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Posts from the ‘New Zealand’ Category


Coolest little capital in the world

Wellington, New Zealand was named “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet in 2011.  I was just in Wellington for a conference last week, and wanted to echo those sentiments.

A mix of old and new downtown

 The city is nestled tightly together on the narrow shoreline, although the city has long since overflowed into the hills and valleys around the central business district.  You can easily walk around central city, now repleat with a vibrant cafe culture and dynamic streets that ebb and flow with life.

Wellington CBD nestled around the harbour

While oft known as the Windy City due to the wicked winds that can blow up the harbour from Cook Straight, it’s more recently been given the moniker of ‘Wellywood’ for its central role as a technical powerhouse behind some of Hollywoods biggest hits.  However, the proposed copycat white sign on the airport hill has been controversial amongst residents (so is unlikely to proceed).  The picture on left was taken on a rainy day, although the sun came out on the third day of my visit – and provided a lovely blue sky which would have been a much better backdrop. As with any photo, it’s difficult to capture the 3D view from a spot such as this, let along the 4D atmosphere provided by the chattering people strolling past. 

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take more time away from work to enjoy the sights and sounds at towns, cities, and countries where you visit.  Some short breaks away from work will likely make you more productive, and also will help provide a little balance in your life.  Take time to stroll the Golden Mile (Lambton Quay and adjacent  streets) … and try to find Plimmer’s Ark (John Plimmer is considered the father of Wellington, and remnants of his boat were discovered under a bank during structural strengthening.)


Cuddle Class Travel

For those who can’t sleep on long airline flights, there is a solution.  Many of us have wished for a chance to lay down for a nap without having to pay 2-3 times the economy fare for one of those business class seat. It used to be possible back in the old days when flights were not jam-packed full – I can vividly remember the pleasure and comfort of having a whole row to myself (or the envy towards anyone else who won the gate agent lottery for a seat assignment like that).  Now, Air New Zealand offers ‘Sky Couch’ options (aka Cuddle Class), and this provides an opportunity for various seating configurations – all of which are more comfortable than a standard seat assignment.  On the 13 hour flight from LAX to AKL, my wife slept for the first seven hours … which is simply amazing since she can seldom sleep on a long flight.  She would have enjoyed stretching out for longer, except made the mistake of looking at our daughter and subsequently swapping seats with her.

Photo from:

The Sky Couch is a configuration whereby the seats are similar to Lazy-boy chairs, with footrests that come up to seat level (and fill the space where your legs would normally go).  When you do this for 2-3 of the seats, you have a nice wide flat surface where you can stretch out.  Each such row was provided two fluffy pillows and a duvet, so made for a significant improvement over the standard thin pillow and blanket. Additional seat belt components were provided for use in any of the various seating configurations (all very self explanatory once you got used to the idea).

On our flight, I remained seated on the aisle while my wife stretched out with her feet resting in my lap.  She also tried lying the other way, and said that both were quite comfortable.  Many other passengers on our flight seemed to follow this seating configuration, although several other options were clearly possible.  I stayed awake long enough to watch a few movies on what I would consider the most advanced entertainment system I’ve seen on any airplane flight (and I’ve flown extensively on several airlines in the past).

The following link takes you to the Air New Zealand site which further describes the Sky Couch concept:

In addition, here is an external and independent link to the Airline article which gave this revolutionary seat concept an “Awesome Medal”:

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take a long trip to the homeland of Air New Zealand, and pay the extra to travel in cuddle class … you’ll arrive more rested than otherwise, for a fraction of the cost of business class.  However, do stay awake long enough to enjoy at least one movie on the high-tech entertainment system.  This seating option is presently available between Auckland, Los Angeles and London.


Time to Move

As some may know, the Traveling Dad is moving home base from Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, to Christchurch, New Zealand.  I am taking a senior role in the infrastructure reconstruction following the significant earthquakes in that region since late 2010.  It is expected that I will actually have more time with my family, more time for blogging, and more time for family travel – instead of the significant amount of international travel that I have been doing for work over the last few years.  Today I thought I would simply offer a few thoughts about making an international move.

Loading a shipping container for the 8-10 week journey

– If it’s just you and your backpack, it’s fairly easy to pack and go (speaking from experience). An international move could be the greatest education you ever get, as it teaches you about yourself and about others.

– As a young couple without kids, it’s also relatively easy to make an international move … just make sure you’re both in agreement about making the adventure together.  Troubles will come, and flexibility is essential … but in the future you will probably remember those times as your greatest adventures. At this time in your life, you can probably sell everything you own and start again in the foreign land of your choice (it’s a lot cheaper than moving a bunch of furniture around the world).

Packing our house for an international move - best left to the professionals

– When you’re a family with children, an international move is a significant event.  This is what our family is doing at present.  Once the move is decided, there are many details to work through – too many to comprehensively cover today.  If a sea voyage is required, don’t trust the moving company that gives you a quote based on land costs (yes, we did get one).  I would also recommend taking the time to downsize, and ensure that you keep only the things that are most important such as – memorabilia, items of sentimental value, things that are “irreplaceable”, items that are expensive to replace in the new country, and items which will make your new place feel like “home”.

Please take the time to sign up for updates.  I’ve been asked by many people to write more about our various travels and activities, so hope to have more time with my new job.  Having traveled extensively, I believe I have enough material to write for a very long time.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Don’t be afraid to venture overseas – the world is much bigger than your country of origin.


World’s Friendliest Countries

This title may not mean much to you, unless your country made the list.  However, most people appreciate the pleasure of meeting friendly people during their travels instead of rude ones.  The following report makes for an interesting read:

This indicates that the friendliest countries are:
1. New Zealand
2. Australia
3. South Africa
4. Canada
5. United States

New Zealand Beach




2011 Rugby World Cup Event, New Zealand

In some parts of the world, the 2011 Rugby World Cup is the most significant sporting event for a span of four years, whereas in other regions the event will pass without notice.  My readers in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, and France will no doubt be aware that the tournament has just started (listed in likelihood of winning); although I suspect that people from the other 15 countries who qualified will also be watching with hopeful anticipation of a big upset.

To the purist, “rugby” conjures up a complex dance of shifting shadows that dynamically changes form in response to the situational whim of the opponent.  Strength, agility, speed, stamina, and strategy are all required by the 15 players who represent each team, with no time-outs or substitutions (other than when you’re done for the day).  The modern rugby game is really fast and furious, with pulsing action often sweeping from one end of the paddock to the other.

To those who are unaware, rugby is not a brutal game of fisticuffs and disorderly conduct.  “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, while rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen”, or so the witty quote says.  Despite the appearance, there is structure and intent behind each players actions, and where playing together as a “team” is essential for success.

The event runs from 9 Sept – 23 Oct, so you may have a difficult time finding flights and accommodation during that time.  However, try to watch a game while the best teams in the world are playing each other.  Please note that when rugby is added back to the Olympics, it will be the abbreviated Seven’s version of the game (7 players on each team, for 7 minutes in each half), quite different to the full-blown form of the game on display at the Rugby World Cup.

Dad’s Recommendation:
If you’ve never seen a game before then please watch at least one of the upcoming games – but it’s probably best if you have a look at the rules of the game first:  (Better still, have somebody over to explain it all.)