Friday, October 23, 2009

Look for me in Security!

So I'm off to America in two days. This will be my first time traveling with my new New Zealand Residency. I think that means a different queue upon my return to New Zealand, but not sure if it means anything going into America.

Anyway, a friend of my brother, who just happens to be a Kiwi apparently has said he would make it worth my while if I can bring back a few things for him and his wife. Apparently their bags were too full to bring back a few of their NZ favorites after their recent trip to their homeland. So I'm off to the New World after posting this to pick up cans, yes CANS, of Wattie's Tomato Sauce. They figure cans will get me through Customs, rather than plastic bottles. A bit apprehensive I am, but willing to give it a go.

So if I don't post anything in the next few weeks, please send someone to look for me in Security at the Los Angeles International Airport. And don't be surprised if I've eaten all the sauce by then. Which reminds me, I suppose I'd better pack a can opener as well ... just in case.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How filming affects New Zealand

The American TV show, The Bachelor, filmed in New Zealand last season. Part of this filming took place in Queenstown. As gorgeous as Queenstown is, they were able to showcase beautiful areas and made them look even more spectacular ... if that's even possible.

I'm pretty close to this industry now, having relationships with many involved in it. Ever since Lord of the Rings, filming has done so much for New Zealand's visibility worldwide, and therefore, its economy. Fortunately, it just continues to grow.

I think Tourism New Zealand does an incredible job of capitalizing on this as well. But then again, I think TNZ does a great job all around. The 100% Pure Campaign has been recognized as one of the best in the world and has been built the NZ brand over the past 10 years. But I love advertising, and I could go on and on about this.

In the meantime, here's a good article about how The Bachelor is providing visibility for New Zealand to the American market - Bachelor Back to Sing New Zealand's Praises

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lalomanu, Samoa

This was the view from the Taufua Beach Fales in Lalomanu, Samoa, where I attended the wedding of two new friends in June 2008. I've been wanting to blog about the recent earthquakes and tsunami that killed many in the Samoan Islands, but had no idea was to say about such a tragic event. Then after this terrible event, there were other natural disasters in Indonesia and the Philippines. It has been a terrible last few weeks for the South Pacific.

Samoa is a major holiday destination for many in New Zealand. After the events, there continue to be many stories of loss and devestation. The first-hand accounts of the waves hitting are amazing. Today I had lunch with my friend who was the bride at the wedding in June 2008. She and her husband have organized a group donation to go directly to the family who owned and operated the Taufua Beach Fales. Tai and Sili both made it through the disaster, though they both spent time in hospital. However, they lost 13 members of their family. The bride told me Sili's account of being hit by all three of the tsunami waves. He is very, very lucky to be alive.

Taufua Beach Fales no longer exists, and from all accounts, Lalomanu no longer looks anything like it does in the photo above. But to the credit of this one Samoan family, they plan to rebuild their resort and open again one year from now.

Daffodils & Tulips & Cake ... oh my!

I spend quite a bit of weekend time in Glenorchy, the township at the head of Lake Wakatipu, about a 45 minute drive from Queenstown. It's a different kind of place, even the locals from Queenstown will tell you that. Yet no one can quite explain why, so you're never sure if they mean it as a dig or a compliment. Either way is fine. It's a beautiful small community where you can totally relax.

Last weekend the town held a regular community event, the Glenorchy Flower Show. A $5.00 entrance fee got you into the town hall to view all the entries in all the multiple categories, plus afternoon tea. I was sold! (I love a good tea, and this one included various little sandwiches, a banana-like loaf, and pikelets with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Yummy!)

To my delight, there were also categories for photos, crafts and baking. There were 3 sub-categories in the photo and baking competitions - image of a rooster, image of a particular long-time Glenorchy local, and a kid's competion of an image of their school play area. The baking sub-categories included an iced chocolate cake (I thought I'd arrived in heaven till I found out that we couldn't actually taste them!), a Belgian biscuit and a scone.

The chocolate cakes ended up being auctioned after the awards were handed out. I was good and didn't bid. But I also didn't win the huge, gorgeous chocolate mousse cake that was raffled. Perhaps this was because before I could buy a ticket, they ran out. I couldn't even get a photo of the piece of art before someone pulled it away and rushed it off. The beautiful creation was made and donated by Grant, the owner & chef of the Glenorchy Cafe. It's a cool caf with great food! Though Grant is from Australia, I heard he studied pastry making in Austria. You know what that means!

Enough about the cake. The flowers were gorgeous. Who knew there were so many types of daffodils and tulips?! Certainly not I. It does make you want to submit some entries for the next show. Oooooo, or better yet, I'll volunteer to be a judge! Then I'll get some chocolate cake!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Everything is popping ....

Spring is really on us now in the South Island. Growing up in Southern California, I used to see photos of signs of Spring. These were obviously not taken anywhere near where I lived. I read this is in a book recently - Southern California has a climate. It doesn't have seasons. So I suppose I never really experienced what Spring means ... the blooms, the warmth, the sun, and the animals. Ah, the animals. Spring is gorgeous and so are the lovely things that come along with it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wellington - my "city fix"

Queenstown is not a big place, and I came to New Zealand from a city. A big city. So every now and then, I need that "city fix". I'd been wanting to go to Wellington, the country's capital, since I arrived in NZ. Mostly because I'd heard it was a cool city, similar to San Francisco, and seems to be the country's centre for technology, advertising and design. It's the home of WETA, which has been drawing comparisons to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in Northern California.

In September I had the opportunity to stay with some friends in Wellington - a Radio New Zealand personality, his wife and their kids. Soooo much fun and great people to sit down with for conversation over a glass (or more) of wine. From their lovely home, we moved to the Museum Hotel. This may sound weird, but I love nice hotel bathrooms. And the bathroom in my Museum Hotel room was gorgeous! It's a lovely hotel very central to the most popular areas most people want to see including the great Te Papa Museum.

If you only go into one museum in New Zealand, it should Te Papa. There's also a short cable car ride that you can access from one of the busiest shopping areas. It will take you up a hill past a university to the Botanical Gardens.

Wellington will definitely be a place I visit time and again. The only problem is that flying domestically in New Zealand is quite expensive - especially between Queenstown and Wellington. Recently, JetStar and Pacific Blue starting flying into NZ from Australia. I'm hoping that with this new competition, that the domestic airfares will drop in New Zealand.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bird Lovers - view rare NZ Kakapo!

New Zealand is known for its birds. Birds one doesn't find anywhere else on the planet. There's a huge story to tell here about how the introduction of possums, stoats, domestic cats and more have changed the land and the birdlife. Until I'm educated enough on the topic, I will refrain from writing further about it. In the meantime, I thought people would be interested in seeing this BBC footage of this gorgeous Kakapo. Incredible they are!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Kiwi Girl now" ...

... that is what they're saying since I received the call a week ago from Immigration New Zealand that my Residency application has been approved. Woohoo! I don't know about that as most Kiwi women I know have some qualities that haven't yet surfaced in me, but I'm on my way.

BNZ - "Pig Tales: The Beginning"

One of the important things about establishing myself in New Zealand was to open a bank account. There are a few large banks with locations in Queenstown. I chose to go with Bank of New Zealand. Like a friend of mine said about herself, I guess the piggies reeled me in as well.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cheeky ad causing controversy

The advert above was first emailed to me from a friend, the General Manager of a local luxury tourism property. I love advertising! However, I do have to admit that the ad raised my eyebrows. But that is what good advertising does, doesn't it? We are bombarded every day by all forms of media to the point of being overwhelmed, where some of us are becoming desensitized. So when an advert provokes an emotional response and makes us remember the instigator, hasn't it done its job?

Apparently, the design firm attempted to create an emailable viral campaign that delivered the message that its client (the restaurant) uses the best local suppliers and provide people with "a wee giggle".

Considering the facts that it was emailed to me, that there is a Facebook group around the restaurant, and that the advert has made local news, I'd say it has been effective. Oh, and by the way, the advert has since been changed. The woman and carrots have been replaced by a deer with "Grown Down South" stamped on its rump.