Sunday, March 4, 2007

Wanganui New Zealand (Part 1)

Wanganui New Zealand

G'day from across the Tasman.

I talked about it long enough and probably bored you to tears but I
have finally made it across to New Zealand. I arrived in NZ on the 8th
Feb and the fun began immediately. Finding a place to sleep at 12pm;
losing a bag out the back of a trailer in the streets of Wellington;
and then the fun of buying a car in half a day. All worked out and we
(Brad and myself) are the proud parents of a baby blue run-about. We
selected a 4WD Nissan Terrano and due to the fact it sounds like a
small tractor whilst as wide as a bulldozer we christened her …..
SHAZZA. She (Shazza) has turned out to have more balls than we gave
her credit for and apart from the squealing tyres around corners (even
when we are going slow for the mums out there) and some strange auto
transmission noises she hasn't missed a tick. In a fit a of lunchtime
boredom we decided to customise her with some famous Australian terms
the kiwi's have no idea about…Bogans, DILLIGAF, and of course a
stubbie sticker from every beer we try…real cop bait!

Opps, I missed January….this I spent in Coffs Harbour working as a
pharmacist. It was great fun going back as it made the job so much
more interesting when I realised that I couldn't just "slap on a label
and let a pharmacist check it". After doing that myself for a year it
was easy to spot when someone else was doing it. Australia day on the
beach, the BBQs and drinking home-brew will be well remembered while
the other weekends involved 4WDing, bushwalking, waterfalls and good

New Zealanders…what can you say about them other than they currently
are better than us at cricket…you can't possibly imagine the crap we
got after the Aussie's poor form (most kiwi's seemed very surprised
actually and expected a trashing). The kiwi accent is never ending
amusement…as you could guess the cant say their 'i' and 'e' properly
and it comes out 'u' and 'i' respectively. Apart from counting "sex,
and sivin" other favourites are "Tum", "Lun" and "Kivun". Another
quant NZ thing is to always refer to Australia as "Aussie"…'you just
arrived from Aussie' 'was it hot in Aussie?' For the trivia buffs out
there in NZ Bingo is known as "housie".

Wanganui is in the North Island of NZ and pretty central to most
things (compared to the distances in Australia anyway) needless to say
we wont spend much time at 'home'. We have found a substitute mum who
is letting use board with her (across the road from the hospital) for
the 3 months (includes most food…what was she thinking!) for a more
than reasonable price (we turn on the charm and keep her smiling when
at home). Wanganui itself has a major river running through it,
several towers and is on the coast. However it was quite a shock to go
to the beach without being told that they had black sand…I have been
spoilt for being in Coffs I guess.

TRAMPING…we headed bush from our 3rd day in NZ and have seen some sights since.

Mt. Ruapehu= an active volcano which require an easy 20min chairlift
ride followed by a 1km vertical climb over not much more than 1.5km
(very steep). The views were stunning and the Crater Lake up the top
was a sight to see. Coming downhill was much easier and more fun as we
slid on the ice/snow in the gullies (probably more than the entire Mt
Buller dump last year!)

Whakapapa = Pronounced Fuk-a-papa is at the base of Mt Ruapehu and has
walks to several waterfalls (from the melting snow) that were coolish
to swim in. The 'Silica Rapids' were also visited where minerals in
the water have deposited on the rocks of the rapids making the stream
glow white.

Huka Falls = 50-100meters wide and 4m deep crystal clear water gets
condensed into a 15m and 10m deep…MONSTER waterfall and rapids.

Tongariro Crossing = Think of the scenes from Mordor in the 3rd Lord
of the Rings movie as this is the area we hiked through. A really
impressive walk, with lakes, volcanoes, sulphur, steam and really
steep hills to climb. Sadly it was a bushwalking highway and we passed
around 200-300+ people over the day which made for non stop Aussie
humour when talking to and around the other tourists e.g. 'Is the pub
at the top still open', 'G'day, Hows it goin' mate?' and my personal
favourite 'Giddy up skip we'll be late for happy hour'. The centre of
the North Island is pretty much volcanic leftovers. Old craters,
sulphur lakes, vents and impressive mountains and the forests growing
around them. Danger signs have become obstacles and fantastic photo
opportunities whilst we wait for the bubbling and hissing steam to
turn into some real excitement.

Lake Taupo = it looks big on any NZ map but I am sure somewhere back
home a recycle dam has been built bigger. BUT this lake is crystal
clear cold water with really scenic mountains as a backdrop. We found
an 'el-cheapo' way to see the Maori carvings around the lake by hiking
and swimming into them rather than joining a sight seeing tour. It
made the journey much more memorable (and bloody cold) but the only
photographs were those we have stored in our memories.

BEER…NZ has many more black beers which are perfect to Brads and my
taste. So far the beers are somewhat sweeter than those of Australia
(VB in particular) which might have to do with the lack of hot weather
than anything. Amusingly the first beer in NZ was at pub in Wanganui
with tea on the first night. We asked the waitress what NZ beer she
recommended since we hadn't had any; boy were we shocked when Toohey
was the recommendation. Perhaps the comment I made would have been
"Tooheys New is a s**t Australian beer I not drinking that crap over
here"…much to my approval however I was very very wrong and the beer
she was referring to was Tui…named after some little bird living in
kiwi land… (PS it was much better than Tooheys New and yet still gives
you a hangover)

Pharmacy geeks…I'll send an email summarising the oddities of NZ at
some stage in the future. Work is going well although the trip has
become a "holiday working" rather a "working holiday"…was their ever a
chance I would put work ahead of holidaying?

I hope all in Australia is well and the media is giving those
cricketers hell before the world cup. I have got my fingers crossed
for rain and that the uni term has started with fewer hangovers than
previous years (for those still studying).

Let me know what's happening in your life and if you want me to stop
sending you these time-consuming emails.