Archive for the 'New Zealand' Category

All Things Physical in Land of Long Cloud

Posted in Travel, New Zealand on December 8th, 2005

The Maori word for NZ is Aotearoa: it means Land of the Long Cloud and when you see they way the clouds lie thinly stretched out over the mountain peaks you can see exactly why the name is perfect.

The All Blacks beat Australia 24:0 while we were there and scooped the pool at the Paris rugby awards: there was a lot of quiet satisfaction around. The Kiwis take their sport seriously and any physical activity for that matter – they invented bungy jumping didn’t they? You can do any mad thing you want from jumping out of helicopters on skis onto precipitous slopes to standing in rivers for hours catching salmon or whitebait. For the physical and cinematic minded you can now fly, white water raft, jet boat or even walk into Middle Earth on Lord of the Rings location tours…if you like that kind of thing. There are also more sedate activities like paragliding and ‘tramping’ as they call it on the Milford or Kepler tracks. We did fifteen kilometres of the latter through the most beautiful woods I have ever seen.

Traffic Lights a First

Posted in Travel, New Zealand on December 8th, 2005

New Zealand is only two and a half hours from Sydney and yet some people over here think it is a long way. Think of the distance to Perth! It has unique landscapes from pristine alpine heights to turbulent volcanic and thermal activity and a way of life that is redolent of a long gone past. In Queenstown, the locals have reluctantly resigned themselves to having traffic lights – a first for the whole Southland region of about hundred thousand people as it happens. This has been made necessary because the winter ski visitors do not respect the “after you” protocol for getting across single lane bridges of which there are many.

Eight Wheels on Peninsula

Posted in Travel, New Zealand on December 2nd, 2005

Not minutes away from the centre of Dunedin is The Peninsula, a stretch of land that curls around Otago harbour and gives stunning views of the coast and city. The drive skirts the coast at close range and in normal NZ style, has no barriers. Coming home even slightly tipsy or a tired, a brief careless moment could end in the sea.

At the very end of the peninsula are two special places where wildlife is given space: the Albatross colony and Penguin beach. In a rash moment we opted for a drive into the penguin and seal areas in a cross between an 8-wheel drive amphibious craft and a golf buggy. This is the only way in and it was certainly worth the hair-raising ride. It began to dawn that it would be no sedate golfing ride from the clouds of dust billowing around the returning trippers and the strained faces. Undaunted, we donned green waterproofs and set off in the early evening climbing straight up narrow rough tracks to the highest point and then plunging down to beach level in what felt like an almost perpendicular drop.
Then the wildlife: NZ fur seals with day old pups viewed from a hide just feet away; two males sparring and, from an earlier battle a defeated corpse lay near by. Rare penguins popping out of the water to run to their nests in the shore bushland on a beach without human presence- except of course we intrepids hiding in the cunningly devised viewing shelter. Native birds in abundance: shags, black backed gulls and albatross (though to confess we did not see this last one). This place was one of Captain Cook’s four corners of the earth which he named as he sailed blindly past the entrance to Otago harbour. Another dog-leg cove like Port Jackson and Milford Sound that he left for others to discover.