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The Travel Map - February 2008

New Zealands Lion Man

February 12th 2008 11:01
love cats of all shapes and sizes so last time I was in New Zealand I visited Zion Wildlife Gardens, which is just outside Whangarei in New Zealand’s far North. Some of you may have seen the Lion Man TV series that is screened worldwide which is all about Craig Busch’s quest to provide a sanctuary for some of the world’s rarest big cats. Zion Wildlife Gardens is where the show is made.
The park offers various types of guided tours. Most people do the standard tour that costs $60 for an adult. With this tour, a guide will show you all the animals and give you a bit of talk about each one. If you want a real hands on experience though try the Cub encounter tour with this tour not only do you get a chance to view all the animals in the park but you get to interact with the cubs they have in the park. At $200, it may seem expensive to some but believe me it is well worth it. When I was there several years ago they had White Bengal tiger cubs. I went into the enclosure and had one sitting on my lap. It was like patting a big pussycat.

Regardless of the tour you decide to do if Craig is around, he may come over and say hello. After watching him on TV, I was quite surprised that he actually came across quite shy.
Zion Wildlife Park is a great place to visit if you love cats.

Me with Craig at Zion Wildlfe Gardens


Lest we forget

February 5th 2008 23:43
It was dawn April 25th 1915, at 4.29am the ANZAC soldiers that made up the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula Turkey, unaware of the Turkish soldiers that were lying in wait. Instead of a flat beach they were expecting they found a sheer cliff face and a barrage of bullets from the Turkish army. Hundreds of soldiers lost their lives on the beach over the days that followed.
Turkey has welcomed Australians and New Zealanders back to Gallipoli every year to pay respect to our fellow countrymen that died on their shores by hosting the dawn service at ANZAC cove. Every year thousands of Australians and New Zealanders make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli to attend the dawn service and remember the tragic events of 1915. As a New Zealander that has been brought up on the story of the ANZACs it has been my desire to go there, and eighty nine years after the event I made the pilgrimage myself.

The only way to do it is on a bus with one of the many tour companies that go there. Most of them start at Istanbul. Some of the tour groups left Istanbul on the 23rd April and travellers spent the night of the 23rd in a camping ground. The company I went with left Istanbul on the 24th very early in the morning. The whole day was spent driving to Gallipoli Peninsula, visiting key battlefields and the Australian and New Zealand Memorials. That evening is spent making our way to ANZAC Cove and finding somewhere to get a good view of the service.
There is only one narrow road to the peninsula and one road out and a lot of buses full of people, the bus can only get you so far from there you have to walk. I couldn’t say how far we had to walk exactly because it was pitch black but it seemed every few hundred yards there was a soldier standing with a rifle in his hand.
When we finally got to the site where the memorial service was to be held it was around 1am. We found a spot to try and sleep. It was freezing cold and very windy so I did not manage to sleep. By 3am we were being cleared out of the way so that the dignitaries from all three countries and old servicemen could be driven right up to the site. Things started to liven up around 3.30am when the Australian Navy band started playing.
The main service started at 4.30am there were talks from dignitaries from all three countries. The ceremony was very moving. Three countries united to show respect for the tragic events that occurred nine decades before. Standing there in the in the cold wind made me think how awful it must have been for the soldiers coming out of the cold water in 1915.
After the dawn service I was dropped off with the other New Zealanders at Chunuck Bair to wait for the New Zealand ceremony to start. The Australians went to Lone Pine; their service was earlier than ours so they joined us at Chunuck Bair later to watch the haka.
In all the travelling I have done over the years this would have to be one of the most significant trips ever. If anyone was ever to ask me is it worth going, my answer would be yes its worth all the effort. Australians and New Zealanders stand together as friends on ANZAC day, however when at home in our own countries we do not give as much thought to the Turkish people that welcome us back every year and host the ceremony at their expense.

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