Whoosh! Issue 48 - September 2000


By Gregory R. Swenson
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
3752 words

Author's Note: In this article there are two photos and one map linked to Bevis King's article: "Xena: Warrior Princess: The Locations". Taken together this article and his compliment each other remarkably well. Be sure to look for those photos and the map!

Proposed Trip (01-03)
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 (04-06)
West To Muriwai Beach: The First Leg Of The Flight (07-16)
     Auckland International Airport (07)
     Maps And Flight Plan (08-09)
     Take Off (10-14)
     Waitakere Ranges Regional Park (15-16)
South To Piha: The Second Leg Of The Flight (17-21)
     Murwai Beach And Cliffs (18)
     Bethells Beach (19-21)
Main Points Of Interest (22-28)
     Te Hengi (22)
     Raeaktaki Point (23)
     Erangi Point (24)
     The Sandblow (25)
     Lake Wainamu (26)
     Waiti Stream (27)
     Piha (28)
Back To The Airport: The Third Leg Of The Flight (29-32)
     Manukau Harbour Entrance (29-30)
     Approach And Landing At Auckland International Airport (31-32)
Capturing Proof Of The Trip (33-34)
Notes On System Requirements (35-39)
     Aeronautical Sites
     Flight Simulator Sites
     Map Sites
     Hiking/Tramping/Sight Seeing
     Whoosh! Articles
Variations On The Basic Proposed Flight

Fantasy Flight One:
Coastal Locations Used For Filming Xena: Warrior Princess

The other side advertises Barilla Pasta

Proposed Trip

[01] The settings of Xena: Warrior Princess have such an awe inspiring aura to them that sometimes one questions whether or not they really exist. They actually do in the country of New Zealand, a land of subtropical flora. The trouble is to get there one has to spend a pretty dinar. But what if one could get there on the cheap? Say less than a thousand dollars, essentially the cost of a decent computer and appropriate software? Would you go?

[02] Here is a tour of the coastal settings of Xena: Warrior Princess using Microsoft Flight simulator 2000. I propose to take you on a simulated flight consisting of three legs:

  1. Auckland International airport to Muriwai Beach,

  2. Muriwai Beach to Piha, and

  3. Piha to Auckland International Airport.

[03] You can ride along now and, if you have Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000, duplicate the flight later if you so choose.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

[04] Microsoft Flight Simulator is the standard for flight simulator enthusiasts worldwide. This is not because it is necessarily the best flight simulator, but because it has the most extensive scenery available. Fortunately, that includes the scenery of New Zealand. The scenery consists of approximate landforms with generic texturing applied to them. Essentially that means that although the view one sees of the vistas is virtual, the feeling one gets flying over one's destination is satisfying enough to give one the impression of being there.

[05] For our flight today we will be using a Cessna Skylane. It is not the fastest nor the most nimble plane out there but it sure is reliable. It is also a stable platform for sightseeing.

[06] Boot up Microsoft Flight Simulator. It will default to Meigs Field in Chicago. Now choose World from the menu bar. Select Go to Airport. Change global region to Oceania. From Country/Region choose New Zealand. Then choose Auckland International from Search results. Click on the check mark. Poof! You are in New Zealand. If it is night, go to the menu bar and click on World. Click on Time & Season. Change Time of Day to day. Select a Season to your preference, perhaps spring or summer. The scenery of those seasons more appropriately approximates the scenery we see in Xena: Warrior Princess. Click on the check mark once you are happy with your preferences.

West To Muriwai Beach: The First Leg Of The Flight

Auckland International Airport

[07] We will start our flight at Auckland International Airport. It provides easy access to our destinations along the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

Maps and Flight Plan

[08] You are now ready to take off. But which direction? How will you determine which way to go? Microsoft Flight Simulator comes with 'Airport Maps'. They show the relative placement of airports to one another, aids to navigation, and coastlines. Go to World in the menu bar and click on Map View.

[09] Your goal will be to fly almost directly west to the bend in the western coast. This is the area of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. I have also included our proposed flight plan.

Can you see the deer?

Look for Auckland on this map. We will be starting from there.
CLICK HERE to see a larger graphic.
Before the Bermuda Triangle went aquatic.

Our proposed flight plan is triangular: Auckland International Airport to Muriwai Beach, Muriwai Beach to Piha, and Piha back to Auckland International Airport.
CLICK HERE to see a larger graphic.

Take Off

[10] The runway that you will be using runs northeast. Push the period key to take the brakes off. Gently throttle up to max. The Cessna will take off at eighty knots. Once off the ground, climb to a comfortable altitude, say 3,000 to 4,000 feet straight out from the airport before making a two-minute turn to the west.

[11] Once you are headed west, set the trim on your plane. Toggle the number pad by pressing the number lock key so the number lock light goes off. Then press the seven key on the number pad until the nose of the Cessna drops down and your artificial horizon indicates level flight. If you compensate too much, use the one key on the number pad to bring the nose of the plane back up.

[12] Ease back on the throttle until the altimeter says that you are no longer climbing. Press the "P" key to pause the simulation.

My other car is a Cessna.

Ready to taxi down the runway.
[13] Look out the left window of your plane and see if you can see Auckland International Airport. Press and hold the shift key and cycle through the number keys on the number pad to change your view out the plane. Start with seven. Hopefully, you will see the airport below.

[14] Use this technique whenever you want a good look about. Press "P" to resume the simulation. Keep heading west until you reach the coastline. Figure on about ten minutes flight time. Remember you are sight seeing and speed will not really be of service.

Stick head out, catch bugs in teeth.

Auckland International Airport is situated in Manukau Harbour.

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

[15] After about ten minutes you can notice that the urban environment gives way to a green sward that borders the coast. You are there, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. This is where many of the coastal settings of Xena: Warrior Princess are filmed. This is your general target area.

[16] Pause the simulator upon reaching the coastline by pressing "P". Check your bearings. Look for a developed road leading to the beach. You can scan the area through you windows in the paused mode. Use the Shift key and the number pad.

Don't try to spit into the wind!

To the left should be Raetahinga Point. You can also see the sharp delineation between the urban and wilderness environments.

South To Piha: The Second Leg Of The Flight

[17] Resume the simulation. Fly a few minutes west of the coast directly out to sea then make a left two-minute turn until you are flying southward as you parallel the coast.

Murwai Beach and Cliffs

[18] The Cliffs at Murwai provide the location for the infamous 'Gabdrag', arguably the most heinous scene ever filmed for Xena: Warrior Princess.

Um...I can use WHAT as flotation devices?!

Muriwai is to the left, the cliffs are in the center beyond the plane, and Raetahinga Point is to the right.
Xena tries to use Gabrielle as a parachute.

Clicking on this photo will take you to Bevis King's article on Muriwai Beach.

Bethells Beach

[19] Our next goal is Bethells Beach. This beach, along with its northern and southern promontories, is the most filmed of all the beach locations on Xena: Warrior Princess.

[20] Continue flying south along the coast. Be sure to stay far enough out to sea that you can see the stretch of beach going from Raetahinga Point to Raeakiaki Point. This is the general area of Bethells Beach. Once you reach this point, pause the simulation.

'A tad?!?!?!'

Raetahinga Point is to the left, Bethells Valley is in the center a bit inland from the beach, and to the right is Raeakiaki Point unfortunately a tad difficult to pick out from the air.
[21] Raetahinga Point looks a little deflated. No matter. I will provide a topographic map of the area. At this point the flight simulator realism begins to fade. It just does not show effectively what is actually there at Bethells Beach. Consequently, it is time to break out a topographic map.

If you can read this, you're too close to the monitor.

Clicking on this map links you to a great article on the Bethells Valley area by Bevis King.
CLICK HERE to see a larger graphic.
'His' and 'Hers' coves

Looking north to Erangi Point. Compare to the above map.

Main Points Of Interest

Te Hengi

[22] Te Hengi or Bethells Beach has been used for everything from the chariot duel between Xena and Callisto in RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205) to the survivors struggling ashore in TSUNAMI (65/319).

Forget the plane! This is the way to travel...

Mycenean road rage on Bethells Beach.

Raeaktaki Point

[23] Raeakiaki Point is the southern headland at Bethells Beach. Depending on the angle of your view, you may or not see that it is 'broken in two'.

Erangi Point

[24] Erangi Point is the northern headland at Bethells Beach. Could there be a more famous piece of landscape in the Xenaverse? It is popular with the locals too, so popular in fact that their surf club is located there.

The Sandblow

[25] Up from the Beach is the sandblow, an accumulation of sand that forms a natural dam for Lake Wainamu. Here we have watched Xena racing after Callisto in CALLISTO (22/122) and Xena with Gabrielle giving a firery goodbye to Eli in SEEDS OF FAITH (99/509).

The ceremonial 'goodbye' pig roast

A hunk, a hunk of burning love.

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