Monday, February 23

Day 179-Hamilton

2500 kilometers of bitumen now lie behind me and for the many days I have traveled this country, I have been blessed by changable but quite enjoyable weather. While off to the south they are being pelted by torrential rains, I sit today in eternal summer, the air cool and very clean, every green thing and barnyard animal sitting fat and happy. It is supremely idyllic. And so it seems my time in Oceania has been marked by extremes, the restrictive wet of the Top End, the deep summer heat of the Red Center, the flamboyant gaiety of Sydney, now hosting the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. In New Zealand I have witness an extreme of isolation due to my chosen mode of travel, but more importantly I will remember it for the sheer pleasantness of this place. Given enough money and time, the right partner and the right gear, I could enjoy a lifetime of sport down here.

Enjoy an afternoon of viewing "The Lord of the Rings" and you will get a sense of how incredible this landscape is, much of it was filmed here. Today I wandered the slopes of Mordor, vast bogs of tall wispy grasses, wild thyme and various wetland plants, hemmed in by thick forest of mountain beech and umbrella ferns, all watched over by demonic towers of broken basalt. As I traversed the delightfully haunting landscape, quiet under the unpredictable gray skies, I pondered my time in Oceania.

Countries: 2 Days spent: 28
Distance traveled: 7050mi $/day: 108
Unesco sites: 4 Other sites: 18
Most Southern point: Balclutha, 46.2deg south
Unremarkable I think except for the great distance and cost.

So tomorrow is the big day, time to make the long flight across the big pond. For the many hours I will spend in the air, I have plenty to fondly recall, the stately romance of old Europe, the deep history of Turkey, the sheer incredulity of India, the hidden charms of Southeast Asia, and the primordial bizarrity that is Australia. Please don't leave me yet, dear reader, come back and visit, that I might post some final thoughts. This trip is not over yet!

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