Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ferry ride... was like this.... and then Paradise...

So....after an hour of torture like in this video:

we sighted land.....

the snowy peaks of Mt Richmond on the south Island. The ferry slunk towards the narrow strait and rocks that protected the entrance to the most exquisite sight that

Marlborough sounds

Am I in Norway or New Zealand...? I had to pinch myself.

It was then the sun came out and the waters were calm. Instead of all the passenger's heads hung low looking green, you saw more faces like this:

Serenity descended on the boat like a calming hot drink, and the passengers disappeared from the rear deck and made a bee line to the to the bridge, the bar and even outside to drink in the view and the sunshine..... and me, I took the opportunity to capture it on camera.... this is as close to Norway as I could get in the southern hemisphere! With one big difference, the waters of the fjord or sounds was brilliant cobalt blue not black, as you might find in Norway.

Although these are my photos, you can see a video of this beautiful voyage of the interislander here

And as if this wasn't enough, we passed through the Tory channel to an even wider section of the sound, called Queen Charlotte Sounds...

Isn't it simply gorgeous?

Imagine having your own boat and sailing around in here, stopping off at some small patch of sand to have a picnic lunch and laze in the sun.... Ah! Paradise on earth.... oh! there goes someone in paradise now...lucky thing....

Queen Charlotte Sound. Queen Charlotte... who was she: I guess an English monarch's wife...

The internet, of course, will tell me here.....

The Queen Charlotte Sound, named after the wife of King George the Third, was important for the Maori. Called Totaranui, the sheltered Sound was used for travel and provided bountiful seafood for the many Maori who lived there.

In 1770 Captain Cook anchored in Ship Cove, a place of endearing beauty. He stayed there five times between 1770 and 1777 and this tranquil retreat has remained virtually unchanged from that time.

Since that time, the area has been the scene of a diverse range of activities from gold and antinomy mining, whaling and fishing through to tourism and forestry leaving the Queen Charlotte Sound and its immediate area full of interesting history.

Interesting Facts:

  • British sovereignty was first proclaimed by Captain Cook and the flag formally raised on the summit of Motuara Island on 31st January 1770.
  • Within Resolution Bay is Schoolhouse Bay, which was once the site of the local school. At one time children from the neighbouring farms walked or rode their ponies to school along the bridle paths which now form the basis of the Queen Charlotte Track.
  • Until the end of the 19th century there was a thriving township at the head of Endeavour Inlet. Antimony was mined there and at one time sailing ships loaded their cargoes in the Inlet before sailing direct to England with the valuable metal.
  • Legend tells of the early Maori using Torea Saddle to haul their canoes from one sound to another.
Then it was on to Picton.... I could just make it out in the distance. Our stopping point where we would get a train, although for the first hour of the journey, the train would be a bus, as they were doing repairs to the track and we would meet up with the train at Blenheim. Arahura's bow looking up towards Picton....

and there it is.....

Ferry ride from serenity of Queen Charlotte Sound.

As I mentioned: We were due to sail on Arahura Interislander Ferry this morning from Wellington to Picton, that is from the bottom of the North Island to the tip of the South.

We left Lambton Quay at around 11am and quickly saw how expansive the harbour and spread out the city was... and, I stole a glance at the sky even now and then, and the water....

It was definitely getting rougher and the wind was picking up. The Captain came over the PA system and said that there was "a bit of wind expected once we got out into Cook Strait", in fact he said "it was blowing a gale" and the waves were around 8-9 metres high!


This was a new experience for me! Better check the status of those lifeboats again...

The crew got busy handing around paper vomit bags and ice while food and trays crashed off the shelves in the cafeteria.
Apparently ice chips really help if you are feeling seasick or nauseous, and whilst my daughter had her face in a cup of these for about 45 minutes without respite, I was ok if I watched the land, and sucked on an ice chip when the big crashes came.
Getting rougher, and roughter...The waves were crashing over the bow.. and this was no small boat. Time to head up to the back of the boat and stick our heads out into the wind, and try not to get our fingers jammed in the doorway when the door closed. Going up stairs holding a backpack swinging around on your back, in one hand and a child in the other, means there is no hands free to hold on to any hand rails, so you have to trust your sense of balance implicitly.

I even rang my husband to tell him what conditions I was sailing in.... he was thrilled! Blow all the cobwebs away I guess he thought...

Oh better get a picture before the sea calms, if that ever happens... and the boat stops the listing...

Many others joined us up the back with their cups of ice....

to be continued....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Norway or New Zealand?

This is the picturesque Belmont Regional park which, as I said is under the juridsdiction of my politician cousin.
Was it whimsy, or do these scenes look similar to rural Norway, minus the flat topped mountains and predominantly red painted houses???
This is but a few footsteps from Cousin's house, and how wonderful it would be to take a stroll in this area when one so wished.

The hills afforded some protection from the winds too, and the babbling brook lends to nature's theraupeuticity. Is it possible that I no longer need to travel to Norway to see such scenery? Something to ponder about....
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Wellington architecture continued....

Inside the gorgeous little church in Central Wellington.... I would have loved to get married in such a fine example of timberwork. And it even had the smell of good timber: Kauri (see below) from New Zealand. The church itself is now only used for Weddings, baptisms and funerals etc...

Kauri trees come from the Agathis Australis family and have cousins in the Australian Karri and the Fijian Kauri. The New Zealand trees are the giants of the family and are second only in size (in the world) to the Redwoods. They were once found in areas over ¾ of New Zealand but are now confined to forests in the upper regions of the North Island. The trees were milled extensively, as they are famous for their long straight lengths of timber. It has the highest volume of timber of any known tree in the world. Over a period of years, firstly for shipping, and then for housing, the tree was nearing extinction. It is now protected and cannot be milled for any reason. However, because of its beautiful sheen, which some say changes color in various lights, and the beautiful grain from the head and the stump of the tree, it is prized for the making of furniture and crafts.

The Beehive... New and older national parliament buildings of New Zealand
and the parliamentary library... Looks a bit like a monastery, but a beatiful piece of architecture.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 3 Te Papa, Beach and Wind energy

A slight shower greeted us Sunday morning and we spent an hour of so hunting down a friend's family history at Petone library.
To our surprise we found a connection with Sandra's family... is everyone in New Zealand related in some way to another in the Hawkes Bay area????

Wellington promised to live us to Melbourne's weather reputation as four seasons in one day... as the sun came out, allowing us to have a picnic lunch on the beach. The children had a great time and I saw the harbour at its best. It really is a huge natural harbour surrounding by breathtaking mountains and forest.

The old part of Wellington has some beautiful houses:many perched on the absolute top of the ridge, and especially around Oriental Bay, one could be forgiven for thinking you were in San Francisco.

After all, New Zealand is on a fault line, has a cable car, has houses perched on perilously steep cliffs and mountain sides, ending in a beautiful harbour, and lots of wooden architecture of the early 20's - 30's prevails... then there is the earthquake issue.New Zealand had around 15,000 earthquakes each year, mostly in the North Island, but very few are felt. The town centre in Napier in Hawkes Bay was flattened in 1987 from a big quake.

There is footage of this in the Te Papa Museum, central Wellington, which h
as free entry. An earthquake house gives a simulation of what it was like to be in Napier on that fateful day. The terrible rumbling the pre-empts the shaking and rattling, and movement is ominously terrifying. Really gives you an idea without experiencing the danger, of what it is like to live through such an event.

The Moari exhibits are also interesting and one can sit inside a Moari meeting house where they occasionally hold council meetings.... it is quite dark inside but has an atmosphere of solemnity and seriousness.

Don't forget to see the Kiwi and the Gian
t Squid, both preserved and dead of course. Children are well catered for too, with dress ups, games, activities and play areas that allow for interactive learning.

Travelling through the main centre of Wellington, we had a quick peek at the BEEHIVE, a name given to the buildin
g that houses the National parliament. A rather stately old building stood nearby in the form of the Parlimentary Library.

We did stop to se
e the Cable car and the magnificient view from its top station, but did not have time for a ride. There is a small museum in the top station that outlines the history of the Cable car, some older examples of the cars and you can go downstairs to see the cable mechanism at work.

The largest wooden building in Wellington and a truly unique fully timbered church where my cousins parents were married was secondary stops on our way to the Wind Turbines atop the Karori Reserve. Some energetic Wellingtonians were jogging up the narrow 5 kilometre road in very windy conditions. We almost got blown away! The wind turbine was the first and it was experiemental, built with Danish technology. While being able to sustain winds of up to 200km/h, it shuts down when the winds goes over 80km/h.

The experim
ent was a success so several more turbines were installed to feed in to the city's power grid. This is really something for cities with regular strong winds to ponder about.... but I guess you do need a back up on a still day.....