Thursday, February 16, 2012

Christmas in New Zealand

I got my camera back last night.  The one that fell out of my purse in the rental car in New Zealand (Budget, you rock!)

I'll be posting photos as internet allows.  Enjoy.  I highly recommend putting New Zealand at the top of potential travel destinations.  Incredible scenery and wonderfully friendly people.

My view, sitting on the deck of the oldest, smallest ferry.  No seats and no cover.  A great way to start an international journey.  One woman is sleeping in front of me, using the ropes as a pillow.  the woman across from me with the covered head is from my village and kindly gave me the mats she was carrying to sit on.

The Bates family, from Tokeroa, New Zealand.  I met mom and dad when they came to my school in Faga.  They run a dairy farm and she's a teacher.  They generously offered to let me spend Christmas with them.  Wonderful hosts!  They picked me up at the airport in Auckland and treated me to a very special Kiwi Christmas.

Kiwi Christmas trees look much the same as American trees.  Santa even realized I was in Tokeroa and brought me some wonderful gifts!

Sharing the holiday with a loving family was SO much better than being in a hotel room.
On Christmas Eve we went to Rotorua, a main tourist attraction, known as the center of Maori culture and hotbed of geothermic activity.  Plus, lots of adventure activities.  We started with a gondola ride to the peak overlooking the lake.

Then we land-luged down the hill.  Thomas in the green helmet, stayed behind to make sure I was doing ok.  He also rode the chair lift back up with me to help me over my fear of heights. 

That's me, having my photo taken after having just been unceremoniously dumped out of the giant ball I'd ridden down the hill in.  It was a blast!

After more sightseeing and enjoying my first Big Mac in 14 months, we caught up with dad and sister who were knee boarding at a nearby lake.  This is Thomas, with a great view of the countryside behind him.

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