Monday, 31 December 2012

Wellington Revisited.

After taking in the sight’s from the top of the Cable Car we walked through to the Carter and Dominion Observatories and read up on some of the history of the site and buildings. Next to the Dominion Observatory formerly Hectors Observatory building was once a gun battery, one of 6 to protect the city and harbour in 1894-1904 in what was known as the Russian Scare. The gun was never actually mounted but stored in the bunker below.

Dominion Observatory, formerly the Hector Observatory built in 1907 changed the name in 1925.Dominion Observatory, formerly the Hector Observatory built in 1907 changed the name in 1925.Carter Observatory, Botanical Gardens.Carter Observatory, Botanical Gardens, Wellington

Hectors Observatory also employed astronomers as time keepers for shipping, railways and government ministers along with civil servants. Accurate time is required to work out longitude essential for ships navigators. There is an old Krupps cannon on site, a German made 135mm field artillery captured by NZ troops in France in 1918 and bought back to NZ as a trophy. In 1920 it was gifted to the City of Wellington and thought to be the only one of it’s kind left from the 190 originally made.

Botanic Garden Battery 1894 -1904 with a captured German Krupps cannon.Botanic Garden Battery 1894 -1904 with a captured German Krupps Cannon.

The path back down to the city took to the Lady Norwood Rose Garden which was a bit past it’s best at this time of year but nice still the same.

Lady Norwood Rose Gardens.Lady Norwood Rose Gardens.

From here it lead us to a place we had heard plenty about back in the early 1960’s, the Bolton Street Cemetery or what there is left of it. The urban motorway sliced right through the middle of this sacred site with what finished up as 3700 burial sites being moved. Head stones were stored at a council yard in Wilton for years until the development was completed and then returned in an orderly fashion. All the remains were buried in a vault below the memorial lawn by the Chapel. Only 2000 of the burial site’s had headstones.

The Beehive. Part of NZ's Parliament buildings.The Beehive. New Zealand's Parliament buildings.NZ's Government Buildings, the largest wooden building in the world. Completed in 1876. That's all timber.New Zealand’s Old Government Buildings, the largest wooden building in the world. Completed in 1876. That's all timber.

We eventually arrived back at the railway station in good time so it was McDonald’s for a light shared tea before returning to the station and boarding our train.

Wellingtons Grand Railway Station.Wellingtons Grand Railway Station.

However the fun wasn’t over yet as we were delayed leaving Wellington by 5-10 minutes. At Upper Hutt we were further delayed as we had to wait for a South bound goods train. The Main Trunk line is closed for repairs and all goods trains are being re routed down through the Wairarapa. We eventually got home only 20 minutes later than expected so it wasn’t too bad but we were in need of a good cuppa to finish the day.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wellington

Wellington's famous cable car which helped to establish Kelburn and Karori.Wellington's famous cable car which helped to establish Kelburn and Karori.

Wandering down to what had once been the Overseas Terminal we found this has been demolished and undergoing a new lease of life. It started life as the Clyde Quay and in the early 1960’s was transformed into the Overseas Terminal catering for passenger ships arriving with tourists and migrants. Unfortunately this was built too late and had a very short life due to air travel killing off sea travel. By 1970 it had become a White Elephant costing the harbour board more than the revenue it was generating. It was then leased out as a conference/function centre with some retail outlets but still had lots of waste space.

What was once Clyde Quay then the Overseas Terminal now being converted to a living and retail centre alongside Chaffers Marina.What was once Clyde Quay then the Overseas Terminal now being converted to a living and retail centre alongside Chaffers Marina.

Herd St Art Deco Post and Telegraph building. Now upmarket apartments.Herd St Art Deco Post and Telegraph building. Now upmarket apartments.

Down at what had been Taranaki St wharf we found the Steam Crane Hikitea. This marvellous old vessel was built in Scotland in 1926 and holds the record for the longest voyage under it’s own power of such a vessel when it was sailed to New Zealand complete with the crane erected.

Floating Crane Hikitea. Steam operated and still used for special projects.Floating Crane Hikitea. Steam operated and still used for special projects.

Retired  in the 1980’s by the Harbourboard it has been looked after ever since by Maritime Heritage Trust. It is reputedly to be the only working steam crane of it’s type left in the world. Recently it was bought out of retirement to place a new loading ramp in place for the Interislander ferries. This took several days as they could only work while the ferries were at sea.

Sea Shepherd Whale protection vessel "Bob Barker". Preparing for another visit to Antarctic waters to monitor whaling ships.Sea Shepherd Whale protection vessel "Bob Barker". Preparing for another visit to Antarctic waters to monitor whaling ships.Sea Shepherd Whale protection vessel

Next to the Hikitea was the Sea Shepherd Whale protection vessel "Bob Barker". This 30 year old vessel was originally a Norwegian whaler which has been converted to sail in Antarctic waters to keep watch on foreign whaling ships.

Circa Theatre which was once on the city side of Jervois Quay, now on the waterfront.Circa Theatre which was once on the city side of Jervois Quay, now on the waterfront.Art Deco Wellington Free Ambulance building.Art Deco Wellington Free Ambulance Building.From City to Sea bridge across Jervois Quay. Artistry by Sara Matchitt 1993.From City to Sea bridge across Jervois Quay. Artistry by Sara Matchitt 1993. Michael Fowler Centre in the background.

Sculpture celebrating NZ's traditon with Rugby.Sculpture celebrating NZ's tradition with Rugby.Suspended sculpture of NZ fern fronds behind the Micheal Fowler centre.Suspended sculpture of NZ fern fronds behind the Micheal Fowler Centre.

After a picnic lunch in Frank Kitts Park we walked through what used to be Mercer St between the library and council offices into Willis St. Here we did some window shopping at Kathmandu where we found a few good specials but opted not to buy them at this stage. Down into Lambton Quay where a lot of the buildings were a familiar sight among them being the old DIC building. Sadly this is in a sad state of repairs and reportedly due to be demolished.

Corner of Willis St and Lambton Quay with the old BNZ building, now a shopping centre.Corner of Willis St and Lambton Quay with the old Bank of New Zealand building, now a shopping centre.

We popped into Kirkcaldie and Stains to have a look at their Christmas shop. A half price sale was in full swing on all their Christmas decorations etc. nice but still too dear for our liking. Back along the Quay we found Cable Car Lane and the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. Here we found another old workmate of Derek’s behind the controls of one of the cars.It’s hard to go anywhere without bumping into somebody we know.

Pohutukawa tree's in bloom in Kelburn park.Pohutukawa tree's in bloom in Kelburn Park.

The Hobbit!

IMG_7956

At Wellington we transferred to the Airport Flyer bus to see the new display at the airport promoting the new movie “The Hobbit”. We were not disappointed as the Weta Workshops had once again excelled themselves with a 1.2 tonne “Gollum” fishing for his dinner suspended from the ceiling. It would have been easier to photograph at night because of all the background light from windows behind the creation. However we did succeed to a point.

You can almost believe the underwater effects.You can almost believe the underwater effects.Gollum catching his favourite food at Wellington Airport. Part of the publicity of the "Hobbit" movie.Gollum catching his favourite food at Wellington Airport. Part of the publicity of the "Hobbit" movie.Hobbit Holes or houses on the luggage conveyorbelt at Wellington Airport.Hobbit Holes or houses on the luggage conveyor belt at Wellington Airport.Hobbit Holes or houses on the luggage conveyorbelt at Wellington Airport.

After a coffee and donut from the Donut King we caught another bus back into the city. The driver of the bus was most apologetic as it wasn’t a regular airport bus with lots of luggage space. This one just had seats and passengers had to balance their luggage on the seat’s beside them. The original bus had been taken out of service after a collision with a drunken driver. As there were no passengers for the suburbs the driver took a short cut back to the city to try and get back onto his set timetable.

Getting off the bus in Courtenay Place we headed to the Embassy Theatre where The World Premiere of “The Hobbit” movie is being shown. Above the theatre entrance is a giant sized “Gandalf” knocking on the door of a Hobbit hole with his staff. Again another Weta Workshop production.

Gandalf and a Hobbit house at the Embassy theatre.Gandalf and a Hobbit house at the Embassy Theatre.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Have card will travel!

Carterton Railway Station.Carterton Railway Station.

We had plans for Saturday which would take us by train into Wellington using our Gold Cards, (free travel). We were up bright and early to catch the 8.05 train and the weather wasn’t too bad in Carterton. By the time we reached the Rimutaka Tunnel it was starting to rain. The tunnel is 6km’s long and by the time we emerged at the Hutt Valley end it was still raining albeit lightly.

At Upper Hutt we alighted with a plan to catch the return train in an hour and a half's time to Masterton as the weather to the South i.e Wellington, wasn’t looking too good. We wandered into town and met a couple of old work mates and had a good chat and managed to get a bit of shopping done. I bought a pair of much needed sandals and wore them out of the shop thinking that if my feet got sore I could change back to my original shoes. As it turned out they were so comfortable that I wore them all day even though we would eventually end up walking for 5 – 6 km”s. The sign of a good pair of shoes.

About to board a new Matangi electric unit to Wellington.About to board a new Matangi electric unit to Wellington.

Back at the railway station we could see the weather to the South had improved so we reverted to our original plan of travelling to Wellington. The Wairarapa train came and went and eventually a local electric unit service arrived. This was one of the New Korean built Matangi trains which was the equal of any of the electric trains that we travelled on in the UK. Very nice.

His lordship aboard a new Korean built Matangi electric unit from Upper Hutt to Wellington. Very nice!Yours Truly aboard a new Korean built Matangi electric unit from Upper Hutt to Wellington. Very nice.  Reminded us of the London Underground Trains.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas we had a heatwave!

Safely parked at Carterton.

Despite still being in the process of getting our new home sorted out we had a long standing arrangement to travel to Carterton for Christmas and New Year. On Monday 24th we set off via Shannon across the road known as the “PahiatuaTrack”. It may have been a bullock track originally but it is now a well sealed highway.

IMG_7942

Christmas Day was a scorcher with temperatures in the mid thirties, too hot to even eat let alone anything else. Friday the 28th and the weather couldn’t have been more opposite with rain and one hell of a thunder storm. We heard it coming from the South and the thunder just kept rumbling. As it passed over head a clap of thunder literally shook everything and no doubt frightened the hell out of everybody with a nervous disposition. We could still hear the thunder as the storm moved northwards towards Hawkes Bay.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

What, no Insulation!

Yesterday Derek decided to get out his renovator tool again and cut a doorway into the roof cavity of the living area on the mezzanine floor.  He had already successfully put a door in the back of the storage cupboard on the other side and it is a great place to store the suitcases and all the paraphernalia one collects over the years.

This turned out so well he decided that the other side of the roof area needed one too.  He had been given a lovely Rimu cupboard door for which he was cutting a hole to fit.  This would give access to another roof area where it would make it easy for extended electrical wiring for hot points and aerial points that we intend to install some time in the new year.

But what's this? Once the hole was cut we realised that we were over the bathroom area and there was no insulation.  Now in New Zealand all new houses need to be fully insulated as per building regulations. Someone had mucked up, and the Council Building Inspector should have spotted it too.

IMG_7922

Even though the building warranty on our home had expired in October we felt that it was still the builders responsibility to rectify the problem.  It was worth asking anyway as the builders are still on site with other homes.

Walking across to the Motorhome to put something away ready for our departure next week, Derek met up with Adam, the Overseer, for the building work.  A quick question as to whether there should be insulation above the bathroom he received an exclamation that of course there should.  Adam obviously didn't believe Derek when he said there was none and wanted to know how Derek knew.  An explanation as to how he found out resulted in Adam coming to look for himself.  Well, next minute.  Derek came trotting back with almost a full bale of Batts courtesy of the developer to complete the job himself.  That will keep him busy for a while.

Today Derek headed off down to the Menz Shed for his weekly visit where he found other members clearing up in preparation for the Xmas break. A truck load of scrap metal and dead electrical gear was dispatched to the scrap metal merchant along with a trailer load of rubbish to the rubbish transfer station. With all this activity concluded Derek managed to find a suitable length of timber and with some assistance put it through the Router trimming it up to become the door frame for the above mentioned project.

He managed to tear himself away from the Shed in time to get a few groceries and be home for lunch with Uncle Bill and Aunty Gretta.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Some firsts for years and years!

Something has happened around here.  I must admit that I haven’t made a Christmas Cake or pudding since when the children were small.  New house, new plans, let’s see if I can still do it. The Christmas Cake was made last week with a new recipe with a tin of crushed pineapple added.  I must admit we had guests around the other day so it was cut.  Yum I made a success out of that.  Lets try a Christmas Pudding.

IMG_7920Christmas Pudding just out of the Pressure Cooker.

My sister Mary is a great cook and a fan of the Pressure Cooker, so she provided the unusual recipe.  Well its worth a try, I can’t go too far wrong can I?  This recipe has sago soaking in milk for at least 8 hours before mixing the rest.  It was planned for yesterday but I had forgotten to soak the sago.  Never mind I was all set to go this morning and what a success this was too.  Only 1¼ hours in the Pressure Cooker and it was all done.  I had no steam pudding basin but a stainless steel mixing bowl with baking paper and tinfoil did the trick.  I then managed to transfer it into a smaller bowl so that I can reheat it while away in our Motorhome Gypsy Rover.  Derek and I both scraped the bowl and it was yummy too.  I better not let this go to my head had I?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

It’s very Interesting!

What one see’s over the back fence.  When we purchased our new property a few weeks ago there were about 30 head of cattle grazing the paddocks over our back fence.  On returning from Tongariro we found that the paddocks were empty.  In the meantime the grass has been growing longer and longer and some of it decided that our backyard was worth investigating as it crept under the fence.  Derek was cursing as he looked at all the weeds taking hold and was reluctant to spray to kill it off in case the cattle returned.  Well no need, on Friday along came a tractor and cut it all down.

IMG_7880Hay bails in the paddocks behind the house.

Goody he said “ that saves me a job”.  Unfortunately they didn’t cut right along the fence line so we still had the invading grass under the fence, nothing for it but to spray. The birds were happy too as they returned to hunt for seed and insects.  A couple of days later a tractor returned with a hay rake and turned it all over to dry. 

IMG_7883Double stacking the bails in readiness for loading.

Yesterday afternoon a tractor with a much bigger machine arrived to rake the hay together in readiness for the bailer. The latter arrived a short time later to start the bailing process producing 64 bales. Once finished the bailer was parked in the corner of the paddock and the tractor driver started stacking the bales 2 high using the tines on the front of the tractor. Early last evening a truck arrived and was immediately loaded with 30 bales closely followed by a smaller truck which took another 18 bails. 

IMG_7887Loading begins.

At this point the tractor driver locked up his vehicle and hopped into the small truck. The vehicle sat in the middle of the paddock for about 10 minutes in which time some discussion must have taken place as the two drivers changed places with the truck driver now taking control of the tractor. The 2 trucks departed with the tractor driver double stacking the last few remaining bails. Half an hour later the first tractor returned with a 2 axle trailer in tow on which they managed to squeeze the last remaining 16 bails. They just managed to beat the rain by a few minutes, how lucky was that?

IMG_7889A tricky manoeuvre to place a bail on its side in the middle of the truck.IMG_7893Four high each side with 2 in the centre.

It was just as well because today has been very wet with constant rain which wouldn’t have done the hay much good had it been left out.

Monday, 17 December 2012

It’s Christmas and we have found it!!

IMG_7868

Yes I know, you thought we had gone away and got lost.  No such luck.  We have been very busy getting ourselves sorted since our move.  What with juggling unpacking, sorting out what to keep or what to sell or donate to a charity shop, we haven’t had much time to think.  Not to mention the times we are camp minding so the owners can have holidays themselves , rallying with the Heretaunga Caravan  Club and Derek working with Don on the farm .  Where has the time gone? We managed to find our Christmas Tree that had been stored for nearly 7 years and have put that up including all the lights that were stored with it.  There are now nearly 200 lights adorning our new property.  The only one in the village so they are attracting a bit of attention.

IMG_7867

We have been filling in our 2013 Calendar with trips away holidaying and working  and it appears that we won’t be home much for the first three months.  The Caretaker commented that perhaps we should be renting rather than having bought our new home as we are never here.  But that wouldn’t have worked either.  With the secure Motorhome Parking in the complex we couldn’t afford to let it go.  It’s almost as good as living in our motorhome.  We love it here now we have settled in, no regrets at all.  It’s a great place to call home when we are not on the road.

IMG_7871Interesting view last night over the rooftops.IMG_7873Just a few minutes later and showing a few of our lights around the roof.

Interesting read of Ray and Diane’s Blog, the new owners of our Narrowboat Gypsy Rover (Now renamed Ferndale).  They have finally found the Christmas Tree that we left hidden for them, 3 years down the track.  What have they been doing? Read about it here.   At long last it is back on display on the boat.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Now that was quick!

Yesterday afternoon I decided to check the internet to see whether I could purchase the spacers for the back of the Clothes Dryer which had been misplaced since our move.  We needed these to hang the dryer on the wall above the washing machine. In the meantime we had the dryer sitting on the top of the front loader Washing Machine. Not a good idea really.  Well we have virtually unpacked everything now and still not managed to find them.  What to do? Right check Fisher and Paykel’s website and see whether it is possible to still get them.  Yes and they have them in stock.  Great.  We also needed a support for the door rack in the refrigerator, yes they have that too, good. 

By this time it was about 3pm in the afternoon and the goods had to come from Botany north of Auckland.  Never mind they were ordered and paid for by credit card, nowhere did it state how long before we could expect delivery.

IMG_7810

This morning at 9.30am the door bell rang and there was our parcel. How good is that for service?  The Dryer is now up in its rightful place above the washer.

Thank you Fisher and Paykel for a job well done even if you have sold out to Haier.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Tongariro coughs once more.

We have been home barely a week when news hit the airwaves about Mt Tongariro erupting once again. The mountain crossing had not been re-opened very long after the last eruption just 2 months ago. With the beautiful weather today many tramper’s including a school group had ventured up onto the mountain to do 19.5km crossing only to receive an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately the Tongariro Crossing is a big tourism draw card for the region and will affect many businesses in the area. Time will tell as to how long the crossing will remain closed this time.

full_A8L3neWCYAAzOVo.jpg_large

Since our return home last week we have been busy as beavers helping friends with last week-ends National Rose show here in Levin. We were presented with some of the exhibits after the show for our efforts. Some exhibitors had travelled from as far away as Invercargill in the South and Whangerei in the North. We have managed to grab a couple of days to ourselves to do some more unpacking but we still have a way to go. Along the way we have been making some plans about alterations we would like to make in the near future and what we are going to do with the garden.  A visit to Palmers Garden Centre at Plimmerton has resolved some of the gardening idea’s.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tracey

Hope you have a lovely day, sorry we are unable to be with you on your side of the world.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Job Done (Well almost)

clip_image001 Is there room for me? The camp cats in front of the fire.

Last night was the quietest we have experienced since starting our tour of duty at Tongariro Holiday Park. We only had 7 motorhomes in and no cabins booked, although that could have changed. We had 6 foreign tourist come in wanting cheap accommodation with ensuite. We have 4 ensuite’s but they were too expensive. After about half an hour offering them different options they eventually left but by this time it was getting late so I don’t give them much hope of finding anything better this side of Taupo.

clip_image002We have never seen one of these before. Anyone know what this moth is? clip_image003Might give you a better idea of the size. Sorry about the quality of the photo.

As we come to the end of our tour of duty at THP the weather has deteriorated closing the Tongariro Crossing for today and possibly the next few days. We had a couple of tourists booked for this morning but the tour operator cancelled at the last moment in the interest of safety. Of course then we refunded their monies and they were considering their options whether to drive up to the carpark on the off chance that there were views without the clouds.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Variety is the spice of life.

Our time here at Tongariro Holiday Park has been far from boring. Beside the usual cleaning and servicing of cabins there is laundry and window cleaning. One chore we won’t have is lawn mowing as the grass doesn’t seem to grow very fast around here probably due to all the frosts we have been experiencing.

clip_image001Tongariro Holiday Park's kitchen block and kiddies play area.

One unusual request was for me to travel with an English tramping group in their mini bus to Ketetahi hut. There I dropped them off for an overnight tramp around Mt’s Tongariro and Ngaurahoe and brought their bus and trailer back to the camp for safe keeping. Late the following day I drove to Mangatepopo hut, some 20km away where I picked the tramper’s up. They dropped me back at camp before carrying on to their next overnight stay at the tramper’s hut behind The Chateau. After tramping around Mt Ruapehu the next day they are off to the South Island to tramp the Able Tasman.

clip_image002Power sites at Tongariro Holiday Park.

Last night the motorhome side of the camp was full even though one booking failed to materialise. Along with 3 cabins, 2 tents and 4 non power campervans as we had run out of powered sites the camp was abuzz last night. The kitchen rubbish etc. required clearing at 10pm to avoid a complete disaster after the breakfast session this morning.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What a chilly start!

Yesterday there was a hint of sulphur in the air all day from Mt Tongariro as we set about the days work. It was another busy day with lots of cleaning and plenty more bookings and arrivals. The Tongariro Crossing seems to be the big draw card here at this time of year. We booked 14 for today’s crossing which is on average a 7-8 hour hike over a mountain track taking in the Emerald lakes. The track starts at 1150m rising to 1886m at the Red crater descending to 750m at the finish. For those real enthusiast’s there is a 2 hour diversion to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe but this is recommended for experienced trampers' only.

clip_image001Quite a decent frost for November.

This morning we awoke to find the surroundings all covered in heavy frost. It was –40C in Waiouru so I’m picking it was probably the same here(and it’s November, roll on Summer) . At least we are going to have a beautiful sunny day to follow.

clip_image002Bet it was cold in there this morning.clip_image003Our car was completely covered in ice. A shock to the system.

Monday, 5 November 2012

All in a days work

To those friends trying to contact us we have no mobile coverage here at all although a few km’s up the road it may be possible. Any internet is via satellite and consequently very expensive.

clip_image001Tongariro Holiday Park Manager’s house and reception area.

After a lot of bookings comes a busy day cleaning up. Besides the usual rubbish, recycle came 7 units with a total of 22 beds. Luckily most of the units were only new pillow cases and a vacuum and dust. However the Ensuite unit was a complete linen change, bathroom clean along with the usual dust and vacuum.

clip_image002Tongariro Holiday Park's ablution block. The old single men's quarters from the hydro power construction.

So far arrivals today have been light on the ground apart from a company with four cabins booked this week and next. They will be doing some maintenance work on the Tongariro Crossing which was partially damaged in the eruption a few months ago. We are not holding our breath, most of the bookings come in at the end of the day when we are finally relaxing for the evening. Dot has just had a phone call from Queenstown I-site for a cabin tomorrow night. Yeah right, they will need a set of wings to get here in time maybe.

Watch this space.