I’m just back from a round-the world trip where I stopped for book promotion and research in Cape Town, Sydney, New Zealand and, en route home, LA.
Went to Auckland and Hamilton in NZ where I’ve been before then to South Island, Queenstown and Christchuch and loved it there. Great restaurants and incredibly friendly people – and spectacular scenery. Drove from Queenstown to Christchurch – five and a half hours and for the first four of them you are driving through spectacular mountainous scenery and you can go ten mins without seeing another vehicle!
We flew from Queenstown to Milton Sound, the famous fjord, pictured below, where some of Lord Of The Rings was filmed.
I love Australia but there is always the nagging feeling that you are about to get bitten by a spider, eaten by a shark or a saltwater crocodile or stung to death by a jellyfish there. Apparently, of the ten most poisonous species of spider in the world, all ten reside in Australia! The New Zealanders are fond of telling you that – and that there are no poisonous insects or snakes or any dangerous creatures anywhere in New Zealand. But they forget to tell you about the Bat-Winged Cannibal Fly, pictured below. Now you seriously would not want one of those in your soup!!!
But… on the subject of food, we ate in some fab restaurants on the trip. Truly memorable were Rockpool (best steak of my life) in Sydney , Wai in Queenstown (best oysters ever) and The Bunker restaurant in Queenstown – terrific food and ambience. Additionally, we stayed in three memorable hotels – I’m very, very fussy about my hotels. The Sofitel in Queenstown was quite superlative in every way, The George in Christchurch was a real surprise – hip, modern, superb in every way and the friendliest and most efficient staff I’ve ever come across. The third was the curiously named Sebel Suites in Auckland – bang on the buzzy waterfront, where you want to be, again, hip, modern, very delightful and stunning views over the yacht basin.
Milton Sound – a fjord that goes into the open sea. Where some of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was film – sometimes the scenery altered digitally – but not in this pic!!!
Erm, g’day, you the skipper?
Another of Milton Sound’s quite stunning views
Our delightful friend, US Urologist Harvey Mannes, poses to show scale with the Bat-Winged Cannibal Fly. Fortunately, his equally delightful wife, Eve, is not inside one of the creatures…
Cannibal Fly closeup. Before you go “yech” I’ll remind you of a conversation I heard on a lawn outside Sussex University a few years ago. Two crusty old dons were peering down at a half-eaten thrush lying in the grass. One said to the other: “Well, of course, old boy, if it wasn’t for flies, the whole of England would be knee-deep in dead birds.”
History of the Bat-Winged Cannibal Fly
Some of the scenery we flew over en-route to Milton Sound
That “top-of-the-morning” feeling!