In the spring of 2016, Henderson Productions took an extended do-it-yourself driving tour of New Zealand.   We’re excerpting portions of our trip in this blog.    Both a book and plan-it-yourself itinerary are available for sale in our Shop on

We had a leisurely breakfast at the Franz Josef hotel buffet – filling and gave us enough carbs to hike all over the place.     We joked that we were on an active weight loss vacation plan but to tell the truth, we’ve been eating meat pies and croissants and fresh fruits a lot.    Probably a wash.

We had decided to go back to hike around the glacier base again.    Spent a couple hours before deciding to go look for another vista and drove to the coast road Mark (from the airport) suggested.    The village of Okarito has several trailheads for views of both the lagoon, the Tasman Sea and the Mt Cook mountain range.   The beach was all black sand and very striking but it was unbelievably windy and the surf was whipping up.     We opted for the lagoon and had our lovely picnic lunch while watching some distant kayakers paddle along.    On the way back we chose yet another trailhead and found ourselves on a very cool uphill climb where we noticed the tiniest bright blue mushrooms.    Full sized they were less than a half inch tall.    And the bright, bright red mushrooms were even smaller than that – maybe a quarter inch tall.    Couldn’t miss them in the complete green immersion of the rainforest and tons of interesting ferns.

We managed to squeeze in a load of laundry (thanks Scenic Hotels), repaired my broken glasses with super glue and pulled out an old-style heating system by putting our meat pies on a piece of aluminum foil on top of the room radiator.     Gosh – brings back some memories! 

We had already decided to combat the ridiculous jetlag challenge by going out for the evening opting for the trivia contest at one of the bars in town in support of the NZ Mental Health system.   Apparently in winter (summer is MUCH too crowded and all the locals are working late nights), this bar has a weekly trivia night and one of the month is to support a local charity.     It’s $2 per person to play and we asked to be hooked up with some others.   We ended up with Elizabeth (from New Hampshire) and her boyfriend Peter and their friend Henry.    Both guys are from NZ and tandem sky divers while Elizabeth has a job editing the videos for the customers. 

Good thing we hooked up w some Kiwis ‘cause about half the trivia questions were stuff we would never have known like NZ sports history or rugby rules or some references to dates that meant absolutely nothing to us.     Between the 5 of us I reckon we covered folks in their 20’s, 30’s, 50’s and 60’s.    Mixed demos are generally good for trivia!     Out of 20+ teams we took 4th place and we opted to give the three of them the $20 bar credit for a future visit.     Totally a fun night.

Elizabeth met Peter in Maine when he was tandem jumping there.   They’ve been together for 2 years and lived in Australia as well as Fr. Josef with him diving and her working for whatever company.   As she put it “the diving community is small and tight”.    She’s got a 1-year work-allowed visa because she’s still college age (I guess about 24).   They are headed to Melbourne, Aus next month and don’t plan to be back.    He’s got a lead for a good job and they figure someone will put them up for a while.    She does have all the documentation needed for a resident visa in NZ if they come back.  NZ doesn’t require a marriage license for residency if you can prove you’ve been together for 2 years or more.   Everything counts for proof including concert tickets with both names or air ticket stubs for travelling together – even Facebook posts of them together – are considered documentation of the relationship.   She’s got it all assembled in a box.   And “if they get married” he will be able to get a green card for the states.  

Look closely to see the little green bird on the branch.

The guys told us all about the sky diving community.    It’s required in the states that you have 500 solo jumps before you can tandem with novices.    The NZ requirements are for 750 hours.   That’s why Peter had been in Maine building up his jump credentials.    They do as many as 16 jumps each per day in the height of the season but today, for example, only did 5 each.    But that was because they had to start later as it was too cold to jump for a chunk of the morning and they couldn’t allow hypothermia for the customers! 

What’s your experience in New Zealand?   We’d love to hear your

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