Monday, May 12, 2008

Fox Glacier, Gillespies Beach

So after our skydiving adventure we just had to sit around a little while and replay the experience in our heads. No better place to do that in Fox then at the Cook Saddle Bar and Saloon. We ordered a couple of beers and relived the freefall for a little bit:

Then we took a quick walk down to the face of Fox Glacier:

After we got that out of our system, we decided to take a walk that we had heard about clear back in the states, the Gillespies Beach walk. We had heard that this was one place (probably of many around here) that you could stand on the beach and look inland to see sand, rainforest, mountains and glaciers in that order.

The walk itself was very pleasant - a long path through some old gold mining remains to a windy and rocky beach. Once on the beach Dana was loving looking at all the rocks - we don't have any good pictures but there are so many colors to the rocks here. I know there is a lot of quartz but I'm not sure what else goes into it.

We walked down the beach for about a half mile or so until we got to Gillespies Lagoon. From here we were supposed to be able to go a little further and see a mining tunnel, but we couldn't find the trail, and couldn't see the bridge that was supposed to be over the Lagoon.

On the way back to the car we saw yet another sheep up close and personal. He would back into the bush when anyone walked by - we wondered who he might belong to or if he was a wild sheep!

Later that night we treated ourselves to a dinner at Cafe Neve. We are feeling good about eating out now that we have finally realized that the food here is actually not more expensive than in the states. It seems a lot more expensive because here the tax and the service charge is already worked into the menu prices. As a result, at the end of the meal, there is no tax added and you don't need to leave a tip.

(NZ Menu - NZ Tax) *.8 = (US Menu + US Tax) * 1.2

Example is $15 lunch in NZ (very typical price for a good lunch - today I had fish and chips and a side salad and Dana had a chicken avocado and brie salad for lunch - each was $15)
Assume US tax of 8%
NZ tax is 12.5%
$1 NZ = $0.80 US


(15 - (15 * .125) * .8 = (x + .08x) * 1.2

solve for x...

(15 - 1.875) * .8 = 1.08x * 1.2

10.50 = 1.296x

x = $8.10

So that seems pretty reasonable! Here they just put all the costs into the menu instead of hiding them until the end of the meal - so much more simple. We also love that tipping is not expected. It makes eating so much easier, since when you're ready to go, you can just get up and pay at the front.

Also, we don't know exactly what the income tax rate is here, but we don't mind the higher (12.5%) sales tax, since it goes to fund all the great walks we've been doing and all the helpful Department of Conservation offices with friendly people to help us figure out what to do. And they have universal health care :).

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