The land of sheep and chocolate

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Palmy Pimp Your Ride

Palmerston North is a city about 30 miles to the north of Levin. With a population of about 75,000 its not big place, but in New Zealand it counts as a proper city; its the largest town between Wellington and Hamilton, which is about 300 miles to the north. however, there isn’t a great deal going on here.

Palmy is a student town and there are a lot of young people so it does have a certain buzzing kind of a vibe. It’s most noticable in the evenings when the boys bring their cars out. In Britain the teenage pose-mobile of choice is the ten year old souped up Vauxhall Corsa with fancy rear lights and shiny alloys. Things aren’t much different here but the cars are bigger, the exhausts are fatter and the rear spoilers are huge. Its quite fun really, but obviously I’m laughing at them, not with them.

Some people, however, are obviously impressed. I’ve heard that the thing to do is to put a sign in the window that says Offers and your phone number. Then, if a lady sees your motor and she likes what she sees, she can call you up and tell you how impressed she is. The temptation to put up a sign in the Mazda is huge, but some things are not appropriate for a respectable married man in his thirties.

I have managed to get out and about a bit in Palmy and I’ve been round the shops and down to the scenic river walk which is actually very pleasant. It has a bush reserve of native woodland and an area where they have installed a selection of Eucalyptus trees. It’s not terribly exciting though; about as exciting as Livingston and when we moved up there people were a bit snotty about it.

Things improve in the surrounding countryside though. I teamed up with Tim from Canada and we went for a drive through the Manawatu Gorge, where the river has cut through the mountains. It’s the only way across the Tararua Ranges and the road is perilously perched on the edge of steep cliffs all the way. It twists and turns with the valley and you have to be a bit careful driving through it, especially as the scenery is quite distracting. There’s a huge and impressive windfarm on top of the hills and we walked the Gorge Trail, which runs through woodland over the mountains. It takes about four hours, so we called it a day after about 40 minutes of climbing the steep canyon and turned back.

I’m starting to enjoy staying in the hostel, mostly because it’s nice to have a couple of friends to talk to. I am also amused by what goes on in the kitchens here, always a highlight of hostel living. There’s a man who eats nothing but cabbage and Tim bought seven tins of baked beans yesterday to see him through until tomorrow evening (apparently, they were a bargain!).


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