Friday, 25 April 2014

Lest We Forget – Anzac Day 2014

flanders poppyThe Flanders Poppy

99 years on, and 25th April is the observance day New Zealanders and Australians remember the fallen of the two World Wars.
I remember as a young girl getting up early in the morning to attend the annual Dawn Parade service with my father who passed in 2012 at the grand old age of 93.

The many thousands who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. May they rest in peace.

we will remember them

We Shall Keep the Faith
'Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.'

Moina Michael

Friday, 11 April 2014

Aratiatia Rapids!

I can remember when in my teens my parents took my sister and I to see the Aratiatia Rapids on the Waikato River.  When passing this way in later years I have been unable to find them.

Now I know in the early 1960’s that Aratiatia Hydro Electric Power Station was built and I assumed the rapids were no longer.   Not so the rapids still exist although water only flows through a few times a day when water is released from the Dam, even if only for 15 minutes at a time.  As we were so close we decided to pay them a visit.

The Power Station is now owned by Mighty River Power which the Government recently put up for sale.

Dam in the background water now in the rapids

Before construction of the dam and hydro station, the Aratiatia Rapids were a prominent feature on the Waikato River. The
dam construction meant that no water flowed over the rapids. However, several times a day, the Aratiatia dam gates of the
Waikato River are opened, which restores the rapids to their normal operation.

Aratiatia Dam before the gates opened.Aratiatia Dam before the gates opened.One gate open.One gate open.Both Gates open for 15 minutes.Both Gates open for 15 minutes.Water heading for the RapidsWater heading for the Rapids.Doesn't take long.Doesn't take long.Aratiatia Power Station in the distance.Dam in the background water now in the rapids.

The Aratiatia Rapids were also featured in Peter Jackson’s latest movie The Hobbit where Bilbo Baggins rescues
the dwarfs from elves by hiding them in barrels which float down river.

Heading back to Taupo we were looking for a place to stay.  Five Mile Bay had been recommended to us so that's where we are off to.

A perfect place to spend the night.Five Mile Bay - A perfect place to spend the night.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

"Catch em', Cook em' & Eat em"

While in the area  and getting hungry we decided to check out the Prawn farm. Here you can catch your own prawns (if you are lucky) or you can visit the onsite restaurant.  We opted to have a picnic ourselves as it was a lovely day.  Whatever happened to the heavy rain that we had left behind in Hawkes Bay?
"Catch em', Cook em' & Eat em"Well not prawns today where we had lunch!Taupo Prawn Farm
We couldn't stay too long as we had a boat trip arranged.

Craters of the Moon (‘Karapiti’ geothermal site)

This is one spot that we usually drive past and never visit.  We were lucky to find one parking place large enough for Gypsy Rover as all the others were designed for the smaller tourist vans. 

Different soil colours at the Craters of the Moon.Different soil colours at the Craters of the Moon.

The Craters of the Moon Thermal Area (or Karapiti in Māori language) is a part of Wairakei, the largest geothermal field in New Zealand, with a surface area of about 25 km2, which lies in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

Steam galore after last nights rain.Steam galore after last nights rain.

The name springs from the many hydrothermal eruption craters, which are mostly bare earth and which have bright colours due to the mineral deposits. Combined with the numerous steam vents, constantly shifting, and collapsing the walkways around the area are constantly being moved to avoid the hot areas.

Not cloud but steamNot clouds but steam.

In the 1950’s the Wairakei Power Station was built which reduced the pressure in the hot water systems below the earth surface. Since then much of the geothermal activity in the region has dramatically changed.  The geysers at Wairakei Geyser Valley totally disappeared.  Hydrothermal eruptions occur about once a year.

Bubbling mud pool at Craters of the Moon geothermal area.Bubbling mud pool at Craters of the Moon geothermal area.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Huka Falls–Taupo

Staying in Taupo for the first time in many years we decided that we had to do the tourist thing.
Starting at Lake Taupo the mighty Waikato is New Zealand's longest river at 425 kms before flowing into the Tasman Sea just south of Auckland. Over time the river has churned a channel through the geothermally altered rock 15 metres wide and 10 metres deep towards Huka Falls.
Huka FallsTurbulent waters of Huka Falls Taupo.
About 2000 litres of water surge 9 metres over the falls a second.  The falls are gradually moving south towards the lake all the time as the force of the water erodes the rocks.  Upstream of the falls the river is clear and reflective but once over the fall after picking up all the air bubbles the falls are named after the Maori name for ‘foam’.  The flow over the falls are so strong that native fish and eels are unable to swim upstream to the lake. 
Now what's he thinking?  Now what's he thinking?

Ernest Kemp and The Māori Carvings!


Today we joined several foreign tourists on a cruise around Lake Taupo to view the Māori Rock Carvings.

We chose to cruise on the ‘Ernest Kemp’ out to see the Maori carvings on the cliffs at Mine Bay on the north west side of Lake Taupo.  The boat was previously owned by the Kemp family who owned Kemp House (now known as Mission House) in Kerikeri in Northland until the house and contents were donated to The Historic Places Trust by Ernest Kemp in 1974. The house was built on land granted to Samuel Marsden by the powerful Nga Puhi chief,Hone Hika in 1819.  Kemp House is the oldest surviving European building in New Zealand.


The only way to see the carvings is from the lake.  The carvings although not old were created in the late 1970s by Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and John Randall.  The 10-metre-high carving is intended to protect Lake Taupo from volcanic activities underneath.


In the late 1970s master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell had completed his 10-year training period with Maori elders. He came to his mother's land at Lake Taupo to mark the occasion with a significant carving.
On a boat trip around the Western Bays he saw the cliffs at Mine Bay and recognised the opportunity to use them as a canvas for his work.

Maori Carvings

The main carving is over 10 metres high and took four summers to complete. The artwork is Matahi's gift to Taupo. He and four assistants took no payment other than small change donations from local bar patrons to cover the cost of the scaffolding.


The carvings have become an important cultural attraction for the region and a clear demonstration that traditional Maori knowledge and skills continue to be passed from generation to generation.


There was also another yacht there to view the carvings at the time and unfortunately for them they got very wet from a sudden shower of rain while we were tucked up in the warm. Returning back at 4pm it was only a hop step and jump to our overnight parking spot.

Freedom Camping at Taupo Marina.Freedom Camping at Taupo Marina.How's that for a view out the back window at night?How's that for a view out the back window at night?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Evers-Swindell Reserve Clive!

After an almost sleepless night with the storm out to sea in the Pacific Ocean we opted to head the short distance into Clive to check out the site alongside the Ngaruroro River.  This is a free site for self contained vehicles and is checked each night as is the Clifton Reserve at Te Awanga by security guards and vehicles that don't comply with the ruling moved on.

Clive is one of the earliest settlements in Hawkes Bay and was commissioned in 1857 and named after Major-General Lord Robert Clive, First Baron of Plassey.  “Clive of India”. The reserve alongside the river is part of the ‘Rotary Pathway’ and was named the ‘Evers-Swindell Reserve’ in recognition of the national and international rowing achievements of the Hasting born twins.

IMG_9080-001Caroline and Georgina Evers-SwindellEvers-Swindell Reserve CliveEvers-Swindell Reserve Clive

We were in for a real treat on Saturday afternoon when a beautiful old Ford pulled up in front of us.  A fellow member of the NZMCA he is also the owner of this classic car.  The passengers had won a raffle for a champagne lunch in this lovely setting.

What a beauty, a 1928 Ford Model 'A'What a beauty, a 1928 Ford Model 'A'Anyone for champagne?Anyone for champagne?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Forecast’s Deteriorating–Lets go!

Despite early morning drizzle we decided to make a trip to Hastings to visit the Farmers Market. The weather improved on the way to Hastings and we found a park at the show grounds and wandered over to see what we could find.

Derek spotted a stall selling fresh fish and set his heart on a crayfish.  This is a very rare treat in our house, the last one we had was when we were down south in 2012 at Kaikoura.  There were only a few to choose from but the crayfish were almost twice the size and about half the price of what we paid back then.  What choice did we have we had to buy one ready for crayfish salad for dinner.

Returning back to Clive and the weather deteriorating we made a decision after lunch to head for Taupo.  The Napier-Taupo road was not too busy considering it was Sunday afternoon.  The closer to Taupo we got the weather improved all the time. It was about 4.30pm when we arrived at our destination.

NZMCA Park Taupo Airport

Finding a place for the night we settled down to that Crayfish Salad? Yum.  Never is enough of that.  It was beautiful.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Te Awanga

We decided it was time to have a few days away somewhere different on our way to Tongariro.  Our neighbours made comment that we were never home and that we would be away this time for over a month.  What's life for? living of course, we never know how long we can enjoy this life.

Heading through the Manawatu Gorge we were heading for Hawkes Bay.  Discussing where we would stay we decided to check out Clifton Reserve on the way to Cape Kidnappers.  Sometime ago while acting as voluntary caretakers at Takapau the old NZMCA camp we had been told what a fantastic place this site was right on the beach. They were right, except the very high thunderous surf keep us awake most of the night.

On the beach at Te Awanga.On the beach at Te Awanga. Idyllic except for the thunderous surf.