I tried to cover the Land of the Long White Cloud as a diary, made it halfway fore it blew away in a cyclone (the power was out for four days, I write this blog on my sister’s phone and after I lost momentum n gave right up). I also met a succsession of pretty girls and even prettier mountains that served to sidetrack me. I’m not even sure the purpose of the blog, nor the interests of the reader, are geared towards personal details of what I’m doing and thinking… Generalised observations of faraway places are instead what’s on offer.
New Zealand. Atearoa. (all spellings are guessed at (pronounce every vowel when speaking Maori))
I’m not going to say “10 out 10” or “top banana” or even “11 out of 10”; rather to fair NZ I say… 9:1 in exchange of 1:9.
Simply put, I’d rather of spent 9 months in New Zealand and 1 in Australia. I don’t regret that it’s the other way round, I don’t regret much in fact I’d go as far as saying I don’t regret anything. But it would’ve made life so much easier.
In defense of Australia there is far far more to see here than in New Zealand, it’s just the distances between the experiences that’s the humdinger.
From where I am now in Oz (Andamooka) it’s a 5 hour, $150, coach journey to leave the desert, another 5 hours will take you to the nearest city. Fair dinkum, to Australians that’s a short drive. But in New Zealand Every 30 minutes would reward you with another spectacle of nature (not that red dust isn’t interesting it just loses its interest and quickly). A 5 hour drive in New Zealand would take you through; alps, glaciers, volcanoes, grass-plains, lakes, sounds, stony beaches, sandy beaches, dolphins and more. One day the sun will blind but the next you’ll be fighting hard to keep the snow out of your tent.
New Zealand is god’s gift to travellers. Small, compact yet varied, with postcard photo opportunities at every turn. Hitchhiking is second nature and half the time you won’t even have to bother raising that thumb and painting on that smile before someone stops. Every village has a hostel and a log fire. National Park car parks with Nissan Sunnys packed full of German blondes are a guaranteed sight and camping is pretty much allowed wherever there is no private property, though the DOC huts are so cheap and well located there’s no reason anyone who visits the country shouldn’t frequent them. I recommend Brewster for the views and White Horse for the walks.
It’s not perfect. There are, like Australia, a shize ton of Germans, but that’s okay after you get used to the fact English is the second language of every hostel and campground. They cook good apple cake; more importantly they share said apple cake.
The cities, though all “funky” and distinct, are often small and lack the beauty of Sydney or the pull of European cities.
Culturally sure the Maoris have come out of colonisation infinately better than the Aboriginals, infinitley (it seems auto-correct spelling has given up today), but the culture/tourism seems tacky at best. Gives perhaps a shadow of the beauty of what their culture must’ve been. It’s clear there are also real problems with alcholism and the terror raid debacle still seemed to really REALLY cause grievances with Maoris I spoke to. On an unrelated note Maori TV is the best station in New Zealand.
Wildlife in New Zealand is comically absent compared to the Zoo across the “ditch” that is Australia. Though on the other hand, not much can kill you while you’re swimming, or asleep, or gardening; which always a positive.
So if it’s not the animals or the Ayrans or the hangis or the fauna that attract… What makes New Zealand so magical?
The Geology. The land the earth the… y’know. The place. Not what’s on it or in it or what the cafe culture’s like in Wellington or where you can rent a jet-ski on a sunday in March.
It’s the hills. The thermal pools and gently smoking calderas, puffing bouts of yellow sulphur smoke into the azure sky. I never really liked geography at school but I appreciate a good vista as much as the next human being. The snow capped Southern Alps left me breathless. Genuinely. I spent one month in a state of constant awe.
Sudden downpours, lightning storms, avalanches, volcanic eruptions and my first cyclone (Ita she were named). The smell of sulphur and the taste of glacier water. These things are all present and correct in Australia, probably, but within a half hour drive? Perhaps in Australia the beauty is increased by the distance between great sights, so far though the inaccessability of places in Oz like the Flinders ranges means the average backpacker will never get to see them.
I’m happy that in my month in NZ that I saw everything I wanted to and more, the country redifined my conception of natural beauty but also the power of nature.
NEW ZEALAND 10 OUT 10!