Monthly Archives: March 2013

5 things you might not know about NZ

I’ve been in Auckland almost three weeks now, and I’ve learned some pretty surprising things about how things run in this town!  I don’t know if these things apply over the whole country, but I guess I’ll find that out later.  I’d like to take this time to share them with you.

1. Flagging down a bus.  Auckland has a very extensive bus system that makes it very easy for anyone to get around the city or the outer suburbs.  There are so many bus stops that drivers do not stop unless you flag them down.  Very similar to a taxi except much cheaper.  It’s actually a very efficient system since time isn’t wasted on unnecessary stops.

2. No Taco Bell.  There is pretty much every other major fast food chain present here, including Carl’s Jr., which is like the worst one.  If Carl’s Jr. made it, Taco Bell should be given a chance.

3. Assigned seats in movie theaters (aka cinemas).  I really love this.  At first I thought, “Excuse me?  Isn’t it a little too fancy for ‘Oz, The Great and Powerful’ to have assigned seating?”  But then I realized how great it was!  No more showing up 20 minutes before the movie starts to get a good seat and having to sit through all the dumb promos and previews.  I don’t know why we don’t do it in the U.S.

4. No Pepperidge Farm products.  No Goldfish. No Milano cookies. Sigh.

5. Crossing the street diagonally.  This one is my favorite.  At a few very busy intersections downtown, pedestrians are given the little green man in all directions.  This means that all traffic stops while we cross the street.  Which also means you can cross the street diagonally!  It is a big thrill for me to walk through the middle of the street, and I take the opportunity to do so whenever possible.

What do you guys think?  Is there any chance some of these ideas could make their way over to the U.S.?

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Volcanos Everywhere!

I climbed a real volcano last week!  No, it wasn’t spitting fire or leaking lava everywhere, but it’s still a real volcano.  Mount Eden is considered dormant and, according to Wikipedia, hasn’t erupted for 28,000 years!  I hiked with a couple friends from the hostel all the way to the top.  It took about 20 minutes to get there from the summit, which was a lot faster than I anticipated.  The climb was tiring and steep, but well worth it!  Here are some of the pictures from the 360 degree views from the top:

Downtown Auckland

Auckland Bay

The crater is pretty deep and completely covered in grass.  I really wanted to go down in it, but there were signs forbidding that and it probably would have sucked to have to try and climb back out.

Crater

I visited the Auckland Museum and got in for free because of my visa!  The 1st floor (they call it ground level) was full of Maori historical artifacts.  The Maori are the indigenous people of NZ, who first arrived in NZ about 800 years ago.  They have full size replicas of ships and real canoes that were made from a single log and could carry 100 warriors to battle.

Ship

On the 2nd floor (they call it 1st level) they had the natural history of NZ.  More volcanos!  They actually have a room that simulates what it’s like to be downtown during an eruption.  It was actually pretty scary.  Speaking of scary they also had lots of stuffed animals.  As in, real birds and fish and mammals that have been preserved and stuffed.  I now know what a bear’s fur feels like!

Stuffed Animals

The 3rd floor (you guessed correctly, they call it 2nd level) is all war history, which I wasn’t really interested in.  I took a quick look around but I didn’t take many pictures.

Auckland is currently having a two week long arts festival and one of the main events is called The Breath of the Volcano by Group F.  For this show, they used the Auckland Museum as a backdrop and the Auckland Domain as a seating area.  It was fantastic!  They had fireworks and fire and music and people covered in lights!  It’s really hard for me to explain what exactly happened in that hour, but just know that it was the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen!  You can find Group F on youtube and check out other things they have done.  It might give you some idea of what it was like.

That’s all for now!  I’ll let you know when anything else exciting happens!

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