Tag Archives: New Zealand

Church of the Good Shepherd


Now New Zealanders or Kiwis as they are affectionately known, are not generally an arrogant bunch.  Yet, they refer to  their homeland as  “God’s Own Country”.  What cheek!  What audacity!   It seems to implies that they share the same postal code with God while the rest of us non-Kiwis live in the slummier side of creation.

Now, of course, I believe that God is omnipresent which means that He is everywhere and He does not solely hold a New Zealand passport.  Indeed, the wonders of God’s creation can be seen in so many things and places all around the world.  Yet, one has to agree with the residents of Aotearoa, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” (yet another fancy name they have for their country), that they seem to have more than their fair share of natural beauty for such a small piece of real estate.

This being Easter week, the week in which Christians remember Jesus’ journey to the cross of Calvary, I thought about the worship of God and decided to pay a visit to “God’s Own Country” and specifically to the little Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo.

Now I have seen many impressive cathedrals with towering spires, massive domes and ornate carvings.  Some of them have been awe-inspiring but I have found others too over-the-top and gaudy.  And really, my favorite place to meditate and worship God is really on a mountain top; not surrounded by any man-made structure but amidst God’s wonderful creation.  Of course, out in the elements like that can be rather cold and wet at times!

So this is why the Church of the Good Shepherd is rather special to me.  Rather than some elaborate and ornate man-made altar, this simple chapel of stone just has windows which allows the beautiful mountains and the glistening Lake Tekapo to be the main feature of the altar.  I think it is stunning and a wonderful place for communing with God in prayer or in praise.

The Church of the Good Shepherd (Photo by LGS)
Lake Tekapo (Photo by LGS)
The Awesome Altar View at the Church of the Good Shepherd (Photo by LGS)

Invariably, Lake Tekapo and the small stone church is very much part of the tourist circuit these days but even so, there is still sufficient awe and tranquility to make a visit worthwhile.  Another interesting attraction is a bronze statue that rightfully honors the faithful service of the New Zealand Collie Sheepdog, without which, New Zealand would not have been able to become a nation with more sheep than people.  2009 figures indicate a human population of 4.2 million while there were actually 40 million sheep.

The New Zealand Collie Sheepdog is Honored in Bronze (Photo by LGS)
Sheep Not-so-much in a Rush Hour (Photo by LGS)

 

French Toast


Even the Band Does the Haka

Well, this is a post on the run.  Having  just recently nervously survived watching the Rugby World Cup final in which the team I was supporting, the New Zealand All Blacks hung on to beat France 8 points to 7 points, I am now at the airport awaiting my flight to Mongolia.

Already the celebrations are going on all over New Zealand and amongst their fans around the world.  Apparently, one newspaper headlines reads, “French Toast”. Hahaha.  Although that is not really fair cause the French team played really well and looked liked they could have stolen the game but the All Blacks will savour the victory even if it is by one point.

All Blacks - Celebrate as World Champions 2011

Observant readers will have noted that the Lone Grey Squirrel is in transit to the land of Genghis Khan where the men are tough, the women tough and the food tougher.  All Blacks beware, there is great potential for a Mongolian rugby team.

Future World Rugby Champions?

Rumble in the South Pacific


There is war in the South Pacific!  Once every four years, warriors from some 20 nations meet in contest on the field of war.  This testosterone laden spectacular is known as the Rugby World Cup and in 2011, it is being fought on New Zealand soil.

For rugby fans like the squirrel, the next six weeks is an adrenaline feast of action, drama and machismo strutting.   New Zealand’s team, also known as the All  Blacks are the winning-est team in rugby union history.  They have won 75% of their international matches since records started in 1903.   Only 5 other nations have ever defeated them in a game.  They are also the leading point scorers of all time and the only international team with a winning record against every other nation that they have ever played.

Yet, despite such credentials, New Zealand has only won the Rugby World Cup once in 1987 which was the very inaugural World Cup.  Since then, Australia won twice in 1991 and 1999;  South Africa also won twice in 1995 and 2007; while England picked up the title in 2003.

South Africa returned to world cup rugby only in 1995 after being boycotted due to its apartheid policies.  However, with Nelson Mandela at the helm of the country, he made it a point of ensuring that South Africa’s team was racially integrated and represented all South Africans.  Much beyond expectation, the team,the Springboks, managed to narrowly defeat New Zealand in the finals and in doing so helped galvanise and unite the newly democratic nation.  This inspirational story is captured in the Clint Eastwood film, “Invictus” which starred Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

Based on performances in the last four years, the All Blacks should be the overwhelming favorites and they were named the international team of the year for 2006, 2008 and 2010.  Yet, they lost their last two international matches immediately before this World Cup against arch-rivals  Australia and  South Africa and that makes some wonder if the All Blacks will continue to under perform in this World Cup.  Based on recent form, Australia must be considered a real threat to All Black’s aspirations.

I know that has been a lot of sports talk in the paragraphs above.  So as compensation to the ladies, I offer to you a video of hunky, sweaty men and much testosterone flying about.  This is the confrontation between New Zealand and the Pacific island nation of Tonga in the opening match of this Rugby World Cup 2011.  Both teams perform their traditional Haka (New Zealand) and Sipi Tau (Tonga) which are their respective, traditional ways of offering a challenge to their enemies on the field of war.  Be afraid……be very afraid.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Final 28 on the Wonder List


Last year, I posted about the on-line voting for selecting the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
The process began with nominations from around the world which resulted in over 440 nominated sites. The top 77 sites are then reviewed by a special advisory committee and this has result in the selection of the 28 finalists.

The 28 finalists are as follows (in alphabetical order);

  1. Amazon (South America)
  2. Angel Falls (Venezuela)
  3. Bay of Fundy (Canada)
  4. Black Forest (Germany)
  5. Bu Tinah Shoals (United Arab Emirates)
  6. Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
  7. Dead Sea (Middle East)
  8. El Yunque (Puerto Rico)
  9. Galapagos (Ecuador)
  10. Grand Canyon (USA)
  11. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  12. Halong Bay (Vietnam)
  13. Iguazu Falls (South America)
  14. Jeita Grotto (Lebanon)
  15. Jeju island (South Korea)
  16. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
  17. Komodo (Indonesia)
  18. Maldives (Maldives)
  19. Masurian Lake District (Poland)
  20. Matterhorn (Switzerland/Italy)
  21. Milford Sound (new Zealand)
  22. Mud Volcanoes (Azerbaijan)
  23. Puerto Princessa Underground River (Philippines)
  24. Sundarbans (India/Bangladesh)
  25. Table Mountain (South Africa)
  26. Uluru (Australia)
  27. Vesuvius (Italy)
  28. Yushan (Taiwan)

Well, only two of the sites I voted for in the first round has made it to the finalists. They are Angel Falls and Milford Sound.

I guess my final 7 choices from the 28 finalists will have to be;

  1. Angel Falls
  2. Milford Sound
  3. Amazon
  4. Great Barrier Reef
  5. Galapagos
  6. Halong Bay
  7. Dead Sea


If you would like to VOTE, go HERE.