Lautoka hospital

Twenty years ago I was a patient at Lautoka hospital. Today we visited and had a look around.

Twenty years ago, on June 23, 1989, I was enjoying the last day of my family’s trip in Fiji.  We had taken the “Coral Coast railway”, an old sugar-cane train converted into a tourist excursion train, to the beautiful Natadola beach.  While bodysurfing there, I broke my neck.  As my father’s story indicates, I ended up at the hospital in Lautoka.  Although my parents returned there a few years later, to deliver a container-full of donated medical equipment, I myself had never been back. Indeed, even on the first visit I had never seen anything other than the ceilings ;-).

Lautoka hospital, main entrance. Fiji.

Today we stopped by for a visit, and simply asked to look around.  The staff was very polite and friendly, and we had no problem wandering the halls and peeking into the wards.  I felt a little intrusive so I took only a few photos.

The ICU at Lautoka hospital, Fiji.

In the Tragedy subsection of the 1989 blog post, my father (Jack) wrote about me (Dave), my brother (Pete), and my mother (Katie). It’s a long but compelling read.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2021, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Fiji – Abaca

A small village in the highlands above Lautoka, a bit east of Nadi.

We spent Monday morning on a tour up into the hills above Nadi and Lautoka, to see a small village called Abaca.  In Fijian, ‘b’ is pronounced ‘mb’, ‘d’ is pronounced ‘nd’, and ‘c’ is pronounced ‘th’.  Thus we left Nandi to visit Ambatha. Read on!

our guide (left) leads us through the kava ceremony. (Abaca village, Near Lautoka, Fiji.)
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Club Fiji

Our home on ‘mainland’ Fiji.

For our first night in Fiji we stayed at Club Fiji, a small beachside resort near Nadi.  A lovely place. We stayed in a bure with two rooms, right across the lawn from the beach and the sea.  The beach here is on Nadi bay, which is very shallow at this point. At high tide, the bay was a pretty blue but at low tide, the beach was a vast area of tidepools and mudflats. Still, this makes for interesting exploring and a huge area for seeking shells. Read on!

sunset at Club Fiji.
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Fiji – Malolo Lailai

This small island is the quintessential tropical paradise, with white sandy beaches, palm trees, sea breezes, and coral reefs.

Ah, Fiji. Quite the contrast from the chilly winter in New Zealand! The highlight of our time in Fiji was a stay on Malolo lailai island, at Musket Cove resort.  Read on! and check out the photos.

a quiet beach on my walk around the isalnd. [Malolo lailai, Fiji]
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New Zealand wrap-up

Our drive up the western side of the north island involved a lot of beautiful green countryside, with rolling hills and sheep pasture like this one.

We completed our tour of the south island with another visit to Blenheim, in the north-east corner [location].  In the morning we quickly toured some of the local vineyards – and it seems there are dozens in this area, known as Marlborough.  We found excellent wines at Cloudy Bay, Spy Valley, and Villa Maria. I understand that Villa Maria is readily available in the US. Read on!

Much of the countryside was rolling hills.
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Franz Josef glacier

We walked to the face of the Franz Josef glacier.

Early on this winter’s morning we took a hike to a glacier.  The Franz Josef glacier (named by an Austrian explorer for the then emperor of Austria) is one of the most accessible and indeed very impressive glaciers on the west slope of the southern alps. [location] Read on!

A steep icefall just above the main face of the glacier. South Island, New Zealand.
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The west coast

The west coast of the south island is rugged and beautiful.

We drove, in parts of three days, up the west coast of the south island.  Or those parts that are drivable, anyway, because the southwest corner (Fiordland) is roadless, and the northwest corner (Abel Tasman park) is remote with few roads. The southern alps loom close at hand on your right, and the hills drop steeply into the sea on your left.  At times the road was winding and twisting along these hillsides.  Rarely, we encountered a beach made of smooth rounded stones.  All in all, it was beautiful. Check out those photos and read on for more photos!

Coastline, as seen from Knight’s Point. South Island, New Zealand.
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Aoraki – Mount Cook

Aoraki is the highest peak in New Zealand, at 3754m.

Aoraki, the Maori name for Mt. Cook, is 3754m and the highest point in New Zealand  [location].  Aoraki means “cloud piercer”, and it was living up to its name as we arrived late Sunday afternoon to stay for a night in the valley.  “Spectacular” only begins to describe the drive in, and the mountains surrounding this gorgeous valley. Read on!

Windswept Aoraki’s triple summit at sunrise. New Zealand south island.
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Wanaka and west

We leave the dry eastern slopes and encounter the rainforest of the west coast.

We finished our hike at Aoraki around noon and drove south along the alps until we reached Wanaka [location].  This is the route to the west coast, indeed, the only route this far south, but nonetheless we bypass the entire Fiordland and Southland regions. They are gorgeous, I’m told, but with our limited time (and a severe weather warning for deep snow in that region) we skipped it on this trip. Read on!

Rainforest! The southern alps are a strong rain shadow. Haast pass, South Island, New Zealand.
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Akaroa and Christchurch

Akaroa, outside Christchurch on the east coast of the south island.

We stayed in Christchurch [location] two nights, mainly so that we could spend a day driving to Akaroa, on the beautiful Banks Peninsula on the east coast of the south island.  It is tempting to call Akaroa an “island”, and indeed Captain Cook once thought it was an island. It is actually a peninsula, rugged and hilly and gorgeous, with neat villages snuggled in the many bays and inlets. Read on!

Akaroa peninsula, late afternoon. New Zealand.
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