Logo: Lobster cartoon

JOURNAL : Dec. 2004


10 December 2004 :

It was a really early start, and a couple of hours waiting to leave Australia for my two-leg journey to New Zealand.

My first plane had a delayed take-off, as its arrival in Cairns had been affected by "volcanic activity around Papua New Guinea". Once landed at Sydney, it was a quick walk over to plane number two. After pulling back from the gate, we waited for about 15 minutes, only to be told that we needed to roll back to the gate to allow engineers aboard to fix a technical fault. In these situations, I'm more than happy, as I'd rather know that any identified problems have been fixed before I'm 35,000 feet in the air.

The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, which translates as 'Land of the long white cloud' - well, it seems an apt name as I saw nothing but clouds out of the window for the whole journey from Sydney.

I eventually arrived in Auckland one hour late, having also lost three hours, and now I was thirteen hours ahead of GMT. A long day but a short one as well.

Kia ora ! (Welcome).

Thanks to friends Charles and Prue Duncan in Slinfold, I was met at the airport by Charles' brother Mitch. It was then a fairly quick drive over to Titirangi, where I would be staying for my first few days in New Zealand.

Image: New Zealand - animated flag

Image: Map of New Zealand



11 December 2004 :

With Mitch as my guide, I went on a very useful drive today, in and around the city of Auckland, in order to help get my bearings.

First stop was at Mount Eden - it provided an excellent view of the city, although this was my first taste for a long time of cold, windy weather. Mount Eden is an extinct volcano, and the viewpoint is right at the edge of the crater - these days, grassed over with cows walking around. A strange sight in the middle of a city !

Image: Skyline from Mount Eden (Auckland)


Auckland is known as the 'City of Sails' and this was certainly evident down by the harbour - many ships and boats tied up at the various wharfs, bobbing about in the fairly strong wind.

As with many other cities, there is much development (good and bad), with new buildings rising everywhere - especially high-rise apartment blocks with high-rise price tags to match.

Later on, we drove along to Huia, with great views out to the Manukau Harbour. Still a bit too windy though.


12 December 2004 :

Visited the Titirangi market today, where Mitch’s daughter runs a stall. Very popular, with lots of locally produced arts and crafts. But the popularity means you shouldn’t expect to find a parking space easily, and be prepared to sit in traffic jams, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

Before that, we went along the Scenic Drive road to visit Piha, a popular destination on the western coast for locals and visitors alike. On the way, we stopped for a look round the Arataki Visitor Centre. There were some great views along the way, especially the city panorama at the lookout at Rose Hellaby House within the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The house itself was built in 1939, in an English cottage-style.

It’s fair to say though that most of the scenery on the scenic drive just consists of the trees and foliage along the sides of the road. It’s also an area where there are many expensive properties tucked away up the sides of the hills.

The most famous tree in the region is the Kauri, which is apparently the second oldest living tree in the world. (Avid lobster-website readers amongst you will recall that I was told a similar fact for the Huon Pine in Tasmania).

Piha consists of a shop and a library, a caravan park, and a wide expanse of beach and surf. The most prominent feature is the Lion Rock, which as the name suggests is shaped like a lion, sat on the beach looking out towards the sea. What do you think ?

Image: Piha




13 December 2004 :

Mitch was doing voluntary work today at the Auckland General Hospital, so was able to drop me off at the city. This enabled me to meet up for lunch with relative Jill Wrapson, a fellow genealogist. Jill’s family originally came from Fareham in Hampshire.

Venue for lunch was the Auckland University, where Jill is working on her PhD. This was my first time on a university campus … and a place where it’s very easy to get lost, as there are literally hundreds of buildings spread across the city, with most of them centred around Princes Street.

Picked up a hire car - my plan tomorrow is to head north, to the appropriately named region of ‘Northland’.

I feel an urge to embrace a little of the Maori lifestyle and culture (known as Maoritanga), especially as the North Island of New Zealand is where most of the Maori people live. I decide not to opt for any facial or body tattoos, but I will spend the next few days trying to learn a bit about the Maori language.

Having listened to a few Maori programmes on television, it will certainly be a challenge to try any sort of conversation. The pronunciation of ‘Wh’ as the ‘F’ sound certainly leads to some interesting sounds, especially with some of the place names. Thank goodness everyone speaks English.


14 December 2004 (Tekau ma wha Tihema, Rua mano ma Wha) :

This Pakeha (non-Maori) had an early start – e mua kaikai, e muri tata kino (the early bird catches the worm, or a more literal translation is ‘early ones get the best, late ones get the spittle’).

Across the Harbour Bridge, and up the ‘Twin Coast Discovery Highway’, I passed through the English sounding towns of Albany, Silverdale, Rodney, and Warkworth, and passed through the Maori sounding towns/villages of Orewa, Waiwera, Puhoi, Pohuehue, Mangawhai, Waipu, finally arriving at Whangarei, where I would spend my first night.

The most famous attraction at Whangarei appears to be the waterfall – nothing on the scale of Niagara, but then again, ahakoa he iti te matakahi, ka pakuru i a au te totara (size isn’t everything).

Image: Whangarei Falls


Talking of water, it rained today.



15 December 2004 (Tekau ma rima Tihema, Rua mano ma Wha) :

Drove further up the east coast to the Bay of Islands, and a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is the birthplace (pitowhenua) of the New Zealand nation where, on 6 February 1840, forty-three Maori chiefs signed up to British sovereignty over the whole country.

Within the grounds, there is the Treaty House, a carved Maori meeting house (marae) and the largest Maori war canoes in the world.

CLICK HERE for more info on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Image: Treaty House at Waitangi


Funnily, the Treaty House wasn’t where the treaty was signed … the deed was done in a large marquee on the lawn. The actual place of the signing is now marked by a flagstaff.

The house itself was where James Busby lived, the ‘British Resident in New Zealand’ appointed by the British Government in 1833 to mediate with the Maori people and to help control lawlessness in the growing ports of the Bay of Islands. Busby also helped to revise the actual treaty brought from Great Britain by Captain William Hobson in 1840, who was acting on behalf of Queen Victoria.

Image: Maori Meeting House, Waitangi


The meeting house was opened during the Treaty Centenary celebrations in 1940. The walls are covered in maori carvings, depicting ancestors from many tribes.

Image: Maori carving at Waitangi


To show respect, it’s necessary to remove shoes before entering the house.

Image: War canoe at Waitangi


The canoe (ngatoki matawhaorua) is 35 metres long, and requires an incredible 76 paddlers to handle it safely on the water. The paddles are stored in the eaves of the roof. Ma pango, ma whero, ka oti te mahi (many hands make light work).

Later in the day, I had to abandon my attempt to drive to the very top of New Zealand to Cape Reinga. I made the decision as the last 21kms of the road to Cape Reinga are unsealed, and I didn’t want to end up getting stuck.

But I still managed to get to the start of ‘Ninety Mile Beach’ (mysteriously only about 60 miles long), and paddled briefly in the Tasman Sea.

Image: Ninety Mile Beach, Northland, NZ




16 December 2004 (Tekau ma ono Tihema, Rua mano ma Wha) :

Took the amphibious Duck Boat tour today, which included a trip across the water from Paihia to the town of Russell. Once the nation’s capital, it has many historic buildings, and is very picturesque.

Image: Paihia Duck


Guess what ? More rain today. Lots of it.

I’m used to it by now …. Water off a duck’s back.

The beach at Paihia is fringed by pohutukawa trees, which are the New Zealand Christmas Trees. The colder weather has meant that they’re a bit slow coming to full bloom this year, but the red blossom that has arrived is still an impressive site.

Image: Pohutukawa




17 December 2004 (Tekau ma whitu Tihema, Rua mano ma Wha) :

Continuing my drive round Northland, I visited Kerikeri, passed through Puketona, Pakaraka, Ohaeawai, Kaikohe, Taheke, Opononi, and then drove into the Waipoua Forest.

I’m used to driving, but the road through the forest is a bit of a challenge, as the road snakes round continually for nearly 30 kilometres. You could say that there were more twists and turns than a Home Secretary’s alibi !



18 December 2004 (Tekau ma waru Tihema, Rua mano ma Wha) :

Drove back to Auckland, and returned to Mitch’s house at Titirangi. Great, as it felt like I had returned home. Mitch has been a wonderful host, and hopefully I’ll be popping back to see him once I’ve completed my tour of the north and south islands, before leaving New Zealand for good.

Guess what ? Torrential rain and hailstorms. On and off for most of the evening.

Ke te awha te ua (it’s pouring !). Long white cloud certainly contains a lot of water.



19 December 2004 :

Woken up at 5am by another hailstorm. Never mind.

Said ‘au revoir’ to Mitch, and drove into the city to take back the hire car. But firstly, I went up to the ‘Domain’ – a large central park, and venue for the Auckland Museum. Spent a couple of hours there, but I’ll need much more time to look at all the Maori and Pakeha exhibits. The museum also incorporates the National War Memorial.

Guess what …? More rain.

The city would now be my home for the next couple of weeks, and I settled quickly back into apartment life.



20 December 2004 :

A day for exploring the city, getting my bearings. And another day for dodging the rain … it seems that the ‘El Nino’ weather system is affecting the normal summery summer weather, giving wintery summer weather instead.

Here’s an up-to-date non-summery weather summary … fairly unusual, apparently.

“After a weekend lashed with rain, hail, freezing gales and even snow in some places, weather forecasters are picking Christmas Day will be relatively fine. But first there will be more snow, rain and possibly thunder this week. Forecasters are predicting sunshine for Saturday - a stark difference to this weekend, which threatened to give North Islanders their first white Christmas. Hailstorms in Auckland left the motorways with icy lanes looking as if they had been covered in snow. Port Waikato residents woke to find their black-sand beach covered in hail so thick some residents said they could have been at Mt Ruapehu. The wild weather, which damaged some Auckland homes, was widespread.“

MetService senior forecaster Erick Brenstrum said the unusual weather was caused by an outbreak of very cold air from near the Antarctic ice sheet. Mr Brenstrum said the bad news was that the wintry weather had not completely gone. He predicted cold fronts would hit on Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoon and into Thursday. By Saturday the situation should be calmer and there is a good chance many North Island residents would get a fine Christmas Day.

"It looks like there is a chance of showers in some eastern areas but for a lot of the country it’s not too bad. As far as Auckland goes, it might be one of those southwesterlies where you have got chances of showers in the Waitakeres - not all that heavy, just irritation value, really."

Either way the showers will be welcomed over the hail and snow which left many North Islanders wondering what month it really was. Port Waikato resident Robert Grigg said heavy thunder and lightning storms were accompanied by hail, which transformed the small beachside town into something resembling a ski resort. "It was just amazing," he said. "The kids were throwing snow balls, they had boogie boards out and were skiing down hills and getting towed around by cars on the dunes. It was just like you were in the snow."

The forecast
Wednesday: Showers in most districts, with a few thunderstorms in the north and west.
Thursday: Showers in most places, but dry in the east and south of the North Island.
Christmas Eve: Showers and southwesterlies.
Christmas Day: Mostly fine but possible showers in the Waitakeres and eastern parts of the country."

He rangi kino rawa tenei, katahi te mea whakama ! (The weather is dreadful, what a shame !)



21 December 2004 :

Surprise, surprise, ka ua a runga (it’s raining). So, my umbrella is the essential accessory yet again.

Spent a few hours in the city, and caught up on writing my journal. Then, met up with Jill and her sister Wendy down at the America’s Cup Village – a trendy modern marina, with bars, cafes and restaurants, and lots of smart boats and yachts bobbing about on the water.

Great conversation accompanied the rice and the curry. The curry wasn’t too hot, but certainly warmer than the weather.

Finished off the evening by walking a couple of kilometres with Jill and Wendy over to Franklin Road, which is one of those roads where all the houses are festooned with Christmas lights, and where I guess there is some friendly competition to see whose house can consume the greatest amount of electricity.

Nice also to see that the Sky Tower has entered into the festive spirit, floodlit in red and green.

Image: Festive Sky Tower, Auckland


Koia ana te ataahua ! (How beautiful !)



22 December 2004 :

Well, today is one of those very rare occasions when I’m older than my twin brother Nick, albeit for 12 hours 52 minutes. Work that one out if you can !

By a bizarre co-incidence, today was my 100th day on the road !

Decided to spend today and the next few days chilling out, whilst all those around me finish their last-minute panic shopping. Of course, many New Zealanders are breaking for their main summer holiday, so there's quite a wind-down going on.

Visited a dairy today to get some milk. No cows, but it's because a "dairy" is a NZ word for a convenience/corner shop.

I don't want to dwell on the rain (yet again) - it was good to know that, eventually, it came upon the midnight clear.



23 December 2004 :

A day for relaxing, and a chance to start planning my travels down south once the new year arrives.

Oh, and I'm Dreaming of a Dry Christmas (some hope ?!) Well, for a change, the rain stopped long enough for a walk round Albert Park - a quiet oasis in the middle of the city.

Image: Fountain in Albert Park, Auckland


It was great to see a blue sky again.

Not sure that Queen Victoria was amused.

Image: Queen Victoria in Albert Park, Auckland



24 December 2004 :

O come, all ye rainfall ....

Just round the corner from where I'm staying is the church of 'Saint Matthew in the City'. Nice and handy then to attend the Christmas Carols by Candlelight.

Although there were quite a few candles, there was a modern variation on a theme, as many in the congregation (including myself) bought a glowstick in aid of the City of Auckland Mission - and best of all, there was no dripping candle wax.

The organist opened the service by playing the Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, by JS Bach - wonderful spine-tingling stuff, especially with the lights turned out.

(By the way, Bach - pronounced batch - is the NZ word for holiday/beach home).

A packed church, and a good opportunity for me to exercise my lungs, and finally I felt all Christmassy.

The carol service finished at about 11.50, and then it was the Midnight Mass - finally finishing up at about 1.30.

It was the first time I had ever said the Lord's Prayer in Maori ... give it a go, it's not easy, and don't forget the 'f' sound where you see 'wh'.

E to matou Matua i te rangi kia tapu tou Ingoa. Kia tae mai tou rangatiratanga. Kia meatia tau e pai ai ki runga ki te whenua, kia rite ano ki to te rangi. Homai ki a matou aianei he taro ma matou mo tenei ra. Murua o matou hara, me matou hoki e muru nei i o te hunga e hara ana ki a matou. Aua hoki matou e kawea kia whakawaia; engari whakaorangia matou i te kino: Nou hoki te rangatiratanga, te kaha, me te kororia, Ake, ake, ake. Amine.

Joy to the World (is my lobster).

Image: Christmas candles




25 December 2004 :

Happy Christmas .... Meri Kirihimete !

Image: Peace on Earth


To all my family and friends, wherever you may be, I wish you a very happy Christmas.


I reached new heights today, with a trip up the Sky Tower with Wendy and her father Jack. Jill and Peggy (Wendy and Jill's mum) stayed at ground level - a sensible option for those not keen on heights.

It was certainly a top day for J.C. (and I don't mean just the little baby in the manger). The views of Auckland were amazing, especially once I felt confident approaching the edge of the observation platform (yep, I'm not too keen on heights myself either !)



Image: View from Sky Tower - Christmas Day 2004

Image: View from Sky Tower - Christmas Day 2004


It was even possible to see Santa down on Queen Street. No sign of any reindeer though, either on the ground or in the sky.

Image: View of Santa from Sky Tower


There is a lot of information to read at the observation deck on how the Sky Tower was built, and amazing(?) facts like :

1. It weighs 21 million kilos - equivalent to 6,000 elephants
2. It took 2 years and 8 months to construct
3. The construction used 15,000 cubic metres of concrete ...
4. .. and 2,000 tonnes of reinforcing steel
5. The lift journey takes just 40 seconds, equivalent to 4.6 metres per second
6. It would take a person 29 minutes to reach the Sky Deck walking at 4kph up the 1,267 steps

We took some comfort in the facts and figures which demonstrated its safety in the event of fire, extreme wind or earthquake.

Worryingly, the top of the structure's shaft (don't forget, made of concrete and reinforced steel) could still sway by one metre if winds were gusting at 125mph. And the foundations only go down 15 metres.

Despite learning all this, I was gaining confidence, and plucked up the courage (!) to walk on the glass floor.

Image: Glass Floor at Sky Tower, Auckland


Hey, this was getting easy.

I decided to try and take some photos from a different viewpoint. Hold on ...

Image: View from Outside SkyTower


Not easy to take pictures and maintain your balance at that height !

I was on a high ...

... but still wary.

Oh.

Oops !

Image: Don't fall over the edge !


There are two observation platforms, with the higher one only being accessible on payment of an extra $3. Worth it, although I was glad to get down to ground level after the hour or so spent so high up in the air.

Good opportunity for a coffee.

Later on, I met up with Jill, Wendy, Jack and Peggy as their guest for Christmas dinner. It was a super 3-course buffet at the Stamford Plaza Brasserie, and although I could have opted for the turkey, I decided to have the lamb (well, why not if you're in New Zealand ?!)

Relaxed in the bar afterwards - until Jack returned to say that someone else was in their hotel room. Seems like the man now at home in their hotel room was on a tour and was expecting to share, so saw nothing strange in the fact that Peggy and Jack's possessions were all over the hotel room. The 'intruder' had made himself comfy, had a shower etc, and was just as surprised to find out that he was in the wrong room. The hotel staff sorted out the situation as quickly as possible, and provided courtesy bottles of wine, but when all said and done, the mistake should never have happened.

When I went to get some extra drinks at the bar, I did get chatting to a couple ... but eventually made my excuses, when the lady wanted to talk endlessly about Tescos, and whether I knew the large Chichester branch (which of course I did). Small world - every little counts.



26 December 2004 :

A nice lazy day.

Walked down by the waterfront.

Auckland ... city of sails.

Walked up through the city, amongst the shops.

Auckland ... city of sales.



27 December 2004 :

Another lazy day.

Another rainy day.



28 December 2004 :

Decided to visit the National Maritime Museum, which was only about a 15mins walk from where I was staying.


Image: National Maritime Museum, Auckland


Being an island country, New Zealand has a rich maritime history, stretching back to the time when the 'waka' first arrived (as explained in a 10-minute film in the Pacific Discovery Theatre), up until the recent Americas Cup event.

There are 14 different halls to explore - many interesting facts, and a few unusual exhibits. There's even a dimly-lit room fitted out as a replica of a 19th century ship's sleeping quarters, that rocks back and forth. Plays a clever trick on your sense of balance.

If you want to avoid the feeling of sea-sickness, you might also want to miss climbing aboard the 'SS Puke' (reputedly NZ's oldest steamboat) which is moored outside as part of the exhibit.

Image: Replica of Americas Cup

Image: Diving Helmet at National Maritime Museum, Auckland


---

In a sad co-incidence, I noticed that a catamaran named 'Tsunami' was moored up along the wharf. (The full impact was just starting to break through of the devastation caused by the Asian earthquake).

---

Feeling all nautical, I then went down to the ferry terminal, and caught a ferry across to Devonport (which, like it's English equivalent, has a naval dockyard part).

The trip only takes about 20 minutes, and gives fine views back over towards the city skyline.

Devonport itself has quite a 'village' feel to it, and is clearly a popular place to visit. Especially as this was one of the recently-rare warm and sunny days. (Didn't last !)

Image: Devonport

Image: View of Auckland from Devonport




29 December 2004 :

A bad night's sleep, due to the wind and rain ... yet another bad storm.

Stayed miserable most of the day (the weather, not me !)



30 December 2004 :

Happy birthday to Jill.

I'm enjoying life in Auckland, as it's giving me a good opportunity to re-charge my batteries before heading off down south in the New Year.

It's also given me some valuable free time to research some of the long-outstanding queries in my Family Tree. Pleased to say that my detective work has led to some good successes.



31 December 2004 :

Where did 2004 go to ?

Where have the last 366 days gone ?

In particular, where have the past 109 days gone since I left the UK ?

A good day for reflecting on what's been, as well as looking forward to what's to be.

A good day also for reflecting on the recent Tsunami disaster. Absolutely terrible.

CLICK HERE to go to the 'Disasters Emergency Committee' website



Down in the city, there were lots of people gathered in the closed-off streets for the countdown ... still wanting to mark (but not necessarily celebrate) the change of year.

Three

Two

One


Image: New Year Fireworks, Auckland

Image: New Year Fireworks, Auckland

Image: New Year Fireworks, Auckland


It was a good feeling to know that I was amongst the first on the planet to welcome in the New Year. Family back in the UK wouldn't be doing the same for another 13 hours.

The fireworks were great ... I hope that unlike last year, this year's event in Edinburgh isn't cancelled !


ALL TOGETHER NOW ...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
And days of auld lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine.
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin' auld lang syne.
Sin' auld lang syne, my dear,
Sin' auld lang syne,
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae sported i' the burn,
From morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.
Sin' auld lang syne, my dear,
Sin' auld lang syne.
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.

And ther's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


FOR JANUARY 2005 SECTION OF THE NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL - JUST CLICK ON 'PART 2'


www.worldismylobster.com

© Jeremy Cousins, 2004-2014 

 


Other pages:


This is the text-only version of this page. Click here to see this page with graphics.
Edit this page | Manage website
Make Your Own Website: 2-Minute-Website.com