Holy smokes, I Live in New Zealand.

June 27, 2008, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Actual Travelling | Tags: ,

I heard Rotorua described as “the Niagara Falls of New Zealand” on a few occasions.  I’ll agree with that to a point.  The shopping district is full of souvenir shops and daytime hours only, and it is the forces of nature that draw people to the area.

Rotorua sits on a key geothermal hot spot, so the area is full of hot springs and geysers.  It was in this area that the legendary volcanic eruptions that created many of the North Island’s larger lakes (and saddest stories) occurred.  There is a high sulphur content in the water, and much of the city smells like rotten eggs.  Even the surrounding countryside has the odour, as evidenced in my drive from the airport.

(Edited to add: the sad story referred to above is the Mount Tarawera eruption.)

rotorua 053

Full album here.

European settlement occurred in the late 1800s, drawn to the hot springs as a health care and spa retreat.  The main bath house is now a museum.  In the photo album you will see a picture of the old bath house and adjacent Government Gardens.  This was an old banner photo of mine from back in January and February.

Maori settled in the area several hundred years ago.  The springs made for good cooking; in fact, the surface of the earth is so warm that it flows through your shoes and up into your body in places.  Rotorua is a centre of Maori culture and settlement, and there are several places that offer a Maori village experience.  Any visitor to a Maori marae (sort of like a “village centre” in that village life focusses upon it, it is a very spiritual place) is challenged by the community. This involves facing/manning up to the aggressive moves of the community’s warriors and, after all is said and done and you are not classified as a threat, accepting their peace offering. Hard to describe, and great to experience (way beyond touristy tacky…way beyond…). This is what it looks like. 

Alternate link

(Editor’s note: This is my 150th New Zealand post.  I’ve been in New Zealand for 278 days – in fact, my 400,000th minute in New Zealand was spent in bed this morning – including today.  I’m moving at an every-other-day posting rate.  Awesome.)


How My Run Went in Wellington.

I forgot to tell you about the run!

I ran next to the Wellington Marathon Suit Guy for about five minutes before he pulled away at the 6k mark.  I am so glad I was not in frame for the picture.

As for “how was the run,” it was 11 and rainy for 15k out of the 21k – I could’ve used boots, my feet were soaked through by 6k.  I was running a 1h40 pace through the 8k mark, but then I was clear soaked through and the nipple chafing began (remember that The Office episode where they did the Fun Run and Andy taped cotton balls to his chest?), then my iPod broke down due to wet and cold and I lost my pacing ability, and then the gusty winds picked up on the return leg (so much so that I felt more stationary than barely moving from 12k through 16k).

  • My first 10.5k I finished in 50 minutes – 303rd out of 1400+ runners and on target for 1h40!
  • My last 10.5k…yeah, 1h01 – 850th out 1400+ runners!
  • Overall 569th at 1h51m19.

It must’ve been one of the most positive split times of the day.  That’s a bad thing, by the way.

I threw away my running shirt, it was so wet and bloody across the chest.  No way that stain was coming out.

I also won (as a spot prize) a $150 “consultation” at a local gym.  I traded it for vouchers at a shoe store, which I gave to a coworker here because she always asks me questions about running.  Maybe this’ll get her started (or at least into professional race-walking).

Overall, I am actually really happy with how the run went.  If I had done a better job of eating in the days before the race (and not working until 10 PM four of the five nights that week) and had the weather been more favourable (on days like Sunday was, I don’t normally even go outside), I betcha I’d’ve made my 1h40 goal.

I am so looking forward to not doing any serious running for a month (Sunday mornings only, and probably only if weather permitting, and one night a week MAX).  I look forward to dominating in Barrie in a little under a month’s time.

The Hoser Begins to Reminisce.
June 23, 2008, 11:32 am
Filed under: Happenstance | Tags:

I just got off the phone with a librarian at North Shore City (suburban Auckland/where I am living now) who is going to send me some floor area calculations this afternoon.

After she made that promise, I gave my typical reply: “Beauty.”

I will miss saying this like “Beauty” in New Zealand and basking in my awesome foreignness afterward.

Stupid Freight Train Derailment.
June 21, 2008, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Actual Travelling | Tags: , ,

So I’m running in Wellington this weekend – Half Marathon #5 (and final) on my New Zealand trip. It was to be a 12-hour train ride through the backcountry of New Zealand’s North Island.

And of course, there was a freight train derailment just past the halfway point.

We did manage to ride up the legendary Raurimu Spiral which, as Wikipedia notes, is a winding/roundabout-ish stretch of track that crosses a 135 metre change in elevation.  At the top is a “major” train station at National Park (the name of the village is actually National Park, and it is at the gateway to Tongariro National Park, the second oldest in the world).  The restaurant was chockers (CHOCKERS!) with somewhat stranded tourists.

They loaded us up on buses for 3/4 of the remaining trip, and then a 1.5 hour, speedy drop into Wellington. 

It was a great way to stay idle for the day (important if one is trying to run a sub-1:40 half marathon), but even if I was sticking around I don’t think I’d be taking the twelve-plus hour train again anytime soon.  I had already purchased a ticket for the two hour (including travel back to my room in Auckland) flight on Sunday night.

Auckland Tourist Flight.
June 20, 2008, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Actual Travelling | Tags: , ,

On Sunday April 20th, a Tuesday Night Run Club friend (conveniently, a pilot) offered to take me on a one hour circuit over the city.  I saw a giant statue of Buddha, ATVs hooning up black sand beaches, cargo boats and sailing yachts, subdivisions and construction projects, the Navy and the Air Force, dormant volcanoes and the CBD skyline…all from 1500 feet!

Tourist Flight 016

Full album here.

Great Barrier Island.
June 18, 2008, 9:51 am
Filed under: Actual Travelling | Tags: ,

The weekend of April 25-28 (ANZAC Day in New Zealand) we spent on the Great Barrie Island, a forty-something square kilometre retreat of heavy forest cover, scattered sheep farming, a few villages and a whole lot of nothing in between all that. Problem is, it rained for the first two days, so the only good photos I have are from the patio of the house we rented.

GBI 001

The island is the sixth largest in New Zealand and was subject to similar settlement pressures (mining, logging, etc) but today is largely preserved and a haven for those with the means to escape Auckland easily.  It’s a five hour ferry ride from the city, or a one hour flight.

Full photo album here.

Our Weekly Gas Update.
June 16, 2008, 3:20 pm
Filed under: In the News | Tags: , ,
Gas is up to NZ$2.12/L now in Auckland (one chain kept theirs down to $2.10).  That’s Cdn$1.64.
So I went and bought my final personal souvenirs on Saturday.  I was chatting up the elderly clerks and told them about how I did all my Christmas shopping through their store back in the good old days of NZ$1.50/L gasoline – which is true; that’s how much my first fill up cost me in October 2007.  NZ$1.50 is equivalent to Cdn$1.15. 
And that is what Kiwi commuters are dealing with these days.