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  Thursday, 28 October 2004

With the travelling and all, I almost forgot Wallpaper Wednesday. This is the flower of a flax bush snapped this morning on my walk.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

1:17:50 PM    Comment []

This morning, because there is no wind for kiting and a high tide, I went for a walk from the camping ground at Muriwai the short distance to the Gannet colony. The birds nest in great numbers just a few minutes walk from the South end of Muriwai beach. I couldn't miss the opportunity to photograph these beautiful birds with the ugly name.

The humans like this fishing spot too. Fisherman brave the dangerous sea to fish from these rocks; you can see several of them in the top left of this picture. They are right below the gannets nesting site.

The Gannet society, all perfectly spaced out, each Gannet couple in its alloted space.

A Gannet greets its partner with a beak and neck rub. This accompanied by soft cackling, gurgling sounds and happens whenever a bird returns to the nest, no matter how long they have been away.

A Gannet in flight, no doubt looking for his partner somewhere below.

A masterful landing.

Looking North up Muriwai Beach where I will be heading tommorrow for the Muriwai Moose (kite buggy) Meet.

1:03:06 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 27 October 2004

I've made it to Muriwai. The West Coast is almost all beach between here and the northern tip of New Zealand and perfect kite buggy country. The Muriwai Moose Madness Meet is not until the weekend so I have tomorrow to relax (ie kite buggy). Friday I will head back into Auckland, which is only about an hour away, to pick up Ted from the airport, then we will both drive up the beach to the other end, where the meet will take place in the dunes of ... Mooseland!

Muriwai is a wild place. I could try and describe it in words but my photos will do a better job of that. I can tell you that now I'm here, I feel like my adventure has truly begun and the best of it is just around the corner.

This is the campsite this morning next to the Whanganui River at the Ohinepane Recreation Reserve.

Freshly planted fields along the roadside as I left Taranaki District and entered the Waikato.

I managed to safely negotiate Auckland's motorways with my heart in my mouth. This was in stark contrast to yesterdays drive through the Forgotten World Highway where I saw maybe a dozen other cars all day.

The fishermen gather on the rocks at the South end of Muriwai Beach in the late afternoon. Notice the orange life preserver box install on the cliff. Apparently drownings are all to common on this popular and productive fishing spot.

Some surfers on Muriwai Beach just before sunset. This is just over the dunes from my campsite tonight.

...and that is the day that was today. Tomorrow, some kite buggying (weather permitting... touch wood).

ps. 1347 kilometers travelled so far.

9:29:46 PM    Comment []

Here I am in the middle of the North Island, an hour or so East of Lake Taupo. The campsite just outside Taumarunui was a beaut. I can see what I'm guessing is the upper Whanganui river (brown and swollen right now) from the van. I've just had a really good nights sleep.

As promised, here are a few shots from yesterdays drive from Waverley to here, following the wonderfully named 'Forgotten World Highway' through the heart of the Taranaki region.

Saying goodbye to the coast at Harwera.

A typical central Taranaki scene. The dairy industry here is huge. There's a fair chance the mozzarella cheese on the pizza you're eating started out near here.

A stop to stretch the legs at the top of the Whangamomona Saddle.

The old Butcher shop at the Whangamomona township. The little township was full of old abandoned shops, some complete with hitching posts. It really has a forgotten feel about it.

The Hotel and a small cafe are the only bussinesses still alive in Whangamomona.

That's it from the forgotten World Highway for now but I'll be publishing a gallery of photos from this area when I get back from the road trip. Speaking of which, its time to get going again. I hope to make it to Muriwai Beach by this evening.

8:42:07 AM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 26 October 2004

Can't post much right now, I'm running low on battery power. Today I drove North on the road less traveled. Lots of scenic views and rich history to soak in, for those with the time, and time was something I had plenty of today. I cruised along, as there was virtually no other traffic on the Lost World Highway. The name of this road between Stratford, at the foot of mount Taranaki, and Taumarunui. I am camped just outside of Taumarunui tonight. Using battery power only I have managed to offload the 750mb of photos I took today, but have not left myself much battery power to post them all. So I will post one now and go through the rest tommorrow.

This is Hawera Beach where I said goodbye to the coast for a while, be fore heading inland.
9:38:04 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 25 October 2004

Fee, Bruce and I went for a drive around Mount Taranaki today. Starting from Waverley we followed the Surf Highway around the coastal side of the Mountain to New Plymouth, then completed the loop back to Waverley.

The morning started out overcast but when the clouds parted and the sun broke through this freshly ploughed field was steaming.

Looking north along the coast above New Plymouth. Thats a natural gas power station in the foreground. To the lower right is a little race track were there were some little RC racing cars engaged in a heated battle.

This little island just off-shore would make a perfect secret lair for an evil genius hell-bent on total world domination.

Fee and Bruce 'the locals' on the beach at Cape Egmont.

A fake photoshopped sunset over the Cape Egmont boat ramp. The sky was actually dull grey and overcast but I am tired of grey skies so I brightened it up for you.

Tomorrow I'll leave Waverley (again) and take a slightly different route North to camp somewhere between here and Auckland. Hope fully I'll get some kite flying in to.

10:03:15 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 24 October 2004

A few photos from day one of the road trip. Caught the ferry at 5.30am this morning which meant waking myself up at 4.30am. I was parked just up the hill from the ferry terminal so it wasn't far to drive to the wharf, but waking up at 4.30am is never easy!

The ferry about to leave the South Island this morning at 5.30am.

Arriving in Wellington to a gray day.

Waverly Beach, near where I'm staying to night. I hope the rain clears up tommorrow.

8:13:30 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 23 October 2004

Today is preparation day. I have already dropped Kaycee off at my parents place, along with her dish, food, collar, and a cake of fruit and nut chocolate for Mum. She knew something was up and when I was about to leave she decided to start a round of her favourite game. I call it the "you-can't-catch-me I'm-a-mad-dog" game, and it involves tearing around darting and weaving just out of everyones reach, with ears pinned back growling her most terrifying growl (which isn't very terrifying at all). I finally clamed her down and gave her to Dad to hold while I drove away.

I'm now in the process of packing everything in the van. Then I just need to race into town, fill the tank with desil, and pick up Teds gear from his place (Teds flying up to Muriwai next weekend and I'll meet him there with his buggy). I'll drive two hours to Picton tonight, where I'll catch the 5.30am sailing of the Interislander ferry to the North island in the morning.

Hopefully I'll be blogging on the road but will only be able to upload occasionally, so you might see several days posts appearing at once. I'll endevour to post 1-3 photos a day, along with odometer readings, and locations. I might even get all fancy and post a map with a line charting my course so you can see where I've been, like Tonya did on her road trip blog reports.

I am itching to get going now. Thrilled at the thought of the new experiences pending, and the photos I know are out there waiting to be caught.

1:51:55 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 22 October 2004

Today I've been reading the McGillicuddy Serious Party - 1999 Election Manifesto.  Now this is a political party with some serious policies! The idea central to all their policies is The Great Leap Backwards, which is a 450 year plan to take us back to the good old days.

They promise to

  • abolish Parliament and sack all MP's.
  • Ban electricity, outlaw money (love it) and ship all modern technology overseas to pay off debts.
  • Cease all imports and exports.
  • Establish a network of semi-autonomous Clan's and Tribes.
  • Crown Bonnie Prince Geoffie, King of New Zealand.

This whole manifesto is inspired. Some highlights...

  • Defence policy which involves moving the international dateline to the West of NZ to confuse would-be invaders. They would show up 24 hours early giving us plenty of time to hide in the hills or negotiate.
  • A new economic formulae called "The Reducing Lunar Sand Standard" (just go read it!)
  • It even has a sealed section (in the printed version) containing the hidden agendas of the party, labelled "Do not open until after the 1999 general election".

The strange thing is that even after laughing my way through the whole manifesto, it had a ring of truth to it. It kind of made sense, in an infectiously humorous way.

11:05:15 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 21 October 2004

For the record, today I mastered the flic-flac, and the axel. (by mastered I mean manged to perform three or more times, on purpose.)

pssst...... 2 sleeps to go.

10:35:04 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Another view of Saturday nights sunset.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

8:50:04 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 18 October 2004

Another NKC member has a van the exact same make, model, and base colour as mine. See if you can tell the difference.

My van...

Sam's van.

OK, so maybe 'spot the similarities' would have been more difficult. I love the sunroof. Its actually the back window of a Mazda RX7 complete with working window wiper.

What do ya get when you cross a camper-van and a Swiss Army knife? :)

9:38:09 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 17 October 2004

This afternoon at Neale Park the wind seemed to arrive on cue for the monthly Nelson Kite Club Day. There were buggies galore and PL Phantoms ruled the sky (except for one unruly c-quad piloted by yours truly). After recent spring rains there were a few large puddles on the ground but because the grass was long they were hard to see. Great fun if you don't mind cold water blasting up yours shorts leg, and everywhere else besides. I hit one such puddle at about 45kph (I say about because my speedo seems to stop working after being drowned) and got absolutely soaked. Really lets you know you're alive! Later in the afternoon someone suggested we adjourn to Rabbit Island Beach where the low tide was due at 6pm. The gates were open till sunset 7.45pm so it was a great time for a beach run.

Every sport has its peaks. Those days when things just come together, and you get a perfect performance. Today was like that for us. Everyone seemed to choose the right kite for them and the wind played nicely too. We raced to the top of the beach and back, beginners and experienced, buggies and mountain boards, young and old, friends and relative strangers all enjoying kiting and nature at its finest. To the NKC members to decided to skip this one... you missed a beauty.

The ground was pretty wet in places. As you can see these guys just went through a big puddle a second before this shot.

A phantom from underneath.

I had the only c-quad flying among this lot. Just call me the phanotm hunter :)


...after. Much better.

11:12:07 PM    Comment []

The Nelson Kite Club had a club day at Neale Park this afternoon. It turned into one of the best afternoons kite flying I've ever had. I'll post more photos and details later but for now I just had to post this shot. The face kind of sums the whole afternoon...

9:16:26 PM    Comment []

Sunset and low tide coincide over Waimea Estuary last night.

10:07:28 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 16 October 2004

This time next week I will have finished work for the last time in 2 weeks, and I'll be busy packing everything I'll need into the camper-van for my big road-trip to the Northern tip of NZ. I'm getting excited. All my old power-kiting videos have been brought out and watched again. All kites have been repaired of any minor rips, or broken parts. Maps have been studied and websites searched for travel ideas.

Heres a very loose itinerary:

Saturday 23
Pack the van and get everything ready.

Sunday 24
Leave home about 8 am and drive to Picton. Drive on the Picton ferry for the 10am sailing to Wellington. Get to Wellington early afternoon and drive to friends place an hour or two out of town (thats you Fee and Bruce :)

Monday 25 - Thursday 28
The next fews days are for exploring. There are a few beaches I want to buggy on and a few places I want to photograph. What I finally do will depend on the weather and my mood.

Friday 29
Pick up Ted (NKC president) from Auckland airport and head out to Muriwai. Stay at Muriwai camp ground Friday night.

Saturday 30
Drive (or buggy) 50km up Muriwai beach to Mooseland to meet with the other buggiers at the Muriwai Moose Meet. We camp in the dunes Saturday night, all sit around a bonfire drinking beer and telling lies.

Sunday 31
Kite buggy some more, then head back down the beach before the tide cuts us off. Find a campground near the Auckland airport so I can drop Ted off for his flight back to Nelson without getting stuck in Monday morning Auckland rush hour traffic.

Monday 1
Drop Ted at his flight then drive North to meet the other 3 buggiers at 90-mile Beach. Craig and a friend will be there with one 4x4. Perrin from Kiteworks will be there in his 4x4 and I'll have my 4x4 van.

Tuesday 2
Attempt to 'nuke' 90-mile Beach. That means bugging from one end to the other in (hopefully) one long reach. If conditions are right we may even try some night bugging as the low tide times will be getting very late in the day by now.

Wednesday 3 - Thursday 4
I think the other guys will be heading home today so I'm on my own again and back on the road to explore some more. I'll just be following my nose for the next couple of days.

Friday 5
Drive onto the Ferry in Wellington early afternoon. Arrive back in Picton early evening and drive two hours home. I then have the weekend to recover, repair, and recharge before its back to work on Monday.

Obviously there is room for a lot more than I have detailed here over the two weeks but I'm sure I won't get bored.

10:21:44 AM    Comment []

  Friday, 15 October 2004

"Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods."

8:15:22 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 13 October 2004

An outrigger team practicing on the Nelson Haven this warm, windless, evening. This is one of those photos that (I think) works, despite breaking all the rules.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

10:43:41 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Was just skimming through photos looking for something to post when I came across this view. I took it a few months back but didn't post it at the time, probably had too many others to post that day.

So here it is, especially for Briggsy (who is missing NZ and her internet connection - I'm sure Stan will download it for her), and Kim (who has a special interest in Nelson and the surrounding district). The view is from a rest area at the top of the Takaka Hill looking back toward Nelson, which is at the top right of the picture, across the water of Tasman Bay. Somewhere in the valley in the middle foreground is the source of the Riwaka River, where it simply emerges from under the mountain.

Click for a large huge version
,so you can have a good look round. (Warning 450k 3072x2048 pixels! it might take a minute.)

6:57:00 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 11 October 2004

This is the latest innovation from Peter Lynn Kites in the kite buggy arena. The SB Buggy has front and rear suspension, wide wheels, an awesome looking new BG seat (BG is a technical term meaning bum-grabbing). The front suspension looks like its been put on backward but apparently it works  better that way... go figure. And all suspension is now elastomeric (hunks of rubber instead of springs or rams) so theres nothing that can go wrong with it.

Once you get over its ugly duckling appearance, it looks pretty promising. Can't wait to try one. Christmas is coming... great gift idea... I'm just saying.
9:52:24 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 10 October 2004

It's not often I'm on the other side of the camera lens. This afternoon was Nelson Kite Club's meet at Rabbit Island Beach and my friends Mark and Pamela decided to spend the last day of their time off to come and watch the fun. Mark was employed with my camera to get a shot of me buggying and he produced the shot below. Notice the new three week old beard.

I'm putting together a few more shots of today for the NKC website. I'll post a link here when they're up.

ps. Some stats from my buggy speedo: Distance travelled 34.9 km, average speed, 25.1 kph, top speed 44.0 kph.
8:54:38 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 9 October 2004

I'm not going to say anything about this link. I'd like you to draw your own conclusions. One warning though.... potentially life-changing information.

p.s. If you want to read the book it is available free until the American elections. This went a long way to convincing me that the author is not doing this for book sales.

12:27:22 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 7 October 2004

I've been surfing the web looking for things to do on my road trip to the far North of NZ (now only about 16 sleeps away!) I'm definitely going to hot water beach.  Around low tide you can dig a hole in the beach and enjoy your own volcanically heated, sand hot tub. You need to take a bucket too, so you can bring cold water from the sea to cool the scalding hot water supplied by the volcanic fissures under the beach. I think I'll go there on a night time low tide. Oh and its free... how refreshing.

9:30:29 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 6 October 2004

Every time I pass this old house near Foxhill, I can't help imagining it in its former glory. What a home it must have been. It's beyond restoration now, which is a shame I think.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

10:05:42 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 5 October 2004

"The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

7:46:00 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 4 October 2004

Drum roll please...

10:34:02 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 3 October 2004

I got my kayak wet this afternoon. I consider this the start of my kayaking season. I did go for a paddle along the Pakawau beach front last weekend, but that was too short so didn't count. That was just to remove the winter dust. ;)

Todays high tide was at 12.30pm so we arrived at Cable Bay just after midday. The first leg of this journey is across the estuary to the harbour entrance, arriving just in time for the high tide. Then its around the island to arrive back in Cable Bay on the other side of the land bridge. There are caves in the rocky coast all the way around, many that you can paddle right into and through.

The little pocket sized digital camera I used last season to take pictures while kayaking is showing the signs of its rough life. The salt water has got to its shutter mechanism which is frozen making low light shots impossible, and the battery won't hold much of a charge any more. I quit on me about 1 hour into the trip today so for a change I didn't have a camera. And wouldn't ya know it? A pod of about twenty dolphins were waiting to escort us into Cable Bay on the last leg of the paddle. Wow. They were swimming right alongside the kayaks and I didn't have a camera. I need a compact, waterproof, digital for this type of thing, cause theres no way I'm taking my new SLR out there, as much as I'd like to.

Heres a couple of shots I did manage to get before the little camera quit on me...

9:10:46 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 2 October 2004

Sunny Saturday morn,
sitting on the porch,
sipping coffee warm.

Morning sun mops up the dew,
just one small cloud,
in a sky of blue.

Like a scoop of ice-cream without a cone,
it sits there melting,
all alone.

I closed my eyes for a moment or two,
they open, cloud's gone, no trace,
just blue.

9:10:22 AM    Comment []

  Friday, 1 October 2004

9:43:55 PM    Comment []

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