Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Holidays

The return of the blog!

by on 17 December 2009, under Julekalender, New Zealand

As I promised in my last blog post I have held a long break from writing anything on this great blog. Now, I can’t keep that promise anymore. I have been traveling around New Zealand for almost a month (finishing with a couple of days in New York) and there is a lot to tell about. Of course I don’t want anyone to miss out so the next week will be filled with exciting new and frequent blog posts if I can pull myself together to actually write them.

There might be several reasons why you read this blog in English:
1. You might not have found out yet that you can change the language of the blog on the right hand side which would make me kind of sad since the function of those two flags should be pretty self-explanatory.
2. You might have found out that my English versions of my blog posts contain even more nonsense (such as this whole paragraph – you would have no idea it existed if you read the Danish version) and for some reason you tend to prefer that.
3. You prefer my English formulations.
4. You simply don’t understand Danish (which I feel is the least valid reason for reading my blog in English. Personally I have been able to understand and speak Danish since I was very young, so why shouldn’t you?).

Anyway, if you belong to the (very limited) group of people who read my blog in English due to Reason 4, you might not know what a julekalender (Christmas calendar) is. Which means I will have to explain it to you, even though Wikipedia does a pretty good job. It is a Scandinavian invention (apparently the Swedes were first with the idea in 1960, followed by the Danes in 1962). It is basically a TV show split into 24 episodes (kind of like 24 with Jack Bauer, just not as action packed, and usually with a bit more Christmas mood and more child friendly) aired from the 1st of December till the 24th where we celebrate Christmas in the evening here in Scandinavia. It is actually a pretty good tradition and it makes sense it is Scandinavian since we really don’t have anything else to do than to watch TV when we come to December – it is way too dark and cold to go outside.

Now you can add:
5. You get amazing lessons about Denmark/Scandinavia.
to the list of reasons to read my blog in English.

But now you know what a julekalender is, and you accept that it doesn’t have to be a TV show but can also be a written 24-part story, we can return to my blog post as I was translating it from Danish:
My blog can now be seen as a kind of julekalender, even though it won’t be in 24 parts, there is no guarantee that the finale will come on the 24th (which basically was my complete definition of a julekalender, but you must learn to live with it), there will be considerably less interested people following it and way less uncertainty about the final outcome than usual. Still, it is a story in multiple parts written and told during several days in December so it has a bit to do with a julekalender.

At the moment I am sitting at a hostel in New York and I am just about ready to return to Denmark. I am leaving tomorrow and I hope that my parents will be able to get through the climate chaos (not only due to the Climate Meeting ending and Obama having to leave the country from the airport but also since it apparently snowed in Denmark which I am not too fond of) so they can pick me up at the airport.

But I should stop here – if I don’t I will fuck up the chronology of my blog, and we can’t have a julekalender which starts with the end (no matter how anti climatic that end might be). Talking about anti climatic endings: At this point I was considering giving you some teaser for what you can expect in the upcoming blog posts but I won’t.

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Mid-semester break – part 2

by on 23 September 2009, under New Zealand

Now it is finally time for the rest of my tale about my unbelievably exciting mid-semester break. Let us get it over with so people around the world can go on with their various doings which are probably much more important than actually caring about anything I write on my blog. Once again it is going to be a looooong post, now you are warned:

Saturday was supposed to be all about relaxation after our five day trip around Northland. Therefore we went to Hot Water Beach which Chris, Skott and I had already visited once before but of course Malene and Benjamin hadn’t had a chance to experience this phenomena yet. The plan was to go there two hours before low tide since this was supposed to be the time where it should be possible to start digging pools. When we arrived at 11 o’clock (low tide was supposed to be around 1 o’clock that day) the water was still way to high – it completely covered the small spot where the hot springs are hidden below the ground. Therefore we laid down on the beach for a couple of hours (luckily the sun was shining brightly) and waited for a couple of hours for the waves to start acting nicely. At last we had to go down to the hot springs in order to secure a spot for ourselves since a lot of people has started to show up. They were trying to dig pools for themselves but the waves kept coming and destroyed their work over and over.

We stepped in: We were going to show them how to dig a hole in the ground! How hard could it be? Apparently “pretty hard”. We tried in more than half an hour to dig a hole and pile sand up in front of it to protect against the dangerous waves. The people around us began to stop their work (can you “begin to stop” something?) and instead they stood and admired our beautiful work. Some even offered us their shovels if they could just get a place in the pool when we were done digging. It seemed like a pretty good deal – at least for them… We were quite close to something that might have worked at some points – but every time some freakishly large waves came and destroyed it all. In the end we had to leave, feeling pretty beaten, and having only felt the hot water around our feet. Chris and Skott punished the sea by running into it for a couple of seconds while the rest of us felt cold enough, just standing on the beach.

Nobody can say we didn’t try!

We went on to Cathedral Cove, a cove with a distinct look which has gotten its name from its form’s similarities with a cathedral. The cove has among other things been featured in the movie Narnia because of its special structure.

Cathedral Cove.

Sunday it was time to play tourists in Auckland with Benjamin. The day started out with us watching Denmark getting a 1-1 draw against Portugal in football (soccer) which was a pretty good result. Afterwards Benjamin and I drove to Auckland Bridge. Benjamin had planned to jump off it with a bit of robe around his legs and that was exactly what he ended up doing. I went up with him as a spectator and although he didn’t exactly look extremely happy when he was about to jump he did pretty good, without any big, scared complaints. I will probably need to perform a bungy jump myself later on.

Benji Bungy 1
Benjamin just before he jumps.

Afterwards we went to Auckland Zoo which had a pretty impressive selection of animals including two kiwi birds. The price of the tickets was the same as the price for entering the Kiwi Hous in Otorohanga to see a couple of kiwi birds and a LOT of ducks walking and swimming around in the rain. I liked the zoo better.

Such a cute cat.

In the evening we went up in Sky Tower, the tall tower which has become a trade mark for Auckland since it was built in 1997. It is the tallest free-standing structure in the Souther Hemisphere. Benjamin and I had tried to plan it so we would see the sundown from there (thereby catching Auckland both “by day” and “by night) and we had almost timed it perfectly. We still got to see the city in 220 m’s hight in something that reminded us of daylight and in complete darkness. Of course we got a pretty good view of Auckland from there, however the view couldn’t really compare to the one you get from Empire State Building.

The view from Sky Tower was pretty, but not as nice as the one from Empire State Building.

Monday we went on another trip outside of Auckland – this time without Chris. We started by going to Matamata, also known as Hobbiton since the scenes from the Shire in The Lord of The Rings was shot at a farm near the town. That was of course the reason we had gone there since some of the set still remains at that farm to attract tourists (like ourselves) to the area. Our guide books had warned us not to expect a lot so we were prepared. With that in mind it was a pretty good experience and it wasn’t hard to recognize some of the landscape from the movies. Of course it helped that the guide pointed out every scene for us. The giant fields are normally used for sheep and they were running around happily, proudly showing their cute lambs. The tourist tour ended with a guy showing us how to shear a sheep. Afterwards we were given a couple of bottles with milk to feed a couple of lambs which seemed pretty eager to get to even the smallest drop of milk.

Skott seemed very excited.

Benjamin got to hug the “The Party Tree”.

The guide was very proud that she was able to pictures where – according to her – people looked like hobbits.

On our way to our final destination, Rotorua, we went through Te Puke, “Kiwifruit capital of the world”. In the town they had a tourist trap called “Kiwi 360” where you could be told everything you wanted to know (and probably a lot more you didn’t want to know) about the kiwi fruit. You could also get a ride through a kiwi orchard in a kiwi formed train. “Unfortunately” we arrived too late to get the ride but we did go into the souvenir shop which contained sick amounts of stuff created from or looking like kiwi fruits.

The beautiful kiwi “train”.

As already mentioned we ended up in Rotorua which is (among other things) known as a city which smells like farts. Not since people there are disgusting but because of the geothermal activities in the area which sends sulphor up from the underground. I do have a theory, however, that a lot of people are quite disgusting in that city, since they probably go around farting all the time due to the fact that nobody would ever notice. It was not only the smell of farts we wanted to enjoy in Rotorua, however. We had barely arrived before we were told about a Māori culture show we could go to if we left immediately, which we did.

The Māoris is the Polynesian people who has inhabited New Zealand since the 14th century. They were therefore the people the British encountered when they arrived in the end of the 18th century. In the last couple of years there have been a lot of focus on trying to keep the old traditions and language of the Māoris intact. For example, the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, performs a special haka, a traditional Māori dance, before each game. The culture night we went to in Rotorua was held by a number of people from different Māori tribes. During the evening we were presented with torch-lit canoe sailing, haka dance, Māori games amongst other things before we were led back to a tent in order to enjoy a Hāngi, a buffet with chicken, lamb, potatoes and a lot of other things cooked in real Māori fashion: Cooked in a covered hole in the ground for several hours, heated by hot rocks. It was a fantastic experience and gave good insight into a lot of the tribes old traditions.

It is important to try to look scary during the haka dance.

Tuesday it was time to experience some of Rotorua’s famous hot springs. We started by going to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal active area where you can see water and rocks in all kinds of colors and a big geyser, Lady Knox, which we got to see erupt.

Lady Knox.

Afterwards we went to Rotorua Museum, an old bath house with a characteristic look. It wasn’t a very exhilarating experience, I must admit.

Roturua Museum.-

After the museum we went to The Polynesian Spa where we sat in some hot pools for a couple of hours. We finished the day with a nice dinner and took the long drive back to Auckland.

Wednesday was Benjamin’s last day in Auckland and it was spent on some shopping in Newmarket, a shopping area close to Parnell, and a small barbeque back in PSV.

After I had sent Benjamin home Thursday, the rest of the break was spent on relaxing, sort photos, cleaning, see and hear podcasts etc.. The last week haven’t been filled with great excitement since I have spent some time on finishing some assignments (yeah, I do study a bit down here). I have seen Up, however, Pixar’s newest movie. It is a nice, cute movie, but it definitely does not compare with Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL·E or any of their other great movies. The beginning of the movie is very good, though – very moving and sad at some points while the last two thirds is more focused on “cartoony adventure fun” which I didn’t really care much about.

And that’s it for now. Now I want some sleep!

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