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Month: January 2010

NZ #16: An Australian’s History of New Zealand

By: | Post date: January 11, 2010 | Comments: 1 Comment
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As I gaze across the grey waters of Lake Wakatipu, and the soggy car park in between, I think I wouldn’t mind right now being in the 43°C weather of Melbourne. I’m wrong: I’d be cursing my lack of effective air conditioning; but I’m bummed out anyway at Nature’s air conditioning here, of three days […]

NZ #15: Queenstown, and Haka

By: | Post date: January 10, 2010 | Comments: No Comments
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I was struck with awe—in fact, terror—when I pulled up at 6 PM to Queenstown, tourist haven of the South Island, to be greeted by a young man impersonating a moose in front of a moving bus. It wasn’t Janet Frame’s awe at the big smoke’s granite and bustle. It’s an altogether more dysfunctional awe, […]

NZ #14: Dunedin

By: | Post date: January 9, 2010 | Comments: No Comments
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The rains caught me at Dunedin, and I didn’t walk around much. Even if the rains hadn’t caught me, I wouldn’t have walked around much. Dunedin is the one New Zealand city that the Lonely Planet does not include a walking tour for, and there’s good reason for that. Dunedin is absurdly hilly. I had […]

NZ #13: Oamaru

By: | Post date: January 8, 2010 | Comments: No Comments
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Oamaru is small and flat, like Nelson. But where Nelson is sunny and cheery, Oamaru is windy, with a chill that flies in out of the bowels of Antarctica. Where the tourists around Nelson are ambling hippies in broadshorts, the tourists around Oamaru wear layers of wool, and huddle. Where Nelson looks forward, past the […]

NZ #12: sɒːmɔa

By: | Post date: January 7, 2010 | Comments: No Comments
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I came to New Zealand not knowing much about the place, and I still don’t. What I pick up, unavoidably, I refract through my Australian understanding of the world. To that understanding, New Zealand is not Ulan Bataar or Abidjan: it’s not completely foreign, and much is familiar. There are surprises, but they are scattered. […]

NZ #11: Akaroa

By: | Post date: January 7, 2010 | Comments: No Comments
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Akaroa, “Long Harbour”, is a harbour on a crater on Banks Peninsula, 82 km from Christchurch. Captain Cook thought it was Banks Island, and that’s how he named it. Ten million years ago, as the volcano rose from out the sea, he would have been right. The volcano has done its rising now, and what’s […]

NZ #10: Christchurch

By: | Post date: January 5, 2010 | Comments: 1 Comment
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Christchurch is about the same size as Wellington, and it has its CBD precincts set out like Wellington does. It has High St to correspond to Lambton Quay for high tone shopping; the Strip on Oxford Tce to correspond to Courtney Place for eats and drinks; the South of Lichfield alleyway to correspond to Cuba […]

NZ #9: The Great New Zealand Vowel Shift

By: | Post date: January 4, 2010 | Comments: 4 Comments
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To the dull-eared outsider, antipodaeans all sound the same. Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans all sound somewhat cockney, because all the dull-eared outsider can pick up is that we drop our r’s. The most dull-eared I’ve ever encountered is a colleague in the States, who was looking to deride my accent, and so started […]

NZ #8: Blenheim

By: | Post date: January 4, 2010 | Comments: 1 Comment
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First, some housekeeping announcements. Note to the dude who stole my seat as I got back on the bus to Christchurch at Kaikoura. (a) If you were sitting there before, how come my History of New Zealand is on the seat next to you? (b) I trust you have had a satisfying holiday and in […]

NZ #7: Musket Wars

By: | Post date: January 3, 2010 | Comments: 1 Comment
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Over New Year’s Eve, I read the 500-odd pages of Michael King’s Penguin History of New Zealand. There was a hardcover edition, but I wasn’t disposed to pay an extra $40 for colour illustrations and callout quotes. I’m not a visual person, and my suitcase allowance is finite. The paperback is still weighty enough, even […]

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