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Blackball, New Zealand: They won't make them like this anymore

Blackball, New Zealand: They won't make them like this anymore

In small-town Blackball the locals have a saying: “Blackball, the centre of the universe . . . the part where nothing moves”. It helps to have a sense of humour when you live in the centre of a silent universe. These days Blackball, less than half an hour inland from Greymouth, can only boast five major buildings other than...

Looking at Ourselves: the film New Zealand, in cinemas now

Looking at Ourselves: the film New Zealand, in cinemas now

I honestly thought that the new Keanu film The Day The Earth Stood Still was the worst movie I had seen in decades, then last night we saw Australia. Far be it from me to be a spoiler -- and please go see it, if you must -- but we thought it the most trite, sentimental, predictable, cornball, overblown epic ever. And I've seen some...

Denniston, West Coast, New Zealand: Damned and damp

Denniston, West Coast, New Zealand: Damned and damp

The weather was perfect: fiercely cold, low mist and a chilling drizzle. This is ideal when you are at Denniston, because only in such miserable conditions can you get some small appreciation of what life must have been like here a century ago. At 600 metres above sea level and with the coast barely visible through the rolling mist, this former...

Queenstown, New Zealand: And the Dream Goes On

Queenstown, New Zealand: And the Dream Goes On

Nine months ago my life wasn't like this. Everything was different. Then, the hard white sun would melt the early morning cool and the air would thicken with the smell of decaying jungle vegetation. On the cracked pavement of the town's only main street women would squat in doorways avoiding the equatorial heat as they sold their meagre...

Ross, South Island of New Zealand: Home is where the hearth is

Ross, South Island of New Zealand: Home is where the hearth is

Good historic hotels are getting harder to find. Increasingly the elderly pubs of the nation are being gentrified and scrubbed clean. Their walls are being painted up nice, a colour consultant is hired, and the big boys move in and take what was once the character of the place and reshape it into something more . . . marketable? The history...

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