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Seeing New Zealand, Japan, Poland

July 11, 1993|BETTY MARTIN

PEERLESS NEW ZEALAND (Fame Productions, 2 hours, 25 minutes, 1993).

In addition to providing viewers with scenes of the usual tourist attractions of New Zealand's North and South islands, this lengthy video--narrated by Ken Armstrong--provides information on such topics as population, geography, the early Maoris, explorers, sheep raising, geology, the economy and transportation, including a humorous bit on road-sign lingo.

From Cape Reinga at the northern tip of North Island, the video visits Ninety-Mile Beach, the Waipoua Kauri Forest, Russell in the Bay of Islands area, historic Waitangi and a Maori festival.

A tour of Auckland includes the glowworms of Waitomo Caves and fishing at nearby Lake Taupo. There is also a tour of the Rotorua thermal area. For scenes of farms, ranch orchards and sheep shearing, there are stops at Kerikeri, Napier, Palmerston North and, on the western coast, New Plymouth and Mt. Egmont. A tour of Wellington completes the North Island.

Then the video heads by ferry boat to South Island and the towns of Picton, Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch.

There's a scenic train trip across Arthur's Pass to the town of Greymouth, from which side trips visit Pancake Rocks, the old gold-mining town of Shantytown, and Hokitika to see the jade factory and shops. Farther south are the dramatic sights of the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, the tallest peaks in New Zealand, and the heart of ski country. The tour returns to the east via Haast Pass to Mt. Aspiring National Park, Alexandra, Dunedin, Invercargill and the fishing village of Bluff.

Some of New Zealand's most wondrous scenery is seen at Milford Sound, with its Southern Alps, waterfalls and fiords. Nearby Queenstown, on Lake Wakatipu, has its own attractions.

Tapes are available from Ken Armstrong, 880 Black Mountain Road, Hillsborough, Calif. 94010, (800) 484-1065, ext. 1001. Price $35.95.


JAPAN BY TRAIN (Taylored Video Services, 30 minutes, 1993).

Produced as a promotional film for the Japan Railways Group, this video provides a helpful overview of the country's intricate, modern, fast and punctual rail system.

Viewers are shown examples of Japan's different rail lines, with interior scenes of seating, sleeping and dining amenities, and exterior views of the trains as they speed through the countryside.

There are scenes in the stations showing the many facilities available for tourists, such as lockers, shops, restaurants, even an art gallery. There's also information on luggage handling, handicapped travel, reservations, ticket and pass purchases, comparisons between coach and first-class and the availability of smoking and nonsmoking cars.

The video tours with the elegant Twilight Express, which travels the west coast of Japan from Osaka to Sapporo. Brief stops are made in Nara, Kyoto and at Edo/Tokyo, where scenes include the Meiji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and the Ginza, brilliantly lit at night.

Tapes are available from Taylored Video Services, Box 220513, Charlotte, N.C. 28222, (704) 366-0404. Price: $23.95.


POLAND (Rand McNally Video Traveler Collection, 31 minutes, 1993).

Warsaw, capital of this diverse country, has made a remarkable recovery from the damage of World War II. This is especially evident in the Old Town, where restoration has been faithful to the original. Viewers travel its cobblestone streets to the Market Square, which is filled with shops, cafes and museums. There are also stops at the Palace of Culture, Opera House, Castle Square, Wilanow Palace and gardens, the summer palace, Lazienki Park and numerous memorials to composer and pianist Frederic Chopin.

There's also a visit to the "land of a thousand lakes," a resort area in Poland's northeast, and to historic Malbard Castle nearby. Following the Vistula River south, the video stops at the town of Torun, birthplace of Copernicus.

On the Baltic Coast, viewers visit the beautifully restored town of Gdansk and the resort of Sopot.

In Krakow, there are tours of the Wawel Cathedral and of infamous Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp that's now a museum. North of Krakow is the Catholic center of Czestochowa, the site of the famous painting of the Black Madonna and the home of Pope John II.

Final scenes are of vacationers in the Tatra Mountains, and the folk culture of Zakopane.

This is one of the condensed versions of International Video Network's Video Visits, aimed at the budget-minded viewer, and is available through them at 2242 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, Calif. 94583, (800) 669-4486. Price: $9.95.

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