Thursday, January 21, 2016


Product of NZ

When your cruise ship docks almost anywhere in New Zealand you realize that NZ exports a heck of a lot of timber. As I mentioned in a previous post (July 2013) it is their 3rd most important industry. The log pile shown here is at Picton on the South Island. Picton is the port for the Marlborough region, where some of the best wines in the world are grown. Marlborough wines are becoming an important export item for NZ. The Oldies say that they have never met a bad Marlborough white, so naturally they had to visit a few wineries and try the samples. At one point in the tour they were within walking distance of around 20 different wineries, including their absolute favourite brands. The cellar door in the image is the Forrest winery. The Oldies hadn't met that brand before, but after this visit I expect to see it appear in the fridge at home. They are talking about going back to the Marlborough region for an extended stay, so I had better go with them to make sure they get home OK. The vineyard in the picture is actually on the North Island, near Napier. It appears that anything from the Hawkes Bay region is pretty good as well. Not that I would know, because the only way I can get to drink any wine is to move in quick while the Oldies' are looking the other way. The group photo was taken at Mission winery near Napier, another brand that obviously met with approval from this group of reprobates. Most of the passengers who visited wineries during the days at Picton and Napier found that the gangway back onto the ship seemed much steeper and wobblier than when they disembarked.

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Friday, January 15, 2016


Oh My! Omaka!!!

If you love aircraft, particularly early ones, then Omaka aerodrome near Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand is a place that you MUST visit. The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre houses part of Sir Peter Jackson's collection of WW1 aircraft and memorabilia. The aircraft, original or replica, are not just parked on display. Many are set into sensational dioramas. Peter Jackson's movie director's skill has produced a museum that blew this small bear and his Dad away. Here are just 4 of the dioramas. Top left is an Etrich Taube being pursued by a French scout. Top right is an AIRCO dH-2, one of the first British fighters. I really love these old pusher aircraft with their maze of struts and wires. In fact, if you look carefully, you can me checking one of the struts and wires on the lower wing. The pilot is looking at a Fokker E.III Eindekker that is coming in on his left side. Bottom left is the wreck of Baron Manfred von Richthofen's Fokker Dr.1 Triplane. A group of Australian soldiers is removing the body and stripping bits of the aircraft for souvenirs. Bottom right is an RAF SE-5a that is about to crash after colliding with another aircraft. The pilot, Keith Caldwell, managed to climb out of the cockpit, balance the tumbling aircraft, fly it (standing on the wing) long enough to get back over the lines, and jump clear before it finally crashed. My visit to Omaka was far too short and I will be back. Sir Peter has the remainder of his collection at Hood aerodrome, near Masterton on the North Island, so I will definitely be dragging the Oldies back to NZ.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Cruise Characters

Here are the most important people that I cruised with over Christmas. The big image is us meeting the Captain; left to right we are - Aunty Vicki, Dad, Captain Ryan, Mum (and me) and Unka Mark. The Captain was especially happy to welcome small bears on board. The bottom row are some of the short-term visitors to our cabin (sorry, stateroom). Every evening we found strange fluffy animals on the bed. Here are an elephant, bunny and kangaroo (with joey in her pouch). Strangely enough, when Dad grabbed a leg or and ear and shook hard, they all turned into towels and face washers. I guess that's what happens when your stateroom attendant is a magician.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016


Leaving for New Zealand

Well, I am back from another cruise to New Zealand on "Voyager of the Seas". We got back a week ago, but I have been so flat out helping the Oldies unpack and catch up with loads of email that I have just gotten around to the blog. No worry, there will be lots of photos and info from the cruise over the next weeks. We spent a couple of days in Sydney before joining Voyager. We stayed in a great room overlooking Circular Quay. Scruffy, Milkshake and I spent most of the time on the balcony looking at the endless stream of cruise ships, ferries, yachts and small craft. The top left image is not Voyager of course, it is one of the Holland-America Line ships. We were awake just after sunrise on December 18 to watch Voyager arrive, very pretty in the dawn light. Unka Mark and Aunty Vicki arrived a couple of hours later and we embarked as soon as possible. Voyager has changed a bit since our first cruise in her. More cabins have been squeezed in and some of our favourite spots for listening to live music have gone, but it is still a great ship. Late in the afternoon we cruised out of Sydney Heads, past Hornby lighthouse (Mum's favourite), transferred the Pilot back onto his launch, and settled in for a couple of days crossing the Tasman Sea.

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