Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 22 December 2011 Contents HOT TOPIC
Page 6 | 22 December, 2011
This will be our 13th Christmas in New
Zealand and we are still not used to
celebrating it in summer. Having been
brought up in the UK, Christmas Day is
supposed to be cold, damp and miserable
outside, but warm and cosy inside
surrounded by family.
When I was growing up my family had an
interesting Christmas. With my father being
Polish, we started celebrating on Christmas
Eve. Every year we visited other Polish
friends, ate traditional Polish fare and most
of the adults drank copious amounts of
vodka! We all then went to Polish mass at
the local church. There were no hymn books
and everyone just sang from memory. Even
though I couldn't speak the language and
couldn't join in the singing, the atmosphere
in the church was amazing. After the service
we all hugged and kissed each other before
heading home to open our presents. This
ritual was completed whilst eating mince
pies and drinking sherry. Christmas Day
was always a family affair with plenty of
food and drink to stave off the cold outside.
We inevitably ate too much and kidded
ourselves that a short afternoon walk
would work off the earlier excesses. The
evenings were spent playing cards well into
the night. The celebrations continued on
Boxing Day as this is my parent's wedding
anniversary. My mum was always insistent
on celebrating this properly too, and not by
eating the leftovers from Christmas Day.
This called for more cooking -- usually roast
beef with Yorkshire pudding.
Christmas in New Zealand still does not feel
like Christmas to us. Christmas used to be
in the middle of winter. When you went to
work in the dark and came home in the
dark, the fairy lights in all the houses lifted
your spirits. And somehow the carols being
played incessantly in the shops seemed
right. However, since we've been in New
Zealand we have tried to make the most
of the long summer day. When we lived in
Dunedin we used to spend the day on the
Otago Peninsular, visiting the albatrosses at
Tairoa Head, followed by a walk along Allens
Beach. On the beach the only other people
we ever met were other 'Poms' looking for
something to do on Christmas Day. Since
we've lived in Te Anau we have tended to
jump in our campervan and spend the day
down the Milford Road. One year we walked
to Key Summit in the pouring rain -- now
that did feel like the kind of Christmas we
were used to!
But whilst we've changed the way we
celebrate Christmas, we have retained
some of our old traditions. We still go to
church on Christmas Eve and come home
to open our presents. The mince pies and
sherry still go down well! Although we now
enjoy our Christmas meal in the evening
after a day out, we still have a traditional
roast dinner. Instead of playing cards we
phone family and friends so that we still
have that family connection at Christmas.
The best thing of all about Christmas in New
Zealand is that we don't end up indulging
ourselves as much as we used to in the UK
-- now that's good for the waistline.
Have a great Christmas, however you
It feels like Christmas
It's Christmas Eve and I'm sitting in my
living room, with a bottle of wine and
a box of chocolates, watching the sun
disappearing behind Mt Luxmore. It's a
perfect hot summer's evening.
Suddenly I hear knocking and when I open
the door I see a guy with a backpack.
"Hi, my name is Nick. I hear you take
"I do, but usually people contact me first."
He is tall, with blond hair and a tidy goatie,
wearing shorts, tramping boots and a red
beanie. His rogue looks remind me of Brad
Pitt in "Thelma and Louise".
"May I come in?" he asks.
I can't fail to notice his well-muscled,
tanned legs covered in golden hairs
and a faultless six-pack glistening with
perspiration between his bag's shoulder
"OK", I open the door wider and move to the
side. "Come on in", I point to a chair and
offer him a glass of wine. "Where are you
"I'm from Norway. It's a nice place you have
"Thank you. What are you doing in New
"Well, I missed out on the registration for
the Kepler Challenge, so I thought I'd come
to New Zealand anyway and walk the Kepler
instead. I have pretty much walked the
length of New Zealand by now."
"Have you eaten?" I ask, going quickly in
my head over the contents of my fridge.
"I'm afraid I'm not prepared for visitors. My
fridge is almost empty."
"Don't worry, I've got some food. May I use
I watch bewildered as he pulls a trout from
his pack, cleans it and puts it in the oven.
Only then I notice a fishing rod attached to
the side of his pack. While the fish is baking
he prepares a salad from lettuce, spring
onions, radishes and herbs he finds in my
"Are you traveling alone?" I try to make
small talk watching him take over my
kitchen. He seems to find his way around it
"I started off with my friend, Rudi, but we
split up for this leg of my trip."
My eyes get bigger than the bottoms of the
wineglasses as he pulls two candles from
his pack and arranges them in a candle-
holder he picks up from the windowsill.
Soon the meal is ready; healthy and
delicious, and I'm totally impressed. As
we finish eating I get up and move in the
direction of the sink.
"It's only fair that I do the dishes since
you've cooked", I mumble.
"No way. You pour yourself another glass of
wine and I'll clean up."
I sit down dazed and watch his muscular
torso ripple as he works with his hands in
"What do you do for living back home?"
"I grow blueberries in summer and in winter
I do a bit of woodwork -- toys, small pieces
of furniture, things like that."
Good-looking, house-trained AND a handy-
man -- my head is spinning. I notice his
beautiful, strong hands. He comes up to me
and puts these hands on my shoulders.
"I took a massage course last year. You look
like you could do with a back rub," he says.
I feel too giddy to resist. Meanwhile it gets
"This feels nice," I sigh and rest my head
on top of my hands on the table. A feeling
of relaxed contentment spreads through
my body. My thinking becomes slow and
Nick from Norway... friend Rudi...
woodwork... toys...red beanie...
My mind is trying to make sense of the
mysterious visitor rapidly working his way
into my heart.
A ray of sunshine wakes me up a few hours
later. My face feels crumpled and I have a
hand imprint on my left cheek. A wineglass
and an empty bottle are on the table next
to a candle holder with two puddles of
solidified wax at its base. I wander around
an empty house thinking Where are you,
Then I look at the open fireplace and smile.
middle-aged and dateless
Could Christmas result in the perfect date for our middle-aged and dateless columnist?
Alina Suchanski ponders in this, the fourth instalment of her occasional series on finding
the perfect match.
Even though many people do not agree with
the tunnel, they do nothing to raise their
voice against it. In reality it means they
silently agree with the tunnel. But we have
to be seen and heard. I regard Fiordland as
a paradise which is not available in Europe,
where I come from. NZ's nearly untouched
nature was a reason why I settled down
here. If the tunnel goes ahead it creates
another average place -- accessible by
busloads but losing its soul and deterring
people who truly enjoy it. In the developed
world many people avoid such "so called"
progress, they seek real wilderness, the
last virgin places in the world. This world
and our nature is finite, not infinite as a few
businessmen regard it.
In the article "On the monorail trail"
(another battle) it was written: "...visitors
are spending hours on the road through
farmland..., hardly getting the experience..."
No wonder, national parks are here to
protect the last wilderness. The problem
is elsewhere -- many trips offered by tour
companies are substandard. They want
to earn money and spending time on
unpaid activities is inefficient. Queenstown
is established very well as a tourist
destination -- there are many activities
visitors can do in comparison to Te Anau.
Also being a travel agent myself, and
booking activities on behalf of our clients,
I get a bigger yield than in Te Anau. Money-
wise, as an agent, I should prefer to keep
my clients in Queenstown and if they want
to go to Milford Sound I would offer them a
one day return trip to Milford (which, being
condensed, brings me a good yield as well).
What does it mean for us? We should
give a message to all potential visitors
that Fiordland is more than a one day
affair and market ourselves as a single
destination with a wide variety of activities.
Internationally, we should promote
Fiordland individually (as Queenstown does)
-- I believe national tourism industry leaders
and politicians will not help us, current
infrastructure is working well for them and
Fiordland is outside of their square.
So what to do? Write a submission against
the tunnel, local tourism businesses should
jointly make an inventory of what they are
able to offer and present a long-term plan
how to market Fiordland. We need to be
patient, it will take years and a lot of effort.
If not we will remain a stopover on the way
to Milford (or, with the tunnel, not even
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Te Anau 9640
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