Monday, 17 October 2016

River City Express Steam Train.


Sunday 16th October once again saw us heading down to the railway station to catch another Steam Incorporated’s steam excursion. This time to the River City of Whanganui. It was to be a full on day with a bus and boat trip thrown in.

Just coasting along.Just coasting along..

Once again God smiled on us with another fine Spring day. All along the way cattle and sheep ran for their lives. Used to seeing diesel hauled goods trains they probably have never seen a  steaming and smoke breathing monster like this before.

Imagine this at full speed on the main trunk line.Imagine this at full speed on the main trunk line.

Upon arrival at the Whanganui goods yard we were greeted by 2 steam traction engines in steam and a fairground organ merrily playing away.

This is what met us as we arrived in the Wanganui goods yard.This is what met us as we arrived in the Wanganui goods yard.This is what met us as we arrived in the Wanganui goods yard. Beautifully restored fairground organ.Beautifully restored fairground organ.

Steam Incorporated had laid on various forms of transport for the day’s entertainment. Buses to take passengers into town for shopping etc; a 1936 Bedford 12 seater bus to take others on a tiki tour culminating in a visit to a private collection of vintage cars before cruising up the Whanganui River as a climax.

This 1936 Bedford 12 seater bus took us for a sight seeing tour.This 1936 Bedford 12 seater bus took us for a sight seeing tour.

The final stage was a trip up the river on the vintage tunnel boat “Wairua”. This boat was built in London by Yarrow & Co for Mr Hatrick and shipped to New Zealand in kitset form and assembled on the Whanganui river where it has spent it’s whole life.

MV Wairua. 1904 Tunnel boat an early version of the modern jet boat.MV Wairua. 1904 Tunnel boat an early version of the modern jet boat.

Prior to the coming of the railways river transport was a major form of transport in New Zealand. When the river trade dropped off the boat was moored up until it sank at it’s moorings. It was many years later that an enterprising group re floated and restored the vessel to it’s present condition. A tunnel boat was an early version the modern jet boat capable of negotiating shallow waterways.

Wanganui's best kept secret. A private car collection with an "AA" theme & feature.Wanganui's best kept secret. A private car collection with an "AA" theme & feature.

The bus trip in the vintage bus was a surprise in that we were taken to a private collection (museum) of vintage cars. Among the collection was a Standard 8 which was the first car I ever owned. The rest of the collection was spectacular with the age and condition of the vehicles on display.

Standard 8 fully restored.Standard 8 fully restored.International truck.International truck.1928 Chevrolet.1928 Chevrolet.1927 Standard 18HP 6 cylinder.1927 Standard 18HP 6 cylinder.Maxwell in what I was told was original condition.Maxwell in what I was told was original condition.Waimarie alongside the Dublin St bridge.Waimarie alongside the Dublin St bridge over the Whanganui River.

Originally we were to travel upriver on the Waimarie Paddle Steamer which unfortunately was in Dry Dock for her 10 year survey and paint.

Ja1271 and the Wanganui Express crossing the Wanganui river.Ja1271 and the Wanganui Express crossing the Whanganui river.

Once everybody had returned to the train we were off, back to Paekakariki, Steam Incorporated’s base. A light evening meal of bangers and mash had been arranged to be prepared and served on board the train once we had reached Marton.

Not often we get a photo together, courtesy of our travelling companions Robin and Jenny.Not often do we get a photo together, courtesy of our travelling companions Robin and Jenny.

Our arrival at Palmerston North became the anti climax of the whole day when Kiwi Rail were unable to provide a Steam licensed crew to take us home. The solution was 2 DX diesel locos to be hitched in front of the loco at the front of the train.


There was nothing wrong with Ja1271 but it still needed to be manned and driven by the Steam Incorporated crew to keep everything lubricated as if it was working normally.

All coup[led up ready to go.

Once again Steam Incorporated organised a truly memorable day for which they should be congratulated.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Aratiatia Rapids and Lava Glass

Prior to 1964 the Aratiatia Rapids were a highlight on the mighty Waikato River(Waikato Te Awa). Only 6 kms downstream from the Huka Falls the control gates are only opened by Mighty River Power 4 times a day releasing 80,000 litres of water per second, so that we can see this phenomenal sight. We had timed our trip from Waikite Valley to allow us plenty of time to be there for the opening at 2pm.

IMG_0867Tracey ready to walk up to the top lookout for the rapids.

With Derek opting to stay down on the bridge by the spill gates from the dam Tracey and I headed up hill to get a good vantage spot.

IMG_0870Lovely bush walk but all uphill.

We found ourselves a good vantage point to view the rapids.Tracey cannot remember being here as a young girl although I must admit it was many moons ago.  She certainly now has memories of the spectacular sight on a lovely New Zealand late summers day of the water surging through the rapids.

IMG_0880The rapids running in full swing from the control gates.

The natural scenery surrounding the Aratiatia rapids have made it a good feature in movies over the years.  The most prominent being New Zealand’s Peter Jackson’s the Hobbit.

IMG_0892Tracey in the lower Lookout with Aratiatia Rapids in the background.

After all that walking it was time for afternoon tea and where else but 5 minutes down State Highway 5 between Rotorua and Taupo we came across Lava Glass Sculpture Gardens. Opened by New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key in April 2014 it was a garden we had not visited previously. Set on an acre of beautifully manicured gardens are set over 500 glass sculptures of all shapes and sizes.  After a relaxing drink we headed off through the gate to set what it is all about.

IMG_0896Rainbow glass style.IMG_0903View across the garden.Fish trap in the centre of the pond.Fish trap in the centre of the pond.IMG_0901Beautiful colourful poppies.Glass filled rowing boat on the side of the pond.Glass balls of all colours in the rowing boat.SpheresGlass spheres.BirdsBirds.The Fairy GardenGlass Lanchwood trees.IMG_0919And finally glass pallets form the water fall. Beautiful.

Time to carry on and find a nice spot to stay in Taupo where Tracey had requested a visit to the Maori Carvings.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Welcome Home Tracey!

Daughter Tracey was here from her home in Surrey for a few weeks so we headed for Auckland to meet her off the plane. First stop was at a friends place in Taupo where we parked Gypsy Rover on the vacant section next door. After a wonderful evening with David and Lyn we drove north to Lake Karapiro and freedom camped at Horohoro Domain for the night.

IMG_0804Great accommodation and a lovely hot meal and showers in Taupo.

IMG_0806Horohoro Domain, a great place to freedom camp.

The next morning after a wake up call from fellow members of the NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association) who were having a church service we were off in the direction of Auckland.  Our planned stop was to be Ardmore Airport before picking up Tracey on Sunday morning.  We were expected at my sister Mary and Tony’s home for lunch arriving just nicely at 12.30pm.  We had a lot to catch up on as Tracey was last here in 2011.  Unable to park anywhere close to Mary and Tony’s for the night our plan was to head back to Ardmore.  But plans are made to change and at 9pm we pulled into Pullman Park in Papakura to freedom park for the night.

Next morning we were off to Ngongotaha before the short trip to Waikite Valley Hot Pools the next morning. Tracey had originally requested Opal Hot Springs in Matamata where we had spent many happy holidays while the children were growing up.  But after the great reviews on the internet our plans were to go to Waikite Valley instead as we would be passing close by on our way to Taupo.

IMG_0811First in this morning, no parks available later in the day.

IMG_0815Lovely clean and enticing hot pools.

IMG_0854Shade available when needed.

IMG_0828Extensive hot pools set amongst the native bush.

IMG_0838Temperature in the vicinity of 98 degree here.

IMG_0820Lovely relaxing soak pool.

Next stop Lava Glass and Aratiatia Rapids.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Edinburgh Military Tattoo! Wellington Westpac Stadium.

As far as I was concerned this was a must see.  We had seen the original tattoo at Edinburgh Castle in 1995.

Known as the "greatest show on earth, Scotland's Military Tattoo has a 65 year history.  Coming to Wellington for an exclusive New Zealand performance how could we miss it.

Queuing already at 6pmQueuing already at 6pm show doesn't open until 8.30pm.Mockup of Edinburgh CastleGreat seats in front of the ‘castle’

Our original plan was to take ‘Gypsy Rover’ down to Ngatitoa Domain and make a weekend of it and catch the train in. We are glad we didn’t as there were Motorhomes and Caravans everywhere as people had travelled from near and far all looking for somewhere to park.

We drove to Paraparaumu and left our car at our friends and travelled in by train together. Getting home at 2am was a bit hard at our age though.

Welcome to Bill EnglishMaori welcome to Hon Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand.Combined BandsCombined Bands.Looks like the real thing. Maori Wecome.Looks like the real thing. Maori Welcome.NZ Army Band.NZ Army Band.

Performances from Top Secret (Switzerland), Royal Marine Band, Royal Air Force Band, Welsh Guards Army Band, The Republic of Fiji Military Forces Band, HM The King of Norway’s Guards Band and Drill Team, New Zealand Army Band, Auckland Police Pipe Band, and the internationally renowned Wellington’s Lochiel Marching Team.

Who would know it was a mockup castle?Who would know it was a mockup castle?1200 participants!1200 participants!Lochiel Marching Team in front New Zealand Champion Lochiel Marching Team in front.

Only four fantastic performances the last one is tonight, the show has now become the  most popular Wellington Show of all time. Congratulations Wellington.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Lets go to South Wairarapa!

Last weekend we had a club rally near Martinborough.  Several of us decided to take a couple of days extra and take a look around.

IMG_0561A great POP behind the Fell Museum in Featherston.IMG_0563Not sure I like these roads too much.IMG_0575Cape Palliser Lighthouse, yes (some of us )climbed the 234 steps.IMG_0596Seals on the beach at Ngawi.IMG_0606We even did some freedom camping on the south coast.IMG_0604Time for an ice cream.IMG_0641Hanging over the edge with the sea eroding the cliffs.IMG_0662Scary cliff faces.IMG_0667What can you see?IMG_0610That’s the best we could get, they did how wonderful sunsets and we missed it.IMG_0654Club picnic on the beach at Lake Ferry.IMG_0668Lake Ferry looking out to the south.IMG_0674Christening the new BBQ.

We had a wonderful weekend and even got back to the old kite flying.  Haven’t done that for a long time. Another few weeks and we are rallying on a farm. Now that will be interesting.