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OUR "SUMMER" VACATION (January 8th to January 27th, 2002) Patricia and I joined four other couples on a 14 day cruise aboard the Regal Princess leaving Auckland, New Zealand on January 10th, visiting six ports in that country and two in Australia before disembarking in Sydney for a three day stay prior to our return home. This travelogue is designed to answer at least some of the questions we've been asked about our trip. I'm sure you will surmise soon enough that we loved the places we visited and hope to go back some day soon.

Our traveling companions were John and Mary Ellen Mohler veterans of many trips with us from St. Petersburg to Istanbul and from Alaska to Cape Horn; Bob and Patty Misen with whom we previously enjoyed Japan and South America; Don and Mary Ann Sadon who were along on the same tour we took last spring to Holland and Belgium plus Steve and Jean Bisset, friends of the Mohlers who were our "Rookies."

OUR ITINERARY By starting the cruise on the New Zealand end we saved ourselves a bit of jet lag as the time of day there is only three hours different than the time in L.A. Of course it is a day later, so the official time difference is 21 hours, but your internal clock will never realize you lost a day in route. I always thought New Zealand was South of (or under) Australia, it's not, it's East, two time zones east of Sydney, which is about the same latitude as Auckland.

From Auckland the ship sailed to "The Bay of Isles" near the northern tip of the "North Island" where we visited a lovely harbor, home of more than 100 islands anchoring near the little town of Paihia. Here I got my first lesson in English as spoken in New Zealand.

"How do you pronounce the name of this town?" I asked the young lady who sold me postcards. "Pie-HE-ah" she said. I repeated her pronunciation as best I could. "Yes," she said, "It's "Pie", like the pie you eat and "HE-ah" as in "Come ovah heah".

While in Paihia we took a ferry to visit the historic town of Russell, first capital of New Zealand. We were told that on New Years Eve (early summer in New Zealand) the town swells to three times its normal population as all the local Beds and Breakfasts fill to capacity. Our guide told us that the night before we arrived the community had experienced its first ever incident of graffiti in a public place. "Must have been some ruffian from Auckland up here on holiday", she harumphed.

Our second port was Tauranga pronounced "Tare-ah-RONGA" by our New Zealand guide. Here we visited a Maori Village and drove along a beautiful white sand beach on a peninsula reminiscent of the Balboa Peninsula - ocean on one side and the harbor on the other. A tropical summer resort (the average year-round temperature is about 70F) the beach was swarming with bathers even though it was threatening rain. We were told you can purchase a high rise beachfront condo for about $200,000 U.S. More on that later.

Next, we stopped in Wellington on the southern most tip of the North Island. Wellington became the capital of New Zealand in 1866 when the South Island threatened to secede from the country because Russell was too "far" north. Wellington, we are told, is always windy and is likened to San Francisco because it is so beautiful, hilly and subject to earthquakes, which number about 200 a year according to Ralph, our guide, who assured us that most were below the level of awareness.

Wellington also sports a brand new supermarket that has become the "in" place for Singles, according to Ralph. On Tuesday nights (and no other) Singles go to the market to check each other out. If you are looking for a partner, you place a hand of bananas, fingers skyward, in the upper portion of your basket. Before you finish your shopping you will be joined by someone willing to buy your groceries. I don't have a clue as to whether Ralph was "pulling our leg" about this. I wouldn't put it past him, so don't blame me if you try it and it doesn't work.

Ralph took us to see the Parliament building. Standing guard in front of the building is a statue of the Prime Minister who signed the legislation giving the right to vote to Kiwi women. Shortly thereafter they voted him out of office. That's gratitude for you.

"How many members of Parliament are there?" I asked Ralph.

"Too many," he said without a moment's hesitation.

Next, we visited Christchurch, the most British of New Zealand's cities and the only one not on the water. It is separated from it's port, Littleton, by a coastal mountain and can be reached by way of a scenic highway over the mountain or through a two kilometer tunnel bored through the middle of it. The town was founded by pilgrims who qualified for free transportation to the colony simply by being members of the Anglican Church. The city is named for the church Queen Victoria herself attended. There is even an "Avon" river bisecting the town. It's a lovely city.

While on the inevitable shopping tour of downtown Christchurch, four of the men in our group found park benches on which to wait for the women who were intent on scouting out treasures to bring home. We philosophized on why men don't seem to enjoy shopping as much as women do. John Mohler opined that it was a cultural thing going back to the days of "Hunters and Gatherers". Men had short bursts of energy to capture dinner, then sat around and talked about their exploits, according to John, while women were on the move constantly seeking edible roots and berries. We suggested this theory to the women when they returned with bundles for us to carry. They said in their opinion "men are just lazy." I like John's theory better.

Our final New Zealand port was Dunedin, the most Scottish of New Zealand cities at the Southern most tip of the South Island. It is the oldest major city in New Zealand, founded in 1848, and more than 80% of the early settlers were Scots.

By the time we arrived in Dunedin we were starved for NFL news (the guys were, anyway). On shipboard your only news comes from CNN International, which is very anti-American indeed. The only American news that rated full coverage was the transportation of Al Qeda prisoners to Guantanimo, then taking place, and the opinion of every "Talking Head" seemed to be that WE were violating "Human Rights". Sports news was confined a time slot when none of us were in our cabins.

In Dunedin I located an "Internet Store" where for a dollar (NZ) I could tap into NFL.COM for the scores of the playoff games on the previous day. There were computers available on the ship you could rent by the hour and in this way Bob Misen kept up with his stocks and his e-mail.

We then toured "Fjordland" National Park as the ship navigated several fjords home to many spectacular waterfalls from melting glaciers high in the "Southern Alps" of the South Island.

After two westward days at sea, we arrived in Hobart, on Australia's island state of Tasmania. A beautiful harbor and quaint shops now occupy space originally settled by convicts and their overseers. Most stores were closed because it was Sunday and some of our fellow travelers elected to visit the Wild Animal Park where Tasmanian Devils were close enough to touch. These nasty characters have jaws nine times more powerful than a Pit Bull and can break the leg of a horse with a single bite. One hopes they're on the "Endangered Species" list.

The rest of us toured Salamanca Market shopping district, but most of our souvenirs were purchased in huge barnlike structure called "The Shed" adjacent to the ship's dock.

Another day at sea brought us to Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria and the first really "big" city we visited. Here the Misens left the ship to travel to the home of friends who live outside of Melbourne. Here's a travel tip: if you leave a ship early, be prepared for the customs agents to search your bags from top to bottom. If you are the only one departing, they have plenty of spare time to search your bags. When the rest of our group disembarked two days later in Sydney along with 1600 of our fellow passengers, no one paid any attention to our luggage.

We were urged to visit "Victoria Market" which turned out to be a Farmer's Market/Flea Market combination open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Next we visited the "South Bank" shopping area along the river and visited Melbourne's brand new Casino.

Melbourne reminded Patty and me of Los Angeles. Many suburbs, no real downtown, porn shops next to fast food places, you get the idea. But, it was raining the day we were there and we had to dash between awnings to keep from getting drenched, so, maybe our opinion would have been more favorable had we been able to stroll.

After another day at sea we arrived in Sydney. I had heard about the beauty of Sydney Harbour, but we were truly dazzled. Our hotel, the Regent, was located within walking distance of the famous Sydney Opera House and our room afforded us a view of that magnificent structure as well as the Harbour Bridge.

A two-hour "Harbour tour" by ferry is a must. Lined with homes and beaches, populated by endless sailboats, Sydney Harbour lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful harbor in the world. During the Harbour Cruise you can get off at the Opera House, the Zoo, the Aquarium or at Watson's Bay resort. After spending two hours at any of these, you simply get on the next tour boat at no extra charge. We passed one beautiful beach protected by netting called "Shark's Beach." With typical Aussie understatement, our guide told us there "hasn't been a shark attack there since October." It seems the Harbour is full of sharks drawn by the many fish processing facilities along the banks. You won't see many water skiers.

By sheer chance, we were in Sydney for their Independence Day, "Australia Day," January 26th. "Sydney-siders", as Sydney residents prefer to be known, come to "Circular Quay" (the historic area near the Opera House) to watch "Ferry Races," "Tug Boat Olympics," and sailboat parades, then go to the fireworks at Darling Harbour.

We shopped in the Pitt Street open air mall and in a beautiful old building converted into specialty shops called the "Victoria Building" where we finally found those treasures we had been looking for the whole trip.

A BIT OF HISTORY The Maoris, a Polynesian people, arrived in New Zealand in canoes eight or nine hundred years ago. Any indigenous aboriginal people were wiped out by the Maoris who were a pretty fierce folk and by the time Captain Cook first "discovered" New Zealand the Maoris were quite capable of defending themselves. Try as they might the English settlers never conquered them and in 1840 the British Crown and the Maoris signed a famous peace treaty that's in effect today.

We visited a Maori village while in Tauranga. If you have seen Maori totems you know they often feature a warrior with his tongue hanging down to his chin in a particularly fierce grimace. When you visit a village, there is a ritual you will follow involving a young man from the village who will come out to greet you by growling to show you how tough he is and how much danger faces you if you misbehave. He will stick out his tongue touching his chin in the ancient manner, which to the original Maoris (suspected of being cannibals), probably said "You look pretty tasty, and if you're not careful you will be lunch."

This fierce display is followed by speech making. Our Maori Chief, who had spent 5 years in Truckee, California, made a very touching speech about the terrorist attacks of September 11th and how many travelers subsequently cancelled their plans. "I know you are making a statement just by being here," he said, "and we want you to know how much we (the Maoris) appreciate it." Finally, a ceremony is held during which everyone touches noses.

For years Maoris tried to assimilate into New Zealand culture, but now many are returning to their villages to tend their ancestral farms, and are again living off the land. Nearly everyone living is a Maori village is related to one another - women refer to all older women as "Auntie".

During the speechmaking in an open-air courtyard at our Maori Village, we were constantly interrupted by a loud and raucous bird high in a nearby tree. The Chief referred to the bird as "Uncle David". Then told us the story of the real Uncle David, a village elder skilled at speaking to visitors, who had died some 18 months before. Shortly thereafter, the loud bird showed up in their tree every time they had visitors to compete with the speakers on the ground. They are convinced that the bird is Uncle David, reincarnated, putting in his two cents worth.

In Australia the aborigines were a stone-age people thought to have arrived by land bridge, since any form of water travel is completely foreign to them. England established the first penal colony, in Botany Bay, near Sydney, in 1780 shortly after the American War for Independence deprived them of a place to ship their prisoners.

Most of the prisoners sent to Australia were petty thieves sentenced to "7 years of transportation" for stealing a scarf or a beefsteak. More serious criminals, murderers, rapists, horse thieves and the like, were routinely hanged in "Merry Olde England." Prostitutes were never shipped to Australia for being prostitutes, since the world's oldest profession wasn't a crime in Pre-Victorian England. After serving their time, most prisoners stayed in Australia, since they had no means of getting back to England. Today you will meet Australians of Irish descent who proudly tell you their ancestors were sentenced to "Transportation" for insurrection against the British. But, in general it is a good idea not to bring up the "convict" past to your Australian host, or you're likely to reduce the room temperature several degrees.

New Zealanders, on the other hand, are only too happy to talk about Australia's past and brag that no prisoners were sent to New Zealand. What they don't tell you is New Zealand is the place Australian prisoners went when they escaped.

TWO BOOKS TO READ Here are a couple of books you will enjoy before going to Australia. Robert Hughes "The Fatal Shore" is the definitive account of the period in Australian history when prisoners were sent to New South Wales, Tasmania and later, to Western Australia. The great and funny travel writer Bill Bryson has also written a wonderful book, "In a Sun Burned Country" which is not to be missed. Both of these are available on Amazon or

AND A WEBSITE: If you plan to travel to Australia there are many websites to help you. My favorite is the site for the Sydney Morning Herald, (, which I checked out every day for a couple of weeks before the trip because we were worried about the "Bush Fires" that had plagued the area since "Black Christmas". We followed the heroic efforts of the thousands of Australian volunteers who fought the fires on a daily basis. Lucky for us, the weather changed and the fires were extinguished before we arrived.

The Herald's Website was also helpful in getting a long-term weather forecast for our trip and to check out local dining and entertainment. One day the "Food" section was devoted to the opening of the first "Outback Steakhouse" franchise in Sydney which attracted standing room only crowds of Australians anxious to see what "American-Australian" food would be like.

THEY SPEAK THE LANGUAGE For a very long time in my life I couldn't distinguish between English as spoken in England and English as spoken in other English speaking countries outside North America. Many is the time I have insulted an Australian or South African by asking if they were British. Naturally, an Australian can always tell if a person is from Perth or Hobart or New Zealand, just as we can tell a person is from Brooklyn or from the Deep South. It's still difficult for me, but I think I can now at least tell an Australian from a New Zealander. Much of it is in the idiom.

As a general rule, New Zealanders tend toward the British and Australians tend toward the American. New Zealand is divided into "Provinces," for example, while Australia is divided into "States." A Pharmacy is a Pharmacy in Sydney, but it's a Chemist Shop in Christchurch. New Zealanders speak more slowly and will tend to use more words rather than less. An Australian tour guide would never have said, "We hope you enjoy your stay Down Underneath" as our guide in Christchurch did. He would more likely say, "Welcome Down Under."

In Christchurch, my Patricia found a ceramic chicken in a department store that she fancied. "You like the "heen"? (Rhymes with seen) asked the clerk. "No," said Pat, "but I like this chicken". The clerk called over her supervisor to explain this chicken was a hen, pronounced "heen" in New Zealand.

In New Zealand a "Café" is pronounced "Caf" as though there were no "E" at all. But an "Arcade" is pronounced "Arcadie" to rhyme with Sadie. In Australia they will add an "ie" to the end of almost any word or name to make it more familiar.

Contrary to popular opinion, "G-Day, Mate" was not on the lips of everyone who served us in Australia. "G-Day" is a common polite way of greeting, but "Mate" is reserved for friends or at least people with whom you are well acquainted. You'll be thought of as pushy or ill informed if you use the expression with Australians who are strangers to you.

An Australian will say "I'll give it a look" or "I'll give it a taste." A New Zealander will add a "bit" to it and say, "Give it a bit of a look." When asked if he had any recommendations for a restaurant in Wellington Ralph, our tour guide, couldn't think of one off hand, but, said, "I'll give it a bit of a think."

In Dunedin, on New Zealand's South Island, our tour guide was asked if an early resident of the city might have used a calling card. She didn't say "maybe" or "perhaps," she said, "he may have done."

In Christchurch we were told, "There are 3.4 million people in New Zealand and 16 million sheep." They're quite proud of their clean air and rural atmosphere, and rightly so. It's beautiful.

But, in Australia they can't help thinking of a Kiwi as a "Bit of a hick."

I attended a meeting of the Sydney Cove Rotary Club two days before we left. The program that day featured exchange students from a school for the deaf in Sydney who had been sent to live with the parents of deaf children in Canada for a year while the Canadian deaf teenagers came to Sydney. All of this was funded by Rotary.

Speaking in sign language through an interpreter, the Canadian student told us that she couldn't understand Australian sign language when she first arrived. I was surprised because I had always thought sign language was universal, so, I asked about it during their Q & A session. She explained that deaf teenagers, like all kids, develop jargon and idiom in their sign language to make it difficult for adults to understand.

She had no problem understanding the signing of her teachers and host family - it was other kids with whom she had to learn to communicate. She went on to say that when she went to Auckland for a short vacation she found significant differences between Australian sign language and New Zealand sign language. The Australian Rotarians in the audience thought this was enormously funny and she was interrupted for a good minute while every one (but me) had a good belly laugh.

I asked my host after the meeting why they thought this was so funny. He said it was difficult to explain, but, Australians look down on New Zealanders as being backward and "I suppose, it's like one of your Polish jokes."

One interesting sidelight. In New Zealand we saw many more young people with tattoos, nose studs and magenta Mohawks than we did in Australia. Perhaps the next generation of Kiwis will take after Americans more than their parents did. How sad!

SPORTS AND GAMBLING Both New Zealand and Australia are nuts about sports but for the most part, they're different sports than Americans are nuts about.

When we boarded the bus on arrival in Auckland the bus driver said, "Welcome to New Zealand, permanent home of the America's Cup." This "joke" was repeated to us in one form or another several times a day for the next ten days. Kiwis are crazy about sailing. First kids take sailing lessons, THEN they learn to swim. All the harbors are filled to the brim with sailboats whenever the weather permits.

In New Zealand it was front-page news that Tiger Woods was playing in the New Zealand Open, but attendance was suffering because of unseasonable rainstorms. A Wellington convenience store owner bid $75,000NZ in an auction for the right to be Tiger's ProAm partner. Tiger, who got a $1 Million appearance fee, finished in the top ten, but the Open was won by an Australian, much to the chagrin of the Kiwis.

The New Zealand Times sports page was full of cricket (the annual New Zealand vs. Australia match was underway) and rugby (the "All Blacks," national rugby club, was touring South America, leaving victims in its wake).

There are only three television stations in Sydney, filled most of the time with reruns of American shows. However, when the Australian Open Tennis Tournament began one station was devoted to full time coverage for the length of the Tournament.

Australia and New Zealand share most popular sports, but, there is one played only in Australia. Australian rules "football" a much rougher version of our own game made dangerous by much less padding on the players. You can catch it on late night ESPN in "the States." Surfing and other beach sports are also more popular in Australia where the weather is more hospitable to such activity than in most parts of New Zealand.

Everyone Down Under loves to gamble. The local on-line betting parlor ( was giving odds and allowing Ausies to bet not only on the outcome of the Tennis matches, but on the outcome of given sets and even individual games. In addition you could bet an "over/under" arrangement on the number of service faults a player might make. You won't find such betting on individual sports in the U.S., there would be too much chance for corruption on the part of the players. The Sports Book was also taking bets on the Winter Olympics, a practice you won't see anywhere else.

The one Casino we visited, in Melbourne, reflected the Australian's zany interest in gambling. They had Black Jack Tables, but Baccarat was much more popular. They also had several versions of Black Jack with exotic names I don't remember, that offered to pay you extra if you're under 21 in five cards (remember those days in Vegas?). This game also allowed you to "Surrender", forfeiting half your bet if the dealer showed an Ace or Ten. There was still another game that offered to pay you triple if you made a 21 with 3 sevens and offering bonuses for different combinations. It was too much for a "Black Jack Purist" like me.

As Bryson points out in his book, they have a particular passion for a slot machine called a "Pokey." It reminds me a lot of the new machines they have in Vegas that payoff vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The Pokey bet is either 2 or 5 cents. Cheap enough, you might think, but the machine encourages you to make up to 25 bets on each pull of the handle in order to get the maximum payoff opportunity. And the Ausies seem to play Pokies at the speed of light, hardly waiting long enough to see if they've won before pulling the handle again. We never did figure it out, but, if you go Down Under you'll have plenty of opportunity to learn because nearly every Sports Bar and pub boasts of Pokey machines.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY Probably the most awesome thing about a vacation Down Under is that it is inexpensive. I mean CHEAP.

The Australian Dollar is worth only about 55 American Cents and the New Zealand Dollar is only about 45 Cents. Goods in the shops are generally priced at far less than comparable goods in the U.S. However, at "Designer" stores, like Ralph Lauren for example, you'll find the prices are about what you'd pay in the States.

We had the finest meals under $40 including wine, tax and tip. A good bottle of wine will be on the wine list for $30NZ or 15 American Dollars. Gift items are generally inexpensive, too, with fine wallets and belts made of Kangaroo hide at half the price of leather in the states. Ceramics, too, are reasonable. They also refund a tourist's VAT taxes at the airport on your way home.

To top it off, we stayed in the finest hotel in Sydney, a Four Seasons Hotel called the Regent, for less than $200 American per night. The price of real estate is a bargain nearly everywhere, topped by that $200,000 Beachfront Condo we mentioned earlier.

FOOD AND WINE We were pleasantly surprised at how good the food is in both New Zealand and Australia. The fruit and produce are particularly excellent in New Zealand where Pat said the cherries were the best she's ever eaten. Kiwis are particularly paranoid about tourists bringing in "Hoof and Mouth" disease or some other pestilence so you are not allowed to bring any foodstuffs into the country. At each port you will encounter inspectors accompanied by "food sniffing" Beagles (as opposed to those bomb sniffing German Shepherds you find in U.S. airports). They will sniff out whether or not you're trying to smuggle a picnic lunch ashore.

New Zealand Farms raise cattle and sheep, of course, but also deer, raised not just for meat but for their antlers which are ground up and sold in herb shops all over Asia.

Beer in both New Zealand and Australia was quite good, if a bit more fortified with alcohol than American beer is. Australia is the only country I've ever been in where you won't find a Budweiser sign anywhere.

New Zealand vintners produce excellent White Wines particularly Reislings and Sauvignon Blancs. "Church Road” Sauvignon Blanc may have been the best I've ever had of that variety and our waiter told us that you can't go wrong with any "White" from New Zealand's "Hawkes Valley." The best Reisling was by "Cooper's Creek."

Tasmania known for its White Wine also produces a great Pinot Noir. We tried some from "Dalrymple Vineyards" and "Pipers Brook," both of which were very good.

South Australia and Victoria are the great Australian wine producing states. They have had particular luck combining two varieties of fine Red Wine grapes, so you are likely to find a "Cabernet-Merlot" or a "Cabernet-Shiraz." We enjoyed wine from "Tyrell Winery," "St. Hallet" and "St. Hugo" the latter being from the famous Coonawara Region. The "Blue Pyrenees" is another region for fine wines. You won't find any California wines on an Australian Wine list, too pricey perhaps.

As to Restaurants, there were several we would recommend to travelers.

Probably our favorite was "Shed 5" on the docks in Wellington. Sophia, our waitress turned out to be an aspiring singer who was trying out with the "Young Americans", so she paid particular attention to us ten tourists from the States. "Is everything cool bananas?" she asked, then responded to the bewildered looks on our faces by explaining that she simply wanted to now if we were having a good day. After we ordered we had to wait nearly an hour, so, Sophia wondered if we'd like a "Nibble on" to tied us over. The food was worth waiting for - spectacular Rack of Lamb, excellent fish and even Abalone, now being farmed in New Zealand. The bad news is, they don't "pound" the Abalone, so it's a bit tough for American tastes.

We arrived in Auckland about lunchtime and wandered into a French Restaurant near the wharf called "Cie Cie." It was an excellent choice, the Rack of Lamb was terrific and they offered an excellent "Snapper," which the waiter explained wasn't a snapper at all but a "Terahiki." You could have fooled me. They also specialized in "Mussel Cakes" as an "entrée," which Down Under means an appetizer and not a main course.

In Hobart we asked a local lady to recommend the best restaurant in town. She sent us to "Mure's Upper Deck" on the wharf where you will find the best Fish and Chips in the world. Made from Blue Eyed Cod or just "Blue Eye" to the locals and rolled in "Beer Batter" it is light, tender and extremely tasty without being greasy. They had desserts with local berries that were "to die for." Mure's also has excellent "Atlantic Salmon" the name of which denotes the variety and not the origin, since it's farmed outside of Hobart.

In Dunedin we had great little Baguette sandwiches at a place called the "Bodega Bistro" on the "Octagon" (their version of the Town Square). Here we were also introduced to "Potato Wedgies" with sour cream, chili and cheese to dip them in, a treat we tried several other places on the trip with excellent results. (When you see "Chili" on any menu Down Under it means green chili, not Chili Con Carne as in the states, so, you may be disappointed with a "Chili Burger."

There were a number of restaurants we liked a lot in Sydney.

The Regent Hotel's dining room had a very good Sunday Brunch. We also had lunch there a couple of times where Don Sadon tried an "Aussie Burger" which turned out to have a layer of beets. He said it was quite good.

"Wolfies" on the Circular Quay (pronounced "key" Down Under) combines a spectacular view of the Opera House and Bridge with outdoor dining on a balmy evening. They claim to have "Australia's finest beef" and I wouldn't argue with them. They also have excellent fish and lamb.

The "135 Bar and Grill" overlooking the Pitt Street Mall has excellent Salmon and also serves "Roast Kangaroo" which John Mohler bravely ordered. He let me have a taste. It is a very dark meat tasting a bit like beef, surprisingly not at all "gamy."

A must for visitors to Sydney is "Doyles at Watson's Bay." When you take the Harbour Tour you will be able to get off at Watson's Bay and spend two hours enjoying the best Seafood in the Southern Hemisphere. Doyle's was founded more than a hundred years ago and still "packs them in" twice daily. Among the fish on the menu are "Baramundi," "Garfish" and "Jewfish". But stick to the Blue Eyed Cod and try the Fish Chowder.

TOTO, WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE: To get a flavor of life in any English speaking country one buys a newspaper. In Dunedin, looking for sports news, I purchased the "Otago Daily Times". Otago is the name of the NZ Province in which Dunedin is located. The following articles all appeared in that paper on January 16, 2002 and all were in the "hard news" section of the paper. They are copied here verbatim including the headlines, in which you may get a hint of the British tongue in cheek. I will only add that Dunedin is also the site of the largest University in New Zealand, Otago University, whose undergraduates may just have been involved in the following "crimes".


They have got the alleged offender and witnesses, now all police need is a victim.

Constable Dave Scott, of Mosgiel, said an elderly woman narrowly avoided being struck by a car as she crossed Park St., off Gordon Rd in Mosgiel, about 10 AM yesterday.

Witnesses to the incident alerted police soon afterwards, providing a registration number, which led police to the 18-year-old driver.

However, Const Scott said the woman who was almost struck wandered off before police arrived. Police were keen to hear from the woman, who was walking a small dog at the time.

Const Scott said it was likely the teenager would face driving charges.


A Dunedin woman has been sickened by the indecent assault of her 26-year-old horse last weekend.

"She's been trained her whole life to trust humans and some swine comes along and puts her through this," the woman, who asked not to be identified, said yesterday.

The woman said the horse, which she had owned for 20 years, was assaulted some time on Saturday night.

The mare had been housed in a pen at her Wakari property. On Sunday morning, it was discovered someone had tied the horse to a post by electric fencing tape and apparently interfered with it.

A veterinarian check of the horse revealed it had been indecently assaulted.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who had noticed suspicious activity around stock in the Wakari area. Horse owners should also pay particular attention to their animals, police said.


Police are looking for a man who took a shunting locomotive for a brief joyride from the Gisborne railway yards early yesterday.

Senior Sergeant Ross Smith said a member of the public reported the Tranz Rail locomotive running down the tracks with no lights on about 12:15 AM

When Police arrived at the rail yards, the engine was returning with its lights on. They saw a man leap from the locomotive's cab and run off.

Snr. Sgt. Smith said police were looking for someone with the skills required to operate a railway engine.

"We believe it's an ex-railway employee or definitely someone who's been trained in driving trains. You'd need to be a train driver to work the controls. It's quite complicated how they start them."




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