New Zealand’s Pompeii

POMS AWAY!

That breathtaking view is of Lake Tarawera. As I took that photograph, I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was, how much like paradise it looked. In 1886, it was the site of the most terrifying volcanic eruption in New Zealand’s human history.

Government Gardens Modern tourists admiring a steaming hot pool in Rotorua’s Government Gardens

Back then, Rotorua was just as much a tourist trap as it is today. People came from all over the world to see its geothermal marvels – the mud pools, the geysers, the “healing” waters – all while breathing in the magnificent smell of rotten eggs. Most spectacular of all were the Pink and White Terraces, revered as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The Pink and White Terraces were naturally formed bathing pools. They were tiered, flowing with warm, silica-rich water. From the paintings, photographs and written descriptions of delighted tourists that remain, we know they were…

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Last Night of the Poms: The Story of Our Move to New Zealand

POMS AWAY!

The streets of Edinburgh were strange. Alien. I felt disconnected from the world as we walked, hardly aware of my mum holding my hand. Something was wrong. They hadn’t said anything, my mum and dad, but my stomach was attacking itself in warning. That, and I was hungry.

Dad was on edge. Every time we crossed a road he glared left and right as though it was the city’s fault that he wasn’t where he needed to be. A conference, they’d said. ‘Daddy has to go to a conference.’ Apparently, he didn’t know how to get there. He’d started using car-words. (Words that only Daddy was allowed to say and only in the car.)

My little sister was oblivious to this developing turmoil. She kept running ahead and shouting, “PACHY!” – much to my mum’s embarrassment. (She didn’t realise she was being racist. Her imaginary friend was a pachycephalosaurus.)…

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Following in the Hobbit’s Hairy Footsteps

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I can’t wait to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the cinema. I’ve already got my ticket!

Dwarf Statue A dwarven statue at Auckland International Airport

Although it’s admittedly not as good as The Lord of the Rings, I still love The Hobbit, and to those that say it’s just more Lord of the Rings, I say GOOD. More Lord of the Rings is exactly what I want. The extended editions did little to slake my thirst.

I want more rich fantasy. I want more epic music. And most of all I want those sweeping shots of Middle-earth, each as beautiful as a painting.

I have to keep reminding myself that all of that fantastic scenery is real. It’s real and it’s on my doorstep. In fact I’ve been to a lot of it.

I remember when we were still living in England, when I was nine…

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Top 10 Most Brilliantly Insane New Zealanders

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Chances are you’ve heard the words ‘crazy’ and ‘Kiwi’ in the same sentence. This is because New Zealanders are insane.

No concern for personal safety, they throw themselves headlong into their obsessions, combining inherent ingenuity with mad optimism. Kiwis can conquer the world with a piece of number 8 wire, or so they enjoy telling themselves.

Reading this list of crazy kiwis, however, you might well believe it. The following 10 New Zealanders all displayed varying degrees of insanity – the brilliant kind of insanity – and have consequently left their mark upon on history:

1) Charles Upham

The life of Captain Charles Upham reads like an episode of Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns. Born in Christchurch in 1908, Upham received not one, but two Victoria Crosses for his actions during World War II – the only person on the planet to achieve this. Before the war, he worked as…

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