|Believe it or not, New
Zealand did exist before they made Lord of the Rings. Never ones to
miss a commercial trick, the locals have really cottoned on the tourist
dollars of showing you where it was filmed, though the landscape does not
really need the added kudos of movie immortality.
It feels rather like England when I was a child,
unhurried, peaceful, cold and wet. The main distinction is
that, whilst England just got more crowded, aggressive and acquisitive,
the distance from New Zealand to anywhere somewhat limited the
opportunities for commercial development. Instead of bemoaning their
lot and staying at home getting bored, they dreamt up ever more exciting
and dangerous pastimes.
Skiing was far too tame,
so they indulge in off-piste extreme snowboarding and when the Americans
caught up with that they thought...how about jumping off tall things
without skis? So now their hobbies include jumping off bridges,
jumping over the edge of cliffs, jumping out of helicopters, all with only
an elastic band around your ankles. And they charge good money for
Water sports include
driving power boats through narrow ravines within 10cm of the sheer rock
face, when the river is in flood at anything up to 100kph.