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Blog: Flying over the land of the long white cloud

Blog – by Philip Duncan

Today’s blog comes from you 12,000 feet above New Zealand on a flight from Taranaki to Auckland. It’s a short flight, just 45 minutes, but enough to sit back, relax and put a few words to paper…well, to laptop.

The reason I’m writing from this high altitude is due to a spark of inspiration I had shortly after take off.

The weather for New Zealand last Tuesday (October 4th) – the entire country – was for sunny or mostly sunny weather…and this was the day I was flying. 

It’s amazing that hundreds of years ago this nation was named Aoteoroa – “Land of the long white cloud”. Even all those generations ago, without weather maps and satellite images, the nation was named after the cloudy conditions that often surround it.

New Zealand really is a land of long white cloud. The photo I took is of the northern Taranaki coastline. With a large high over us and every reason for New Zealand to be completely sunny the coastal elements create moisture and clouds over us.

I love flying. Some people love spending money on clothes, others having coffee at nice cafes, or meals out. Me – it’s flying. I will hunt for the cheapest airfares purely so I can find an excuse to fly somewhere. Any excuse for a flight – work or personal.

Yet despite all my travelling, all my flying over this picturesque country of ours I have very seldom had a good view of it.

The Australian desert…stunning. Utah? Amazing. Los Angeles? Huge and mind blowing. New Zealand? “Ummm…I think that’s Mt Ruapehu…oh…oh nah, it’s just a cloud”.

Landing in Taranaki I had a glimpse of the top 20 metres of Mt Taranaki… and that was it.

Flying back…no sight of the Central Plateau mountains… just lots and lots of fluffy white clouds. Waikato was the same and Auckland was worse…big grey clouds. This is called anticyclonic gloom – low cloud and moisture that’s crapped under this big highs out over the Tasman.

To me this is the only drawback of our weather…seriously. I don’t think we have any other drawbacks… well, the weird side of me wishes we had more storms and weather extremes…but the realistic side of me thinks our weather couldn’t be more perfect if it tried….except for sightseeing from mid air.

Still, the glimpses of land are always fantastic to view…. and it’s weird to fly over what looks just like Google Earth.  Problem is you can’t remove that weather/satellite tab to get a cloud free view.


Guest on 15/10/2010 11:10pm

We (as in Auckland) certainly do have MORE than our fair share of the anticyclonic gloom…gets quite depressing at times. Like living under a giant grey carpet…

keri pete on 15/10/2010 9:16pm

Not true – the first ever name given to, what is currently called, New Zealand was Staten Landt, named by Abel Tasman on13th December 1642. The term Aoteoroa didn’t exist in 1840, when the “Treaty” was signed with the British Crown. The term Aoteoroa is a modern invention of no historical significance.

RW on 15/10/2010 7:30pm

Yes, I for one would like to see much more sunshine over the nation as a whole, or at least the cloudier 3/4 of it. For that reason I recently got seriously irked by an Australian who suggested we should be “enjoying” the cloudy, wet conditions that plagued a significant part of the country from mid-May through August (and parts of September in mnay areas as well).

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