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Getting Luckier – in Russell

19 January, 2009 Leave a comment

Just when I thought it wouldn’t get any better, the Bay of Islands, and in particular Danielle and Dino, our hosts at La Veduta in Russell, topped it all.

This was, I think, the 4 best days of holiday I have ever had. That’s not La Vedutahyperbole either.

Danielle and Dino are hosts of the old school. Their home is immaculate and the attention to detail tremendous. But best of all is their joie de vivre and the obvious delight they take in hosting their guests’ every need. There are so many things I could mention, but afternoon tea with homemade cake on the terrace, followed by a cool glass of something and watching the sun going down… or returning from town with 4 americans in tow to be filled with the house port and (blaming the girl here) starting up a round-the-piano singsong (Danielle’s Je ne regrette riens was a masterpiece. I bellowed Danny Boy with only 30% of the words and in a pub singer style. Nana would have been proud).

Russell itself is a very picturesque little town of 650 inhabitants, swelling to 2500 in peak season, which was the original capital of NZ – and then became the den of iniquity, earning the name The Hell Hole of the Pacific. Nice. Couldn’t be more opposite now.

And then the highlight could be the day on a massive cat sailing round the bays but that’s beaten to the post by behaving like a pair of adventurous ten year olds and winding our way round Topeka point. (will find a link in google maps, but HK web access proving a handicap). Anyway, the point is that there is NO path round the point. It’s impassable. You have to climb, slither, and at some points swim round craggy rocks. Well, I say impassable… clearly there is a path now – forged by us. Much fun.

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Getting lucky

11 January, 2009 Leave a comment

The weather was pouring down… chucking… bucketting… but we were told that would make the waterfalls even more spectacular. And it did.

Doubtful Sound is the place they used for the last scenes of the LotR trilogy. 1km peaks drop straight down into the dark waters, covered with unfeasibly verdent life which shouldn’t be able to hold onto such a sheer cliff… and when the waterfalls flow, they pour from every crevice.

The rainforest’s balance is out of kilter. The signs are there for those who know, and our experienced skipper Lance knows all there was to know about this area after 20 years sailing it. But despite the depressing signs, it is still some of the most impressive wilderness you could ever see.

Snorkelling with wrasse, starfish, box fish and an abundance of flora… Walking free in the rainforest and getting lost in the undegrowth… Finding a pod of 12 bottle-nosed dolphins larking about in the West Arm of the Sound… watching the seals 5m away as they play and preen and soak in the sun.

In between came ever-flowing tea, cake, hearty breakfasts, lovely lunches and delicious dinners mixed in with a splash of wine and a dollop of banter in the galley. And to add a bit of variety with a game or two of cribbage, poker, a sing-song and a professional dulcimer-player.  I love you Neal.

And now back to Arrowtown, and tomorrow the drive to Christchurch and a flight up north. It’s difficult to see how anything can top the last 4 days, but you never know…

Location update

4 January, 2009 Leave a comment

No pics at the mo cos i’m having to use hotel wifi which costs a load…

But am currently in Thomas’s Hotel in Queenstown having spent most of the afternoon in the brewery playing pool.  Last couple of nights in Christchurch (thanks to the lovely Lawson and Lee-Ann) and before that a night in the plastic paddy centre of the world – Donegal House – in Kaikoura.

A couple more days here, and then off to Doubtful Sound.

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Drinkery

4 January, 2009 Leave a comment

If you’re going to bastardise the language – at least be consistent

From the use of the word Brewery, the Kiwis have decided that Winery is the right way to describe a vineyard which then goes on to make its own wine. I can go with the idea that there’s a difference between a winery and a vineyard, but only just. However, to add insult to injury, they add cidery to the list of linguistic crimes …. whereas we all know it’s a B&Q colour at best. an adjective, surely, not a noun. But, alas, i am a lone voice shouting irrately in the wind. But what really winds me up is that, on the same sign as Winery and cidery, they decide that the place where fruit juice is made into a commoditised drink is called a… yes, come one… a Juice Factory. I despair. Juicery is horrible – but consistency would have been appreciated.

Kiwi Advertising

4 January, 2009 Leave a comment

Today’s advertising gems from the land of the long white cloud were the following. You have to imagine that they’re being read in the classic shout-and-it-will-sound-exciting radio advertising technique as used in the 80s:

1. “Get down to your local movie rental store (sic) and hire two movies over two days and get one hot danish adult movie for just $1. Yes, that’s one hot adult danish movie for $1 when you rent two movies this weekend. That’s more pastry than you can handle!!” [ok, so i added the last bit myself]
Does anyone else think that sounds wrong?

I heard it on The Edge radio station, which is their equivalent to XFM, but that’s no excuse. Is there no Advertising Standards Authority?

You can add on top of that example no.2:

2. “Come to Calendar Girls – where there’s always something to see – Christchurch’s only venue for the discerning gentleman.”
Again – am I missing something? I mean, I know these Kiwis are studiously chilled – but have they no sense of propriety at all?

This was before noon, for God’s sake… not even the time to get a decent G&T inside you…

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