We are back at Singapore’s Rasa Sentosa Hotel on Sentosa Island. We flew out from Christchurch New Zealand in the morning, the flight took nine hours and 50 minutes (tail wind , so not bad at all!) and Singapore has roughly a 6 hour time difference with New Zealand, so the first item on the agenda after getting to the hotel is a shower and a decent sleep to try and shake off the worst of the jet-lag. Now we are hungry and it’s time to start the day with yet another fabulous breakfast before setting out on another day of adventures… yum!!!
October 15, 2012
August 30, 2012
Now we are back on the road heading down New Zealand’s North Island east coast towards Wellington… some scenic photographs taken from the van at between 80-100 kms per hour to give you an idea of this stage of the journey… (btw I said they were scenic, I didn’t say they were brilliant LOL!)
August 17, 2012
One of the next places we pass though is the small west coast township of Bulls.
It’s not too far from Palmerston North and is deep in beef and dairy farming country so it’s name suits it perfectly.
The place got it’s name after a certain Mr. James Bull who founded the town and opened the first General Store here.
Wikipedia made me chuckle when I did some research and discovered that Bulls is (naturally!!!) twinned (or should that be “coupled”?) with the town of Cowes in The United Kingdom.
The locals put themselves on the map by having a laugh at themselves so invariably the local police station is the place where you will find the ”Const-a-bull”…
… and the mural on the garage door of the police station is hopefully not of the local “Cow-boy” officers of the Law. Even the local Sherlock Holmes depicted is rather a beefy chap. Other local establishments also used their imagination so there’s the (Bulls) C.A.L.F Childcare centre, a shop called “Trash and Treasure-a-bull” etc.
We had a giggle and admired the residents for having a great sense of humour…
August 8, 2012
Mount Taranaki was given the English name of Mount Egmont when white settlers arrived in New Zealand, but recently it’s been decided to revert back to the original name, a decision I wholeheartedly endorse.
I see no reason why indigenous names (anywhere) should be taken over by colonial ones but of course it was done when white skinned human beings were supposedly “discovering” lands and arrogantly renaming places after themselves, their ancestors or birthplaces even though these places already had names from the brown skinned human beings that got to these places centuries, and in in the case of some countries, millennia before them.
I think it’s a great step forward for New Zealand to revert back to the original names so am proud to call this mountain Mount Taranaki.
The mountain is actually an extinct volcano and Maori legend has an explanation as to why there are three volcanoes that stand together in the center of the North Island and one that stands alone on the coast in the west. Wikipedia actually tells the story better than I can so here it is:
“In Māori legend, Taranaki is a mountain being that lived peacefully for many centuries in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island with three other mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.
Nearby stood Mount Pihanga. Covered in a cloak of deep green forest she presented a stunning sight and all the mountain gods were in love with her.
Taranaki dared to make advances to Pihanga and was reproached by Tongariro and a mighty battle ensued between them. The earth shook and the sky became dark as the mountains belched forth their anger. When the battle ended the lovely Pihanga stood close by Tongariro’s side.
Taranaki, wild with grief and jealously, angrily wrenched his roots from the ground and left the other mountains.
Weeping, he plunged towards the setting sun, gouging out a deep wide trench. When he reached the sea he turned north and stumbled up the coast. As he slept that night the Pouakai Ranges snared and trapped Taranaki in the place he now rests.
The next day a stream of clear water sprang from the side of Tongariro. It flowed down the deep scar Taranaki had left on his journey to the coast to form the Whanganui River.
There are those who say that Taranaki is silently brooding and will one day try to return inland again to fight Tongariro. Consequently many Māori were wary of living in the area between the mountains.”
There is an inland “short-cut” route south past the mountain but we choose the scenic coast road that does a wide arc around the mountain and I tried to take photos of it was we went around it.
The volcano is strikingly similar to Japan’s Mount Fuji in shape and whilst impressive in summer it’s becomes a true beauty in winter when it’s covered in snow. Since it was the height of summer when I took these photos there was only a smudge of snow left and I had to play cat and mouse with clouds that wanted only to hang onto the summit, but eventually I got lucky and managed some shots which where (mostly) cloud free.
Mount Taranaki is a national park but it’s possible to climb the mountain, things (I think) have to be arranged with the national park authorities and good equipment is needed for the summit but my cousin is a mountaineer who’s been to Everest and worked in Mountain rescue so Himself has added climbing Mount Taranaki to his bucket list with my cousin as technical expert and climbing companion.
In the meantime we content ourselves with looking at this stunning peak as it dominates the Taranaki landscape.
And finally a postcard to show Taranaki off in it’s beautiful snowy glory…
August 2, 2012
Yes I know I keep reminding you that these are photos made earlier this year, Like Tilly said, it’s like M*A*S*H, the TV series that lasted longer than the war it depicted … but I hope that you like the fact the I like to show you around in detail: after all why tempt you with one beautiful plate of food when I can torture you with ten ? Why skim past some gems without giving them the credit they deserve? Since many of you do return to my blog for a second look I assume you like reading about it all as much as I enjoy writing about it. I just don’t want to deceive anyone who might think that these particular posts are “live” (anyone who tries to blog on the move will tell you just how hard that actually is, and certainly an in depth daily post would be neigh impossible.)
Today’s post is a scenic one as we head down the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island from the area of Waitomo to the area of New Plymouth. Let’s hit the road…
May 13, 2012
We are still on the road, heading northwards…
Once we branch out onto Provincial State Highway 26 the number of cars on the road reduces dramatically, so when we see a very wet and forlorn looking hitch-hiker standing on the side of the road in the teeming rain, we pick him up and he’s very appreciative of a warm, dry seat for a while.
Luckily we are going through a small town later that is really close to his destination so he’s delighted to get most of the way home, especially since his only previous rides were on the busier roads and he had been walking in the rain for over an hour before we came along.
The weather has been patchy, tiny bursts of sunshine here and there but also moments when the windscreen wipers were going at full tilt and we had to slow to a crawl as the visibility all but disappeared.
I’m intrigued to see lots of semi-circular sheds, and take photos, they are all over the place in the North Island of New Zealand but you hardly will see ones like this in the South Island, I have no clue why not ….maybe they don’t stand up to South Island winter snows?
If they are barns for hay storage then maybe too they are just too small for the far larger Sheep stations of the South.
Farms in the North Island are seriously smaller in size and stock type tends to be more towards beef cattle and cows for New Zealand’s massive dairy industry rather than the sheep for lamb meat and Marino wool that are better suited to the mountainous south.
Our next destination is just a short distance away, as the rain pours down again in torrents, we drop our hitch-hiker off by a church in a tiny town, wave him goodbye and drive on…
Showing Kiwi Rugby World Cup support… (held earlier in September and won by the New Zealand All Blacks).
In case you are wondering , 1 New Zealand Dollar is worth roughly half of 1 Euro (but with the on going upheaval the Euro is going currently going through that value probably changes pretty much daily). It does however give you a rough idea of what the prices are on the fruit and veg stand though. (and btw “Avos” here means avocados).
May 12, 2012
We are leaving Rotorua and heading northwards, first taking State Highway 5, then branching out at Tirau onto Provincial State Highway 27, and later, just after Ngarua , branching again onto Provincial State Highway 26.
We are heading for a family appointment later today in Auckland, but since it’s only a few hours drive from Rotorua to Auckland we’ve decided to take the scenic route.
In case you are wondering, there’s method in my madness because there’s a small town down these roads that I’ve always wanted to visit.
First as we leave the Rotorua area we see strange little hills, probably remnants of the areas active volcanic past…with so many unusually distinctive land features abounding in New Zealand it’s no wonder the county is the chosen setting for films like Lord of The Rings.
Yes, it’s still raining but at least the squalls are coming in fits and starts and we are dry and comfortable in the van. Relax and take a look out of the window with me…
April 11, 2012
One last post from Napier… for this trip at least… we have to “make tracks” and hit the road. Here’s a final photo montage of this lovely little city.
March 27, 2012
Yesterday’s post was about the physical upheaval that happened around Napier when the 1931 earthquake struck.
To better understand the sequence of events that followed the quake and the long term repercussions, we first need to look at the damage that was done.
In the years preceding the quake early colonial settlers built first from wood, as local Maori had done before them since wood was plentiful.
However these buildings were prone to fire, and since the colonists were traditionally used to building in brick and stone, these slowly became the materials of choice for civic buildings, shops and many houses.
Many factors came into play during the quake, not least the magnitude and the length of the shaking, but the construction methods used in the brick and stone buildings were by far the least satisfactory when compared to their wooden counterparts and the brick and stone buildings killed and wounded many people.
Of course it’s hard to expect any building to withstand an almost three meter upward shift of the ground beneath it so it’s hardly surprising that the damage was so severe. According to our guide however, the fires that broke out due to gas leaks compounded the disaster by an even bigger magnitude because victims buried alive had no chance against the rapidly advancing flames.
The fires broke out in a few isolated locations at first and were almost completely bought under control by firemen and volunteers but in a cruel twist of fate the wind picked up at a crucial moment as other gas leaks began new blazes and soon whole parts of the city were in flames.
The Napier tramway was so badly damaged that it was never rebuilt, and people were forced to live in tents for some time after the quake…
I learned a smattering about the Napier earthquake when I was at school, but compared to what I have learned so far today it was just a passing glance of information, a real shame because I feel sad that this happened so comparatively recently (our grandparents and great-grand parents generation) and how quickly these events could be forgotten (or at least not given the true depth of study they deserve by subsequent generations).
March 25, 2012
We are staying in Napier at the Deco City Motor Lodge… … the only rooms left are up a flight of stairs but I’m not going out tonight so one flight is do-able on sticks.
There’s a double bed in the main room and two singles in the adjoining one and a large bathroom.
Everything is well laid out except for one large door-stopper in the toilet /bathroom that’s positioned a bit too close to where your right foot wants to be when sitting on or getting up from the throne.
We repeatedly warn each other not to trip over it when the door is closed so that we don’t end up with an extra set of crutches in the back of the van.
For the rest everything is clean, comfortable and easy to navigate.
We arrived a bit later in Napier than we intended and had to search for almost half and hour for accommodation that had space, so everyone is now tired and hungry. Himself and the kids unload baggage whilst I take photos of the room upstairs and in no time we are settled in.
Before we eat the kids plead for a swim in the small swimming pool they spied on the left as we drove in, and investigation revealed that the pool was open for only another 27 minutes so they threw clothes around the bedroom, hauled on their swimming costumes at breakneck speed and raced out the door to the pool.
The water in the pool was unheated and whilst it’s been a reasonably warm day today, it was getting towards dusk when they plunged in and discovered that “fresh” was rather too genteel a word to describe it, their squeals and shrieks of shock probably disturbed half the motel. (sorry everyone)
They were really determined to swim until the pool closed but lasted about 15 minutes, before scuttling back to the room shivering and heading for the shared bath that I already had filling because I “guessed” they might need one after hearing how cold the water was.
There’s been a unanimous decision after the swim for an easy dinner of fish and chips and Himself remembered seeing a take-a-way a short distance away so he sprints off to procure our dinner forthwith.
The wifi is good so I check my email and sit on the bed with my foot up typing a blog post…
…the kids find cartoons on the TV and blob out for half an hour after dinner, but after that everyone is so tired that it’s light’s out and I think all of us were fast asleep within minutes.
We had a great night’s sleep and packed up early the next morning because we want to go exploring before we hit the road.
Clinton and Robyn were really nice about giving us some extra milk (the kids polished off all the milk with dinner the night before), and also very helpful with tourist information and how to get where we wanted to be, so I already know where we want to be staying if we go back to Napier again.
Owner / Hosts: Robyn & Clinton Green Deco City Motor Lodge Address: 308 Kennedy Rd, Napier
Phone: +64 6 843 4342
Fax:+64 6 843 7565 // Reservation Freephone (NZ Only):0800 536 6339 // Email:firstname.lastname@example.org