Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Life and Death on the Coast - 3 December 2010

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island has some of the most stunning scenery to be had anywhere on the planet. The life of Coasters is shaped by the rugged beauty of its landscape which contains a lethal legacy clearly illustrated by recent events.To drive the coastal road of the West Coast is to privilege one of nature’s wonders. Breakers roll into the shore from such distance and volume that the spray given off creates an aeronautical hazard. The bluffs that form the western edge of the Southern Alps descend here precipitously, the road clinging precariously to the terrain. Yet people build their homes here, some basic constructs barely recognisable as worthy dwellings, almost makeshift, eclectic, or transitory, and yet others architectural wonders where envy, from every view point, abounds.People and engineering here hangs tenaciously on. Threateningly nature could claim back its territory seemingly at will. One great wave, a powerful earthquake or mine explosion, and it will be all gone, and those on the Coast have seen them all, the latter most recently.Where people venture in, they do so with trepidation. The sailor battered by high Tasman seas and the relentless waves, finds solace in the sight on the horizon, of this natural phenomenon rising seemingly out of the ocean to both greet and to threaten to seas’ travellers and its survivors with its keel-busting bluffs.Primary industry is paramount is this domain; forestry, farming, and mining, primarily

Above Us Only Sky - 7 November 2010

The plaque at Liverpool’s airport contains an apt excerpt from the eponymous John Lennon’s song Imagine, ‘Above us only sky’.In that football mad city, England’s most successful club side, Liverpool, the red half of Merseyside, is currently suffering its worst start to a season in decades.Liverpudlians (colloquially known as “Scousers”) are

Korea - The North, the South and the Moon - 31 October 2010

Korea is two lands with a penchant for the greatest choreographed spectacles on Earth, big industries and the world’s largest weddings, all divided by the world’s most heavily fortified military zone and one of only two last vestiges of the Cold War. The Korean people appear polar opposites divided politically, militarily and ideologically

Nullifying the Opposition - 18 October 2010

According to the game’s commentators, rugby league is apparently all about banana kicks and nullifying the physicality of the opposition, or something like that. The Rugby League Four-Nations is about to take place in Australia and New Zealand from October until November 2010 featuring the host nations, England, and the 2009 Pacific Cup

It's The News But Not As We Know It - 11 October 2010

The media in Britain covers the whole spectrum from the ridiculous to the sublime, whereas New Zealand just has, well, the mediocre.At the recent annual television media awards, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) News  beat the competition to be named news channel of the year for New Zealand in a competition of two, well, three – almost.Hardly a

Let the Games Begin - 3 October 2010

The Commonwealth Games are here. Terrorism, racism, burning effigies, exploitation, poverty, masses of security and, oh yeah, then there’s the sport.The XIX Commonwealth Games are about to get underway in the Indian capital, New Delhi, but not without more than it’s share of problems associated with hosting multinational sporting events.  The

Never mind the Traffic

Never mind the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City or murderous roads in Bolivia, driving in New Zealand can be just as lethal.New statistics show New Zealand road deaths are among the highest in the world per capita, alongside Cambodia, Malaysia, Lithuania and Slovenia.Per capita, Kiwi road deaths last year were the ninth highest, with 8.9 deaths

Boca Juniors - The Chocolate Box and the Cake Tin - 24 August 20

The Wellington Phoenix football team has only been around for a handful of years playing against teams from Australia in the Hyundai-sponsored A-League.  For a team with a mix skilled squad they recently managed a remarkable feat, beating a team with one of the greatest pedigrees, Boca Juniors from Argentina.Granted Boca had left most of their

Ayutthaya - Venice of the East - 12 August 2010

Ayutthaya (or Ayuthaya, or even Ayodhaya. No matter how you spell it, its pronounced ah-you-tah-ya.) was the former royal capital of Siam from the mid-fourteenth century until the late eighteenth century.  You wouldn’t know it to visit it, but the city is more-or-less an island bisected by a myriad of canals.  Located an hour’s drive north of