Lands Down Under (Day 19)

*** UNDER CONSTRUCTION ***

January 29

Auckland

[We started our grand adventure in Australia’s largest city.  We’re ending in New Zealand’s largest city.  In between we visited several smaller cities.]

 

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[Hoki mai, Maasdam!]

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[And the ship detritus we would no longer need . . . ]

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[The Super seems to recall this was called “Japanese fabrics” . . . ]

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[And she liked it so much she took the following three photos . . . ]

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[Two Super shots from here . . . ]

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[The Super’s shot into the campus . . . ]

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[The Super’s four bar scene shots . . . ]

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[Then we came out this . . . another mural of super fit kiwis!]

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[Then we went for an after dinner stroll to check on all the port activities.  I would like to report I did not participate in the events displayed in the following photo!]

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[Hi! This is my sister-in-law. Isn’t she cute? But like her sister, The Super, she has been known to trample little old ladies, small dogs, and children if they get between her and ice cream, custard, or gelato!]

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The endangered Kiwi is aptly New Zealand’s icon. There is so much promise to lay a large egg but without the ability to get it off the ground.  ~  Grant McLachlan

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Lands Down Under (Day 18)

January 28

Cruising the Bay of Plenty

[Gorgeous weather for an all-day cruise on the way to Auckland.  Actually, it should be called the White Island cruise.  We hung around here pretty much all day, which was great, doing 360’s in the big boat and circling the island to make sure we got photo ops from every possible angle.]

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[Whakaari / White Island is an active andesite stratovolcano, situated 48 km (30 mi) from the east coast of North Island in the Bay of Plenty.   It is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano, and has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years. The nearest mainland towns are Whakatan and Taurnage.  White Island has been in a nearly continuous stage of smoking at least since it was ‘discovered’ by James Cook in 1769.  The island is roughly circular, about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter, and rises to a height of 321 m (1,053 ft) above sea level.  However this is only the peak of a much larger submarine mountain, which rises up to 1,600 m (5,249 ft) above the nearby seafloor. Sulfur mining was attempted but was abandoned in 1914 after a lahar killed all 10 workers. The main activities on the island now are guided tours and scientific research (Wikipedia)].

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[So I hope you like photos of volcanoes?]

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[Smaller boats cruised close in . . . ]

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[Helicopters came and went . . . ]

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[A white “sea” of Australasian gannets . . . ]

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[A breeding colony of about 3,000 pairs.]

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[A much smaller island – appears to be unihabited.]

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[Islands in the Mist?]

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[Visitors arriving at the volcano . . . ]

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[I believe tourists as well as scientists make pilgrimages here . . . ]

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[If not a plane or Superman, a gannet.]

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[The vast emptiness of the open ocean . . . and the Super likes this?]

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[A blue helicopter joins the fray . . . ]

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[Now the area looks like a helipad.]

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[I hope it doesn’t blow . . . ]

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[We and the ship would be in deep doo-doo!!]

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[Rock outcrop islands abound.]

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[Probably not the same gannet.]

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[There is much joy in Biddieville.]

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[Rounding the far end . . . ]

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[Time for cruise comforts – though The Biddies plot their next escapade.]

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[Beautiful “Lake Darling” getting worldwide exposure.]

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[Is that Kim Kardashian over there?]

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[Say “kiwi”!]

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[Did I mention it was a really, really nice day?]

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[Let’s check out some other action shipboard . . . ]

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[The Super goes for a wade – I went for a wine.]

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[And the ship is swinging around again . . . ]

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[And there’s our volcano . . . again.]

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[Surely it must be time for a cold beverage?]

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[Good idea!]

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[Mmmmmmmmmm, refreshing!]

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[Two hot babes and a hot volcano!]

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[Could this be the last pass?]

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[Yup, heading off again into the abyss.]

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[Either good fishing or swimming here.]

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[And then on to our luxury skybox with wingback chairs and beverage service.]

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[Whoa!  A wildlfe sighting – then they were gone?]

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[Back to the beverage service . . . ]

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[Is this a James Cameron movie?]

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[It just looks way cool!]

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[Master of all she surveys . . . ]

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[Hellloooooooo!]

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[The Last Supper]

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[The next morning we would be fending for ourselves in Auckland.]

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[‘Nuff meat, Bill?]

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[Looks like chicken, but not something I ordinarily order?]

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[Finally we, and the sun, go to bed . . . ]

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And once again the Super took enough photos (or her tablet took some all by itself) for her own section

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[I’m going to submit this for display with the Nashville, Indiana, Historical Society.]

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[And we’re going to submit this to the Indiana University Alumni Hall of Fame!]

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[Really, it was this BIG!!]

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[But I managed to reel her in!]

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[Selfie!!]

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[Has my head stopped shedding?]

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[Did I mention it was this BIG?]

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[And whom amongst us doesn’t love a good volcano?]

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[Hoki mai!]

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If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?  ~  Khalil Gibran

Up Next:  Two days in Auckland and then Homeward Bound (with homages to Paul Simon).

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Lands Down Under (Day 17(II))

January 27

Rotorua

[Continuing the same day . . . ]

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[Finally, the Maori experience . . . ]

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[Whakarewarewa, The Living Maori Village]

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[And it’s thermal, to boot!]

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[Acknowledging famous women guides:  During the mid-19th century tourists began visiting the geothermal wonders in and around Rotorua.  As tourism developed in the area, guiding became a formalised profession for local Māori guides.  Several Maori guides became international personalities in their own right, guiding international visitors through geothermal attractions with humour, charm and navigating deftly between English and Maori languages and culture.  Today, a guiding tradition that began over 200 years ago remains strong thanks to the excellent work of guides (both past and present) of Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village  (“Meet the People The Famous Guides of Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village”).]

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[Crossing the bridge into the village, kids dive for coins tossed to them by the tourists.  We were advised this was not mandatory – but how could you not?]

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[I have no idea how deep the water is or if the kids recover all the coins.]

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[A thermal hotspot]

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[Camera-ready tourists . . . or waiting for a Sean Spicer press briefing?]

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[Thermal “crockpot”?  Put your food in in the morning, ready to eat at night.]

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[Might be a tad toasty for a bath.]

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[Plenty o’ sulphur in the neighborhood.  Stinks a bit, too.]

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[The crowd on the bridge readying for . . . ]

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[A blast from “Ole Faithful”?]

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[Yup, New Zealand’s version of Yellowstone.]

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[And here are the thermal baths.  Our guide said she partakes in the evening . . . ]

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[The coin divers come up from the river to warm up.  There’s a pocket gopher effect on their cheeks because it’s where they store their coins.]

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[“No ba hing,” a Maori phrase?]

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[Our enthusiastic guide, whose name I can’t remember.]

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[Korotiotio means grumpy man and is the most volatile spring gushing super-heated water that explodes from the ground (YouTube).]

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[A hot day exacerbated by hot water.]

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[And this explains the next several pictures . . . ]

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[And now it’s time for . . .  theater!]

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[A tourist attempting the Maori “scare the enemy” expression . . . ]

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[Attractive red hair . . . ]

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[But this was the shot I was attempting to get.]

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[And now the entire cast . . . ]

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[Full of energy and fun!]

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[Ooops, the red hair grabbed the autofocus again.]

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[Here we go!]

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[We were taught the chant and the dance on board ship – I could have handled it!]

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[The Super just had to have this photo!]

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[And the photographer with the Super’s tablet.  I saw her again not 5 minutes after the show already back “in town” in denim shorts and a tee shirt, just like teens everywhere.]

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[Kathy and Bert join the apres show fun.]

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[How many knew Bert (far right) is also a famous barbershop quartet guy?]

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[And the Super’s favorite guy on guitar.]

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[After the Maori village . . . ]

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[To here, Government Gardens.]

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[The Rotorua Museum, the old Bath House building, in the Gardens near Lake Rotorua.]

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[Probably not Knute Nelson.]

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[Bath houses and spas abound.]

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[Looks like Mono Lake in California.]

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[Another tree farm area.]

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[Coming up to a kiwifruit farm.  The guide could not tell me what kind of trees these are, but what a great wind break they make.]

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[And here we are.  The kiwi is not native to New Zealand, it’s a Chinese gooseberry.  Once again the blog attempts to educate and entertain.  “Attempts” being the key word here.]

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[There are also golden (here) and red kiwifruits – have they made it to the U.S. yet?]

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[Back to port but still with some time on our hands.]

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[So, let’s go to town for a “cool” one . . . ]

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[And, of course of most import, catching up on social media.]

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[A music event with picnicking on the walk back . . . ]

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[Or I think that’s what it was.]

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[Back to the ship, and hoki mai (good-bye).]

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[I think I remember him?]

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[Reetz excited to finally see a kiwi . . . no, not the fruit.]

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[Hoki mai, Tauranga.]

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[And the sun sinks slowly in the west.]

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[Yes, to the west, on both sides of the equator.]

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And now for the Super’s take on the Maori village

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[See how much of this you remember from the top half of the post.]

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[Our guide enthralls the mass assemblage.]

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[She was fun because she had fun.]

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[Maybe one day she’ll make the guide hall of fame?]

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[Diving for college!]

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[Don’t you all wish you’d brought an umbrella?]

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[The “crockpot”]

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[Parekohuru means murderous ripples.]

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[Nothin’ spells lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven.]

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[Reetz enjoying the show.]

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[Dual coverage]

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[Cheeks full of money.]

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[I never thought I’d be in a Maori village?]

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[Let’s go to that cafe behind me!]

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[I’m so happy I could just grin!]

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[Ladies and gentlemen, it’s show time!]

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[Cameras ready!  Begin!]

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[They encourage photo and video taking – free advertising!]

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[Our guide gives an explanation of why kiwis are grown this way.  Since we likely can’t grown them in Minnesota, I’ve forgotten.]

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[As I recall, male plants are grown on one side, female plants on the other.  One male plant can pollinate 8 female plants, so it’s a polygamous arrangement.  However, my recollection could be wrong.]

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[Woof, woof!]

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Altogether too many sheep.  ~  George Bernard Shaw, regarding New Zealand

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Lands Down Under (Day 17)

January 27

Tauranga (Rotorua)

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[“Tauranga is the most populous city in the Bay of Plenty Region of the North Island.  It was settled by Māori late in the 13th century and by Europeans in the early 19th century and was constituted as a city in 1963. Tauranga City is the centre of the fifth largest urban area in New Zealand, with an urban population of 134,400 (Wikpedia).]

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[A loyal follower of the blog (yeah, I was surprised too) recently queried, “New Zealand is puzzling.  No hobbits, no kiwi, no natives in feathered costumes.  Always raining.  Could you hear chants of “Kong, King” from the interior?  The Beehive looked like you should have arrived on a Klingon warship.  Just kidding.”  Well, here we begin to put a dent in those issues, so much so this day will require at least two separate postings!]

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[Though we keep traveling north (toward the Equator and thus allegedly warmer climes), we have left tropical island terrain in favor of . . . northern California?]

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[Approaching our berthing area, as you can see on the map a bit north of Tauranga.]

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[Reasonably attractive, if not more so?]

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[Tug boats seem to be following us around.]

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[I think we were initially to be tendered in but the ship did end up docking – I think we beat this following ship to the spot?]

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[Showing off a 360?]

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[We beat a Regent.  They are ulra-luxurious, thus we did not meet their passenger qualifications.]

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[When you have a few thousand passengers, it’s like lading a major grocery store. I saw them move one pallet with nothing but cases of Heineken beer on it!]

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[Greeted upon disembarking we were told we got off the wrong side of the ship . . . I think?  See, if you would have gotten off on the port side, it was just a 75-foot plunge into the water and a short swim to shore . . . ]

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[Everybody down here seems incredibly fit . . . I hate them!]

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[We have boarded our mini-tour bus (separate arrangements the Super or our travel agent make at these stops) for a tour of the area.  I believe our guide/driver told us something about these quite large evergreens along the side of the road.  The topographical mound ahead of us is Mount Maunganui.]

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[He’s mic’ed to advise of things as we go along – like maybe about the cool looking waterfront condo or hotel ahead on the right.]

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[Apparently a baby makes a daily trip down to enjoy the beach.]

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[Surfers]

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[We’re heading from Tauranga to Rotorua.  As I recall, this is (was) a military area from which the tree-topped hill was used as an observation post during WWII.  Of course, my recollections may be totally wrong but I could find nothing on this . . . ]

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[Or this?]

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[A stop along the way, Comvita, home of natural health in New Zealand.  We sampled many varieties of honey here.]

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[As we approach Rotorua, we’re also approaching the area where the Hobbit movies were filmed.]

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[Keep an eye out for Bilbo Baggins!]

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[I believe we’ve mentioned the importance of the lumber industry to New Zealand and Australia.  They’re able to turnover trees about every 25 years for their Asian markets, mostly China.]

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[Lakes and hills and trees and stuff . . . ]

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[As the sign says . . . ]

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[And here’s the turbine.]

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[A short walk through the “jungle” to the falls overlook . . . ]

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[OK, it’s not gigantic.]

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[Our guide notes what to my eye is a fern.  I don’t know if this one was special or just that ferns are about the oldest plant life on the planet.]

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[There was a handrail-less stairway down for a closer look at the falls. We heard it may be slippery . . . as a certified coward, I opted out.]

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[A bee on a plant . . . ]

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[A bee in flight.]

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[And here’s six from the Super at the very same place . . . (well, actually this first one is at at the Redwoods TreeWalk in Whakawarewa Forest (did I mention northern California before?) – we did’t stop, just a drive through the parking lot)]

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[Now Okere Falls again . . . ]

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[With Tourist 1 . . . ]

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[And Tourist 2, the hat guy . . . ]

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[I’m reasonably sure this is a white flower.]

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[Leaving the park (and back on my nickel), kayakers get ready . . . ]

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[To plunge into the rapids below.]

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[This appears to be the beginnings of Lake Rotorua . . . ]

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[The lake . . . ]

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[Almost there – gotta love the roundabouts.]

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[How could I not?]

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[And here we’ve stopped at the lake – and Reetz jumped into immediate action!  You can see from this (and following photos) that Lake Rotorua is quite large.  I was surprised our guide didn’t know how big?  So I just “searched” it as I’m writing this . . . almost 20,000 acres – for you in the Minnesota listening area that places it exactly between Lake Minnetonka, at about 15,000 acres, and Lake Kabetogema, at about 25,000 acres.  Now you have perspective!  The depth of Rotorua is only 30 feet, so it’s not a deep lake.]

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[I don’t know if this is a ferry, or an entertainment boat?]

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[Chopper flights are avalable . . . ]

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[And so is lunch!]

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[And a lovely setting for a nosh.]

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[And from the Super . . . ]

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[And there goes the Lakeland Queen.  Did I mention it was a beautiful day?]

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[Swans of an ebony hue.]

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[Our fine dining facility]

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[Kathy and a moment of Zen]

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[The swans also Zenning]

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[A water craft]

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[Reetz just missed the helocopter.]

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[But there’s also a floatplane available]

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[The signage noting it was the Lakeside Cafe, a fine, if obvious, choice of names.]

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[Maybe John Lennon was here?  I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat.]

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[Two planes, a helicopter, and hundreds of ducks]

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[How kids in New Zealand are disciplined . . . ]

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[The dreaded “Kid in a Bubble.”]

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[The Super checks on a rollerblader.]

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[And shoots a photo op . . . ]

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[And here are five more of her photo ops . . . ]

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[Well framed, Ruthie!]

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[And then time to move on . . . ]

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New Zealand was colonized initially by those Australians who had the initiative to escape.  ~  Robert Muldoon

Up next:  The Maori village

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PLAY BALL!!

April 11

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[The national pastime arrived at the AAHS softball complex on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately for fans looking for a parking spot, so did a middle school track meet, a freshman baseball game, and a boys tennis match.  I ended up parking in Urbank and taking an Uber to the game.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a reasonably lovely early evening – the sun was shining, the temperature was probably in the mid 50’s, and there was little wind.  The forecast for the game a few days previous was actually calling for snow.]

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[Like they say, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.]

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[Our Cards were coming off a state tournament appearance last year.  We started the year with a 1 – 6 record but by the end of said state tournament a case could be made that we were the best team in the state.  It leads to Great Expectations.]

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[The Cardinal brain trust – head coach, Randy Albers, and assistant coach, Mitch Loch. One of the things I wanted to check on immediately was whether or not McKenzie Revering would be able to play (injury rehab) and, if so, would she still be the catcher.  I was happy to see her on the field, but as the 3rd baseman with a brace on her knee.]

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[Introductions . . . the non-starters were introduced first but only one came out?  Since I’m not familiar with the players yet and can’t see the numbers, there’s going to be some guessing here.  Jazmin Steidl (8), senior?]

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[Our leadoff hitter, junior Allison O’Kane (9).  With her introduction, I knew we would have 6 players new to their positions.  Allison was the 2nd baseman last year – this year she is obviously the catcher.]

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[Batting second is senior shortstop Emma Ziegler (4), back as the starter from last season.]

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[Batting third is senor first basemen, Ellie Ronning (12), also a returnee at the position.]

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[Batting cleanup is junior centerfielder, Calley Richardson (15), the final of the 3 players returning at their same position.]

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[Batting fifth is sophomore leftfielder, Kendra Hardy (13).]

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[Batting sixth is Rev (14), moved to 3rd base from catcher.]

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[Batting seventh is junior rightfielder Taylor Breitkreutz (19).]

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[Apologies if I get the next two wrong, but they are new to me.  Batting eighth is sophomore designated player, Sydney Christenson (2) . . . ]

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[And batting ninth is junior second baseman, Lindsey Knoll (3).]

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[Pitcher freshman Ally Albers (6)]

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[Rev, Emma, Lindsey, and Ellie across the infield.  We have a new battery, and new outfielders in left and right . . . ]

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[The lack of experience at so many positions would be telling in the first inning . . . ]

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[Ally readies to pitch.]

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[Rev charges in from 3rd . . . ]

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[Calley is just a solid two-way player in center.]

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[We started in a big hole.  Have I mentioned we were playing Brainerd?  Anyway, the Warriors got 7 runs in the top of the first.  We made 4 errors.  I don’t remember us making any errors all throught the tournament last year.  But as with last year, better play will come with experience.  Anyway, Allison lead off the bottom of the first with a double to left center.  We will score runs.]

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[Emma switch hits in the second spot.  She’s fast enough to beat out bunts from the left side.]

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[Then from the 3rd spot, Ms. Ronning is simply one of the best hitters in the state.  The all-state first baseman last year was “officially” credited with being 2 – 4 in this game. Her agent should look into it.  I thought, “Huh?”  In the first inning she hit a liner sinking away from the leftfielder who had all she could do to get her glove on it.  I would have given Ellie a double.  In her last at bat, she hit a liner that almost tore the first baseman’s glove off, again finishing up with what I thought another double.  I didn’t realize not until I saw the box score in the paper this morning.  In between, she hit a two-strike grounder the middle for a single and a gapper to right center for a double.  After the game I thought it just her typical 4 for 4 game with 3 doubles?  And you’ll notice as a good hitter, she hit to all fields.]

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[And Ms. Richardson in the 4 spot gives us power following power,  Calley was 3 – 3 with a double.  The two of them will be fun to watch this year.]

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[Kendra in the 5 spot will be an interesting watch.  She has the size, and a big lefthanded spike in volleyball, to also provide power.]

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[We’ll miss Rev’s defense at catcher.  She got more comfortable at 3rd as the game wore on including a great diving play.]

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[The new ‘kids’ at the bottom stung the ball well a few times.]

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[A pretty even game after the top of the first.  The Warrior’s pitcher had good stuff, but I thought we hit her pretty well.]

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[Back to Allison at the top of the lineup.]

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[Zig motoring to 1st.  She almost beat out a routine sacrific bunt.]

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[But the bunt was later as she’s obviously still batting here.]

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[Being so far behind so early gave us the “opportunity” to try different combinations. Four different players pitched, so it was nice to see we have depth at that position. And of course everybody else moved around with each pitching change.  I believe this is what happened last year until everyone found a position that was in their comfort zone – then our defense was outstanding.]

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[This Kendra’s turn on the mound (or the “flat”).

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[Then Ellie at bat again.]

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[Followed by Calley.  Since they were both on base every at bat, they both reached safely here.]

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[Must be Kendra . . . ]

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[Because Rev was up next.]

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[I somehow missed Taylor the first time through the lineup.  She just following in the same path as the other hockey defenseman (or one time defenseman) – Allison, Rev, and Calley.]

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[Zig pitched a little, then Calley here finished up.]

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[Thoughts:  The final score was 14 – 6.  We’ll figure it out.  The whole team seemed a bit hestitant about throwing the ball.  The Warriors were running and taking extra bases on us all game.  Outfielders can’t dawdle – get it and throw it – and the infielders have to let them know where.  The outfielders often seemed confused about where they should be throwing, and the infielders some times weren’t on their base for a throw?  Throwing from the catcher’s spot will be an issue – Warrior runners took off for the next base on every pitch, often without even a throw being attempted.  And when they were doing it the top of the 7th, I, as I am wont to do, gave their coaches a stern talking to about running with a 9-run lead in the last inning (they pretended not to hear me).  We’ll score, we just have to prevent the opposition from getting easy runs.]

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Sweat dries, blood clots, and bones heal.  Suck it up, Princess.  This is softball.  ~ Unknown

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Lands Down Under (Day 16(II))

January 26

Napier

[Things an inquiring mind would want to know about Napier, from Plant & Food Research:  Hawke’s Bay is famous for its Art Deco architecture in both Hastings and Napier, with Napier being known as the Art Deco capital of the world. An Art Deco weekend is held annually in Napier and Art Deco aficionados come from overseas especially to take part.  The Hawke’s Bay is a lively region with many entertainment events being held. The Hawke’s Bay region is also well known on the world stage for its award winning wines.  The Hawke’s Bay has a dry and temperate climate with long hot summers and cool winters, perfect for growing grapes.  There are many excellent wineries in the area with attached restaurants where you can sit in the sun and enjoy a wine with your meal.]

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[Everything reeks Art Deco . . . cool!]

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[Downtown]

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[A classic building]

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[It’s only fitting that Hooters would lead Art Deco tours.]

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[The National Tobacco Building is not in use.  Earthquake damage – and it has been deemed too expensive to bring it up to code.]

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[Did someone mention Art Deco?  This is a neighborhood street and all houses must meet Deco-ish standards.]

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[We need more of these!!]

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[There’s a garden down there . . . ]

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[A city garden . . . ]

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[Named Centennial . . . ]

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[What better pairing with a city garden?]

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[Our driver said we were so special he took us to this place not visited by other tour buses.  A little known small street with this overlook view of the city.]

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[Yeah, I know – you could live here.]

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[The Biddies liked this place.]

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[The world-famous Napier blood red hydrangea . . . ]

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[Either an American consulate or the home of a rich American?]

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[Where we were for the overlook.  The blood red hydrangeas were just to Bill’s left.]

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[Happy New Year!!!]

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[Gotta love it.]

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[A Wave in Time is made up of two bronze sculptures, located in Napier’s city centre on Emerson Street.  Both pieces of artwork were created by Mark Whyte of Lyttleton commissioned by the Napier City Council [napier.govt.nz]

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[Emerson Street]

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[Reetz with Stella and Raven]

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[I can’t remember if she did – how could she not?]

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[But then she joined Stella and Raven.]

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[Happy New Year!!!]

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[Walking back to Marine Parade to catch our bus back to the ship.]

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[The Six Sisters, as identified in the following photo below . . . ]

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[All identical buildings.]

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[Bidding adieu (three times) to Millenium Sculpture . . . ]

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[Back to the port, and looking for the Great Gatsby . . . ]

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[“Great” wasn’t there, but a lot of his relatives were . . . ]

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[Paying heed to the sign, the Super dons a chapeau.]

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[Good-bye, Napier!]

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[And finally, certainly in the running for the best photos on the trip.]

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[And now for the Super’s contributions . . . ]

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[The Gold of the Kowhai]

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[Marine Parade, a/k/a, the beach drive . . . ]

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[From the internet, don’t know how we missed it.  Pania of the Reef is located somewhere around here, on Marine Parade (the street sign above).]

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[And the overlook . . . ]

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[Reetz found Al and Mrs. Capone . . . ]

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[And other relatives . . . ]

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[So we left with a little Dixieland.]

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He’s the sort of [rugby] player whose brain doesn’t always know where his legs are carrying him.  ~ Nick Farr-Jones

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Lands Down Under (Day 16)

January 26

Napier

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[So, Napier?  Yet another really cute city in this land down under.]

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[Yup, there’s an active port part.]

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[But we were greeted there by the Great Gatsby!]

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[The Masadam’s still hanging in there.]

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[Driving along Napier’s waterfront . . . ]

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[Nice seaside park . . . ]

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[And what city or town is really complete without an arch.  The absence of an arch can lead to plantar fasciitis.]

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[And here’s another, so to speak . . . ]

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[The Millenium Sculpture was erected to memorialize . . . ]

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[See the last of three photos borrowed from the internet . . . ]

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[Our guide admitted that another city/town up the coast (Gisborne?) would have been the first to see the sunrise on the new millenium, but it was cloudy there.  Thus, the distinction goes to Napier.]

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[Trawlermen sculpture outside the National Aquarium.]

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[And it was at this stop (the Aquarium is in the background) that two young ladies, apparently living out of a van, came up from the beach after skinnydipping (their morning bath?).  I, of course, was one of the few on the bus who missed the sight.]

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[Nice artwork on the restrooms there, eh?]

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[I think I then went back to the beach ISO . . . more skinnydippers?]

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[Well past Wellington now . . . ]

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[But approaching Hastings (a sign of home?).  Napier’s population is 59,000, Hastings is 66,000 – they bookend the Hawke’s Bay region.]

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[A vineyard, with the mountain (tall hill) in the background our destination on the trip.]

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[Peaches?  Mandarins?  I forget.]

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[They farm deer . . . this was their solution to being overrun by wild deer.  It worked.]

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[We seem to be elevating . . . ]

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[Waiana Estate adjacent to the Tukituki River in the Tukituki Valley, Hawke’s Bay.]

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[Now we’re on the road to “up there” . . . ]

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[Reetz is bubbling with excitement!]

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[And now you have the answer to my Facebook contest – “Where are The Biddies?”]

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[Just stopping by the side of the road for this photo op.]

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[Greetings to our fellow Americans!]

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[Trees, all in a row . . . ]

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[Then I believe what must be the Tukituki River?]

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[An example of a shot out the window of a moving bus.]

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[Te Mata (more upcoming)]

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[And . . . Te Mata again]

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[Are there beasts in there?]

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[And now we’re at Craggy Range Winery . . . ]

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[Quite the fine looking place . . . ]

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[But we were not invited and did not have reservations.  We didn’t leave the bus so the next three photos are courtesy of the internet.  The Super got some shots there and will be featured in “her photo section” further down.]

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[A neighboring winery]

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[A cricket match]

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[A monument I believe signalling our entry into Te Mata Peak.]

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[Where are we going?  See the next photo.  The twisting road to get there requires you to call ahead for a motorcycle escort, both going up and coming back down.]

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[Te Mata Peak is a peak south of Hastings rising up to 399m in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand. A sealed road leads to the popular lookout at the summit, as well as several trails for hikers and mountain bikers (Wikipedia).]

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[A look back down to Craggy Range Winery.]

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[Quite a lovely setting.]

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[And now for the requisite panoramic shots . . . ]

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[We are here . . .]

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[There’s our minibus, Nimon.]

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[Here The Biddies ready for liftoff in a hot air balloon!  OK, just kidding!]

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[Here’s where they (we) were.]

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[Reetz is head and shoulders above the crowd.]

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[The floor tile map of where we were.]

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[Napier and Hastings and Tukituki]

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[The lookout point]

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[A bird]

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[The same bird]

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[Three-fourths of the family Gross, all appear to be snacking.]

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[We now turn the rest of this post over to the Super, beginning with her wonderful shot of the Spirit of Napier.  This was along the water front as we drove out of Napier.]

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[More shots of the Spirit of Napier gleaned from the internet.]

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[Because of the number of shots we took, I’m breaking this day into two separate posts. Part II will cover our return to Napier.  In the meantime, back to the Super’s handiwork most of which are not “concealed” . . . ]

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[The sisters Coldren . . . ]

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[At Craggy Range Winery . . . ]

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[Master of all he surveys?]

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[Along the ridge line, traversed by some but not us.]

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[Kathy enjoys the view.]

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[A guy in a yellow jacket enjoys the view.]

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[And there go some traversers.]

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[A hang gliding ramp – we didn’t do that either!]

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I’ve never been to New Zealand before. But one of my role models, Xena, the warrior princess, comes from there.  ~  Madeleine Albright

Up next:  Part II, back to Napier.

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