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New Zealand

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Trip in February 1995. All "facts" are how things seemed to me at the time.

Our first day in Auckland (9 Feb 1995) we walked up Mt Eden (Elev 196m). The summit provides a 360 Degree view of Auckland City, harbour and Suburbs. You can also see One Tree Hill from there. It also provide us with a demonstration of how unfit we both were. We went round the shops in the city in the afternoon. The tourist goods weren't quite as bad as Sydneys, though some of them were pretty naff. On the 10th we went to these naturally heated swimming pools in the evening. There were about 5 or 6 around the area, each at a slightly different level,with the top one being the hottest, and each pool runs into the lower one, so the lowest is the coolest. The coolest was still pretty warm, better than you get in indoor swimming pools.. They also had these water slides, these were steel tubes with twists and turns of up to 180 Degrees. Because it was evening, you could look into the tube, and there was just blackness and a trickle of water. I went down them all, and they were pretty fast, worrying when you are bombing into darkness. At the bottom you come out like a torpedo into a small pool. Ruth went down the smallest one, and while waiting at the bottom, I could here the scream long before she came out. She didn't try the larger ones. there was another pool where you could watch a video on a large screen, and because the pools were outdoors, you could look up at the stars - neat.

On the 11th (Feb, '95) Ruth and I climbed up Rangitoto island, a dormant volcano. The volcano is the whole island and it takes about 3/4 of an hour to get there on the ferry from Auckland harbour. The summit was (I Think) 269 metres above sea level, and the view from Mt Eden paled against this 360 of Auckland, Bridge, harbours and surrounding Islands. You could also see airliners flying in the distance. lower down the island, it is so covered with trees that it looks like something from "The land that time forgot" or "Jurassic Park". There were some volcanic lava caves which we had a walk through, and they were wet and slippy. Oh yes, there is this huge crater at the top of Rangitoto, but a photo wouldn't have done it any justice at all. While on the boat back to the city, a 30 minute trip, there was a major storm, with lashing rain and forked lightning which you could see attacking the city.

While up north in Whangerai, we went walking up more hills for more excellent views. On the way up the hills the foliage was of a type and density which made me feel like I was in a Vietnam movie. We went to Whangerai's most famous thing, the Clapham Clock Museum, the largest in the southern hemisphere it claims. Most of the clocks were made in England and other parts of Europe - shows where all the skill is doesn't it?

The NZ accent is similar to the Australian one. This involves the different pronunciation of vowels. For example, the sentence "He hit his Head" becomes "Hay het hez hid". Oh yes- we also saw some live Kiwis, though we had to go to a special place to see them. They are comical, especially the way they walk.

New Zealand is the first place I ever tried the ever popular alcopops, the first one there being "Two Dogs" alcoholic lemonade.

Before the flight to Auckland, our hand luggage was searched. Apparently this is an FAA regulation on all flight involving either the US or a US based airline (In this case, United). The flight was pretty good and smooth, though the pilot as a bit odd. he'd be on the P.A. like this "We will be flying to ....Auckland, at .........41,000 ft. Our arrival time is.......7:00 pm local time." He sounded like Ronald Reagon on pot. However, on decent he managed to dump 30,000 feet without me even noticing, which was the best and smoothest descent/landing of the entire trip. We were sitting near some screaming babies and active children during the flight, perhaps they should introduce "No Children" services?

New Zealand has tons of trees, lots of sheep and few people, and is very unlike Australia, considering how close it is. I've been told to see the South Island If I go again.

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Copyright © M.F.Hughes 1995

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