Although snow skiing is my passion, my favourite time of the year in New Zealand is summer. And while December’s weather can leave a little bit to be desired, it is still the start of the season to be jolly and hopefully the time when people can get out and explore the great outdoors.
I imagine a lot of you have been taking advantage of the ideas you have read about in NZTODAY and have been venturing off the beaten track. We always love to hear about your travel experiences, so please keep your letters coming. Photos are also welcomed.
I always head north from Wellington over the summer school holidays and no matter how much flak Auckland gets, it certainly has warmer climes than some areas and is the gateway to some wonderful snorkelling and exploring just north of the city which is what I was lucky enough to do over the New Year and which you will be able to read all about in NZTODAY 55.
The other thing I noticed a lot this holidays is what a melting pot New Zealand has become. I grew up in Auckland, where, all those years ago, it was a fairly homogenous society with bland food and only one language.
Today, my daughter is fortunate enough to have several different cultures represented in her classroom with a variety of languages and accents. I think it is such an opportunity for her and will give her a rich experience to prepare her for life in the big, wide world.
When I was taking a ferry over to Kawau Island recently, I got speaking to a woman who ran a camp on the island, which was booked by 80 Chinese-New Zealanders. She said the best part of hosting such a group, was the incredible food they cooked and shared with her. I was amazed by the closeness of the very large group and their organisation. Suitcases were wheeled down the wharf, as were pallets of food to feed 80 people for a week. There were young people to very old and I felt a bit jealous.
Growing up in Devonport, we only had one type of lettuce (iceberg) and the closest thing we got to authentic Chinese food was fried rice. I remember the excitement when a sushi restaurant opened in Auckland. Nowadays, there is a takeaway sushi bar on every corner in Wellington and dozens of other terrific ethnic restaurants catering to every budget and taste.
Because we have become so cosmopolitan, it is nostalgic to venture to the smaller towns, nooks and crannies of Aotearoa, because you might still find the lettuces and even people of yesteryear. You certainly will find our still pristine beaches which, for the most part, even in the silly season, have nary a soul on them. This is what makes New Zealand so special – the chance to connect to the land and to the people who have worked and lived there for generations. Long may this special part of our landscape continue, double decaf, vanilla, soy latte aside.
In this issue, I explore the wild Wairarapa Coast and find not only the dramatic landscapes which acted as a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings movies, but the premiere retirement village for the country’s bulldozers.
Tim Hanna explores Naseby, which if you don’t happen to know, is the curling capital of New Zealand. I have watched and even tried my hand at curling near the club ski fields of Canterbury and I know it gets a bit of knocking at the Winter Olympics, but it is much, much harder than it looks and it is great to see it is going strong down under.
I have to admit I had a tear in my eye at the end of Mark Merriman’s beautiful take on the West Coast of the South Island. He flies in helicopters, he climbs glaciers, he sees endangered herons, but most touching is his emotional response to the area. You will love this story.
Charles Cole finds out why the French not only missed out on the Rugby World Cup but also Banks Peninsula, in his look at the history of this beautiful part of the South Island where there is still a French festival and French street names. As a Francophile, I was most interested in this story.
Steve Hale explores the stunning East Cape of the North Island. He says that the area is peaceful yet majestic and indeed it is. It is very much still New Zealand like it used to be, where you will see children galloping down the beach bare back on horses and old Kiwi pubs that haven’t changed for decades. This is a dramatic landscape and if you haven’t taken the journey, it is time you did!
Tony Haycock goes all Red Baron and Snoopy on us and takes a joy ride in one of Sir Peter Jackson’s remarkable World War I planes from his collection which is housed in Masterton. Tony says it was one of the highlights of his life and it will have you on the edge of your seat reading about the experience.
Tony also laments the lack of private petrol stations, which has also been mentioned by the vintage car clubs, whose cars run out of petrol on rallies off the beaten track because there are no local petrol pumps. Tony manages to track down the last privately owned station between Auckland and Wellington’s main route in Hunterville, also known very gratefully by me when I thought my car really was going to run out of gas. As I rounded the corner to Hunterville from the North, it was a sight for sore eyes!
And speaking of petrol stations, Bill Lennox does a driving tour of the North Island, where he goes from coast to coast and then back again as part of our four-coast odyssey this issue. New Zealanders love driving and this story will inspire you to perhaps dust off your tourer and seek out some of the North Island’s lesserknown coastal highlights. This is a bumper issue, to be sure. Enjoy. Sarah