Come to Crystal Mountain, Charlie!

Way back in the mid-noughties, my generation became suddenly and inexplicably obsessed with a certain unicorn named Charlie. Charlie was a cynical soul who just wanted to sleep, but two younger unicorns badgered him into accompanying them to the mythical Candy Mountain.

“Candy Mountain, Charlie!” came their simpering, sing-song cry. “Candy Mountain!”

It turned out it was all a ploy to steal Charlie’s kidney.

The irreverent fairy tale resonated with Millennials everywhere. Some of us quote it to this day, to the confusion of our elders.

Why?

Umm… we just do. It’s kind of funny. Thus, every time my fiancé and I drive past the sign for Crystal Mountain in West Auckland, it’s hard for us not to cry, “Chaaar-lieee!”

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At the gates of Crystal Mountain

“We’ll have to actually go there one day,” I added, a few years ago.

“I went when I was a kid,” Tim replied, focussed on the road.

“What was it like?” I asked.

“There were crystals.”

“Oh, really?” I joked. “Were there crystals at Crystal Mountain, Charlie? Did a magical liopleurodon tell you the way, Charlie? Chaaar-lieee!”

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago. Once again, we were driving past the Crystal Mountain sign, but this time, we had our flatmate, Ems, with us. Now Ems is… how to put this delicately? Her bedroom is so full of crystal energy you have to beat it back with a stick. An incense stick. We couldn’t not go now!

So, we went. Most of these photos are Ems’s.

Now, understandably, I was expecting Crystal Mountain to be a glorified crystal shop, and it did indeed have one – an enormous one – but it also had a rollercoaster – a small, lonely rollercoaster that looked more than a little old and dodgy – and dinosaurs. In fact, there was a whole animal park with things for children to ride on, but we didn’t experience any of that. We headed straight for the main building, which housed the shop, café and an underground crystal museum.

The entrance was flanked by real crystal monoliths. Ems made me take a photo of her hugging one.

“I want to get married here,” she said.

“Does Grant know you two are getting married?” Tim asked, jokingly, as I quipped, “Who to? Grant or the crystal?”

The crystal museum was quite cool. We took an almost eerie elevator ride down into what was basically a crystal-encrusted bunker. There were some epic specimens, including a fossilised T. rex head. Ems could identify most of the crystals without reading the signs. She was in heaven. If you’re not into crystals, $8 might seem a bit over-priced to visit the small museum, but if you are – or if you have children that are into dinosaurs and fossils – I recommend going.

As for the animal park bit… well, I only saw it from the outside, but it looked, frankly, lame – especially at $88 for family pass! (Oh, and you have to pay for rides individually on top of that.) As well as the aforementioned rollercoaster, the rides include a tractor and a train that isn’t on a track. Let’s just say I’m sceptical.

Ems said the crystals in the shop were very reasonably priced, though.

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