Location:  Dunedin

Why do people not listen.  When we do the orientation for the trip we talk about the weather and the construction in New Zealand. 

As a reminder:

  1. There is no central heat in New Zealand.  The hostel rooms have room heaters (and in the case of at least my room in Dunedin, an electric blanket).  The room heaters are on timers so you don’t have hours of heat.
  2. Building construction in New Zealand is different.  There is less insulation and the walls tend to be drafty.  Part of the reason for this is that the weather is not that extreme (it get’s cold but not that could) and roofs are not attached firmly to walls as a earthquake protection measure.  So, it is draftier than in the States
  3. People in New Zealand dress warmly.  Most people wear sweaters and other warm garments and don’t need the heat that we use in the states.
  4. Power and other fuels are expensive so (see three) so people dress warm and have cooler rooms.
  5. Hostels air rooms out every day to help prevent mold, mildew, etc.  So, you are likely to enter your room and it will be the same temperature as outside.
  6. Bathrooms in New Zealand normally have windows open or fans working.  It is like being in an outhouse.  I am not sure the reason, but it certainly keeps them fresher smelling and less of a moisture buildup.  It also has the byproduct of ensuring that no one takes too long.  No one reads the paper or other material while busy in the bathroom.  It makes showers fast also.
    We had outdoors activities scheduled that, unless there is a hazard or danger, we were going to do them, rain or shine, hot or cold.

We are in New Zealand during the winter.  It is cold, It rains.  It snows.  We told people to dress warmly, wear layers, to have rain gear, to be prepared for it.  So, why did people not come prepared?

Location:  Franz Josef

The Cook Straights is the stretch of water between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.  It can be an interesting crossing.  Today’s crossing was wonderful.  Slight swells but relative smooth.  I have crossed the straight when it was moderate seas (10 foot swells).  I never want to do it when it is worse.  I have seen pictures.

 Once you get past the Straight, you enter the Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound.  They are both very scenic.  This is your introduction to the south island.  I enjoy watching and listening to the students as they experience the trip.  It is intentionally designed to move from the north to the south.  This really enhances the experience.  Most students become enamored with the North Island.  Home of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, it is green with snow covered mountains and green plains with field after field of cows and sheep.  Then you cross to the south island.

Tory StraitYou are introduced to deep canyons, river valleys, tall snow-covered mountains, river gorges, clear, blue rivers, glaciers, etc.  You realize that the north Island, you were so enamored with pales in comparison.  There are times when you would not be surprised to see a dinosaur come out of the rain forest (since it is fern rainforests).

By the time that I get to Franz Josef, I always find myself in a different state of mind.  I am so much more relaxed, ready to just see the world as it comes.  I think that is why I like Franz Josef so much; I am really in a different place.  I can look out the window of my room and see temperate rainforest.  I can look up and see snow-capped mountains.  I can look up the valley and just see the glacier.  I love just sitting in front of the fireplace in the hostel and enjoy reading a book in the evenings.

Mountains above Franz Josef

The ride to the hostel was through the mountains.  Each turn in the road presents another view that is better than the previous view. I know that the ride to Queenstown will be the same.

It does not matter the weather.  I have been on the road when it has been sunny and this time it was raining.  In any weather, New Zealand presents its natural beauty.  When it is sunny, you can see snow-capped mountains, crystal clear rivers and lakes.  When it is calm, the lakes are perfect reflecting pools.  When it rains, it becomes a waterfall haven.  The mountains present hundreds of water waterfalls for you to see.  The fog and the mists create mystery as they play hide and seek with the hillsides and mountains.

Picture outside the hostel window

 

Location: Napier NZ

When I first visited New Zealand I discovered the local wine industry. It is a small but very good industry. According to our guide today, New Zealand produces ½ of 1% of the total world wine production. A grocery store chain in England sells more wines itself than all of New Zealand produces.

So, it is not surprising that much of the wine that is produced in New Zealand is consumed in New Zealand and the rest is exported to countries like China (a large growing wine market). So, it is really a joy to be able to sample some of the local wines, many of which you cannot get in the States (although New Zealand wine is available, it is sometimes difficult to find – at least the better years and labels).

Today I did a tour of four wineries, Mission Bay, Te Awa, Moana Park, and Salvare. Dr. Mills and four students were along for the trip. Ten other students went on different wine tours. The feedback is that everyone enjoyed the experience.

At each winery, we were able to try six to seven different wines, normally three whites, three reds, and a dessert wine. Never been much into dessert wines but did try several really good ones. One of the things I like about the New Zealand wine industry is that they seem willing to experiment. In much of the world they have been producing the same wines for hundreds of years and unless 

Mona Park

there is a disaster there is little desire to change. The vintners in New Zealand seem willing to try new things. They are the ones that really pushed the blending of red wines (something I really like), mixing oak and stainless barrels to create different chardonnay flavors.

Moana Park is one of the newest wineries in the Hawkes Bay area.  The first vintage was produced in 2003.  Originally intended as a boutique winery with primary revenue generated from cellar door sales.  However, the demand for the wine produced by Moana park lead to an expansion with the 2013 vintage.

Moana Park is the only certified vegetarian and organic winery in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that they use no meat products in wine production (egg whites and other additives are frequently used for filtering, flavoring, and other parts of the wine making process) and avoid heavy metal fertilizers and other toxic materials in the production of their wine.

Te Awa

Moana Park winery is a good example of lack of availability. You can find this wine in upscale eating establishments and boutique wine stores in New Zealand and as an export to china.

Mission Estate was established by Marist Missionaries in Hawke's Bay in 1851, where vines were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine and New Zealand's first winery was born. The first record of a commercial sale dates back to 1870 when a parcel of mostly dry reds was sold.

Salvare

 

 

 

Te Awa is a winery on the Gimblett Flats area of Hawkes Bay.  The Gimblett Flats is an old river bed that for many years was treated as poor farm and grazing land and primarily used as a gravel pit and a go-kart track.  It was not until 1987 that the first vintage was produced.

Te Awa is one of the wineries on the flats.  The full Maori name given to the site is Te Awa o Te Atua which means 'River of God', a reference to the mysterious subterranean streams over which the vineyards are situated and from which the wines draw their exquisite, yet subtle characteristics. T

he quality comes from the free draining soil which consistently produces high quality fruit.

Salvare Estate is a 15 acre Chardonnay vineyard located on Ngatarawa Road in Hawkes Bay. To broaden their range they also source quality fruit from other Hawkes Bay growing areas such as Puketapu and Gimblett Road, “This way we get the best of both worlds” says Steve. 

Mission Estate Winery

Since the first vintage in 2007 every style of wine that Salvare produces has been awarded a medal. In 2010 the range was extended to include Salvation Chardonnay and Salvation Hawkes Bay Red Blend. These wines are designed to be for longer term cellaring whilst retaining the signature elegance of all Salvare Estate wines.

Salvare Estate also produces two olive oils, a Picual and a Barnea grown locally in the Puketapu valley. To complement the oils a range of dukkahs is also produced ( Egyptian, Hot and Spicy and Dukkah Buttah - a spreadable version of Dukkah unique to Salvare Estate).The range of food products also extends to mustard and vinaigrettes, with everything available to taste at the cellar door.

For those looking for good wines, try New Zealand. The 2012 vintage should be really good a

s it was a hot, dry year. Vintners use an old adage: if the farmers cry, the vintners cheer. In 2012 they cheered loudly.

 

Location: Nelson

We take for granted that the foods we know at home are the same around the world.  Well, today I was reminded once again of this fallacy.  I don’t know why, but I never seem to remember that pizza is not pizza.

We ordered Dominos pizza while in Nelson as we had a long bus trip and it was a one-night stay.  I ordered a sausage pizza.  Well, the sausage was certainly not what I was used to, the sauce was ketchup, and the crust was cardboard.  I was eating tastelessness.  The sausage was basically English breakfast sausage sliced so it looked a lot like little pepperoni (but not the taste).

I was also reminded of a conversation I overheard between Dr. Mills and another student regarding the local coffee.  Those who drink coffee in the States generally find that coffee in New Zealand is horrible.  The closest I have come to a reasonable cup of coffee is a long black.  Which is espresso thinned with a little water.  Anyway,  Dr Mills, in response to a student’s comment was, “Don’t you think that the coffee tastes the way it does because people here like it?”  People generally don’t eat or drink things they don’t like.

So, it struck me again, things are not the same around the world for even the little things.  So, I will continue to drink my long blacks and my Earl Grey teas and enjoy the smells.

More on foods in another entry later.

Location:  Rotorua, NZ

On the road again.  Today was transition day from Rotorua to Napier.  I was here with the 2010 group and really enjoyed the experience.  We decided to cut the Napier stop in 2011 to save costs.  This year, since I have no responsibilities here whatsoever, Melanie and Leigh decided to add the trip back into the itinerary. 

 

They also made several other changes in the schedule including a day less in Auckland and a day more in Queenstown and Rotorua.  I think that what happened is a great example of the law of unintended consequences.  I believe that most students have a finite amount of money to spend on the trip and they will allocate the trip based upon their personal interests and to maximize their benefit.  The instructors want students to focus on those experiences that maximize cultural experiences.  The additional days in Rotorua and Queenstown provide  students with more time to spend in experiential, "fun", and/or thrill seeking things to do.  The result is a shift in the activity list to less faculty desired cultural experiences.  This translates into fewer students doing the wine tour when the reason for coming to Napier was for the wine tour. 

Given that situation, I am still planning to go on the wine tour tomorrow.  I really am looking forward to seeing the wineries and trying the wine.  It is too bad that it is so expensive to ship wines home and too much of a hassle to cary them with you.  So,  I will do what I did last time, purchase a few bottles to enjoy on the trip and make notes in an effort to find the wines at home when I get back. 

Our first bus driver really needs to learn better driving skills.  I don't mind the waving side-to-side of the bus, that is a result of the road grades and the many (many, many, many) did I say many curves.  It was the constant running over the rumble strips on the side of the road and the really bad shifting and breaking patterns.  I do not understand why it takes three major compressions of the brakes to slow the bus down at each intersection.  The result (as you know from the Newton's first law of motion, that an object in motion says in motion) was that you were pushed out of your seat each time the brakes were touched.  

Shifting was an experience in shaking, rattling, and rolling.  Either the clutch was touchy, the driver did not have enough experience with a manual transmission, or he was in a bad mood as starting was a shaky experience and it seemed that every time he downshifted on a hill also.  

Today's trip along highway 5 (Thermal Explorer Highway) through what is known as the Mountain Valley.  The valley was beautiful.  Mile after mile of steep mountains, crystal clear streams, deep valleys, and curve after curve as the highway followed the stream curves.  For those that get car sick, this was a real test of the stomach. I spent the day watching the scenery rather than trying to take pictures.  Pictures from a moving bus are difficult and I learned from past experience that pictures in this area without stopping at a lookout do not capture what you see.  The deep valleys and very close mountain makes the picture small as you capture a side of the mountain not the beautiful vista before you.  The two things that I wished for today were that I brought my wide angle lens and that we had a chance to stop for pictures.  

This area also has a high concentration of the timber industry.  With mile after mile of controlled timber production.  The major change for me was the number of timber areas that had been harvested since last time.  It was really a different drive.  Last time we were going through lush green California Pine forests.   This time we were going through miles of bare mountain tops many of which had been replanted but it would take 20 years to get back to the look from before.  

Hare ra

More Articles...