Monday, 21 March 2011

New Zealand: where I'd like to be today...

My earlier blog post about the Christchurch memorial service was a reminder of the many connections that exist between the UK and New Zealand.
My friend Simon Hathaway, who now lives in Wellington (which is a major improvement on Rotherham) sent me a pack of newspaper and magazine articles this week to add to the other resources that I have gathered to help teach about the resilience of a major city following an earthquake. I was interested to read the 'North and South New Zealander of the Year' piece, which awarded the Supreme Winner to the people of Christchurch... and that was following the earlier September 2010 quake...
There was also a really useful piece from the Dominion Post by Chris Kalderimis on the most useful items to have in a home emergency survival kit, and lots of personal stories.

The #blog4nz campaign is encouraging bloggers the world over to focus on New Zealand for a while, and this post is part of the effort.

Although my work involves me in translating a range of media into resources which can make a difference in the classroom, there is also a lot of personal interest in exploring these distant places, and one area to develop is the impact of tourism in New Zealand.

One of the potential longer term impacts of the Christchurch earthquake is the effect that it might have on the tourist industry on both islands, but particularly the South Island.  New Zealand has been on my must-visit list for ever, and I still fully intend to visit one day, although the current financial situation is not making it any easier...

Image shared under Creative Commons license by Boston Public Library
When I was asked to produce a KS3 book for use in the geography classroom, I was determined to get a little bit of New Zealand in there. I chose an iconic landform to focus on: the distinctive Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

My contribution to the GA's toolkit series included two lessons called "Mountains on my Mind". They involved students applying for a job with a fictional tour company which operated flights into Milford Sound. Students needed to prepare themselves for the job interview by researching answers to the sorts of questions that tourists would have as they flew over the mountains.

Below is a slideshow of images taken by Simon Hathaway, which were used to introduce the lesson - the music is by the band "Suns of the Tundra" - with thanks to Simon Oakes for the remix music track :) - warning: it could get loud !!


Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

When clicking on the Dominion Post link earlier to create the hyperlink, I noticed a few tourism related stories straight away:

Preparations for the next Rugby World Cup later this year are already well underway, and there was also the story about the filming for 'The Hobbit' movie.

This reminded me of a the tourism benefits of the filming of "The Lord of the Rings" which resulted in a major surge in visitors, and the publication of several guides to the filming locations.

So what would my top priorities be for our family visit to New Zealand, which was going to be 2012, but now looks like being later... My interest in some parts of the country date back to 2007. At the time I was supporting Val Vannet as she followed Mark Beaumont around the world on his record-breaking
I took over from Val over the Christmas and New Year period 2007-8 and followed Mark through New Zealand and therefore spent a lot of time using Google Earth and other sites to trace his route and identify some geographical highlights....
Here is a 'top ten', which provides a taster.... There'll be no bungee though, or white water rafting. I prefer more sedate pleasures...

1. Wellington
We'll be based in the city as that's where friends who've offered us a bed for as long as we want live. But from there we'll branch out. Wellington has plenty to offer the visitor, and we'll explore the hills and the city itself. Plenty of interesting food and cultural highlights... We can get over our jet lag here before exploring further afield in a motor home...

2. Ferry to the South Island (and back)
Looking forward to this trip. We enjoy boat journeys and this is one of the more spectacular ones.

3. Christchurch
As a geographer, I'd be interested in seeing the city for various reasons, but not the least to show that it is as safe to visit as anywhere else along this fault-line. This would not be "disaster tourism", but a genuine desire to support local businesses as well as publicise for geography teachers and students back home some of the longer term ways that 'resilience' manifests itself....

4.Mt.Taranaki / Egmont and the surrounding area
Egmont / Taranaki is an amazing mountain, and the surrounding area has plenty of interest. I am particularly keen to visit places that are as 'different' to the day-to-day as possible.

5. Rotorua
Having visited Iceland recently, including a trip to Geysir and other hot springs, I've had my fair share of sulphurous water, but this is one of those places where the thin shell of the Earth's crust becomes obvious, and for that reason I need to take a look...

6. Milford Sound - I'm torn between driving in, and flying in - perhaps I could do both ? This is one of the great places of the world. When I was younger I visited the Hardangerfjord and other fjords of Norway, and I'm always impressed by huge cliffs and deep water. The waterfalls and jagged peaks are stunning.

7. Moeraki
Always wanted to see the Moeraki boulders, looking like dinosaur eggs on the beach. Moeraki is not too far from Christchurch. The family might not be too impressed if I dragged them a long distance to see "a few rocks", although they are beautiful rocks...

8. Mt Ruapehu and Tongariro
In the same area of the North Island, I used to teach about the eruption of these volcanoes for many years. I like the idea of seeing the peaks and snow fields, and making the link with the 'Lord of the Rings' locations...

9. Franz Josef Glacier
Again, my recent trip to Iceland allowed me to walk on a large glacier, but this has a much different feel to the Solheimajokull ice cap, with its steeper gradient and dramatic crevasses...

10. Shackleton connections
Sir Ernest Shackleton has always been an inspiration of mine, and the chance to visit some of the places where he prepared for his journeys would be a good reason for heading South... Two places on the list would be the grave of Chippy McNeish in Karori cemetery, Wellington, and the port of Lyttleton.

Picture by Simon Hathaway - Chippy McNeish and Mrs Chippy...

I am keen to trace some of the connections with the early Polar explorers, as we prepare for the centenary of Scott and Amundsen's race to the Pole next year. I have no doubt that someone somewhere is planning to tweet their journeys day by day (and if they aren't I though of it first... ;)  )

See you there !

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