Jaw-dropping winner of the Kiwi version of London’s Carbunkle Cup (for the ugliest building in the UK) is right here in… yes in one of our prettiest centres, just keep reading…
Did I want to read a book about Christchurch?
I’d seen the destruction of the earthquakes, later vast expanses of nothingness and recently, steps of reconstruction. I’d watched John Campbell cover stories on television about it and each Saturday for the last five years I’d read all about it in The Press. (Maybe, thought I knew it.)
Once upon a time in Paradise, hotels and resorts sprung up like flowers in spring. The rulers of Paradise and international hotel chains smiled, “Paradise will be the new destination for our tourists.”
And so it was. Tourists flew in and experienced the pleasures of Paradise. But along the way, the wind changed direction and nearly twenty years later decayed and abandoned resorts dot the isles of Paradise.
In the light of December’s news, of the third death in 2015 in Mt Aspiring National Park within a two to three day walk of Makarora, it’s natural to ask why the Department of Conservation has closed its Makarora Information Centre this summer season. (DOC uses the words, unmanned decommissioned.)
You could miss Makarora on State Highway 6 between Haast Pass and the head of Lake Wanaka: a sprinkling of accommodation, the once ‘manned’ DOC information centre, a café and fuel pumps, a base for Siberia Experience trips and Wilkin River Jets and Southern Alps Air’s bright yellow Cessna.
When Freda Du Faur partied at The Hermitage in 1909, they moved the piano into the dining room, rolled back the rugs and everyone danced. By Christmas that summer, The Hermitage overflowed with mountaineers, adventurers and artists. One year later, Freda was the first woman to reach the summit Aoraki/Mt Cook.)
These days The Hermitage Hotel is more likely to see Asian bus tourists stretched back in chairs, ensconced in a 360 degree cinematic experience – viewing the night sky in its Digital Dome Planetarium: See the night sky like never before. Leave Earth. Fly to the edge of our galaxy and far beyond to the reaches of our known universe. So the promo goes.
Funny… it just didn’t seem like Greece. We’d been dazzled by the blue and white on Santorini, subdued by the mainland Greek’s grey and shades of olive and now Corfu looked like Greece’s bohemian cousin, in her green, orange and pink. But then maybe it was Corfu Town’s shabbiness, its charm and its palette of ochre that gave it the taste of Italy.