Z is for New Zealand

And here we are! It’s the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge for this year.

It’s a fitting place to end this haiku journey of discovery around the highways and byways of this New Zealand – with a round up of the country itself.

New Zealand and New Zealanders have forged their place in the world by dint of their attitude to just get it done. It might take a bit of their famous ingenuity, but little can withstand the force of a determined Kiwi.

They are the stuff of legends – pioneering modern and not so modern inventions and innovations that they don’t always shout to the world. It wasn’t until I was living in New Zealand, for example, that I heard the name of Richard Pearse who reportedly beat the Wright brothers into heavier-than-air flight by nine months!

And then there are the other  firsts: Kate Sheppard who inspired New Zealand to become the first country to grant universal suffrage; Edmund Hillary – the first to reach the peak of Everest; Ernest Rutherford – the first to split the atom.

New Zealand has spawned entertainment artists like Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Russell Crowe, Keith Urban, Lorde, Crowded House, Shihad, Tex Morton….. and the list goes on and on.

I should also add the engineers, the linguists, the intelligence experts, authors, and entrepreneurs but we’d be here all day.

From Cape Reinga to Bluff (and then on to Stewart Island), New Zealand beckons visitors keen to see a world beyond their own – including Middle Earth.

For those who want to revisit city life, the main centres of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin offer night life, shopping, exceptional dining and cultural experiences.

There’s plenty to do and see here. Many are deceived by its relatively small geographical size. It takes more than a couple of days to get a good taste of New Zealand. Take your time. Get out and explore. Maybe you could go to find the places we’ve visited this month – but map it out first, otherwise there would be a lot of back-tracking.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’ll have to think about where to visit next year.

Farewell from Aotearoa!
(Remember each vowel of Aotearoa is its own syllable.)

And now the haiku:

New Zealand

It’s God’s own country
in Aotearoa.
New Zealanders care!




Y is for Yaldhurst


As we draw to a close on these haiku meanderings around New Zealand (just one day left), we visit Yaldhurst. Yaldhurst was the name of a former Parliamentary electorate. It is also the name of a small rural community that has, over time, been incorporated as a suburb of Christchurch, a major centre on the South Island.

Whether suburb or rural community, it has its own history to be proud of.

The hotel served as a staging post for Cobb & Co. The line of  Cobb & Co coaches arrived in New Zealand courtesy of Charles Cole who had been operating coaches to serve the goldfields around Ballarat, in Victoria, Australia, where I live. (A nice link there.)

Motor enthusiasts would be drawn to this place for the collection of over 150 classic cars, carriages etc at the Yaldhurst Museum. The museum folk happily posted the good news that they had survived the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes with a post to social media.

For more information about Yaldhurst, see:
And now the Haiku:


Cars and coaches saved –
Yaldhurst defies Christchurch quakes.
Visitors welcome!

X is for X-factor (and I don’t mean the TV show!)

New Zealand has no place names beginning with X that I can find. (Kiwis in the loop might like to point me to one??), so I decided to focus on New Zealand’s X-factor as a place to live and as a place to visit for this  A to Z blogging challenge.

Google describes x-factor as:
1. a noteworthy special talent or quality.
“there are plenty of luxury cars around, but [this one] has that special X factor
2. a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.
“the young vote may turn out to be the X factor”

As a place to live, New Zealand was brimful of positives. The X-factor was freedom.

Yes, I’ll admit to the rose-coloured glasses of looking back at good times.

You’ll have noticed through this challenge that I’ve referred to my children from time to time, and it is their experiences in NZ that  I reflect on. They could play with freedom; there were no racial or gender barriers to their friendships; their schooling was innovative and individualised. Children may start school on the day that they turn five years old. It’s a rite of passage, if you like, where the child is received into the class and her classmates rally round – especially those with whom she was at Kindy. Travel was easy. Pay rates were not great but costs were commensurate and we could afford to buy our own home as a young family. And everyone watched or played rugby union, netball and cricket! (Still do.)

As a place to visit, New Zealand’s X-factor is its variety: from snow-covered ski resorts to boiling mud. It’s fresh and clean (even the boiling mud!). It offers excitement and it offers relaxation. I’ll say more about that in a couple of days for the final post of the challenge.

The New Zealand X-factor overall, for me, is its indomitable spirit. For a nation with a population of 4.6 million people, it punches above its weight in sport, commerce, industry,  innovation, education and social conscience.

And now for the haiku:


NZ’s X-factor:
its tintinnabulation –
impacts like a roar.


W is for Waitomo Caves

New Zealand sports several well-known glowworm cave systems including one at Te Anau on the South Island in Fiordland and the one at Waitomo in the King Country of the North Island.

I’ve visited both with the family and both are spectacular in their own right. Today the focus is on Waitomo, because it’s W Day, but Te Anau and spectacular Fiordland are well worth a visit too.

Floating along on a boat inside the caves, with the panorama of glowworm lights above is an awesome experience. the kids were fascinated with the beauty of the stalagmites and stalactites that they learned the words easily and were able to describe what they had seen.

Recently a trail run has been developed in and around Waitomo and it happens this Saturday, 30th of April. If you’re nearby, you might want to participate.

Take a look at some of these sites to learn more about Waitomo and the caves – especially the Cathedral which has stunning acoustic qualities and has hosted singers such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa!

For information, see:


And now the haiku:

Waitomo Caves

See Waitomo Caves,
the magical wonderland
of glowworms twinkling.

V is for Victoria Valley

When we visited Stewart Island on this haiku journey around New Zealand, I mentioned that Cape Reinga is the northernmost point in New Zealand. The area that we are visiting today is a mere 130 kms (80 miles) south of that extremity. The map for the link to  Victoria Valley Road shows that there is little human habitation in the area but it gives me another chance to talk about this far north part of New Zealand.

The population centre for the area is Kaitaia, a favourite holiday place for New Zealanders because of its sub-tropical climate. Victoria Valley is 16 kms from the town.

There is a Maori cemetery  here which is the final resting place for one lonely  WWII casualty, a trooper from the New Zealand Armoured Corps.

Victoria Valley also lies to the west of Ahipara, the southernmost point of the spectacular Ninety Mile Beach which doubles as a highway.

So, although one might drive through the area and not realise that one has arrived in Victoria Valley, there are still good reasons for venturing this far north.
See also:

And now the haiku:

Victoria Valley

Go north, they sat. Go!
Victoria Valley waits.
Beach highway driving.



U is for Upper Hutt

Oops! I knew all of this travel across time zones would get me discombobulated for the A to Z Blogging  Challenge. And now I’ve gone and posted Monday’s U!  It is the last day of my brief stopover in Honolulu. Tomorrow, I head home to Australia after three weeks in different parts of North America. Maybe when I’m back at base I will be able to get my mind and days straightened out.

So I hope you enjoy this bonus post on Upper Hutt and take the opportunity to visit some of the other blogs participating in the A to Z!

Upper Hutt is in the North Island of New Zealand, just north of Wellington. It is a separate centre from Lower Hutt. It is divided from its sister municipality by Taita Gorge which forms part of the active Wellington Fault.

Mountain bikers should plan their trip to New Zealand to coincide with the 2017 Karapoti Challenge on March 4. Several records were broken in this year’s event ensuring that next year, the personal challenges will be even greater.

For those looking for a quieter pastime, trout fishing is popular in the Hutt River that runs through the town.

See also:


And now the haiku:

Upper Hutt

Mountain bikers’ joy –
The Karapoti Challenge.
Crazy Upper Hutt!

T is for Taupo, Turangi and the Desert Road

The trek from Taupo to Turangi and then on down the Desert Road to Waioru is one of stunning beauty.

Taupo is located on the northern edge of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand which is really the caldera of Taupo Volcano.  Fortunately, it has not erupted for nearly 2000 years. The lake provides great sport for skiing, boating and fishing. Just north of the town are the Huka Falls. (I had to mention them even though the focus for today is heading southward.)

Follow the lake edge south from Taupo to Turangi for more fishing or white water rafting on the Tongariro River.

Head further south along the Desert Road towards Waioru. The road passes through Rangipo Desert, a stark, alpine environment. It borders Tongariro National Park where  three active volcanoes can be found: Mt RuapehuMt Ngauruhoe (see yourself as a Hobbit climbing Mount Doom); and Mt Tongariro. It’s a paradise for serious landscape photographers.

In Winter, the road is sometimes rendered impassable by heavy falls of snow. I think the coldest  I have ever been (and yes I have been to some cold places in the world: Prince George BC, Canada; Harbin in China, for example) was in Waioru in Winter. Brr! And that was without snow!

Still, a visitor looking to find some iconic New Zealand scenes, should take the time to explore this part of the North Island.

See also:

http://wwmiddle w.tikitouring.co.nz/central-plateau.htm

And now the haiku:

Taupo, Turangi and the Desert Road

Turangi, Taupo,
fire and ice on Desert Road …
Take time to explore!

S is for Stewart Island

Stewart Island is as far south as we can travel in New Zealand, and I’ll admit that I have not yet managed to visit there. When people talk about the geographic extremities of New Zealand, the saying is “from Cape Reinga to the Bluff” which ignores Stewart Island. This is despite the fact that Kiwis acknowledge that New Zealand is made up of three main islands: North; South; and Stewart.

In Maori legend, the South Island was Maui’s canoe from which he fished up the North Island. Stewart Island was his anchor stone without which his quest might not have been successful.

The only main centre on Stewart Island is a town of about 400 inhabitants. The town is variously known as Oban or Halfmoon Bay (depending on whom you’re talking to).

The island is home to the brown kiwi and provides a great viewing platform for the lights of Aurora Australis.

And I think I’ve just talked myself into making sure that Stewart Island is on my must-see list in the next wee while!

For more information, see…


And now the haiku:

Stewart Island

Nowhere left to go?
Set sail for Antarctica
from Stewart Island.

R is for Rotorua

Rotorua, like Queenstown, is one of those places in New Zealand that is outside the big four of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin,  but is nevertheless known around the world for its unique charactertistics – namely its geothermal activity.

In the days that we visited with the children it was possible to fill a spa with geothermal naturally heated water and sit in it until we were prunes. These days, there is the realisation that even geothermal steam is finite and should be conserved.

The first impression that one has of Rotorua is the odour from the hydrogen sulphide emissions. It has the sulphur smell of rotten eggs, but one soon becomes inured to that. There is plenty to see and do in Rotoroua – Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa is a must, along with the boiling mud, etc. Then there’s water sports on the lake and an insight into New Zealand farming at the agrodome at Ngongotaha.

For further information, see:


And now the haiku:


Rotorua fumes
spilling sulphur into air.
Lots of bubbling mud.

Q is for Queenstown

The haiku trail takes us to New Zealand’s winter wonderland today – to the South Island city of Queenstown.

Skiers from around the world recognise the beauty and challenges of endulging in their sport in this pristine location. I don’t ski, but I do love to visit Queenstown – usually in the summer when a jet-boat ride along a nearby river gets the heart pumping during the day and then a dinner cruise on  Lake Wakitipu leaves one feeling serene.

We’ve stayed at some lovely B&B accommodations in Queenstown in close proximity to the thrumming night life. It’s a great place for young and old and always busy.

For more information about Queenstown, see:


And now for the haiku.


The place is abuzz
Queenstown – Winter wonderland.
Plenty to do here.