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Published: April 7th 2008
I'm realy quite sad this will be my final night in New Zealand. Love this country. Will be back one day. My aim to make everyone else want to come here, preferably bringing me as a guide when they do make it over.
People - Really friendly. Virtually all the locals I've met are incredibly friendly and helpful. They'll go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant and relaxed as possible. Chatty, even in shops, without the instant cut-off when they have your money. They also work harder than any nation I've seen to date. Even the Germans. Longer days, longer working life. I've seen an 80 year old still building his home town, one beautiful brick wall at a time, and kids on tills in supermarkets who can't have been over 13. The outdoor life has done this nation a lot of favours. I thought the Aussies were fit, they have nothing on the Kiwi's. (Apart from bus drivers, most of whom make Meat Loaf look anorexic) Also, many seem to be much better looking. There are a lot of men that were very pleasing on the eyes. Should have done as planned and grabbed one to take home.
Entertainment - A country built for adrenalin junkies. Every town has something you can jump off, planes you can fall out of, water you can kayak on, rapids to raft down, cliffs to climb up, or glaciers to slip off. The History is everywhere. Alive in the people, whatever their ancestry. Never short of museums, actually went inside a couple. Walking was superb. Tried to average 10km per day. Never short of somewhere to walk, even if just to a lake, or along a beach.
Weather - Usually excellent. Few minor exceptions. The intensely irritating clouds that covered the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and the over sized waves that plagued me (and my delicate stomach) every time I dared to get on or in the water.
Wildlife - Can't see the appeal of the Kiwi. Odd looking bird. Spoiled slightly by the Australian national obsessions. Koala's are too cute for words. Little bear with big soppy eyes. Difficult to compete. Little Blue Penguins were adorable and the sight of dolphins appearing out the gloom to swim by my side will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Music - Well the Maori chants and dancing was amazing. Unfortunately, the only other New Zealand band I've heard was something called Flight Of The Concord. It's apparently very popular over the world. Check it out on youtube if it hasn't reached you yet. Irritating rubbish that all the bus drivers seemed to love. Is that's the best the New Zealand music industry can come up with, more work is required. Should send over Jim Steinman (Bat Out Of Hell 1-3) to wake them up.
Food - Nice enough with one excpetion. Cadbury's Dairy Milk isn't edible. They've taken out the milky flavour, and all the sugar. In Brisbane I saw a shop selling proper English sweets. Chocolate that's actually been made in Birmingham. Didn't see the point as it's sold down under and it's not a recipe you mess with. Also the cost of the flight from Birmingham had been added to the price. Should have brought half the shop. On a more possitive note, I've had some superb meals here. BBQ's, proper home cooked meals, Hangi (Maori feast) and I've also developed an addiction to Pavlova. Pink or otherwise. And I've worked out how to make toast exciting. Put some noodles next to it, the toast suddenly has enormous appeal.
Landscape - Wow, stunning, awe inspiring, varied, lush, snowy, craggy, bleak, imposing, welcoming, bubbling, sizzling, disturbing, erupting, breath taking, spectacular...
Tomorrow - I head to South America to get slightly further off the beaten track. Early warning, I have no idea when I'll have easy access to the internet so it may be a while before you hear from me again. If you're curious where I am, see 'gap adventures' website. Tour code SXMR starting on 11th April. Lima to Rio. Detailed Itinerary on their site. Will hopefully be in touch shortly. Keep leaving messages. Love hearing from you all.
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