Back from New Zealand

23/03/2005

The second part of our World Tour of New Zealand covered part of the North Island following this route: Auckland, ed Hamilton, adiposity Rotorua, read more Palmerston North (including Feilding, of all places), Taupo, Hamilton, Auckland.

The biggest motivation for this trip was to visit friends that we have not seen in ages. We finally were able to meet again with Munah, Gophran, Omer and Mohammed. We had not seen them since early 2000 and there are so many things that had happened in the world since that time… We had a great time and ate plenty of yummy food. Meeting very religious but moderate muslims was a great reminder of the injustice of generalisations.

Marcela and Munah in Hamilton

While in Rotorua we caught up with Satish and Sandiah (now with small Amanat), which was a lot of fun. Almost seven years ago we went to India to attend to their wedding and had a trip around the Northern part of the country. We also visited Luigi—thanks Allison, Paloma and Pascal for the hospitality—and Tony. Going back to Tony’s place in Lake Okareka was ‘full circle’ for us. A caravan parked in Tony’s place was our first stop in New Zealand in 1996. I had also interesting meetings with Paul, Mike and Sue.

Orlando through the window

The drive down to Palmerston North—where we studied at Massey University—was pleasant. We did not expect to have any problems finding accommodation: it is not a touristy place, and the only complicated time is graduation week. However, we did not count with a very unlikely combination of events, including:

  • The poor musical taste of kiwis, which drove them in ordes to attend a—grab your seat—Neil Diamond concert in Wellington. All accommodation was booked from Wellington upto Palmerston North (140 km). Bloody Neil Diamond!
  • A district Lions convention in Marton.
  • A car race in Feilding.

We finally found a small room for the first night in the Makino Homestay, a bed and breakfast in Fielding with really nice and understanding owners. After that, and with Neil Diamond gone, it was easy to find a place in the Rose City motel, which we liked a lot.

As part of my preparation1 for the International Eat An Animal For PETA day we had some great ‘gourmet burgers’—if there is such a thing—in ‘Burger Xtreme’ (or ‘Burger Extreme’, depending on who you ask) in Palmerston North (339 Church St, phone 06-357 7224). They were big, tasty and meaty. We thought about repeating the experience in ‘Burger Fuel’, Hamilton, but the service was so bad that we ended up cancelling our order.

Now to commercials

While in New Zealand we rented a SIM card for our mobile phone from Vodafone, which seemed to have decent coverage and was reasonably cheap too. We were driving a Holden Commodore, rented from Budget, which was a nice car, although the distance activated alarm when reversing was driving me nuts when parking. We flew Virgin Blue from Hobart to Melbourne, a completely unremarkable experience. The international leg was done in Emirates, with a good service but the airplane was a bit run down. On our way back we stayed a night in Melbourne in the Hilton Airport hotel, which was a great decision, because our flight arrived two hours late. I was a bit worried about noise and lights next to the airport, but the insulation is magnificent, the service very good and the price right. Airfares and Hilton reservations were done through Flightcentre, which provided an excellent service.

Considering everything, the trip was quite good, although we now need holidays to recover from holidays.

1 The final celebration was with a juicy Porterhouse steak. I have plenty of vegetarian and vegan friends, but vegans with a holier than thou attitude really annoy me.

Filed in geocoded, miscellanea, new zealand, travel

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