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PingWi-Fi Chills – New Zealand Hotspots, Hot Springs

May 24th, 2011 · Tags:Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

After additional research, it has come to my attention that I may have heaped undeserved praise on a New Zealand coffee shop in a recent blog, or even worse, judged some of the competition unfairly. Muh bad!

You may have read me ranting about several Kiwi Wi-Fi watering holes that required a password AND also limited usage by megabytes or minutes. Then I went on to give Addington Coffee Co-op a perfect score of 7 pings. Well … as they say in sports, never take points off the board. I still think Addington is about the coolest coffee shop I have ever seen and the mistake was mine, not theirs. But, alas, as I found out Saturday they too limit my ability to get work done on-line in their shop. So, quick apologies to Coffee Culture, McDonald’s and others. At least I am still spending $5 a day in your stores, in return for the Wi-Fi blink of an eye you allow.

Gloria Jean's

Now having said that … I have found a new hotspot in Christchurch, New Zealand that does Wi-Fi “the American way.” Off the major thoroughfare that is Riccarton, across the street from the Westfield Mall, is the American bestseller — Borders. And inside is a great little coffee shop, tucked away in a corner where they keep the Twilight-type books (= really interesting people watching).
In the U.S., we might expect Borders to harbor a Starbucks … A Seattle’s Best Coffee or whatever. The Border’s in Chch has a Gloria Jean’s Coffees, whatever that is. Actually, I looked it up. This specimen is the first I have encounter in the wild world of Wi-Fi … and I like it.

Oh cool. Aussies in the house!
Gloria Jean’s Coffees
The cookies and cream mocha something/something was excellent and the Wi-Fi is served up the way Wi-Fi is meant to be — FREE and virtually forever, if you don’t mind sleeping inside a bookstore. I asked them if it was forever, and they said “just short of that, mate.” Well, I partook for several hours and edited photos, and tweeted and wrote a blog with the bandwidth flowing.

Gloria Jean’s get’s 7 pings, and this time I am sure about it. It took me two or three tries before the system let me on, but the barista actually came over to check on me to see it it worked. Ha … she even called her manager when I had trouble at first. But, naturally, as soon as she called I was allowed on. I stayed … awesome hotspot.
Moving right along … if you have read this blog much you know I am a creature of habit … when I like something, I do it again. One of the very first blog entries on this site was a sampling of the sulphury bubbling waters in the natural hot springs in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Well, the Canterbury Province, which includes Christchurch and about a quarter of the South Island of New Zealand, has its own hot springs. Hanmer Springs is a little more than two hours away, depending on how fast you drive. NOTE: You might want to take it slow, because the drive is “epic” to quote one of my new young Kiwi friends.

Head north of Christchurch on Highway 1, make the switch to Highway 7, and you can’t miss it. Be prepared to see some of the most shire-like (Lord Of The Rings reference) mountains and valleys ever … a few more cool rock formations … rivers … forests … … and grassland … and sheep to the nth power for those counting along at home. It would have been well worth the drive, even if the swimming hole were closed.

It wasn’t. Hanmer Springs has a nice, but “public pool” atmosphere — a pretty laid back, family setting and thank the Lord no Eur-Old dudes in banana hammocks if you know what I mean. There are about a dozen pools in all. They look like varying sizes of swimming pools, and hot tubs, but they are spring fed. The temperatures range from about 37 degrees (Celsius) to 40 or so in the hottest. Some smell of the characteristic “rotten egg” scent of the sulphur mother lode. PingWi-Fi found all to be quite relaxing … yet no Wi-Fi was detected.

Hanmer Springs

Undeterred, I unloaded the mountain bike from my rental car on the drag in Hanmer Springs. The bike was a loaner from a great New Zealand friend and co-worker — Russell — a former pit boss in the Christchurch Casino. Interesting fellow … and generous … I digress.

Anyway, I rode Russ’s bike up and down the ski village-looking streets of Hanmer Springs, snapping photos of just about anything that moved — including a church camp group who were competing in some whacky “Olympics” competition, even though this was the predicted day of the impending, highly publicized rapture (false alarm).

Proudly, i stood up on the pedals of the bike and made what I thought was a valiant climb up the hill, to the end of the main street and beyond … at which point I pretty much fell over winded and therefore locked the bike to the wooden rail fence, and climbed Conical Hill on foot. More photos … no Wi-Fi yet. (Anyone know what that red mushroom is ???)

Anywho, my ticker lived to blog another day. I made it back down the mountain and stumbled upon an Internet cafe … which was closed on Saturday afternoon. Hmmm … another no score.

Then I stumbled again, and made a better landing — at WhatEver! Cool, swank little place. WE looks like a nouveau, casual restaurant you would expect to see in Park City, Utah back in the States where Sundance filmmakers might mingle with snow boarders … with a few Wi-Fi nerds mixed in for good measure.

Steve, Jill at WhatEver

Steve, Jill at WhatEver

Not only did I like the place, I liked the proprietors, Steve and Jill … very cordial hosts. And yes, they had thought to add Wi-Fi into the mix when they concocted this cool place. There’s a great dining room, a crystal clean bar, and a cool patio that overlooks foot traffic in and out of some of the tourist retail shops nearby.

Steve and Jill had expected an early winter, so they had already taken frozen frappe drinks off their menu, so I opted for what I think is the national cola-like drink of New Zealand — an L&P (lemon flavored, cola-like soda).

Well … the L&P was cold, the hotspot was great and life was good in Hanmer Springs for this Wi-Fi type …. even had some cool tunes out on the patio. I was probably gulping my L&P just a little too loudly when the sound system stopped. One moment we were grooving to a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song, and then … some mellow easy listening tune.

So, what was going to be a perfect score for WhatEver suffered a merciless deduction of 1 — blame it on the deejay. WhatEver gets 6 of 7 possible pings … Great place, quirky Wi-Fi reviewer.

And then the drive home … the subject of a subsequent blog.

Know what I saying?