Archive of posts from November 2003
Critical Mass Protest
This evening I witnessed my first Kiwi protest event! And all by accident, too. We were taking a stroll around the city to check out where I have to be for a job interview next week and to have a peek at the Cave Troll, when we spotted a poster exhorting the reader to attend the monthly Critical Mass protest, meeting in Civic Square at 5.30pm. As Civic Square is where you can find the aforementioned Troll, we ended up there at about the right time.
Lord of the Rings Mania
Wellington is currently in a fit of Lord of the Rings insanity. The World Premiere of The Return of the King is being held here on Monday, and the city is gearing up for the big event. The local papers are already full of gushing reports about stars being spotted in the city and many of the shops are sporting special window displays (regardless of what it is they actually sell in the normal course of things) as there’s a display competition being run by Positively Wellington Tourism. I reckon this well dressed Orc has got to be my favourite so far:
Napier, The Art Deco City
Napier is situated on Hawke’s Bay, on the eastern shores of the North Island. Looking out into the Pacific, you can get a little dizzy - it’s a long, long way to the Americas from here. The beach is made up of coarse pebbles and the currents make it too dangerous to venture into the water despite the almost Mediterranean climate and the picturesque nature of some of the sea front.
Bad Luck in Taupo
Taupo sits on the northern shores of the eponymous Lake Taupo, right at the centre of the North Island. The lake and surroundings are beautiful, clear blue water with the snow-capped volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park visible on the far shore on a good day.
Zorbing is one of those activities that makes you shake your head and wonder what the guys who invented it were taking at the time. For the uninitiated, Zorbing involves climbing inside a large inflatable double layered sphere and rolling down a steep hill.
The Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, about half an hour south from Rotorua, is one of the two main out-of-town thermal areas featuring all the trimmings – Geysers, multi-coloured pools, bubbling mud and steaming hillsides. It’s all pretty impressive and the walkways and paths set into the landscape make it very easy, if somewhat touristy, to explore.
The first thing you notice about Rotorua (which means “Second Lake” in Maori) is the stench. Climbing out of our air-conditioned coach and taking a deep breath of shockingly eggy air was a bit like stepping off a plane in a tropical country and being hit by that wall of heat and humidity.
A few brief (ha!) notes on bus journeys here in NZ, since at the moment that’s how we’re getting around. There’s a network of buses operated by what seem to be two separate companies who appear to co-operate rather than compete - InterCity and Newmans. We bought a “Flexi-Pass” ticket, which works by time - you buy a certain number of hours and time is deducted from your pass according to some arcane system that we don’t quite understand, but so far everything is going well.
The, err, Joy of Sheep
Forgive me for the title of this post – all will become clear soon enough. (And no, it doesn’t involve velcro gloves or any such thing, but did you really expect a visit to New Zealand to involve absolutely no mention of these beasts? After all there are something like 40 million sheep (compare to 4 million humans) in the country.)
Waitomo is one of New Zealand’s premier tourist attractions, most famous for the limestone caves which riddle the hills and the glow-worms inhabiting them. Most people who visit the area do so very briefly, only allowing enough time to do a cave trip of some description – some involve a fairly sedate walk or boat journey through a cave lit by the green lures of the glow-worms, others are more adventurous and involved clambering up underground waterfalls and abseiling down pot-holes.
We might not have done any surfing at Raglan, but we did do some other stuff, including our first real trip into the New Zealand bush – a jaunt out to the Bridal Veil Falls. The falls plunge around fifty meters down a sheer cliff in an area of quite dense forest.
We’ve just spent the weekend in a town named Raglan (after the officer who led the Charge of the Light Brigade). Apparently it is famous in Surfer circles as having one of the best left-handed breaks in the world, and sure enough the place was very surf orientated. There’s even a big, pro longboard surf competition next weekend, but unfortunately we won’t be around to watch.