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July 19, 2007

Kia Ora New Zealand

One of the best parts of this whole film project is that I’ve gotten the chance to visit so many cities I’ve never been to before: Copenhagen, Istanbul, Oslo, Montreal, Dublin, and more. My luck continued this week with my first visit to New Zealand. Besides the sold-out events in Auckland and Christchurch, I got to spend time with my friends Craig and Kristin who’ve been living down here for the past five years (thanks for putting up with me you two!).

First off: it’s winter here. And although Craig gave me fair warning that I needed to bring a down parka, a hat, and a scarf, I apparently wasn’t listening and showed up with zero cold weather gear. After a trip to the local outdoor supply store, I was kitted out in a fine Marmot jacket and ready to explore NZ.

Craig and Kristin at Karekare. Note the piano.

The view from Lion Rock in Piha.

Highlights included a day at Piha and Karekare, local Auckland beach areas. Karekare is where Jane Campion filmed The Piano. At Piha we climbed the famous Lion Rock, a huge rock formation jutting out into the ocean. When we got to the top, I had the following realization: I’ve come halfway around the world, went to an obscure beach, climbed up a giant rock at the edge of the sea, and the damned thing is covered with Helvetica! I simply can’t escape it…

Another highlight was going to watch an All Blacks rugby match at a local bar. Rugby is god down here, and the All Blacks are the New Zealand national team. They routed South Africa, but the best part of the match was the Haka, the traditional Maori war dance the team does before the match. Watch this.

The Auckland International Film Festival was fantastic. The screenings were packed, I got to do a ton of interviews, and the festival staff were all great. We had a 700-person sellout at our second screening, which ranks right up there with the biggest crowds we’ve ever had for an event. Special thanks to Ange, Lynn, Richard and all the staff there. And I actually got to see two films other than mine: Manufactured Landscapes and Control, the Joy Division biopoc. I generally liked them both, with a few caveats (will try to expand on that at a later date).

Then I flew south to Christchurch for an event hosted by local design agency Q Brand. The weather was cold, but the event and the people were oh so warm. Thanks to Phillip, Tim, Emily, Stephen, Robert, and everyone at Q Brand for making us feel at home.

Finished off the trip by attending Craftwerk, a monthly indie craft sale and music performance in Auckland. Lots of crafty-ness going on in New Zealand. And an informal hold-em poker tournament with some friends of Craig and Kristin, which somehow I won. New Zeland rocks. I feel like I only got to see a small slice of it though, but thankfully more than I’ve gotten to see of other great cities on my tour, where it seems like I’m in and out in 24 hours. I need to start working on another film, quickly, so I can come back and visit NZ next year. Kia ora Kiwis!


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bobbie says

Jul 20, 2007

Ah Piha - my home turf. Have a look at the photos on my website and come visit some time - its heaven

Craig says

Jul 23, 2007

It was great having Gary in town, though he may have only won the poker tourney via some dodgy card handling. come back to NZ when its warmer, I swear you can't see your breath in our house during the summer!