Saturday, 23 February 2013

A walk in Albert Park

Last night we went to the Lantern Festival in Albert Park, Auckland, for the Chinese New Year celebrations. As friends had warned us to label our kids, we knew to expect a crowd. We hung on to each other, stumbled on several invisible tree roots and were ravished...


As this is New Zealand, the Chinese community couldn't ignore sheep farming and the Taniwha ( a creature somewhere between a dragon and a sea serpent, and featuring large in Maori legends)


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Insignificance... or Rotten eggs, Part 2

As we were touring north of Rotorua, we decided to explore NZ only live volcano; it is a 1h30 boat trip to White Island which gets its name from the plume of white smoke the volcano spits constantly.
It looks more inhospitable as the boat approaches, and it is difficult to understand how some bright sparks a hundred years or so ago thought they could just mine the sulphur on the island and ignore the fact they were living on an active volcano; it all ended in tragedy - of course - as anybody with a bit of healthy respect for nature could have predicted...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I love the smell of rotten eggs in the morning!

For someone used to life in a temperate climate, where the worst that can happen in the summer is a hosepipe ban and in the winter not quite enough snow to take the skis out, having lots of geothermal activity bubbling under my feet is VERY exciting. These were taken in Wai-O-Tapu, in Central North Island about 25km from Rotorua;
I should point out that absolutely no adjustments to the colours have been made... they are all the results of various minerals in various proportions at temperatures close to boiling.

Between the heat and the acidity, the vegetation closest to the pools looks petrified in ash...

The Champagne Pools, at about 100 degrees you can see tiny bubbles on the bright orange rim

The next one is called the Devil's bath, presumably because the Devil likes lime green water (??)...

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

New Zealand's telegraph poles

They are wooden or concrete and they're everywhere. And they are one consistent feature of the landscape around these parts...

Monday, 11 February 2013

February in New Zealand

A couple of weeks later and 25 degrees warmer, here I am in New Zealand, visiting family and friends. We're staying with my in-laws on a farm south of Auckland.
Lack of sleep on the plane and time difference mean we've spent the first 2 days here potting around the farm,  feeding the animals and watching sheep dog work...

 For someone coming from wintery Europe, this is the land of bounty, from the humble lemon to the flashy hibiscus (and no glasshouse needed).

And for a bit of uniquely kiwi fauna here is a pukeko spotted trying to steal food from the ducks this morning:

I'll add pix from NZ every couple of days; if you want to feel the warmth you know where to look...