Before heading North

We have left New Zealand for tropical islands nearer the equator. Before I post about them, there are few things I want to add about Invercargill and Southland.

First, local hero Burt Munro comes from Invercargill. His modified 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle still holds land speed records for engines under 1000cc. You can find this and many other classic vehicles at E Hayes and Sons Hardware store on Dee Street.


The Southland Region was enjoyable driving. My best photos are ocean panoramas.  Here some notes:

The Waihopai river wanders through the city. We followed the walking paths from the mouth for about 10 km on different days. The city of Bluff straight south from Invercargill is the port to Stewart Island. Highway Route 1 begins in Bluff and heads north all through the country.  It has a nice lookout that connects to the southern cove. Towards the Fjordland Region we found several interesting towns (Riverton, Orepuki etc) and picturesque countryside. To the east, Slope point is reached through pastureland that a kindly farmer has allowed for visitors to walk to the farthest southern point on the island.

Our House, Art Deco and all with a lovely garden in the back.


Spring in Invercargill

After a month in Auckland, we headed to Invercargill. Its the city farthest south in New Zealand.  Outside of a few cities in southern South America, it is the closest city to Antarctica. Spring here can be harsh as we found out. New Zealand Airlines warned us in Auckland after check in that landing might not be possible due to an expected gale. We made it, but that night it was cold, whipping winds, and sheets of rain shaking the house. Then, a bright sunny morning was filled with spring flowers bursting with color. We found the flowers here are mighty hardy. In Japan, cherry blossoms fly with the first gusts.  Here, it took four gales before they started to fly. Spring in Invercargill is not your typical tourist destination but we never got soaked nor blown over. As always, its about planning with alternatives.

In the city, there is a nice bus service that gets around to most of the areas. We stayed two blocks from Queens Park so hardly used the bus.  We rented a car to explore outside of Invercargill.  This included Bluff, a port and village with ferry service to Stewart Island. We stopped in Riverton and Tuatapere on a drive west to Fjordland. To the east we visited the most southern point of the South Island at Slope Point, along with walking among petrified forest in Curio Bay.

I’m limiting the photos in this post to Queens Park and residential streets.

The first group of photos come from our daily walks in Queens Park.  We always found something new there. Mostly self explanatory.



The second group has street views from the Invercargill Chorus Cabinet Trail. Chorus is the local Wideband Internet provider. These are 22 outdoor communications cabinets that artists have decorated.  I tried to capture the local residential streets around each work.


Our Tuatara Story (the proud papa)

When Daughter was in 3rd or 4th grade, we went to a demonstration on reptiles at the local library.  The presenter started with the question, “What are the five orders of reptiles expecting: lizard, snake, turtle?” Daughter answered first: Tuatara. The presenter about fell off his chair. He explained in 30 years he had only received that answer three times. I suspect he didn’t expect it from that little girl in the second row. As you will see in the wikipedia entry, these reptiles are unique to their order and only found in New Zealand. So it was fitting that we could see several tuataras when we were in New Zealand together.


Aspects of Auckland

We spent five weeks in Auckland this time catching up with our daughter. Instead of rushing around to see a few things, we relaxed and wandered around every little park, alley, and lane.


Not that Zealand, This Zealand

I can’t believe the travel we completed the last week of August.

Here is a selection of photos. (WordPress mostly puts them in order.)

And some more:


Our route from Georgia:

Atlanta – Istanbul – Copenhagen/Norrebro – Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Copenhagen/Malmo Sweden – Doha, Qatar – Auckland, New Zealand

Normally, we would not take such long flights but there are not many options when going to New Zealand. Another factor was that both Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airlines had offers that made the price almost as low as flying the direct route through Los Angeles. Additionally, we got a chance to visit the Faroe Islands, ticking off another autonomous region in Europe. Qatar Airways offered a nice discount on a stopover stay at the Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels in the old market. Our stays around Copenhagen gave us the chance to discover the dynamic neighborhood of Norrebro of Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden connected by train directly to the Copenhagen Airport.

The 16 hour flight from Doha to Auckland was simply long. Compression socks were life savers. Malmo really needs another visit for a week or more.

New Zealand was originally named after the Netherlands province of Zeeland. The derivation of Zealand, the most populous island of Denmark is not clear.

It was worth it, we had an appointment with Daughter in Auckland. Having coffee at the Remedy just off Queen Street.


Overland Oamaru to Auckland

Whenever we can, we like to travel overland.  One of our first ventures on this retirement trip involved traveling Zurich, Lugano, Trieste, Ljubljana, Zagreb and the rest of the Balkans all the way to Istanbul.  Then after a short flight to Izmir, overland through the center of Turkey including Konya, Cappadocia, and Trabzon on to Batumi and Tbilisi in Georgia.  Finally, taking a Marshrutka (shared van) to Yerevan, Armenia to catch a flight to Dubai and India. These two sculptures by Botero provide nice bookends for our trip of the last four years.

In New Zealand, we flew from Auckland to Christchurch and then worked our way back up to Auckland.  In Christchurch, we rented a car for four days to simplify seeing some of the East Coast and the Southern Alps.  Then by train and ferry from Christchurch to Wellington.  After three days exploring Wellington especially around Victoria University, we sat in the front seats of a double decker to Rotorua.  Rotorua is a hotbed of volcanic activity as evidenced by the sulfur smell around the city and bubbling mud springs.  After another three days, we continued on by bus to Auckland for a night before flying off to Chile.


No Shakes, No Quakes, No Tummy Aches

After a few days in Auckland, we spent a month starting mid January in Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand. As it lies in the heart of the Canterbury plane, our initial impressions of flat dullness contrasted with our expectations of rich scenic views associated with New Zealand travel. Christchurch was heavily damaged by two earthquakes, one in 2010, and the other a few months later on 22 February 2011. After nearly two years of sorting out the damage, recovery is now in full swing with new buildings and openings of renovated areas. We were happy that  some of the original container restaurants and coffee shops still exist as thriving memories.

The location for day trips was ideal.  The local buses took us to Lyttleton, New Brighton and South Beach, Sumner and Taylors Mistake.  We booked a bus day trip for the three hour ride to explore Akaroa, .  Renting a car for a few days took us down to Oamaru and up to Arthurs Pass and across the divide to Otira. Lots of interesting sights and experiences as we discovered neighborhoods of Merivale, Papanui, Riccarton, Hagley Park.  Clearly, my photos don’t do justice but provide nice reminders.

We left Christchurch on the Northern Coast Railway taking us to Picton for the ferry crossing to Wellington.  We purchased our tickets in advance through TripAdvisor.  A new experience but it all ran smoothly.  We stopped by the station a few days before which insured we had seats that faced forward.  This line was affected by the Kaikoura earthquake of 2016 and had only returned to service a few weeks before. Photos of sea lions on the beach taken from a moving train did not turn out.

From the Christchurch Canterbury Museum I learned there were many tremors everyday around New Zealand, none strong enough for me to feel.  Happy about that.



Tramping on the North Island

The first week of the New Year, we left Melbourne and hopped across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand. We tramped around Auckland finding a nice library, botanical garden, and cat cafe. Our hotel room was tiny so the library was useful to spread out as we researched our next adventure. There were also several historical exhibits about women’s rights including the right to vote and to go tramping. The Wintergardens in Auckland Domain exhibited some tropical plants I had never seen. Barista Cats was well organized and populated with well cared for cats.


One day we took a ferry to tramp around Waikeke Island. The banner shows the Auckland quays and central district as we departed.  Wandering over the island on foot, we found picturesque views of the ocean, rock outcroppings on the beach, and trails through native vegetation.


Next, we will be tramping around the South Island.