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 after a time, as they were really getting into the games in a way I wouldn't have anticipated in these days of computer entertainment. It was like they were Mormons. The family also seemed very close, they were cracking jokes; really getting excited about the game they were playing and I wondered if I'd wondered into a Bisto, or Axa Sun-Life funeral plan ad, I was really half expecting Grandad to pull a pained expression and a voice over telling you how you could save towards funeral costs would kick in. Especially when Grandpa joked about putting toothpaste on a comb and the family laughed like Alzheimers was the biggest gag this year. However, despite this amusement the family were very nice - although grandpa later made a racist comment, but I come to expect that unashamed un-PC attitude from older people.

Whilst, in Twizel I paid a visit to Mount Cook village. There I did some walking and took in some stunning views. The area is beautiful, and the weather was very good there too when I was there. Mount Cook is New Zealands biggest peak, and is just what you want from a Mountain. Gigantic and snowy on top. Also on the way back I got to view if from the shores of one of the many lakes in the area and view it reflected on the surface. New Zealand certainly is great for epic scenery.

I also took a quick-ish walk around Twizel - being limited on other things to do here - and also appreciated the sights and sounds of the wilderness here. It's quite easy to find places around where you can't hear any cars or people and can only hear nature. It's not often I've found place like that, but then considering Europe and Asia's overcrowding it's hardly surprising.

Now it's worth mentioning that New Zealand is an awkward place, to say the least, when it comes to Easter. The rules here are quite conservative as many shops aren't allowed to open on holy days by law. Alcohol selling is also a no-no. I knew in many ways the country was behind us in terms of some things, but it's weird seeing it for real. It's like stepping back to my early childhood. Also, on an unrelated note they have a habit of calling honeycomb hokey pokey for some reason. What's up with that?


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