Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

NZealand cave rafting& odd observations

Kathie & Dick Purmal of Concord Twp. are in New Zealand visiting their son, Brett, an animator for "Avatar." Their daughter, Nicole is there from NYC with Tom, her significant other. Brett's Heather, an Australian he met in Vancouver is there as is Kathie's brother, Kim
I'm writing this blog by extrapolating from Kathie's e-mails.
Kathie describes a little of scenery on the five-hour drive to Wellington to visit for the first time the home that Brett and Heather have purchased.
"Beautifully hilly country with huge forest of tree ferns, pastures fill with cows surrounded by low stone walls. It wasn't hard to see how this land inspired the flora and fauna in 'Lord of the Rings'"

One day they headed for the glow worm caves in the center of the country. A white water rafting adventure along an underground river inside the caves was planned. Kathie and Dick sat this one out.

Participants (all the others in their seven-person group) check in and get a wet suit, complete with jacket, boots, glove, a hard hard and a miner's headlamp.

Kathie writes that they were driven to a deep hole in the ground where each was given an innertube to sit in. They then were told to fall backward into the hole to land in the water, where they'll be floating 60 feet underground in the pitch black darkness.
"At certain points when the water reaches a low spot, they must climb, crawl cling and crunch their way along," Kathie writes.

She claims that Brett, Heather, Nikki, Tom "and my brother Kim who was being a huge sport representing our generation" all had icicles on their noses when they returned. "But they had the adventure of their lives," she reports.

The Purmals observations so far about New Zealand:
"Their money is made of plastic and has little clear windows in it"
"Their road signs are blunt: 'Drink- Drive -Die in the Ditch'
"They get excited when the temperature reaches 24. It took a day or so to realize that meant 80 degrees."
"A coffee here is a 'long black' or a 'short white' and they make it fresh everytime so if you are in a hurry you must order a cappuchino."

"No matter how many times we flushed the toilet we never saw it swirl in the opposite direction from what we experience in the United States. NZ toilets are flushed by pushing a button in a top tank and then a great cascade of water comes shooting down and out. Hard to see any swirl."