Showing posts from April, 2010

Japin' round the world: Back to the future, and then back to reality.

It's odd as after spending several weeks back in the 1990s (seriously at times in NZ; despite them keeping up with several modern developments, I felt like it was 1995 there), I have now been accelerated into the future as I arrive in Tokyo Japan. The final stop on the trip.

Tokyo is quite a shock to the senses when you first arrive, and this certainly wasn't helped by the long haul flight overnight, and the watching of two rather discombobulating films under these circumstances. These films were The Lovely Bones, which is both depressing and trippy in equal measure; like watching Silent Hill on acid, and The Road, which is drab and depressing; to the point that a night spent listening to Leonard Cohen reading the dictionary would seem an enthralling high by comparison. And then there was the usual immigration to be done with, and bag collection, which I will not miss once this is all finished.

As soon as I got out of the airport I could tell I was very much back in Asia again…

Japin' round the world: Inner City Pressure

Right, so to finish off with New Zealand I arrived in Auckland. I don't know whether it's because I know the end is nigh, or that this place really is just another - albeit slightly bigger than Wellington - city I'm not all that in love with it.

It's distinctly average on first impressions, and in some ways it's quite a wannabe city. For example it's got a Harbour bridge and Sky tower like Sydney. Both of which are slightly less impressive from the monuments they seem to be ripping off, despite the latter being the tallest structure in the Southern hemisphere, although I wonder if that's to do with the fact it has a very high spire, whilst the viewing deck is lower down on the structure. Besides which it's a difference of only a few meters compared between this and Sydney's attempt. I did however go up the tower, and the views are pretty good though saying that.

Despite being a bit unimpressed with Auckland on the surface of it, I don't hate th…

Japin' round the world: Trapsing past Mordor (on the bus), and hot stuff coming through.

I've now made my way from Wellington and into the sulperous smelling Volcano town of Rotorua, which is in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island.

The journey from Wellington was long and, for the first hour or so, it was pretty dull as the landscape between Wellington and Palmerston North is a little underwhelming - at least compared to some of the sights I'd seen thus far on my travels in New Zealand. After leaving Palmerston it started getting better as I was able to see hills and valleys which reminded me a little of my years spent in Cardiff and South Wales. I suppose the abundance of sheep on said hills added to this.

Then after a while some huge mountains rolled into view. These were different to the ones I'd seen in the Southern Alps, as they sat on their own rather than in huge ranges as I'd seen on the South Island. Amongst them was a small range of mountains which stood out immediately as the ones that were used as Mordor in the Lord of the Rings trilog…

Japin' round the world: Putting two feet into Wellington

So here I was in the capital of New Zealand, which can only be described as a really small big city. Sure, Wellington is a lot larger than any other towns here in New Zealand, but it really isn't that big at all. Also this city sits atop a major fault line in the Pacific plate so a big earthquake could potentially be an issue here. It certainly makes you question the logic of building a capital city here.

Also it's noticeably less crowded than any other capital (perhaps due to the reason above) I've ever visited. When I arrived I put this down to it being a Sunday evening, so naturally no one would really be out and about. However, come Monday morning when I hit the town properly, it was not much busier. I guess this is a relief to the horrible crush that I see in London, but it doesn't feel like a capital city as a result.

Still, this was still a city and as a result it has your usual city-ish things to do, such as museums, botanical gardens and odd historical follie…

Japin' round the world: The (almost) extreme adventures of Dave, featuring Dave on ice.

So for the tail-end of the Easter weekend I came to Wanaka; which is south of Twizel, and then went on to Queenstown; which is another 150km further south of Wanaka, before hitting the South Island's west coast in Franz Josef.

It was a real relief to get to Wanaka, after being in the middle of nowhere that is Twizel, as there actually seemed to be a lot more happening round here; not least because there was an airshow here over the weekend. As a result I got to see a few old planes lingering around the sky before they were shipped back to their respective locations.

So what to say about Wanaka? Basically it's beautiful. The town is situated on the lakes of Lake Wanaka, and has great views of Mount Aspiring, which sits across the water. I didn't have a great deal of time here, only about a day and a bit, but you don't need a great deal of time here though. It's very small, despite being bigger than Twizel, and you've pretty much exhausted the activities (unless yo…

Japin' round the world: Here I am in Middle Earth and there's nary a hobbit in sight.

Because of Easter I found myself in a fairly small backwater town called Twizel. It's a nice enough place but there's not a lot going on here, not least because of Easter. But still after the mad rush I faced when I arrived in New Zealand, I was relieved to have somewhere to stay.

The place I was staying at was a little difference as it's a motel-cum-backpackers. What does this mean? Well firstly the rooms are smaller, and two are allocated to a room. Also it means that it's not exclusively backpackers here. I found this out when I walked into the shared kitchen and found that it had unexpectedly turned into a family living room during games night. I was a little taken aback by this but went about my business cooking anyway. Meanwhile family fun was well abound. This may be my only experience of Kiwi family dynamics, and wow, it's a world a way from my family. The whole family was there for a start. Mum; dad; the kids; and grandma and grandpa. It became amusing aft…