If it's March, it must be New Zealand. In four weeks I did a counter-clockwise tour of both the North and South Islands. New Zealand packs an amazing variety of scenery into its relatively small space. It's also comparatively sparsely populated: I kept reminding myself that the country's population of four million or so people is equivalent to the population of greater Toronto.

I spent several days in Auckland, NZ's largest city and the home of one third of its people. Auckland is a vibrant, multicultural city and has the greatest number of Polynesians of any city in the world. From there I took a bus south, staying for a weekend with friends in the university city of Hamilton, and then down to the capital city of Wellington on the southern tip of the North Island where I had to wait a couple of days for a ferry to take me to the South Island. Despite being the seat of government (the ridiculous looking Parliament building is appropriately nicknamed the "Beehive", an indication of New Zealanders' willingness to put government in its place?) Wellington is an interesting city rising up steeply on hills back from its harbour and likes to believe that it is more sophisticated than the more commercialized Auckland.

Then it was on to a ten day tour of the South Island, from which almost all of the pictures below come. The South Island is more rural and scenic with the Southern Alps range running down its West "Wet" coast.


A view of downtown Auckland from one of the extinct volcanoes on which the city sits.
Note the cows at the lower right.

The lone tree on the hill is a little sickly after a Maori protestor took a chain-saw to it.


Notice the red trolley just emerging from the tunnel.

Kiwi Experience Bus

A shot of the bus that I spent ten days on and some of my fellow backpackers.

Dumb Sheep

Yes, sheep are everywhere in NZ.

Eat, eat, eat.


Soccer on the Beach


These deer are raised primarily for their antlers from which, ahem, aphrodisiacs are made, mainly for the Asian market.

The Critters of "Bushman's Lodge"

All of these animals were introduced to New Zealand and now run wild, with catastrophic results for native birds. (Prior to the arrival of the Maori, the only mammals in NZ were bats.) The possum was introduced to NZ from Australia to start a fur trade. Its introduction was all too successful: there are now more possums than sheep in NZ...

A possum.

The Legend of "Ol' George"

We spent a couple of hours at this gold claim that had been taken over from an old fellow named George, according to the current proprietor. Obviously there wasn't much gold left since most of his business came from giving tours of the site.

We learn about the tools of the trade.

Ol' George's wheelbarrow, and empty fuel cylinders.

Another tall story?

Bridge Piers

These piers are all that remains of the bridge. I like the geometry of this shot.

Mountain Pastoral

A Last View of the West Coast


Wildflowers and Bumblebee

Meadow, River, Mountains

Sunset at Wilderness

Glacier Walk

Glacier Moraine

Mts. Cook and Tasman

These two shots show Mts. Cook and Tasman reflected in Lake Matheson, on one of the few clear days that the West coast sees.

Boot Fence

Our bus driver, Bells, disposes of his old boots on the fence.

Queenstown and Paragliders

Queenstown bills itself as the "Adventure Capital of the World." It's home to the world's first commercial bungy jump and some of the highest. If you want to bungy jump over 400 feet, this is the place to do it. Krazy Kiwis.

Apart from the businesses trying to extract money from adrenaline junkies, Queenstown's spectacular setting makes a great background for more sedate activities, like taking photos.

Note the green bungy-jumping platform at the lower right. Imagine jumping off it at night...

A good view of the "Remarkables" mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.

Glacial Lake

For a while I bought the story that the bright blue colour of the lake was from the dye that they put in it so they could spot leaks in the dams. Sounds plausible--doesn't it?

Sheepdog Memorial

Punk Horses

These horses were at a farm outside of Queenstown where I went on a horse-back ride.

Nice dreads!

Bachelor Seals

Lazy bums, just lying around all day! No wonder they can't get a date.

Ghost Ship