Location:  Port Douglas

Have you ever wondered what are the meanings in aboriginal art?  There are many painting forms for art, from the oldest recorded type, spray-painting from 50,000 to dot painting to the modern blending of forms.  Today we had the opportunity to visit with a local artist and learn about aboriginal painting, content and process, and about the history and legends that are embedded in the painting.

Location:  Dunedin

As you travel it is always interesting to see how things are different.  I frequently struck with the thought that what I am observing would never happen in the States.  Our liability laws and court system are so embedded into our daily life that we miss opportunities and have misplaced the importance of personal responsibility.


A couple of examples to demonstrate.

At Wai-o-Tiapo, there are colorful hot pools.  One is called Champaign Pool where the water is the color of Champaign and bubbles (sulfur dioxide) looking like a glass of Champaign.  There are warning signs that caution you that the water is hot (boiling) and then there is a little six-inch high fence around it to give you guidance as to where it is safe to be.  IN the states, there would be warning signs, cameras, Plexiglas screens 10 feet tall, all warning people and keeping them from the water (if you were even allowed that close to the site).

There is a cooking style here called stone grilling.  You have a personal slab of volcanic stone, heated to 400 degrees and on top of the slab; you have your cut of meat(s) (lamb, chicken, beef, venison, prawns, etc.) that you cook.  If you are not careful, it is easy to get burned.  What restaurant in the States would you be able to do that (and be able to get insurance coverage?).  It is great food and a fun experience with friends.

The Speight’s Brewery in Dunedin is undergoing a NZ$50 million dollar renovation (they started by investing NZ$25 million, have reached NZ$35 million and expect it to go to 50).  The brewery in Christchurch was damaged beyond repair in the earthquake several years ago and it was decided to move the brewery to Dunedin.  The local plant will go from 6 brews a day to 26 brews a day.  Making everything from Guinness to Speight’s Gold Medal.  So, the facility is under major renovation.  They are also reinforcing the building to make it more earthquake proof.  While the renovations are going on the brewery tours continue.  So you are walking in and around construction areas.  In the States, the tours would be cancelled until the construction is complete.

Even more amazing is that you get to walk right among the brewers and the brew tanks.  You could stick your hand out and run it through skids of wheat, hops, sugar, etc.  You can look in the mash tanks and see the process.  I remember a tour of a beef plant years ago and you walked through glass hallways above the plant floor never getting closer than 50 feet to the actual process.  Here, you are standing next to the process.

Location:  Franz Josef

The Cook Straights is the stretch of water between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.  It can be an interesting crossing.  Today’s crossing was wonderful.  Slight swells but relative smooth.  I have crossed the straight when it was moderate seas (10 foot swells).  I never want to do it when it is worse.  I have seen pictures.

 Once you get past the Straight, you enter the Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound.  They are both very scenic.  This is your introduction to the south island.  I enjoy watching and listening to the students as they experience the trip.  It is intentionally designed to move from the north to the south.  This really enhances the experience.  Most students become enamored with the North Island.  Home of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, it is green with snow covered mountains and green plains with field after field of cows and sheep.  Then you cross to the south island.

Tory StraitYou are introduced to deep canyons, river valleys, tall snow-covered mountains, river gorges, clear, blue rivers, glaciers, etc.  You realize that the north Island, you were so enamored with pales in comparison.  There are times when you would not be surprised to see a dinosaur come out of the rain forest (since it is fern rainforests).

By the time that I get to Franz Josef, I always find myself in a different state of mind.  I am so much more relaxed, ready to just see the world as it comes.  I think that is why I like Franz Josef so much; I am really in a different place.  I can look out the window of my room and see temperate rainforest.  I can look up and see snow-capped mountains.  I can look up the valley and just see the glacier.  I love just sitting in front of the fireplace in the hostel and enjoy reading a book in the evenings.

Mountains above Franz Josef

The ride to the hostel was through the mountains.  Each turn in the road presents another view that is better than the previous view. I know that the ride to Queenstown will be the same.

It does not matter the weather.  I have been on the road when it has been sunny and this time it was raining.  In any weather, New Zealand presents its natural beauty.  When it is sunny, you can see snow-capped mountains, crystal clear rivers and lakes.  When it is calm, the lakes are perfect reflecting pools.  When it rains, it becomes a waterfall haven.  The mountains present hundreds of water waterfalls for you to see.  The fog and the mists create mystery as they play hide and seek with the hillsides and mountains.

Picture outside the hostel window


Location:  Dunedin

Why do people not listen.  When we do the orientation for the trip we talk about the weather and the construction in New Zealand. 

As a reminder:

  1. There is no central heat in New Zealand.  The hostel rooms have room heaters (and in the case of at least my room in Dunedin, an electric blanket).  The room heaters are on timers so you don’t have hours of heat.
  2. Building construction in New Zealand is different.  There is less insulation and the walls tend to be drafty.  Part of the reason for this is that the weather is not that extreme (it get’s cold but not that could) and roofs are not attached firmly to walls as a earthquake protection measure.  So, it is draftier than in the States
  3. People in New Zealand dress warmly.  Most people wear sweaters and other warm garments and don’t need the heat that we use in the states.
  4. Power and other fuels are expensive so (see three) so people dress warm and have cooler rooms.
  5. Hostels air rooms out every day to help prevent mold, mildew, etc.  So, you are likely to enter your room and it will be the same temperature as outside.
  6. Bathrooms in New Zealand normally have windows open or fans working.  It is like being in an outhouse.  I am not sure the reason, but it certainly keeps them fresher smelling and less of a moisture buildup.  It also has the byproduct of ensuring that no one takes too long.  No one reads the paper or other material while busy in the bathroom.  It makes showers fast also.
    We had outdoors activities scheduled that, unless there is a hazard or danger, we were going to do them, rain or shine, hot or cold.

We are in New Zealand during the winter.  It is cold, It rains.  It snows.  We told people to dress warmly, wear layers, to have rain gear, to be prepared for it.  So, why did people not come prepared?

Location: Nelson

We take for granted that the foods we know at home are the same around the world.  Well, today I was reminded once again of this fallacy.  I don’t know why, but I never seem to remember that pizza is not pizza.

We ordered Dominos pizza while in Nelson as we had a long bus trip and it was a one-night stay.  I ordered a sausage pizza.  Well, the sausage was certainly not what I was used to, the sauce was ketchup, and the crust was cardboard.  I was eating tastelessness.  The sausage was basically English breakfast sausage sliced so it looked a lot like little pepperoni (but not the taste).

I was also reminded of a conversation I overheard between Dr. Mills and another student regarding the local coffee.  Those who drink coffee in the States generally find that coffee in New Zealand is horrible.  The closest I have come to a reasonable cup of coffee is a long black.  Which is espresso thinned with a little water.  Anyway,  Dr Mills, in response to a student’s comment was, “Don’t you think that the coffee tastes the way it does because people here like it?”  People generally don’t eat or drink things they don’t like.

So, it struck me again, things are not the same around the world for even the little things.  So, I will continue to drink my long blacks and my Earl Grey teas and enjoy the smells.

More on foods in another entry later.