Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: [lang_en]Movies[/lang_en][lang_dk]Film[/lang_dk]

Wine tasting, comedy and rugby

by on 6 June 2010, under New Zealand, PSV

I have been pretty bad at writing blog posts this semester; to the disappointment of a lot of people, I am sure. Last time I teased about stories about wine tasting and a failed attempt to go on a hike – but wait! There’s more! Included in this month’s edition of my blog post is also comedy and rugby, amongst other things. Very interesting indeed.

But we start at the wine tasting which at this point took place more than a month ago; proof that I have been horrible at producing these amazing blog posts people have become so used to. On the other hand, there is always guarantee for quality, fun and clever remarks. The first weekend in May was the one I spent so much time on last time: The one with air guitar, kiwi fruits and quidditch. A quick side note about quidditch: I will probably not get to see it in NZ. The people who arrange the tournament have chosen to place the matches at a school a bit away from here. I think it might look a bit suspicious if I showed up at a school, in the middle of a weekend, to watch a bunch of kids playing quidditch. But back to the wine tasting: Kirsty, Ilana (again, people from Flat 15), Max (French guy who at this point is as big a part of Flat 15 as I am, without any of us actually living there) and I chose to complete an amazing weekend by going to Waiheke Island on a sunny Sunday. Waiheke Island is located about 30 minutes by ferry from Downtown Auckland. It is (by my personal experience) a sunny island, filled with fantastic beaches and a very laid back atmosphere. The island is well-known for its plentiful wine production and is a popular place for people to go visit and taste the different wines each vineyard has to offer. It was a very enjoyable way to end the weekend. We went to three different vineyards which all had different approaches to how they presented the wines. At Stonyridge Vineyard we bought two glasses of wine to share among the four of us. We enjoyed these wines while sitting outside, enjoying the sun and the green fields surrounding us.

Tasting wine at Stonyridge Vineyard. We all quite enjoyed "Luna Negra"
Stonyridge Vineyard – it was here we found our favorite wine on the trip, Luna Negra.

Wine notes or lyrics creation...
As the the true Frenchman, Max is, he felt a sudden surge of inspiration with the first taste of proper wine. Here he is in the midst of writing lyrics for his song.

From Stonyridge Vineyard we continued to Te Whau where we got to taste the same wine from different years. Here they did do a better job of actually presenting the wines. The wine reminded Max of his home region, Bordeaux, to such an extent that he had to invest in two bottles of wine.

Te Whau Vineyard
People sitting, enjoying their wines at Te Whau.

The final stop of the day was Mudbrick Vineyard, one of the most popular vineyards at Waiheke. Here the presentations of the wines were a bit more like we had expected before the trip, with six different wines in six minutes, with a brief description of each attached. We got the abridged version of the wine tasting since a wedding reception was about to take place. That someone would choose a place like that to host their wedding did make a lot of sense – the surroundings were amazing.

Bride and groom arrives at the wedding held at Mudbrick Vineyard
Bride and groom arrive at the wedding reception at Mudbrick Vineyard.

The plan for the following weekend was to go to Taranaki to do the first hike of the semester. Taranaki is an area 5-6 hours drive Southwest of Auckland. The destination was Mount Taranaki/Egmont, a very iconic volcano which is easy to spot when looking at a map of New Zealand since it is almost perfectly shaped like a cone, meaning it appears as a clear circle (or, to be correct, a disk since a circle technically only refers to the circumference of the complete area) on the map. The plan was that Ilana, Mickey (Ilana’s friend), Tor (Norwegian whom I know from last semester and sometimes play squash against) and I had planned to leave early Saturday morning in order to go on a two day hike near the volcano and still be able to be back before the weekend was over. The trip never took place, though since the dear Subaru Legacy, which has been acting so loyal ever since Skott and I bought it last semester, chose to simply stop after having driven a couple of hundred meters. It happened in the middle of The Domain, the park Parnell Student Village is placed right next to. After having tried to start the car for a couple if hours (which among other things involved asking random runners for help with pushing the car) we had to cancel the trip. In the end the battery in the car had been so drained that not even the hazard lights functioned anymore. I had to pay 80 NZD to get the car towed back the 500-800 meters we had managed to push it through the park. The membership Skott and I bought from AA (Automobile Association) was only in his name which meant he had to be present if we were going get anything out of it. Skott and I met at my place the following Monday to get the car repaired somehow. Before we tried anything else, Skott wanted to try one last time to start the car. None of us were very hopeful, though, as it is seldom very easy to start a car with a dead battery. It worked, though. We drove it to a repair shop where we were told they couldn’t really find the problem until the car wouldn’t start again. Since then, the car has been working fine.

That week in general was pretty eventful with plans for every day. Tuesday meant yet another of my weekly salsa lessons. I still don’t really know why I did take those lessons but I did manage to survive the eight lessons I payed for (although I only showed up for six of them). After Salsa, I went to see Iron Man 2 with Skott and Vegard. I have almost completely neglected going to the cinema this semester which is stupid of me since the tickets here are extremely cheap (10 NZD) compared to what I would have to pay in Denmark. I must try to correct that mistake during my last month in the country. I feel like using the good old cliché “OK, without being anything special” to describe the movie (at least, something similar is a quite well-known phrase used over and over for movie and video game reviews in Denmark). However, that does not really say anything about it. I remember the first movie to be much better and more entertaining, resulting in a slight disappointment about the sequel; a bit too much empty-headed action and a completely irrelevant side story only used to try to setup the upcoming Avengers movie which I do look forward to, mostly because Josh Wedon has been chosen as the director. Vegard complained that the movie was too unrealistic – I’m not quite sure what he had expected when he walked in to see a superhero movie.

Wednesday I participated in a sports tournament (interres) for the second week in a row. This tournament has taken place during most of the semester and requires the different student housings to compete against each other in different kinds of sports. I represented PSV for two weeks by playing handball for them. It was very interesting since nobody down here really knows about the fantastic (Danish) invention, handball is. Those who have been following my blog ridiculously closely might remember that I in the beginning of the semester signed of for “Beginner’s handball”. Contrary to the salsa lessons I only showed up for the very first handball lesson where I realized it was a bit too much “beginner’s” for my taste. I was offered to play matches for their “Advanced” team. Unfortunately I never did pull myself together to contact the relevant person about it. I also think their matches were placed at bad times, though. The interres tournament was a good opportunity for me to get to play a bit of handball again. It was very entertaining to see people’s take on the sport. Naturally it ended up looking more like basketball than normal, European handball. Most people seemed to enjoy it, though, which I guess is the most important part.

Thursday we went to see a comedy show. It was the last week of the three week’s comedy festival so it was one of the last chances we had to get to see one of the many comedians who performed during those weeks. The biggest difficulty was deciding on a show since there were so many to choose between. They all had descriptions which basically stated that the show was funny and since we didn’t know any kiwi comedians it was very hard to tell which shows would be good and which would be bad. Kirsty and I spent a whole evening cutting down the big list of candidates to just one person. The process of elimination included removal due to unforgivable traits such as “being British” (Kirsty’s request), “being a woman”, “having a bad description of the show” or “appear so far down the list of candidates that we cannot possibly include anymore for the next round”. Of course the process did not stop here. Thorough YouTube research was applied along with the creation of a complex point system based on e.g. show length, price and extra features such as being able to sit around tables. We ended up being a group of eight who went to see Brendan Lovegrove who is apparently a fairly well-known Kiwi comedian. He had a couple of jokes which were quite funny but in general it was a bit disappointing. His show seemed to aim at the lowest common denominator (intelligence wise). Most of the jokes had some vaguely racist tendencies or included silly masturbation gesticulations. Our group had been spread around most of the room since we were told to fill up all the tables in front. They didn’t want empty spaces since the show was being recorded. Even though we had been spread out like that, Brendan still managed to pick out almost every single member of the group. He kept returning to me which wasn’t really that surprising since I had managed to place myself on the first row, directly in front of him. Unfortunately the man seemed to be too unintelligent to be able to come of with any kind of relevant jokes concerning me (that should be quite easy, I would say). He did keep returning to the subject of Denmark, clearly not knowing the slightest thing about it. At least I wasn’t accused of being in a boy band which has happened twice before (out of three times) when I have gone to see standup in Denmark. I guess that is progress.

Friday it was time to celebrate Esther (another Flat 15 member) in occasion of her birthday. This was done with dinner at an Indian restaurant followed by a variety of cakes back in Flat 15. I have become pretty used to going there for cake or other baked goods.

Saturday we went to see rugby. Auckland Blues against Hamilton Chiefs. Going to a rugby match was still left on my list of things I needed to do before I leave New Zealand. It was fairly entertaining (the home team, Blues won) and it was nice having Max by my side so he could explain the rules as the game was progressing. I don’t think it is a sport I will ever really get. There are too many breaks and far too many situations with men who throw themselves into a big pile to hug each other.

Another scrum
I feel this situation is very typical for rugby: A lot of men hugging each other.

That's one popular pole!
At times the rugby players also share their love with different objects. Here they are cuddling with a pole.

Being thrown high into the air
Throw-ins in rugby are quite interesting. They are not only throwing the ball but also each other.

I am still a couple of weeks behind in telling about what I’m doing in New Zealand. I also need to post something about my thesis. But that will be another time since I have already spent far too much space writing about (for the common reader) fairly irrelevant events. I’m not certain this sudden end qualifies the post for the famous “anti-climatic endings”. But it is my blog, and I decide, so of course this is another post with that tag attached to it.

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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
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.

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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.

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Cathedral Cove.

Sunday
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.

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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.

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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.

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

Monday
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.

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Skott seemed very excited.

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Benjamin got to hug the “The Party Tree”.

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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.

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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.

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

Tuesday
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.

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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.

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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
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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Mid-semester break

by on 18 September 2009, under New Zealand, Caves

As the loyal reader of my blog might have noticed it has been quite scarce with updates recently. This is because I haven’t been home much but instead have been enjoying my two weeks of break from the university by traveling a bit around the northern part of New Zealand.

Before I tell you more about my break I have a couple of loose ends I need to tie up first.

First of all: I have gotten my stolen money back so that has luckily been completely sorted after a couple of weeks where I had to borrow money, mostly from Skott and my brother, Benjamin. But now I do have the money back and more importantly (and the reason why I had to borrow money), I have access to them via my new Visa card which my brother, Rune, was so kind to send to me. But that’s enough talk about money for now…

As far as I recall (I’m apparently too lazy to read through my own blog) I have mentioned that Skott and I have invested in a car but not told much more about that. Not that there is much more to tell. The Sunday before the break began we went to the weekly car fair approximately five kilometers from PSV. There we found a Subaru Legacy ’91 which seemed to be in pretty good condition and it could even drive! The couple who had it needed to sell it since they were moving to Australia where the husband was originally from. They started out by saying the price was negotiable so we ended up paying $1460 instead of the $1650 the car was originally priced at. That seems like a fair price, especially if we can get some of the money back in the end by selling the car again.

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My first (shared) car!

I have also mentioned that I was going to watch Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s newest movie. It definitely met my expectations. It was pretty easy to see that it was a Tarantino movie but in my book that only counts as a big plus. The guy is excellent at writing compelling dialog and it did not hurt the movie that most of it consisted of scenes based around conversations while the amount of action was kept at a pretty manageable level (even though the trailers had insinuated something else). It is incredible how intense scenes that man can create just by intelligently written dialog (and excellent acting) – definitely a movie that is worth watching. At the same time it was interesting to see an American produced movie which contains so much dialog in languages which are not English. Very risky, but of course something I appreciate in a movie about nazi occupied France.

I have also seen District 9, a movie which surprised me positively. It is sci-fi as I have never really seen it before, made on a fairly low budget compared to this summer’s (or winter’s, as it is down here) other big movies, even though it contains excellent CGI effect throughout the whole movie. It tells the story about how aliens got to earth and were kept in concentration camps. Parts of it is filmed like a documentary and seems pretty realistic – at least as realistic as it can be when it is a story involving life and weapons from outer space. The movie never loses momentum and is extremely hectic throughout which just helps to keep you emerged in it.

While I saw Inglorious Basters with a number of people from the usual PSV gang, District 9 was enjoyed together with Skott and my brother, Benjamin, who had arrived in New Zealand the same Friday my break started. Thus he travelled with us on our trip around Northland, the northern most part of New Zealand, in our first week of the break. Besides him and me the group included the Chris the German, Skott and his girlfriend, Malene, who had also taken the long trip to New Zealand for two weeks to travel with us. I will try to make it short (you know that’s not true, though, if you have ever read any other parts of my blog):

Monday:
Vi started off by trying to get an insurance on our car. Both Friday and Saturday we had tried to get a third party insurance, but both times in vain. Friday because we, due to rush hour, didn’t get there before they closed. Saturday because they wanted us to pay a lot of money (I think it was about $560) for a four month insurance while we knew a couple of other international students who had gotten a similar insurance for a year for less than $200. Apparently we had made the mistake to tell them that we were only going to stay here for a few months which made us tourists who apparently travels much more than students who live here for a year and have a three months break in the summer… Monday we went to a different store (same franchise); they had stored our information from our first visit but we told them that there must have been some kind of misunderstanding and that we were actually going to study in New Zealand for a year. Suddenly we could get the insurance for about $170 which seemed pretty fair. Skott also became a member of AA at the same time (in NZ AA is apparently not Anonymous Alcoholics but Automobile Association or something like that) so we can get a bit of help if our car should break down.

We continued to Goat Island which should be filled with animal life – at least in the summer where a lot of people enjoy snorkeling in the area. We had thought about taking a trip on a boat with a glass bottom to see some of the fish, but it didn’t seem to be sailing that day, either because the season hadn’t really begun yet or because it was too windy. Instead we spend the time on looking at waves hitting the rocks and to point fingers (you can do that in English as well, right) at the birds which had troubles flying because of the wind.

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Benjamin makes fun of the poor birds.

Next stop was Whangarei Falls, which is described as the water fall in New Zealand that is probably the most photographed even though it’s not the most impressive. It still seemed pretty nice, though, and of course we did take a couple of photographs of it, just to help it keep its status.

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One of the many photos that apparently exists of the Whangarei Falls

Next stop: Abbey Caves Abbey Caves, “the poor man’s Waitomo Caves” where it should be possible to see glow worms and so forth without paying to go down in the caves. Unfortunately we couldn’t enter them, either because we did not find the right place or because the water was too high. In other words: No glow worms for us (that day).

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The most exciting part about the caves was probably the walk to them which was quite muddy. Some people came pretty close to falling.

We had timed our trip to Whangarei perfectly. Apparently some big soccer tournament was taking place while we were there which meant that almost every camp site and hostel was booked by the 36 soccer teams residing in the city. We ended up at a motel where we shared two rooms with another group (the Norwegians Caroline and Kristian and the Dane Søren) who had also ended up in Whangarei after a couple of days of surfing further south.

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The two groups at the motel.

Tuesday
Tuesday we went to Mermaid Pools, a rock formation which creates a small pool at low tide. We sat at the rocks for a while and enjoyed the sound of the waves while we dried in the sun after some cold winter bathing in the sea.

Tuesday we succeeded in seeing Glow Worms in a half hour guided tour through Kawiti Glow Worm Caves. The cave was placed just outside Kawakawa which we passed through in order to see Hundertwasser Public Toilets, created by the famous Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The toilets are said to be “The Worlds Most Photographed Public Toilets” which is probably true – I know I haven’t photographed that many public toilets in my life but it might be a hobby one could take up.

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The famous public toilets from the inside!

We ended up in Russell, a historical town which has previously been the capital of New Zealand. It was a very quiet town, probably because the tourists hadn’t arrived yet since it is technically still winter. We saw an old church with bullet wholes from previous wars and went to a flagstaff at the top of a hill (Flagstaff Hill) where Union Jack is supposed to have been raised for the first time during the negotiations between the British and the Maori. At last we took a ferry to Paihia where we spent the night.

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Some people were more fascinated by the church than others.

Wednesday
Wednesday we took a boat trip around Bay of Islands. We were the only ones at the boat and the guy who was in charge of the trip, Mike, was a really nice guy. It was his first tour of the season and he told us that he had seen dolphins on his way out to get us. Unfortunately we didn’t see any dolphins or whales on our trip but it was a pretty good trip regardless. We went to one of the islands at the Bay of Islands where we climbed to the top of a hill from where we had a fantastic view.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/iqon/3912295585/” title=”DSC_0202 by Iqon DK, on Flickr”>DSC_0202
We were allowed to help steer the boat.

After the boat trip we went to Haruru Falls, some water falls which are shaped like a horse shoe. However, they were not as impressive as Whangarei Falls.

Thursday
Thursday we took the long trip to Cape Reinga, where the Tasmanian Sea and the Pacific Sea meet. It is not the most northern point of New Zealand but it is pretty close and a lot more accessible than the “real” northernmost point. It was a long drive on shitty roads to see a lighthouse and some signs showing how far away different big cities in the world are, but it is still something you have to see when you are in the northern part of New Zealand.

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The light house at Cape Reinga.

We drove south again to get to Ahipara which is placed in the beginning of the Ninety Mile Beach, a beach which is approximately 55 miles long. Here we rented a couple of boards to do some sand surfing on the big sand dunes which was quite entertaining even though it was a long walk up the sand for a couple of seconds ride down, only to do the whole thing over afterwards. It was a trip filled with exhilarating crashes and we were all covered in sand in the end.

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Benjamin had some pretty spectacular crashes.

Friday
There wasn’t much to see on our way back to Auckland along the west coast and therefore Friday didn’t offer many adventures. We had a short stop in Waipoua Forest where we saw some impressive Kauri trees. Among other trees, the forest contains Tane Mahuta, 51.2 m in height and 13.77 m in girth which makes it the biggest Kauri tree in the world. It was really impressive sight, especially because the (up to) 2500 year old tree stood in the middle of the forest surrounded by other trees, making them seem completely insignificant by comparison.

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This photo might give some idea of the size of the tree – we are even placed some meters in front of the tree on this photo.

Also the next biggest tree, Te Matua Ngahere, could be found in the forest. It wasn’t as tall (“only” 29.9 m) but it was wider since it had a girth of a whopping 16.41 m.

I will tell about the weekend and the following week at a later point since this post is already faaaaar too long.

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Money problems

by on 25 August 2009, under New Zealand, PSV, Other blogs

The following is probably one of the most serious posts so far.

I am usually quite good at handling my finances if I may say so myself. For my stay here in New Zealand I had also drawn up a fine budget and I had planned that it should be financed by a bit of savings, a scholarship from the government paying the tuition fee and a couple of other scholarships. Before I left Denmark I had received a fine amount of money from scholarships from the following foundations, which I want to take the opportunity to send a kind thought to:

Otto Mønsteds Fond (12,000 DKK = 3,370 NZD)
Knud Højgaards Fond (9,000 DKK = 2,525 NZD)
Oticon Fonden (7,000 DKK = 1,960 NZD)

These scholarships was a contributing factor to a nice big plus on my bank account a couple of weeks ago. Therefore I was naturally a bit surprised when I logged into my bank account via the internet and saw that most of my money had suddenly disappeared. I do spend a bit of money down here but I still had trouble explaining a small hole of about 14,000 DKK (approx 4,000 NZD).

It turned out to be due to some weird transactions to (among other things) WWW.NIKESTORE.COM as it was nicely printed with capital letters in my account history. I told this to my bank which of course closed my Visa card – the only card I brought with me to New Zealand. So now I don’t have any way to get hold of what is left of my money, and I’ll have to borrow from friends which is not quite optimal, contrary to what some people might think. It doesn’t help that Skott and I decided to buy a car yesterday for which we’ll have to pay tomorrow. I was supposed to get the rest of my part of the cash payment today but the ATM declined it.

I have now opened a bank account here in New Zealand which I can transfer some money to, a new Visa card should be on the way from Denmark (although it will probably take some weeks to get it) and PBS (the company that handles credit cards transactions in Denmark) has been contacted so that I can hopefully get my money back soon. In other words: It’s all going to be OK, but I think I would rather not have had this particular experience.

To end on a positive note I want to continue referring to other blogs. This time it is my American friend, TJ, who has started a blog which can be found at http://tjsnewzealandadventure.wordpress.com/. TJ is yet another of The Village People (i.e. he also lives in Parnell Student Village – PSV) and his blog already contains extremely exciting posts about his shopping trips to the local supermarket, Foodtown. And if that is not positive enough I can mention that I tomorrow am going to watch Quentin Tarantino’s newest masterpiece, Inglorious Basterds, which I am really looking forward to. It is a well-known fact that the guy is a genius and I have only heard good things about the movie so I’m sure it is going to be a successful trip to the cinema.

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