Rainbow’s End: A Somewhat Amusing Park

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When I first arrived in New Zealand, at the age of ten, I noticed that all the other kids in my new class would talk about a certain magical place of fun, a veritable beacon of childhood dreams. If your parents took you there in the holidays, it was a rare and coveted treat, and if your school took you there on a trip, well how lucky were you?

“What is this wondrous destination?” I would ask, and they would answer, in voices breathy with awe, “Rainbow’s End.”

rainbow's end 008It’s an amusement park. They say it’s New Zealand’s best theme park, which isn’t a difficult feat because it’s New Zealand’s only theme park. I couldn’t wait to go.

It’s in Manukau, and as, at the time, we lived in a small town just south of Auckland, it was easy for us to get to. I suppose if you’re in New Zealand…

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10 Awesome Places to Go Kayaking in New Zealand

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I love kayaking. It can be both relaxing and thrilling, depending on where you are and how fast you paddle. It can provide a workout and slow down time. It can give you a whole new perspective on some of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations.

I never went kayaking in Britain – too cold – but here my family actually owns a couple of kayaks. We live quite close to a gorgeous lake and even closer to the sea, so there are plenty of places to go.

I’ve been kayaking all around New Zealand. You can hire kayaks practically anywhere, and many places have guided tours, although I prefer going at my own pace and exploring. Listed below are ten places in New Zealand that I think are awesome for kayaking. You should check them out when you’re over here.

1) The Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds are located at…

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The Best Place to Go in Hamilton

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My family’s been to Hamilton lots since moving to New Zealand. It’s a nice city, despite the comments. (Kiwis think it’s boring. Young people call it Hamiltron, a nickname heaving with irony.)

UnicornThe Waikato River runs through it, there are a few nice restaurants, and it’s got a big, bronze statue of Richard O’Brien in full Rocky Horror costume, designed by Weta Workshop, because he used to live there. If that doesn’t make you want to visit Hamilton, here’s what used to be the official city slogan: Hamilton – more than you expect.

Seriously, though, you should visit.

The best place to go in ‘the Tron’ is the Hamilton Gardens. We go there every time. The gardens are impressive, varied and very beautiful. We rarely get round all of them in one go, but they’re free to enter, so you can go as often as you…

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New Zealand’s Funniest Bird

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You’ve probably heard of the Kea. Endemic to the South Island of New Zealand, it’s the world’s only alpine parrot. It’s endearingly curious and devilishly intelligent. It gets up to all kinds of mischief, from knocking over coffee cups to breaking into tourists’ cars.

Seriously.

I heard a story about some people who had a rental car or campervan or something somewhere in the South Island, and when they got back to where they’d parked they found a group of kea happily playing inside the vehicle, having peeled the rubber from around the windscreen until it fell inwards. So, you know, if you hire a campervan in the South Island, that’s something to watch out for.

Even if they don’t break in, they can snap off windscreen wipers and radio antennae.

And don’t leave your backpack unattended around them.

???????????????????????????????When my family were on our South Island campervan holiday

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McLaren Falls

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Just outside Tauranga, McLaren Falls Park is a beautiful place. You can feed the ducks and kayak on Lake McLaren, surrounded by stunning trees. You can walk around the lake – so peaceful, and the path’s of a decent length without being strenuous. You can camp there, and it’s got so many wonderful picnic sots – you’re spoilt for choice. Best of all, it’s got the waterfalls.

Last time I went, a few weeks ago, the waterfalls were quite disappointing because it had been a long, dry summer. It was a good chance, though, to see the interesting rock formations that would otherwise have been hidden by water. We scrambled over the rocks and went across the top of the falls. Here, various natural pools just beg you to swim in them. You have to take your togs.

(Oops. ‘Togs’ – that was very Kiwi of me. I meant…

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