But first: We made it to New Zealand! We left Melbourne at around noon (Sunday), after some significant delays with customs and check-in. The system had no record of my ETA, which is the electronic record giving me approval to enter or re-enter Australia. Since NZ is very strict about their borders, they wouldn't let me in unless they could be sure that I could leave again, so they nearly had me buy a one-way ticket from NZ to the US, but I was able to hunt down the ETA online, thanks to Heather's iPhone. Meanwhile, poor Heather was held up for a different reason. She is a dual citizen of the US and Australia, but her Australian passport is expired, so she was traveling under her US one, and there was concern that Australia might not let her back in. Anyway, it was all cleared up and we eventually left for NZ.
|First view of Southern Alps from the plane|
|Salt map of New Zeala -- oh, no! It's REAL!|
|(See? I'm on a plane.)|
|From left: Mark, Heather, Aunt Kim, Uncle Trevor, Cameron, me, and Katie|
We had a nice dinner at a Thai place which played smooth jazz covers of outdated hits and then settled in for the night. Tomorrow we head toward Queenstown for skiing and more!
Now, on to the koala stuff from last Wed/Thurs.... (I am way behind!)
We saw (at least) four koalas while we were at Bimbi Park in Cape Otway (Victoria). They were hanging out in the Manna gum (eucalyptus) trees above our cabin, and we spotted some around dusk when they were first waking up and having some leaves for breakfast. (You'll see that some of our video clips are in amazing night-vision, since they sun had gone down...Thanks to my Aunt Kim's awesome video camera!) We saw them again the next morning, mostly sleeping at that point, though one did wake himself up as he almost fell from his tree :)
In the video, you will see that the first koala spotting was sort of an unexpected surprise. Also, at around 1:40 to 1:45 minutes, listen closely and you will hear the laughing sounds of the kookaburras!