Christchurch, New Zealand
A Christmas carroll singalong concert in the park. Mean black swans the size of 8-year olds. Casinos and strip clubs around every corner, almost as frequent as churches. There are steaming and wheezing and erupting geysers. Volcanoes. Boiling and belching mud pits. It all has an intrinsic juju that evokes the future that theologians have promised the wicked among us. Set it under a quintessential postcard-blue sky and infuse it all with the transient — yet sinus-clearingly acrid — smell of sulphur, and you’ve encapsulated Rotorua.
What a great town. Although the bar scene is a bit confusing. The crowds are big and varied. Hipsters and klub kidz. Senior citizens. Backpackers. A busload of camera-toting, karaoke-seeking Japanese tourists. But when the posse of Maori warriors walk in, pierced and painted and some with a hairstyle that most resembles a large, spikey crown atop an otherwise shaved head, I can’t decide if in my jeans and t-shirt, I’m over- or underdressed. So I just order another gin and tonic and get my groove on.
I have since moved on from Sulphur City, with a flight down to Christchurch, on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. “The most English town outside of England,” says the sign. And here from my perch at the corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace, beside the bridge over The Avon as a punter glides past and in earshot of the tartan-clad piper playing two blocks up, I cannot possibly think of where such an eristic comparison arises.
Steaming and wheezing and erupting geysers. Volcanoes. Boiling and belching mud pits. It all has an intrinsic juju that evokes the future that theologians have promised the wicked among us.
In sonic news, I’m realizing this trip has been a series of missed musical opportunities. I left Auckland one day before Naughty By Nature. I was one day late in Auckland for my new favorite punk band (if in name only) Elemeno P. And I’m four days late for Cypress Hill here in Christchurch. But I did get to see the amazing Boogie Monsta.
Tomorrow, it’s from here in Christchurch that the real adventure begins. Normally, a week with 2500 km of driving would be enough to force a redefinition of my notions of Hell (Rotorua’s boiling mud pits notwithstanding). But for the next seven days, I’m literally on the road to Middle Earth.
Foot to the floor,