Thursday, December 4, 2014

Northern Explorer - notes on a train

Once the train staff hear I am from California they want to talk about "Arnie", our ex-governor. I explained that Jerry Brown is back, and Arnie is making movies again. They knew we had midterm elections too, even if unrelated directly to the change of California governor.

(There are many US influences in Auckland. The pubs play college basketball; Ohio State was on all the TVs yesterday. And the clerk at the hostel was wearing a Michigan Spartans jersey.)

(Another side note: A difference I love is the abundance of aioli. With my venison burger last night, the choice was aioli or chutney, no ketchup. I love mayo - aioli on everything!)

Fun facts from a train:

1870 is the year that NZ began freezing meat, specifically lamb.

Auckland is "the city of sails" (due to the many boats - more per head of population than anywhere else in the world.)

Wellington is now the nation's capital. It once was Russell in the north, then Auckland, and finally moved to Wellington.

Kai is the Maori word for food, and is a common word around the country.

Mt. Ruapehu is the highest mountain in the north island, at 2797 meters. Our train will be passing this mountain, and has an open carriage for viewing.

Hamilton, two and a half hours south of Auckland, is the biggest dairy producing area in NZ. It gets much rain and sun all year long, for much grazing. The rolling hills are covered in milk cows. Hamilton was populated in 1868 by the British. It is known as a "cow town". It now has over 130,000 in human population. The grassy countryside is spotted by cone volcanoes and space tree coverage, as the local trees were harvested to decimation for the building of Victorian era homes in Sydney, San Francisco, and local houses.

The Finn Brothers, of Split Enz fame, are from the Hamilton area.

I cannot spell any of the Maori references, so no fun facts on the Maori people here yet. However, the area is rich with history of battles between the local Maori people
and the British colonials.

Maui - he was a Maori God, with goofy brothers, who formed the north island, South Island, and steward island. The fish, the boat, the anchor.

NZ Xmas tree - has red flowers, and a Maori name.

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