New Zealand trip observations

Posted on February 8, 2008
Filed Under Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

          To get to New Zealand, we embarked at Moncton and hopped across the country to Hamilton, Calgary and Vancouver. We arrived at midnight and laid over until the next evening.

          Our hotel was in Richmond, a suburb with a large Chinese population. We learned years ago that a restaurant full of Chinese diners, is a good one.

          The one where we had lunch in Richmond revealed a hypocritical prejudice I had not thought much about before. There was a family of at least three generations of Chinese heritage women at the next table. They made a menu choice that led to the waiter coming to their table with a a noisy plastic tub. He removed the lid to reveal the source of the noise. There was a fish about 18 inches long flopping around inside.

          Apparently I have a squeamish, hypocritical, prejudice against eating food I have actually met at the hour of its death.

Assassin’s choice?

          On the way to  Vancouver we changed planes in Calgary. That gave us a chance to have supper. The restaurant was inside airport security. What reminded us of that was that it was served with a plastic knife. The odd thing was that the fork was metal.

          I have no training in the skills of the assassin but I wonder if James Bond might be able to do a bit of damage with a fork.

Air New Zealand

          Air New Zealand started a flight direct from Vancouver to Auckland November 1, 2007. It is a Boeing 777, a large comfortable aircraft.

          Each seat has its own TV screen and a choice of movies that start when you wish. When crew make an announcement, the movies pauses.

          The food is good and the 13-hour trip was not nearly as grueling as I had expected. Part of the reason for that, although the flight was completely booked, one passenger did not show up and that one was to sit in our row. We had a an extra seat. That was a blessing for me, perhaps even more so for Michelle and might be some consolation to the passenger who didn’t make it if he or she only knew.

Running start

          New Zealand is 17 hours ahead of home, and 13 hours ahead of Vancouver. We crossed the international date line on the way. We left Vancouver Friday evening and, after a 13-hour flight, arrived in
Auckland at shortly after six a.m. Sunday.

          That was, of course, far to early to check into our hotel so we left our bag and walked to the national museum atop the far side of a ravine. It is a young country. Even the first citizens only arrived about 1,000 years ago.

          A wonderful welcoming feature of the museum is a cultural presentation of Maori singing, dancing and co-ordinated movements with strings, balls and sticks that were used for hunting.        

          The demonstration also includes the haka, an intimidating ritual of gestures and shouts used by the Maori to intimidate anyone considering an attack.

          In recent years, the haka has become a pre-game ritual by the legendary New Zealand All Blacks rugby teams for whom it serves the same purpose. 

          The Maori had about 700 peaceful years before the Europeans showed up and began the usual carnage of disease, abuse and robbery. Mind you, the Maori had brought Pacific rats to a country with no land dwelling mammals. The rats and the humans commenced a program of extinctions that goes on to this day.

          We spent the rest of the day getting settled in and beginning the search for reasonable internet connection so Michelle can conduct her business and I can make postings to Broadband service in our hotel was 68 cents a minute, $40.80 NZ per hour. They do offer a package at $36 per day which, even with a favourable exchange rate is still outrageous. There are also volume limits on megabits transmitted. We found internet cafes with very reasonable $3 per hour rates but have had trouble sending attachments. My thumb drive wouldn’t work with the café computer and Michelle’s beloved Mac will receive but not transmit messages.

          When you see this, you will know we have found a solution.



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