Craig's Travels
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Oooooh, That Smell

New Zealand gave me stinky farts. More specifically, the North Island did. Well, to be honest, it probably wasn’t New Zealand. I’d like to blame it on getting used to the water or the like, but I distinctly remember feeling very bad for the people sitting around me on the plane from Bangkok to Auckland, so it probably wasn’t New Zealand that actually caused the odor issue. But it was pretty bad. It was worse than an ork’s breath (you’ll have to forgive the LOTR reference here; I watched Peter Jackson’s trilogy –the extended version– to get fired up for the trip, but really it made me excited for when Shai is old enough to hear about dwarfs and hobbits).  And my gas was way worse than what Shai normally puts out, which took away my normal defense of blaming him.

Ronit & Shai infront of Lake Wanaka

Speaking of the little tyke, Shai has taken to both repeating incessantly and mumbling gibberish with a peppering of a few comprehendible words. He is a smaller and much cuter version of Milton from the movie Office Space, but instead of “Ibelieveyouhavemystapler” he says things like, “Iwantthisaahhddao kissthedog.” And since he is now in complete repeat mode, we really had to cut down on profanity during the trip, or turn our outbursts into words he knows. We talked quite a bit about forks.

As I mentioned, my gas problem seemed to be geographically linked to the North Island. Once we got down to Christchurch (which, by the way, there is no matzo in Christchurch, so don’t go looking for it), the problem seemed to take care of itself. This left us free to gallivant in relative peace down to beautiful Wanaka where the world’s first human maze was built and up to Fox Glacier where the glacier is expanding but not moving forward (hmmmm). I must interject here,

Yet Another pristine lake in New Zealand

that every road in New Zealand is breathtaking.  After a while, we were mildly stating, “Oh, there’s another pristine lake,” or “Yet another waterfall dropping into a gorgeous stream.” We drove through this landscape all the way to Nelson at the northern tip of the South Island to stay with Ronit’s friend Sally for three nights. We had some great fish n chips and winded our way through the screw-top vineyards.

From there, we caught a ferry up to the NorthIsland and drove all the way to Lake Taupo, where the world championship of rainbow trout fishing is held every April. We missed that by a week, but we did overlap with the world weightlifting competition.  If only there was a way to combine the two… maybe the lifters have to heave baskets of freshly caught fish over their heads? I dunno, but I think I’ll write to the Lake Taupo Visitor Centre with the suggestion.

Craig & Shai enjoying the odor of
Wai O Tapu Thermal Park outside of Rotorua

At this point, that old familiar smell started to creep back, like a bad roommate you evicted, but refuses to leave. I immediately made the suggestion that we drive directly to Rotorua, an hour’s drive from Taupo.  Rotorua, Maori for “This Place Stinks,” sits on a bed of thermal activity that drives sulfur-heated water and mud bubbling to the surface. The result is a constant olfactory assault of rotten eggs and moldy cheese. THIS was a place where I could fit in! It is no coincidence that Rotorua sounds like Roto-Rooter. The pipe clearing company was actually founded by a New Zealand native who was reminded of his birthplace while cleaning out his first septic tank.  OK, this is probably not true, but it could be. Anyway, my petition to switch locations was denied, with the infallible logic that we shouldn’t have to smell the stench ALL the time. We did drive through Rotorua on the way out of Taupo, which offered us both a chance to sit in a natural hot spring at Kerosene Stream and for me to slyly lift a cheek.

From there, we drove up to Auckland, our final destination in New Zealand.  We spend the last couple of days dodging raindrops and lounging around the cities various meat pie venues. I had the lamb.

All in all, an amazing trip. New Zealand is one of those countries that no matter how long you spend there, it is never long enough. There are always more spectacular views you didn’t see, more extreme sports to try, more wineries to visit, and more lamb to eat. We came home with some great memories, and thankfully, we left all the smells behind.


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