Ducky's NZ Trip - Queenstown
Photo by Hala Fauzi
Queenstown is the "adventure vacation" capital of NZ. In the winter
it is a ski resort, in the summer there are a lot of air and water
sports to partake in. It reminded me a lot of
Banff in many ways. My friend Amy said it reminded her of Lake Tahoe,
take your pick.
Christmas Down Under, part I
This was a few days before Christmas, but you would have hardly
noticed. I did a little bit of shopping there (for warm and
waterproof clothes!!!) and saw very few Christmas decorations. The Santa
at the mall looked pretty lonely, and I didn't get sick of Jingle
Bells. I think that because it is the height of summer, the Kiwis
are so outdoorsy in general, and because they can't really
internalize the snow and chimneys myths, that Christmas isn't really a time to
stay inside and play with your loot. Christmas there is more a time to go
hiking and camping with your family. I thought it was very
In Queenstown, the difference in our personalities became
blatant. Hala went hang-gliding and rafting. I went to the doctor
and the library. I'd picked up a sore throat from the airplane,
and trudging through water didn't make it any better.
Excursions in Socialized Medecine, part I
So I found a
doctor's office and walked in. No receptionist there (holidays?).
Somebody walked past and told me that the doc would be out in a
minute, to have a seat. In about five minutes, a woman and a man in
jeans and an oxford shirt walked out, the woman left, and the man
asked if he could help me. "Well," said I (worrying how the NZ
socialized medical system could cope with a foreigner), "I'm an
American..." at which point he burst out in hearty laughter and said,
"I'm sorry, there's nothing that can be done about that!"
We established that he was the doctor, that his name was Mike, and that
I would have to pay for the visit. Ulp. A whole NZ$30. Oh no. So
we went into his office and we chatted for a little while about my
travels, then he looked in my ears, nose, throat, and eyes, listened
to me breathe, and wrote me a scrip for some antibiotics. It was all
just too civilized for words!
I went to the library because I was wondering about kiwis. Why, I
wondered, were they nocturnal? They had no native predators, so what
were they hiding from at night? I thought maybe giant moas were
carnivorous, and wanted to check. (I hadn't yet heard about the
giant hawk.) Once I had determined that moas were basically the
avian equivalent of cows, I ended up reading about Maori history and
art and legend and a biography on Kiri Te Kanawa, the half-Maori
opera singer, one of the best sopranos in the world.
The first Maoris discovered NZ about 1000 years ago. Their navigator
was so damn good that he was able to go home and give enough details
that a second wave could show up THREE HUNDRED YEARS later in seven
great war canoes (carrying a couple hundred people apiece!). As the
Maori were a warrior race, and as rugby hadn't been invented yet,
they pretty much wiped out the first wave, then settled down to
colonizing, hunting (birds), gathering, and beating the crap out of
each other before. About two hundred years later, Captain Cook showed up.
(Remember here that the US is barely over 200 years old itself.)
Maori was not at that time
a written language, but their oral tradition is so strong that to this
day, many Maoris can tell you WHICH canoe(s) they descend from, and a
complete list of the ancestors in-between.
On our last day in Queenstown, we took a gondola ride up the side of
the mountain and walked around a little bit. It was a very pleasant
view of Queenstown and the Remarkables, the mountain range nearby.
The Queenstown area is quite dry (it was mostly sunny all three
days!), so the mountains are covered with brown grass, much like
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The Milford Track
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The Bike Tour,
Christchurch (again), and
The North Island.
Copyright, 1994, Kaitlin Duck Sherwood
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