New Zealand Day 11 – Abel Tasman National Park

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We were not holding out much hope for today as it the forecast called for rain and possibly hail. But when we woke up there was some sunshine and a patches of blue sky. We decided we would go for it and make the drive some 60 miles to Abel Tasman where we had a cruise and hike booked for the day.

We made our way to Kaiteriteri and checked in and quickly boarded our boat, a medium sized catamaran that would take us up the coast to a series of secluded bays.

Beach

Beach

We were scheduled to get of at Bark Bay and do some exploring, but the weather was still “iffy” so we opted to stay on the boat and just ride the route till we got back to the point of origin. We did see some nice things like a seal colony

Seals

And Split Apple Rock

Split Apple Rock

We ended the cruise about mid-day and drove back to Nelson and explored a bit before having dinner.

Diocese of Nelson Christ Church Cathedral on Church Hill, central Nelson.

Tomorrow we drive to Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks and the weather looks to be great.

New Zealand Day 10 – Wellington To Nelson

ferry

Today we woke up early to return our rental and catch the Interislander Ferry from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island. The whole process was pretty straightforward and soon we were underway.

Cook Strait

The sky was overcast and there was some rain, but the 3 hour voyage was pleasant and uneventful. We sat with group of elderly Kiwis that were on holiday and they were great fun to talk to and they shared a wealth of information about New Zealand with us and the ferry ride passed quickly as a result.

car

We picked up our second rental car and proceeded to make our way to the next stop, Picton. The drive was very windy and took us along the sound and well up into the mountains. And though the skies were overcast, the views were quite spectacular

Cullen Point Lookout

On the way to Picton we stopped in Havelock for lunch. Havelock is the green tipped mussel capital of the world and we ate at a place called the Mussel Pot.

musselpot

For lunch we had the sampler plate for two that included mussels served in a variety of ways. It was all quite delicious.

mussels

While we were there we noticed there were a number of soldiers moving about. Turns out there was a joint military training exercise happening this week.

Military Manuevers In Havelock

We made it to our hotel and got checked in. The weather is a bit gloomy, and we are not overly optimistic about tomorrow when we are scheduled to visit Abel Tasman National Park. We’ll see how it goes.

New Zealand Day 8 – Rotorua to Tongariro National Park

Rotorua

Today we bid farewell to Rotorua and all of its burbling, steaming oddness and made our way to Tongariro. Fortunately, I had my trusty co-pilots and navigators with me.

navigator

As you can imagine, the drive was amazing. We were blessed with more sunshine so everything looked fantastic.

We stopped and Huka Falls which is easily accessible from the main road. These falls are a spectacular blue color and very fast moving.

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

After only a few hours we reached our accommodations at Tongariro National Park. We arrived a bit early so we were unable to check in right away. This afforded us the opportunity to go see the Tawhai Falls which were only a 20 minute trek off the highway. I carried my tripod and filters to take some long exposure shots of the falls.

jayfalls2

Tawhai Falls

We got ourselves checked into the hotel and found we had the most spectacular view of Mount Ngauruhoe, the mountain that was used for Mount Doom in the Lord Of The Rings movies.

Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom)

Tonight we had dinner and are taking it easy as we prepare to drive to Wellington and on from there to the south island.

New Zealand Day 7 – White Island and Wai-O-Tapu

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We woke up to a glorious sunny day which was good, because our plan was to fly by helicopter to White Island, an active volcano off the coast of Rotorua.

We got up and had some breakfast and found our way to the lake shore and the offices of Volcanic Air Safaris, the company that we had bookd for our adventure.

Besides Cynthia and myself, there were two other people who had booked the tour so that meant a small group headed to the island. And, as luck would have it, they were also photographers so they would not be impatient while I took my time photographing the island.

White Island

We took off a little before 9:00a am for our 35 minute flight to White Island and the view was simply spectacular.

White Island

We circled the island and then landed in an open area, not far from the crater lake

White Island

We spent the next hour and half hiking around while our guide told us the history of the island.

White Island

White Island

White Island

White Island

White Island

White Island

White Island

Cynthia was very pleased with herself for overcoming her fears of flying in a helicopter and of walking on an active volcano. Truth be told, we both agree that this was the most amazing thing we’ve done on any of our travels.

When we returned to the city we went back to the hotel and quickly went back out to visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Mostly I wanted to see the Champagne Pool…the rest I was not so enthusiastic about which was a good thing, too, because we were fairly tired after the previous adventure.

The Champagne Pool, named for the tiny bubbles the fizzle and pop on the surface, did not disappoint.

Champagne Pool Waiotapu geothermal area

Champagne Pool Waiotapu geothermal area

Tomorrow we’re headed to the Tongariro National Park and hoping for more good weather.

New Zealand Day 4 – Bay of Islands

Today was our day to explore the Bay OF Islands region. Our first stop was to go see the Haruru Falls which are about 10 minutes from our hotel.

When we arrived at the falls we pulled into the small car park and were immediately accosted by hungry, free range chickens.

chickens

From the car park it was a very short walk to the falls.

Haruru Falls

After visiting the falls and laughing as the chickens accosted new arrivals we set off to go to Russell. We needed to find our way to Opua to catch the ferry and as I went to enter the destination into the GPS the GPS just died. I used my recently repaired iPhone to get directions back to the hotel to see if I could sort out the GPS. After fidgeting with it for awhile I decided it needed to be reset. To reset the device required a small pin to push the tiny reset button. In these situations I tend to use a paperclip, but I didn’t have one with me.

Cynthia loaned me an earring which I used to push the reset button and, sure enough, it started working again. Cynthia’s jewelry saved the day.

With our GPS back up and running we set course for Opua where we could catch the ferry over to Okiato. From Okiato it’s only a 10 minute drive to Russell.

Ferry

Ferry from Opua to Okiato, New Zealand

It should be mentioned that Cynthia hates boats

Cynthia Hates Ferries

Cynthia is a trooper and the ferry ride is less than 10 minutes long so she managed it just fine.

Russell is a wonderful little town. Very scenic and laid back. And it’s quite easy to walk around and take in the sites.

Tree Swing in Russell, New Zealand

The Bay at Russell, New Zealand

Moreton Bay Fig Tree - Russell, New Zealand

Russell, New Zealand

Did I mention is was very laid back?

Sleeping Dog

After exploring Russell we drove north up to Rawhiti. The drive was spectacular and passed through forests and up and down mountains and past various bays and inlets. Unfortunately, there were not many places to stop and take photos as the road just doesn’t have many options for pulling over.

Ferns in Manawaora

Manawaora, Northland, New Zealand

Rawhiti New Zeland

We ended up on some pretty rough, unpaved roads and eventually decided it would be prudent to drive back to Russell and then back to our hotel in Paihia.

When we got back to Russell we had lunch at a place called The Duke Of Marlborough. The back of the menu had the history of the restaurant and we were amused to learn that the Duke of Marlborough began its life in 1827 as “Johnny Johnston’s Grog Shop”. A superior name, to be sure.

After lunch we had a short walk in Russell to see Christ Church before catching the ferry back to Okiato so we could drive back to the hotel in Paihia.

Christ Church - Russell, New Zealand

It has been a great day. Tomorrow we drive to Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula. This will be the longest day of driving on this trip at 256 miles.

1971 Cutlass Supreme Restoration

The Cutlass has been sitting up in the garage for the last 6 or 7 years. Unstarted, with a dead battery and two flat tires. I finally worked up the energy to have it removed from the garage and towed to a mechanic. All fluids flushed, new tires, new intake manifold, new carburetor, new brakes, rebuilt transmission, new top, new air cleaner. A lot of work over a long period of time, but she’s running. There’s more to do, but I don’t have the money right now. She does run real good, though. Need some cooler temps to enjoy it.

Towed Away

Interior Before

On The Rack

Interior After

Top Being Installed

Top Complete!

Edelbrock

Edelbrock

Air Cleaner

Rosco- My 1971 Cutlass Supreme

Kaufmann’s Posographe exposure calculator from the 1920’s

Kaufmann’s Posographe is an analog mechanical computer for calculating six-variable photographic functions to determine exposure time for taking indoor or outdoor photographs, depending on which side you use.

From the History Of Computing site:

poso1At first glance this is just a small rectangular plate, about 13 x 8 cm, covered with dense scribbles, with seven pointers fixed to its frame. Then you realize that the pointers are not fixed, but can slide on the frame… and then you note that they are somehow interconnected — moving any of the small ones will move the larger one this way or that. Strange. But when you see the diagram of the inner mechanism you realize what this is, and it can take your breath away. Kaufmann’s Posographe is nothing less than an analog mechanical computer for calculating six-variable functions. Specifically, it computes the exposure time (Temps de Pose) for taking photographs indoors or out (depending on which side you use). The input variables are set up on the six small pointers; the large pointer then gives you the correct time. The variables are very detailed, yet endearingly colloquial. For outdoors, they include the setting — with values like “Snowy scene”, “Greenery with expanse of water”, or “Very narrow old street”; the state of the sky — including “Cloudy and somber”, “Blue with white clouds”, or “Purest blue”; The month of the year and hour of the day; the illumination of the subject; and of course the aperture (f-number). For indoor photos, we have the colors of the walls and floor; the location of the subject relative to the windows (depending also on the number of windows, and indicated by the little diagrams); the extent of sky in the window, as seen from the location of the subject (again illustrated in little pictures); the sunlight level outside, and how much of it, if any, enters the room; and the aperture. The output indicator actually has four points, designed to show the respective exposure times for different emulsion types.

The first one I came across was the French version which seems to be the most common version. I found it at a shop in Paris, via their Web site. I was able to have a friend in Amsterdam contact his friend in Paris to go to the shop and purchase it for me. His friend delivered it to him and he brought to me in Texas when he came for a visit. It has its own carrying case and it is quite ornate. The second one I acquired is the English version and is apparently a bit more rare.

Le Posographe Case

Le Posographe - Exterior Photography Side

Le Posographe - Interior Photography Side

Le Posographe Detail - 6

Later, I came to find out that the device was made not only in French, but German, Spanish and English. After a bit of searching, I found the English version

Le Posographe - English Version

Le Posographe - English Version

Le Posographe - Detail 1

Le Posographe - Detail 3

London – Day 11

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Another great day of sunshine. Cynthia had said she wanted to climb to the top of St. Paul’s while in London so we made our way to the cathedral after breakfast. We explored the cathedral (no photography allowed inside} and, knowing I could never make the climb, Cynthia headed up the 528 steps to the very top while I took the opportunity to do some photography down by the river.

St. Paul's

St. Paul's From Millennium Bridge

St. Paul's From Millennium Bridge

We had arranged to meet up on the Millennium Bridge once Cynthia had finished her climb so we could go exploring some more of London.

We made our way to see St. Bride’s Church

St Bride's Church

St Bride's Church

We also walked down Fleet Street to see the art deco buildings. I wanted to see the street that was the home of British national newspapers until the 1980s

spaceinvaders

It was an interesting walk that took us to the house where Dr. Samuel Johnson lived and where were told we could find the statue to his beloved cat, Hodge.

Hodge The Cat

After walking around all day I wanted to get a photo of Battersea Station, the power station many of us know from the cover of the Pink Floyd “Animals” album. Unfortunately, the building is undergoing major restoration as it is being turned into a living and shopping space.

Battersea Station

All in all, though, a good day.

London – Day 10

London Eye

Another bright, beautiful day in London. Temps are in the upper 30’s so it’s quite brisk. We had intended to go to St. Paul’s today, but it’s only open for services on Sunday so perhaps tomorrow.

London Eye

Today we took advantage of the weather and took a spin on The London Eye. It’s a bit pricey for a 30 minute ride, but the views are spectacular.

London Eye - Big Ben and Parliment

London Eye

From there we made our way to The British Library via King’s Cross Station.

King's Cross

King's Cross

No photography allowed at The British Library, sadly, as there are some very cool exhibits there including a Gutenberg Bible and some original hand-written Beatles song lyrics. We even got to see an inverted Jenny in the philately exhibit.

After that we just enjoyed some more walking about and taking in the sites before heading back to the hotel.

I should note that subway travel has been complicated as the Central and District lines are not running while they undergo maintenance.

St. Pancras London

London – Day 8

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It’s Boxing Day. Most all the museums and other sites are closed. The Tube is running a reduced schedule and it’s cold and overcast. We made the trek out to see the replica blue police box because we are somewhat nerdy about Dr. Who and on our way back we took a peek at the Harrods window displays. After a nice Indian meal for lunch we decided to take it pack it on and take it easy for the rest of the day so we could catch up on some photo editing and post card writing.

If we get inspired we may go out tonight, but I am not counting on it.

London – Day 7 – MERRY CHRISTMAS!

cracker

Today was Christmas day and we had a very low key agenda planned. The hotel is minimally staffed so the breakfast was continental rather than full English. The tables in the breakfast room had Christmas crackers placed at each of the seats so we got to experience that English Christmas tradition. You pull the cracker like like a wishbone and it pops and inside is a small toy, a Christmas crown and a bad joke.

quacker

After breakfast we decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine and blue skies so we wandered around Hyde Park.

Swan

From there we found our way to The Grazing Goat where we had reservations for a traditional Christmas dinner. It was a very festive and delicious experience. I had Venison Wellington and Cynthia has a more traditional turkey dish. Again we had crackers and we decided to wear our Christmas hats for the entire meal.

Christmas Hats

We met a lovely couple from Edinburgh who were in London for the holidays and we had a very nice time sharing travel stories and generally carrying on. At the end of the dinner we had a traditional Christmas pudding for dessert and then found our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately the subways don’t run on Christmas so we had to walk. Fortunately the weather was still fantastic so it was fine.

We wrapped up the day by watching the Queen’s speech on BBC 1 and the Dr. Who Christmas Special. All in all, a very merry Christmas.

Cynthia and The Queen

London – Day 3

A BEAR!

Today was the end of our glorious sunshine. Clouds have rolled in, but fortunately no rain to speak of. We took The Tube to South Kensington to visit the Natural History Museum with the intention of also visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is a fantastic building with an amazing collection of animal specimens ranging from insects to dinosaurs. I think the dinosaur exhibit is the most popular, especially with the kids.

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum, London

I was struck by the beauty of the building itself. No tripods allowed, but I found a railing where I could perch my camera and shoot some longer exposure shots which yielded some good results.

Natural History Museum, London

When we left the Natural History Museum it was out intention to go to the Victoria Albert Museum, but we noticed that the Science Museum was right next door so we popped in there for a visit. I was curious to see the newly opened information age exhibit.

There were some very cool displays featuring technology that I was happy to see.

1959 Pegasus Computer

IBM System 360

I will say it is odd going to a museum and seeing technology like the Tandy TRS-80 that I used when it was new as a museum exhibit behind protective glass.

After we were done with the Science Museum we determined that we were a little too beat to try and tackle the Victoria Albert Museum so we headed back to the hotel to rest after having a late lunch. After we rested up a bit we caught The Tube out to Westminster to get some long exposure night shots.

Big Ben and Parliament

London Eye Up close

We walked around and took in the sites and then made our way back to the hotel for some snacks and now for some sleep.

London – Day 1

We were so tired after arriving in London and that, combined with the sun going down by 4:00 pm we could not manage to stay awake after about 5:30 pm. We knew going to sleep that early might result in some problems, but interestingly enough we managed to pretty much sleep through to 7:30 the next morning. It was still dark outside so we both thought it must be like 2 am or so. We were very relieved that was not the case.

We got dressed and had breakfast and were greeted by a sunny day with big blue skies.

We found our way to the Tower Of London

Tower Of London

Tower Of London

Tower Of London

We didn’t take the tour as we wanted to fully exploit the sunny day. We moved on from the Tower Of London to the Tower Bridge.

Cynthia and Me @ The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

Here we decided to take the tour. We were especially keen to see the new glass floor in the upper walkways of the bridge that had just recently opened.

Tower Bridge Glass Floor

Glass Floor @ Tower Bridge

Glass Floor @ Tower Bridge

Glass Floor @ Tower Bridge

After touring the bridge we took a rather leisurely stroll down the Thames just to take in the sites.

The Navigators sculpture by David Kemp

The Millennium Bridge

Turnips

The Shard

Later that afternoon we had plans to meet up with some friends for dinner. We set The Shard as our meeting point.

The Shard

When we met up we took a stroll through Borough Market and sampled some of the foods and then headed to The George Inn, a pub that was founded in 1677.

From there we all moved on to have dinner at Rabot 1745, an amazing restaurant where everything on the menu is cocoa-centric. Basically using either sweet chocolate or cacao in the making of the dish. Even my martini had cacao flavored vodka.

After a fantastic dinner we walked with our friends and explored the riverside after dark. It was then we noticed that The Shard was treating the city of London to a light show.

The Shard Light Show

The Shard Light Show

All in all, a very successful first day if our utter exhaustion and blistered feet are any indication.