Being Kiwi

  Brendan Gill once wrote “Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.” The Kiwis were apparently paying attention. New Zealanders are an irreverent bunch, playful, adventurous, and happy, quite possibly the happiest people I’ve ever known. Kiwis don’t just live life, they attack it, with a wink and a grin. The approach to the world’s highest cliff jump has a couple of somber warnings for wary visitors, carefully placed along the gravely walkway. This is not surprising, since one side of the walkway is a sheer cliff, off which you’d enjoy a 300-foot plummet before face-planting into the canyon below at 100 ... [Read More]

Jumping off Cliffs in Queenstown

  It’s said that if you throw a Kiwi at anything Mother Nature created he’ll immediately turn it into an adventure sport. New Zealand, a country of a mere 4.2 million people, invented bungee jumping. They absolutely own rugby, one of the most physically challenging sports in the world, winning the Rugby World Cup last year, and their national team, the All-Blacks, has the best winning record of any national team in the world. Though they have a population less than that of San Francisco, the Kiwis somehow manage to best the rest of the world on a regular basis in the America’s Cup yacht race, and they habitually ... [Read More]

From Auckland to Shanghai

You’ve heard the old adage “going around your ass to reach your elbow?” Apparently I view this as the most direct route. When my colleague Sia heard I was going to be in New Zealand he asked if I’d pop over to Shanghai for a couple of days of meetings. “Sure,” I said, “that sounds perfectly reasonable!” I don’t recall being drunk during this conversation, or having suffered a concussion recently, so I’m left struggling to explain this decision. I like to think I’m fairly well-versed in world geography, and moderately informed when it comes to travel times between countries. For some reason I still can’t quite fathom I ... [Read More]

Rotorua and The Prince

After a wonderful day of swimming with the dolphins in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, Soo and I headed south, to Rotorua, the famed geothermal region which is home to geysers, bubbling pools of boiling mud and the eminently delightful Agradome. Like so many Māori place names, Rotorua is a challenge for some visitors to pronounce. It’s “roh-toh-ROO-uh,” and a snap compared to Whakarewrewa or Karangahapi. Soo, rather hysterically, grapeled with the pronunciation for two days before finally getting it. This little oft-mispronounced city was ranked as New Zealand’s #1 city in 2010 by The Keep New Zealand Beautiful Annual Best Towns and Cities Awards, the 5th ... [Read More]

Incredible beauty and sheep farts

New Zealand is often referred to as God's own Country or The Paradise of the Pacific. Make the three hour drive from Auckland north to the Bay of Islands and it’s easy to understand why. New Zealand is a nature park that accidentally became a country. Her appx. 10,000 mile long coastline sports some of the most pristine beaches in the world. One fifth of the North Island and two thirds of the South island boast mountains so spectacular they jockeyed for attention with the special effects in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Zealand has an incredibly diverse landscape, home to a tropical paradise in ... [Read More]

Kiwi to English translations

Residents of New Zealand claim to speak English as their primary language. Regrettably for an American tourist, what they call English often has little in common with anything we would recognize as such. Here, for your edification, are a few examples of phrases you might need to know when visiting New Zealand, lest you find yourself in an awkward situation. 1. "Give your ferret a run" - to have sex; 2. "Sucking on a fagg" – this refers to smoking a cigarette. It has nothing to do with homosexuality; 3. "What are you, a poof?" – has everything to do with homosexuality 4. "Chuffed" - to be smugly pleased; 5. "Randy" – ... [Read More]

Fleeing to New Zealand

Soo and I had planned to stay in Port Douglas a few days after our wedding to have a brief honeymoon, but a cyclone brewing off the coast and fierce rains lashing the shores changed our plans. Immediately after exchanging vows we set off on the Marcrista hoping we could beat the rain and see the glorious Great Barrier Reef for a few hours of snorkeling before the weather really turned bad. We had somehow lucked into a few minutes of sun right as we began our ceremony, and seemed to have found the only spot in the entire region without rain at that moment. It ... [Read More]