Local Heart, Global Soul

March 17, 2012

Making A Ferry Crossing and a Taking the Road a Quake Built to get to Nappy Valley…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We reached Picton earlier than planned and parked in the main shopping street so that we could get a cup of tea…

…however we got side-tracked by several gift shops close to the car, having remembered that we needed to pick up some things for people back home and that  (opps) we haven’t done any gift shopping yet.

Himself and Little Mr wandered further down the street looking for a hardware shop because we need an adapter while Kiwi Daughter and I browsed a handcraft shop that we couldn’t miss since we were practically parked outside the door.

The time just skipped away so by the time the boys returned we no longer had time to find a cuppa but needed to head down to the ferry terminal to board the boat.

Little Mr. had obviously turned on the charm because he arrived back clutching an ice-cream, so of course now Kiwi Daughter wanted one too and by the time Himself had backtracked to get one for her I was starting to wonder if we would ever get to the boat on time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We needn’t have worried… we were still early enough and amazingly despite the delay,  near the head of the queue, but that said about fifteen minutes later the waiting area for vehicles was packed as vehicles arrived suddenly en mass.

We still had to wait some time whilst everyone was being marshalled into their correct lines but once the loading process started it all went quickly enough.

Since it’s a three and a half hour crossing, I opted to take the laptop and the Nintendo’s up top with us as well as a slew of colouring books and toys that the kids decided they needed, but as soon as we got to a sitting area I found myself left with the stuff as the kids disappeared with Himself to the upper deck to look around and explore.

The ferry sailed before they returned so I opened my travel notes, wrote several blog posts, sorted photographs and then when they arrived back they immediately announced that they were starving and dragged Himself off again to find food.

I’d earlier expressed interest in getting some photos of the Sounds, but stuck guarding baggage I couldn’t carry, it didn’t happen so you’ll have to wait until the return journey (fingers crossed the weather is as good then).

We set sail from Picton just after 6:00 p.m and docked in Wellington around 9:30 p.m. By the time we get back into the car the kids were tired and just wanted to sleep.

Luckily this trip we got a TomTom from Teddy our favourite rental car guy so we don’t need our friends to come to meet us at the Wellington ferry terminal.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We head up the Hutt Road towards Petone and Lower Hutt where we will turn off to go up and over the hill to Wainuiomata, as we travel northwards on the Hutt highway we can see the road lights leading up the hill across the harbour in the distance on our right.

After events in Christchurch it’s a sobering thought that the highway we are travelling on, sits on a narrow strip of land that follows the coastline and didn’t  even exist a century ago, it  was thrust up suddenly in a massive earthquake roughly a hundred years ago.

It’s no surprise because  this part of New Zealand sits smack bang on top of part of the Trans Alpine fault that runs a good length of the  whole country.

Before that earthquake,  the steep sides of the coastal hills meant that the only way to get to Lower Hutt was by ship, across the harbour.

Little Mr. is delighted that we are away from Christchurch and the constant shaking there and announces that  he feels safe here, so we think it best not to tell him that not only is the Trans Alpine a fault hundreds of kilometres long: remember the  rule of thumb  “the longer the fault the bigger the jolt” …(compared to the 35kms of Christchurch’s longest most recent one) but  it’s well overdue for a really big shake too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The quake they are waiting for here is what all of new Zealand calls “the Big One” and like many big faults in seismic areas  the world,  it’s not a matter of  “if” but “when”.

In the meantime it doesn’t make sense to enlighten an already quake traumatised six year old boy to these facts so Little Mr. is in blissful ignorance and totally happy to be here.

Our friends tell us that Wainuiomata started off as a saw milling settlement but grew massively when cheap houseing was built there from the 1920′s or 30′s onwards…

…the marketing people gave it the name “Happy Valley”but young families with small children moved there in such numbers that it was quickly dubbed “Nappy Valley” (for my North American readers: a “nappy” is a diaper).

Our friends have not only waited up for us, but since we have to leave again fairly early tomorrow morning, have decided to make the most of our short stay…everything is ready and waiting so that tried kids can be tucked into beds and a leg of lamb and a roast dinner is waiting in the oven for us too… despite the time and the long day Himself and I enjoy a hearty meal and a lot of laughs before retiring and sleeping deeply.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Picton is at almost bottom centre of the next photo… the ferry takes Queen Charlotte Sound route out to sea…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch) Map NZ cd

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the road a quake built (raised out of the sea) and looking towards the road on the hill to Wainuiomata  in the distance at right.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 8, 2010

Getting ready to Ship back out to the South Island…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have been busy in Wellington and the time had passed almost before our eyes. We were due to return to the South Island two days ago, but since our friends and hosts bought out other friends from overseas to surprise us during our visit, we’d managed to arrange a change in our ferry booking and extend out stay to today. No easy feat considering that it’s two days before Christmas and the annual season travel rush is in full swing and we have a rental car to return to South Island soil.

We are booked on the evening ferry, and are due to sail at 8.00 p.m. and to arrive in Picton at 11.30 p.m.  Our friends drive to the ferry terminal where we try and say goodbye without getting too emotional (and fail) and we depart for the  car queue to board the ferry before we let loose the  emotional waterworks past the point of no return.

Then, as is typical when waiting for stuff, especially when you are stuck in a queue and can’t  go anywhere, we start to look around, people watching and make up scenario’s about our fellow passengers. Hmmm  probably the ones with all the Christmas presents and suitcases in the back are a family meeting other family in the South Island for Christmas.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The retired couple with  the small bag on the back seat and the bits of wrapping paper peeping out from the  back of the hatchback are clearly Grandparents of young children because everyone knows that the smaller the kid the bigger the  gift boxes seem to be, and they are being cautious and security conscious because they put the gifts in the hatchback boot, and obviously the gifts take up the whole space because their little suitcase doesn’t fit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The dudes with the surfboards on the roof-rack needs no explanation, their packing  consisted of opening the car doors and literally chucking everything in the back seat, it’s all piled up in a mixed up mess, beach-towels,  loose items of  food like boxes of cereal, clothing etc. I’m willing to bet money that their boot (trunk) is full of beer…

To our right is the second lane of queuing cars, on our left,  a wire fence and train wagons shunting backwards and forwards, many of the rail wagons destined for the ferry too.  The trains little jig onto the various rail lines  and their constant action keeps Little Mr. delighted for most of the wait.

I take photos of the bay that leads out to the harbour, and of funny number plates on the car next to us.

The kids are tired and we hope to be able to find a seat on the Ferry where they can curl up and sleep for most of the crossing. At least the weather is good, so no rough crossing to have to confront. The green stomached sailor in me is more than relieved. Our time in the North Island is way too short, and it’s with sadness that we are leaving.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Into the depths of the ship we drive…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

.. and get ready to sail into the night.

April 5, 2010

A whirl around Wonderful Wellington…

Filed under: New Zealand — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are in New Zealand’s Capital City, Wellington. Well, to be more precise we are staying with friends up the coast, around the bay and over the hills at Wainuiomata (pronounced: “Why-noo-ee-ah-ma-ta”).

We see a lot of family and friends whilst we are here, and it’s wonderful to catch up with people, some of them whom I haven’t seen in years.

We are busy with the family stuff,  so here is a small photographic tour as we travel around the Wellington area.
The photo’s could be a LOT better, shooting pics out of a moving car isn’t the most ideal way to take photos.

Sorry ’bout that.

The  little building in the center of this photo is New Zealand’s Parliament building and earned the nickname “The Beehive”  because it looks like … a beehive !
Wellington and the Hutt Valley lie on a massive earthquake fault line.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In fact the road up the coast didn’t even exist when early (white) settlers arrived in New Zealand, it was conveniently planted there when the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake raised a rock edge around the western edge of Wellington Harbour.

This new land was used to create the Hutt Road, connecting Wellington and Petone, which had previously only been negotiable by sea. The road has been widened and a railway built on the seaward side. The Wellington Fault runs along the base of the hills.

Alarmingly the fault runs not only along the base of the hills but also directly under the Nations Parliament buildings, the basement of which houses the National Civil Defense Headquarters from where national emergencies are coordinated. That of course sounds a tad ironic but luckily New Zealand enforces a very strict earthquake building code and is a leader in earthquake-proof building technology.

Lead-rubber bearings invented in Wellington, are part of many of the city’s high(er) rise buildings, these enable the building to sway up to 3 meters or more without falling. The principle is that even when the really “Big One” hits, and the building may be severely structurally distorted afterwards, it will nevertheless remain standing. People can be safely evacuated, the building demolished and rebuilt again afterwards.

Lead-rubber bearings invented in Wellington therefore protect New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings, Te Papa and the Old Bank Arcade. Internationally, the San Francisco City Hall and the University Hospital in Los Angeles are amongst hundreds of buildings and bridges throughout California and Japan also protected by these bearings.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wellington in the far distance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the Inter-Island Ferries in the harbour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Old buildings (now earthquake strengthened as much is as possible) in the downtown area…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And highway artworks…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m also delighted to see that many “blank” spaces on the sides of building have been painted up with murals. I managed to catch a few in between gaps in the traffic…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our time is just too short here.  We will be back on future trips, and then maybe I can make a small beginning in doing this lovely city justice.

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