the sand in my bucket list

“THE MAG­I­CAL SOUTH PA­CIfiC is right on our doorstep, sure we might be lack­ing in the mu­se­ums and cas­tles of our north­ern coun­ter­parts BUT THE SOUTH PA­CIfiC IS not only beau­ti­ful but it is steeped in cul­ture and his­tory and it’s ….. sunny!”

Adventure - - Front Page -

It’s funny how we put travel lo­ca­tions that are ‘far away’ on a pedestal; the wine coun­try of Tus­cany, the snow slopes of Cha­monix, the ru­ins of Pom­pey. Yet there are those that live close by th­ese icons of Euro­pean travel and prob­a­bly put them in the bucket of ‘been there done that’. Yet if you talk to Euro­peans about the South Pa­cific they have the same sense that those places far away seem to have more al­lure. It seems ‘dis­tance’ does make the heart grow fonder. But as the rest of the world dreams of the sway­ing palm trees and crys­tal wa­ter of the South Pa­cific we are so for­tu­nate that it is right on our doorstep. New Zealand is the gate­way to the South Pa­cific and that gate we need to fling wide and ex­pe­ri­ence all the South Pa­cific has to of­fer. In th­ese few pages it is im­pos­si­ble to ad­e­quately sum­ma­rize the his­tory, cul­ture, and ge­o­graph­i­cal di­ver­sity of the is­lands that stretch across thou­sands of kilo­me­tres in the south­ern hemi­sphere smack in the middle of the world's largest ocean. From French Poly­ne­sia in the east, across the Cook Is­lands, Fiji, and the Solomon Is­lands in the west, the is­lands of the South Pa­cific are a rich mix­ture of jun­gles, co­ral reefs, beaches, vol­ca­noes, unique cul­tures, and Euro­pean colo­nial in­flu­ences. English is spo­ken just about ev­ery­where, it’s af­ford­able and un­for­get­table. A word of cau­tion; the South Pa­cific is­lands are frag­ile. Co­ral reefs are eas­ily dam­aged, lo­cal eco sys­tems eas­ily de­stroyed, not by mal­ice but by ig­no­rance, and as we've seen in ar­eas such as In­done­sia, tourist dol­lars can also bring havoc to the en­vi­ron­ment. A lot has been done in the South Pa­cific in a sus­tain­able, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way. A lot of re­sorts use ocean wa­ter for air con­di­tion­ing, pu­rify ocean wa­ter for drink­ing and bot­tle wa­ter in re­us­able glass con­tain­ers rather than plas­tic. There are na­tion­wide aware­ness pro­grammes about waste and most is­lands boast some sort of res­cue pro­gramme for in­dige­nous life like plants and tur­tles. So it is im­por­tant that when vis­it­ing we play our part as well. The South Pa­cific is our play­ground, it’s af­ford­able, var­ied, fun and the next few pages will hope­fully whet your ap­petite to put a lit­tle sand in your bucket list.

Samoa

is about 4 hours

from New Zealand by plane mak­ing it one of our clos­est neigh­bours. Its pop­u­la­tion is around 185,000 but many more Samoans live out­side the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly in New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Cal­i­for­nia. The is­lands have nar­row coastal plains with volcanic, rocky, rugged moun­tains in the in­te­rior. The two main is­lands are Upolu and Savaii. The cap­i­tal, Apia, and the in­ter­na­tional air­port are on Upolu. Like many of the South Pa­cific Is­land the main is­lands are the re­sult of count­less volcanic erup­tions, leav­ing eas­ily vis­i­ble volcanic cones all over both is­lands. None of the vol­ca­noes are cur­rently ac­tive, but small earth­quakes of­ten rock the is­land. The last volcanic erup­tion was in 1911, on Savaii. The eerie, life­less lava fields that re­main from this event can be vis­ited eas­ily, since the only sealed road on Savai’i goes right through the middle. Both is­lands are al­most en­tirely cov­ered by lush veg­e­ta­tion, al­though al­most none of it is the orig­i­nal rain­for­est that cov­ered the is­land be­fore hu­mans ar­rived. Most of the land area is given over to farms or semi-cul­ti­vated for­est, pro­vid­ing food and cash crops for the lo­cals. Samoans orig­i­nally ar­rived from South­east Asia around 1500-1000 BC. The old­est known site of hu­man oc­cu­pa­tion dates back to that time and is at Muli­fanua on Upolu Is­land. In 1830 mis­sion­ar­ies from the Lon­don Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety, no­tably John Wil­liams ar­rived and Samoa rapidly em­braced Chris­tian­ity. More re­cently, Mor­mons (Church of Je­sus Christ of the Lat­ter Day Saints) have con­structed sev­eral size­able churches. An im­por­tant ar­rival was Robert Louis Steven­son, the Scot­tish au­thor, who trav­elled to the South Pa­cific for his health and set­tled in Samoa in the early 1890s. His house at Vail­ima in Upolu and his grave on the hill above it can be vis­ited.

Im­age by Cory Scott

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