Way Down Under - New Zealand
With Dave Backman
If this is New Zealand, where is
old Zealand? Find out
Once upon a time, way down in Down Under Earth, there was a young waterfowl who dreamed of adventure but was generally quite happy living in his little village of Suitcase.
That is, until one day when a mysterious stranger, clad all in fur, appeared on the doorstep of a young Froduck. The stranger handed him a strange silver ball and proceeded to weave a tale about this being the one true orb that was forged by man to mark the Southernmost lands. Whoever possessed it could determine where in the world North and South is. He charged Froduck with returning it to it's safe place. For the orb that sits atop the pole now was but a replica. This one hides safely in plain sight to protect it from the hands of evil.
At this, the mysterious stranger departed, telling Froduck that the fate of the world's maps rested on his feathers.
He knew that he would need help on this mission. The ball was a big as he was. It was time to ask for help. He went to his fellow villagers and asked them to join his quest.
Despites his pleading quacks none of them would leave the comfort of home and join him. So finally, it was up to Froduck along with his faithful companion Davewise, to take the orb back to it's resting place.
As they made their way in the world, they stopped to entreat the locals to help join their quest, for their fate was on the line as well. The Koalas were approached, but all they wanted to do was sit and get stoned on eucalyptus.
In fact, one confused the duck for a leaf. Yikes!
Others were similarly deaf to requests for help. Neither the Kiwi nor the Moa, despite their much larger sizes, would help. In fact they just sat their stonily, refusing to even answer Froduck's please. He shouldn't be surprised - the kiwis are related to the mosquito, so who can count on them?
Even the humans were not exactly interested. Here Frank and Pauline from Australia listen to the ducks story, but are as cold to helping as the ice sculptures in the rooms behind them.
Even a man and a dog along Plimmer's Lane in Wellington cast a cold ear upon an orb toting duck.
When they asked a policeman where a duck might find some help, he gave directions to a very helpful group of ducks that would be happy to help.
Unfortunately, when he got there, he found their home was under repair, and all the waterfowl relocated for the time. So no one seemed to be willing to help. At that Froduck and Davewise hitched up their pants (so to speak) and began their journey with the orb alone.
First off was to entreat the heavens for assistance. And what better of a place then a church, in Christchurch. That's like twice as good, right?
Other ducks were all over, but seemed not to care about the world's fate.
It was necessary to find their way, and to get a better overview of their upcoming path, the pair climbed higher.
But they still needed to go higher. So next stop was the Sky Tower in Aukland. At 1076 feet it is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. To get up here, Froduck had to sneak up in a guide's camera bag. From 900 feet up, the way was still not clear.
The pair felt the need to take to the air.
The realization that now the Pacific Ocean was to the east brought the pair back to Earth once again.
Jet boating helps get you there faster...If you know where there is.
A tavern seemed good place to stop and rest. Being the first micro brewery set the stage for the pair's next quest: Starting at number 1, go to all the micro breweries in New Zealand. But somehow the orb would get forgotten on that quest, so we better finish this one first.
While sleeping, Froduck found images of accolades for completing the return of the true orb. As a down under dweller, he dreamed of being awarded the New Zealand Cross - one of the rarest military decorations in the world dating from the Second Maori War of 1860-72. Only 23 were awarded, and he wanted to get number 24.
Or Possibly the Nobel Prize, like countryman Ernst Rutherford.
"The Coolest Experience in Auckland"? Wow, that sounds like somewhere the south pole orb would be, wouldn't it?
Alas, just a restaurant.
After traveling by planes, trains and automobile (not to mention Jet Boat), the fellowship of the orb grew with the inclusion of two fellow travelers Hilary and Mike.
For now there were four, but where to bring the orb still remained a mystery. Until one of the fellowship spotted a statue of the famous Antarctic explorer Robert Scott. He was pointing the way!
Soon they came upon a bust with a rubbed shiny nose. It was Roald Admundsen - the famous explorer who beat Scott to the South Pole. But what's with that nose?
Wait, could it? Yes, it points the way to the display! There it is, a stand in an empty case. This was where the true orb belonged!
Gingerly, Froduck lifted the orb into its rightful place, and the glass slid down once again, protecting the orb from further harm.
The world, and its maps was safe once again!
It seems that New Zealand is just nuts for the Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson is honored by a portrait made up of 2224 pieces of burnt cocktail toast at the Wellington airport.
And Gollum seems to be stalking around the airport too.
You can take Lord of the Rings tours. And the international traveling exhibit is out in the world, this time stopped in Sydney.
Website note - Australia and New Zealand is often referred to as "Down Under." Flip New Zealand and bring it on "Up Top" and you find something interesting in the maps. Coincidence?
|Australia/South Pacific Travel|
Photos courtesy of David Backman
Last Updated December 2005