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by Clint Wayne
2007-09-26 09:39:41
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At the beginning of 2006, following four years of planning, my lady and I finally realised our life’s ambition to visit the ‘Jewel of the World’ that is New Zealand, so it is with much pleasure that today we wish it well as it celebrates 100 years of independence.

As soon as we reached New Zealand we quickly saw that its reputation for being ‘clean and green’ is so well deserved. With its fresh air, magnificent scenery and outrageous outdoor activities for both the young and the young at heart, it is really hard to beat. We were expecting a pristine, green, well organised little country and we were not disappointed in a scarcely populated paradise with 'the friendliest people in the world'.

We both love our planet and New Zealand is a microcosm of all the geographical features it has to offer as all of them can be found in this magical country. Here we tramped on the sides of active volcanoes, strolled through patches of virgin rainforests, were overawed by the thermal areas around Rotorua with its boiling mud, spouting Geysers and unnatural coloured pools and looked up in splendour at the unique ‘Kauri’ forests with some of the largest and oldest trees on the planet.

The wildlife is just exquisite due to the deep continental shelf just 3 kilometres off the eastern Pacific coastline of South Island. There we were able to view the majestic soaring flight of the albatross visiting the only mainland nesting colony and watch in wonder from just twenty metres at the awesome Sperm Whales as they arched their backs as they prepared to dive displaying their huge tail fin, ‘the fluke’, as it disappeared beneath the waves. It is with utter disbelief that the Japanese feel no shame in hunting these impressive creatures to the brink of extinction.

Never before had we viewed schools of four or five hundred Dusky dolphins and seen the small Hector and Bottlenose dolphins at play naturally in the wild and at all at close quarters. We had unforgettable evening visits to wild uninhabited wind swept beaches to view Yellow-Eyed and the tiniest Blue Penguins as they returned from their feeding grounds, waddling up the sandy beaches to feed their ravenous young. In rocky coastal inlets we watched basking Fur Seals with their young pups playing like young children in the shallow rock pools while also stumbling across, simply by chance, a single New Zealand sea-lion sunbathing on a deserted beach.

We boated up the remote Whanganui River, walking to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and flew over the Volcanic National Park skirting Mount Tongario, the recently erupted Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe used as the iconic Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

We were entertained with genuine warmth by the native tribal Maori families in their homes experiencing their fascinating culture of dance and song as well as sampling their delicious ‘Hangi’, a meal of meat and vegetables cooked underground in hot embers.

We relaxed and bathed in hot springs high up in the mountains and buried ourselves in the hot sands on the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula as the cool waves splashed around our bodies. We were captivated by the dozens of waterfalls, fast flowing rivers and wandered through forests late at night listening for the call of the unique Kiwi.

We took the Trans Alpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth transversing the Alps through Arthur’s Pass crossing deep ravines and fast flowing mountain streams and cruised the sparkling ‘Bay of Islands’ where Captain Cook first sought refuge to carry out repairs to his ship HM Endeavour.

We viewed Fjordland in a privately chartered sea-plane flying over the vivid blue ‘Sounds’ surrounded by snow capped mountains, landing on the water in Dusky Sound and wading ashore to land that hasn’t changed or been spoilt by man in hundreds of years. We cruised both Milford and Doubtful Sound craning our necks up at vertical glacial cut cliffs and looking in wonder at the dozens of high cascading waterfalls crashing into the water below. Fur Seals basked on the rocks, Bottlenose Dolphins performed around the boat and the destructive ‘Kea’ birds were there to welcome us when we stepped back ashore.

We took to the air once again flying over the mountainous snow covered rugged Southern Alps, looking down over the blue ice gorges of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, the only ones that can be viewed from ground as well, viewing the imposing Mount Cook and finally landing on a snow field 6,000 feet above sea level and experiencing the absolute eerie silence.

It was a wondrous once in a life time holiday to a land and a people that will always remain in our hearts. It truly enhanced our lives and the memories will stay with us forever ………. My recommendation still remains the same that I have given to everyone I have talked to since our return: “Before you depart this planet take the time out to visit New Zealand it really is a phenomenal place.

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asa2007-09-26 20:18:49
I am saving my pennies for the flights now.

Jack2007-09-27 01:26:49
When is the next flight!?

thanos2007-09-27 10:18:54
booking now!!! :)

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-27 11:11:39
Keats wrote that "the poetry of the Earth is never dead," and he said a mouthful when one considers that New Zeland was the last piece of empty real estate to be occupied by Man, only one thousand short years ago. The poetry was there even when man was no there. Or was it?

'"2007-10-18 16:20:39

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