Hunt for the Wilderpeople (dir. Taika Waititi) 2016

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the antithesis of a Hollywood movie. It feels home made and local, but that is exactly what it sets out to do. This film makes a point of being unsophisticated. It is set in New Zealand, it has New Zealanders as characters and it shows a New Zealand ethic to the world.

It is a rough film with a warm heart, about a grumpy old man and a juvenile misfit who don’t understand each other at first, but who look after each other’s welfare when needed. Taika Waititi, the director, has a deft hand at showing characters expressing care without using soft words. True affection here is shown by honesty with humour.

It is not a perfect film, but it doesn’t try to be perfect, and that is part of its charm. This film revels in the rebellious; all the main roles are outsiders and happy that way. It is a strange mixture of rural realism and wild fantasy. Some of the characters, especially the baddies are comic book caricature. It is chock full of great lines and the good characters are well defined and warm. Sam Neill is good as Hec, and Julian Dennison is excellent as Ricky. There are also a few, beautifully quirky, cameos.

The scenery is, unsurprisingly, amazing; it is set in outback New Zealand, it is part travelogue, reminding the world why they should want to visit.  The soundtrack is unusual and endearing, the birthday song is surprising and funny. It is lovely to see a film that manages to blindside you, and I hope the success of this one results in more of this type of film being made.

Hobbiton, North Island, New Zealand


Unsurprisingly photogenic!


 This is a well organised tour, the sets look just as they do in the films. You will leave this day with many great photos. We booked by phone in advance because the site says that it is often difficult to get tickets if they turn up at the shires rest. As it happens there were people managing to get tickets on the day as they arrived while we were there and this was on a bank holiday weekend.


 The beer and the cider in the Green Dragon are good too!


Thoroughly recommended.

Whale Watch, Kaikoura

 This isn’t the cheapest of the many tours in Kaikoura, but we enjoyed it and found it to be good value for money.

We liked the fact that if you don’t see a whale, they will refund 80% of the ticket. We reckoned that meant they must be pretty confident and indeed it turned out be the case.

We saw a sperm whale very close, and many many dolphins, also albatross. The guides were witty and informative. They do warn about seasickness and there were some who were but I recommend this trip heartily.

  
  
   

The Rose Garden, Queens Park, Invercargill

We visited the rose garden on 24th January.


The end of January must surely be the best time of year to visit here.


It was full of colour and perfume, from stunning arches of cascading blooms,


To individual beautiful roses…..


Old Port,



City of Invercargill,


Raspberry Ice,


Summer Dream,


Lemon Honey,


Minehaha,


Pink Sun Rose


Paola,


Eldorado.



  I honestly think that this is the most beautiful Rose garden that I have ever visited.

  

Miles better pies, Te Anu, South Island, New Zealand

The quality and choice of pies in this shop is excellent. They are fresh home made and have lots of filling. We had the lamb mince and cheese, and the vegetable both of us agreed they were the best pies we’d had in ages. The perfect reward for finishing the Kepler Trail!Be aware though, that the milk shakes are made with milk and a fruit syrup, so not as thick as you might expect if you are used to them made with fresh fruit.

However, it is a pie shop and the pies are spectacular!

Fox Glacier, South Island, New Zealand

This will never look the same on different days, today the low cloud cover gave it a brooding dark appearance. I’m told it can seem brilliant and shiny when in direct sunlight.

The closest view is about a thirty minute walk each way from the car park. This will be different in different seasons and dependent on the weather. It is not an easy walk; quite steep and lots of loose scree. However it is not without attractions; through the steep cliffs that the glacier has carved out over the centuries.

Glaciers are not pretty things, looking dirty and rough, but one can’t help but be in awe of something that can clear mountains out its way. It is also interesting to see how much it has receded since 1750.


  

Trans Alpine Express, Christchurch to Greymouth 

Today we took the Trans Alpine Express from Christchurch to Greymouth. It leaves at 8.15 am each day and takes a little under 5 hours. It was a dull, grey, rainy day and still the views were spectacular. On gorgeous sunny days I can only imagine that they will be even better.

The seats are comfortable and the carriages bright. The windows curve round the edge of the roof to let in extra light. There is a commentary that talks you through the history of the train line and there are two carriages that have open sides to allow better photographs.

A kia came and sat on the engine while we stopped at Adams Peak.

Greymouth is about a two hour drive from Franz Joseph glacier and there are coaches that meet the train. We hired a car.