Kia Ora

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Welcome readers to the land of the Long White Cloud (the most common translation for the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maori">Maori</a> name of New Zealand, which is "Aotearoa". Sorry it's been so long since our last update, but the breakneck pace of our journey these past while hasn't given us much time for Interwebbage. When last we spoke (well, I spoke, you just toiled through the scrambled recollections), we had just left Brisbane by stepping onto a flight to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland">Auckland</a>, the multi-cultural population center of New Zealand.

The first and last time that I was in NZ was 10 years ago, when visiting friends for the new millenium celebrations (remember that?). I fell in love with the country: the scenery, the light, the people, the air, the food and the kayaking (naturally). The fact that the place is as stable (geologically speaking) as a Jenga tower 24 moves old, resting on a skateboard heading down a mountainside should be glossed over as quickly as possible. Suffice to say I was looking forward both to going back, and to seeing what Rachel thought of the place (even without the opportunity to see some cheap rugby – damn this summer travelling).

Anyway, back to the flight! Because of Queensland's non-observation of Daylight Savings Time, New Zealand was 3 hours ahead of our departure point in Brisbane – with our 3 hour flight we left Oz in the morning and arrived in Auckland late afternoon. We caught a shuttle bus from the airport to backpacker central: a retirement village on the outskirts of Central Auckland. The reason we were here was to stay with our Sydney host Robyn's mum, a wonderfully hospitable and friendly woman. She cooked up several excellent meals over the course of our two nights, and we were spectacularly spoiled. Incidentally, the view from the obligatory bowling green at the retirement village is outstanding; there must be precious few places in the world were you can bowl in full view of two different oceans and a range of hills.

The next day Susan (Robyn's sister) picked us up and took us into town via the famed <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Tree_Hill,_New_Zealand">One Tree Hill</a>, an old volcano which commands impressive views over the greater Auckland area – the isthmus is clearly from this vantage point.

The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_War_Memorial_Museum">Auckland War Museum</a> now doubles a museum of the history of the area, and we spent a couple of hours walking around New Zealand natural history, geology, Maori and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakeha">Pakeha</a> (us white folk Europeans) displays. The section on volcanos includes a simulation within a mock house of an eruption taking place under one of Auckland's bays, with mocked up news coverage. Unsettling stuff (which, as above, should be glossed over quickly with this pretty picture from the inside of the museum).

Later in the afternoon we had lunch at the finest Asian food hall outside of Asia (on Arthur's Street, for those of you making lists) – roti canai for Rachel, Isaan <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laab">laab</a> for me – and followed up with the movie Where the Wild Things Are that evening. Rachel has been itching to see it since we first saw a trailer for it 8 months ago, and we both loved it. I can leave her to give you more details on that though :->.

The following morning, Susan dropped us off at the airport for a flight to the Christchurch, now New Zealand's second largest city and the capital of the province of Canterbury. We're coming back here in a bit (in fact, we're currently back here now), so we'll leave detail for later, but we did spend some time admiring the suspiciously British architecture and walked around the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch_Art_Gallery_Te_Puna_o_Waiwhetu">Art Gallery</a>. The gallery had some impressive art from local Cantabrians, and two kooky exhibitions (including photographs of Kiwi museums' collection rooms) – pretty nifty.

The view outside our room at the YHA in Christchurch

The reason we had come to the South Island was, to quote of a Kiwi friend of mine 'Nature'. In order to best experience this, we had booked ourselves on a bus tour, of the type common in the Antipodes (more on which in the next installment). To start the trip, we first needed to get to the first bus pickup point on the other side of the island. We were to start our bus tour in Greymouth, the largest town on the South Island's West coast. To get there we hauled across the raised spine of the country – the Southern Alps by way of the impressive Arthur’s Pass. The place is clearly blanketed in snow during winter, but we were instead treated to lots of cloud and rain. This didn't detract too much from the spectacular views.

In Greymouth we were dropped at the train station with two hours to spare, dropped our bags off at left luggage and walked down to explore the ex-Goldmining town..which is where we will pick up the story when we return.

Until next time,

James

Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas

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