How did it get so late so soon?! It’s hard to believe we are already in BALI! Ahh, let’s catch up.
We spent a total of 6 weeks in New Zealand – 18 of those days on turbo travel time with Matt’s mom, Steph, and 22 days tagging along with Carmeny & Boulton, simply enjoying the kiwi lifestyle. We cannot thank each of them enough for making our travels what they were and sharing the journey with us. Steph makes for one hell of a travel companion, with her incredible hiking stamina and never-ending energy. We hiked, ate, and kayaked our way across both islands in record time. What an adventure. Carmeny & Boulton as well, reminded us of how lucky we are to have such amazing people in our life. They brought us around on several weekend adventures, gave us the ultimate brewmeister experience, and showed us why Wanaka is possibly better than Park City — Beautiful porch views of impressive mountains surrounding a great lake, a myriad of bike and hike trails, homebrews on tap, and no yuppy New Yorkers. They seem to have it all.
In an effort to not let this drag on redundantly, I’ll share a brief recap of a few NZ highlights that have not yet been shared.
Properly known as Punakaiki, we hit Pancake Rocks in perfect timing. Formed 30 million years ago from fragments of dead marine creatures and plants, immense water pressure has created some bizarre natural wonders here. What made it even better was having my good friend, Janina, along for the journey.
Methven and Mt. Hutt
A visit to New Zealand wouldn’t have been complete without visiting the infamous Mt. Hutt, where Matt’s brother Brandon started his Ski Instructing career. This is also the place where the Aucunas’ close family friends, Barry and Barb, call home. It was your classic Kiwi ski field experience. The road to access the base of the ski field was 45 minutes of white knuckled turns along a steep cliff side without guardrails… Skiing in New Zealand is a bit more rustic, I’d say! To give us a bit more ‘reality’, we struck white-out snow conditions about half way up. According to Barry, this would have been a ‘closed day’ for the mountain, which happens fairly frequently. When conditions get this bad staff are forced to sleep on the floor in the cafeteria because there is no accommodation. It made us all feel a bit pampered coming from Park City where the commute is literally 5 minutes safely to our doorstep. Our tour continued through the Southern Alps range on somewhat of a Lord of the Rings tour. Easy to see why Brandon wished to return.
In one word – Giantish (maybe it’s not a word, but i’m going with it). Large cruise boats shrink to tiny paddle boat sizes among these enormous fijordland walls. Milford Sound represents the tallest mountain peaks in the world that line an ocean coast. Just for reference, we looked up to a waterfall that was coming from higher sites than the Empire State building though you never would’ve guessed it because the surroundings were twice as high… Quite an altered perspective. Snowcapped mountains meet coastal beech forest here, making for a rather diverse environment. What a place.
Brewing with Boulton
Boulton and Carmeny’s dream has been to open a brewery some day and they are definitely getting in their practice. With a degree in Chemical Engineering and several homebrews under his belt, Boulton was able to secure a job at Wanaka Beerworks Brewery as the Assistant Brewmeister of a two-man team. He continues to play around with flavors for his homebrews, while also bringing home a free case of Wanaka’s finest micro-brews each week. Needless to say, we were well hydrated. I think my favorite was his ‘Ginga-Turtle’ homebrew; A red ale infused with fresh ginger and thyme. To help us feel a touch less like complete freeloaders, Boults let us job shadow him at the brewery for a day. We labeled, packaged, and sanitized barrels, getting a taste of what goes on behind the scenes. Matt returned for round two on their weekly ‘brew day’ and learned the process from start to finish. Because beer just wasn’t enough, we continued to brew on a third occasion having a bit of fun with the apple press. In a month or two they’ll be enjoying our homemade cider on tap. Welcome to the good life!!