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The FAQ (part 5 of 6)
Section - C2 Cities Of New Zealand

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Top Document: The FAQ (part 5 of 6)
Previous Document: C1 Definition Of 'Kiwi'
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
WHANGAREI.  It's the gateway to the Bay of Islands, Whangarei Falls is
beautiful, it has excellent diving (Poor Knights), excellent fishing, a
fairly interesting Kauri museum near by (can't remember the name of it),
that clock museum (yawn)....  Golfing all year round.

AUCKLAND.  It's the biggest, it's hilly, it's got a motorway or two, no
water except what gets caught in rain barrels, Rob Hay's brother and his
family and a couple of his friends live there, it has more winebars and
cafe's than Chch - but not within walking distance of each other....

HAMILTON is smaller, messier, and wet.  Fast growing, vibrant, strong
University influence.  "It's a hole".

ROTORUA stinks!  It's quite nice but it still stinks.  :-)

GISBORNE fits in here somewhere...

NEW PLYMOUTH is sitting on the side of an 'extinct' volcano.

NAPIER/HASTINGS is where kiwifruit grow and the earth moved...

WANGANUI has a nice river, but no-one knows who owns it.

Mark Doherty offers:
Population about 80,000.  The city has (to me anyway) a distinctly
rural/parochial atmosphere which I kind of like.  It's VERY laid-back.
It's built (mostly anyway) on a regular grid plan - wide streets, low
traffic density and definately lowrise building.  Since the city is almost
entirely on a very flat plain, it's fairly compact for its population.

The town hosts a reasonable sized university, so nightlife is somewhat
more diverse than you might expect (it ain't Seattle or SF, tho'!).
People are friendly.
House prices are low, so is cost of living generally.
It's a great town for getting around by bike - flat as a griddle, plenty of
bike lanes and traffic density is SO LOW that last time I went there I
wondered where all the people were.
Easy access to outdoor lifestyle - hiking and hunting in the Ruahines and
Tarauas (little bitty mountains on the order of the Shenandoahs or
Smokies), canoeing on the Manawatu and Wanganui, hiking and skiing in the
central plateau (real mountains), horse riding etc - all within about an
hour or two's easy driving.
There is nothing even remotely resembling a US-style commute - you can live
(literally) in the country and drive to work in 10 minutes, or cycle to
work in half an hour (easy!).
Great Pubs!
Easy and relatively cheap internet access.

The weather is grotty.  Not really cold in winter, but grey and rainy.
Summers are often nice - long, dry and warm, but not really hot.
It is, when all is said and done, a provincial town.  I really enjoyed the
6 years I spent in Palmerston, but I would find it hard to go back now for
more tan a visit (those I always enjoy the hell out of!).  But then, I
wouldn't move to Kalamazoo either!

So there you go.  Not the place to move if you like bright lights, but a
good place if raising a family looms large in your agenda.

WELLINGTON is a tectonic nightmare.  Go there if you like politicians, wind
(oops, redundancy :-) and dangerous airports.  It's the capital of NZ.

NELSON is sunny and warm and a nice place to retire to (if you can afford
the house prices).

BLENHEIM is sunnier, warmer, and a great place to grow grapes (ask Montana).

WESTPORT is on the We[s]t Coast and is therefore wet.

GREYMOUTH is also on the We[s]t Coast and, being backed by higher hills is
wetter still.

HOKITIKA is a little drier because it's away from the hills.  No other
redeeming feature.

CHRISTCHURCH was founded in about 1845.  The older part of the city is laid
out on a grid system bounded by four avenues.  Other roads take you out to
the suburbs which started as separate villages and have now grown together.

Chch is the largest city in the South Island with a population of about
350,000 people.  It has a nearby port and an international airport.
Industry is a mixture of high tech (software, electronics design and
assembly) and agricultural oriented service and processing.  Tourism is
expanding and is important.

There are two universities, Canterbury (near town), and Lincoln (30 km out
of town) and lots of opportunity for recreation.  There are many parks in
the city and the CBD is experiencing an increase in nightlife.  Access to
the rest of the SI, and indeed the NI is excellent.

If you like golf, there are 42 courses available in Canterbury...

TIMARU is 160kms down the coast from Chch.  It's the other main port in
Canterbury.  My sysadmin is from there so I thought I'd better include it!

WANAKA is by Lake Wanaka in the Southern Alps and is a predominately
tourist and holiday centre.  Treble Cone and Cardrona skifields are near
by.  The Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow in April (usually in Easter weekend)
is an awesome show but unless you've booked accommodation you won't find
anywhere to stay within 100 kilometres - it'll probably attract about
50,000 visitors.  There's the MAZE in Wanaka if you like solving puzzles.
It is an excellent place to while the day away.

QUEENSTOWN is by Lake Wakatipu and is the main tourist trap of the NZ 'Lake
District'.  Coronet Peak and The Remarkables skifields are the main winter
attractions, bungying takes place all year round.

Richard Symonds gives us:
"I too recommend the Doubtful Sound trip (known as the Triple trip if you
take in the underground power station too - ever gone underground by bus
before?!) A few long trips (still under a day) I enjoyed as a kiwi tourist
in his own country:
- Dart River
- Nomad Safari's Skippers Canyon (you get to view bungee jumping)
- Nomad Safarils Macetown trip (over forty river crossings by landrover)
- Kawarau Jet, which was cheaper, longer, more fun and moe exciting than the
  Shotover Jet (which is a rip-off).  O.K.  the river is wider but they got
  closer to the edge.  It departs from the main town pier.
- The gondola and the film that shows in the building at the top.
"Its a couple of years since I last went to Queenstown so some of these
attractions might have changed."

Lin Nah offers (edited pretty hard):
There's Skippers Canyon.  Famous for the pipeline bungy (102m jump) but you
can take a safari trip there.  It is well worth it.  I did not do it but
paid $40 for an empty seat on the bungy bus.  They don't sell this till
just before the bus leaves.  You end up watching people jump off the bridge
but the scenery on the way was well worth it.

There's some concern about the safety record of the people who run the
white water rafting trips.  There has been quite a few fatalities there in
the last few years as well as a few major accidents.  The North and South
magazine in December 1995 did a feature on this.

You can actually use Queenstown as the base for your trips to Milford,
Wanaka, Arrowtown etc.  It is a very touristy town and is often alive when
other parts of NZ are asleep.  Many trekkers use it as the stockup and
information point before they head off for the various Milford tracks.

There's a trip to Milford Sound (details in section C3.1.5).  If you take
the one that goes overnight, on a good weather day it is definitely the
best value for money.  The rushed day trip that leaves at 7am from
Queenstown and returns at 7pm is not even half the price of the overnight
trip.  Not sure how they have time to make the number of stops we did.

There are some vineyards around Queenstown.

OAMARU is a really nice little rural centre of about 15K people.  Source of
the famous white limestone used in buildings.  It's in here mainly because
I was born there...

DUNEDIN is the second largest city in the SI but despite this, is a fairly
small city and the University is an important part of the place.  There is
a very strong Scots tradition.  During holidays, the place is pretty dead,
but during term time it is (in Richard Bowen's humble opinion :-) the most
sociable campus in the country.

The university is right next to the centre of town, and to the student
suburbs (or slums :-) so there is always a pub within staggering distance.
The vast majority of students are from out of town (most from the North
Island (?)), so they are there just as much to have an enjoyable time as to
learn.  Atmosphere is more casual than anywhere else, doesn't have the
snobbishness of Auckland, or the executive orientation of Victoria

As for the university itself, most universities in nz are pretty similar,
unlike overseas.  The Otago Med school is better than the Auckland one
though.  I don't know of any weaknesses.

Note that good flats are hard to come by in Dunedin, you might have to
start paying from the end of the previous year.

Lousy weather much of the time.

INVERCARGILL is at the bottom end of the SI and is cold even in the middle
of summer, except on hot days...  It rains lots and the Comalco aluminium
smelter is just down the road at Bluff (where the oysters used to come in).

Any other cities which *should* be included?  If so, post them *with* a
description.  Help filling out the cities above would be appreciated too!

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Next Document: C3 Holidaying In NZ

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