Monday, 18 January 2010
Sunday 17th January
Left Auckland , having fallen in love with Possum & Merino jumpers (soo soft and fluffy... :-) - we're now on the lookout for some that cost rather less than a fortune) and stopped off at a small shop to get some lunch. There was a rather ambiguous newspaper headline advertised on one of the boards outside. Sure it would go down well in the US...
Continued the drive to the Coromandel Peninsular (Oh...the joy of signs!), in search of Kauri trees, good hiking and fish & chips (hence forth referred to as F&C's - and it may be referred to frequently. We discovered last time we visited, NZ has the best F&C's in the world..!). Were successful on all counts. There was a 20K hike to some protruding volcanic plugs - the Pinnacles. On the way were some interesting remains of the kauri logging industry including a re-supply road (hand hewn from the rock), a dam (built so that the streams could be used to float logs down to the sea - see piccie) and even the odd kauri; both logged and alive.
We followed this up with the requisite F&C (which were very good), then retired to a campsite. We were somewhat surprised to be awakened in the middle of the night by the gentle patter of rain. We could almost be back on the UK!
It sounds strange but travelling in S America was quite hard work (not looking for a sympathy vote here!), combination of poor infrastructure, food, language, security concerns (thefts are a pretty common occurrence). Of course it was also fascinating: Ecuador was culturally and socially interesting, especially the power struggle between the Andean people & the Hispanics which permeates every aspect of life - education/politics/labour relations/geographic location etc.
Chile was memorable for the environmental extremes - driest desert, largest coal mines, highest geothermal field, huge glaciers...the list goes on.
New Zealand however is far more like the UK (it was settled by UK emigrants in the 1840's), which makes it a much more relaxing place to travel. It should be a nice break before we tackle Cambodia - sure that one will be interesting!