• South Island, New Zealand

    Vicarious Travel Team,

    Tyler has passed on the torch this week to me (Jason) to do the writing. He’s currently engrossed in a cricket match on T.V.

    If I could sum up the south island of New Zealand in one word it would be COLD! The city we flew into, Christchurch is one of the main takeoff points for travelers headed to Antarctic. Luckily, Tyler and I planned ahead while on the North Island and wrangled a few sheep to create some fashionable woolen coats.

    My buddy Ian Calder who I met while studying abroad in Christchurch was there to meet us at the airport in the classic Kiwi dress of short rugby shorts, socks, and jandals (kiwi for Japanese sandals). Before we knew it we were on the move for the west coast for a stag-do (bachelor party in kiwi language). You might think it’d be awkward to show up at a bachelor party for some guy that you don’t even know (cause we thought the same thing), but New Zealanders are very friendly and before we knew it we were in the middle of more games than we knew what to do with: touch rugby, basketball, jailbreak, american football, circus, knee rugby, bobbing for apples, obstacle courses, and Tyler’s favorite: a game that involved chocolate, a stocking cap, dice, a fork and a knife, and a giant pair of women’s panties. {“This is a lie, knee rugby was my favorite, because team USA went undefeated for at least 8 games in a row, until we collapsed out of exhaustion. USA! USA! USA!” – T}

    Tyler and I were beginning to miss the campervan lifestyle, so we rented a campervan, this time including Ian on the deal, and headed south down to Queenstown to try to catch a large winter festival that was on that week. Queenstown is a mecca for adrenaline enthusiasts, so Tyler got to work skiing with his new friends and doing one of the largest bungy jumps in the world, The Nevis.

    Deciding that sleeping three in a small campervan was a little tight, Ian and I stuck out our thumbs and hitch hiked south to stay with another old friend at Milford Sound in the fjord lands. Not knowing how the hitching would go we wrote up our wills and said our last goodbyes to Tyler. I’m not sure if it was my or Ian’s good looks, but we made it down and back in a flash with the help of a few other friendly travelers. Milford Sound was incredible but the views were outdone by the fully stocked kitchen that we had free access to through our friend. Spending 6 hours in the kitchen our first night may have been little overboard, but we didn’t care.

    {One highlight and quick story from Tyler – I ended up meeting and staying with one of the coolest married couples in the world, the Hazledines, in Queenstown and having a complete blast. On Saturday we all went skiing and Sam and I competed in a Winterfest activity called the “Dash for Cash”; a 50m footrace followed by a Chinese Downhill ski, concluded by a 50m uphill and 50m downhill footrace. The trash talking had been consistent for the few days that lead up to this race and Sam and I decided on a side bet to top the race prize money. Our deal was if he beat me in the race, I’d have to mow their lawn (in the middle of their freezing and frosty winter), and if I beat him, he would eat some chicken (he is a hardcore vegan and dryheaves at the thought of chicken). The odds were way against Team America because the Kiwi in Kiwi (check out sam’s all green jumpsuit) was last year’s reigning champ, but I did have all the founding fathers on my side (given it was July 4th) which gave me more than enough confidence. Sam and I both got a poor start in the beginning of the race which put us in the disappointing middle of the pack. During the ski, we were able to bomb past some competitors (especially Sam who shot over 100 feet off the cat-track to the bottom portion of the course) and made some headway. On the final leg of the course, I was running directly behind sam and we were about 6th and 7th; Sam had started to give up because the prize money was well out of reach; but because I was behind him, I remembered our side bet and fully dove for the finish line to victory (over Sam). I then gloated, lit fireworks, did pullups, chanted USA, USA, USA, and rubbed in my victory as much as possible while sam ate his chicken drumstick; just as any other responsible ambassador of the United States would do in this situation. Great times}

    There are many many stories in between and after these events and we’ll let the pictures do the talking.

    Much love and adventures,

    J & T

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  • Fetch with Poochy (Saint Bathan’s Lake, New Zealand)

    Wood plank and Ice Lake Fetch with our local tour guide Poochy from Tyler Elick on Vimeo.

    Came across a great dog at Saint Bathan’s Lake in South New Zealand and played some fetch.

  • North Island, New Zealand

    Vicarious travel support team,

    We are currently in Auckland (North Island of New Zealand) airport waiting to fly to Christchurch (South Island of New Zealand).  This week has been amazing and if I didn’t feel like an adventurous 10 year old who runs around barefoot in Rarotonga, I definitely felt like one when I had my own rolling treehouse in New Zealand.  The culture here is very active and outdoor oriented; it’s amazing fun.  Jason and I wanted to see as much of the North Island as possible, so we rented a campervan for about $60NZD/day which is about $18USD per person per day (less than staying at backpackers lodges) and it was the best decision we made thus far (trumping the previous #1 choice to rent scooters in Raro).  Having a fort on wheels is awesome!   New Zealand is very campervan friendly and we could basically pick our favorite beachfront parking spot, stay the night, and awake to waves, birds, and astounding sunrises.  We drove our boombox/kitchen/gymnasium/bed/shower/bathroom on wheels just shy of 2000km in the 6 days we were here and as you can see in the pictures below, when we arrived at our select destinations, we were primed for adventure and activity with a full dose of campervan a.d.d.  That’s why all our scenery shots are generally full of someone or something flying through the air.

    Jason spent a semester abroad in Christchurch, NZ so he has some great friends and connections here.  We were able to hang out and land at his good friend Rachel’s house which was in Tauranga (the Encinitas, California of New Zealand).  The house was beautifully located on the ocean and equipped with pool and a freshwater hot springs spa.  Rachel’s family was more than hospitable and shared food (tamarillos *a cross between a tomato and peach that you eat like a kiwi), travel advice, and a much needed washer and dryer.

    One more thing to note before signing off, the roads here are incredible!  They may seem a little dangerous (due to the fact that there is one lane of travel in each direction with no median) but they are amazingly created and rip through the lush countryside like flowing rivers with aggressive banked turns that made our 2 ton van feel like a sportscar.  I can’t wait to come back and drive something a little more sporty (Subaru WRX, Audi A4, or Triumph motorcycle).  Driving on the left of the road and right of the car also takes some adjustment (especially beginning on a manual camper in the congested city of Auckland) but in some way makes you feel a little more like a European Le Mans driver.  I think it has to do with steering with my dominant hand (and handling our teetering oaf of a vehicle like it was meant to race through this sheep-filled countryside).


    T & J

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  • Sheep Wrangling in Rotorua, New Zealand

    Sheep Wrangling in Rotorua, New Zealand from Tyler Elick on Vimeo.

    Jason found himself a little wooly fighter. I totally lose it when it starts making him do the reverse wide-leg shuffle.

  • Ghostriding the Whip (Bayly’s Beach, New Zealand)

    Ghostriding the Whip on Bayly’s Beach, New Zealand from Tyler Elick on Vimeo.

    Jason and I, for lack of better judgement, decided to ghostride our campervan on Bayly’s Beach in New Zealand. Ghostriding the whip is pure joy and excitement, with a very high potential for something to go wrong. I can’t directly recommend it (for legal reasons), but I definitely recommend it!