The Rugby World Cup in 2011 was held in New Zealand. Todd Kulick, Steve Samorodin, and Bryan all flew in for two weeks of sightseeing and rugby matches. Here are Todd and Steve in the Auckland airport waiting for breakfast.
At Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth before the Ireland - USA match, sporting our awesome face paints.
On a cold and rainy day we went for a hike on Mt. Taranaki. There was sleet coming down in the parking lot before our hike. Because of the weather conditions we were the only brave souls out for a hike.
Todd and Steve in the cold wet rainforest on the side of Mt. Taranaki.
There was snow at the side of the track. Snow in a rainforest, go figure.
Slippery snow on the track. The weather actually wasn't all that cold, but it was wet.
Bryan poses by some snowy rocks. The hike was actually kind of interesting because the weather conditions were so unique.
Mossy limbs in the forest canopy.
After about half an hour of hiking the sun actually started coming out at times and the rain mostly stopped.
A log had fallen and broken apart and was a beautiful orange color.
More snow on the forest floor.
The sun was peeking through the trees.
Sunshine and snow in the rain forest of Mount Taranaki (oh yeah and Steve).
Here we all are near a stream at the top of the hike.
Mr. Todd Kulick and the peak of Mt. Taranaki completely obscured by fog. The peak could be seen faintly by the naked eye but the camera was not sensitive enough to pick it up.
Here is a view down to the coast below while the sun is momentarily shining.
You could see where the peak would be if the fog wasn't obscuring it.
Todd on a pad of moss amongst the foliage.
On the way back to New Plymouth from Mt. Taranaki we stopped by a lighthouse.
Near the lighthouse was a rocky shore. The rocks went out about 75 meters to a very angry, churning sea.
While scrambling out to the end of the rocky shore, many tide pools with anenomes, star fish, and weird sea plants were spotted.
Here is Steve amongst the rocks. About 5 minutes after we got out to where the waves reached the rocks, a storm blew in with massive waves crashing in and wind driven rain. We had to quickly scramble back to safety.
Upon returning to the house we were renting in New Plymouth, we found a neighbor's house with a rainbow coming down on it. We saw many rainbows that day.
The next day we took a walk on the beach front trail. In the background you can see a kinetic sculpture consisting of a ball on a long pole that bends and sways in the wind.
That night was the USA - Russia match. Before the match we applied more face paint. Todd can take full credit for his disturbing eagle motif. Many small children were frightened that night!
The next day we drove down to Wellington to take the Interislander ferry to the south island. We had to wait until the craft was loaded so we took some pictures in the meantime.
Here is Mr. Steve Samorodin modelling the Wellington bay.
Here is Mr. Steve Samorodin modelling the Wellington hills. Our car is off camera to the right.
Must be nice to live in one of those houses.
This is the view from where we waited in line to drive our car on board the ferry.
View of Wellington from onboard the Interislander ferry.
Another view from the ferry. It was a gorgeous day. The best weather seemed to come on our travel days.
Coastline outside of Wellington as seen from the ferry.
More Wellington coastline. I am sure that ships steer way clear of those rocks.
The next day we went on a kayaking and hiking trip around Abel Tasman park. Bryan was paired in the kayak with a Swedish girl named Annie. She was a very strong paddler!
Interesting fuzzy plants spotted on the hiking trail after kayaking. The kayak tour lasted about 2 hours, the hike another 3 or so.
Abel Tasman view at the start of the hike.
Todd and Steve at the start of the hike.
Todd and Bryan at the start of the hike.
Beautiful Abel Tasman vista.
Abel Tasman beach as seen from the hiking path halfway up the mountain.
It was perfectly warm enough for the hike as Steve's shirt will testify.
Another vista from the hike.
A closer view of the previous vista. I know that the pictures are very similar but I like them both so much I couldn't decide which to delete, so I deleted neither.
Rocky, sandy shore towards the end of the hike. The first 2 hours or so of the hike was at higher elevation, the last hour brought us down closer to the beaches.
Snow capped mountains in the distance.
Fast forward to a couple of days later in Fox Glacier on a walk up to the glacier. These cliff walls were formed when the glacier scraped the mountainside flat.
That is fox glacier in the distance. It was cold and rainy that day. The glacier is partly covered by rock dust.
Dozens and dozens of waterfalls fell from the lofty fog-enshrouded mountain heights.
Then we went on to a guided tour of Franz Joseph glacier. Unfortunately the helicopter hike was cancelled due to weather so we settled for a liesurely guided walk partway up the glacier.
Higher up, the ice is less dense and breaks into rough fragments under the force of compacting snow. Lower down the pressure is greater (from the greater depth of ice) and the ice can bend and flow smoothly.
Here's Todd as we wind our way up the rock-covered bottom part of the glacier.
More sheer cliff walls and waterfalls, this time on Franz Joseph instead of Fox glacier.
Here is the glacial river valley as seen from partway up the bottom part of the glacier. During heavy rains, rockslides, and glacial melting periods, its flow is greatly increased.
Here is Franz Joseph glacier. The distance is very deceptive - out to the lower parts of the glacier is so far that people looked like tiny ants.
Here's our man Todd on the rock-covered bottom of the glacier. We couldn't go onto the ice part because you need special ice shoes to do that, and a more expensive guide.
Cliffs and waterfalls surrounding Franz Joseph glacier.
Frozen "waves" at the bottom of the glacier. Once again distances are deceiving - those waves are much bigger than houses.
That's the chunky ice at the top of the glacier. The weather was probably fine for the heli-hike and it's too bad they cancelled it.
We only got as far up the glacier as the part where the rock starts to give way to ice at the surface.
Steve Samorodin on the glacier.
Todd Kulick in the same spot.
The weather the next day was absolutely perfect, but it was time for us to move on. Here is the view from the doorstep of our cabin.
This is a nice view to have from your cabin doorstep don't you think? At night the sky was so completely black and clear that we saw the milky way and millions of stars more clearly than we'd seen them in many years, if ever.
The next day on the way out of Blenheim we stopped at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre which was actually very interesting.
After a couple of hours visiting the interior with a very helpful volunteer guide, we got to take a peek at the planes being worked on in the outdoor hangers.
Here is some kind of World War II in the process of being rebuilt.
This air show plane used an authentic body with a modern replacement engine.
Here is another plane that was being worked on.
This hastily snapped shot isn't well composed but does show Todd, Steve, and our volunteer guide.
In Wellington the next day we participated in a sailboat 'race' between two teams each guided by an experienced sailor.
We're all wondering what to do next while our guide stands looking cool at the back of the boat. Todd was on the other boat.
Some of the crew members of the race-winning sailboat.
We visited the Weta Cave which gives some history of Weta Studios which is Peter Jackson's (LOTR, District 9, Avatar, etc) production studio.
One last photo from Wellington ahead of the USA - Australia game.