New Zealand 2007 Trip Log

"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto!"
Dorothy in "the Wizard of Oz"

Latest News - Alex and Lex are back to the US!!!

Sunday February 11, 2007

Tuesday February 13, 2007

  • Alex and Lex have arrived in Auckland, New Zealand! Uneventful flight, Alex slept most of the trip.
  • Weather is beautiful, enjoying Auckland, had lunch, already checked into the hostel.
  • Jill and Fred report:
    • "Lex called last night, said he was exhausted but not at all tired! I imagine the excitement of actually being there greatly curbs their fatigue."

Wednesday February 14, 2007

    Alex writes:

    For our second day in New Zealand, I started the day off by walking all around the city by myself, since Lex was still asleep and I had woken up very early. I spent time in all of the major parks in the city and visited the port. We then went to a beach, did a little swimming, and reading, and spent the night hanging out with other kids from all around the world. It seems to me that at least here the New Zealanders are the minority.

    I am having a great time and am on my way to our first farm this afternoon, down near Wellington. It is an alternative energy farm, whatever that means I will find out. Both Lex and I are excited to leave the city, since it is all too expensive, we are ready to be more at home in the countryside.

    Hope everything is going well at home!

  • Watch a YouTube video about Wellington
  • YouTube video about the wild winds around Wellington and aircraft landing

Wind Farm in Parlmerston North

Thursday February 15, 2007

Alex writes:

Yesterday evening we took a bus at 7:00 PM Wellington, and we got there at 6:30 this morning. We are staying in a hostel in Wellington for two nights before we go off to our first farm in Parlmerston North, it is an Alternative Energy farm and hopefully it will be a good time, We are going to stay there for only 3 days and go back to Wellington on the 21st where we will take the 3:00 AM ferry across cooks strait to Picton.

The farm we are heading to really doesn't have a name that I know of besides the Alt-Energy farm title that they give it in the WWOOF book. They only have a brief description but it seems that they have a self-sustaining little setup going for them where most of the jobs are human powered.

The people we are meeting are from all over the place, Chile, Germany (a lot of Germans). We met some really nice girls last night from Canada, but the people we're meeting are mostly from Europe. We also met a kid from Saudi Arabia.

They are spending longer periods of time here than we are, and don't have as planned of a trip, but I also think that they have a lot more money to spend. Like when we went to England, all of the kids here are very well dressed and clean, so they see me and Lex as some what of an odd group of people.

I heard you had SNOW! My goodness. The weather here has been downright beautiful! The sun is bright and I actually am putting sunscreen on.

From Picton our journey will continue south. It's so very exciting to get to travel all over this beautiful country. The people here are beyond friendly, you can get into a conversation with just about anyone on the street. The countryside is amazing and me and Lex are really ready to start working (and stop spending so much money!).

The bus from Auckland to Wellington was not the $10 that they advertised on their website, but it was more like $70! This was a shock to our pocket books!

Everything is going well and Lex seems to be doing alright though he is a tad bit shy. I miss you dearly and will call soon (its hard for me to know when to call since the time difference is so weird), and right now it is 1:00 in the afternoon so no one is home anyway!

(Editor's Note: Alex might consider clicking in the time check below, he's 12 hours off in his estimate!)

Sunday February 17, 2007

Spoke today with both Alex and Lex on the phone tonight (4:30 PM NZ time, 10:30 PM Boston time). They sound great and are doing well.

Lex reports:
"New Zealand is awesome, really nice. We're working at the Alternate Energy Farm, putting up electric fences and picking apples. The farmer has Jersey cows and they sell the raw milk to Indian restaurants. We're eating well and I need to call home and speak with my Mom."

Alex writes:
We're at the alternate energy farm. Really what I think they mean by alt-energy is that they try to use all rain water and pride themselves in trying to be off the main power grid.

We did end up going to the wind farm today and took a look at all of the enormous wind turbines that power a good part of the North Island. Around Palmerston North they have the best spot for a wind farm in the entire world. The farm we are staying at is a little ways away from where those wind generators are and they are mostly just a small diary farm operation, selling raw milk to Indian food restaurants to make paneer (Ed: a type of Indian cottage cheese).

They are really nice people - though a little crazy, like all organic farmers need to be in order to continue to do what they do. They have been feeding us their own meat and are very very very hospitable, welcoming us into their home as if we were close friends.

I continue to be amazed by the ever increasing sincerity and kindness that New Zealanders posses, and from what we are hearing for people, the ones that live in the South Island are even nice! And even now it is hard to walk down any street without some one chatting you up.

Here are some of the interesting New Zealand terminologies that they use quite often:
"sweet as," or "cool as" are phrases used to explain how cool something is. For example, "this is a choice pie," says one man to another, "Yeah its sweet as." And when it is a particularly nice day they call it a "cracker".

As for the people that we are meeting, primarily they are all around 16-30 years old. Most of them, for some reason, think that me and Lex are about 25 or 26! And considering that at least I don't think that I look that old, they still seem to think that we are older than we are.

They are very interested in the fact that we are Americans, and have all sorts of questions as to how our country is being run, and how people are there. They also happen to find these Dickies pants that I have been wearing supper cool, considering that here a pair of Dickies costs around $150 and a pair of Dickies shorts are about $120. Crime seems to be low, yet their does seem to be a growing presence of street gangs in some areas, its not something that we need to worry about, since we are going into less populated areas, and since they still tend to seem to be nice to travelers like me and Lex.

The farm we are staying at now only has me and Lex WWOOFing at it now, but they have normally more people working there. We have not as of yet met people who are also WWOOFing but in conversations with people we have found that when we go to the south island we will most likely find more WWOOFers and trampers (hikers) since backpacking here only really means going from hostel to hostel, and most of the kids that we have met have been having more of a vacation of it, and have loads of money to spend.

Lex is doing well. He and I are both very happy that we have move away from most of the major big cities and are living now in the country, where farms never seem to real end, its like the reverse of Japan, where the cities were endless and the countryside small, here the country goes on forever.

I personally am having a lovely time and am very grateful for being able to go on such an excellent and exciting trip!!!

Jersey Cows

Wednesday February 21, 2007

Alex writes:

So we have spent that past 3 days on a small organic dairy farm. The work is not very hard and very relaxed in the afternoon, though the farmer Cedric seems to think that we know what he is thinking and what he expects us to do next.

We only really learned how to milk the other day and this morning we were expected to know how to do it all again, by ourselves. Its not that it is particularly hard but more just a new experience, and I feel as though this is not really what the whole WWOOFing thing is supposed to be about,. We are more the "farm hands" to pick up his slack so that he can relax inside all day playing internet poker!

But they are nice people and are feeding us well. Even Lex has been eating meat and drinking milk. They do have two very nice dogs, one small terrier named Violet and one larger black dog named Socks. Don't worry I have taken pictures of them, though I do not think I have been taking as many pictures as I would like to.

We have booked our trip down to Christchurch and have a seat on the train (I hope it is a seat! I would feel silly if we ended up having to stand for the whole five hour trip). Things are well and it is nice to just sit around in the afternoon, reading and writing in my journal.

p.s. I am still nervous about college...
p.p.s. Dairy farms are gross!

Christchurch, New Zealand

Thursday February 22, 2007 (11:10 PM, NZ time)

Alex called at 5:15 AM EST today. They've arrived in Christchurch on South Island after a very scenic five plus hour journey on the train from Picton. The last car on the train was open and the boys could walk back there to get a wonderful of the mountains and ocean. They're staying at a backpacker's hostel in Christchurch before continuing south to work at Wairuna Organics.

Admissions office at Hampshire College

Monday February 26, 2007

The college application process continues marching onward even with the young men "down under". Frederick Martin at The Meeting School is helping tremendously by calling each of the colleges and making sure they have everything they need from TMS and the teachers.

Converted caravan on Wairuna Organics
where Lex and Alex are living

Pia and Shaun's house

Thursday February 28, 2007

Alex called today at 3:30 PM NZ time at reported, sounds really good. It's been hard for them to call home and report it since the farm is a mile out of town. You could hear the cars and trucks whizzing by when Alex called from a phone on the side of the road.

Alex and Lex took a bus south from Christchurch to Dunedin where they met up with Pia Dickhaut and Shaun McVicker from Wairuna Organics at a farmers market (Pia is from Germany and Shawn is a "Kiwi"). The ride from Dunedin to Clinton was about an hour and a half. They did not have enough time to visit the NZ National Park, as planned, when they were in New Zealand.

The weather is quite nice, about 80 degrees during the day and about 50 degrees at night. Alex reported that the air feels cools even during the warmth of the day.

The farm where they are staying is an unusual collection of buildings and vehicles converted into living quarters. Pia and Shaun's house is undergoing a renovation and a yellow sun is painted on the side (click for picture). Alex and Lex are staying in a converted "caravan" (see picture at left). There are two other WWOOFers staying with them: Johannes from Germany and Marcus (a Kiwi). Three other WWOFers just left the farm.

Alex and Lex are working four hours a day, starting at 9:00 AM and wrapping up at 1:00 PM. Alex has been working in the "tunnel houses" (i.e. greenhouses) planting lettuce and tomatoes. Lex has been hard at work on the farm doing lots of physical labor, digging and moving things. Lex has been pulling out very nasty, massive weeds called grouse (sic?).

Alex cooked dinner for the family today (didn't get what he cooked). Lex continues to eat well and is a temporary omnivore, although he claims that he will return to veganism when he's back at The Meeting School. Pia and Shaun are feeding the WWOOFer well and the boys appreciating their hospitality.

Otega Farmers Market in Dunedin
at the Railroad Station

Saturday, March 3, 2007, approximately 1:00 AM local time

Alex writes from Wairuna Organics farm:

I am doing well today on "Freaky Friday" as they call it, the day before the Farmers Market in Dunedin. I have been working very hard … even harder than they ask me to! I spent the past two days working over 8 hours a day just because I really enjoy this job, and these people.

Things are really going well --- we've been told that we're some of the best WWOOFers the farm's had and constantly being complemented on how well we work.

I just received a few emails from Marlboro College and they have let me in! It was a nice thing to get out of the blue --- I didn't expect to hear from them until April. They actually sent me a personalized email about following my trip in New Zealand. Very pleased about this and I can now relax just a bit. (Thank you Frederick!)


(Ed Note: it's been difficult for Alex to get on the Internet to post his latest stories and adventures. As he travels back north towards Auckland, we hope to be hearing more from him and Lex. sjm)

Unique Sign on Otago Peninsula near Dunedin

Sunday, March 4, 2007, approximately 6:00 PM local NZ time

Alex writes:

We leave for Auckland tomorrow. From there we'll head up the country as fast as busses and boats can take us!

Things are still going amazingly well. I wish that we could have spent more time here --- Shaun and Pia would say the same thing. Today we did a bunch of hard work. We were digging holes for trees and I actually started to sweat.

While digging, Lex accidentally cut through a water line with his shovel and cut off a large part of the cows' water supply. But Shaun was not very upset at all and just fixed it with a smile on his face. These are very friendly people, who work hard doing what they care about.

Yes I am having a good time but I look forward to coming home!


Picton Harbor

Interisland Ferry

Tuesday March 6, 2007, sometime in the morning

Alex writes:

Well so me and Lex have made it up the South Island and are back in Picton where we are going to take the 2:25 PM ferry across Cook Strait. The bus rides have been long. From Dunedin to Christchurch, from Christchurch to Picton. And tomorrow we will go from Wellington to Auckland to catch our plane back to the US on Thursday.

The mountains are endless on the trip up here from Dunedin. Yet even with the beautiful surroundings it is hard to travel so far so quickly, and it was hard leaving behind the beautiful farm.

Things are well and we look forward to coming home to share more stories of the trip! This whole college thing stills make me nervous and a tad bit stressed although it does help that I have already heard from Marlboro and I know that there is at least one good college for me to go to next year.

It is fun traveling, but I definitely have things that I would do differently if I ever did this trip again. A bit more planning would be helpful. And, of course, Lex is a really good person to travel with.

Well, this coin operated computer is coming to the end of it use --- my money is running out. So I will share more with you when I can, most likely tonight when we are in Wellington. I might even give you a call tomorrow if I can find a phone that is not designed solely for credit card use.


Wellington, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 6, 2007, evening in Wellington

Alex writes:

We have had a great ferry ride and Lex played some of his songs for the boat! There was a woman musician who asked if anyone had any songs that they would like to play and Lex jumped right on the opportunity. She also offered to release a single for him on her record label if he would send her a recording of his music. This is very exciting indeed!

We spoke to her of many things for the rest of the ride and the conversation moved to the deeper more controversial side of New Zealand that we have been noticing: the racism between the White Man and the Maori and the open acts of sexism and harassment of women committed by men in every city that we have been to. These are troubling things to come in contact with and add a great complexity to the culture here. So much is due to the influences of the outside world. The Maoris themselves only arrived on this island a short period of time ago and things are in a state of change here as they are in the rest of the world.

We are now in Wellington and things are well, though Lex is travel weary (and a little grumpy). We had to walk quite a distance through the city looking for a place to spend the night. He was (and is) barefoot and expected some sort of sympathy for the pain that the hard pavement deals to his feet! (Though I was not, in fact, the one who removed his shoes or covered the ground with gravel…)

While waiting for the ferry in Picton I had thought that I had lost him! 2:00 came along and it was time for us to leave yet he had wandered off to some location that he had not decided to tell me about. Everyone else was boarding the ferry and I was walking around looking for him. It was just five minutes before we were to leave and I just got on the boat, telling the ticket people that he had no sense of time … even though he is the one with the watch. He got on right as they were closing up and they told him what I said to him concerning his sense of time.

He was not hurt by this, but simply laughed. Besides that, all is well and we are here in Wellington for the night and tomorrow afternoon before we take the bus to Auckland and in turn the plane home.

I can't wait to be back and am looking forward to all sorts of things!


Wellington Wildlife House Hostel

Tuesday, March 6, 2007, evening in Wellington (part deux)

Alex writes:

So ... I am very, very curious, no large or even small envelopes have come for me have they? I am sure that you would tell me if they did... BUT I still yearn to hear no matter what news it is. (Ed note: colleges, obviously)

Wellington lives up to its reputation as a windy city today and yet we have not yet been blown away. The hostel that we are staying at is painted like a zebra, and the time to come home is soon. This is a nice country, and it is a wonderful experience but I look forward to the return of the quietness of home life, both at home and back at school. The cities are just all to busy for us and full of craziness at night.

Has any mail come for me? Oh, I think it is time for me to simply check on when the letters are due to arrive so that I can stop this silly, silly worrying about it.


Thursday, March 8, 2007, Auckland, NZ, about to leave back to the US...

Alex writes:

We are now in Auckland! Lex and I are just waiting around a bit more in the city and will head over to the airport when we get a bit closer to when our plane departs.

We really have a 14 hour layover in LAX!!! It is something crazy like that and I am not sure what me and Lex are ever going to do with all that time.

Oh well, so I will go and eat lunch now even though I am mostly just very tired. The bus we took to Auckland left last night from Wellington at 8:00 PM and arrived here in Auckland around 8:00 AM the next morning. So I'm not sure whether or not this will rid me of the torments of jet lag (since my sleep patterns are all messed up while we are here) or just make it worse.


Ed Note: Here's the return flight information:

  • Thursday 3/8/02, AKL -> LAX, Qantas #7315, Leaves 7:40 PM Local Time, Arrives 10:30 AM PST
  • Thursday 3/8/07, LAX -> BOS, AA # 264, Leaves 12:50 PM PST, Arrives 9:15 PM EST

Friday, March 9, 2007, approximately 1:00 AM EST

The weary travelers returned to Logan via LAX and ORD. The Auckland to Los Angeles leg of the flight was delayed resulting in missing the direct LAX to BOS leg. Alex reported long lines and delays in Immigrations at LAX. American Airlines booked Alex and Lex to Boston on a later flight via Chicago and their long, long, long journey home finally ended.

Jill and Fred met Lex at Logan and everyone was very happy to see each other. Both Alex and Lex were a bit tanned and managed to return on the coldest night this winter (6F at Logan).

Alex says, "...very tired, but not sleepy!" and his Mom and Dad enjoyed his first batch of stories on the ride home. Alex had been up for over 48 hours straight by the time he got home.

More pictures and stories are sure to come... Alex has a great batch of pictures on his digital camera, which his Dad enjoyed viewing at 3:00 AM.

Everyone asks "What time is it in New Zealand?" Click here for current Auckland time!
(Generally it's +13 hours from GMT, +18 hours from Boston EST)

Maori Native

Anticipated Itinerary (subject to extreme change!):

  • February 13th
    • Arrive in Auckland
    • Stay the night in the Auckland Central Backpacker's Hostel
  • February 15th
    • Arrive at farm, stay 3 days
  • February 17th
    • Take bus south from Auckland to Wellington (capital)
  • February 18th
    • Stay at farm for 3 days
  • February 21
    • Begin trip from Wellington (north island) to Dunedin (south island)
    • Wellington to Picton by boat
    • Picton to Christchurch by train
    • Stay in National Park (Arthur's Pass or Hammers Spring)
    • Christchurch to Dunedin by Atomic Shuttle
  • February 24th

Click for more detailed map

Trip Information:

  • Flight to New Zealand
    • Sunday 2/11/07, BOS -> LAX, AA #25, Leaves 8:15 AM EST, Arrives 11:45 AM PST
    • Sunday 2/11/07, LAX -> AKL, Qantas # 7337, Leaves 8:30 PM PST, Arrives 6:00 AM Local Time Tuesday 2/13/07 (Actual arrival was 8:26 AM Local Time, due to a delay to remove excess fuel before leaving due to weight restrictions)
  • Flight to US
    • Thursday 3/8/02, AKL -> LAX, Qantas #7315, Leaves 7:40 PM Local Time, Arrives 10:30 AM PST
    • Thursday 3/8/07, LAX -> BOS, AA # 264, Leaves 12:50 PM PST, Arrives 9:15 PM EST

  • American Airlines
  • Qantas
  • FlightAware - Live Flight Tracking Web Site

Useful Links:


About the Meeting School:

  • "Founded in 1957, The Meeting School is a coed Quaker boarding and day school and working farm for students in grades 9-12. TMS prepares students with life skills as well as academic knowledge. At The Meeting School, 30-40 boarding and day students in grades 9-12 live, work and learn together. Students and faculty share the work and the joy of life in community, small classes (typically 5-7 students), and raising food on our organic farm. Boarding students live together in our five faculty houses. We cook together, clean together, eat together, reflect together, play together and grow together. Learning is hands-on, authentic, vital and experiential. Students learn important skills for every area of life. The community takes the time to make important decisions collectively, in the manner of Quakers. Young people with initiative and vision can make a real difference at The Meeting School!"
  • The Meeting School Web Site
  • The Meeting School Blog
  • TMS on My Space
  • Contact info:

The Meeting School
120 Thomas Road
Rindge, NH 03461

Last Updated February 14, 2007

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