106 Photos - Mar 5, 2016
Photo: Auckland was the original capital of New Zealand, but later it was moved to Wellington, a more central location.  Most of the older buildings were less than 130 years old.Photo: Our tour group had a short "urban hike" near our hotel.  The city was clean, quiet, and lovely.Photo: Albert Park features an enormous Morton Fig tree planted in the 1880's.  An even larger fig grows in San Diego's Balboa Park.Photo: After dinner we walked along the quay where we saw the brown Ferry Terminal Building that overlooks the harbor where cruise ships and ferries are docked.Photo: Situated at the quay, this Hilton hotel was built to look like a cruise ship.  Four cruise ships were docked nearby during my two day stay in Auckland.Photo: On our second day in Auckland we visited the Domain region which is situated on a volcano caldera. There we met Prince, a Maori man who talked about his people.Photo: The New Zealand Christmas Tree forms red flowers during December.  Many homes have one in their yard.Photo: The Winter Garden Tropical House was also at the Domain.  It was filled with beautiful flowers and plants.Photo: Petunias and many other assorted plants were in full bloom.Photo: This "Royal Water Lily" (Victoria Amazonica) has a large circular leaf, a flowering bud, and a new leaf that is almost ready to open.  I saw those before, while visiting the Amazon River.Photo: These rugby players were interested in the American Super Bowl, but didn't understand some of the rules.Photo: In the afternoon, I stopped at the Joy Ice Cream Company for an "ice cream sandwich" which turned out to be pavlova cake on the bottom and top with ice cream in the middle.Photo: The America's Cup Village, a Maritime Museum, and a water park are popular stops along the waterfront.Photo: Our group enjoyed the 10 minute ferry boat ride that transported us from Auckland to Devonport.Photo: Devonport has many homes, businesses, and the Royal New Zealand Navy.  The elegant Esplanade Hotel was built in 1890.Photo: Fort Victoria was built in 1885 on the tallest volcanic cone in Devonport.  We hiked to the top for this beautiful view of Auckland.Photo: This gorgeous material was displayed in the window of a fabric shop.  Unfortunately, the shop was closed.Photo: Our leader gave us an assignment to find and interview a random New Zealander.  James Eggestone, my interview subject, turned out to be the lead vocalist in the opera "Brass Poppies".  He was from Australia!Photo: On the way to Rotorua our bus stopped at Hamilton Gardens with its collection of various garden's symbolizing ones from around the world.  This is a 16th century Italian Renaissance garden.Photo: Another interesting garden is a 15th century Indian Char Bagh Garden.  They were enclosed gardens that were divided in 4 parts.Photo: The 461 mile long Waikato River is the longest in New Zealand.  Tropical gardens flourish in its temperate climate.Photo: I was surprised to see a stand of California Redwoods that were planted about 100 years ago.Photo: In the late afternoon, we arrived in Rotorua and saw their museum. The Maori are believed to be descentants of Polynesians who arrived on the North Island about 800-1000 years ago.Photo: We met these Maori gentlemen when we walked in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.  The valley is a very active georthermal site.Photo: Frying Pan Lake is the world's largest hot spring with an average water temperature of 131 degrees. The lake was created when Mount Tarawera erupted on June 10, 1886.Photo: Inferno Crater was created on the same day.  This hydrothermal system is the only one in the whole world where we know the exact date that it was created!  The beautiful water color comes from the fine silica in the water.Photo: On a cruise of lake Rotomahana our group saw steaming cliffs, eruption sites, craters, and geysers.  The lake became twenty times bigger after the eruption.Photo: In spite of all this thermal activity, we saw several beautiful black swans.Photo: The Black Tree ferns are lush, beautiful, and grow to over 70' tall.  The forest is very new since the eruption happened less than 130 years ago.Photo: After leaving the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, we stopped at the Waiotapu Geothermal Mud Pools.Photo: We stopped in Rotorua where I found this lovely quilt shop.  I bought a wallhanging kit of the New Zealand Christmas tree flowers that I hope to make up soon.Photo: This is whatt I am going to attempt to make!Photo: A Maori canoe is designed to look fierce.  Some of the larger ones can hold up to 100 people.Photo: At a cultural event that evening in the Maori village of Mitai we had a wonderful "hangi" dinner of chicken, lamb, and potatoes that were baked under ground. An interesting performance followed dinner.Photo: Traditionally when the Maori want to threaten people, they bug out their eyes, chant, and stick out their tongues.Photo: The symbol of New Zealand is the silver fern.  The underside appears silver in the dark and can be used to show where a person's trail is if they become lost.Photo: We left the North Island to fly to Queenstown in the South Island.  Bungy Jumping began here in 1988 at the Kawerau Suspension Bridge.  Today it costs $125 to jump, but is free for 75 years old or older.  Two of our men jumped for free!Photo: Behind me is Lake Wakatipu and the gorgeous 6000' mountains called "The Remarkables".  This valley was formed by glacial action.Photo: We saw many sheep on our way to Medford Sound.  There are about 30 million in New Zealand.Photo: At a roadside check point officials thoroughly checked every drivers license, brakes, tire tread, lights, and much more.Photo: Mirror Lake in the Eglinton Valley is designated a world heritage site.Photo: The bowl shaped formation where a glacier formed is called a "neve".  Milford Sound was only 15 miles from our hotel, but it took over three hours to get there because of the mountains.Photo: Everything is very green here.  The area gets over 268" of rain a year and is the wettest inhabitated spot in New Zealand!Photo: Trees in Milford Sound grow on the face of the rock where their roots tangle with other trees.  The problem is, if one falls, then others go with it!Photo: The clouds hung really low for most of the trip, but I could still tell what a beautiful place Milford Sound was.  It was undiscovered by Europeans until 1812.Photo: Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's third largest Lake.  The view from our hotel included the lake with the Remarkables in the background.Photo: Downtown Queenstown was about one and a quarter miles from our hotel.  It was very quiet at 8 AM.Photo: I am looking at the Queenstown Gardens from the shore of the town.Photo: There was a rose garden, tennis courts, and lots of flowers at the garden.Photo: This is what Queenstown looked like from Queenstown Gardens.Photo: Mrs. Ferg is a famous place to eat in Queenstown.  I had a giant hamburger last night and today I had their meat pie.  This type of pie is found all over New Zealand and only costs about $5.Photo: To get to the Dart River Jet Boat Safari, we drove for a half hour along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and stopped at Bennet's Bluff.  This location has been used for many commercials.Photo: You can see the scraping lines of past glaciers on the sides of the mountains.  The top part was above the glacial line.Photo: The tallest mountains of the Southern Alps are about 9,000 feet high.  Movies like "The Hobbit", "Lord of the Rings",  and "Wolverine" were filmed here.Photo: We are on the Dart River in a Jet Boat.  Taylor Swift just shot a video in this area.Photo: This whole area was stunning!  Sometimes we only had 2-4-" of water for clearance.Photo: At the end of a breathtaking day, the sunset seen from my room highlighted the beautiful scenery!Photo: We left Queenstown and headed over to Fox Glacier Village. The free samples at Mrs. Jones Fruit Shop showed that most fruits and nuts are grown in New Zealand.  I had never seen golden kiwi before.Photo: There was a wonderful assortment of candy, nuts, and fruit.  I bought apricots and candy to take home.Photo: The next stop was at Aurum Winery.Photo: We had a short break at Lake Wanaka also.Photo: Blue Pool's Forest Walk was our bush hike today.  It was about two miles round trip and ended at this lovely pool.Photo: We have been traveling over Haast Pass to get to the west coast of the South Island.   Notice the clear, aqua water of the Kaast River.Photo: Wild Chinese Lantern plants were growing along the riverside.Photo: Mt. Hooker is 10,600' highPhoto: Our tour stopped at a place selling whitebate.  These are very small fish that are considered a delicacy.  One patty cost  $6 here and were $14 in the restaurant at our next hotel.  I didn't enjoy it.Photo: Fox Glacier is very close to where we stayed last night.  Over the last few decades there have become fewer sheep and more cows in New Zealand.Photo: The Franz Josepf Glacier Valley where I walked is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Park.  It advanced at the rate of 17 feet a week until 2003, but now it's slowly receding.  There are 140 glaciers in the Westland National Park.Photo: We found our hotel right on the beach of the Tasmin Sea when we reached Hokitika that afternoon.  Hokitika had forty-two hotels when it was the center of the gold rush trade in the 1860's.Photo: Devlin used a shell to scrape the leaf of a flax plant to get the fibers to make a rope.Photo: The name of the town was spelled out in pieces of driftwood lashed together with the flax plant fibers.Photo: Crocosmia is a beautiful bulb that was brought to New Zealand from France.  They now grow wild in many places.Photo: Silage bales are normally wrapped in green plastic, but farmers could support breast or prostate cancer research by pay extra for the pink or blue wraps.Photo: We had another bush walk and ended up at the Tasmin Sea.Photo: I found a quilt and yarn shop where they wanted $20 a meter for their material!  I didn't buy anything here.Photo: After two days on the west coast, our tour headed towards Christchurch through Arthur's Pass of the scenic southern Alps.Photo: The area was used to film a scene in "The Lord of the Rings".Photo: Our bus stopped at the Toby Hill Sheep Station in the Southern Alps where we saw their dog round up the sheep very efficiently.Photo: The NZ Huntaway, a cross between a Labrador and a Border Collie, can control about 3,000 sheep.Photo: After shearing, the wool is separated by quality and bagged.  The pink bag weighs 400 pounds and sells for about $800.Photo: In Christchurch we visited the 150 year old Canterberry Museum where we had about ten minutes to go inside to see things.Photo: The museum had a display of an early pharmacy.Photo: The beautiful Christchurch Botanical gardens next to the museum was started at the same time as the museum.Photo: A 1912 tram built in Philadelphia by the Brill Company transported our group on an informative city tour.Photo: Christ's College is New Zealand's leading independent, Anglican private day and boarding school for boys located in Christchurch.Photo: The structure of the ChristChurch Cathedral was severely damaged by the February 2011 earthquake which destroyed the spire and part of the tower.Photo: There was a lot of new contruction throughout the town.Photo: This temporary shopping center was constructed of shipping containers!  The extremely popular "All Black" rugby team is the reigning champions of the world in nine player rugby.Photo: Having witnessed all the reconstruction being done in Christchurch, we flew back to the North Island.Photo: After a nice half day tour of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, we went up to the Mt. Victoris Lookout for a view of downtown Wellington.Photo: Expanding the airport to handle international flights will be difficulct since the runway begins and ends at the water's edge.  If you could look further from here you would see Antarctica.Photo: Richard Taylor and Peter Jackson formed WETA Pictures, the second largest employer in New Zealand and the largest animation studio in the world.Photo: WETA has created physical and digital effects for many ads, TV shows, and films, including "The Hobbit", "Lord of the Rings", and "Avatar".  WETA is now bigger than Pixar.Photo: Built in 1866, old St. Paul's is a beautiful small cathedral.  Notice the American and Marine flags hung in honor of the US Marine 2nd division that was stationed in Wellington during World War II.  Many of our men attended here.Photo: The funicular railway that goes between Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, and Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city, has been operating for over 100 years.Photo: An early model cable car was in the museum at the top of the hill that explained the history of the cable car in Wellington.Photo: I visited a commercial center that was converted from an old bank.  Every hour the clock opened at the top to show the history of New Zealand in four moving settings.Photo: This portrays the British claiming New Zealand with the Maori looking on.Photo: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performing at the Westpack Stadium was the biggest event that happened on our trip.  I was told that there wasn't a hotel room within 60 miles of Wellington.Photo: New Zealand dancers, Scottish bagpipes, an English drum corp, and many other groups participated in the event.Photo: The Maori entertainers were in front while behind them were groups from Switzerland, Wales, Tonga, Figi, Great Britain, and Australia.  This is only the second time they had visited New Zealand.Photo: The morning of our last full day was spent at the massive and modern Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, said to be one of the best in the world.Photo: The egg of the Kiwi is what would normally come out of a bird that was six times bigger.Photo: The Wellington Gardens was the last place we visited.  Their rhododendrons were in full bloom.Photo: The Lady Norwood Rose Garden was at the end of our walk.  What a special way to finish an outstanding trip to a wonderful country!Photo: The Kiwi rose.