11.06.2006 -15 °C
Nope not a rubbish orangey drink that’s too good for crows and is just for me and my dog. It’s Maori for hello.
After an awful flight from Cairns to Christchurch in South Island (Air New Zealand really suck when compared to other airlines I’ve traveled on recently) I arrived in rainy cold, wet, miserable Christchurch. Typical English weather!!
But in the morning when I woke up and had a wander around I realized why Christchurch is known as the most English city outside England and also the Garden City.
Apart from having typical English weather, the architecture and layout of the city is pretty much what you would expect from a small English city and reminded me very much of my childhood city of Salisbury especially with the beautiful cathedral right in the middle of the town square. People were so friendly, things were very laid back and I did feel right at home.
I was also lucky enough on my first night there to catch the Super 14 Rugby Union Final Between The Crusaders from Christchurch and the Hurricanes from Wellington.
Was a great night out at the local Sports Bar the Holy Grail and obviously a very partisan crowd. It’s a shame there was a heavy fog so we couldn’t see much on the screen but everyone was in such a good mood especially when the Crusaders won that it didn’t matter too much.
Anyway next day I got a car and headed out down South to see what the fuss was all about with the mountains, valleys and fjords. After a 30 min drive outside Christchurch the change in scenery was breathtaking, no other cars on the road and the most amazing landscapes I have seen anywhere apart from maybe Norway (the only other country to have fjords). Snow covered mountains loomed above lush green fields full of sheep grazing. The sun actually came out this day so I could see the vistas in all their glory.
Every few miles I had to keep stopping to get out and breathe in that clean air and look at yet another stunning mountain, valley or lake.
You can see why they make loads of movies here now (saw a few of the places where they filmed Lord of The Rings), as there is so much variety and beauty in such a small place.
Anyway after a few days taking in the friendliness of Christchurch and the wonderful scenery around South Island I headed to the capital Auckland.
The arrival at the airport was nice; everyone gets a free coffee and cookie! Trouble was Auckland was Ok but couldn’t live up to the high standards South Island had set. The city itself was a bit non-descript, pleasant enough but nothing to really make it stand out. The harbor cruise was nice, some lovely parks (even if they are all up huge steep hills!) and the obligatory big viewing tower.
Outside of Auckland was a different matter, the islands of Rongito and Waiheike (I know I’ve spelt them both wrong) were lovely, bloody long walk to the top of the volcano though. The beaches looked nice but far to cold to attempt them!
Further afield I ventured out to Rotorua to see the geysers (big steam jets not cockney blokes!) and the bubbling mud that smells of rotten eggy farts!
After a few days of this it was time to hot the beaches again so back on a rubbish Air New Zealand plane and off to the Cook Islands (nope I’d never heard of them either!)