Author Archives: gailgrant49

Day 28-Dec 12/22-Wellington… capital of NZ

The Haast eagle … bigger than a Moa which was 12 feet high… 15 kgs holy doodle, huh! Both are extinct.

We did another walk-about of the downtown and waterfront area of this quite lovely city. After, Jeanette and I went for a harbour cruise on a catamaran. It was so nice and relaxing, meeting a young couple and their two daughters from Houston Texas but living in Sydney….so unlike your usual executive type Americans. Walked too much…. Just posting pictures.

In 1981 they opened Beehive capital building. It is really quite ugly. The 2 other previous parliament buildings are much more beautiful.

Did you notice the sun and blue skies…! It was so nice!

13,650 steps

Day 27-Dec 11/22-driving to Wellington

Scotch broom…. Huge problem here as well as at home.

We drive over the top of a river that is 37C.

Apparently there is a power plant that looks like nuclear but is geothermal power plant… not as good as expected. Most power comes from hydro.

Our first stop is Waiorupu geothermal …..bubbling mud. The temperature of the pools is between 60-80 C with the steam being 100 C.

Kaingaroa Forest….2900 sq kms… largest forest planted by hand first by prisoners and later by unemployed. Trees grow really fast because of the ash from the volcanos

Huka Falls….. wow! Spectacular colour.

250 cubic meters per sec (200,000 litres every second).

Taupo volcano eruption was sensed in Rome and China. The worlds largest volcanic eruption in 232 CE created Lake Taupo, a crater lake the size of Singapore….. the largest crater lake in world. It is 169 meters deep. …. Means sacred waters.

Coming to 1st world heritage area.

1100 meters above sea level…. Through “desert road”….. not dry in-fact raining again but the vegetation has changes to scrub brush. At the top there are no trees. It’s basically flat. You can see only about 1/3 of the highest mountain in the north island. The rest is in the clouds. 12-13 C now … patch of snow in distance. As we come down, the hills return, as does grass and some trees

Mountains continue to the north island…for1400 miles from the southern tip.

2-3 earthquakes every day in this small nation.

Wellington Harbour to the left @6pm…. Very large.

360-380,000 population

$10,000 a year for university.

Arrived at our Hotel Naumi about 6:30. It is quite lovely but the mattresses are on top of a painted plywood board. Be careful. Jeanette and I had “THE BEST LAUGH” when her book fell off the bed do she reached over to get it but the whole mattress & pillows slid over on top of her as she went over…. And then she couldn’t get up partly because the two of us were laughing so hard. OMG we just about pissed ourselves. We had just said we didn’t like that the mattresses were too “slippy”!

8533 steps…. I’m surprised cuz we spent so much time on the bus.

Day 26-Dec 10- to Rotorua

I am looking forward to seeing the bubbling pools of Rotorua. I have (at least I am pretty sure I have) a picture of my dad standing on the sandstone of the pools. He had been touring the South Pacific with a band called the “Americanadians” some time in the 1930’s as young man. It was probably then when he met my half-brother’s mom.

It’s another lovely wet grey day

Some of us are doing the zip line and some are doing white water rafting over a waterfall.

Last night someone spotted glow worms so a few ventured out to see them. They are not worms at all but small maggots of insects. The glow portion is poop that hangs off them. They were found on the side of a dirt slope.

A fart tax is being considered. 400 cows produce more methane than diesel vehicles putting on 25,000 km in week.

Multi cultural experience in Rotorua. They cook the food in an earth oven. Rocks used with quartz found in rivers pick on a dark night it glows. Kai is Māori name for food.

Waiatta… singing.

British Trench warfare was learned from the Māoris.

Drove through Matamata which is where Hobbiton is located.

There certainly is lots of cows and very few sheep. The area is very green, flat with hill that are quite steep….. kinda reminds me of Wales

Mt Telemata has pink and white terraces. Volcanic areas are natural oven & warms a person in the winter. Name of Rotorua means “2 lakes”….. but I think I heard there are 17 lakes. People were taking straight hot water from it but the government has stopped that practice because the geyser had stopped firing.

Largest documented eruption in modern time covered

Sandstone, pumice and soil makes for best conditions for mountain biking in Rotorua

Wakatua… canoe

Hannia… underground oven

Hakka pouri

Day 25-Dec 9/22- to Coromandel Peninsula, Hahei Beach and Hot Water Beach

Again we hear that this weather is not the norm, that el nina and global warming is to blame.

Tāmaki Makaurau is the Māori name for Auckland, means Tāmaki desired by many. It is at the narrowest part of the island…. So accessible by both oceans. Auckland also place of sails with over 500,000 watercraft

1840 treaty signed … constitution between all people under one king.

The capital first was Okiato then to Auckland and then to Wellington. It changed to Wellington because it was located in the middle of the two islands.

Mount Telemaki is the name of the volcano north of Auckland. The black sand in the area is from the lava from that volcano. Because of the high iron content the sand is very hot on feet when it is sunny.

1000 years ago…. People came from Couiki(French Polynesia) but the great migration came about 1300 ad. From those there were 8 major tribes of Māori. The Maoris are the best combat warriors in world in hand to hand combat.

1648… Abel Tesman was the first “white” explorer the come.

In 1776…. Captain Cook arrived. He called Christchurch…. Banks Isl. cause he thought it was an island.

NZ Flax (Harakeke) is used to in the making of clothing, fishing nets & lines & many other uses.

Lamb raised is mainly for Merino wool. It is the be all, end all. It breathes, is warm, doesn’t get smelly & dries fast. It also doesn’t itch.

Lots of Fresian cows-highest producers of dairy. Our guide told us that they are white but after being in the field a while they turn black, they then bring them in to milk then when they send them back out they are white again…. Lol!!!

Honey that is made by bees that feed on the melaleuca (called something else here… manukau ) bushes, is big business here.

Firth of Thames… furthest Cook got….. 1769. In late 1800s the area hoping was like wild west because gold was discovered

Driving into an area of beautiful hills with native trees and ferns and introduced trees (that because of the ideal growing conditions, matures in 15-20 years. In other countries takes hundreds of years). Now they are trying to get the native to be reintroduced to the areas that has had the non-native trees.

Kauri trees….. huge and straight. The ones that were over 2000 years old were all cut down. These 2 are over 700years. They are sub-tropical. The trail has been closed for their protection. The soul brought in on people boots were being absorbed by the trees and killing them.

We cannot see a thing because of the fog/low cloud …. Can’t see the terrific view 😂 of dolphins jumping in the sea. We were just remarking that we can’t believe this weather. It just doesn’t want to quit!

We are going down to the beach at Hot Water Beach to make “hot tubs” in the sand with shovels we got from our accommodations…. Accommodations that are one room huts cute and better than sleeping a tent but do not include bathrooms. You have to walk to a community washroom like when camping). We had so much fun. You have to search for spots that have hot water under the sand (geothermal). If we knew at the start how to recognize the spots (they had bubbles coming to the surface like when you are searching for clams in the sand). Some spots were so hot it seriously was scalding my feet. Everyone including others not from our group would sit in these nice warm pools only to have a big wave come crashing in and taking out the walls.

Mokos is the name of Māori tattoos on the face. It tells a story of each persons life.

Hahei (translation is Ha’s nose) is name of the town after the Island in the bay that someone thought looked like a nose.

Mercury Bay named because Cook used Mercury to navigate.

We went to where Narnia was filmed. Most of the group went to Cathedral Cave, I went partway veering off down to Stingray Bay. You cannot see any stingrays today cuz the waves were pounding in. It was a really good hike down and back up with so many giant ferns on the way….. amazing!

Pohutukawa…. New Zealand Christmas Tree. They already are decorated with red bobbles on them…in the form of dark red fluffy/spikey flowers.

All endemic trees are evergreen.

10,248 steps (13 stories)

Day 24-Dec 8/22- free day in Auckland

Guess what we did today….. nothing except slept in …..not surprising, eh? The gals got their room changed so we are no longer 4 in a room.

And so it’s another day …..the 3rd in a row, of not really seeing and doing anything. We met up with our new CEO Brett (or Taxi) at 6pm and the new group of 6 (added to our 10)….2 couples, one from Calgary and the other from UK plus 2 single gals.

Just a few pictures of the downtown buildings

7880 steps

Day 23-Dec 7/22- a flight day to NZ

Up at 5 am, to the lobby by 6 for transfer to the airport. We arrive before 7 only to find out the flight that was supposed to leave at 10, has been cancelled. As someone said….. “it just keeps getting better”. Apparently they have us booked on for a flight at 7:15pm…fffffff!!! And so we all went by train back to the hotel we had just left, to leave our bags and for some, went and saw some other stuff. Now after getting through “checkpoint Charlie” at the airport and sitting at the gate…. On our second trip to the airport, we find that the damned flight been delayed…..AGAIN! This time it’s 8:55pm. Will we ever get to Auckland & our hotel? I am NOT get up early tomorrow.

We finally flew off into the “great blue yonder” arriving at Auckland airport 2 am local time on the next day. First we were not greeted by anyone with a sign saying they were picking our tour up…. That was supposed to happen, so someone thought that maybe….one of the vans across from us was our transfer. It was. Well when we arrived at our hotel…a homeless guy was on the outside so out of it he didn’t notice us. The front door was locked. One gal in our group kept phoning someone to open the doors…. Finally someone showed up…. After at least a half hour. Before we head to our room another questionable character came in, wanders & then goes up in the elevator…. To our floor. We go to our room, put the key in only to have the door having a chain across it. It was Grace and Chantelle from our group on the other side. Because there was a queen and 2 single beds, and it was so late, we decided to all crash together. It was 4:15 am when I sat down on the bed. Can you believe this.? And so it keeps on getting better.

8200 steps….

Day 22-Dec 6/22-Sydney hop on,hop off.

This will be most just picture of Sydney and surround area

George St. has more high rises than any other street in the city.


Hyde Park and Anzac memorial to all war dead. And Australian Museum …. Where are to change to city(red)tour…. Later. Next William Street

1974 Coca Cola sign

Kings Cross St. To Victoria St. Then Jewish Museum. Oxford st where gay and lesbian Mardi Gras is held with 200,000 attending. Paddington town hall Centennial park…. Lots of older 3 story buildings

We met Lori and Randy from Orange County CA on the hop on bus and kept running into them. Bondi beach fir lunch and look around

Bondi …means “place of breaking water” in the Aboriginal language . Did you also know that when the white nan came they asked what the name of the kangaroos was. The aborigines replied “I’m don’t understand what your saying” and so the name stuck…. Lol!

Back in bus for rest of tour through area of pretty nice homes. …most exclusives

Hyde park barracks for info obtrusive res sent to Ai.

The Sydney Bridge was also called the Iron Lung bridge because it brought life back to Sydney. It employed 3000 people from 1922-32 and so saved it from a crippling depression.

Rose Bay first international air port in 1932 but today only seaplanes rein out of there.

Double Bay -luxury cars

KingsCross area is the red light district for anything you want to see plus regular nightclubs.

Largest Vertical garden in world

Heritage building residences cannot be torn down

April 25 … Anzac Day… holiday

Maritime museum followed by area of decline then redevelopment huge convention centre

Crown Casino and 5 star hotel… most expensive suite is 25,000/ night


The Rocks …cruise ship centre.. pubs and shops

Anzac bridge with flag on top

April 25 … Anzac Day… holiday

11 ships brought convicts here in 1788. Men, women and children were brought from Britain for very minor offences…. 20% of the population can trace their origins from those convict.

6000 steps….. mostly on a bus. Sorry this is so discombobulated. Not feeling myself.

Day 21…. More pictures

I noticed that some pictures seem to be cut off. If you click on the picture it will enlarge and show the whole thing.

I am just a little annoyed when I have to replace pictures cuz this platform won’t handle too many and then I neglect to also replace the descriptions. Sorry !!!

Day 21-Dec 5/22- from Blue Mountains to Sydney

A beautiful day as was yesterday… should mention that cuz it’s been so infrequently.

Off to the big city of Sydney at 10 am but first to Jelly Bean Pools for a swim…. a 40 minute drive.

After lunch it was into Sydney and a drive through the downtown area ending up at Mrs. Macquarrie’s Chair. It has a terrific view of th Sydney bridge and Opera House & downtown. Fort Dennison in harbour is former penal colony and military site.

Woolloomooloo is the area that Sam hung out in as a teen. Can you believe there is a name such as that???

After checking into our hotel we went for a walk around the city. First we went to the Memorial to the ANZACs (Australians and New Zealand Army Coros) that went to Turkey in 1915 …..5000 were slaughtered It’s called the Pools of Reflections. It is In Hyde Park…a 16 hectare park in the middle of the city. The walk included the Botanical Gardens. The park extends to Sydney Harbour. The area has quite a number of heritage buildings abutting it.

Hyde Park barracks in since1917 … was originally to house prisoners. L. Macquarie—- governor 1917

More pictures to follow…. The platform keeps crashing with too many pictures

When the Sydney Opera House was built it was to cost 7 million but eventually ended up costing 108 M

We walked around it and the waterfront…. We were faced with a spectacular sight. Right up there with Dubai and Shanghai with their awe-inspiring designs.

Thunder and lightning struck at the same time so you know how close it was, while we were eating dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant. The workers ducked for cover like it was a bomb going off. It was quite the thrilling experience. And then the downpour!!! And I thought the suggestion that we bring a rain jacket on our walk had been foolish.

13,871 steps today

Pictures from previous day Scenic World and street art in Katoomba