Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Kiwi fruit

Last couple of weekends

by on 19 May 2010, under New Zealand

As it so often happens with my blog posts I end up writing the introduction after I have written the rest of the post itself. This is a practice I use in order to be able to inform/warn about what is going to follow. Thus, I can reveal that this post on the one hand is kind of informative and on the other is completely irrelevant. If you have ever wanted to get a deeper insight into new ways to eat kiwi fruits, how excited people can get about air guitars or how other people have adapted a fictive sport which among other things involve flying broom sticks, feel free to keep reading. This was the blog post I teased about a couple of weeks ago.

I spend most of my weekdays on the project Skott and I work on from 9 to 5 every day. The weekends I try to do as much as I can to enjoy my spare time which I have definitely succeeded in doing.

Sunday three weeks ago it was Anzac Day. This day is used as a remembrance day for the people who died and served during military operations for New Zealand. The day is a national holiday which made most of the shops close. It was funny to see how people went berserk in the local supermarket, Foodtown, just because they wouldn’t be able to buy groceries for one day – a Sunday, even. It was like seeing people trying to stock up on yeast during a strike in Denmark!

The day itself was celebrated with ceremonies and parades. By Auckland Museum, which is about two minutes from PSV where I live, there was a ceremony at dawn and one a bit later in the morning. I did not manage to get up in time for the first one (six o’clock a Sunday morning did seem a bit unrealistic) but I did go to the ceremony at 11 o’clock.

Red (and shaky) museum
Auckland Museum is always lit in some color during the night. On the occasion of Anzac Day the light was red.

In my oppinion a museum might not be the perfect screen for movie clips from old wars
The museum was used as a screen for movie clips from old wars. Apparently they had been edited by Peter Jackson. It did not make them that much more interesting, though.

More music
Parade before the ceremony.

I had been confused for weeks why I sometimes saw random people just standing and staring into this monument. They were practicing for the ceremony
I was so happy when I saw these uniformed men stare into this monument during the entire ceremony. In the weeks leading up to the event, I had walked through The Domain (the park in which the museum is located) and had seen some people standing right in front of the monument, just staring blankly into it. I thought that they (or I) had gone crazy. Apparently it was simply a part of the ceremony so everything ended up making sense.

The weekend after became much more interesting, weird and informative, mostly due to the following three discoveries which will be detailed below:

1) Kiwi fruits can be eaten with the skin on them.
2) There exist world championships in air guitar.
3) people play quidditch in real life.

I was told by James and Ilana (both from Flat 15) that there actually is nothing wrong with eating the skin of the kiwi fruit which did surprise me a lot (I think it was new for them as well). I have never really been too fond of the kiwi fruit, mostly because they are not handy at all. Either you have to chop a lot of “sides” of them to get a respectable chunk of pure pulp or you have to use both a knife and a spoon (or alternatively a spife, which should be especially useful for eating kiwi fruits). After having eaten a whole kiwi fruit with skin and everything Friday night without feeling particularly ill afterwards, I decided to look up whether or not it had actually been a good idea. Wikipedia explains it pretty well:

“The kiwifruit skin is edible and contains high amounts of dietary fiber. In a fully matured kiwifruit one study showed that this as much as tripled the fiber content of the fruit. In addition, as many of the vitamins are stored immediately under the skin, leaving the skin intact greatly increases the vitamin c consumed by eating a single piece of kiwifruit when compared to eating it peeled. As with all fruit, it is recommended that if eating the skin, the fruit be washed prior to consumption.”

I have heard about air guitar before, of course. The art of going berserk on a fictional guitar isn’t a completely new idea, I think. However, I had always thought that was something that happened behind close doors in rooms of teenagers with unrealistic dreams of becoming a rock star… I was wrong (which is something, might I add, which doesn’t occur that often). Apparently there exists championships where you have to dress like a fool and jump around on the stage like an idiot while pretending to be in control of the sounds of the loud guitar solo coming from the speakers behind you. “Championships” as in people actually going halfway around the world each year to weird places (this year Finland) to compete in being the best in the world at this! The concept has finally arrived in Denmark this year where the first annual championship in air guitar was just held. Of course Sidney Lee was the host… people reading this blog in English probably has no idea about who Sidney Lee is and that is probably for the best. He is one of those people who is famous for being famous. If you are really curious about him, I will suggest you go back to one of my posts from August last year where I made a post with a bad, bad Sidney Lee reference. Anyway, in New Zealand the phenomenon (air guitar, not Sidney Lee) has apparently existed for years. Friday some weeks ago Ilana, Kirsty (both from Flat 15), one of Kirsty’s friends and I went to the official finale of this year’s NZ air guitar competition. It was a very bizarre experience which I have trouble explaining better than the photos below will.

Unfortunately I seem to have forgotten the names of most of the artists but I can deliver other info instead. Info 1: The participants had roadies! I have no idea what their job was but apparently it does take a whole team to setup fictional instruments.

Info 2: The winner was found using three criterai: 1) “Technical merit”, meaning how well the participants pretend to hit the right frets, accords etc. 2) “Stage presence”, whether the participant has the charisma of a rock star and manages to capture the audience with his performance. 3) “Airness”, a very subjective criterion stating how much the performance on the scene is art in and by itself.

Info 3: The competition consisted of two rounds. In the first round the participants get to decide which piece they are going to pretend to play guitar to. In the second round all the artists perform to the same song. This meant that we had to listen to the same thing ten times in a row (one for each participant plus the initial playing of the song so they had an idea about what they were going to pretend to play). Randy on the photo was our favorite and we had expected him to win. Apparently he did not which we did not find out until later: We left the show before the winner had been found.

Quidditch is a fictional sport from the Harry Potter books. The participants fly around on magic broomsticks, throw balls through rings and after each other and try to catch a small magic ball with wings (the snitch) which flies around by its own volition.

In other words its a sport which fits perfectly into the real world and the laws of physics which govern it. Muggle quidditch is the fitting name for the sport where people run around with broomsticks between their legs, dressed in capes while they throw balls through custom-made rings which have been designed with that specific purpose in mind. The most important element is of course the snitch which role is played by a neutral player, dressed in gold and wings, who runs around in an area much bigger than the field and needs to be caught before the game can end. A fantastic combination of dodgeball, (European) handball, hide-and-seek, sometimes ultimate frisbee and an enormous amount of insanity.

The reason I mention this sport is because I a couple of weeks ago (same weekend as the air guitar competition) found out that it exists as a real life sport.Auckland Quidditch Association currently has 446 members who constitute 19 different teams which are now going to play in a tournament. I became extremely excited when I realized that they had apparently played their opening match of the season in The Domain (the park just two minutes from where I live) just a week before. I also became very disappointed with the people who had actually seen this going on for not having mentioned to me that people had invented this crazy game and were competing in it for real. Some people (Kirsty for example) did however share my fascination of the absurd fact that this actually exists as an organized sport. Unfortunately I have yet to see the sport live but hopefully I will get to see it before I leave New Zealand.

We could not find people playing quidditch in the Domain (which I was VERY disappointed by) but at least the sky was pretty
We tried to look for quidditch in The Domain… all we found was a weirdly colored sky.

So much nothingness… next time it will be about wine tasting and failed attempts to go on hiking trips.

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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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