I had the fortune of spending 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand during February. Which in addition to being a great place to be on its own, has the distinct advantage of being a lot warmer than Chicago.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words. And a video is about 30 frames per second, here’s about 18 million words worth of vacation…

The journey begins.  Wherein, Christine reveals her to run the 2010 Chicago marathon. Apparently, my insanity is contagious

Aussie Friends and a bit of Sea Cave exploring at low tide:

12 apostles. Not the biblical kind. The … big random rock formation in the ocean kind.  Actually, they were originally called the Sow and Piglets, but the tourism board didn’t think that sounded as distinguished:

Walking around Melbourne with our dear friends Andy and Martine.  Lamenting the obvious lack of Kangaroos:

Platypii aren’t very rare, but they are rarely seen in captivity.  Since they are nocturnal and a little shy, this was a real treat. This particular platypus was pretty fat. We dubbed him fatypus.

The Melbourne botanic gardens are really beautiful. They got some big frickn’ trees there.  Like LOTR Big Frickn’ trees.  The city isn’t that old. Maybe 150 years of actually being a city, and this garden goes back right to the beginning of it. It’s amazing that this city is so big and has such incredible infrastructure. Humans can do a lot in a 150 years.

We went to this really awesome open air nature reserve. We finally got up close and personal with some Joeys. Sadly there were no Chandler or Rosses, but ther were some other friends…  wombats and emus

After spending a week in Austrailia, I hopped over to New Zealand for some good time hiking and mountain climbing fun.  Everybody seemed sure that I was going to crash my car in some horrible wreck because the driving was on the left side.  I’ve got a secret for you all…  its not that hard: just drive on the left side…

Arriving in Christchurch, we enjoyed some tasty beer, good eats, and an attack of pod people:

 The next stage of the journey was to Mt Cook. The tallest mountain in NZ.  We didn’t have any rooms booked or anything for this trip, so we figured we’d just stay somewhere that struck our fancy.  As it turns out we didn’t make it to Mt Cook. After seeing the lake in the video below, we decided to stick around. After chatting with some locals we rented a house from a guy who was out of town.  Awesome!

A few folks have asked what the best part of the trip was.  I’d have to go with the hike up Mt Mueller (right next to Mt Cook and Mt Sefton).  The views in this video are awesome.  Both the mountain and the dancing!

I had a bunch of *GREAT* runs in NZ, but this one was the hardest.  It got way too steep. Turned into more of a brisk hike than a run, but I still got up in very good time.

After a backpacking trip got rained out near Kaikoura 😦 we decided to drive up the coast.  Much to our surprise, we found a colony of seals. And lots of baby seals.  Here’s me making a baby seal hat:

After our encounter with the very clubbable baby seals, we checked into an oceanside villa. It ran us about $14.

In Wellington, we decided to go out for a curry.  A warning for fellow travelers.  Be prepared when you tell the waiter to make the dish “As spicy as you can possibly make it”

Once I recovered from my bout with the South Pacific Insanity Peppers, we drove up the East side of the north Island. In Masterton over breakfast we were surprised by a roving band of toughs:

We finally arrived in Auckland about 3 weeks after we left home.  Some great times are to be had in that fair city. But the best is being a pirate: