NZ Today - - EDITORIAL -

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

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