Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1000% Pure New Zealand

Text and photographs by aspiring travel writer, Barry Greville-Eyres

Devil's Punchbowl Trail, Arthur's Pass

Primeval forest and stunning views of
southern Alps
  Bealey Spur Ridge Walk,
Arthur's Pass

Spring Splendour! 
 I’m of the view that it’s the opportune time, in the lead up to the IRB World Rugby Cup which is barely 7 months away, for New Zealand’s national tourism authority to tack on an extra zero “0” onto its current 100% Pure New Zealand branding catchphrase. The electronic and print media marketing campaign, promoting the country as a premier tourism and adventure destination, is absolutely spot on. Having come off the back of a stunning 17 day road trip with my family to the south island, it’s perhaps understandable that I should feel that the country is selling itself somewhat short. Why not flaunt it, in a cheeky and provocative manner, if you have it all and are secure in the knowledge that you’ve captured a niche market?

Pure New Zealand!

 My amorous liaison with NZ started in 1996 when my wife and I visited for the first time and ever since, it’s been a destination of many, many happy returns. Even on recent annual business trips to Wellington, I’ve found the country’s product offerings, as a package deal, unique, breathtakingly attractive and incredibly refreshing. Kiwis, as a nation, are not too bad either and one cannot but warm to their no frills, low-key, little or no BS approach to life. It’s debatable as to whether a healthy infusion of South African and Australian culture and influence has contributed to this demeanor, something the tri-nations will, perhaps, vehemently deny. Although still fiercely competitive, there is a healthy respect between the trio which leads to greater tolerance, and understanding.

Cape Foulwind Headland Trail

Pancake Rocks Blow Holes

Our south island experience was akin to living on the precipice of nature’s extremes, leaving one with no doubt of how fallible and infinitesimal we are in our nanosecond-like existence on this planet. Whether witnessing structural damage or experiencing the queasy aftershocks of the recent Christchurch earthquake; exposed to the potential of climatic extremes, in the blink of an eye, whilst hiking in the southern Alps; dwarfed by dramatic landforms and pristine nature whilst traversing flooded glacial valleys; getting close and personal with behemoth glaciers; marveling at the feats of human endeavor and engineering, especially avalanche counter-measures, required to open transportation (road and rail), power and communication links between west and east coasts; the grind, pound and cutting action of alternating water and ice on rock edifices sculpturing the landscape; dynamic and desolate floodplains connecting mountains to coast in broad swathes of deposited debris; a coastline shaped by wind and water energized by the Roaring Forties; wind pruned and torrential rain nourished forests - all contribute to the sense that you are living on the edge of eager anticipation.

Road link between north and south coasts through southern Alps

Franz Josef Glacier

Downing the sun in the best possible way - G & T in hand

Southern Alps shrouded in cloud

Other memorable aspects of our visit were the endless summer days which rolled into one another as part of a timeless continuum and the sheer variety of nature walks, each well managed and highly accessible to intrepid trekkers. Fresh, fat flavorsome cherries; crisp mountain air; bracingly crystal clear mountain streams; ice melt of all shapes and sizes jostling downstream and ever-diminishing as they journey onwards to oblivion; the absolute pleasure of spending quality with family – beloved soul-mate and children that mean the most to one in a time and places devoid of distraction; pesky sand flies. Above all else, is the giddy prospect of a return trip to the land of the long white cloud.

Old Man on the Mount - Ben Lomond Summit, Queenstown 

Miscellaneous pics of Milford Sound boat trip

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