08/11/2012 - 26/11/2012 20 °C
I thought after Keith’s post yesterday that I should reassure my nearest and dearest that I am alive and well in Kiwi land. It’s ironic that I can travel and eat everything in Thailand, Egypt, Tunisia or The Gambia with no ill effects whatsoever but here in the antipodes, I’m recovering from my second bout of sickness.
Upset tummies notwithstanding, we’ve seen and done so much in the 17 days we have been travelling thus far. Hong Kong has disappeared in a memory blur but we had a nice sea-sidey break in Cairns with the added bonus of near-perfect conditions for the eclipse. We were absolutely blown away by the beautiful scenery of The Coromandel Peninsular, the geysers and volcanic landscape of Rotorua and the lakes and mountains of Tongariro. In the south of North Island, the landscape is less rugged and dramatic with green rolling hills and of course, mile upon mile of grape vines producing all that lovely wine!
Just a thought about cameras, based entirely on my own observations of course. It started in Cairns where naturally, people who intended to photograph the eclipse had some very sophisticated camera gear, but there was this one man in our hotel, who we noticed at breakfast on the day before the eclipse. He was wearing a huge camera on a strap around his neck, he didn’t take it off to help himself from the buffet where the long lens bumped against the tables. He didn’t take it off to eat, meaning that he had to sit well away from the table. In four days, we saw him many times, always with the camera strapped on. It’s not as though he was alone, his wife was with him but obviously she couldn’t be trusted to mind the camera. Of course we wondered where he put the camera at night..... Since then we’ve seen people lugging the most enormous cameras around, in fact, the size of the camera often seems to be inversely proportional to the size of the person. This is a beautiful country but do you really get the most from the experience if you only really look at it through the viewfinder of a camera?
Right now in Wellington, we’re waiting to take the ferry across the Cook Strait to reach the South Island. The North Island is the more heavily populated and yet the roads are almost all one lane each way, even the State Highways although they do have passing places! There are so few cars that driving is a doddle. All the hotels seem set up for people touring, with laundry facilities and irons and boards in all of the rooms. Many of them have not only tea making facilities but large fridges and microwaves, too. We’ve been very impressed with the very high quality of the food we’ve been served although it’s definitely ‘London prices’ as it’s hard to find a main course in any kind of restaurant for less than £15. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc costs about the same as in the UK but, ironically, buying a bottle can be more expensive here where it’s made.
I had expected New Zealand to be much like Australia but it isn’t. Apart from the fact that it looks very different, the whole feel of the place is different too. Tiny quaint little towns, often with a 1950’s sort of atmosphere and the ‘greenness’ of everywhere. The people here are lovely too, so helpful and so interested to hear where you are from and where you have visited and of course, so many of them are keen to tell you how they can trace their heritage back to a particular town in England or Scotland. In Art Deco Napier, a gentleman in striped blazer and straw boater, posing by his 1930 Ford asked me where I was from. ‘England’, I said. ‘Aren’t we all, my dear’ he replied!