New Zealand Memories

While preparing my book, Hangi, Haka and Hobbits: Notes from New Zealand,  the second in my Planning to the Nth trilogy, for publication in print, memories are flooding back.

During my first visit to Christchurch, a couple of months after the September, 2010 earthquake, there was plenty of damage to the city but it still seemed to be functioning fairly well and the cathedral had survived.

Christchurch Cathedral

Cathedral Square market

After a couple of nights in Christchurch (such a pretty place, a city built around a cathedral and college, modelled on Christ Church Oxford), I caught the Tranzalpine Rail across to the west.

Everywhere you go on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island, you’re followed by mountains,

which is what I went for and am very happy about, except when driving around them, as I did to get to Milford Sound.

Once the road started ascending it became very narrow with hairpin bends. At one spot there was a sign saying One Way Road, which was a worry, because traffic was coming from both ways. How the tourist buses negotiate it all without plunging into the valleys below, I don’t know, but of course they do.

The road cuts through the Homer Tunnel, a one-way tunnel carved through the top of the mountain, to link Milford with Te Anau and Queenstown.

Queuing up for the Homer Tunnel
View into the valleys from the Homer Tunnel

On the other side of the tunnel it was more of the same, except going downhill instead of up. It was worth it, though, in the end, for Milford Sound.

Waiting for the cruise through Milford Sound
Mitre Peak
Rudyard Kipling called this spot, ‘the eighth wonder of the world’.

I was already planning my return trip, though would I drive next time or take a bus? I’m not comfortable in buses. How do I know if the driver’s concentrating? What if he’s had a fight with his wife – or his girlfriend – or both? Nope, I’d rather rely on my own lack of concentration than someone else’s.

This is a Kea I saw at Fox Glacier. Keas are the world’s only alpine parrots, large with viciously long, curved beaks and equally vicious claws. They’re known for their intelligence and curiosity, often causing damage to back packs, boots and even cars. They can solve logical puzzles, such as pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get at food, and will work together to achieve an objective. In a bunch, these would be seriously scary birds.

While travelling through the Alps, I stopped for the night at Makarora Tourist Centre, in a little A-framed hut in the bush, surrounded by mountains. I loved it, though with no television or radio I could hear every sound, including a real or imagined scratching at the door. The window above my bed didn’t close properly and I was hoping none of the local inhabitants decided to join me for the night.

View from my cabin
Magnificent Dunedin Railway Station

I presume this sign is something to do with birds, though for the locals it may have a totally different connotation.
Wild coastline at Matakaea
Kawarau Gorge

I could go on forever but these are a few of my favourite spots from New Zealand’s south island. I went mostly for the scenery and I definitely wasn’t let down.

A quiet spot on Lake Manapouri

 

 

 

 

19 thoughts on “New Zealand Memories

    1. Thanks very much, Darlene. It was my first little camera and I think it did quite well considering the dramas it went through on the road, one being when it was blown out of my hand by violent wind on a hilltop in Wanganui, and smashed onto concrete. The zoom wasn’t too good after that but the rest of it kept going for another couple of years. Amazing little contraption. Cheers.

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  1. You brought back so many great memories of our 2011 trip [which inspired me to write a blog — but it was awful at first]. We were in Dunedin and have many train station photos. We were in Christchurch just days before the 2011 earthquake which did destroy the cathedral.
    Someday, I too will have to go back and revisit those memories and perhaps write them up a little better.

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    1. Lucky timing, Alie. You could have been in the middle of it. I went back in 2014 and it was pretty devastating. 80% of the buildings in the centre of the city had to be demolished. Heart-breaking. Such a beautiful city. Still, they were already getting on with renewing it. They’re amazingly resilient. I guess you’d have to be to liveion those earthquake-prone places. Is the write up of your trip there in your current blog?

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      1. Thanks, Rose. The trilogy is memoir of my road trips alone around, first Tassie, then New Zealand, then England. Clicking on the ‘books’ icon at the top takes you to the page. Hangi is a Maori dish (delicious, I tried some), Haka is their war dance and Hobbits refers to the various filming sites around the islands that were used for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ movies. I’m currently re-editing this one for print as I’ve realised the first version wasn’t quite what it could have been. It’s all a learning experience, isn’t it? Cheers, Coral.

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