They are having the time of their lives, my parents.
This first pic is the view from their deck in Paihia, New Zealand. Their trip has confirmed for me that New Zealand is one place I definitely want to go... living there wouldn't be out of the question, even, although I guess I'd better consult the family before making any big decisions. My Mom sent me some of the loveliest yarn I have ever laid my hands on from New Zealand. She reports:
The first thing you notice about New Zealand is how green and uncommercialized it is and after three weeks here that still holds. Plus! we haven't seen a single billboard and we've driven 3000 km, or 1800 miles. We've had perfect weather and I hope it doesn't change too drastically in the next few weeks. We've been told that the South Island is more beautiful than the North, but the rugged coastline and sandy beaches of the Coromandel and the green and gold pastoral, hilly interior will be awfully hard to beat. There are sheep on every hillside, but surprise - but there's a big bovine presence too.
Took the ferry to the South Island and stopped in Marlborough, where most NZ wines are produced. After extensive research, we can personally assure all our wino friends that there is wine in abundance. People here are so friendly - we dropped into a bar the other night and were adopted by half a dozen 20-somethings and had a great time with them for an hour!
Here, though is the piece de resistance: my folks went heli-hiking! Isn't that cool?
Mom writes: Unfortunately, it's a cloudy day so we didn't see the top of Mt. Cook but we were almost at the top of Mt. Tasman. The ice we're standing on is 400 metres deep (about 1200 feet I think!)
And then it was on to lovely Fiji.
Or, maybe not so lovely? My Dad writes: Much of Fiji looks like regular living is very hard. Wages are very low. Hard for me to really like a place when I'm living like a king, while riding on the back of the very low wages paid to the folks that work there. Life looks better than the Philippines and Mexico, but still a very hard life for the average person. Mom told you already about the school we visited. Very humbling experience. You would have loved both the teachers and the 70 students. (Here are some of the students, with my Dad:)
After Fiji, it was on to Australia. Here, my Mom is writing to my boys and their cousins:
We are in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. It's hot, hot, hot! About 110 degrees F! There are lots of flies here - so many that we had to wear a net. Don't we look funny!
And, they were all excited when they saw a wallabee:
I didn't know that wallabees looked anything like kangaroos, but evidently, they do. Here's the Wikipedia page about them, in case you'd like to know more.
And so, the great trip continues! I'll do another update soon, on the rest of their Aussie segment and then on into Asia.