Trip Start Mar 30, 2003
32Trip End Jan 30, 2004
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Where I stayed
Its rainy in Fiji - give me New Zealand instead any time.
Here I am sitting in a small office in the capital of Fiji. It doubles (triples?) as the Fiji Post Office Philatelic Bureau, with an admirable collection of First Day Covers from various Pacific statelets on the walls, an internet shop and a locksmith.
Although being in Fiji sounds wonderfully exotic, especially given the weather in the northern hemisphere at present, its actually the rainy season here and after 3 days I have yet to need to put on sunglasses or sunblock
Anyhow, since my last update I overcame my fears to take the plunge on the Canyon Swing in Queenstown, 109 metres above the rapids and rocks below (see pics). It was not like a normal bungy jump as the cable is attached to a body harness, rather than to the feet, and after a freefall the cable swings you towards the other side of the canyon. After doing that I decided that I had had enough adrenaline activities in Queenstown and so spent the rest of the time on more sedate activities - playing minigolf and going on the luge (a dowhill race track for go-karts) with a guy I met from Melbourne.
I went to stay in a very small village, Glenorchy, some 45 minutes drive away for a night. Due to its spectacular setting it was yet another filming location for the Lord of the Rings. I travelled on a gravel road through fords to a small place called Paradise to look at the view of the mountains. I was due to go canyoning for a day which involves splashing about in rivers in a wetsuit, abseiling down waterfalls etc, but as I was the only one mad enough to sign up it was cancelled at the last minute
From Queenstown it was a full day drive to Christchurch, the largest town on the South Island. I made a detour to go towards Mount Cook, NZ's highest mountain, where there was a short walk from the Visitors Centre to see the mountains and glaciers. I also stopped at Lake Tepako where a small chapel next to the lake has become something of a tourist mecca because of its picturesque setting. Christchurch itself was planned to have a very English appearance with punting available on the River Avon and streets named after English cathedral towns - Hereford, Gloucester, Lichfield, Durham etc. It seems to have an enormous population of Japanese students there to learn English. The Botanic Gardens were great for jogging through and the Arts Centre was mighty fine too. However, the main tourist attraction seems to be to see the official Wizard of New Zealand, who turns up in from of the cathedral at 1pm dressed in wizard garb to give a discourse from a step ladder. He seemed to ramble quite incoherently to me, but a lot of the crowd seemed to nod enthusiastically.
From Christchurch I flew via Auckland to Nadi airport in Fiji, where new arrivals are greeted by people paid to shout 'Bula!'. I am not sure what this means, but I am guessing 'Hello and give me some money'
I spent my first night at a beach resort near Nadi, which was depressingly empty. The next day dawned to show dark silty sand at low tide. It was like Morecambe Bay with palm trees, so I quickly escaped to a backpacker resort on the southern 'coral coast' of Viti Levu called the Beachhouse.I went diving there on the coral reef, seeing lots of giant clams and an octopus hiding under a rock. I also used the resort's kayak and played board games with the other guests when it rained.
So, for the next few days I plan to discover some offshore islands and perhaps do some more diving. After all, when you're 20 metres underwater it doesnt matter too much if its raining. If I'm really bored, perhaps I should organise the next coup...