Journey to Tokyo

I took the train up from Wellington to Auckland on Saturday which was pretty good and the train left early on Saturday morning for it’s journey first along the coast and then through the mountains. Unfortunately the windows are far too shiny to really get a good photo and there is too much pollen on the viewing platform for me. We did stop at lunchtime which gave me a chance for a quick walk as I’d already had some sandwiches on the train.

We arrived into Auckland in the evening (though 1.5 hours late which I wasn’t at all happy about – the reason was that the track was too hot.) and once there I went to sleep before my early 7.30am flight to Brisbane. For this flight I got up at 4.25am which is ungodly and then as the airport bus was early (4:40 not 4:44 as it was supposed to be.) I had to run up a 1:4 hill to catch it before collapsing on the floor of the bus (you try it with a 18kg rucksack – I’m not in the army.). I did manage to get a shower at the airport in Auckland. The flight was uneventful except that I had to run for my plane at Brisbane and JALWAYS gave us lots of food and drink though the films were all absolutely terrible. The best one was about a playboy bunny and solority houses and I’m not even kidding. It was also followed by the worlds longest taxi into the airport.

After that I made my way through the friendly and efficient security checks (the other airport staff and people around the airport were friendly too – male and female :p) to get my Japan Rail Pass and train ticket to Shinjuku station. I should also mention how insanely reliable the Japanese trains are. The 18:10 rapid train that I didn’t catch shut it’s doors at 18:09:5x but was still standing in the station when my iPod touch went over to 18:10:00. The track is also insanely smooth as it’s dark outside it doesn’t feel like the train is actually moving at all, ok it had stopped but I hadn’t noticed.

Further on on the journey we passed houses with garish Christmas lights though in general Tokyo is a lot darker with far fewer lights visible than in a Western city. The centre is still very bright though.

The other thing I’m immediately interested in discovering aside from the general culture is the technology. Japan has a reputation of being the most technologically advanced country on the planet, yet most of the most successful companies for 100 years have been American; from IBM to Microsoft to Apple and Google today.

Auckland

I have been in Auckland for a few days now. I arrived on Monday evening and then had dinner with my family who live in Auckland. On Tuesday I went into the centre of town on my own to do some shopping and other chores. After that I headed to the excellent Auckland Museum, it was interrupted by a fire alarm – my view on these things is once you get outside if there isn’t smoke pouring out of the building it is fine, but of course they had to call the fire brigade to check it out properly. The museum had a lot of stuff on Auckland and the Maoris and the polynesians in general as well as a Volcano exhibit.

The following day we went to a nearby beach and walked around before returning to the joys of planning my trip around New Zealand, first I’m heading north towards the bay of islands before going to Rotorua and then onto Wellington in the North Island, then on the south island I’ll head towards Christchurch to catch the train through the mountains and then head to Queenstown and Milford Sounds in the south.

Then on Thursday I had an epic day as first I headed to the nearby Rangitoto where I climbed to the top and looked out over a nice (but not as good as Easter Island) crater. After that I explored some really good lava tunnels, which are apparently formed when the lava solidifies at the surface first and then the still liquid lava in the tunnel retreats back down into the earth again. After that I just had enough time to catch the boat so they time that very well!

After a quick sandwich (and cake and fruit as I was hungry) in town I headed to the Maritime Museum which had more stuff on polynesian shipping which was very interesting before heading up one tree hill and another hill for views of the city. We also saw a container ship just leaving, what impressed me was the sheer size of the thing which completely dwarved everything around it.

Tonight I’m packing and heading north from Auckland for a few days.

Arrived in New Zealand

I’ve just flown into New Zealand, the flight was fairly uneventful and I saw Mamma Mia the film on the flight. The food was also OK. I’m now staying with some family in Auckland.