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New Zealand - Aotearoa

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43. Christchurch Tribute 2011

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 20:57:00 +0000

It's been a long time since last I wrote. Instead of writing the next part of my travels in New Zealand, I write this as a tribute to those who lost loved ones and those who suffered or were touched in some way by the terrible earthquake which hit Christchurch in February this year.

I was in Laos at the time and having gone back to my hotel, put the telly on and settled back to watch a show. The first thing I saw and heard was about the earthquake in Christchurch and I couldn't understand why they were reporting something that happened five months previously. It took a few minutes to realise they weren't. I sat there shocked as I learned of the earthquake that had all but destroyed a city. It had happened that day - February 22, 2011.

I felt so sad and just cried at the devastation and destruction. My memories of Christchurch are of a beautiful city with lovely parks and gardens - brilliant flowers, tall, stately buildings and wide, clean streets.

Below is a collage of some of those memories.

Christchurch before the earthquakes

42. Greymouth - Accommodation

Mon, 28 Dec 2009 07:30:00 +0000

Saturday 13th January

Walked from the station to the YHA. Greymouth itself was a rather unappealing place - then again it was a Saturday and perhaps it may be more lively during the week. However, our accommodation more than made up for Greymouth's lack of beauty.

YHA Greymouth - Kainga-ra
The magnificant Kainga-ra is nestled amongst a bush-clad hill with plenty of trees and lovely gardens.

Originally a Marist Brothers residence in the 1930s, the building is full of character and ambience. It's on the side of a steep hill (it was very steep lugging a suitcase up the driveway!) and overlooks the sea. Kainga-ra YHA Greymouth is a beautiful old building and you get superb views sitting on the front verandah.

The Lounge and Hall area
The old chapel has been converted into a bedroom and the study into a lounge. There's a guitar and a piano which you are allowed to use. When I was here, the Christmas tree was still up and there were still some Christmas decorations. The lounge was done out in beautiful warm colours of deep red/maroon.

The Bedroom

The Tranz Alpine was part of my Magic pass and so I arrived at the hostel long before the Magic bus did with its load of passengers. Ergo I got to choose which bed I wanted - mine is the lower bunk on the left-hand side. That's my red cap on it. (All the other bits and pieces are mine too!)

41. Tranz Alpine & Arthur's Pass

Mon, 28 Dec 2009 06:50:00 +0000

Saturday 13 JanuaryToday it's off to begin my South Island journey. The shuttle stopped at the YHA around 7.15am to take me and others to the Christchurch railway station. Weather was cool but pleasant. People were milling around taking photos of the train and excitement was high.The Tranz Alpine travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. On the way you can see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, and the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Pretty much the whole way we had overcast skies, heavy cloud and rain, rain, rain! Which meant riding in the "viewing" platform (an open air carriage) was nigh on impossible. It rained the whole time we were on the train - except for about 20 minutes. But it really is a great trip. Strangely enough, a family member made this trip across the Southern Alps in winter this year (2009) and had blue, sunny skies!The TranzAlpineAnd of course I, along with countless others stood in front of the Tranz Alpine and "posed" - not a particularly attractive photo but, it's the only one I have. (It should perhaps be pointed out, that since my NZ trip I've lost heaps of weight!)☺The train left on time at 8.15am and the fun begins.Tranz Scenic offered 20% discount for YHA members when I was there, not sure if they still do. I can recommend the trip very highly it's one of the most breathtaking train rides you'll ever have. You get off at Arthur's Pass, everyone takes photos you have about 10-15 minutes before reboarding. I remember the train was longer than the platform.Arthur's PassARTHURS PASS is nestled amongst the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island, and marks part of the boundary between Westland and Canterbury, 140 km from Christchurch and 95 km from Greymouth. the train pulls in at 10:42am. The pass lies in a saddle between the valleys of the Otira River, a tributary of the Taramakau, in the west and the Bealey River in the east. Arthur's Pass lies on the border of the Selwyn and Grey districts. Long before surveyor Arthur Dudley Dobson found his way over the pass in 1864, it was known to Māori hunting parties as a route between east and west.You can see the heavy fog surrounding the station.Arthur's Pass NPThe eastern side of Arthur's Pass National Park is characterised by wide, shingle-filled riverbeds and vast beech forests. The western side of the park, where wet weather is more common than dry, has deeply gorged rivers flowing through dense rainforest. Down the middle of 'the great divide' is an alpine dreamland of snow-covered peaks, glaciers and scree slopes.View on left sideSouthern Alps Road Track and Mountains Waimakariri River The Waimakariri River flows for 151 km from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific OceanIt rises on the east of the Southern Alps 8 km s/w of Arthur's Pass. For much of its upper reaches the river's braided with wide shingle beds. As it nears the Canterbury Plains, it passes through a belt of mountains and is forced into a narrow canyon - Waimakariri Gorge, before reverting to its braided form for its passage across the plains. The river enters the Pacific north of Christchurch near Kaiapoi.Misty Mountains The train climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth where we arrived at 12.45pm.The trip is 223.8 kms long takes just four and a half hours. There are 16 tunnels, and 5 viaducts, the highest being the Staircase standing at 73 metres.[...]

40. Marlborough Region & Picton

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 20:17:00 +0000

Friday 12 JanuaryToday is my last look at the North Island as I make my way to the South Island. The shuttle bus arrived at 7.30am and arrived at the Wellington ferry terminal at 7.45. I had booked the 8.25 ferry which would arrive in time to catch the Tranz Coastal (train) from Picton to Christchurch. The ferry crossing takes 3 hours.The "Arahura" Arahura is a Māori word meaning "pathway to dawn". The Arahura has been sailing across the Cook Strait since 1984 and can carry up to 550 passengers. There's a food court, a bar, and has extensive food and beverage facilities.The onboard facilities are very good, with a cinema, lounge, and outside observation decks.Ship Ahoy! It was very windy as you can see. I love sitting outside and usually do, but I and other hardy souls made for indoors as the wind was icy and the chill factor seemed to seep into one's bones.Marlborough Sounds The Marlborough Sounds are an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys created by a combination of land subsidence and rising sea levels at the north of the South Island of New Zealand. According to Māori mythology, the sounds are the prows of the sunken waka (canoe) of Aoraki.The main channels of the Marlborough Sounds have calm water and are popular for sailing. Cook Strait, however, is infamous for its strong currents and rough waters, especially when the wind is from the south or north. Because of this, some of the narrow channels closer to the Strait are dangerous.How The Sounds Were FormedThe Marlborough Sounds is a network of fjiord-like waterways, sheltered by steep hills, most clad in native and timber forests. Geologists would describe the Sounds as ‘drowned valleys’, where in past millennia, the mountains sank in earth movements and the sea flooded into the valleys. Māori legend tells a more exotic story of their creation, how as Kupe wrestled with a giant octopus he grasped at the South Island for support, his fingers digging deep and carving out the waterways.Tory Channel Tory Channel is named after the "Tory", a pioneer ship that brought British colonists to Wellington in 1840. It lies to the south of Arapawa Island, separating it from the mainland and forms a substantial part of the ferry route between Wellington and Picton.Queen Charlotte Sounds Queen Charlotte Sound is the easternmost of the main sounds of the Marlborough Sounds, in New Zealand's South Island, and like the other sounds, is a drowned river valley. The area was a base for whaling throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, notably at Perano Head on Arapawa Island which lies to the east. Queen Charlotte Sound has calm water and is popular for sailing - a marked contrast to the notorious waters of Cook Strait. The town of Picton, the northern terminus of the South Island's railway and State Highway networks, lies near the head of the Sound.Picton At the head of Queen Charlotte Sound is Picton, a quaint waterfront village - gateway to the South Island. Picton is the main link between the South and North Island, with scheduled ferry service over Cook Strait. I had an hour os so to spare before my train left and went for a stroll around the streets.Dublin Street Roundabout Having Irish ancestry, I just had to get a photo of this!World War I Memorial Overlooking the foreshore, the Sounds War Memorial was dedicated and unveiled in 1925. The inscription reads: "To Commemorate the Sounds Men who fell in the Great War 1914-1918", (21 names). Another eight names were added and a platform built around the memorial after World War II.The Kiwis honour their soldiers with Remembrance Day (11 November) as well as Anzac Day (25 April), which is a national holiday.Welcome to PictonThis sign is placed stragically along the walk from the ferry to the town.The Tranz CoastalThe TranzCoastal train journey travels between Picton and Christchurch, departing Picton at 1.00pm and arriving Christchurch at 6.21pm. I fell asleep on the train and broke the side arm of my glasses. When going to the buffet ca[...]

39. Wellington - Te Papa

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 19:35:00 +0000

Thursday 11 JanuaryAS I strolled along the waterfront, my next stop was at Te Papa Tongawera - or as it is more commonly known, just Te Papa. It is New Zealand's national museum and has a huge array of Māori exhibits. It also had an entire floor devoted to LOTR!Te Papa Tongawera Ceremonial Chair Waka Basket Necklace Skirt Sandals Sandals woven from flax.Marae Te Hono ki HawaikiTe Hono ki Hawaiki is not a conventional meeting-house but, rather, a foreshortened structure at the rear of the open performance space or marae atea.Corrugated HQ Holden This 1974 Holden Kingswood was clad with corrugated iron by Jeff Thomson in 1991 and driven around for three years. It is one of the most popularly photographed items in the museum.[...]

38. Wellington - Harbour Walk

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 17:07:00 +0000

Thursday 11 JanuaryAfter riding on the cable car, I strolled along the waterfront of Wellington's magnificent harbour, which I thought much prettier than Auckland's. Wellington Harbour Academy Galleries Founded in 1882, the Academy of Fine Arts is now housed on the ground floor of the architecturally stunning and heritage protected Wharf Offices Apartments Building in Queen's Wharf.The Academy Galleries support New Zealand's emerging and established artists through the sale of New Zealand Art as well as fostering a national appreciation and pride of fine art produced by artists around the country.A non-profit making private company, the Galleries is located at 1 Queens Wharf Lambton just a 2 minute walk from Downtown Wellington.Frank Kitts Park - Climbing Lighthouse The lighthouse was designed in the late 1980's by Mark Pennington.Completed in the late 1980s, Frank Kitts Park on Jervois Quay in the central city, was one of the first areas of the waterfront to be developed. The design was heavily influenced by the annual street car race that ran through the area at that time.The waterfront also bustles with a myriad of cafes, restaurants and bars. After your waterfront adventure relax with a cup of coffee or a meal. Sit back and take in the breathtaking views.The Mast from the Wahine The fore-mast is part of a memorial and is in Frank Kitts Park.The Wahine was an Interislander ferry which sank on 10 April 1968. Of the 610 passengers and 123 crew on board, 51 people lost their lives.Two violent storms merged over Wellington, creating a single extratropical cyclone storm - Cyclone Giselle hit as the Wahine was crossing Cook Strait Captain Hector Robertson entered Pencarrow Head but the Wahine hit the rocks on Barrett Reef. The radar no longer worked and winds were up to 160 km/h.Further reading about the Wahine disaster.Wellington Harbour Wellington’s magnificent harbour is a lake-like expanse of sheltered water surrounded by hills, with a narrow entrance to the sea.A raised rock platform (a legacy of the great 1855 earthquake) surrounds the harbour’s edge. Today much of this is obscured by roads. In other places it is interspersed with sandy beaches.In Māori the harbour is Te Whanganui-a-Tara (the great harbour of Tara) and Pōneke is the Māori name for Wellington.Light Balls & Boatsheds In the rear is the Star Boating Club which was formed in 1856 and is believed to be one of the oldest surviving sports clubs in New Zealand.William Chatfield, the Thorndon Village Architect, designed the current club building on iron rails in 1885. It was later moved to Jervois Quay and is now at the Taranaki St WharfThese spherical "balls" of which there are 33 in total, are called light balls and were created not only to represent bollards but to also provide lighting features.Kupe, with Wife and Priest The imposing bronze Kupe Group Statue, occupying pride of place on Taranaki Street Wharf, was originally designed in 1939 by Christchurch sculptor William Threthewey for the 1940 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition held at Rongotai, Wellington. It was originally created in plaster and finished with bronze paint. Following the exhibition, the statue sat for 40 years at the Wellington Railway Station and ten at the Wellington Show and Sports Centre before being stored at the Te Papa, the national museum in 1997, as a national treasure. The statue was cast in bronze in 1999 as a millenium project and unveiled on 4 March 2000 as a tribute to all who have come to these shores.The sculpture features Kupe Raiatea, the great Māori explorer and discoverer of Wellington harbour, his wife Te Aparangi and tohunga Pekahourangi.The plaque at the base reads:Matahourua te waka, ko Kupe te tangata, ko Hine-te-aparangi te wahine.Kupe Raiatea the Explorer.His wife Hine-te-aparangi.And Pekahourang the tohungaSight Aotearoa, New Zealandfrom their canoe Matahourua.Circa Theatre The theatre was formed in 1976, by an in[...]

37. Wellington - Cable Car

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 16:37:00 +0000

Thursday 11 JanuaryThere were two things I really wanted to do - ride on the Cable Car and go to Te Papa Tongarewa.Wellingnton Cable Car The Wellington Cable Car is one of Wellington’s oldest & most popular tourist attractions. The Wellington Cable Car is a funicular railway in Wellington New Zealand. It carries passengers between Lambton Quay the main shopping street and Kelburn a suburb in the hills overlooking the central cit, rising 120 m over a length of 612 m. It is widely recognised as a symbol of WellingtonThe Cable Car has two cars, which start from opposite ends of the line and pass in the middle. They are attached to each other by a 30-mm diameter cable, supported by 120 rollers, which runs round a pulley at the topGoing Down - The Rails The best view is in the front seat for an unobstructed view of what lies ahead, I had to stand to get these shots as people decided to stand in front of the seats.Through The tunnel Coming back down, looking ahead from the cable car.Over the Harbour You can read about the history of the cable car.Wellington Harbour You get magnificent views from the top of the Botanical Gardens. There's a restaurant and bistro (the bistro's cheaper) and I had coffee and cake ($7.50) on the balcony. The best spot is the round section outside. I met a Swiss banker called Stefan and another Swiss (forget his name), who was studying medecine in America. They were both very friendly and gentlemanly. I must say though, that that little Swiss banker was the daintiest chap I ever met!Cable Car Station This is where you alight from the cable car once you reach the top, although there are other "stations" along the way.Wellington Botanic Gardens The Wellington Botanic Garden features 25 hectares of unique landscape, protected native forest, conifers, specialised plant collections, colourful floral displays, and views over Wellington city.It is classified as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and is an Historic Places Trust Heritage Area.You can enter from Tinakori Road, Glenmore Street, Salamanca Road, Upland Road or the popular Cable Car.I chose the cable car - you get marvellous views.Rooftops Over The Harbour Can you imagine the wonderful views you'd have waking up here every morning? Lovely spot to live and good exercise walking up (and down) that hill![...]

36. Wellington - City Walk

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 15:51:00 +0000

Thursday 11 JanuaryAfter a lazy morning spent reading, I walked down Wakefield Street and bought a pegless clothesline from the Camping Store for $9.80 and found some lovely Christmas wrapping paper and postcards from Whitcoulls - made in England and only $3.00! Wellington is becoming known as a centre for works of contemporary public art. Much of this reputation is based on the many sculptures commissioned from leading artists by the Wellington Sculpture Trust. The Trust, active since 1984, raises funds and selects a wide variety of art for particular sites. It has the full support of the Wellington City Council which makes the sites available, assists with funding and assumes ownership after completion.John Plimmer StatueA man and his dog - John Plimmer (1812 – 1905) came from Shropshire on the ship Gertrude in 1841 & is called the Father of Wellington He was a member of the Wellington Provincial Council 1856-1857 the first Wellington Town Board 1863 & was on the Wellington City Council 1870-1871His principal public service was the organisation of the Wellington & Manawatu Railway Company between 1880 & 1886This bronze statue was created by Tom Tischler Ross Wilson Judy Alexander & Peter Kundycki in 1996 and is at the Plimmer Steps.Bank of New ZealandThe Old Bank Building is one of Wellington's most famous landmarks - 2001 marked the hundred-year anniversary of this magnificent building - a testament as much to the architecture of John Turnbull & the original builders as it is to the incredible restoration work that has seen the Old Bank return to its former gloryA trip to the Old Bank is not just a retail thrill - it's a chance to experience a world of history and style that transcends the agesIt now houses the most exquisite fashion & beauty designsProtoplasmCreated by Phil Price and located on the corner of Hunter Street and Lambton Quay, this interesting sculpture is one of several called Protoplasm.Cable Car LaneThe Cable Car sculpture was created by Hugh Nicholson and Bob Sharpe in 2002, and is made of steel. It is located at Cable Car Lane.Invisible City Invisible City by Anton Parons was presented to the city with assistance from the Jack and Emma Griffin Charitable Trust and the Wellington City Council.The stainless steel of this sculpture seems to glow with an inner light. The magnified Braille text suggests a message, but the artist chooses to deny us access, raising issues of communication in the contemporary world, and the difficult interface between the disabled and the rest of the community.It was installed 2003.Walk To The Water This sculpture made of steel was created by Jerry Luhman and Bob Sharpe in 2000 and is at the corner of Grey Street & Lambton Quay.[...]

35. Wellington - Accommodation & a Funny Story

Sat, 12 Dec 2009 08:58:00 +0000

Wednesday 10 JanuaryWe arrived in Wellington at 4.00pm and did not get driven up Mt. Victoria because of fog and rain, which was a bit disappointing, but we can't control the weather. YHA Wellington City The YHA was excellent, I had Room 606 on the 6th Floor and had a marvelous view. There only other occupant was Rachel, who was from Perth. She'd been in Welly a couple of weeks and was working or looking for work. The Terrace Lounge was a lovely quiet area where you could read and there was a small balcony outside. The kitchen and dining room were excellent with very good facilities. View From My Dorm Window This photo was taken from a window at the YHA on the corner of Wakefield Street and Oriental Parade and looks out over the supermarket to the harbour.The funny storyAlthough it wasn't funny at the time, I can laugh about it now. I hand washed my underwearand hung them on the window latches. I kept checking to make sure they hadn't blown off - still there, that's alright then. But, horror of horrors! Next time I looked, they were gone. The bra had fallen down. Went to reception, looked for a female worker, but there were none. Explained to the young fellow and asked where would they have fallen and could I get them please? What was it that fell down, he wanted to know. Clothes, said I. What clothes, said he. Underwer, said I. What was it and what colour was it said he.Oh-oh, nothing doing. He said they would have landed on the rooftop outside reception and I wasn't allowed there. He went and "retrieved" them and said coming back, "What colour is it? Is this it"? I was soooo embarrassed. He tried very hard not to smile - as I said, he tried, I didn't say he succeeded. What made it doubling embarrassing was there were two young blokes on reception. View From My Dorm Window The Fire Station could be seen from the other window in my dorm.This essentially Moderne building built to replace the previous Central Fire Station has a symmetrical facade & a set-back central tower decorated with vestiges of Art DecoFirst planned in 1932 by architect C.H. Mitchell it was officially opened by the Governor General Lord Galway on 1 December 1937The clock a gift to the city from the Blundell family was originally placed in the Wellington Town Hall in 1922 but after the removal of the TownHall tower for earthquake reasons it was moved here.Outdoor CourtyardThis is where I sat with a couple of people from the YHA and celebrated my birthday - with liquid refreshment. A nice bottle of wine, some beer, and more wine and we had a jolly good time.[...]

34. Taupo to Wellington - Magic Birthday - 2

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 13:48:00 +0000

Wednesday 10 January

Magic Birthday Photo

I had asked our driver Paris earlier in the day if I could have a group photo taken for my birthday and he said yes that'd be alright, he'd get everybody lined up when we stopped for a break.

We stopped at the Wild Bean Cafe in Palmerston North and I reminded him, but he forgot. When I mentioned it again, he was very good about it, and said to everybody, "Okay, everybody off the bus, we're all going to pose for a birthday photo."

There was grumbling and mutterings (it was very cold and pretty wet) and they didn't want to. But he wouldn't take no for an answer, and made everyone get off - which I thought was very good of him. Below is a close-up - that's me in the red cap, our driver is on my left in the blue board shorts.

My Magic Birthday

Here we all are - my travelling companions on this day.
Thanks Paris for doing this - you're a real brick. It's one birthday I'll never forget.:-)

33. Taupo to Wellington - Magic Birthday 1

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 13:26:00 +0000

Wednesday 10 January

Today is my birthday and we left Taupo at 8.00am. It was wet, foggy and one of the most boring road trips ever. Had I known that this part of the trip there are no "activities" - it was just a c ase of getting from A to B (Taupo to Wellington), I'd have arranged my trip differently. Ah well, we live and learn! No photos were possible of Mount Ruapehu ot Tongariro NP - you couldn't see through the fog. Although the sky was a bit clearer further south.

Art Gallery
This bright blue building is at 43 Mataroa Rd. Taihape. Taihape is a small market town on the southern edge of the Central Volcanic Plateau, and occupies a basin on the banks of the Hautapu River. It was originally known as Koronokonui. Today, it promotes itself as the "Gumboot capital of New Zealand" - the locals compete aggressively in the celebrated annual "Gumboot Throwing Contest" in which participants endeavour to toss a gumboot the greatest distance across a paddock.

Along the way
Scenery from the bus window somewhere along the highway.

Morning Tea stop
We stopped here for a tea break. I can't remember the name of the place, but if I do I'll post it up.

Morning Tea stop


I just had to get a photo of sheep - where would New Zealand be without all its sheep? Did you know New Zealand has 13 times as many sheep as people? - that's approx. 47.2 million sheep.
No wonder there are so many sheep jokes. (All New Zealand jokes are about sheep!)

32. Taupo - Taniwha

Wed, 09 Dec 2009 13:25:00 +0000

Tuesday 9 January

Taniwha are supernatural creatures and in the Māori world view they were seen as part of the natural environment. Taniwha have been described as fabulous monsters that live in deep water. Others refer to them as dragons. Taniwha were either male or female. They usually lived in or near the water – lakes, rivers or the sea. They hid in lairs known as rua taniwha, which could be deep pools, caves, or dangerous waterways – areas that people avoided.

In some traditions, taniwha were terrifying creatures that captured people and ate them. Occasionally, it was said that they would kidnap women to live with them as wives. These monsters would inevitably be killed and the women returned to their families.

Taniwha Tablet

This stone tablet was near the taniwha in the first photo.

Taniwha and Chiefs
Taniwha were also a symbol for great chiefs. There is a proverb from Waikato:

Waikato taniwha rau, he piko he taniwha.

Waikato of a hundred taniwha, every bend a taniwha
For some this refers to the many taniwha of the Waikato River, while for others it is about the many important chiefs of the area.

Waikato River

The Waikato River, the longest in New Zealand, rises on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu in Tongariro NP as the Tongariro River, it then flows north through Lake Taupo and, issuing from the lake's north eastern corner, tumbles over Huka Falls and flows northwest to enter the Tasman Sea south of Auckland. The river is 425 km in length, and has a gentle gradient and carries a heavy load of ash from the volcanic highlands. The Waikato has formed numerous lakes and lagoons along its lower reaches.

Origin of the name
The name Waikato originated during the voyage of the Tainui canoe, which had journeyed from Polynesia. Arriving just off the mouth of the river, the crew remarked upon the kato (the pull of the river current in the sea) and thereafter the name Waikato (wai meaning water) was given to the river.

31. Taupo - Huka Falls

Wed, 09 Dec 2009 10:41:00 +0000

Tuesday 9 January

After we left Wai-O-Tapu, we stopped at a place called Rock'n'Ropes - a couple of adventurous souls had a go. The weather had turned nasty and I remember siting on some sort of verandah until it wastime to get back on the bus.

The next stop was Huka Falls. The name Huka is the Māori word for 'foam', which is appropriate as the falling water and rapids certainly resembles foam, especially under flooding conditions.

Huka Falls
It was an incredible sight - and sound, as more than 220,000 litres of water per second comes gushing down.

Huka Falls
At the Huka Falls, the Waikato River which is normally 100m wide, is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20m drop.
Every second up to 220,000 litres of water gushes through the gorge and shoots out over 8 metres beyond to create a beautful blue/green pool.

Huka Falls Bridge
Huka Falls is located in Wairakei Park. This is only a short 5 minute drive north of Lake Taupo. This pedestrian bridge gives a marvelous view of the falls and is a very good place for photography.

30. Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 13:25:00 +0000

Tuesday 9 JanuaryWai-O-Tapu Geothermal Area is the most diverse and spectacular geothermal area in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The publically accessible part is only a small portion of the 18 square km area.Champagne Pool Colouful mineral deposits in overflow from Champagne Pool Hot SpringDevil's Ink Pots Devil's Ink Pots (crude oil and graphite form dark areas on surface.Thunder Crater Thunder crater - collapse feature formed in 1968.Keep Off The Grass! We were told not to try dipping our hand in any of the pools or go walking off the designated tracks - otherwise we'd "fry."Primrose Sinter Terrace After destruction of the Pink and White terraces in lake Rotomahana by the 1886 eruption of Mt. Tarawera, touristic focus in the area shifted to Wai-O-Tapu which had the largest remaining sinter terrace in New Zealand.Wai-O-Tapu is located on the northern perimeter of the Reporoa caldera. This caldera is approximately 10x15 km in size and was formed 230000 years ago during a massive eruption which emplaced 100 cubic kilometers of breccia (ash and pumice) referred to as the Kaingaroa Ignimbrites. These are over 30m thick in places. Around the time of the Kaharoa eruption of nearby Tarawera (800 years ago) a number of large hydrothermal eruptions occurred in Wai-O-Tapu. Drill holes at Wai-O-Tapu show that the current source of heat is located under the N margin of Reporoa and the S part of Wai-O-Tapu.Rainbow CraterColours are the result of sulphur and other minerals exposed.Obey The Signs [...]

29. Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 13:21:00 +0000

Tuesday 9 January

Artist's Palette

Sulphur rich hot spring. Overflowing water from the Champagne Pool draws with it minerals that have originated from below the surface. As the waters cool and the minerals are exposed to the atmosphere, they show in a variety of colours depending on wind direction and water level.

Thou Shalt Not Throw Stones!

The sign speaks for itself.

Opal Pool
Such a beautiful colour, but oh, so deadly.

Sinter (Silica)Terrace Crossing

Champagne Pool

The surface features of the geothermal area are generated by groundwater that is superheated deep underground by old magma bodies which have not yet fully cooled. The superheated water dissolves minerals from rocks and deposits underground and deposits these in places where it reaches the surface and evaporates.

The colours of the deposits indicates the minerals involved in the process - green (colloidal sulphur / ferrous salts), orange (antimony), purple (manganese oxide), white (solica), yellow (sulphur), red (iron oxides) and black (sulphur / carbon).

28. Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu

Sun, 06 Dec 2009 15:53:00 +0000

Tuesday 9 January

Rainbow Crater
Well over a dozen craters are located within close proximity. They range from 5-50 metres in diameter and up to 20 metres deep. All were formed by the ground surface collapsing. It is believed under this area subterranean waterways have eroded away rock structure alowing the surface ground to collapse away forming craters. Many craters have various types of geothermal activity such as boiling pools, steam fumeroles, sulphur vents and mud pools. The pumice ground is this area is coloured by various oxides.

Purple - Magnanese Oxide,
Red/Brown - Ferrous Oxide
Yellow - Sulphur.

Inferno Crater

The crater has a bottom of violently boiling mud. In recent history an earth archway linking the sides has been completely destroyed by the action of acidic steam.

Champagne Pool
The pool fills a 900 year old crater which is roughly 60 metres across and 60 metres deep. The waters are tinted green with arsenic, sulphur and iron compounds. It bubbles with carbon dioxide at about 74º C and deposits orange antimony and traces of gold, silver and mercury on its rim and the huge sinter terraces that drain it.

Champagne Pool

Orange Antimony-rich deposits. The Champagne Pool is the most colourful and most popular.

Champagne Pool
Mineral deposits give the Champagne Pool at Wai-O-tapu Thermal Wonderland near Rotorua its edges the beautiful colours and unique formations

27. Rotorua - Geysers & Geothermal Wonders

Sun, 06 Dec 2009 15:36:00 +0000

Tuesday 9 JanuaryOur driver, Paris was over 25 minutes late in arriving and told us he didn't have time because of this to take us past the Government Gardens. Many, in fact, most, of the passengers complained loudly about this, as this was one of our "highlights", and you could have cut the air with a knife - the temperature dropped about 10 degrees! He (the driver) tried very hard to joke and stuff, but the passengers were not forgiving.Wai-O-Tapu was fantastic, but we didn't have nearly enough time there. The time spent at a bungy jumping place later in the day was very long and very boring. It would have been better having more time at the geothermal areas and less at the bungy jump. We had to drive past the hostels to get to the bungy thing and many passengers asked could they be dropped off there as they weren't interested in looking at the bungy jump place. Nothing doing - we all had to hang around at the bungy jump place. The weather had steadily worsened after leaving Wai-O-Tapu, and it was absolutely pouring, and when we did finally get to our hostels, you couldn't go anywhere - it just continued to pour buckets.Geothermal Activity As we approached the geothermal areas you could see the activity going on from the bus.Lady Knox Geyser Our first stop was at the Lady Knox Geyser which erupts every day at 10.15am - soap is dropped into the opening vent to ensure this occurs. Depending on the weather, the eruption can be up to 20m and rocks are placed around the base to enhance this.Lady Knox Geyser In 1901 the first open prison in New Zealand was established at Wai-O-Tapu to house some of the better behaved prisoners from around the gaols of the Rotorua Lakes District.Some of those prisoners discovered the clearing in which the geyser is situated and that the spring could be made to erupt by adding soap - as they found when they first used the hot water to wash their clothes.Our next stop was at Wai-O-Tapu which in English means "Sacred Waters."Wai-O-Tapu Above is the entrance which leads to a gift shop with many souvenirs for sale.Entrance GardenAfter going through the gift shop, you walk along this walkway which leads you to the geothermal "park."Map of Wai-O-Tapu Steaming Fumeroles - The Devil's Home The Devil's Bath Lake The green color is from colloidal sulphur/ferrous salts.The luminous green Devil's Bath is a large rugged edged crater near the bush line with amazing natural water colour at its base. The colour comes from the excess water from the champagne pool mixing with sulphur and ferrous salts. Changes in colour through Green to Yellow are associated with the amount of reflecter light and cloud cover.[...]

26. Rotorua Snapshots

Sun, 06 Dec 2009 13:51:00 +0000

Monday 8 January

After a very late night today was a bit of a lazy day with a late rise out of bed and amble around just enjoying what was around.

Rotorua Collage

At the end of the day, an easy tea was the order of the day - 3 eggs, tomatoes and 4 pieces of toast at 9.30pm. Then pack the case ready for tomorrow's early start.

25. Rotorua - Tamaki Māori Village 4

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 20:58:00 +0000

Sunday 7 January

After the concert we were taken into the dining hall for a traditional hangi. Hangi is the traditional Māori way of cooking food. A huge pit is dug, the food is placed in baskets in particular layers and the pit sealed. It is then left to cook for several hours.

As there were many tables, each table was called up in turn. The table I was at was one of the last to be called up, so we missed out on a couple of things. I had kumera, potato, roast lamb and chicken. Dessert was pavlova and steamed pudding. I had both - yes, yes, I know it was greedy, but what the heck, you only live once and who cares about calories when they're on holiday anyway?

I bought a glass of "Tamaki Punch" which was $6.50. At the gift shop, I later purchased a fridge magnet in the shape of a kiwi for $7.80.

Cooking Pit
One of the several cooking pits. In the background you can just make out part of the dining hall.

Totem Pole
Each totem pole tells a story about the person or tribe who carved it.


Suddenly it was after 10 o'clcok and it was time to head back. We all piled into the bus filled with bonhomie and food and at our driver's instigation started singing a song or two.

As we approached the roundabout to turn into Rotorua, our driver said, "Come on everybody, let's all sing The Wheels of the Bus" So we sang along with him - "The wheels of the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, The wheels of the bus go round and round..." and as we turned the roundabout, to our amazement, he didn't go to Rotorua, but kept going around and around and around in circles. You should have seen the looks of surprise at the drivers (and passengers) of the cars stopped there as not one, but five or six buses went around and around and around one after another.

Mark told us they did this every night - the locals are used to it and sometimes come out to watch, but the tourists don't know what hit them! We were all in stitches, almost rolling around on the floor with laughter.

This was the highlight of my New Zealand trip, as I knew it would be and I would recommend to anyone going to NZ to do this tour - it's fantasy, history, and fun all rolled into one.

Kia Ora.

24. Rotorua - Tamaki Māori Village 3 - The Haka

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 20:33:00 +0000

Sunday 7 JanuaryThe famous HakaAnd finally, came the pièce de résistance - the Haka! This was what I wanted to see more than anything and it was the highlight of the evening.The Haka Sitting just a few feet away from these huge blokes all decked out with tattoos and traditional Māori dress, waving their arms, ferocious scowls on their faces, chanting and yelling loudly in the middle of a forest, pitch black is quite an experience, let me tell you. I mean, I knew it was a concert, and I knew we were all safe and happy, but...I wouldn't like to have been their enemy in olden times.Watch the HakaThe Battle HakaThe peruperu is characterised by leaps during which the legs are pressed under the body. In former times, the peruperu was performed before a battle in order to invoke the god of war and to discourage and frighten the enemy. It involved fierce facial expressions and grimaces, poking out of the tongue, eye bulging, grunts and cries, and the waving of weapons. If the haka was not performed in total unison, this was regarded as a bad omen for the battle. Often, warriors went naked into battle, apart from a plaited flax belt around the waist. The aim of the warriors was to kill all the members of the enemy war party, so that no survivors would remain to undertake revenge.The Origin of Ka MateThe most well know Haka is the Ka Mate. In the early 1800's, a chief by the name of Te Rauparaha composed Ka Mate, the most well known of all haka. He was chief of the Ngati Toarangatira (Ngati-Toa) a branch of the Tainui tribe, and dwelt in Kawhia, north of the Waikato. There were inter-tribal wars - a bitter story of constant skirmish, reprisal and territorial dispute.Ka mate, ka mateKa ora, ka oraTenei te tangata puhuruhuruNana i tiki mai whakawhiti te raUpane, upaneUpane kaupaneWhiti te ra.These words are translated as:It is death, it is deathIt is life, it is lifeThis is the hairy manWho caused the sun to shine again for meUp the ladder, up the ladderUp to the topThe sun shines.This is the Haka as performed by the All Blacks.A word on pronunciationThe 'wh' is pronounced as an 'f' or 'ph'. The 'e' on the end of a word is sounded as if the word ended in 'ay' as in 'hay'.The 'au' is pronounced as the 'ou' in 'hour'.The 'u's are all long like 'ou' in 'you'.The 'a's are all sounded long as in 'ah'Kia Ora![...]

23. Rotorua - Tamaki Māori Village 2 - The Concert

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:46:00 +0000

Sunday 7 January

We we then tatken into a large room and watched traditional Māori dances.

Māori Dance

I was fascinated by the tattoos.

Māori Dance
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Māori Dance

22. Rotorua - Tamaki Māori Village 1

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 19:41:00 +0000

Sunday 7 JanuaryThe mini-van picked me up from the hostel and then we stopped at the Tourist Office in Hinemaru Street, where we waited while a few other people boarded. Our driver was a jovial Māori chap called Mark and each time he opened or shut the door it made a shuddering clang! He was funny and fun to be with and welcomed us in different languages - I think he said he could say welcome in 74 languages! He asked us what country we came from and told us we all had to do an imitation of a bird or animal native to our country. I did the Kookaburra. I'm pretty good at kookaburra impressions - if truth be told, it's the only one I can do.Mark gave us a history about Māori - their customs, way of life etc. and told us we were a tribe and had to elect a Chief. Who'd like to be Chief he asked? Most put their hand up, including me. Then he dropped the bombshell - only a male could be Chief! He would have to go through the ritual of welcome when we reached the village, accept a challenge, pass a test, and make a gift to the village chief on our behalf - to show that we came in peace, not war. A nice-looking young bloke was made Chief (I remember he had blondish hair and was from California) and we all cheered and clapped. Being Chief has its advantages - you get to eat first! Village Entrance After about a 20 minute ride, we arrived at the village and looked around with interest. Mark again reminded our "Chief" of the seriousness of the Pōwhiri (welcome ceremony) he was to participate in and we were instructed not to laugh, talk or move - it is considered extremely rude. We could however take photos.PōwhiriThe purpose of the Pōwhiri is to remove the tapu of the Manuhiri (visitors) to make them one with the Tangata Whenua (Home people). It is a gradual process of the Manuhiri and the Tangata Whenua coming together.Māori Warrior We entered the village forecourt and waited. A blood-curdling scream rang out from the forestThe Warrior Approaches Guards Then the warriors came - in traditional dress they looked fearsome and daring yelling out war cries. Māori Warriors Display of Weaponry Karanga The karanga usually indicates the start of the pōwhiri (formal welcome ceremony). Carried out exclusively by women and in the Māori language, karanga is initiated by the hosts (tangata whenua). The karanga generally begins with the initiating caller (kaikaranga) from the tangata whenua, and response caller (kaiwhakatu) from the manuhiri.Like the whaikōrero (formal speech of welcome), karanga follow a format in keeping with correct protocol.Marae Marae The Challenge Amid war cries, the challenge is thrown down and our "Chief" is being given a test. Imagine having this fellow that close, aim his spear at you – a very effective way of frightening your enemies!Māori Chief Our "chief" passed the test, the Māori Chief and ours pressed noses, and we were welcomed into the village. (Sighs of relief)Some may say it is all for show, for the tourists, and in a way it is - but what you should know, and remember is this..these customs are part of the Māori culture that stems back for hundreds of years, and has been handed down from father to son, from mother to daughter. In this way, their culture is not lost, but kept alive.It was a most wonderful experience.[...]

21. Rotorua - Accommodation

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 15:05:00 +0000

Sunday 7 JanuaryFriends who had been to New Zealand all said, "You'll know when you arrive in Rotorua - you can smell it long before you get there - it smells like rotten eggs!"Lovely. As it turned out, yes, I did smell the pong for which Rotorua is noted, but it dissipated within a few minutes of arrival.We arrived in Rotorua at 5.45pm - I was longing for a shower, change of clothes, and a cuppa! Alas, it was not to be - Cactus Jacks stuffed up my booking. They said I was not in the system, no bed available. Daniel, the security guard on duty found the notebook, my name written in pencil. I had been put in Room 17 or 7, - $65 a night. Not happy Jan Peter came back, said he would sort something out after I returned from the Hangi which I was going to. Returned 10.30pm - here's your key. Room 29. Filthy, disgusting mess. Turns out I was to share with two fellas. Gawd it stunk! Not on mate. Got Pete, explained I had booked female dorm. Nothing available. Was given Room 7 - a double. Forty dollars for 2 nights.Cactus JacksI couldn't get the whole place in one single photo, so I took two and joined them together, which is why it appears a little uneven. Cactus Jacks at 1210 Haupapa St Rotorua, has a Tex/Mex theme and this is reflected in the furnishings and outdoor courtyard.Inside Snapshots One of the other "inmates" at the kitchen sink. The lounge room. Kitchen table and chairs, and a close-up of the entrance.The Courtyard The courtyard out the back is in the middle with rooms going around. You can't see it, but there is a verandah (covered) with velvet lounge chairs and a sofa.It wasn't all that clean - the cleanliness of the place left a lot to be desired, but the location was excellent and the atmosphere was fantastic - fun, happy, and had a real good feel to it.[...]

20. Waitomo - Caves and Rabbits

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 08:50:00 +0000

Sunday 7 January

Finally we arrived at Waitomo Caves at 2.00PM. Due to the unfortunate breakdown of our bus, there wasn't time for any cave adventures. I bought lunch from a nice little place with wooden tables and bench seats outside - had fish'n'chips and potato cakes. Cost was only $6.20 - much cheaper than back home!

Waitomo Caves Totem Pole
This Māori Totem Pole stands at the entrance of the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Māori have been expert wood carvers through the ages, and store houses, ceremonial buildings, and poles were carved and adorned with detailed carvings which represented a history and paid homage to their ancestors. Carvings were given as wedding gifts, or made from the belongings of conquered enemies to incorporate their spirit into new existences.

Discovery Centre

Angora Rabbit Shearing Shed Entrance
New Zealand's only angora rabbit shearing show is held here at Waitomo. You can have the unique experience of patting a white German angora rabbit and watch them being shorn.

The Shearing Shed
The shop specialises in angora fibre products and there is a very nice selection of knitting yarn and hand-knitted garmets along with other New Zealand-made products.

German Angora Rabbit

One of the white angora rabbits - you've probably seen sheep being shorn but rabbit shearing can only be seen here at The Shearing Shed

19. Auckland - Mt. Eden and a Broken Bus!

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 21:48:00 +0000

Sunday 7 JanuaryWell now, it's time to head down the North Island. The bus arrived and we left at 7.50am. (That's one of the good things about the hop-on/hop-off backpacker buses - they pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation. None of this having to lug heavy suitcases and/or backpacks behind you!)First, we went to Mt. Eden - the winds were icy, and this is summer?! Mount Eden, (Maungawhau, the 'Mountain of the Whau tree' in Māori) is the name of a cinder cone and surrounding suburb in Auckland City, New Zealand, situated five kms south of the city centre. The mountain is the highest natural point in the whole of Auckland. The English name honours George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.Auckland from Mt. Eden You can see how the Sky Tower dominates the city skyline. And at 328 metres, it is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers breathtaking views for up to 80 kms in every direction. In the background you can see Freeman's Bay and Stanley Bay.Auckland again Actually, I have cropped this photo - I was standing in the front and decided I rather spoilt the picture! Alas, I thought I liked having me in front of things and saying, "Hey, look at me! Here I am at 'such-and-such-a-place'!"I have learnt better. Now when I take photos, I definitely do not want to look back and see me standing there.:-) Ah...we live and learn, eh?On top of Mount Eden I have lightened this and used "poetic licence" by adding a tinge of pink to the sky as the original was very dark.Cattle Rights Cattle graze on the slopes of Mt. Eden and buses (and other traffic) need to negotiate and give them way. It was lovely to see them so close to a city.Cattle close-up It seems that cattle grazing on Mt. Eden will be a thing of the past, according to this report. How sad. I am glad (and lucky) that I had the chance to be here before this happened.Back on the roadAfter Mt. Eden, we all filed back on the bus and travelled along the Auckland Hamilton Highway through the Bombay Hills and stopped at Mercer for a coffee. I ordered a small coffee and received it plus a large-sized one too! As my old Dad always said, never look a gift horse in the mouth. I drank both.On the road again, and the bus was playing up. Paul, our driver, said the engine was heating and showing RED so we had to return to Mercer.Broken Down The chap on the left is Paul, and on the table is a book - Maeve Binchy's "The Glass Lake", which I was reading. That's my camera case on top. Isn't it amazing how photos bring back memories?We Wait Here you can see some of the others all in varying poses of relaxation. Some went for walks, some ate, and others just chilled out and napped under the trees or in the sun.Ah..what a lovely way to spend 2 hours! The replacement bus came at 12.10PM! This meant that our time in Waitomo would be cut short, but hey.. it's a holiday and something that you look back on with fond memories. I didn't really mind the wait. It was nice not having to rush somewhere or be anywhere.Below: Mt. Eden and Mercer. Click on the blue markers for photo. frameborder="0" height="350" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src=",174.699097&spn=1.536808,2.334595&z=8&output=embed" width="425">View Mount Eden NZ in a larger map[...]