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Phespirit goes to New Zealand
Christchurch     November/December 1997

Phespirit made the twenty-five hour flight - with a one hour break at Singapore airport - to Christchurch, specifically on a pilgrimage to visit his old student friend, Tom King (a one-time fellow waster at physics, now made good by doing complicated stuff with lasers in mountains), and Kirsten Connor (or "the Mrs"). Whilst there he enjoyed the bonus of a glorious escorted trip up and down the South Island.

Touring party numbers increased with the arrival of Annette Mann (another friend from student days, now a top-drawer City bean counter, still looking gorgeous with rucksack and hiking boots), and her travelling companion, Debbie Keirle (amusing mad woman who pirouettes whilst bungee-jumping to "make it more interesting"), on the Kiwi leg of their six-month journey around southeast Asia and Oceania.

A lot of beautiful country was covered: around Christchurch itself; following the line of the Southern Alps, pausing at lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, then continuing down to the town of Wanaka; on further, below the 45th Parallel, to Queenstown, the self-styled 'adventure capital'; way back up north to wallow around the hot springs of Hanmer; then concluding business with a cruise around the Akaroa Peninsula.

In the "Garden City" of Christchurch, Phespirit was struck by the vast width of the roads, the prevalence of single storey buildings, the enormous quantities of weird feathered creatures and the greenery all over the place; all very different to the identikit townscapes of England. In this environment fans of quirkiness can enjoy the Christchurch 'alternative' city market, where unusual products such as "Original Blackball Goats Milk Soap" may be readily obtained.

The picturesque town of Wanaka is five hours away by road, passing by lakes Tekapo and Pukaki along the way. Driving parallel to the Southern Alps the scenery alternates from lush farmland to barren scrub, from snow-covered mountain peaks to insanely blue expanses of water. Still further south, Queenstown provides more beautiful diversity such as the deep Kawarau River gorge, the tumbling ruggedness of the Shotover River, the Lake Wakatipu crossing of T.S.S. Earnslaw, not to mention the beer, fish and chips and the pool table in the Eichardt Hotel pub.

This glorious island has rolling glaciers, natural hot springs, forests, fjords, beaches, warmth, clean air, open spaces, cosmopolitan cities, good people, bizarre animals, peace, tranquility and escapism .....

..... so Phespirit's verdict on the trip?   Box of Birds.

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