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November 25, 2004

Adventures of a Tourist

After the leisurely two months that we gave ourselves to just do the East Coast of Australia we only had three and a half weeks for New Zealand's South and North Islands. In hindsight this was clearly a mistake. We had two weeks for the South Island - flying into Christchurch and then out of Christchurch to the North Island. We decided on doing a loop of the South Island and renting our own car. This was clearly a good idea because buses are slow, don't go when you want them to and not really that cheap anyway. But more important than all of that is that the scenery of the South Island is stunning and driving the roads is I'm sure a hell of a lot better than looking at it through a small bus side window.


In Christchurch I was keen to see the 'wizard' having a heard a vague but intriguing mention of him on someone else's blog. Basically Christchurch has a central square called Cathedral square and the rest of the streets seem to radiate outwards from it. The river curves around in a horseshoe shape creating a compact and concentrated city centre area. I often like cities with a central focus point like a square and Christchurch's one is particularly good which brings me back to the Wizard. The wizard is basically a weird old guy dressed in a robe who comes into the square everyday and gives a lecture on some topic of his choosing. I'm not really too sure what he talked to us about because he flitted from one topic to the next and one viewpoint to the next, often I though the points contradicted. Some of the points were that; women had it good until feminists came along; human women along with gibbons are the only species to be in heat all the time; other species are happier because of this (e.g. the whale who swims the world's oceans, singing as he goes) and also that maps should be the other way up and New Zealand should be at the top. However, I think he only said this last point because he had some 'Wizard maps' which had the world Southern Hemisphere up. We bought one anyway and got him to sign it as well. To find out more about the wizard click here.

I also listened to a religious guy lecture on the evils of Halloween (even though Halloween had happened about a week before). I asked a woman if he was the wizard because I wasn't sure at that point. She told me he wasn't and I replied "No I didn't think so because he was quite a fundamental religious type and I didn't think the wizard was like that". The woman quickly revealed that she was the religious guy's helper and so I mumbled soemthing about him being a fundamentalist only because he was out here preaching and then walked off.

There was a great sunset as well;



On to Queenstown - Adventure Capital of the world apparently. This is the site of the world's first commercial bungy jump which was started in 1990 by New Zealander AJ Hackett who bungy jumped off the Eiffel Tower to get himself into the news. Dutifully Tuely and I threw ourselves off something. In our case it was the Canyon Swing. The swing is basically a bungy jump of sorts except that after you freefall rather than bouncing around on an end of a rope it transforms into the biggest swing in the world apparently. It was pretty expensive to do but really cheap to do a second and third time and they wouldn't let you do any type of jump twice. This meant we saw people being suspended out over the ledge and pulling a pin to drop, someone tipping back on a chair off the ledge and the 'Bin Laden' basically a plastic bucket on this guy's head. It was pretty funny and freefalling is such a massive rush totally beating a rollercoaster for thrills.

Te Anau and Milford Sound

Next stop we drove into the deep south of the the south island or Southland as the district is imaginatively called. We went to a farmstay backpacker which was so unfriendly and seemed to be run by a bunch of very stern middle aged women all with very closely cut hair. The hostel was populated exclusively by their identical looking friends. It didn't help that we lied about having a certain backpacker discount card and then the woman kept asking us if she could see it. 'It's in our room' we would say or 'can we get it just afetr we've finished making dinner'. It didn't help that I spilled gravy all over the floor either. Unfortunately we'd paid for a couple of nights in advance so there was no way we could get out of staying there.

The reason we were in "Germaine Greer's hostel of hell", I mean "Rainbow Farm Backpackers" or whatever jolly and cunningly deceptive name it actually had was to visit the nearby Milford Sound. This is a very spectacular fiord. A fiord is like a river that runs out to sea but has been carved out by a glacier. We took a cruise on the sound and it was spectacular. High sided cliffs walled us in and tens and tens of waterfalls ran down the slopes. It had rained a couple fo hours before we were there so there was a decent amount of waterfalls although apparently it is even more magnificent during or right after rainfall. Either way it was an awe-inspiring sight in a very spectacular region.

Richard, Auckland, November 25th

Please leave comments below or email me at:

Posted by Richard on November 25, 2004 06:28 AM
Category: New Zealand

You may be the first traveller to take a picture of the sky and it come out looking good... Please tell me your secret.

Posted by: Daniel on November 30, 2004 12:53 PM
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