New Zealand – land of extremes

A big earthquake in Christchurch on the South Island. Fatalities reported Hospital evacuated. We are safe and sound and significantly north. New Zealand, not unlike Alaska, has high mountains, big waves and swift streams. Earthquakes are fairly frequent but this appears to be more damaging than an earthquake of higher magnitude in September. Though there are no dangerous insects, snakes or wild animals here there are some other risky things to watch out for, in fact, there is a cyclone warning for tomorrow!

In the meantime, we are safe. Still safely driving on the right side of the car – left side of the road. Sun is shining, sunscreen applied and we are thankful we decided not to visit the South island this trip.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  

In the heart of Waikato.

Recently we challenged our Inklings Bookshop Facebook friends to tell us about their favorite interesting sounding Pacific Northwest place names. I was thinking of places like Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Sequim, etc.

Here in New Zealand, many of the place names are Maoeri while others are straight from Great Britain like Thames, Firth and Cotswald. The language sounds much like Hawaiian with a lot of syllables. I’m sure we sound odd trying to pronounce Whangareai and Orewa.

Just to mix up ethnicities a bit more, we dined tonight at an excellent Thai restaurant in Hamilton called Thai Baan. Excellent curry! New Zealand fare, other than the fish, is fairly unremarkable. Kind of British, you know what I mean? Jim pointed out to me that you see very few British or Scottish restaurants for good reason perhaps. We do like Kumara, or sweet potatoes which you can ask for with your fish and chips.

Food, names and even everyday terms are just a bit odd to us. Overpasses are called flyovers, courgettes are zucchinis, and peppers are capsicums. I saw one sign for “Cheap and cheerful bunches” and another for “Twinkle Tow and Tyre”. The strangest thing for us is to realize with a shake of the head a few times a day that it is February. New Zealand is having one of their hottest February’s on record. Soaking it up.

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hot spots in New Zealand

We are sitting in front of an air conditioner in New Zealand’s hottest town. We heard it was 29 at home yesterday. What a coincidence! It was also 29 degrees here, That is 84 point something Fahrenheit. It is much warmer than that here today.

The other hot spot that I refer to is wireless Internet, still quite new down here. While preparing to leave home on January 27th, I came across an article on google that was dated January 28th that said that just that day all the McDonalds in NZ ( over 100) “had” – note the past tense – switched on free wireless Internet access for all their customers. The news was so new it hadn’t even happened yet! Needless to say, that access, at least in the bigger towns, has made staying connected with the store and family much easier. As for being a customer, we surely didn’t come this far to eat under the golden arches, so we share a Diet Coke and surf while we sip and then slip off to our next town and next adventure.

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We are reading Bill Bryson’s book on Australia. Very good and a lot of laughs.

Well talk soon.

Anyone seen Gnomeo and Juliet?

Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Auckland. Where we feel auckward.

It is all coming back to us. The hotel shuttle driver reminded us If you are sitting behind the wheel on the right side of the car and you can see the curb out your side window, there may be a reason that Kiwi is honking at you besides sending you a friendly greeting.

We have in landed in New Zealand after a wonderful 12 hour flight. We had two delicious meals en route, watched a couple of movies and even slept. We could stretch our long legs out because when we checked in at the Vancouver BC airport they gave us the emergency row seats and they were lovely. With about 15 gracious crew to serve us, we felt like we were riding first-class instead of last minute economy!

We just rented a phone, got a sim card for the iPad and checked in at work by email. We are in a hotel in Auckland researching rental cars, brushing teeth, regrouping and planning to drive north tomorrow to stay in Bob and Sue’s beach rental for the next week. Who are Bob and Sue, you ask? Friendly folk with a holiday “bach” who when we asked, “Do you have Wi-Fi? replied “what is a Wi-Fi?” So. It may be a few days until you next hear from us. We are unplugged. :).

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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