Thinking of New Zealand…

PCC Te Manahua group, 2009After attending the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Te Manahua 2009 festival of kapa haka or traditional Maori songs and dances (as examplified by the group pictured at right) on August 8 in Laie, Hawaii, it got me thinking of New Zealand — a great place.

So, I started going through some of my old photos and journal entries, and thought you might enjoy a few of them…not in any order, just kind of as a picture-and-thought occurred to me:

(Above): A lot of little towns in New Zealand have some kind of an angle or visitor motif…such as “the big sheep” in Tirau, which is located about 35 miles (50km) south of Hamilton. It’s made of corrugated iron which, I was told, is made in the area. It houses a city council visitors center and gift shop. There’s also a “big dog” structure right next to it.

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Kawarau River gorge bungee jumpMelt-off from the glaciers — which Kiwis pronounce sorta’ like glassier — in the southern alps of South Island give the river water a beautiful bluish tint . . . and, yes, it was very cold.

In fact, it was full-on autum when were there, as clearly shown in the background when our group stopped at the famous A.J. Hackett bungee jumping  site on the Kawarau River gorge near Queenstown. The wind blowing through the gorge made it seem even colder.

This, however, did not stop a younger member of our group — Stephanie DeCoite [pictured at right] — from completing one of her New Zealand objectives: Actually taking the plunge toward the river about 200 feet below.

Surprisingly, the bungee cord actually stretched enough so that Stephanie’s head-and-shoulders went into the river…which must have made her walk back up the windy gorge especially chilling.

Nearby Queenstown is a major resort area, featuring skiing in the winter. Of course while we were there we just had to ride the jet boats on the Shotover River, which was quite thrilling . . . if not downright chilling. I mean, literally.

Ironically, where it didn’t seem all that cold was in the snow field near the top of Franz Josef Glacier where a bunch of us landed as part of a helicopter tour:

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