Farewell to New Zealand!!

Trip Start Jan 04, 2011
Trip End Mar 23, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, February 28, 2011

The past week has been spent in the 2 big cities on New Zealand's North Island - Wellington (the capital) and Auckland (NZ's biggest city by far)...

Wellington is a compact little city, squeezed between steep hills and a large deep water harbour.  It's a very walkable little city with quirky and eclectic people and places.  Kind of like San Francisco, you get a good workout when touring this hilly capital.  Wellington is probably most famous for the strong winds that buffet it on a very regular basis.  Though we were very fortunate with some rare calm days, it is the windiest city in all of the southern hemisphere.  I read somewhere they get an average of 173 days per year with wind gusts greater than 60km/hr (40mph).  Yikes!  Ditch the cheap hair gel!

Auckland on the other hand is a big modern city.  Reminds me of Sydney in many ways... Has a tower, built on a huge harbour, and has a warm subtropical climate.  Though it's population is only slightly larger than that of greater Ottawa, like so many other cities in the world about Ottawa's size, it feels much larger than Ottawa :-(   For some reason greater Ottawa's population of 1.2 million, feels and looks equivalent to cities in the rest of the world with about half that population!  But I digress... One of the things we liked most about Auckland?... The weather.... With early autumn weather starting to permeate the rest of New Zealand, Auckland, on the northern tip of NZ, has so far been immune.  During our 3 days here we have enjoyed exploring the inner city.  A highlight for sure was going up the Sky Tower (southern hemisphere's tallest building) where we saw yet more samples of the Kiwis passion for extreme sports - you can "Sky Jump" off the tower or "Sky Walk" around the tower.  Don't get excited, we did neither.

Well, time has come to say farewell to New Zealand.  Definitely a very remarkable stop on our itinerary.  For sure the most varied and spectacular scenery to date. Before this trip, one of my aims was to try to decipher an Aussie accent from a Kiwi accent.  I am happy to report success on that front.  The Kiwi accent is definitely closer to the British accent than the Aussie one.  Actually took a real liking to the Kiwi accent.

Just as with Aussies, Kiwis have some of their own words and terms that would confound a Canadian (or American for that matter).  Here are some examples I came across...

Tramping (Hiking)
Dairy (Convenience store)
Jandals (Sandals)
Trundler (Grocery Cart)
Jug (Kettle)

There are many more, but could only come up with these at this point :-( 

Tonight we fly to the Cook Islands.  Will be really nice to spend the next 17 days on sunny hot beaches and in tropical clear waters.  Not sure I'll be able to post much over these 17 days as internet access in the Cooks and French Polynesia is very expensive and, more importantly, very slow.  Having said that, it will be nice to just get away from it all finally!  So if you don't see any posts for a while, fret not, they will eventually be coming :-)

Oh.. and I almost forgot... We finally got our bags from Christchurch!!
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