Month: May 2010

Seals … cute but dangerous

The New Zealand fur seal

are …  fin-footed carnivorous marine mammals and are distinguished by visible external ears and hind flippers which rotate forward.

This pointy-nosed seal has long pale whiskers and a body covered with two layers of fur. Their coat is dark grey-brown on the back, and lighter below; when wet they look almost black.

Kaikoura, New Zealand is a good place to see seals easily: read here  to see what the  NZ Dept of Conservation says about not harassing these (and other) mammals in NZ.  Dont get between them and the sea, and keep your dogs on a lead.

As you can see I was travelling in a Backpacker campervan

Keep 10 metres between you and the seals
Watch for seals all along the Kaikoura coastline
I'm so cute!
Just pull over and see the seals!

Four Victorian Bridges to visit in Christchurch, New Zealand

Getting to the other side: go for a walk and check out these old bridges

Despite its calm appearance, the Avon River claimed many lives in the past and getting to the other side was difficult so bridges were of vital importance to the settlers- here are justa few of the inner city bridges that make an intersting walk. ( See also my blog on Victoria /Market Square)

Papanui Bridge

. . . was the first to open and when it closed in 1863 because it was unsafe, it was missed even though a narrow swing bridge on Gloucester St replaced it for pedestrians and the Manchester St Bridge was built the same year for the total cost of 240 pound. (New Zealand currency used pounds shilling and pence until 1968 and when it change one pound became two dollars)

Ironwork for the new bridge was ordered from England (costing 3000 pounds) and when it reopened in 1864, the councillors arrived in a yellow wagonette drawn by four horses and officially opened the it with a bottle of champagne being broken on it to give it the new name of Victoria Bridge. It used to carry the tram towards Papanui, is now a footbridge and has been opened in the centre so the ironwork that supports it can be seen.

Worcester St

A footbridge on Worcester St was swept away in the 1868 floods and the following year it was replaced by the iron bridge that now stands there: although full-sized it now only carries pedestrians and the tram.

Antigua St

A footbridge was built here in 1868 while the Cashel St Bridge (where the various war remembrances are) is now called the Bridge of Remembrance and was completed in 1873.

Christchurch is fortunate to have these wonderful examples of Victorian work and many are under-light so their beauty can be admired at night too.

Travel Writing: from World Hum

This is a long piece about travel writing:

… so long it has sat in my ‘to read’ pile for a couple of months. It’s too late  for me to post a  comment so have decided to do it here as IT’S GREAT – and so evocative of my experiences as a travel writer it really resonated with me, that I will read it again, for sure.

If you think travel writing (not guidebook or blogs of the where-to-stay-variety) is just swanning around the world on a credit card (someone elses’ ) have a read of this – it’s Tom Swick writing (and on UTube) about the evolving role of the travel writer in the age of mass tourism Travel Writing – Not a Tourist – Features – World Hum Thanks Tom, you said it for many of us.

First New Zealand cycleway starts July 2010

First New Zealand cycleway on track for July

New Zealand’s national cycleway project is off to an exciting start – with the first of seven ‘quick start’ projects launching in July.

The RuapehuWhanganui – Nga Ara Tuhono’ trail, which runs from Ruapehu in the central North Island to Whanganui on the western coast, will form part of the ongoing ‘Great Rides’ national cycle network.

The first cycle trail, which travels through land protected by the Department of Conservation (DOC), will be launched on 2 July by New Zealand Prime Minister Mr John Key.

Riders will be able to cycle on two sections of the trail immediately after the launch, with the rest of the route to be completed before the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Mountain to the sea
The ‘Ruapehu – Whanganui – Nga Ara Tuhono’ cycle trail is the first of the national cycleway ‘quick start’ projects to be launched.

The complete trail will traverse two iconic national parks – and is due to be finished next year (2011). It will be a four to six-day ride, with varying levels of trail difficulty.

Two large sections of the trail are ready for use from 2 July 2010 – the Old Coach Road day ride, an easy ride from Ohakune to Horopito, and a two-day ride from Raetihi to Mangapurua Landing, suitable for more adventurous cyclists.

Campsites and toilets are dotted along both sections and DOC is hoping to install more ‘track furniture’ such as bridges, seats and board-walks over the next few months.

Several tour operators are also putting together guided cycling and accommodation packages.

Historical highlights
The launch of the Ruapehu – Whanganui trail will take place at Ohakune Railway Station with a karakia or Māori blessing and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony by Mr John Key. The prime minister will be one of the first to ride a mountain bike on the new cycle trail.

The Raetihi – Mangapurua Track is a historical highlight of the cycle trail, as it crosses the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and passes through Mangapurua Valley soldiers settlement within Whanganui National Park. The bridge was built in the 1930s for the first settlers – soldiers who were given land by the New Zealand government for their service during WWI.

Visitors with limited time will be able to do the Old Coach Road day ride, with an uphill or downhill option depending on the starting point choice of either Horopito or Ohakune.

Cycling  and pedal power must be the ultimate in eco-travel!

Thanks to NZ Tourism for this information

Christchurch’s beach suburb: Sumner

Cave Rock & Shag Rock with the central city in background

On a cold wet winter day it’s good to remember we had really great weather only a couple of weeks ago – the drought is over! Catch local bus #3 to visit this suburb.

Photographic exhibition: ‘Searching for Buddha’ by the kiwitravelwriter

Somehow the angst in Thailand doesn’t seem to fit in the ‘land of smiles’ and one of the biggest centres of Buddhism: although I can understand the anger of the red-shirts.

Searching for Buddha
Searching for Buddha photographic exhibition
Cloisters Gallery, Christchurch Arts Centre, New Zealand

Read a story about me spending time at a Buddhist meditation retreat in Thailand here

India: meditating at sunrise beside a holy river

meditation on the banks of the holy Narmada River, Maheshwar.

The Narmada

forms the traditional boundary between north and south India. Considered extremely holy by Hindu people it has been said that just the sight of the river is enough to wash away all sins. There are 7 holy rivers in India: Ganga, Yamuna Indus and the mythical Sarasvati in the north. While in peninsula India is the Narmada, Godavari, and the Kaveri. The Narmada divides north and peninsula India

Devotees tell me that where the holy Narmada flows only Shiva is worshiped – for he is the only god who has the tranquilly to calm her.


is a thousand-mile circumambulation of the Narmada, takes 3 years, 3 months, and three days to walk. It is a spiritual quest, self realisation, a thanksgiving for favour asked for or received, or just an act of love: there are just as many reasons to do the walk, which starts and finishes at the mouth of the river, as there are people who do it and the Narmada is the only river where a parikama of the entire course is performed.

In ‘Sacred Virgin Travels along the Narmada’ by Royina Grewal (whose own journey began in 1993) says “depending on where you meet her and how, the Narmada can mean different things to different people. For the many turbulent stretches, she is called Rewa, derived from the Sanskrit ‘rev’, to leap. Of her many names, this is my favourite. But she is also called Manananda, who brings eternal bliss, Rajani, the spirited one, and Kamada who fulfils desire; Vibhatsathe the terrifying one and Manasuardhini who craves the lifeblood that she has nurtured. Ferocious, insouciant, benevolent.”

Gondwanaland, as it moved north collided with the Central Asian landmass – this gradual convergence thrust up a range of mountains from the sea and caused volcanoes to eject layer upon layer that built another range of mountains. Between the two, a rift valley was created – narrow and deep – through which the Narmada flows over some of the oldest rocks in the world..

Shrines line the river.

From a piece of sculpture daubed with orange propped up against a tree or wall through to big temples. People revere their river yet wash, spit and void bodily wastes into her.The ghats below the palace are place for daily rituals for locals and have memorials to the widows who died on their husbands’ funeral pyres?

On the ghats – facing east and often waist deep in the water –  Hindus recite sacred verses, often from the Gayatri Mantra, the oldest of Hindu hymns – mother the Vedas – often at the end of each chant they offer the water, in cupped hands or in a container/ brass urn, to the sun – pouring the water out.

India is vivid and varied a melting pot of religions and peoples coming from central Asia, Mediterranean and the middle east, and where public rituals are expressed with a fervour often not seen in the mostly secular ‘west’. Hinduism is numerically the strongest  and oldest religion. Taxis, buses and trucks all display images of the one of the pantheon of  Hindu divinities, including the amorous Krishna, bloodthirsty Kali, or  the elephant-headed Ganesh

The wandering dependant or beggar, is considered to be one of the 4 stages of life during which a person learns life goals and the means of achieving them. Clad in saffron or sacking, they seek gifts of food and money to support themselves in this last stage of life, although many young men do the same and most have given up all material possessions.

kiwitravelwriter reinvented herself – you can too

My recipe for ‘how to run away from home and reinvent yourself’

  • Start as a child with a love of reading. This involves hiding under the blankets reading of far away places that creates a desire for travel: I imagined I was Anne Frank in her Amsterdam attic and Heidi on the mountains of Switzerland. Naturally, I was the hero between the covers of every book I read.
  • Add, listening to far away, static-crackling voices in languages I didn’t understand on my brother’s crystal radio, and dream of exploring those lives, and there you have it! The germ of an idea, the yeast of a dream, began bubbling below the surface of my conciseness. The first, most basic ingredients for my developing recipe were lined up on the bench of my mind.
  • Cover, and leave that bowl of imagination to infiltrate through life’s ups and downs, keep reading, keep dreaming until life and circumstances add more ingredients. These extra components are where your individuality, situation, and conditions, add to the recipe and finally, the end result! (NOTE: Unlike many recipes, this one is totally tailored to each circumstance.)

My extra ingredients included: the deaths of a 20-year old son, and my husband, recovery from alcoholism, and too many birthdays. In my late forties, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Perhaps I could play catch-up with the traditional Kiwi penchant for travel. read more here

Roadside signs, Namibia & USA! | Kiwi-travel-writer: A freelance,blogging travel-writer

from the Namibia Desert and the USA comes more funny road signs … well -funny for those of us who don’t live there!