the lounge (Boon had decided to drive home). Played with nail game and talked to Renee and a Japanese guy (my closet mate). Both to bed.

Up at 08:30. Shower, etc. in one swoop. Renee just leaving room when I knocked on her door at 09:30. Both downstairs while she had coffee. Left and drove south to Waitomo Caves area, carrying two NZ hitchhiking students most of the way. To main public cave. Took 30-40 minutes walking tour, but no boat ride due to high water level. Up the street to the Black Water Café. Tours cancelled due to water levels, but told us to wait for an update. We each ate a pizza slice and they told us the trip is a go. So we gathered at 12:45, they brought us down to get into wetsuits. Got into van. Out. Fitted to innertubes, and did practice jump off the pier to simulate a waterfall. Hiked up a trail to cave entrance. Into cave. Walking, floating, jumped waterfall, did "the eel" (all locked together), more floating, finally out. At one point we had to go on faith down a waterfall where we couldn't see through it due to high water levels. Up the hill, then jumped into the outdoor river and floated (tubed) back to the innertube spot. Some guides doing jumping tricks. In van back. Took off and washed our wetsuits. Hot showers. Toast and tomato soup with guides in the dining room. Brad, Renee, and I to Museum of Caves for a long while, then Renee and I (with me driving) two hours back to her place in Rotorua, via Te Kuiti (got to see big shearer again!). Renee called to ask about Rotoiti hangi, but too late. In car (me eating groggin) to other marae for hangi concert (NZ$13). Pretty fun and good music. I was picked to go on stage and participate. After, we picked up food at a Thai restaurant and took it home. Ate. Talking. Sleep.

Up at 06:55. Showered. Shaved in kitchen. Left about 08:15. Renee dropped me off at bus station. I bought a bus ticket and looked into the ferry. Waiting. 08:50 departure for Wellington. Passed many familiar places. Talking to English guy and Irish woman, all complaining about the incessant rain; it has rained every day of my trip so far. Lunch break 12:15-12:55. Asked Japanese girl if she needed a YHA reservation, then called Wellington YH to reserve places for us. I ordered and ate a muffin and a veggie burger. German woman next to me on bus for a while. Reading Byte Magazine. Dozed a bit. 16:00 arrival. Japanese woman and I walked to hostel and checked in. Talking to guy from Anaheim in my room. To YHA Travel and bought Magic Bus ticket and ferry ticket and Nelson YHA one night. Back to YH. Talking to Japanese in lounge for a long time. Dinner at Satay Campong. Back to YH. In 3rd floor lounge. Out to Espressoholic (huge hot chocolate). Back at YH updating diary and talking to Japanese woman after her new (Japanese) friend went to sleep.

Up at 7, but I snoozed too long and two others got to the shower first. Quick shower at 07:35, packed, and down to check out and get shuttle bus to ferry. Checked luggage and bought toast and ate it with roommate. On boat. Outside upstairs for first hour, then inside, then ate sandwich and bread and outside for last hour through pretty sounds. 12:30 arrival. Collected luggage and found Magic Bus. Sat next to guy from Calgary. Quick stop for driver to buy mussels (I bought an ice cream bar though some other passengers also bought mussels). 30-minute stop for driver to book accomodations for us while we explored. I walked to river and spoke with local guy escaping town for a few minutes. Back on bus and waited 20 minutes for three late guys. On to Nelson. Stopped at two hostels before YHA. Checked in, made bed, talking with older English guy in room who let out his house for one year for £870/month and is traveling the world. Put laundry in machine. Booked aqua taxi for tomorrow. Spoke with Japanese woman who did 4-day Abel Tasman walk. Diary update while waiting for dryer. After laundry, to Café Eeko: limited menu so had quiche slice. Got money at an ATM. To supermarket and bought bread, cheese, cereal, soya milk, smoked turkey ($29/kilo!). $15 total. Back to hostel. Ate some toast. Talking with 3 Japanese: 1 woman living at YH since July, one guy in town awaiting trial over a traffic accident he had with an 80-year-old woman, 1 guy studying English. Made sandwich and cereal bag for tomorrow. To room after 22:00: talking with roommates, got clothes bag ready for tomorrow, sleep.

Up at 6. Shower, shave, down about 06:40. Breakfast (bad granola, so took bread instead on hike). Out to wait for bus, which came about 07:25. Arrived at Marahau about 9. Into boat hooked onto tractor. Tractor towed boat to water and we were off to Split Apple Rock. Back to launch bay to see all the dolphins swimming around, including a mother and child. To see other bays, then finally to Bark Bay where everyone got off, me last, and jumped to sand to avoid taking off my shoes. Started track at 10:05. Very pretty walk, hitting several beaches / bays or overlooking them. I ate lunch about 12:45 at picnic table at a beach. Continued on, stopping to talk with a group of people from Sydney and seeing a few people several times. I reached Appletree Bay about 15:00 and had been told the end is one to one and a half hours away, so I went down to the beach and hung there a while including eating some bread and cheese. Tried to get out from the other end of the beach but there was a river in the way. Back to the other end and back up to the main trail (now 15:50). Hiked along it to the end, reaching there at 16:55. It was a beautiful day; a few clouds but no rain. In café: banana thick shake, two people from Durango CO (saw my Sequel hat). 17:30 bus back to Nelson (slept a bit on the way), arriving 18:45. Washed up. Started to head out to get Indian takeaway, but it was far, so I stopped at Chatanooga and had Japanese pizza. Stopped at New World to get lowfat muesli, then back to hostel. Sitting with same 3 Japanese, planning my next few days. Called in some hostel reservations and called Mitch in Auckland. To sleep about 22:45.

Didn't sleep well. Kept getting tangled in the sleeping sheet or woken up by someone's noisy clock. Finally out of bed after 9. Feeling slightly sick. Showered. Down to eat breakfast while Sugeko was cleaning the kitchen. Finally left after 12. To Cathedral: walked around outside and inside. Someone wrote "Holy Church!" in guestbook. Walking streets including audio shop where I saw nice Marantz universal remote control for NZ$400. CD shop featuring Cheryl Wheeler (NZ$34) and Dar Williams (NZ$37). Lunch of Caribbean Seafood Soup & Garlic Focaccia (NZ$6.50) at Broccoli Row (a "café"). Diary update. Walked through town on different streets. To library to try Internet access, but their telnet was quite well protected. Walked over to a computer store and used their machine for NZ$10 an hour. I was on from 15:22 to 16:37 (1:15) but they charged me just $10. Two people in line for the two machines. New World Supermarket. To hostel. Reading newspaper. Tried cooking rice, with help from Japanese woman, but it still didn't turn out right after two tries. Ate the rice and two plums and some scroggin with that Japanese woman and her friend, then later talking to a lady from Auckland who wants to move to the Nelson area. Cleaned up (the pot with burnt rice was hard to clean). Rested on bed. Down to TV lounge. Watching "A Distinguished Gentleman" with Eddie Murphy. Upstairs to sleep.

Up at 06:45. Felt very sick while taking a shower, so sat there a while and rested / cooled off. Dressed. Took pack downstairs. Ate breakfast. Packed food. Out to wait for bus. Lots of people got on at the YHA. Tea stop at 10:00 in Murchison. Bus 25 minutes late because he went to get a new hose. Stops along the river. Lunch in Westport. Stop to see seals and a weka (a flightless bird). To Punakaiki: bus dropped people at pancake rocks, then brought six of us to Beach Hostel. Made up bed. Walked to payphone at motor camp but NFG. Walked up to visitor center. Called and booked petrel viewing. Ate hot & spicy chicken at café. Walked back to hostel. In lounge updating diary and talking to people including Melissa, a school teacher from Ontario / BC. 20:30 pickup (two others I knew from the Magic Bus plus one other guy) to go see Black Petrel colony. Drove through rivers, then hiked up stairs on hill. No natural mammal predators, so they're not afraid of people. Right now they're at the stage in life where they're figuring out how to fly. So a lot of wing flapping and attempted launchings all followed by a crash. Once they make their maiden flight, they head out to sea for five to seven years before returning to within one square meter of their birth burrow. Didn't see any adults arrive. Chicks also have to lose weight before they can fly. If they don't make it out to sea on their maiden flight, they usually starve to death, as they don't have the energy to get up to another launch point. There until 22:10, then we hiked back down to the truck and he drove us all back. Paid $25 each. Really interesting! Back in lounge at Beach Hostel, reading Are You Joking Mr. Feynman until about 00:00. To bed.

Up before 9. Shower & shave. Packed up and vacated bed. Up to lounge. Bought and ate an apple muffin and talking to German woman and Melissa. Checked out the beach. Walked along beach road, then up to the main road and to the visitor centre area. Made reservation for Franz Joseph. Hiked down to Pancake Rocks. Spent 30 minutes wandering around there. Saw people from hostel about to start a trek. To visitor centre. Had fish and scones for lunch (place full of Kiwi Experience people). Walked back to the hostel, with a peek at caves along the road. Slept a bit on the couch. Reading. Brought pack outside. Waiting outside the last few minutes. On bus up to visitor centre. Pot of tea, sitting with Shane, the driver, who had dreadlocks, and three English girls. 17:15 departure. Sitting next to English girl from Manchester. To Greymouth. Got my pack off at YHA stop, then on bus around the corner to Noah's Ark (2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 mini-horse). Put in one room, then moved to a "less crowded" room when I went to ask for top sheet and towel. Woman from Hoboken playing guitar, so I sat next to her to listen. Talking to her too. About 20:40, went out to Coasters / Arazona [sic]. Ordered Pumpkin Soup ($4), mostly milk and butter -- little pumpkin, and "chicken satay" ($8) which was really deep-fried and raw in the middle. I ate the cooked part and told the waiter about the raw part. He said: "Sorry. Would you like to see the dessert menu?" Live music next door was just covers, so I didn't stop there and headed back to Noah's. Talking to Malay Malaysians in TV room. To room to sleep about 23:00.

Up at 06:45 / 06:50 after waking up several times during the night. Shower (hot water only!), shaved, brought pack downstairs, free breakfast of multi-grain bread and scones. 08:00 Magic Bus pickup (though the driver stayed at Noah's he picked up at the YHA first). To jade carving place in dead town (well, it was 09:00 on a Sunday). We were dropped at the lake and we hiked back to a pub for tea and scones. A bunch of us discussing Canadian bands (BNL, Great Big Sea, etc.). On bus to gold mining town of Ross. Company wants to dig up the entire town. Looked at mining pit, the old jail, saw a demo, and into the visitor centre. To Franz Joseph. Checked in at Chateau Franz Joseph, quickly changed clothes, and down to Franz Joseph Glacier Guides. I (and an Indian girl) had signed up for the Heli-Hike, and we had to wait for the pilot to go up and survey. Trip was canceled due to low clouds. 3 of us transferred to Half Day Glacier Walk. Got boots fitted and Indian woman (she works at the Singapore Embassy in Canberra) and I alone in the van. 1.2 km hike to the base of the glacier with guide explaining things along the way. At the base, we changed into our boots and 33 people divided into three groups. I went in medium group. Scary at first (lose your step and you fall and get killed), but lots of fun. We hiked up the ice to a flat area, then explored around and through crevice, had to do a sideways back step, back, and then down after 17:00. Hike back to parking lot. Bus to the office. Looking at pictures. Back to hostel. Resting. Cleaned up my junk and got all ready for tonight / tomorrow. To YHA to see if they serve meals (as LP guide said) but they don't seem to. Looked in Montrose. To town. Ate at Cheeky Kea: crumbled sole & ginger beer. Next to table of English women from Kiwi Experience. After dinner walk to quiet streets, then to pub. Sat with woman from Hoboken, woman from Manchester, nurse from southern England, and others. Our driver was drinking at the next table. Left about 22:20 and walked back with the Hoboken woman. To sleep about 23:00. Slept soundly through the night.

Up at 06:40 / 06:45. Waited for shower. Shower. Out with pack about 07:50. On bus. To Fox and Lake Matheson. Had one hour to explore. Walked to lake lookout point with 100 other Magic and Kiwi Exp. people. Back. Had croissant and chocolate covered meusli bar. Girl hurt her hand in fall. To Fox Glacier town. Back to Lake to pick up a couple doing bird watching that we'd left behind earlier, then back to town to drop them off. To salmon farm, where I ordered salmon chowder, but they lost my order so I got it in a takeaway cup. Stop at DOC visitor centre at Haast Pass, and called the Queenstown YHA from there. At the top of the pass, we dropped off 5 people hiking down the hill. Very rainy & cloudy so we didn't do the jet boats. Got to lodge at Makarora. All paid and found beds. They were short on bedding so they asked me to use my sleeping bag. Got luggage off the bus. At lodge talking to Ann from Ireland, who's working as a midwife in Australia, and a guy from São Paulo, Brasil. Walked with Ann to the shop to buy milk. I bought a ginger beer and yogurt. Walked back and talked more. I went off and did nearby nature walk (not raining too hard now). Out to SH6, then back to the lodge along the highway. Dinner preparations: I was put in charge of getting a fire going in the potbelly stove. Reading. Dinner served about 19:15. Baked mini thin-skinned potatoes, 3 salads, garlic bread (2 thin slices for each). Talking to Indian woman ("I knew you were a Virgo"), woman from BC, "Mr (Bom) Tan." A bunch of Swedes were to my right. Music and talking... About 21:30 or 22:00 I went to my bed to read. Poked my head in around 23:00 and only a few people were left. To sleep.

Up at 07:15 / 07:20. Washed face and shaved. Packed and brought pack to lodge. Had breakfast of yogurt and meusli. All on bus (I sat next to Luis). We had to wait at shop to get fax (the shop clerk overslept). A few "Kodak Moment"s along the way down to Maze place. Did the maze (not as good as the one outside London), then to Hologram room and tilted house. Proprietor (Stuart) always running around explaining and demoing stuff. He also buried something on site and any psychic can pay to sit there while he concentrates on the location. Some have done it (he doesn't always charge them) but none have come up with the location. Driver washed bus. 11:30: arrived Wanaka. Ate veggie pizza slice. 12:00: back on bus to West Bakeaka (?), Motor Camp, YHA, then finally my Matterhorn South. Made bed, then took long shower. Out to lake, watching mommy and baby ducks. To visitor centre. Feeling quite weak, so walked to "medical centre". Waited 15 minutes and saw a nice doctor who asked me lots of questions and prescribed some antibiotics (co-trimoxazole). To pharmacy to get pills, to YHA to check it out. Popped in at M.S. then to lake to update diary. Hungry. I should eat. Checked out lots of restaurants, some of which were closed. Also stopped at market that advertised Japanese food products. Bought two yogurts. Ate in town at Paddy's: chicken & apricot filo w/ cranberry sauce (filo came from freezer but it was very good); w/ salad and fries for NZ$12.50. Back to hostel. Reading and watching nonkins (?). Surprised when I saw it was almost 22:00. To bed. Room full including two women. I was coughing pretty badly.

Out of bed about 9. Shower. Yogurt and meusli. Walked along lake to waterfall creek. Sat there a while. Back, with stop at Edgewater Resort (all Japanese). Lunch at Kai Whaka Pai: smoked chicken focaccia. Read newspaper. Walked to Wanaka Bakpaka to check it out, then took the trail to Eely Point and beyond. Stopped to read a couple of times. Nice weather all day. Water pump / flow meter. Took picture of couple. Walked back to hostel. Out to get Chinese takeaway (veggies and rice) and bring it back to eat. Read last week's Time Magazine. Took walk down to lake. Reading. Finished "Surely You're Joking...". Took another brief walk down the street to the stream (it was a warm night). To bed.

Up at 8. Shower. Brought pack to lounge. Breakfast (meusli and yogurt). In lounge a while, then down to the lake with my pack to hang and wait for the Magic Bus. Bus came about 12:20. I put my pack on the bus and went to buy Kumara chips. Back near the bus to eat them, then walked a bit. Bus (today seemed to be half Asians). Stopped to look at door. Stopped to look at reconstructed stone buildings in Cromwell (including original Cromwell sewer). 15-minute stop in Arrowtown. Stop at original bungy bridge (Kawarau Suspension Bridge). Watched a bunch of Taiwanese women (some old) jump. On to Queenstown via scenic route. Driver showed us around, then stopped at their agent. Dropped at YHA (far away!). Sharing room with old guy from bus ("I'm from the United..."). Walked into town to check it out: frozen yogurt, to park, skating rink, oyako ducks. saw two Japanese women from bus; saw Allison from Manchester (she invited me to join her and others for dinner). Saw hair-dyed Japanese woman from bus: talked with her and her friends. 20:00 meet at McFees. With Alison, Nancy (Indigo Girls fan), and Swedish girl to place serving Thanksgiving dinner, but they had just run out. To Abbey Road: all are (me: roast chicken), then inside for drinks (me: tea), then to The World (live band) for their 22:30 happy hour. Left about 23:00. All went home. Lots of noisy fun-sounding chuugokujin in my hostel. To sleep.

Packed and vacated twin room. Put laundry in. Ate usual breakfast. Laundry in two dryers. In kitchen area. Folded laundry. To town. Bought Bottom Bus Southlander ticket (NZ$189). In Bungy Center. Thai food lunch and diary update. Walked around including indoor mall. To café: no soya so had honey/lemon drink and read 1997-08 Vanity Fair article on Wall Street Journal. Back to hostel to set up in new room. Went on walk up One-Mile Creek to old reservoir. Lost track for a while, so backtraced and found it. Down to residential street. Wandered those incl. newly-built apartments. To gondola: took it up with two women from Taiwan. Outside platform. Inside: checked out buffet: looks nice, but $35 (and it's a buffet). Ordered Skyline Smoothie in lounge and sat overlooking view while listening to jazz duo. Used courtesy phone to call YHA (they open at 18:30 so I'm OK), then to check VM and try calling Todd. Down to bottom ~20:00. To Chinese restaurant for dinner. To coffeehouse: hot chocolate with soya milk. Back to hostel about 22:00. To bed about 22:30.

Up at 6. Kiwi Experience bus at 7. Other pickups. Driver Darren and his friend Eddie. Brief stop in Te Anau at Pop Inn. On to Milford with stop for walk at Chasm Rocks (in rainforest, rocks with holes in river). Just in time for 12:25 Milford Adventurer 3-hour cruise on Milford Sound (but it's really a fiord), including underwater museum. Weather OK at beginning, but raining after the museum. Talking with "Suna", a woman from southern Thailand, getting her MA in Linguistics at Univeristy of NSW in Sydney. Sat next to her on bus back to Te Anau. Checked in to Te Anau Backpackers. In room with other guy starting Bottom Bus tomorrow. To supermarket: bought meusli, bread, yogurt. Had large order of nachos at Redcliff Café Back to hostel. Ate toast. Talking with two Japanese women who both work at Chinese takeaway shops in Wellington (one looks like young Chiyoko-san). Later, woman named Ishikawa Noriko came from next door. Talking with her. She invited me to do the Routeburn Track with her on the 8th. Guy from Las Vegas came back from caves and he, I, and and Scottish guy from Auckland talking about gold and currencies. 25 CD player in lounge, but Israeli guys put on a Hebrew tape. To bed at 00:00.

Up at 08:30. Sh/Sh. Breakfast. Noriko came by to visit. Packed. In lounge talking to owner about computer for email she's getting for guests. Diary update. Started writing letter to Noriko, but she came by again. Going over xport options to Milford Track with her. Bottom Bus came, so I loaded pack on there and walked into town with Noriko to the supermarket. She was buying soup ingredients. I left to go to Pop Inn: ordered bagel with lox and cream cheese ($3) and talked to driver while waiting re. booking at Dunedin. 13:00 departure. and drove straight to Dunedin with only an afternoon tea stop and a toilet stop. Dropped two of us at Auntie's (sister hostel of Te Anau Backpackers). Made bed and headed out to explore. Walked through Otago University varsity, but it's Sunday and it's 3 weeks into summer vacation, so it was totally dead. Walked by the Polytechnic (also dead), and around the neighborhood, past all the rundown student flats (reminded me of Pittsburgh's), including house where Chinese students were having a "Garage Sala." Looking for eating places, but not many (McDonald's, F&C, and pizza). Ate at Harkey's, a bar with a Chinese cook. Very good chicken satay kebabs with rice, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans for $10. After, walked a ways all the way to center city and found a free concert going on at the Octagon. Checked out some restaurants and café in the area and listened to the music. Talking with a loud guy too. Singer Lorina Harding had the guts to sing her song "The Not So Righteous Café" at this family Chistmas gathering. I didn't stay for the lighting of the tree, and walked back to the hostel. Listening to some CDs from 25-CD player, then to bed about 22:40.

Up at 06:10. Sh/Sh. Waiting for bus downstairs from 07:15 to 07:50. He drove us (six people: me, two Aussies, and 3 English) to the University and checked our tickets. Stop at a visitor center to make Riverton bookings, then at a payphone for two of us to make Invercargill booking. Lots of stops including nature hike, beaches with seals, beach with sea lions (difference is they can walk on four legs), beach with petrified forest and a yellow-eyed penguin. Lunch was by a waterfall. Generally nice weather all day with occasional brief rains. Night before had very strong winds, so power was out in many places (my ice cream was soft). Stop at Invercargill Museum to see old dinosaur-like reptiles living there. Dropped us 2 off at Southern Comfort Backpackers. Waited almost an hour for lady to come check us in. Made bed. Out to find food. Walked all around. Got $120 from ATM. Bought shrimp and veggies (no celery!) and rice (turned out to be fried rice), and brought it back to the hostel to eat. Diary update after, still next to two Germans playing Scrabble. To sleep about 22:30.

Up at 06:57. Sh/Sh. Called airline. Only seats available are 6 for 17:00 flight to Stewart Island. Lots of toast for breakfast. Called airline and they said I could go out and put my name on the standby list. Took shuttle to airport, but when I got there they said my name would be taken off the list if I left the airport. Took the shuttle back. Wasn't sure if his talk of "miles" was because I was from the U.S. or because he's older. He charged me $8. Told Valerie and she called the airline and they put my name back on the list. Out: walked to DOC office and booked the Routeburn. Walked around town: bought used CD at sitiya-san (pawn shop), fancy restroom, ..., lunch at Frog 'N' Firkin (poached sole). Walked to museum: pretty good, and ran into Melissa (Canadian from Punakaiki). Back to hostel. Called airline. Still 4 seats at 17:00, so booked shuttle to airport at 15:50. Sat around waiting and cleaning out sand from my shoes. Shuttle to airport with other guy. Waiting until 16:25, when they called me and checked me in. Waiting for plane. Playing with courtesy phone. Need to use NZ pulse dialing (1=9). Flight to Stewart Island on 10-person Britten Norman Islander. Van to town. To DOC but closed. To Shearwater Inn, but no beds available. She called Michael's Place for me. To phone to try calling Julie's Place, but disconnected. Walked to Mike's Place up the hill. One other guy staying there. Linda working there. Took bed. Mike gave Paua (abalone) cooking demo and let me try a piece (good, but mostly the Chinese chili/garlic sauce he used). Out to find food. All food stores closed and only restaurant is the South Seas Hotel, but they were booked until 20:30. I made a reservation and went home. Ate scroggin and dry cereal. Reading a few-week-old Time magazine (all in metric!) in kitchen when two Japanese women arrived. Started talking with them as they were making instant noodles with fresh veggies. They are two sisters from Kyoto, one on working holiday visa (but not working), one came from Japan. Later, watching TV with Mike: Cybill, then Chicago Hope (guy came in with 24-hour erection, then pacemaker, then brain surgery). To sleep at 23:30.

Woke up about 09:30, just as Japanese were leaving. Sh/Sh. Toast breakfast. To tearoom to buy sandwiches and cookie. Headed off onto track towards Fern Gully, then down Ryans Creek (very muddy), fell when I slipped on non chickenwired "half rounds". Followed track around the bay. Ate lunch at 14:00 siting on jetty. Cookie an hour later at Deep Bay (geese were interested). Across and up to monument on hill. Back to Halfmoon Bay. Stopped in at Southern Air to check on Friday's load. To store to buy food and drinks. Back to Mike's, just behind Mike. Older woman, Patricia, back from 3 days' tramping. We decided to try fish, so I went back to the store and bought some blue cod ("1st fish in two weeks") and some sugar for Mike. Back. Made rice (with some help from two Japanese sisters). Simpsons on the TV. Patricia made her fish and then I made mine, pan frying most of it, and stir frying thicker piece. Ate dinner. Talking with Japanese. Mike made sausages with garlic. Mike brought in National Geographic articles on Japan. I read one on the Dai Hansin Earthquake. Brushed teeth. Into living room: watching TV until 23:40.

Out of bed about 9. Sh/Sh. Granola & yogurt. Japanese woman gave me a note and asked for my business card. To buy filled roll, then did hike to Horseshoe Bay via Horseshoe Point and Dead Man Beach. Walked along road to middle of bay. Back (saw local kids). Ate lunch on bench. Walked back to town. Stopped in at local theater for more details. To Justcafé for Hot Chocolate and diary update. To DOC / Visitor Centre to look around. Asking about Routeburn conditions. Heard Japanese woman asking about kiwi spotting. I booked the last spot for tonight. Back to Mike's place: sat on porch and watched birds and view. Went down to store: bought torch, dessert, arare, no camera battery. Back to Mike's. After Mike came home, I made instant pasta dinner and ate it and most of the sponge cake I'd bought. Mike eating lobster claws and he gave me one to eat. Put on warm clothes and flossed teeth. Down to wharf, after checking plane standby schedule for tomorrow. Takahasi-san and I the first to arrive. Started speaking to her. She just arrived today. From Hirosima. daigaku ni itte ina. Boat left, but then returned to pick up late arriver. 45 minute ride to jetty, seeing blue penguin swimming and on a rock. Each given a torch and we hiked track across to beach. Turned off our lights and followed guide (Mr. Smith) back and forth looking for kiwi. Heard male calls. Saw eggs and nest of other bird on beach. Finally spotted a kiwi, and watched it walking back and forth along the beach. Back along track, where we saw a few other kiwi. Back to boat about 00:10. Short lecture and Q&A on kiwi, then back to Halfmoon Bay. Walked with Takahasi back to Shearwater, then I to Mike's, arriving at 01:40. Brushed teeth, turned out lights, and to sleep.

Out of bed at 9. Sh/Sh. Breakfast. Packed up. To Southern Air: put my name on the standby list for 15:30 flight and left my pack there. Walked the loop road by bathing beach, and checked out the Presbytarian church. Started raining hard. To DOC and watched Stewart Island video. Lots of other people came out of the rain to watch it. Over to Gumboot Theatre to watch production of "A Day in the Life of Stewart Island", a one-woman show. Linda (of Mike's) sat next to me. To South Sea Hotel for lunch: smoked salmon with salad and fries ($13). To bar: drank ginger ale and eavesdropped on fishermen. To airline office / post office. Playing with old switchboard, which had been in service until 1988: 100 stations with flaps. About 15:20 they drove us to the airstrip and we flew off to Invercargill. Retrieved my pack at the plane and hopped into Spitfire Shuttle to Frog' 'n' Firkin. Left my pack there. In movie theater next door reading reviews they printed off the Internet. To Farmers and bought polypro long underwear. To Zookeepers Café: had mango tea and cinnamon toast. Diary update. Back to cinema for a bit, then next door to Frog 'n' Firkin. Retrieved pack and sat at front. Irish woman, Ruth, came over, and I sat with her. Talking until bus arrived. 13 people on bus. Stop at museum. To Riverton. Guys stayed at nice place and women stayed in under-renovation Globe Hotel. Soon all dorms rooms will be moved there. Paua factory look-around. To fish & chips shop: whitebait patty and chips (their corn was deep-fried). Waited until Ruth's was ready, then walked with her to their place. Ate in the kitchen there, then we all moved to the pub. Free beer for grand opening day of the hostel (in that building). Talking to two English women who have been living there free for two months in exchange for fixing up the place. Also talking to the driver and manager. To sleep about 23:00 (had to climb in thru the window).

Up at 06:25. Sh/Sh. Packed up. Down at 07:25. In bus (pouring rain for a while). Little tour around the coast and out to Riverton Rocks: walked around there. Beach is all tiny smooth rounded rocks - RR is big rocks. Stop at ruby sand beach. Walked over old suspension bridge to meet driver for morning tea. Left the coast and headed inland. To Pearl Harbor: took walk along road. To see birds in cages. Dropped off people at Pop Inn. To Te Anau Backpackers. German guy checking in opened his wallet and said "Oh shit!" Seems someone took all his money except for one $20 bill, probably while he'd been in the shower this morning in his last hostel. Splurged $16.50 for bed at place across the driveway ("Lakefront Backpackers"). Going over needs list for hike. Called hire place. Headed into town. Stopped at Sports World, open Sundays 9-9. Pancakes at Jailhouse Café In a few shops. Supermarket: bought stuff for tonight's dinner: blue cod and veggies. Bought camera battery in camera shop. Walked back, dropped off food, to DOC: asked questions but too early to pick up hut passes. Looked at exhibits. Across street to small underwater trout aquarium. Walked back along the river. Noriko showed up. Reading Time magazine, then "Crews" by Maria Hinojosa. Made dinner by stir-frying everything with Thai sauce. After eating, noticed it was 21:40! Talking to Noriko and two other Japanese women. To sleep about 00:00.

Up about 08:50. Sh/Sh/Breakfast (muesli & yogurt). About 11, planning meals with Noriko. Left after 12. To DOC to get passes. To Bev's gear hire (no good overtrousers - told us to come back after 7). Back to hostel to pick up Akiko, then we all went food shopping, got ice cream, I bought mittens, hat, and energy bars at Sports World. Back. Roommate gave me his extra overtrousers. Hanging out over at the office. Gave London-jin my info. Two Japanese cooked dinner and we ate it (niku-jaga & rice & miso soup & wine & beer & fruit & sponge cake). I did most of the cleaning. Now 22:00. Diary update.

Up about 07:20. Showered, then shaved in the other room. Breakfast. Finished putting Noriko's and my stuff in her china bag. Akiko came over. All three to Mt. Cook bus office. Waiting a while then paid. 09:30 bus, but no seats so the three of us and two Japanese went in van as far as Milford Track boat, then in bus to The Divide (11:00). Started Routeburn Track. Did side trip up to Key ? Summit, leaving our packs just off the trail. Nice views and landscape like a Japanese garden. Back to main trail and on to Howden Hut on Lake Howden. Sat outside hut and ate lunch (ham & cheese). Continued on through rainforest (all three of us were walking together but Noriko didn't like hearing the "para para para para" right behind her so we spread out) 3.5 hours to Mackenzie Hut on Lake Mackenzie. Found an available bunk platform, then in lodge talking then making and eating dinner. Talking with two Americans (one of them living in Oz for 10 months). Talking with two P.E. teachers from Singapore, then Noriko came over too. To sleep.

Up about 7. Someone hit my feet but I was already up. Instant ramen for breakfast. Left about 9, arriving at Harris Saddle Shelter after 12 (cold!). Ate lunch inside with lots of people including gaido-san and her customer. Down, through some snow to Routeburn Falls Hut. Found some bunks, then in lodge. Rice and fish for dinner. Japanese playing cards, and I talking with South African woman, then Israeli girl, then three people (two Israelis and one American born in Israel): Israeli creek. Hut warden came in and said he was glad to see there was plenty of fresh air in there as some people had died recently at a hut from CO poisoning. Sitting by fire. I had washed my longjohns shirt and had it hanging by the stove to dry. I went to bed at 23:00 while Noriko and Akiko sitting outside. Brushed teeth in kitchen.

Up at 7. Got dressed then woke up Noriko. Overly salty ramen for breakfast. Sitting in lodge. Left at 10. One hour to Routeburn Flats, then trail by the river all the way to the end. Sat outside and ate lunch. Got cold and rainy so I went inside. 14:00 bus to Glenarchy. Bought ginger beer. Walked a bit. Bought soap and shampoo. 15:00 bus to Queenstown (slept a bit). Bumbles hostel. They charge for everything! (sheet, duvet, towel, storage.) Roommate said a girl stopped by for me. Shower. Wandered by Noriko's room and the lounge, but no Noriko. Brought clothes to the laundry shed (next to two lambs) and Noriko was there too. Put my wash in and used Noriko's soap. With Noriko hanging her laundry. Agreed to meet for dinner at 19:00. To my room. In lounge, with Noriko at another table. Took laundry out of dryer and folded it, but it's still a bit wet. To Noriko's room at 19:05. She told me to wait for her in lounge. Called Backing Specialists but they were closed. Tried to check voicemail without paying. To lounge. Four of us (Noriko, Akiko, Osamu, and I) to town. I called Magic and reserved seat for tomorrow. All to Happy Wok Café (a Thai place). Shared four dishes. Very good. Walked slowly back to Bumbles. All in lounge until 23:00, including dividing up leftover food. Other three people in room sleeping. Packed in dark. Sleep.

Up after 7. Waited for shower. One-shot in b/room. Out about 08:15. Noriko waiting for me in lounge. Her, Akiko, and Osamu waiting for bus. It came before 08:30. Goodbyes. Bus to Dunedin, next to German woman. with stop at dam, then tea stop, then lunch stop. Checked in to Adventurers. Walked around the Octagon, picking up Finks (city guide), eating satay from yatai, and hot chocolate at a café. Back to hostel about 15:00. Put on hiking boots for 15:15 pickup for nature tour. People from Elm Lodge on different bus so I didn't see German, Chan (English doctor). Saw birds (scags) drying their wings because they have little oil on their wings and it takes a while and some effort to dry them. Tall legged, yellow face, Albatross with 3-meter wing span, scrag nests (feeding young), sea lions, seals, penguins. Back about 21:30. Out to Arc Café to see local singer: ate miso noodle soup and logged in on free Internet Macs (no email - just checking NFS problem) while listening to pretty bad guy singing mix of covers and originals. Left about 23:00 and went back to sleep.

Bus (Bruce) finally came about 08:50. Stop at "world's steepest street". Stop at boulders on beach. Ate muffin and ginger beer. Through Oamaru with lots of neat old business / bank buildings. To lunch stop in Timaru. I wandered streets then grabbed a good smoked salmon (big pieces of fish) croissant and ate it outside by bus. Old canoe goods storehouse. On to Christchurch. Foley Towers check in, then to Cathedral Square. 17:20 airport bus to Antarctic Centre: very interesting displays all about the research stations on the south pole. Read handbook for people going to Antartica. Various videos including one by American for his kids at the South Pole Station. Out at 19:17 - hoping 19:15 bus is late, I went to bus stop and waited a few minutes, then it came and took me back to town. Looking for local gig guide (doesn't seem to exist). Wandered by tons of bars with lots of people sitting outside. Pedestrian mall. Made a bunch of travel-related calls including to Renee. Walked to Hare Krishna veggie restaurant but it closed at 20:00. Popped in to an Irish bar with a band setting up. Popped in to Backpackers Inn The Square. To bar to order Cajun Chicken Sandwich. Not bad, except no cajun flavor, the bread was soaked with cheese, and a huge amount of fries (that I of course had to eat). Walked down and checked out Dux de Lux. Wow, it's huge, mostly outdoors. To Coffee House but decided not to order. To Court Theatre. Bought student ticket for Scared Scriptless. Looked next door in other old building. Show started at 23:00. I was one of the few first-timers. Improv comedy. I was very tired but they made me forget that and had me rolling on the floor. Over about 00:40. Walked back to Foley Towers. Sleep.

Sore throat worse and feeling a bit sick/weak. Checked out brunch scene at bars along the river. Found place for lunch: Korean restaurant: had veggie and miso nabe and 4 sides (including gaijin kimchi). "Extra cup of water is self service." Yesterday's rice, but not bad. $10. Walking south on Columbo St. South Side Mall. Pharmacies. 14:00 guided walk ($8): just me, Ian the guide, and a family (mom, dad, son, mom's mom) from Christchurch but now lives in Perth (except the mom's mom). Cathedral, council chambers, view from hotel, campus with old (and new old) buildings. Art Gallery. Back up Worcester. Tour over about 16:30. South on Columbo to find After Hours Surgery at Bealy St. Walked and walked. Finally asked someone and was told that I'd walked the wrong way. Walked back to the city center with a stop at a supermarket, and then on to Bealy. Doctor saw me for less than 5 minutes and said it's probably viral but gave me penicilin in case it is strep. $50. To the pharmacy to fill the Rx ($9). Walked back to Foley. Waited until 20:00 to take pill, then to 21:00 before eating (finished reading "Crews" by Maria Hinojosa and left it at book swap in the hostel). Ate yogurt and three english muffins. Spoke briefly with a Japanese guy. Reading newspaper. To bed about 22:00, with old guy already there and snoring.

Up at 07:10. Last one up in my room. Shower, shave, packed. Quick yogurt & meusli breakfast, then outside to wait for Magic bus. Waited 08:15 to 09:05, then called the Magic office and they called the driver and he's already 45 minutes north of Christchurch. They brokered me on the 12:15 Intercity bus. Hung around the hostel reading LP Australia until 11:30 shuttle pickup. Waiting -- café closed. 15:00 arrival in Kaikora. To Dolphin Encounters to pay for tomorrow. To K's Backpackers (not where the LP map shows it is!). Oops, it's all twins and doubles, but Jackie talked them into it. Rested in room. Down to town. Ran into Chan - talking to her - only six people on bus today. Called Sydney but too early. Called driver Darryl at Moby Dix's about tomorrow morning pickup at dolphin place. To beach (all rocks), to DOC Centre, to other end of town and back. Saw Chan. Got money. Ate seafood fettucine and baked potato (bad as usual). Across the street to the beach. Sat watching ocean and wrote a postcard. Walked back to K's. Talking with woman from Dunedin there with her husband and kids. Both are teachers, and are on a six-week trip. Reading guest comments book. Several people talked about the great showers so I took a shower and went to bed (about 21:30).

Up at 05:05. No shower. With pack to Dolphin Encounters. Checked us in and wetsuited us up. On bus to boat. Boat out 25 minutes to a bunch of dolphins. We all went in and swam with them. Back on boat. We made a few other drops, but none were as good as the first. Picture time. Hot water down wetsuit. Saw whale do a dive. Around seals including two babies. Back to office after 9. Shower. Dressed. Magic bus waiting for me. One Japanese woman (like Joyce) on bus. Tea time (wrote my evaluation). Driver dropped me in Blenheim. $15 taxi ride (woman driver has been all over Asia) to airport. Checked in standby. Ate veggie sandwich, then chocolate and cream cheese muffin. 15-seat plane (Embraer) to Wellington, then to Auckland. Called Renee from the airport. Airbus to town with no aircon. Checked in to CCB. Wandered around. CD Shop. Waiting for Renee at 18:00 at McDonald's. Called Joel to see if new Jewel disc I saw is available in the U.S. Renee and Casey showed up and we walked all around. Ate at Ginza, a Korean-owned tonkatu restaurant. Walked to car to get Renee's camera, then to SkyTower. Went up to various levels and looked down. Took lots of Santa photos. Down to Harrah's casino. Playing video poker (I kept winning), then Casey lost on blackjack tables. To car. To café where I had smoothie. To car. To Renee's house to get my tent. They dropped me near CCB. Good-bye :-(. Upstairs to sleep.

Up before 07:45/07:50 alarms. Shower/shave, out to post office with iranai mono in backpack. Shipping rates quite high so only used seamail and only mailed things I wouldn't need for a few months (tent, sleeping bag, books). Back to CCB. Packed up and checked out about 10:00. To CD store: bought new Jewel (just out on the 12th), Mutton Birds, and Bic Runga CDs (all $29.95). Talked with store clerk. To food court in same building and had waffle with frozen yogurt on top. Walked a little, bought sushi and onigiri, then to CCB. Sat in lobby for a few minutes then grabbed my pack and went to catch AirBus, hopping on one I saw sitting at a light. I sat in guide's chair until the next stop. Arrived at airport about an hour later at 12:25. Checked in, paid departure tax, exchanged remaining NZ$ (except casino one) into AUS$. Wrote and mailed postcards. Immigration. To gate. No plane in sight so I wandered around and then brought a newspaper back to the gate to read. NZ105 left late. I ate the sushi and onigiri, then the airplane "dinner". 3:10 flight and arrived Sydney. Long line at immigration. Used ATM (Cirrus - no Plus) to get cash, took bus to Backpackers HQ Hostel (people smoking in the longe and the dorm room was a mess). Asked for new sheets on my bed. Paid for next day. Out walking around King's Cross. Lots of great fast-food places. To Darlinghurst. Called Grace but not home. Called Mitch and talked to Adelita (he calls her "PIMA"). Kept walking. Navy ships. Back to hostel to check on bed. New sheets but people were smoking in the room. Out to eat: fast food Indian. Walking. "Sundae". Sitting in Jolly Tasman hostel again talking to people. Left message for Grace at 22:30. Back to hostel after 23:00. On bed writing diary and trying to stay awake until 00:15 to take my pill. Undressed and to sleep.

Shower with plain glass between the two stalls (strange!). Made breakfast (stupid dish checkout). Out. Called Mitch from payphone in shopping arcade. Talked for long time. Walked William St. to George St. North on George. In Dymocks bookstore. Great shelves of every Lonely Planet product. Bought LP Sydney guide. Lunch at Malaysian House (Malaysian fast-food; had Sambal Fish & Char Tay Keow). Walked to Circular Quay with some stops. Sat on bench overlooking opera house. Called Mitch at 15:30 as requested. Will meet at 16:30 at statue of Queen Victoria at QVB. Started making my way there, with stop at Post Shop. Inside QVB. Out at 16:35 to wait. Mitch showed up about 17:00. Together to punk music store, then mainstream stores (none had Wendy Rule CDs) and bookstores. To his car (BMW 318) and to video store, then another bookstore. To my hostel to pick up my stuff. Mitch really liked it when a pretty Israeli girl came back from the shower totally nude (before this he said he couldn't understand why I would want to stay at a hostel when I could stay with him. After this, he said he didn't know why I would stay with him when I could stay at this hostel). Checked out. To petrol station - I called Adelita ("don't call her Pima" said Mitch) and told her we're on our way. Home about 20:30. Ate burritos. Out with Mitch to buy a new nightlight. Using Mitch's computer to read a few select email messages and see if CD Now had certain OZ and NZ artists (they had many but at US$30 + each). To sleep about 23:00.

Left at 09:15 with Adelita to kids get-together at a park. She brought a pastel tres leches she made (she wasn't happy with how it turned out but I liked it a lot). Hung out there talking to some mothers and to a house husband from Omaha. Asian Cat Ng too. Adelita drove me to the ferry. Took it to Circular Quay, then walked to Opera House and did the 12:00 tour. Saw all four theatres and a bit of the backstage. Down underneath the building afterward. To park next door to sit and look at guidebook. Walked to The Rocks area. Looking at gig guides in little mall. Ate falafel roll. Walked around area a bit, up hill, along, back down. To rail station and took train to Central. Checked out new YHA hostel. Very nice, but perhaps too big. To nearby Chinatown including Laserdisc shop with combo LD/VCD players (Sony) and two kaitenzushiya and wandered around big mall there. Back to Central. Took train to Newtown. Walked King St. for hours, with detour through a bit of University of Sydney. Lots of restaurants, funky shops, black-only CD shop. Made In Japan shop. Poked my head in again at Sandringham Hotel bar but still no Mitch. Next door to café and had smoothie. Hmm, I think it's made with milk. Paid and went in to Sandringham. Started talking to Millie, The Lanterns' manager while wiating for Mitch. She knows him. Mitch arrived. Three of us talking. When "music" started, I left and wandered down King St. Ate dinner at Indian fast-food place, then to some bookstores before getting back to the bar about 22:35. Inside until The Lanterns went on about 22:45, then listened to a few songs from outside (it was so loud inside). Wandered residential streets including sitting on a bench. Back to outside the bar for the last few songs. Went inside once people started clearing out. With Mitch to his office for him to send a fax. Home. To sleep at 01:00.

Up before 7. Back to sleep until 09:22. Shower. Starting to work on getting Internet working. Waiting for callback. I called again and held. Talked to guy who had me do manual connect through annex, then download MS scripting software and a script, install it, reinstall comm packages from CD-ROM, and eventually it all worked. Called Mitch to say I'm late. Checked email from Janine to see when she's coming to San Diego and sent her a reply saying I should be there then (30th). Walked up to Military Ave., and took the bus to Mitch's office. He was upset at employee using the courier for personal use. We called Palmer (sick with two screaming kids) and talked for 15 minutes. I left and ate Thai chili pork at fast food outlet. Across the street. Got $7 haircut by a Kiwi just two weeks in Sydney from the Gold Coast, and originally from Invercargill. Wandered around that area (N. Sydney), then hopped a bus for Mosman Wharf. It started to pour as I got off the bus, then became a huge downpour with wind and lightning. Waited it out at the ferry terminal. Once the rain stopped, I bought an ice cream bar and started walking around the point to Cremorne with plenty of stops for harbor view, swings, pool in bay. Off track to streets and walked up Military Rd. and to central Cremorne. Called Sarah Atkinson in Melbourne regarding Wendy Rule from credit card phone in hotel. Playing with international toll-free from outdoor payphone. Walked back to Mitch's (house built in 1845). In computer room. Ordered Pizza Hut pizza. All watching TV.

Up about 8. Mitch outside installing green fencing. Hanging out there. Showered eventually. Breakfast about 11. All to ferry, and took it to Circular Quay. Mitch looking for Coke in glass bottle. Walked around to little park by hotel. There a while, then walked back, ate ice cream, took the ferry back. Walked to bay pool, to car. Home. Later, with Mitch to North Sydney. He went to his gym and I walked around. Ate McDonald's sundae. Back home. Ate chicken and rice (very good) that Adelita made. TV. Watching part of Mexican movie "Untamed Women". Didn't watch "How To Make An American Quilt". To bed about 23:00.

Up about 8. Hot day. Showered. All of us to Oxford Street (gay area) for breakfast and to pick up papers. Their bagel restaurant was closed for the year, so we stopped at California Café to eat and play music videos on Pioneer laser juke. On way back to car, Adelita stopped to buy stuff. Back to their house. Finished packing. With Mitch to his office (I grabbed some straight papers) then to airport (near accident near airport). Mitch met me back inside and we went to McDonald's to get sundaes. To music shop, but they were out of My Friend The Chocolate Cake ("someone else asked for them 20 minutes ago"). On to NZ014 (very crowded). Sat next to Australian couple off for 6 weeks in North America and with new light Nikon SLR. Watched Men In Black (2nd time) and started to watch Contact but didn't like it so went to sleep, first sitting up then leaning on tray. Woke up at 08:30. Reading more of Economist. To LAX at 12:15. Immigration. Customs. With backpack to Terminal 1. 13:30 flight was full, so switched to 14:35 flight. Boarded that one but had to return to gate because "one of checklist items failed". By then 15:05 flight was gone. I didn't make it on to 15:30 flight and next Trans States flight was at 17:25, so I asked them to switch me to Sky West and I went to Terminal 6 to take their 16:30 flight to San Diego. Alone in Cloud 9 Shuttle to Hyatt. Checked VM from there then walked home. But my lock had been changed and I didn't have mailbox key to get new keys. So I found guard and he called his supervisor. But she took her time (and didn't understand what re-keying is). Finally, about 19:30, the manager's husband came and let me in. I had to explain why I shouldn't have to pay $20. Talking to Todd. DQ called. Eating granola. Starting to watch taped shows. Went to sleep at 22:30.