Wednesday, 27 November 2013

More from New Zealand

I have been editing - at last - the photos I took in New Zealand - far too many -  but it is such a picturesque country I couldn't help myself.  Remember you can click to enlarge any of the photos.

 Lunch at a picnic area on the Clutha river, driving from Queenstown to Dunedin.
 We visited the Royal albatross sanctuary to see the albatrosses and were very lucky - the wind was very strong (it always is in NZ) and the birds were flying.  I took lots of photos of clouds, but managed to include an albatross a couple of times!
 Our guide was very excited.  We watched these two birds from a hide - they were only a couple of metres away, and the female had only arrived in the previous hour.  Apparently the male arrives first and checks out the nest from the previous year, then the female comes a day or so later.  they spend a day or so preening and courting before she lays on or two huge eggs - it would be like us having a baby weighing about 30 lbs!  How awful.

 This is the Albatross colony taken from the other side of the bay.
 Port Chalmers taken from the Rhododendron Dell Garden, a lovely place.
 Scenery nearby - typical of much of the South Island

 Bill and Barb in a very misty and cold entrance to Dunedin Botanic Gardens
 A view from one of the very steep hills in the gardens
 and of course lots of rhododendrons!
 Dunedin was originally going to be called Edinburgh and they built structures resembling Scottish architecture - this is the railway station

 The First Church of Otago (Presbyterian) is apparently a replica of the cathedral in Edinburgh.  It is really lovely.
 In Christchurch we were taken on a guided tour of a beautiful garden, Mona Vale.  Unfortunately, the home has been badly damaged by the earthquakes, but thankfully you can still walk safely in the gardens

 As part of the Walking Guides conference we were also taken on a punt ride on the Avon River

Wonderful way to see the Gardens, but my limbs had frozen solid and I didn't think I was going to be able to get out of the punt at the end of the trip!

 We were also taken on a bus trip to Arthur's Pass, in the mountains on the way to Greymouth on the western side of NZ.  We did the train trip the last time we were there but the bus route shows different country again.  They call these rivers 'braided rivers' because of the way they flow
 Christchurch was fine and sunny, but up here the rain came don, not heavy, but very wet and cold.  Some of the delegates braved the walk, I didn't go far at all and this is Bill giving up also!
 This new viaduct takes the heavy traffic over the ranges
 Thank goodness we were able to go walking in this area - real Hobbit country!  I loved all the moss and lichens on the trees
 The grey, misty day made it even more effective
 These tiny flowers were growing in moss at the foot of one of the trees, but nobody could identify them for me.
 This is for my farming friends - New Zealand farmers practise strip or cell grazing in a big way, both with sheep and cattle. 
This photo has loaded in the wrong place.  We saw this kea when we stopped to look at the viaduct at the top of the pass - it was almost as bedraggled as we were, but it was coming over to see what it could get from the tourists!  They are very destructive birds and tear anything left on the outside of parked cars to bits.  They are quite funny to watch though.
You must be tired of this by now.  I will load the last few photos in another few days, then New Zealand will just be a lovely memory.  Christmas is coming far too quickly, I need to change course.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Sorry I have been AWOL

Unfortunately I came home from our wonderful holiday with a horrid stuffy head, not really a cold and not an infection, but it has made me feel miserable for a couple of weeks, so I have not been posting. thank goodness it seems to be improving now, although I am still coughing if I do much talking - some might say that is a good way to shut me up!

I still have not edited most of my photos, but  I had to show you these incredible costumes.  the guest speaker at the conference dinner in Christchurch was Jenny Gillies.  Well, I say speaker, but it was a fantastic presentation, very fast moving and very difficult to photograph, the lighting was far too bright.

 Jenny is a scream, she came out dressed in one of her costumes - there are two models on the stage with her.  They later walked around so we could all get a closer look.
 The only reasonable photos I took were of the costumes on the models spread around the room.  Jenny takes pride in being botanically correct in her costumes, although of course they are all scaled up
 This was one of my favourites, but Jenny said the one below is hers

 This was the only photo of a model walking around which was remotely passable.
 Half way through the presentation she asked for the co-ordinator of the conference to go backstage.  He was joined by about 4 other men, and they all came back out with hats on their heads and acting the fool - again this was the only photo I managed to take.
After the presentation, I was amazed that we were all allowed to handle the hats and try them on.  They are beautifully made, with incredible detail.

This was one of the delegates trying on a pink creation.

 There was a large red hat there which I was told to wear as I have a red hat I always wear when I am out walking
The colours are not quite right in the photo, but again, the lighting made it really hard.
I have put a link to Jenny's website, do take the time to have a look, but you may need to make a cuppa first as it is very extensive.  I can't believe the amount of work she has produced.  She does have others to help her these days,  it would be impossible to achieve all that on her own.  I asked what sort of machine she uses - she has eight Bernina sewing machines and three needle felting machines!
I will be back before too long this time I hope

Monday, 11 November 2013

A post full of photos

Hullo all , we are back home again after a wonderful holiday in New Zealand.  Unfortunately I also brought back with me a rotten sinus infection so it has taken me a few days to start to get my act together.  If you don't want to see photos turn off now as New Zealand has to have more photogenic sites than anywhere else I have visited I think.  The weather was cold, but we expected that and we were lucky enough to miss most of the rain.  There was a 4.3 earthquake aftershock while we were in Christchurch, but we slept peacefully through it!

 View from the plane flying into the narrow valley to Queenstown airport.
 This was what we looked out at from the balcony of our apqrtment
 We had to go on a gondola ride to see some superb views of the city.  Mad people take their bikes up there as well, then tear down the hill at breakneck speed!
 This was the view on the way up
 and one of the views from the platform at the top
Even crazier people ride down the luge - there is a longer, faster track for single riders, and a family friendly slower course for fathers and children - I didn't see any mothers taking it!

 One of the highlights of the trip had to be the helicopter ride we had out to the Remarkables mountain range nearby - five passengers and the pilot.  My sister and I were in the front with the pilot so we had some fantastic views.  There was a girl in the back with Bill who was terrified the whole time - I am not sure if she was still talking to her boyfriend when we landed again.
 This was taken when we landed on the Remarkables.  Nobody could tell me the origin of the name unfortunately.
 A panorama taken while we had landed
I rather like this one.

 Of course we visited the Botanic Gardens in Queenstown.  The city, by the way, like most of New Zealand, is very hilly, so walking was a bit slow and laborious as Bill was hobbled by his damaged Achilles tendon, and Barb by her gammy knee (she needs a knee replacement).
 There were some beautiful magnolias, and I am not sure what the other flower is.
 The first of many rhododendrons we saw.
 This photo is in the wrong place, but it is a lo9bely clematis we saw planted in a shopping mall
 This was a view of the city from the botanic gardens - the hills gave great photo opportunities
 I can't remember the name of this lovely old steamer which takes tourists on a 90 minute ride on Lake Wakatipi.  We thought of going on that but my sister could not stand  the smell of the coal, so we opted for a slightly more modern boat ride.
 This sunset was magnificent, after a showery day, it should have loaded after the photo below.
Two drowned rats!!!!  We had one horrible day weatherwise while we were in Queenstown. but drove up to Glen Orchy anyway.  It was freezing outside so we didn't stay out of the car for long at all!

These are enough photos for tonight, I am starting to cough again so I am off to have a hot shower.  I still haven't had time to edit many of the photos I took, but we saw some wonderful places.  The albatrosses were flying in Otago Bay and the penguins in an Aquarium in Auckland were real highlights, and of course the conference was inspirational.  More photos in a few days.