Archive for the ‘New Zealand’ Category

After years of unfailing service, my trusty backpack has decided that its days of journeying are over.

It was all so sudden…

Edges fraying, zippers jammed, stitching coming loose, rubberized grommets dry and brittle, mesh water bottle compartments sagging–their elasticity nothing but a memory–I suppose I simply refused to acknowledge the signs of a life well-traveled coming to an end.


Over the past five years, my backpack has carried bottles of wine and bags of fava across Santorini…ocean-carved granite stones from Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine…conch shells from the beaches of Anguilla….an unlikely combination of amber and smoked fish off the Baltic coast of Lithuania…jars of pate from gourmet stores in Quebec City…questionable electronics purchased on a street corner in Times Square…crocks of magnificent Maille mustard from Paris…gurgling 5-liter cans of olive oil from Puglia…cryo-vacced sausages from San Sebastian…sacks of Fleur de Sel purchased roadside in Guerande, France…dried fruit and nuts from the Souk in Marrakech…and full-sized, stinky wheels of young Pecorino from an outdoor market in Faro.

My backpack cradled all the things that ensured my safety and comfort on my journeys: passports, wallet, pocket knife, flashlight, a few feet of rope, note pad, business cards for, water, energy bars, Valium and Ambien for those long plane trips, Pepto for those bad food choices, and Immodium for those really bad food choices.
It accompanied me while snorkeling in St John…loading up on pasties and smoked whitefish at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula…swimming with dolphins in Moorea…riding camels along the Morrocan coast in Essouria…slurping oysters by the dozen in Pensacola Beach…flying in a hot air balloon over the vineyards outside of Barcelona…diving off the rocks in Capri…circling the dog track at the New Orleans Jazz Festival…boogie-boarding at Nauset Beach on Cape Cod…touring via helicopter over mountains and glaciers to Milford Sound in New Zealand…and relaxing poolside at the Four Seasons Resort in West Palm Beach.

Always behind me and never a complaint. A fond farewell. Thanks for watching my back, pack.


One of the true delicacies of New Zealand is their version of lobster they call crayfish. It’s similar in appearance to a Maine lobster, but it has no claws. And prices are very high. For example, a single crayfish that weighs about 1 1/2 pounds costs 54 New Zealand dollars. That’s about $38 US for what amounts to a 1/2 pound of actual meat.

On the South Island of New Zealand, on the Pacific (eastern) coast near the beach town of Kaikoura, there is a shack that has been serving up crayfish for years…and it’s earned a cult following among foodies that, like me, have traveled thousands of miles just to have a taste of this seafood delicacy.

The place is called Nins Bin, and it’s simply a little shack that sits on the rugged, windy coastline of the Pacific. You walk in, and a plastic container holds already-cooked crayfish, caught that day. The prices for each are marked right on the shell. You pick one, they cut it in half, and serve it with your choice of two sauces: one a sort of thousand island thing, and the other a garlic aioli. We took one of each, walked over to the only picnic table nearby, and quickly finished off this little treat, hungry seagulls buzzing all around us, waiting for any morsel we might accidentally drop. (Not a chance!)

The flesh of the crayfish was sweet…but not really sweet like Maine lobster can be. And although it was a beautiful white in color, its texture was almost meat-like, like chicken. But really good. We devoured the tail, sucked whatever meat we could out of the legs, and that was it…crayfish gone. Experience had. It totally lived up to the foodie hype I had read about.


We hung out around Nins Bin a little longer, taking in the atmosphere before we got back in the rental car and headed down the road to the town of Kaikoura, our next stop on our 3-week, 2000 mile journey through New Zealand.