Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Truman Show meets The Matrix

We have all heard how stunning New Zealand is, and this is very true. So beautiful in fact that Chris and I have been forced to ponder the authenticity of the entire country! Our first impressions are that everywhere you go everything is, well, perfect. There is no other word for it. The scenery almost looks painted on to the background, or like plastic models that you might find on a film set; on top of this, everything is SO easy to organise and they have the world's most wonderful wine and food. The towns are the same - miniature little toy towns with white picket fences and wide streets. If any of you have seen The Truman Show...well New Zealand is it.

Chris and I were discussing this the other night when we came up with a theory. What if life were indeed a simulation, a bit like The Matrix. Maybe they made a mistake with the software and New Zealand came out too perfect, so they decided the best thing to do would be to put it miles from pretty much everywhere else, make it a bit of a pain to get to and hopefully no one would notice that it was too good to be true. No one would cotton on!!

No, but seriously, how every conceivable type of landscape is covered in a country of this size is beyond me. However, despite the variety here I have realised on this trip that actually, apart from a few spectacularly unique spots on earth and despite what New Zealanders would like to believe (sorry but it's true!) many landscapes are reminiscent of each other. What really sets places apart is their culture and the interaction of people with their surroundings; in this I have found New Zealand to be lacking a little. The problem is, everything is so preserved and protected and there are so few people, that whilst it is visually stunning, it just doesn't feel alive. You can  interact with the land, in countless ways. You can do everything...everywhere. Walk, cycle, jet boat, river raft, bungee jump, sky dive, canyon, camp, eat, drink, party, ski, heliski, balloon ride, surf, glacier walk, rock climb. Practically every single town or city offers all such activities.  As a result though it just all feels rather orchestrated and forced. There is this strange dichotomy between the feeling that you should be able to experience one of the world's true wildernesses, with no people and no rules, and the fact that every part of the country is regulated by the Department of Conservation who make even going for a walk seem like a lengthy expedition. In short, and as my Granny said when I spoke to her about the place, it just feels 'a bit flat'.

I am sure that plenty of you will totally disagree with me, and don't get me wrong, we've loved our time here so far and it is a special place. First expectations just doesn't live up to the hype or hold the same magic for me as some of the other countries we've visited. Perhaps this is mainly due to the fact that we have largely been in the more touristy areas so far. No doubt the longer we spend here the more we will get under the skin of the place and I will change my mind...in the mean time we are enjoying gawping at the perfection of it all, even if we do feel like we are living in a film set!

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