Date Data

19May09

Just a note to say that we will be coming home early from New Zealand by a few days, it’s not a huge change, but it means that this will be my last update while in New Zealand. When I get home there will be a few more, just rounding it up, posting some unseen pictures and video and stuff, to make this complete.

This is our last full day, Wednesday the 20th of May 2009. we fly tomorrow, and will get back the day after. I’m not sure about the time shift, but I think I will get back early in the morning (maybe about 6 o’clock) on Friday the 22nd (GMT).

So that’s all for a few days, but there will be more.

Also, this post is a plea for recognition for my brother’s blog. Because of some hackers, I locked it down around the time when we were in the Bay of Islands, and it is http://jvcd.wordpress.com/. Many people have complained that you cannot get on, but for this purpose, if you do not have a WordPress account, you can log on the custom-made guest account, which is allowed to view his blog. Go to his blog and put in the Username “gusettojvcdnz” and Password “alsoguest”. This will allow you to view it.

Thankyou.

(but still keep coming here too, please)

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Hey.

My last post was about a visit to an island. So is this one. But that one was a barren, moonlike surface devoid of all life. This island,on the other hand, is covered with a layer of thick trees, and on it dwells a large variety of flora and fauna seldom seen outside New Zealand, and some birds limited to only conservation islands like these. The island I’m talking about is the island Tiritiri Matangi, and here is a convenient map.

tiri

The boat left from Auckland and stopped by at the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (spelled Whangaporoa on this map, and pronounced “Phon-gah-par-o-a”) to pick up more passengers. Here is another map, this time showing the island itself:

tiritiri-matangi-map-dec-07-480

The boat lands at the wharf (midde left) and you walk up to the light house, and on the way, we saw a Whitehead, Red-Crowned Parakeet, Saddleback, Bellbird, Stitchbird, Fantail, Pukeko, Tui and a New Zealand Pigeon (these links go to the Tiritiri Matangi website).

But the rarest, funniest and naughtiest bird species is to be found at the lighthouse. This is the Takahe, a fat, jovial, species who spend their time eating grass and unfortunate visitor’s lunches. There are only 225 of them left, making them probably the rarest bird I’m ever going to see.

Takahe 

This is a cartoon of Greg, considered to be the naughtiest and a real threat to people’s lunches:

Greg

These are posted up everywhere along with the warning of possible Takahe lunch interference. These birds are very tame, especially Greg, who will snatch your lunch from your hand. Here is a picture of him ‘begging’.

Takahe_-_Greg_&_CheeseCake_-_Tiritiri_Matangi_Isl._Jan_2009_(3)

Dad had some chocolate snatched by Greg, who went and soaked it in water to soften it.

It was a really fun day, and I have some video of birds which you can see when we have converted the tape.

But before I sign off, I have a few pictures I haven’t posted yet (at least, I hope not) and can’t think of anywhere else to put them. This first was taken in the Coromandel peninsula on our trip there:

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This is the odd house I described which we stayed in at the Coromandel Peninsula:

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This was taken from the plane as we flew from Auckland to Queenstown:

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Film fans may recognise this picture of the Arrow River, as this section was used to film the Fords of Bruinen in the Fellowship of The Ring:

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This was taken on the Mackinnon Pass the day before we went over it by dad, as he went up the day before:

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These fine mountains are the snowcapped Remarkables, taken from Queenstown:

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This is the slightly comic lack of a letter in a church sign in Dunedin:

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I did say that that picture of a Weta was the best wildlife photo dad could take, but I was proven wrong by these next photos. The first is of a yellow-eyed penguin at ‘Penguin Place’ near Dunedin:

Penguin

This one is a grey fur seal taken in Kaikoura:

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And this is Mount Taranaki, taken from a car park near New Plymouth:

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This is a caravan, which I just happened to be staying in:

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This is from the Bay of Islands, a long time ago:

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-THE END-


White Island

05May09

The majorest thing we’ve done sincelast update was go to White Island.

Dunno what it is? The website is http://www.whiteisland.co.nz/. But if you can’t be bothered, I’ll tell you that it’s New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, and one of only a few classed as “1” in NZ. If you don’t know what this  means, go to http://www.geonet.org.nz/volcano/alert-level.html. It’s the top chart. In fact, GeoNet is very helpful at this point, because at http://www.geonet.org.nz/volcano/activity/white-island/index.html it tells you recent earthquakes and seismic activity around White Island. On the island there are several webcams which take a picture every half hour during daytime of the island. You can view these pictures from that link as well.

Ok, back to our trip. We booked the day before, but the weather was uncertain and they hadn’t yet decided whether the boat trip would go. They put off decision until 7 that night. Because there was nothng to do in Whakatene (where the boat went from in the morning), we didn’t want to go there unless the trip was definite (in case you haven’t yet realised, we were still in thew campervan), and waited at a point half way between there and our holiday campervan park. We were rung at 7, but they still hadn’t decided. So we went back to the holiday park, and had to be ready to go at eight in the morning in case it was going. It was, and so we had a long drive, and then a long boat ride.

I’ve actually got lots of pictures of this, and also some video, along with some video from our dolphin swimming and some of seals, but we can’t get that up until we get home, so you’ll have to wait. Anyway, here are the pictures:

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These are the gas masks we were issued, because it’s still a live volcano and gives off extremely acidic steam.

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The lake here is not one to bathe in. It’s boiling hot, but it also has a pH of minus one, making it one of the most acidic lakes in the world and probably the very best place in NZ to dump a corpse.

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…and then dad’s phone ran out of battery.

You would have thought he’d charge it for once, as he’s coming to a barren, steamy, place with more phot opportunities than a documentary, but no.

Oh well.


Campervan

30Apr09

As the title suggests, we are now staying in a campervan. Looks a bit like this:

campervan

Although I think ours has a roof. At the moment we are in Orewa, in the library. We haven’t done a lot yet, but we might go south to Rotorua today. I have finished reading the book Great Expectations, and I am now reading a Cherub book, the Sleepwalker. I didn’t actually put anything that we did on my last post, so here’s some of the stuff we did.

We have been to the museum again, where we saw stuff on World War II and I have been doing work on it. a few days after that, we moved into our motel, which is called Alper’s Lodge. (http://www.alperslodge.co.nz/). We have been taking lots of books out of the library, which we are reading now.


Gallery

27Apr09

Hello.

I’ve got some pictures.

Lots of pictures.

All were taken on my dad’s phone.

What are you waiting for?

These are from the Milford Track:

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This is the first of several panoramas my dad took with a special ‘panorama’ feature on his phone:

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Unfortunately, this feature was not foolproof:

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Oops.

This next one is bigger so you can see the rainbow better:

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This is, I am afraid, the best wildlife photo dad is ever going to take on his phone: 

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This looks great, doesn’t it? What you don’t see is that dad was crouching down about a metre away from this little fella.


New Plymouth

24Apr09

Since I last updated, we have spent some time in Wellington, where we went to see the Treaty of Waitangi in the archives center, and also went to Te Papa, which is a sort of national museum/art gallery/sort of place, and explored the Monet and the children’s section. Here’s a picture:

the-museum-of-new-zealand

Bit odd, isn’t it? But by far the most interesting thing we did was go to a conservation place just outside Wellington for a night tour. And here, for the first time ever, I saw a wild kiwi! The ones they had there were the little spotted kiwi (I think…), like this fellow here:

kiwi-large

There was a lot of walking through dark bush on steep paths, and listening for their unique call, but after one near miss we finally saw one, walking across the path, like a little football on legs! It was amazing, and we lit it up with little red hand torches we were given. We also saw other things too, like the kaka, and we heard a saddleback, so it was awesome!


Disaster(s)!

20Apr09

First and foremost, sorry for the wait of nearly a week, we are going from youth hostel to youth hostel, moving north (I’ll explain later). There isn’t always time and internet wherever we go.

Since I last updated, whale watching in Kaikoura was cancelled due to bad weather, my dad was in a car crash (he’s ok, but the car isn’t), and, as a result, he was ripped off to the tune of over $3,000. It will hopefully come back though. ‘Cos if it doesn’t we might sue them.

But, no worries, eh?

Onto the other news. First on the agenda is that nobody seems to know where we are. So here’s overview of our South Island expedition:

map

Sorry about the bad drawing. We stayed (and will stay) nights in:

Queenstown (4)
Te Anau
Clinton Hut (Milford Track)
Mintaro Hut (Milford Track)
Dumpling Hut (Milford Track)
Te Anau
Dunedin (2)
Christchurch (2)
Hanmer
Kaikoura
Picton
Wellington (2)
New Plymouth

Then back to Auckland. As I speak (type) we are in Wellington, about to stay our first night.

The whole trip folows a series of conferences in which my dad is taking part. The last night (New Plymouth) is the town in which he was born, quite a long time ago (just kidding, it was practically yesterday). It’s a bit of a return home, but I hope he doesn’t cry or do anything embarrasing.

Anyway.

We’ve done loads of stuff in this time, including seeing dolphin, albatross, penguin, and shark in the wild, and plenty of stuff in the aquarium earlier today. This was in fact quie fun. Here is the link: http://ecoworldnz.co.nz/index.php. Groovy. This is the building plan:

map

The best bit was the touch tank. Here you could pick up all sorts of starfish and stuff. I have found a slightly strange video, but it seems more professional than the others so far:

Yeah.

Anyway.

We have also played razy golf, and seen penguins in a colony at Dunedin, go to http://www.penguinplace.co.nz/index.html for more.

Here is the yellow eyed penguin:

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They are the third-largest penguin in the world, but only live in New Zealand with an endangered population of 4000-5000.

The penguin reserve and another few are some of the only plaes in the world to see this dwindling species.

I could go on, but I can’t be bothered so go to the Wikipedia Page if you require any more information.

Another of the many things we have done is gone to Hanmer Springs. Here, you can elax in the hot pools, which is pretty much just what you want after  a week travelling.

hanmer_springs

Awesome.

Anyway, my time is coming to an end, so I must tell you when I will next be likely to blog: it’s in 5 or 6 day’s time, back in Auckland again.

See you l8r (see, I’m cool).