Road trip—in New Zealand!

I’m planning a trip to New Zealand for roughly four weeks beginning March 17 or so. It’s intended to be mostly fun and travel, though I’m not averse to giving a talk or two to secular groups, biology groups, or the like. At any rate, the way this trip will work is similar to that of my 2015 Summer US Road Trip, which I announced like this (I’ve modified it a bit):

My announcement is this: I’m planning a Big Road Trip this summer down under, something I’ve always wanted to do. That would involve taking off a month or more and driving taking public transportation or hitchhiking across the country, and, of course, investigating regional noms. I’d like to include in the trip brief visits to some of the readers on the route—a route that will be partly determined by who wants a visit.

I’d love to document the trip not only with descriptions and photos of what I see and do, but with information about and pictures of readers and their animals (preferably cats, of course). If you want to say “hi” on this trip, shoot me an email with your location. I already know many of you through either your comments or your emails, and think it would be fun to meet readers in person along with the several friends I haven’t visited in a while.

By “visit,” I don’t mean that people should feed me or put me up: I’m just looking for a brief peek into the lives of some of the readers. I can’t visit everyone, of course, but I’ll try to see some of the people I’ve gotten to know on this site.


  1. Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, so sorry for hijacking what should be an happy post for you. My email server is still down and likely won’t be back up for a little while longer…

    …and I don’t think you want to overlook this news I just stumbled across.

    To wit, that the White House official statement commemorating Holocaust Day explicitly and intentionally omitted all reference to Jews and Antisemitism:

    and the Christian theocratic drumbeat is rapidly crescendoing:

    As much of a Cassandra as I’ve been about current affairs, even I didn’t see something this in-your-face anywhere near so quickly. I expected months, at least, not mere days….



    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Trump chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to announce his Ship-of-the-Damned policy toward Syrian refugees.

      Time after time after time, the Donald demonstrates he has no sense of irony.

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        It would not surprise me if Drumpf was initially unaware of the fact that yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s one of those days that most of us not part of the crowd dedicated to such things only learn about with news reports on the day itself — somewhat like national fill-in-the-blank-disease awareness day.

        It is, however, guaranteed that somebody in his administration brought that “inconvenient” fact to Herr Littlehands’s attention along with the attendant “bad optics”…and that the Resident willfully ignored the messenger’s message.

        As far as Der Klinenfurher is concerned, thumbing his nose at the leet librul press like this is good. Any kind of bomb-throwing that upsets them is good on general principle for him, for starters. Besides, his overtly racist supporters have been worried that maybe he doesn’t wear bedsheet headgear after all, and this is more than a mere dog whistle to the pack that he’s still got their backs (and leashes, lest they forget).

        If any of all y’all were amongst those who thought we shouldn’t take him literally, for whatever reason, even if you thought we should take him seriously…well, here’s proof positive that, all along, he meant everything literally and he’s now deadly serious.

        Yes, America really is ruled by a white supremacist Christian theocratic dictator. And, no, it doesn’t matter if he’s as privately insincere in his belief as Hitler perhaps was. Der Gott in Himmel Hoch is every bit as much mit uns today as was with our young grandparents in Germany.



        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

          Guess we’ll find out in a couple months if Bannon and Trump put out an official St. Paddy’s Day statement without mentioning the Irish. 🙂

  2. darrelle
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got nothing to contribute except, “Man! That sounds like a great time!”

  3. tombesson
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,

    You are always welcome in Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city. We have a guest bedroom, and I can show you a lovely system of bike paths provided by bicycling enthusiasts over the years. I’m an American who found New Zealand to be the best place on the planet to rest my head. Hope to see you here. Cheers, Tom Besson

    • Jan Suchanek
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      I was all set to write virtually an identical email – including finding Nelson to be the best place to rest my head – but Tom has saved me the time! The only thing I would add is that nearby Abel Tasman National Park is also a very good reason to make it up to the Nelson area. If you end up making it I hope to add to Tom’s efforts in making you feel welcome.


      Jan Suchanek
      Richmond (12 kms from Nelson)

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Jan, There’s a few of us from the Nelson Science Society ( who hope to get together with Jerry when he is in Nelson. If you want me to add you to the list, drop me an email at

  4. Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Bloody New Nealand? Your Australian readers will remember this!

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I have a trip to Oz in the offing for next year.

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        I’m glad to hear it; I’d certainly love the opportunity to repay you for the contribution your website makes to the enrichment of my life.

        You’ll love NZ, of course; the scenery is breathtaking, especially on the South Island. Also, if you have a day in Aukland, do take the ferry to Waiheke Island; the vineyards and restaurants there are great.

        • Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, I misspelled “Auckland.”

          • Ian Clark
            Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            I spend three days there as part of a vacation on the North Island, staying at a winery. The scenery, the wine and the food make it a tremendous place to hang out for a few days. Not to mention the night sky – incredible.

            • Ian Clark
              Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

              When I said “there”, I meant “Waiheke Island”.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      You probably don’t like that Jerry will eat Pav – which wss invented in NZ. Muhahahahahaha!

      Just being a smart ass. 😛

      • Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        I just looked this up, and you’re right – Pavlova really was invented in New Zealand. Damn!

        Yes, you are a smart ass! 😁

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink


    • zackoz
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      That was my reaction too!

      New Zealand isn’t Down Under. Only Australia is./s

      Anyway, glad you’re coming to Oz next year (perhaps as a political refugee?)

      • somer
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        😺😸 Me too. I hope Trump election doesn’t have an influence on Oz both on right and left

  5. Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff, you’ll love it Jerry!

    We loved:

    The ferry through the Cook Straight from Wellington to Picton (assuming you don’t get seasick).

    Christchurch & Auckland (probably mainly these tow because we had people to stay with there).

    More or less anywhere on the South Island.

    Franz Josef Glacier (area)

    The Coromandle Penninsula and environs.

    Hotwater Beach

    Taupo area

    Mt. Cook area as approached from the east (dry) side.

    Lindis Pass area.

    The area between Porter’s Pass and Arthur’s Pass. Porter’s Pass: That’s one steep road!

    Especially the Cave Sream Scenic Reserve. Hike a 1/2–mile through a cave wading in a stream! In one entrance and out the other.

    • Billy Bl.
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      And try the chunks of chocolate and peanuts that are available in all corner stores (at least they were 35 years ago). Great fuel – I was also travelling by “push bike”.

      • gormenghastly
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        Whittaker’s Peanut Slab, still available.
        Now in almond and hazelnut varieties too.
        It’s iconic enough to be an icecream flavour too.

  6. Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    That is great news. I am the Secretary to the Nelson Science Society, and we’d love to have you talk in Nelson if you can spare an evening. We have over 100 paid up members, and a total of 600 friends who frequently attend our talks. My email is

    Thanks to Tom Besson for alerting me to your visit.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    The way things are going in the US, you might just want to stay there for a few years. (Only half joking…)

  8. bonetired
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    There is no national religion in New Zealand excepting rugby of course !

    • Posted January 31, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      And I’m a strident vociferous atheist about that!


  9. Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Would love to meet with you Jerry – we would actually have a lot to discuss.

    I am in Hamilton. NZ has great food, wine and coffee.

    Hamilton is an inland city – but central with relatively quick access to each coast. It has great public gardens attracting visitors from around the world.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Everyone in NZ says that where they live in “handy” to somewhere. I think this is because in NZ, you are always close to somewhere good and a coast isn’t really all that far away. 🙂

      • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        What we noticed very dramatically in NZ was that the landscape would change dramatically every 50-80km. It was truly amazing. What a landscape!

        This was especially welcome as we were traveling my (push) bike.

  10. Derek Freyberg
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    If you’re at all interested in history, spend a few days in Northland, especially the Bay of Islands, as a lot of key events in early New Zealand colonial history can be found there. Waitangi has the Treaty House, where the Treaty of Waitangi, one of the foundational documents of modern New Zealand, was signed; KeriKeri (where I lived as a young child and visited all through my school years) has both the oldest wooden building (the Kemp House) and the oldest stone building (the Stone Store), next to each other – the Stone Store was still our local store when I lived there, but is now a museum; and Russell has a church still with bullet holes from the Flagstaff War. Plus, the scenery is beautiful.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      North country is definitely worth it. I loved it there. I went to Waitangi and then did a tour of some of the islands up there.

      I also recommend a visit to Russell via the Coromandels and you really do need to see those glow in the dark worms in Waitomo.

    • keith cook +/-
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention Darwins visit to the mission house at Wiamate North, Northland.

      “Another display commemorates the 1835 visit of Charles Darwin who waxed lyrical over Te Waimate’s “English farm house and its well-dressed fields, placed there as if by an enchanter’s wand”.
      Awww… magic.
      Well we know what he thought of Russell, where the Beagle dropped anchor,
      “formerly known as Kororareka and infamous as the ‘hell-hole of the Pacific’ for its drunken and raucous behaviour.”
      It’s a little more sedate these days but worth having a look around 😎

      As a treat while in Auckland, a visit to
      Tiritiri Matangi Island, a conservation project Birds galore, tuatara and a jaunt up the Waitemata harbour.
      Link here:

      The Auckland Zoo, where you can sight kiwi but for you Prof(E)hanging out with Cheetahs might be a go.

  11. loren russell
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    A shame the moas are all gone!

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      There’s a nice moa on the waterfront in Queenstown (but it’s metal).
      The moa is not the only giant bird – there was also a giant eagle, the Haast’s eagle, which apparently preyed on the moa.
      Jerry, if you’re in Wellington, Te Papa, the national museum, is good on endemic flora and fauna.
      Queenstown, though touristy, has marvelous scenery (which is why it’s touristy), and flying into Queenstown is like flying into Cuzco (round the mountains), with Lake Wakatipu as an extra. See for one pilot’s view of an approach.

      • stuartcoyle
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        Te Papa is one of the best museums that I have ever been to. It is really not to be missed. It’s certainly something that the Kiwis have done better than us people from the correct side of the Tasman Sea.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

          Really? It must have improved out of sight in recent years, then. It struck me as an interior decorator’s idea of a museum (or maybe an advertising executive’s). Lots of flashy displays laid out for the maximum visual impact with no detail or background.

          For example, outside the front entrance is a polished granite sphere maybe 18″ diameter in a close-fitting water-filled cup on a plinth, and this massive sphere can be turned freely by hand due to the lubricating water film. Fascinating. The principle that most bearings work on. But aside from kiddies playing with it, there was no explanation visible.
          Inside, a racing motorcycle (probably this one: ) But NO information on it, not its power output, rpm, number of cylinders, valves, no technical information whatsoever. So it will doubtless cause the ignorant to say ‘oooh look at that racy motor-bike’ while simply frustrating anyone with a genuine interest in the subject.

          I found the more modest and traditional Wellington Museum of City and Sea (in the old customs building further along the waterfront) much better. Oh, and Wellington waterfront itself is cool, it’s been laid out for pedestrians and made into an interesting walk (assuming the recent quake hasn’t ruined it).

          And taking the old cable car up to Upland Road and walking down through the Botanic Gardens is a nice way to spend a few hours.


  12. Gareth
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry: My brother-in-law is an avid reader and told me you will be in NZ in March when said b-in-l is visiting me in Nelson. If you plan to visit Nelson, and let’s be honest, why would you not, we would all love to meet you. I am sure we could get a few like-minded individuals together to hear you talk if you would be willing to do so. If you are interested please e-mail me.

    Gareth Parry. ONZM, MB, ChB, FRACP
    Emeritus Professor of Neurology, University of Minnesota.
    Research Professor, Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Bonne chance in the antipodes!

  14. Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,

    I have read this site for a long time but haven’t commented until now, perhaps now I’ve started I’ll keep doing it more. Anyhow, just wanted to say it’s great to hear you’re coming to NZ, hope you have a fantastic time in our country, looking forward to seeing what you get up to.


  15. Kiwi Dave
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    No trip to NZ can be complete without a visit to Cape Reinga lighthouse via Ninety Mile Beach; Auckland’s volcanic cones – especially One Tree Hill, from where you can see both sides of the North Island; one of Auckland’s black sand surf beaches, eg, Piha; the Parnell Rose Garden; Hamilton Gardens; thermal activity in Rotorua; one of our national park walking tracks; Queenstown, including Arrowtown, Skippers Canyon, a jet boat ride; Milford Sound – including a light plane flight between Milford and Queenstown in which you will swear you can reach out and touch the nearby peaks. If you are using a commercial flight in the South Island, the landing flight path to Mount Cook airport is a scenic experience in itself worth the airfare.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Piha is great. I spend a few hours there before my flight. I actually stayed at a place in Epsom that has cabins and trailers and it was really reasonable and a nice place to stay.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        Seconding Piha. And specially right now if you like swimming in the surf, water’s warm, I can’t keep away (I’ve been there five days in a row…)

        And if the beach is not your thing, a walk from the end of Glen Esk Road up to Kitekite Falls or up Piha Valley Track is a great bush experience.


      • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        Loved Piha as well:

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          That bottom pic is The Gap.

          You can swim in the pool in perfect safety even at high tide while surf thunders on the rocks in the gap itself, because the rock wall (a lava dike?) breaks the waves and all the water that comes over it escapes across the shallow beach off to the right.


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          Here we are at high tide with a decent surf –

          and yes you can swim quite safely inside the line if the rocks because all that water thundering in doesn’t go back out the same way


  16. kelskye
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Lucky you. I’m only one country over, and haven’t had the chance to get across yet.

  17. Scientist
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Spent a month in NZ 5 years ago. While I preferred the South Island, the North is a close second. Regardless of where you go the variety of ferns, pinot noirs and birds will keep you delighted. And the slices at local bakeries, yummm!

  18. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Enjoy NZ, especially the Marlborough area Sauvignon Blancs! All of the above are good suggestions, but I particularly like Queenstown. When there try a little pizza joint in a back street called ‘The Cow’. Get there early since they don’t do reservations and it fill us up quickly.

    Good to hear that you are planning to visit the land of Oz in 2018. Please don’t restrict yourself to the Eastern states, and visit Adelaide (SA has the best wines in the country.

  19. Hempenstein
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Investigate whether you’ll land on Rarotonga en route there. Because of how the winds blow, it would only be on the over flight. We landed there on my only trip to NZ, and after one look I wished I could spend at least a day there. Perhaps the possibility exists like with flights to Europe via Iceland?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      This time of year it would be almost too hot to do anything except hit the beach.

      But if PCC is going in the northern summer, like say June, it would be a bit cooler (but still warm). Certainly warm enough for those of us from colder climates to snorkel in the lagoon, for example.

      And (on a non-humid day!) the cross-the-island walk from Wigmore’s waterfall to the Avatiu valley is worth doing.

      I’m not sure if flights are still conducive to a stopover in Raro, though.


  20. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Eat lots of bread and cheese. I don’t know why but I just find NZ bread and cheese more delicious than anywhere. I think it’s because everything is so freshly delivered. Even the smallest town will have a sandwich shop where you can get yummy, reasonably priced lunches. Every town has public toilets that are clean too which is rare in Canada (mostly due to the infrastructure cost I think with the cold winters).

    • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      I liked the bread and cheese in NZ too.

      But, for me, the king of both is France. I have a world guide to cheese and about 60% of it is France.

  21. Gordon
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    If you come through Wellington could organise an informal meeting at a room in a pub -sure other Wellington readers would be happy to come along. Let me know


  22. pkiwi
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Prioritise South Island over North Island (and seriously consider Stewart Island for kiwis and other birds – and the best blue cod)
    Cities: Wellington (coffee and cafes, giant squid at Te Papa), Auckland briefly (mostly for an island such as Waiheke for relaxed or Tiritiri Matangi for birds). Avoid Christchurch and Hamilton etc.
    Smaller towns that are relaxed with beauty around: Nelson, Queenstown
    Suggested must do’s: Fiordland (Milford or Doubtful Sounds), Tongariro Crossing (walk by Mt Doom), Central Otago (pinot noir, lakes, mountains), Franz or Fox glaciers. Far North is good – but it takes a bit of travel to get to Tane Mahuta, 90 mile beach etc.
    Have fun.

  23. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as an Aucklander, if you’re here it’s worth getting out to the West Coast for a day(Whatipu is the most deserted, or Piha/Karekare or Bethells) and just taking in the scenery and some of the bush tracks in the Waitakere Ranges. I’m sure you’d find the bush botanically interesting.

    Caveat: there’s NO public transport to any of them, you’d have to drive. It’s about 20 miles from central Auckland.

    But when you said ‘this summer’ d’you mean your summer or ours? After, say, April, it starts to get wetter and cooler and muddier ’round here.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      P.S. Also speaking as a (traitorous) Aucklander, I have to say that South Island scenery just blows away North Island’s.

      My favourite is the trip from Queenstown through Te Anau to Milford Sound – you can do it as a (long) one-day coach trip. The contrasts of scenery you pass through are striking.

      Almost equally good is the Tranz Alpine train from Christchurch over Arthurs Pass to Greymouth and back.


  24. lorcan
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jerry,
    Long time reader, not a poster.
    I’m in Christchurch and if you need a place to lay your head for a night, feel free to give me a call. I can buy you beer and show you around our broken (but recovering) city.

  25. aaronights
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I live in a small town just north of the capital city Wellington, called Levin. You’re very welcome to visit my home, but it’s really nothing compelling. Small towns have not much going on! If you do a meet up of some kind in Wellington I will absolutely attend.

    If you need any help at getting around the lower North Island of the country I’m happy to help out however I can.

    I very much look forward to meeting you!

  26. Don Mackay
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad you have taken up my invitation of a few weeks ago to visit New Zealand. If you give a talk in Nelson (see Simon Craise invite above, at #6)then I would be delighted if you would sign my copy of WEIT, which was so valuable to my teaching of High School kids in my last year of teaching.

    A couple of things re road trips in NZ: we drive on the left of the dotted line and most of the treasures are well hidden, eg NZ’s largest Totara tree (near Lake Taupo), and Peter Jackson’s WW1 aviation museum at Omaka, (near Blenheim in the SI. There are many more. Choose your guide well, and enjoy the trip.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      “…we drive on the left of the dotted line…” — I’m not sure that that always applies to tourists from overseas, though;-)

      • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        We do our best! 🙂

        • Posted January 31, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, my comment was a little flippant, but we do have a few (but too many) accidents involving tourists. In most cases they have been driving OK until they emerge from one of our many one-way bridges and their instincts take over…
          I’m in the South Island, where one-way bridges are more common.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

            I went over a bridge you had to share with a train. It freaked me right out. I think a lot of tourists are not only new to driving on the left but also new to driving standard. Happily, I know how to drive stick and just at 46 got an automatic for my main car. Most North Americans only know how to drive automatic.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

              This bridge?

              (I do love the helpful spectator on the right taking a close-up of the embarrassed driver)


        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          My aunt taught me a trick — the lines are always on the driver side so just make sure you, as the driver have the lines outside your door. If you don’t, you’ve forgotten what country your in and could be in for some trouble so move over so the lines are on your side.

          Still doesn’t help me though. I don’t like trying to drive in NZ. I usually cajole others into it.

      • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        My first go at driving an auto on the left was driving a stick shift across Auckland. Not a first that I would recommend to anyone! In an unfamiliar car of course, too.

        After that, driving on the left hasn’t intimidated me! 🙂

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          Did you try passing on the shoulder and the round-abouts? It’s weird when you get home and start using your windshield wiper as a turn signal and almost enter round-about the wrong way!

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            I have that problem (wiper vs turn signal) all the time. Because old British cars and Japanese cars (left-hand-drive countries) have the turn signal lever on the right, modern British cars and European cars have the signal on the left. My old Ford Escort and wife’s Mazda Tribute therefore have right-hand turn lever, my BMW has left-hand…


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          ‘auto’? Oh, automobile. To me ‘auto’ means automatic.

          My first ever go at driving on the right was a hired Peugeot from the centre of Lyon (Lyon Part-Dieu station). I didn’t try going round the Arc de Triomphe till a subsequent trip 😉


  27. Paul Clapham
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    One of the interesting noms I had during my NZ trip was hamburgers — yeah, that doesn’t sound too exciting but they often come with fried egg and beetroot on top!

    • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget the pineapple slice too!


      • Posted January 31, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        “Mostly I like to see how the world works. Meet people. Learn how they’re different – and the same.”

  28. Joe
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    12 of us escaped from HI on January 21, just after you know what, for 2+ weeks tramping with the Auckland Tramping Club. 4days Nelson Lakes, now in Motueka near Abel Tasman NP . Got Togo to meeting.

  29. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    If I could make a request, take lots of wildlife pictures! NZ is such an amazing place for wildlife. I so want to go myself soon.

    And keep an eye out for NZ’s three main gull species: the Red-billed Gull, Kelp Gull (natively known as the Black-backed Gull), and the endangered Black-billed Gull!

    • Paul Clapham
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      But beware… the juveniles of the Red-billed Gull have black bills.

  30. Joe
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Next is Picton to Wellington ferry and four days in Paeakariki. HS been spectacular. Week from today, fly home and try to assess the state of the nation.
    Pecking this out on my kindle fire.

  31. Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I hope you have a wonderful time (and from all the comments, it looks like you will.) I am envious. Maybe I can add NZ and Oz to by bucket list.

  32. Dale Franzwa
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Too bad you’re not a fisherman. I’ve heard there’s great trout fishing down there. Maybe you’ll get to eat some fresh caught trout.

    • Posted January 31, 2017 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      Yes, but I don’t think that it’s legal to sell trout in NZ (unless they’ve changed the law). So, assuming you have a fishing licence, your hotel can clean your trout and cook it for you, but it won’t be on the menu.

  33. Posted January 31, 2017 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Jerry, if you are passing through Tokoroa (between Hamilton and Taupo on State Highway 1), you most welcome to drop in, meet the farm animals, have a coffee. Even a bed for the night if you need a break. There might be some moonshine as well.

  34. HaggisForBrains
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    All of the above, but NZ’s greatest asset is its people. I have never met a more consistently friendly and courteous people anywhere else. I hope to return again soon. Enjoy!

    • Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Agreed; but Oz is amazing in this way as well, in my experience.

  35. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    My wife and I paid our first and (so far) only visit to NZ a year ago, to stay with our son-in-law’s extended family near Blenheim. If you’re going to go from Wellington to Picton, you could do worse than do a Marlborough winery tour (if you try hard, you could easily manage a dozen a day), coupled with the Peter Jackson WW1 aircraft museum.

    Whatever you do, you will have a wonderful time. It’s a great country.

  36. John Ottaway
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink


    There is a Cosmic Shambles tour in NZ whilst you are there. It has been put together by Robin Ince, along similar lines to the Infinite Monkey Cage, which you took part in (2015?)

    I’m sure they’d love you to contribute if you can

  37. RossR
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Judging by the above comments and invitations you will need far more than a month to see everything and everybody. And at least another month to get your itinerary organised beforehand!
    I hope you have a really great trip (and tell us all about it).

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      And at least another month to get your itinerary organised beforehand!

      The well-known computation problem of the “travelling evolutionary biologist” ?

  38. gormenghastly
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    You must see tuataras!

    Presumably you’re calling into Wellington (it’s the capital, has the Te Papa museum [opinions about it are polarised evidently but I love it], the best coffee and the best restaurants), and while in Wgton you have to go and see the tuatara in Zealandia sanctuary up the hill towards Karori. Zealandia is mainly a native bird sanctuary but tuataras feature too. The glory of NZ’s fauna is its birds so don’t miss out on them.

    If you’re lucky and brave we might put on one of our earthquakes for you.

    Can’t offer you hospitality chez us unfortunately, but if there’s an event in Wellington – some sort of lecture must be a possibility when people learn you’re coming – I’d be in for that.

  39. Posted January 31, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a great trip!

  40. toobigtohide
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Kia Ora Jerry,

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    You could start in the Bay of Islands, it is the birthplace of the nation, and very beautiful. Take a cruise around the islands pop over to the previously mentioned Russell (Kororareka).
    Heading south from there, the Poor Knights Islands is rated as one of the top 10 diving spots in the world. As an alternative (or do both), further south still, but still just north of Auckland is Goat Island Marine Reserve. Snorkel off the beach amongst the fishies.

    In Auckland the previously mentioned west-coast black-sand beaches are great, and also the previously mentioned Waiheke Island is a must.

    South of Auckland there is Rotorua for it’s geothermal wonders (hold your nose). Hobbiton (near Matamata) if you are interested in Tolkien’s world (and have lots of tourist dollars to spend).

    Wellington is great, as others have mentioned. Te Papa is really good. The Gallipoli exhibition is powerful, but not sure how it would translate to someone who has not grown up with the history of it.

    I agree with others that you should spend a few extra days in the South Island. But will leave it to others more familiar.

  41. Freya
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Sounds nice. Do you plan on talking about evolution and the latest advances in synthetic biology – ? Or did you had in mind more of a social engagement ? NZ is also a great place to visit for the views, it being Middlearth and all – I highly recommend taking your time and enjoying it.

  42. Bill Dickens
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you are welcome to stay with my parents in the Wairarapa. That’s the province on the lower east part of the North Island just north of Wellington.
    Reasons why you might want to visit the Wairarapa:
    1. The Pukaha Mount Bruce Bird Reserve is located a few miles north of their town. This has one of the country’s better collections of New Zealand native birds including the Kokako and Kaka. You can get up close and in the case of Kakas directly without any caging. Like many New Zealand birds they have a lot of personality.
    2. There are vineyards and wine tasting based around Martinborough.
    3. You would be welcome to use the beach house at Riversale which is located on a private stretch of rocky foreshore – with basking seals, the occasional penguin, and people out gathering local Kina (Evechinus chloroticus – sea urchin) and Paua (Haliotis iris – abalone).
    4. It’s sheep country and a farm visit could be easily arranged. (although you will just miss the annual Golden Shears shearing competition which is early March.)
    5. My parents have eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii) in a stream running through their property and they feed them daily.
    6. There are some famous lighthouses on wild coastlines at Cape Palliser and Castlepoint.
    7. You can get to the Wairarapa by a regular train service from Wellington – it’s very picturesque and one the the country’s best public transportation systems.
    I’ll post a couple of videos of Kaka/Penguin videos. I have no idea how to attach photos.
    Penguin at Riversdale
    Kaka feeding at Pukaha

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