Category Archives: New Zealand

TE ARAROA – New Zealand’s new super tramp opens

A trail like this, 3000km long. Sounds good? Sweet as!

Are you up for a challenge? Able to take a year off work? A new Kiwi tramp, Te Araroa (the Long Pathway), opens in December 2011. Continue reading

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Filed under Hiking, New Zealand

WAITOMO, NEW ZEALAND – my life in their hands

Guide Jimmy promised me I wouldn't die.

It seemed so ridiculously life-threatening, I wasn’t even scared. There I was, a man who gets vertigo if his bike saddle is too high, dangling from a single rope a hundred metres above the rocky bottom of a limestone cave.

The publicity for the Lost World Adventure told me Tom Cruise had done this three times. Well, we’ve seen him do all kinds of weird stuff, and we know he has special effects people to make it look death-defying.

I was doing all my own stunts here, with only guide Anna above me giving instructions and guide Jimmy attached to me by a bit of blue ribbon which he promised would break my fall if necessary. Continue reading

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CYCLING NEW ZEALAND – Fox Glacier to Jackson in pictures

Louise donned her Kiwi shirt for the occasion, and bravely faced the hills.

The final days of our cycling tour took us up the lovely West Coast, sometimes by the beach, sometimes by lakes, often up into the hills and the forests. Continue reading

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Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – two weeks on

I spent a day in Christchurch, just over a fortnight since the earthquake. The mood there is understandably subdued, but determined. Christchurch is open for business and welcomes visitors right now.

‘Stay strong, Christchurch,’ is the message posted everywhere. People are nervous, of course. When a brief aftershock rattled the windows at 10pm, I tucked my mobile phone under the pillow, remembering those who’d been able to send text messages after being trapped. Of course I didn’t need it. Continue reading

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SATURDAY PHOTO 3 – Waitomo Dawn

Waitomo Dawn

It’s hard to take a bad photo in New Zealand, and I know it’s a terrible cliche to photograph a sunrise (only photos of sunsets are more cliched), but it’s nice to prove I was up at dawn. And on this occasion I did like the mist hanging in the valleys and the contrasting shapes of the trees. My question for anyone who knows more about photography than I do is, how can I intensify the sky colours without completely darkening the landscape?

All suggestions gratefully received!

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Filed under New Zealand, travel photography

NEW ZEALAND – two telling little stories

Two little stories seem to me to sum up this country and its people.

A tour bus pulled up as I emerged from a quick lunch at The Thirsty Weta cafe. Elderly passengers alighted and stood around in a semi circle, as if expecting some event to begin. I pushed between them and walked on towards where my car was parked, then noticed little knots of people standing up and down the main street of the little town. The flags were at half mast.

I stopped too. An older couple bustled out of the Mitre 10 hardware store. The woman tugged her husband’s sleeve. ‘Stan, stand still!’ ‘Why?’ asked Stan, setting down the plank of wood he was carrying. ‘Christchurch,’ she whispered.

It was 12.51, the time it happened, exactly a week ago.

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There’s little happy news from Christchurch in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, but there is one good story:

To raise money for the relief effort, Phil Johnson is auctioning the 30 tonne boulder that rolled down the hill and smashed its way into his home. ‘Rocky’ is advertised as ‘a landscape feature designed to create an indoor/outdoor flow’. Mr Johnson has had plenty of enquiries and comments, including one from a woman who thought Rocky sounded like her ex – ‘no personality, stoned all the time, sits on his arse and does nothing and I guarantee the TV remote is under him somewhere.’

Phil believes it’s a welcome distraction for people and it’s giving his fingers a good workout, ‘which is just as well because my gym’s been destroyed.’

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WAITOMO CAVES, NEW ZEALAND – my life in their hands

My life hung by a thread...

If you’ve read other RT’s LOTR posts, you may already know about my fear of heights. You will understand that dangling on a rope 100metres above rocks is not my favourite place to be.

However, today I’ve learned to trust gear and trust guides. Continue reading

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