Through the miracle of modern time zones, my scheduled arrival at Denver’s airport was at 8:27 p.m. March 25, three minutes before my scheduled departure from Christchurch, New Zealand. It seemed a lot longer.
In fact, since I crossed the international date line, the actual time difference was 19 hours. And from the time that I left Robyn’s townhouse in Christchurch until I got back to my apartment just now I was traveling for exactly 24 hours to the minute.
The longest and best vacation that I ever had finished without any snafus. Even the long flights from one side of the world to the other came off without a hitch. All of the flights were on time. I was fortunate to have a great travel agent, Kina Palmer. She booked just the right flights for me, including just the right amount of time to change planes. And she arranged aisle seats for me on all seven flights.
As usual, I packed too much. In particular, I never needed my tent or air mattress. The only thing that I forgot to take was a set of batteries for my computer mouse, but they were of course readily available in New Zealand. I did have to buy a fourth 8GB compact flash card for my camera in a Dunedin department store, but that was only because I took more photographs in the five weeks that I spent in New Zealand than I ever expected.
As good as it is to be home, I fell in love with New Zealand, both the land and the people. Never have I seen a country so beautiful or have I got to know people so friendly and helpful.
At first I assumed that New Zealand’s low population density could explain the difference. That has to be some of it, yet New Zealand compares very closely in this respect to Colorado.
New Zealand is almost exactly the same area and population as Colorado. About 4.2 million people live in the 104,454 square miles of New Zealand. About 4.7 million people live in the 103,717 square miles of Colorado.
While no one can visit all of New Zealand’s square miles, I travelled most of the main roads of the country’s South Island, the larger of its two main islands. I have no idea how many miles of the country that I saw, but I know that I drove many thousand miles from the north tip at Cape Farewell to the most southernly place, Slope Point, as well as from the furthest east to furthest west and then back again.
Driving on the South Island of New Zealand was always a pleasure in spite of the fact that the country’s roads are almost always narrower than ours and thousands of its bridges are one-lane only. The real difference is how little traffic those roads have (except around Christchurch) and the fact that their roads are better maintained than those I am familiar with in the American West. [Read more →]