Thursday, 29 September 2011

Kiwi movie makers.

After a few days of miserable weather the sun finally appeared for our day out with friends Robin and Jenny. We had heard about the Weta Cave in Miramar which is the shop window shall we say of Weta, Kiwi movie makers extraordinaire. Set up by Richard Taylor and his partner along with Peter Jackson some twenty years ago, what started as a back room cottage industry blossomed into a huge company after their success with Lord of the Rings.

Derek & Robin at the Weta Cave Miramar. The guns are props from the movie District 9.Derek & Robin at the Weta Cave Miramar. The guns are props from the movie District 9.

Tours around the facilities are not available due to confidentiality on current projects but there is a small theatrette where you can get a glimpse of what they do and how they do it. You get to meet the people involved and see what they do individually which, when all put together gives you the final result. There are too many movies to mention that they have been involved with but if you follow the link you can read all about them. Several of these movies took 7 – 8 years in the making from costume design and production,computer graphics and animation to final editing and release.

Derek & Dot with Gollum at Weta Cave, Miramar.We had a meeting with Gollum at Weta Cave, Miramar.

In the shop are souvenir's for the avid collectors of miniatures made by the same people that made the original movie sets, designs or props. These can all be bought on line Worldwide. There is also a small display of how radio controlled animation is achieved. Our visit only lasted just over an hour but it was a very interesting experience.

Miniature collectables of Lord of the Rings at Weta Cave, Miramar.Miniature collectables of Lord of the Rings at Weta Cave, Miramar.

Monitor Lizard outside Weta Cave. Life size and life like.Monitor Lizard outside Weta Cave. Life size and life like.

As it was such a lovely day we had both bought a picnic lunch with us so we headed off around the bays to find a sunny sheltered spot.

Picnic time at Scorching Bay.Picnic time at Scorching Bay.

This we found at Worser Bay where a local diving school were running a diver training session. We saw them enter the water and then disappear for about 30 minutes. I can imagining the reaction of other visitors to the beach, who were not aware of the divers presence when 8 divers suddenly appeared out of the water and came walking up the beach. Like something out of a James Bond movie, saboteurs or spies.

Diver training at Scorching Bay.Diver training at Scorching Bay.

While enjoying lunch we saw three interisland ferries heading in and out of Wellington Harbour. Two were from the Bluebridge company and the other was the “Arahura” of the Interislander fleet. Some ships in the latter fleet also carry railway wagons between the two Islands. It was one of the Bluebridge ships which caught our interest because the whole of the open vehicle deck was full of motorhomes presumably following the Rugby World Cup matches around the country.

Bluebridge ferry "Straitsman" with a cargo of motorhomes heading South.Bluebridge ferry "Straitsman" with a cargo of motorhomes heading South.

After lunch we carried on around the bays to Seatoun, site of the old Army base of Fort Dorset and the site of the 1968 sinking of the Interisland ferry “Wahine”. A memorial park has been opened opposite Steeple Rock where the ferry finally foundered after striking Barretts Reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour during one of the worst Southerly storms in living memory. Since this disaster the ferries no longer sail come rain, hail or shine. If conditions get too bad there are no sailings.

Wahine Memorial park, Seatoun near Steeple Rock where the "Wahine"sank. The anchor chain directs you to the site of the sinking.Wahine Memorial park, Seatoun near Steeple Rock where the "Wahine"sank. The anchor chain directs you to the site of the sinking.

The next port of call was Lyall Bay where the surf was up and surfies were out in their dozens. We had no sooner pulled over and stopped to watch the surfing when we were surrounded by Police Motorcyclists with their red and blue lights flashing. What the hell is going on here was our first reaction. One Officer quickly closed the road off to traffic as another rode up to the next intersection and did likewise. Shortly after an entourage of 6 cars, a van and bus came into view and were whisked away to the airport where military and VIP aircraft are normally dealt with away from the commercial side of the airport which is on the other side of the runway. Talking to a passer-by it transpired that the entourage was for the King of Tonga who had been over here to support his country’s team in the Rugby World Cup. Nice one if you can get it!

Road block at Wellington airport, Rongotai for a VIP entourage.Road block at Wellington airport, Rongotai for a VIP entourage.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Wheels on NZ soil.

Our motorhome arrived aboard M.V Tarago in Auckland early on Wednesday morning. On Thursday we heard from our import agent (Paul) to say he had received the account from the Customs agent  but they had omitted the depreciation so it had to be re calculated. Unfortunately the correct account did not arrive until this morning but they allowed the motorhome to be collected prior to the payment being made. Paul at Castle European rang about 4pm today to say that the motorhome had arrived in his yard in Tauranga and there were no visible signs of any damage. He has arranged for the electrical modifications and waste tank alterations to be done next week and depending on receiving NZ certification it should be available for collection early the following week. As we have a commitment on the Monday we should be able to travel north on the Tuesday if all goes according to plan.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Tourism New Zealand Style.

After a week of getting ourselves back on track for life back in God’s own (New Zealand) we took some timeout over the week-end for some sight seeing.  A luncheon date was arranged between fellow caravan club members Robin and Jenny along with Geoff and Eileen at Palmers Garden centre in Plimmerton.  After lunch we carried on to a Caravan and Motorhome display at Pacific Motorhomes where New Zealand Manufacturer UCC were displaying their latest motorhome and Leisureline Caravans were displaying their latest upmarket models. All very interesting but nothing that made any of us want to race off for the cheque book. One thing that was of interest was the Wineguard wind up roof Satellite dish. If the aerial system on our Arapaho isn’t suitable for New Zealand TV systems we will have to invest in a satellite dish but we will have to wait until we are back on the road before making any decision on that score. 

Motorhome show at Pacific Motorhomes, Plimmerton.Motorhome show at Pacific Motorhomes, Plimmerton

Saturday night saw us glued to the TV watching the Rugby World Cup match between Australia and Ireland. With a general love hate relationship between New Zealand and Australia we were barracking for the Irish, (Dot and I both have a tad of Irish in us). It was great when the final whistle blew and the Aussies got their comeuppance creating the biggest upset in the competition so far. Come on the Irish.

On Sunday we were invited by Robin and Jenny to join them on a visit to an open day at the Wellington Vintage Machinery club open day in Mangaroa Valley.

Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011.

These enthusiasts have an amazing array of equipment dating back over 100 years. Farming, manufacturing, business and common household equipment is all on display, some working, some awaiting restoration. Members of the club were on hand to impart information about any machine that caught our interest.

Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011. Ninety years old and still working. Two stroke petrol single cylinder stationary engine.Ninety years old and still working. Two stroke petrol single cylinder stationary engine.Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011.  Steam and petrol traction power.Steam and petrol traction power.Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011.Looking for something?

The biggest surprise was a diesel fired boiler built in Scotland and imported by Dux Engineering back in 1964 for £4000, yes, we were using Pounds, Shillings and Pence in those days. By the time it arrived Dux had improved their manufacturing system and the boiler was obsolete so it was stored at the back of the warehouse until the club took delivery of it some 70 years after it’s arrival in the country. Unfortunately it will never be fired up as it uses so much water and diesel making it too expensive to operate.

Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011. Diesel fired boiler imported into NZ in 1963 and never used.Diesel fired boiler imported into NZ in 1964 and never used.Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011. Office and shop equipment display.Office and shop equipment display.Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011. Office and shop equipment display.Rescued from National Cash Register Company when they were due to be scrapped.Derek examining a Pratt single cylinder 2 stroke engine.Derek examining a Pratt single cylinder 2 stroke engine.Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011. This 2 cylinder beauty used to drive a generator for the TAB at Trentham race course for the 120 volt American Totaliser machine.This 2 cylinder beauty used to drive a generator for the TAB at Trentham race course for the 120 volt American Totaliser machine.Wellington Vintage Machinery. Open Day 18th Sept 2011. Commodore computer key boards.Anyone remember these? an early model keyboard of the Commodore 64 Computer.

The club has an open day every third Sunday of the month and group visits can be arranged by contacting the club. We all agreed that it was a worthwhile visit and would encourage others to do likewise. Every gold coin donation helps to purchase spare parts to get more machines operational.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Another week closer.

Since leaving Auckland last week we have been very busy re establishing ourselves back in our home town. We are living with son Brent until our motorhome arrives and is certified for use in New Zealand. which should be about the second week in October.

Last weekend we paid a visit to Camp Elsdon where members of the Heretaunga Caravan Club,  were holding a monthly rally. We arrived partially unannounced to surprise some of the members who were unaware of our presence back in NZ.

Every visit to town produces surprises with meeting old work mates and friends and discovering what new retail businesses have started up or old ones that have gone or moved since we left 5 years ago. We have been making the most of the end of season sales looking for and purchasing items we will require in the motorhome. While touring England, Wales and Scotland we just made do with what gear we had bought away from Gypsy Rover but now we can set the motorhome home up properly the way we want it.

Pending arrival of the motorhome on the 21st September  there has been plenty of communication between ourselves and Paul at Castle European, our import agent, to ensure that all documentation is correct to ensure a speedy clearance from the wharf in Auckland. We have 3 days in which to clear customs etc before the Auckland Harbour Board start charging $400 per day storage.

As members of the New Zealand Motor Home Association we have been bringing ourselves up to date with the recent Freedom Camping legislation and acquiring all the necessary books and  maps to tour NZ from top to bottom. Roll on October!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Te Wai Orea (the waters of the eel)

Western Springs domain.Western Springs domain.

Western Springs Park in Auckland is home to The Auckland Zoo, M.O.T.A.T (the Museum of Transport and Technology) and within walking distance of Mary and Tony. We wandered around the park and lake which is also home to a lot of wildlife.

Native Pukeko's roam wild in Western Springs park.Native Pukeko's roam wild in Western Springs Park.

Australian Black swans are common throughout New Zealand.Australian Black swans are common throughout New Zealand.

One of 3 clutches of cygnets found at Western Springs August 2011.One of 3 clutches of cygnets found at Western Springs August 2011.

One of 3 clutches of cygnets found at Western Springs August 2011.Another clutch of cygnets found at Western Springs.

Pied Shag at Western Springs domain Auckland.Pied Shag at Western Springs.

Dab Chick on Western Springs lake.Dab Chick on Western Springs lake.

This pair were caught crossing the road outside the Zoo.This pair were caught crossing the road outside the Zoo.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Glorious Hawkes Bay.

After a heavy overnight frost Saturday morning turned out to be glorious. Not a cloud to be seen anywhere and a grand view of the snow covered mountain ranges. After breakfast we headed into town to see if we could find some new slippers for Dot. After traipsing through 5 department stores we called into Hannah’s shoes which was the final option where Dot finally found some slippers she was happy with. Back at Richard’s it was a BBQ tea which I finished up cooking as Richard had been called out on an emergency plumbing job. Saturday night wasn’t quite as cold as the previous night so we were not disturbed by fans or helicopters.

Views from Te Mata Peak.Views from Te Mata Peak.Views from Te Mata Peak.

Sunday morning turned out to another clear blue sky day. After lunch Dot and I took the new car (Nissan Note) out for a spin up to Te Mata Peak which gives you an all round view of the Hawkes Bay district. It was many years since either of us had been up there so it was great to re acquaint ourselves with the view. After a while the temperature started to drop so we headed back down into town to find Rush Munro’s Ice Cream Parlour where they make probably one of the best ice creams in New Zealand. I had Rum & Raisin while Dot had Almond and Maple syrup. Hmmmm, Yummie.

Seen on our journey back to Wellington.Seen on our journey back to Wellington.Seen on our journey back to Wellington.

Monday morning and it was time for us to drive our car back to the Hutt Valley again in glorious sunshine. Checking the weather between London,supposedly in Summer and here, on the tail end of Winter, and the beginning of Spring and we are only about 2 or 3 degrees behind so we are not having any problem re acclimatising ourselves. The car performed beautifully so we are more than happy with our internet purchase from the other side of the world. Thanks to Richard for inspecting it and purchasing on our behalf.

161314403_fullOur internet purchase of a Nissan Note.

Friday, 2 September 2011

On the road again.

After a few chores on Friday morning we caught the train from Woburn station into Wellington where we transferred to an Intercity coach to Hastings. We had taken a picnic lunch with us as we had about 40 minutes wait between the train arrival and the coach departure time.

By the time we left Wellington at 1pm the coach was nearly full with scheduled stops at Porirua, Paraparaumu, Otaki and Levin to fill the remaining seats. The midway break stop was at Palmerston North where we all had to de-bus with all our hand luggage for half an hour. It was only a quick toilet and snack break before we were all allowed back on board for the second leg of the journey to Hastings. The problem here was that the Manawatu Gorge was closed once more due to another huge slip. It had been re-opened earlier in the week with just one lane but there were no guarantee’s of when it might re-open after this latest deluge of rock and mud.

The alternate route was over what they call the saddle road which was probably the old bullock track over the hills many years ago. It has been widened and tar sealed but still not an easy road to be driving a 40 foot coach over.The driver stopped several times to drop passengers off in some very unlikely places out in the middle of nowhere and by this time it was dark. We eventually pulled into Hastings at 7.15pm where we were met by Dot’s son Richard and partner Andrea. As it was late the general consensus of opinion was it was take aways for tea.

That night turned out to be the coldest nights of the year for Hawkes Bay and Richard lives in the centre of an orchardist district. As soon as the temperature reached freezing the orchard fans came on to protect the Spring blossoms. A short while later a helicopter arrived on the scene flying low backwards and forwards across the orchards until about 6am,so it was a bit of a sleepless night.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Shopping for essentials.

Thursday and our first full day back on home turf saw us first visiting the bank and then wandering the department stores for replacements for all the gear we had to leave behind in the UK. At Briscoes we purchased some new towels and pillows at a massive 60% discount in their end of Winter sale. Elsewhere we purchased new dressing gowns and I managed to find a new pair of slippers. Dot couldn’t find any slippers she liked so we will have to make another shopping foray in Hastings when we get there at the week-end. Tomorrow we head off to Hastings on the Intercity bus to Richards to pick up our car that he has been carsitting for the last six months since he secured it for us back in March. Then driving it home on Monday (snow permitting) since its forecast again tomorrow on the Rimutakas.