New Zealand

Beach combing in New Zealand…

Another day another day trip. This time to the beach. Quite different to our Australian beaches, smaller and sort of intimate lined with the iconic Pohutukawa trees that stretch right along the east coast.

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The glorious Pohutukawa trees line the cliffs. In another month they will be flaming red and they are known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree.

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Now they defy gravity. Over the years the tides have swirled around their roots gradually eroding the rocks and dirt.

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I meet a local walking her dog and ask her if she can recommend a lunch place.

Jack took this photo. Can you see me talking to a local?

Jack took this photo. Can you see me talking to a local?

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Little Oscar waits patiently while we chat.

But before lunch there is the other end of the beach to explore.

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Going round the corner the scenery changes and large interesting looking boulders are piled high. I need Meg with me to help identify them.

This rock with character just asks to be photographed.

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Midday and time to search for the “Vintage Café” we had been told about. It was not easy to find, in fact we drove right by. But looking for the Shell Service Station (Why do they still call them service station?) we spotted it. A small lean-to on the end of the garage.

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It was every bit as delicious as we had been told with a charming old world décor, home-made food, friendly service and delicious coffee. We sketched while we waited for the food to be cooked (I ordered an omelette, Jack had a meat pie) In no time our lunch arrived and I only got the drawing half-finished.

Time to slowly drive home.

I had to stop and photograph this dedication a local farmer had erected to the National All Black heroes.

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Rugby football fever had taken hold of New Zealand, every where the black flag with silver fern fluttered on houses, next to fences, on cars, on hats. The country was swathed in black, even the milk came in black bottles and the Weetbix breakfast cereal box was black with a fearsome image of the All Black team doing the Maori Haka. The All Blacks had reached the finals for the unprecedented second time in a row and they faced Australia for the show down.

The game was broadcast live at 5am Sunday morning New Zealand time and I sat in bed watching the drama unfold. What a game, I was torn between my 2 favourite countries. Who would I cheer for?

I think most of New Zealand watched the match and next day, in fact the next week, jubilation and pride of their team was palpable. No wonder they won with just about the whole country on the team…

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We carried on home. The scenery in this area is pastoral, almost English, with its neat hedges and rolling grass-covered hills.

A field of rape glows in the sun.

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The hedgerows are clustered with wild flowers, again reminiscent of the English countryside of my youth.

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The New Zealand cabbage trees are flowering very well this year and I’ve been told this is a sign of a dry summer to come.

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As we arrive home the donkey from the next door neighbours farm comes over to say “hello”

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Categories: Clarke's Beach, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 43 Comments

The Rural Heart of New Zealand…

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This is the green, green grass my son calls home. This is the view from the kitchen window, of the rolling, lush farmland, that I will be seeing for the next 10 days, as we house sit for Laurie and Kerry while they go on their honeymoon.

This is the neighbours dairy farm across the road and he milks hundreds of cows.

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Laurie’s farm is only 7 acres so we only have 5 beef cows to look after, no milking required…

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I smile when Kerry tells me the names, “Steak” and “Sausage” but the worrisome one is called “Houdini”!!! That is the one at the front that is eyeballing me…

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Then we have “Nisha” the cat, named after a tiger, and she is a cat with attitude. I fed her, so we were friends, and she would curl up on the bed with her hot little body draped over my legs. Jack was a different story and when she bit him one day they were no longer friends…

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In the early morning, as the neighbours cows went to be milked, we would go for a walk around the lane.

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It was so peaceful and perfect light for photography.

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The young yearlings would watch us wonderingly as we walked by. I don’t think they are used to seeing people walking along the road.

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I was so absorbed in capturing the beauty of the world around me that I didn’t realise that Jack was having fun capturing me, until we downloaded the mornings images, then, oh dear, I had to laugh. No wonder the cows were looking at me…

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These are a couple of the neighbouring farmhouses we walked by and they are typical of the farm houses in this area, with the barbed wire fences and the lichen covered fence posts, so photogenic.

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As we arrive back at the gate to Laurie’s place I look across the road  at this magnificent Macrocarpa tree. Later in the day I attempted to capture its strength and beauty in a sketch.

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But now it is time to have breakfast.

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I have joined Restless Jo’s walking group again this week. Another different New Zealand walk Jo. I hope you enjoyed it.

You simply must pop over to see Jo’s amazing walk around the Lumiere festival it is stunning.

Categories: Jo's Monday walks, New Zealand, photos, Waiuku | Tags: , , , , | 72 Comments

New Zealand Highlights…

Of course the top highlights of the three-week visit to New Zealand was the wedding of my son and his lovely partner and meeting a new extended family of in-laws. Also spending time with my daughter in Tauranga.

Between visiting and socializing I did find time to see some interesting places to explore and, naturally, a garden was top of the list.

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Wrights Water Gardens has been created in a disused quarry covering 7 acres. The gardens are rustic, rambling and wild. tracks meander around the ponds and waterways and through the different levels leading to the 30 foot Mauku waterfall. I fell in love with this garden and spent nearly 3 hours wandering around and, of course, the photo opportunities were endless. The light was perfect and I took almost 200 shots. Hard to pick my favourites.

I hope you enjoy this walk around with me and my camera…

It is mid spring and I was amazed at the colour and diversity of the leaf colours and the way the light shone through them highlighting the veins and making them glow.

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The tracks wind through the abundant drifts of perennials and shrubs opening up to ever more delights.

The flowers are in full bloom, the very best time to be in a garden.

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Wisteria flowers create a carpet of purple. Can you see that strange figure? (no not Jack!!!) This one is sitting down.

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What an imaginative way to use old phones…

I think it is time to take a seat and just enjoy the surroundings. This bench is for you Jude. They had put lots of benches around.

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There were also lots of sculptures, but this was my favourite, she looks so relaxed.

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Around another corner and I find an oriental garden.

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A water wheel trickles water over the bank into  the waterlily ponds below.

 

 

The water lilies are just starting to come out and the lotus flowers, that this garden is famous for, are still waiting to burst into bloom.

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Tracks follow the stream trickling over rocks and swirling into ponds. Everywhere the plants jostle together creating drifts of colour and the weeping willow branches droop daintily down to the streams surface.

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The rocks were covered in fascinating forms of lichen and I thought of Meg who shares all the delightful flora and fauna from her part of Australia on her blog, enjoy it here, “snippets and snaps“.

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After seeing tantalising glimpses of the waterfall as I slowly savoured this magnificent garden I now stood and enjoyed the full force of its beauty.

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Restless Jo takes us on fascinating walks every week and she has a happy band of followers, so I would like to join you again this week Jo with a New Zealand garden walk.

 

Categories: garden, garden, Jo's Monday walks, New Zealand, photos, Wright's water garden | Tags: , , , , | 38 Comments

Travel Theme : Luminous…

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On Labour Day in New Zealand, October 26th, everyone has a 3 day weekend. The shops close, school is out and in the small town of Waiuku, where I am staying with my son and his new wife, it seemed as though the entire population had turned out for the annual fireworks display. We went along to join the happy throng.

The OOHS and AHHS and cheers greeted the luminous, flashes and cascades of sparkling colours.

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How appropriate that Ailsa chose “Luminous” for her theme this week…

Categories: fireworks, luminous, New Zealand, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

Last day of cruising…

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The last day of cruising and the sun rises in a huge ball of fire over the port of Tauranga.

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The morning sun highlights Mount Maunganui as the tug boats gently nudge the Oosterdam into the dock. Tauranga is the home of my daughter and we will be meeting her later today.

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Look at that blue sky it is a perfect Easter Saturday and we walk along the wharf and notice the cherry picker with a crew cleaning the outside windows. It certainly is a ship-shape ship. Only a 15 minute walk to the centre of Mount Maunganui and time for a short look around down town.

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The local art group have a display in the park. The standard is high and we admire the paintings.

Then Jackie picks us up and we go for a coffee, then on to her place.

I’ve developed a sore throat and a slight cough, I’m not feeling 100%. There has been a lot of coughs and colds going through the passengers and I hoped I had escaped it, but it seems to have caught up with me on the very last day. So far Jack is OK.

Being Easter it is the Annual Tauranga Jazz Festival. 3 years ago we were here and enjoyed the music and dancing in the streets (Take a look at that post here) So after lunch we walked the short distance to the Esplanade to join the crowds enjoying the music.

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Jack soon found a willing young woman to dance with him.

Then he found another willing person. I was fascinated with the dancing style of the bloke in blue behind Jack. What would you call his style?

We only had a couple of hours before it was time to head back to the boat. It was good to catch up with Jackie and Greg, even though it was only for such a short time. But we will be coming back again in a couple of weeks to stay longer.

So now it was time to pack our bags. The organisation of every thing on board is immaculate and the routine for the bags and leaving tomorrow morning is all orchestrated to the last detail. The bags must be outside our cabin door by 11pm with colour coded and numbered labels. Then some one will whisk them away ready for us to pick up as we leave. Tomorrow they have almost 2000 people to collect luggage and disembark. Without the organisation it could be chaos. I’m impressed.

Just a couple more details to tidy up, take the books back to the library and the video back to the front desk and at the same time check our account. There has been a couple of things I have to pay for but only expecting approx. $150 on our account. BUT it is just over $300… I scan the account. How can it be!!! Then I found it, “service charge”, Each day I had put the “service please” sign on the door, thinking, in my innocence, that was in the price of the cruise. The sign was to let them know we were not there and it was free for them to go in… Well I guess it must be some where in the small print that room service is an extra. Oh well I did enjoy not having to do any thing for 14 days and having clean towels, beds made. But it had gone through my mind that not many doors had the service sign out, I thought maybe they were all sleeping in….

Next morning we docked at Auckland the final destination.

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I had requested a 9am departure as my son and partner would be picking us up. So we had time for one last delicious breakfast. The intercom started calling the colour codes and numbers at 7-30am. It was just after 9 when I heard our “yellow 5” called. The bags were all lined up near the exit. We soon found ours and headed down the gang-plank with a group of the friendly staff waiting to wave us good-bye.

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So what was my final impression of the cruising lifestyle?

For a totally relaxing holiday I would rate it a 5 out of 5. The food was excellent, plenty of variety and choice of restaurants. Immaculate presentation, well organised. Friendly, helpful staff. Good variety of entertainment every night. Plenty of space to, surprisingly, find quiet spots to be on my own. The cabin had a window and was larger than I expected, another plus.

Value for money, definitely. The extras were there to pay for, if you needed them ie. alcohol, spa treatment, personal trainer, casino. But the basic fare covered all you needed for life on board. ( We could’ve made our own beds!!!)

On the minus side, the tours were expensive and only having a few hours in each port it is very restricting for actually getting to see and appreciate each place. I like to take my time exploring new places and do not like moving around to a time frame with a crowd. But I knew New Zealand so the reason for this trip was not to see the country or go on the tours, but to experience a cruise. So on that basis I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Would I do another cruise? I’m not sure… I certainly would not take a cruise to a country I had never been to before, preferring to fly there and take my time exploring and travelling on land to my itinerary.

A few days after we settled in with my son, Jack developed the cold. We both had a very bad dose. Maybe because we had not been able to have the flu injections before we left Australia. The weather also was dismal. So we just relaxed enjoying life with Laurie and Kerry. And unfortunately sharing our cold with them…

We had another 4 weeks in New Zealand and have now been home in Australia for 3 weeks. My how time flies…

Categories: cruise, Jazz festival, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, Oosterdam, photos, Tauranga | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

A Walk in Windy Wellington…

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is at the southern end of the North Island. The cruise ship terminal was only a 20 minute walk from the CBD area. This was one of the only ports that we could actually walk off the port. Mostly we had to be taken in a bus as the port authority does not allow people to wander willy nilly due to security…

It was an overcast, cool sort of day but, unusually, only a slight breeze blowing. My plan was to wander around and see where it took me.

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The buildings of the CBD loomed around me and I passed a couple of sculptures with no explanations.

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Rounding a corner I walked past a very large, what looked like a sandstone building. I had to have a closer look when I read the information board and discovered it was built from wood.

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It was originally planned to have the building constructed in concrete and timber, but the cost of concrete at the time led to a decision to build in timber alone. The Italianate, Neo-Renaissance style was usually the domain of stone buildings, thus the building is designed to mimic stone. As an important symbol of nationhood the building was constructed to resemble an Italian stone palace to help convey its strength and stability in the expanding empire.[1] The timber is native kauri, which could not be replicated because New Zealand’s remaining public kauri forests are permanently protected. If the building had been constructed out of stone as planned, it may not have survived subsequent earthquakes, as it is situated near a major fault line.[3] The architect was William Clayton (information from Wikipedia)

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It is now the Wellington Law School but the public are allowed to look into the foyer area, so in I went through these ornate doors.

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A very grand staircase but I could not go upstairs, this was only for students use.

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Looking out through the window I could see the distinctive shape of the Parliament House, referred to as the “Beehive”.

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There it is, New Zealand’s seat of power. No time today to go inside.

So I walked on past the shops, restaurants and office buildings. All looking much the same as in Australia. Then I spotted a sign pointing down a narrow lane to the cable car and Botanic Gardens. This is more in my interest. I am not a shopping type of person…

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Here it comes.

The Cable Car has been in operation since 1902 and carries in excess of 1,000,000 passengers a year and runs every ten minutes between Lambton Quay and Kelburn, for the benefit of local residents and tourists alike.

 Only $4 for a one way ticket the cable car allows easy access from its terminal on Lambton Quay in the CBD to the top entrance of the Botanic Garden and the Kelburn lookout. Three intermediate stops allow for easy access to local residential and business addresses and at Salamanca access to the Kelburn campus of Victoria University.

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From the top I looked out across Wellington Harbour and the distant hills the city is built on.

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Directly opposite the cable car terminus is the entry to the Botanic Gardens. The brochure tells me it is a 40 minute down hill stroll back to the CBD. So in I went with camera at the ready.

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As I would expect in New Zealand it is very lush and green.

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With the tree ferns popping up every where.

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Morton Bay pine, Hoop Pine

At this time of the year, in fact most of the year, the New Zealand bush is not a colourful place, but the myriad shades of green are so peaceful. But I did spot some colour…

 

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These aloes were such a vivid contrast to the surrounding green.

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Here a lone tree flaunts its autumn foliage. (I spy a bench too)

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Nearing the bottom now as I walk down these steps.

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As I leave the Botanic Gardens behind I follow the path and then round a corner I come across a quite different garden.

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The Lady Norwood Rose Garden. They are at the end of the season but still putting on a colourful display.

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I see a begonia house and a café across the other side of the rose beds. But did you notice those 3 coaches in the top photo of the rose gardens? Yes it is the passengers from Oosterdam on their conducted tour and the café is full. So I wander round the tropical display in the green house.

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Peace Garden

This is just outside the rose garden.

The Peace Garden’s flame comes from fire created by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

The flame was presented by the people of Japan to New Zealand in recognition of their efforts against atomic weapons.

The flame is in the Japanese Pagoda and there were many Asian people here taking each others photos in front of this idyllic scene.

Not exactly sure which way to go next I asked a local and he pointed me through an old historic cemetery, which would take me across a bridge over the motorway…

 

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This is the bridge over the motorway and it was very controversial when it was built as it cut right through the centre of the cemetery.

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This is the remaining cemetery on the other side of the motorway.

It is a peaceful sanctuary of cultivated and forested open space. Over 1,300 carved and worn monuments are distributed throughout the Cemetery that straddles the motorway. A nationally important collection of heritage roses, some dating from the colonial era, inter-twine with other early plantings amongst picket fences and wrought iron surrounds. Walkways offer a unique stroll between the city centre and the formal Rose Garden of the Botanic Gardens.

Time had passed and now I had to walk briskly to be back at the cruise liner before it sailed. So it was back past Parliament and the old wooden Government House and then I caught up with a steady stream of other passengers heading the same way. The wind had picked up and it was a frisky head wind that we all battled into. Windy Wellington was running true to form.

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“Restless Jo” leads a dedicated group of cyber walkers. They take us on walks all over the world. Go across and see where in the world they all are this week.

 

Categories: cruise, Jo's Monday walks, New Zealand, Oosterdam, photos, travel, Wellington | Tags: , , , , | 48 Comments

The day I met a fellow blogger Jill…

There are some days during a trip that stand out above all others, as a highlight, a memorable occasion. Our day in Napier was one of those days. It was the day we met fellow blogger Jill and her husband John.

They are intrepid travellers and Jill’s blog has been on my list of must reads since she recently started taking us on journeys around her world in New Zealand and beyond. She has a way with words that describe her travels so well they make me get itchy feet and want, no yearn, to visit the locations and adventures she shares. In fact her descriptions are so good she has been asked to write a guest post on “Travel Gumbo” Take a look, you will be entranced with the country of Laos that Jill and John recently visited.

So when I asked Jill what she could recommend for us to see in her home town of Napier for the few hours the cruise ship docked there. I received a very special reply from Jill.

 “How would you like a chauffeur named John and a map reader called Jill?”

Wow, would I ever. I immediately replied and that set in motion a very special day.

I have been to Napier several times (take a look here for the last time we visited)

The Oosterdam docked in Napier on Good Friday. A perfect Autumn day, warm and sunny and when we met it was like greeting long time friends. That sort of instant rapport. We never stopped chatting. 

They took us on a half hour drive into the countryside around Napier to Te Mata Peak.

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John was the ideal chauffeur, patient and accommodating of 3 photography tragics. Obligingly stopping as we ohhed and ahhed at the green lush scenery so we could hop out cameras at the ready.
Then we reached the narrow winding road seemingly reaching to the sky.
A straggly line of people appeared, trudging toward the summit. It was a poignant reminder that this is Good Friday as they paused to let us by.
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Then we were at the top…
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Look carefully you will see the narrow road with a vehicle like a matchbox toy coming up. The Heretaunga Plain stretches to the ocean.
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What a view it is breathtaking. But Jack is busy with his own version.
“Look at me” he calls…
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“Got ya'”…
As well as the road there are also walking/running tracks crisscrossing the slopes.
Dog walkers

Dog walkers

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I could feel her exhilaration at making it to the top.

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We had this magic place almost to ourselves with only a few other runners and walkers and another couple of cars. But time to move on. As John carefully backed out he is stopped and told to wait as 3 tourist buses are on the way up. We wait for one, then they let us go before the other 2 come up.

I  thank Jill and John and the wonderful connecting world of WordPress. Those 3 buses are bringing fellow passengers from the Oosterdam. Imagine 3 x approximately 40 on each bus milling around…

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Back down we look back to the formidable Te Mata Peak towering 399 metres above us.

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The scenery changes to lush green and the sheep are scattered across the paddocks.

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On the way back to Napier Jill and John still have a couple of surprise to show us.

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Te Awanga Beach, hopefully for a coffee, but being Good Friday it was shut. No worries Jack is still talking, maybe telling about the one that got away!!!

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One last place was up to Bluff Hill Lookout where we gazed down on the Oosterdam seeming to take up the whole harbour, dwarfing the tiny tugboat waiting to guide us out.

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As we walked toward the shuttle bus that would take us back to the Oosterdam these characters approached us asking if we would take their photo on their cell phones. Of course we took their photo on our cameras too.

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Just what were they doing we asked. Just having fun and making people smile they said…

What a great ending, the whole day has been about connecting and smiling. The few hours we spent together with Jill and John is a tribute to the strength of the WordPress community in sharing and connecting world-wide and is one of the aspects of this media that is so appealing.

A very big THANK YOU Jill and John for your generosity and giving us an unforgettable tour of your beautiful part of New Zealand.

Jill posted about our visit shortly after the event. It is written in Jill’s inimitable style, take a look here. 

But wait there’s more…Napier Jill John JC 104_2292x1832

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As we arrived back a 4 piece Dixie jazz band greeted us and a row of vintage cars with their owners dressed in the style of the era gathered to wish us “Bon Voyage” 

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It was a very appropriate and emotional farewell to Napier, the Art Deco capital of New Zealand. I had a lump in my throat as they played “Now is the hour” and waved goodbye as the cruise liner slowly pulled away from the port.

I took a rather shaky video of the moment. There is rather a lot of back ground noise as the tour director on board welcomed us back and started to tell us what we had in store for the evenings entertainment.

 

Categories: cruise, Napier, New Zealand, Oosterdam, photos | Tags: , , , | 56 Comments

The Giant’s House in Akaroa

 

Akaroa is a charming small town of only 567 residents and the harbour is small. So small the cruise liner has to anchor in the bay and we are ferried ashore in the life boats.

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Can you see our ship?

In 1838 a French whaler, Captain Langlois, decided that Akaroa was an ideal location for a town that could service the whaling ships. He subsequently acquired the peninsula in a dubious land deal with the local Maori. He then returned to France and arranged for a group of French and German families to sail to New Zealand, with the intention of forming a French colony.

After constantly refusing to recognise New Zealand as a British colony the Crown issued an Imperial Proclamation on 15 June 1839, which cited New Zealand as part of the British Realm.

After being informed of the French intent to colonise Akaroa and use further as a whaling port, the English ship the “Britomart” was despatched in order to proclaim sovereignty for the Crown. The “Britomart” arrived in Akaroa on 16 August (although the captain’s log shows this arrival date as 11 August 1840[5]), Captain Stanley raised the British flag and held a court at each of the occupied settlements.

The French arrived on  11 July 1840, where they discovered that the Banks Peninsula had been claimed by the British. But they still established a settlement and many street names still bare reference to these French beginnings.

This is the closest port to Christchurch and many of the passengers took a bus tour there. We stayed to explore this fascinating town, and what a gem we found.

 

Look what Jack found in a garden and couldn't resist taking a photo

Look what Jack found in a garden and couldn’t resist taking a photo

Benches where every where…

(These are for you Jude)

What a delightful place, I was entranced with its historic buildings and appealing, photogenic homes and gardens.

After wandering around the village we walked up a rather steep street to find the “Giant’s House”

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What we discovered up this drive is the most amazing garden I have ever seen.

Created by Josie Martin an artist, painter and sculptor. When she began 15 years ago there was no garden so she had a blank canvas to work with. Digging the garden she found shards of pottery and lovely old china from the days when there was no rubbish collection. Saving them all, she felt it belonged to the history of the old house. That was the beginning of this magnificent, glorious garden – mosaic steps, an extraordinary sculptural wall mosaic, welded steel sculptures and other creations. Colourful gardens of roses vegetables, citrus, flowers. Very unique. 

I took hundreds of photos of those captivating, quirky, mosaic sculptures. The flower beds where a riot of colour, they demanded my attention. I had a silly grin on my face all the way round and came away hoping that some day I will go back to revisit this very special place.

As we entered the tour bus from the cruise ship also pulled in. “How long will you be here” I asked. “Only 20 minutes” I was told. So we sat in the garden café with a cuppa waiting for the 40+ tourists to move on, then we could savour this amazing place in relative peace.

I hope you enjoy this walk around. I am putting more photos in this post than I have ever done before. I just found them all so fascinating…

 

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The house was given the name of “Giant’s House” by a girl looking up at it from the valley below who said it is so big it must be the house of a giant. It was built-in 1880. It took 5 years to build using hardwoods of the local Totara and Kauri trees.

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The first thing you see on the front lawn are these larger than life mosaic musicians and the grand piano. Drifting through the air and setting the scene is the soft sound of French accordion music mixing with the singing of birds and trickling of water from a fountain.

Jack gets into the act

Jack gets into the act

Notice the succulents growing in the piano and the mirror under the lid…

The perennial border is a riot of colour

The perennial border is a riot of colour

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The King and Queen

On the top of the hill the King and Queen survey their kingdom, but watch for that suspicious cat-like character lurking behind them in the bushes…

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What are those yellow things above these acrobats?

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Did you see they are waving arms?

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Do you recognise this character?

Do you recognise this character?

Another path, let's see where this one goes

Another path, let’s see where this one goes

Watch out for the wild animals

Watch out for the wild animals

Phew, time for a sit down

Phew, time for a sit down

There's even a very healthy and flourishing veggie garden

There’s even a very healthy and flourishing veggie garden

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These are just a few of the beautiful flowers in the garden.

This is an amazingly life-like sculpture that Josie has done of herself.

We spent over 2 hours wandering around and could’ve stayed longer. Every where I looked I kept seeing another fascinating sculpture or more beautiful garden beds. It is a tribute to one woman’s energy and imagination.

If you are in New Zealand this is a place you must not miss. I would like to come again and next time stay in the Giant’s House as a guest and totally immerse myself in the magic.

“The house has many extraordinary features – a grand entrance hall with mahogany staircase imported from France, original open fireplaces, beautifully proportioned rooms, a conservatory with mosaic floor, a large sunny sheltered verandah, quirky bathrooms, bright yellow farmhouse kitchen, comfortable large bedrooms with unique artistic features and artwork throughout.

At The Giant’s House you will be pampered, and stimulated, in surroundings that will uplift your soul!- a very special experience, quite ‘out of this world’.” (to book a room and find out more click here)

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I’d also like to join in with Restless Jo’s walking group this week…

Categories: Akaroa, bench series, cruise, Giant's House garden, Jo's Monday walks, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 77 Comments

Dunedin Chinese Garden

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The traditional shapes and colours of the entrance to the Chinese Garden beckons to us and we enter a place of beauty and tranquillity.

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The garden was prefabricated and assembled in Shanghai on a site identical in size and shape to that in Dunedin. Then they dismantled it and transported it to Dunedin where it was reconstructed on site using artisans and supervisors from Shanghai. It was opened in 2008.

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It is the only authentic Chinese Garden in New Zealand. It is the first in the southern hemisphere and one of only a handful outside China. I checked these facts in Wikipedia…

The garden is an authentic Chinese Garden, having been created with the support of the Dunedin City Council and the Shanghai Municipal Government. It cost $7 million to construct. The garden is New Zealand’s only authentic Chinese Garden and one of only three outside China – the first of its kind to be built in the southern hemisphere. The only other two authentic Chinese Gardens outside of China at the time are in Portland, USA, and Vancouver, Canada.

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All the buildings are intricately constructed in the style that has been used in China since the 4th century BC using no nails. All the rocks and granite also came from China in 100 20ft containers. That attention to detail is what makes this garden authentic and so beautiful.

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These rocks represent the mountains. To see the real thing take a trip over to “catbird in china”. Cathy has recently been exploring China and her photos of the Stone Forest are stunning.

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Walkways meander around the outside of the gardens and intricate windows give tantalising views of the gardens.

A teahouse looks very tempting and the sweet sound of chinese music drifts out, but we have a ship to catch…

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So we walk slowly on. This is a place I would like to spend longer in. This is definitely the downside of a cruise. Time on shore is very limited…

But still time to see more, so follow me…

Shades of Autumn

Shades of Autumn

This looks like a dragon to me.

This looks like a dragon to me, or a prehistoric monster.

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Time to go back over the curved bridge and out into the bustling world of modern-day Dunedin after a tranquil retreat of one hour in ancient China.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Chinese Garden, cruise, Dunedin, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , | 32 Comments

Dunedin

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It was 7am and we ate breakfast and watched as the Oosterdam was slowly manipulated into the port of Dunedin by busy little tug boats.

Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin is the country’s city of the south, wearing its Scottish heritage with pride. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, picturesque harbour, Dunedin is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Cruise liners organise many tours at each port, but I consider them overpriced. Now the downside, for me, of cruising, is the short amount of time that is available to explore each port stop. If you have never visited a country  possibly the best option is to take a tour. After all you may never be back this way again…

It is many years since I last visited Dunedin so our decision was to take the shuttle bus, organised by the Oosterdam, at the cost of US$20 return, which took us downtown.

So come with me, the weather is perfect, and gaze at the magnificent Edwardian style buildings built-in the late 1880’s when, due to the discovery of gold, Dunedin became the largest city, by population in New Zealand.

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Time to stop for lunch, but still much more to see.

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Now this is the jewel in the crown of the buildings in Dunedin. It is reported to be the most photographed building in New Zealand.

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What a magnificent building, and it is still used as a train station. Admire the detail.

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The inside is also very impressive.

Benches for Jude

Benches for Jude

Dunedin was built on the remnants of an extinct volcano. The city suburbs extend out into the surrounding valleys and hills. One very little known fact is that the steepest street in the world can be found tucked away in these suburbs. We went to have a look at it…

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No we didn’t walk up, just took the photo then caught the local bus back to town…

The final place I left till last was the Chinese Gardens and they are so charming and exquisite that they deserve a post of their own.

To be continued…

  

Categories: cruise, Dunedin, New Zealand, Oosterdam, photos | Tags: , , , , | 25 Comments

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