12/01/01: Greymouth - Fox Glacier: With Bryan behind the wheel (after a few days of getting used to driving on the left side of the road) and much rain we headed off to the Glacier Region and opted for seeing the Fox Glacier. Of course, the glacier road was closed due to the heavy rain. After 2 failed attempts we retreated to a local restaurant to play cards and have some food. Our patience payed off as 3 hours later the rain rested long enough for us to drive up to the glacier and then hike up to the face. As we returned to Debbi the rain started up again and back we went to the restaurant. After dinner we retreated to our home on wheels parked out on the street.
12/02/01: Fox Glacier - Queenstown: Maybe at 6:30AM the rain would be gone. Right. JD commanded Debbi down the slick highway towards our most intense wildlife encounter .... with cows. We missed the cows, found a license plate, and continued south. The penguins were closed once again. Spirits rosed as we crossed Haast's Pass and saw the sun for the first time in days. Beautiful alpine scenery beckoned us on to Queenstown and the ridiculous activities to come. Several beers at the waterfront in Queenstown and awesome pizza (and complicated heaters) closed out the night.
12/03/01: Queenstown: It's hard to describe how awesome a birthday this was but I'll give it a try. First was the thrilling jet boat ride down the Shotover River where our driver seemed to spend most of his time aiming for the canyon walls and midriver rocks rather than avoiding them. Second was a 154ft bungy jump from The Ledge overlooking Queenstown over 1,000 ft below. It takes alot of nerve (or a lack of brains) to throw all insticts away and run off a platform with nothing below you in sight but it sure is a rush. Lastly we donned some helmets and luged down a concrete track trying to not run each other off the track. The night was celebrated with many toasts to surviving the day and very happy to be in this remarkable place.
12/04/01: Queenstown : The day was spent recovering from the birthday celebrations. Jon, Heili and Bryan set out to continue the bunjy mania by jumping off the Kawarau Bridge. Jon and Heili then went one step further and jumped the Nevis. Scott and Carlos relaxed and then eventually updated the website for the last time on the road. We all reconvened to rent gear for our treck the next day and called it an early night.
12/05/01: Routeburn Track (Routeburn Shelter - Routeburn Falls Hut): We got a rare early start and caught the Backpacker's Express Bus to Glenorchy and eventually the start of our 3 day Great Walk. Surprisingly, it was raining. We set out from the Routeburn Shelter and trudged our way over streams and through the rain forest. It was WET... but beautiful. We ate a chilly lunch at the Routeburn Flats Shelter then climbed a decent grade out of the valley to the Routeburn Falls Shelter. The clouds cleared from the valley occasionally for impressive views. Our hut warden, Tony, managed the hut decisively and with authority.... or maybe not.... I'm not really sure. And we celebrated our first night out with a bottle of merlot with our spaghetti dinner.
12/06/01: Routeburn Track (Routeburn Falls Hut - Mackenzie Hut): At the start of the day it was not raining too much, but the forecast was bleak. After a wrong turn took us through a bit of a swamp, we continued sludging up the trail/creek. As the trail got steeper, the rain and wind got worse. Much worse. We stopped at the Harris Saddle Shelter for a snack, then headed down the backside. That's where the great views would have been, if we could have seen them. An hour later we saw the hut, and were all ready to be there. The only problem was that we still had a half hour to go, through a very muddy, squishy forest with moss grownig on moss. Once at the hut we unsuccessfully attampted to dry our shoes and clothes by the fire. The weather broke a bit, and we entertained the other hikers when we went for a swim in the very very cold Lake Mackenzie. We had a nice evenig at the shelter, playing cards and talking with some of the other hikers.
12/07/01: Routeburn Track (Mackenzie Hut - The Divide): It looked like another day of clouds and rain, so we slowly pulled on the rain parkas and wet clothes once again and headed off for our last segment of the track. After a half hour we all cheered the outline of the shy sun and rooted on the growing appearance of our shadows. Another half hour and we were gazing at incredible views of gushing waterfalls and alpine snow-capped mountains in splendid sunshine. It was all worth it. With a spring in our step and snapping pictures left and right we pulled into Lake Howden for lunch. It was an amazing setting and we enjoyed a picturesque game of hacky with new hiking companions Stacy and Mara from Colorado. A side trip to Key Summit was made on the last push where we took a beautiful nature walk. Finally pulling into our last stop, The Divide, Scott, Carlos and Jon celebrated a great hike with a dip in a nearby creek. Let's just say a lady driving her sedan by got quite a show. Another hiking companion, Angela, scored huge points on the bus trip home by supplying the parched group with 2 beers she had bought on her early morning Milford Sound cruise. What better way to cap off the day than with a dip in the hotel hot tub and pizza and beers with the hiking crew at Winnie Bagoe's. It was a Great Walk.
12/08/01: Queenstown - Christchurch: We rented a car for our 6 hour drive to Christchurch. It was much cheaper to fly to Auckland from there than from Queenstown. It was only a few days after purchasing the tickets that we realized they were 6 hours apart. The drive was quite wet with occasional stunning New Zealand scenery. Upon arrival we found a motel, had chinese for dinner and headed to a Christmas party in the park. We all bought santa hats and Bryan supersized his experience by also purchasing green glowing antenas. The evening was spent at both The Tap Room and Coyote dancing in our santa hats and creating quite a comotion. Those crazy gringos.
12/09/01: Christchurch - Auckland: We got up, returned the rental car and jumped on our flight back to Auckland. After checking into the City Center hotel, we took a much needed nap and watched Rock Star after a mexican dinner.
12/10/01: Auckland: The plan for the day was to take a ferry to Rangitoto, one of the islands near Auckland. At the ferry terminal we discovered we had missed our ferry and instead decided on Waiheke Island. A 35 minute ferry had us on the island with no plan. After a stroll through downtown we decided on visiting the only winery open on a monday. The aptly named Mudbrick Winery is surprisingly made out of mud bricks. Nevertheless, the wine we tasted was great and we bought a number of bottles between all of us. Soon after we headed back to Auckland for a little rest before our last night on the road. We viewed a few hours of the video from the trip, had some wine and headed out for a quick bite and some entertaining entertainment.
12/11/01: Take 1, Auckland - Los Angeles: Well, our final day of the trip had finally arrived. What always seemed so distant in the future was suddenly upon us. We were going home. In what seemed an entirely appropriate activity for our last day, we visited Underwater World to finally catch sight of the elusive penguine. We finally saw one of those guys (even if it was in an enclosed freezer room). We then headed to the airport to await our final flight of the trip and after several security checks, boarded the plane to complete the circle around the world.
12/11/01: Take 2, Los Angeles: We awoke over the California coast to the tunes of "California here I come, right back where I started from...." and began our descent into LAX. Having crossed the international dateline we were given another chance at December 11th. Surprisingly, immigration and customs was a breeze and we were met by the cheers of both sets of Wanderparents carrying a welcome home sign. We were hard to miss as we were wearing santa hats. After much rejoicing we headed straight to In N Out to satisfy a long overdue Double Double craving. Benji and Ben met us for lunch and both the von Lossberg and Fonseca families were complete. We then headed to Benji's apartment in Hermosa Beach to relax. That evening friends that both visited us along the way and followed our adventures showed up for a barbeque and beers "from around the world". It was a great way to ease into the "real" world seeing almost all the friends and family that joined us in our wander around the world. It appears that we are finally home and have put this trip to rest. We hope you enjoyed watching and joining us along the way as much as we enjoyed putting this website together and traveling with your company.