I was expecting to be bowled over by Milford Sound, but I wasn’t. The two-hour cruise should have been the highlight of the visit, but it was a little anti-climatic. My favourite moments turned out to be the ones that were unplanned. [Read on]
The story of the takahe’s return from near-extinction is a remarkable one. This rare flightless bird was once widespread throughout New Zealand – until habitat loss, deer and stoats took their toll. By the end of World War II, no one had seen a takahe in the wild in nearly half a century.
However, one Dr Geoffrey Orbell, a doctor from Invercargill, persevered with his belief that there were living birds in the Kiwi wilderness. In 1948, deep in the Murchison Mountains near Te Anau, Dr Orbell and his companions rediscovered the birds. It kickstarted efforts to nurse the species back to healthy numbers. It was thus fitting that I came face-to-face with the takahe in Te Anau.
Let’s get the mundane facts about Baldwin Street out of the way first. This 350-metre stretch of road in Dunedin, New Zealand is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s steepest street. Its official maximum gradient is 19 degrees (though there are little bits that are 21 degrees); in other words, the ground rises a metre for every 2.86 metres you cover horizontally. You might be able to find another place or two with a slightly steeper slope, but it isn’t in the records.
The inclusion of roads like Baldwin Street that lead up the rugged slopes of Signal Hill was entirely intentional. In the mid-19th Century, Charles Kettle surveyed Dunedin and designed its city plan based on the widely-admired layout of Edinburgh New Town. Kettle died before the bold plans were realised, but a mining and farming boom ensured that they became reality.
A remarkable location comes with remarkable events, like the Jaffa Race and the Gutbuster (more details below). It’s tempting to grab a GoPro and do something even crazier, so here’s a reminder that one student died and another suffered serious injuries when they rode a wheelie bin down the slope in 2001.
Enough of the dry stuff that you can find on the web. How steep is Baldwin Street in the flesh?
There was a time not so long ago when you could climb glaciers in New Zealand for NZD120.
No expensive helicopters were needed. All it took was a coach ride into the Fox Glacier valley, a coat and rented crampons. You didn’t have to worry about not having enough people to go on the tours either – they were almost always full. [Read on]
New Zealand has to be one of those places where one can live the good life on a short visit. The landscapes are mind-blowing, the local produce is plentiful and the wines from Marlborough and Hawkes Bay are world beaters. Now, one can add NZ craft beer to the list of fine things. Alcohol is not just a means for me to get high; if you hold the same view you’ll appreciate this list.
These were the places where I sampled NZ craft beer during my working holiday. If you asked me to rate them, I honestly can’t. I didn’t have a single bad experience at any of these places, and I am certain the beers won’t disappoint you as long as you’re adventurous. [Read on]