Monday, 29 December 2008

A Zoo Trip

Ian and Nikki took advantage of four very willing grandparents to babysit (we didn't need our arms twisting at all), whilst they sampled the scenic beauty of New Zealand's Bay of Islands.
But what to do? A trip to Auckland Zoo was proposed, seconded and agreed unanimously. A party of eleven when all votes were counted.
There were lemurs "...come on, move it! move it! move it!.."
...and Gloria the Hippo. What do you mean, "you've never seen Madagascar"?

Ted showed Grandmaboat how Meerkats live.
There was a train ride...

...and dinosaur eggs you could hide in.

Some amongst us, however, found it a little tiring.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

A Wedding

Tell me again, why are we all here in New Zealand?
Because Peter (Nikki's brother) is marrying Kirsten in Devonport and we all want to be there!
It's the big day and all preparations... well, if they're not done now, that's it! Ted and Noah are smartly turned out, Ted in particular is a page boy so it's suit and tie for him!
After the Church the photographs are taken on the rocks by the waters edge with the islands as back drop.
Then a shot of the Peter and Kirsten with Peter's Mum, Dad and sister. Plus of course Ted and Noah.
At the reception apart from food, wine and speeches, there were photographs to be taken. Ted definitely got into the 'professional' mode.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas Day, and guess what's an early start.
But we'd have been disappointed had it not been so! Two boys thoroughly enjoying themselves.

In the afternoon - in true Kiwi fashion, it's barbecue time. Our hosts are Rae (Kirsten's mother) and Dean. Whilst there, we find time for a walk to the beach with Ian and Ted, from where Auckland's tall Sky tower can be seen.
It's seems it's nowhere near as tall as Ted though.
Then back to Rae and Dean's for more fun.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Pre Christmas

At last a chance to update ourselves with Ted and to meet Noah nearly one year on. There were parks and a playground nearby - a good excuse for a walk. It's summer here and I'm sure the boys are noticing the difference!
We celebrated Carole's birthday at the house, but there was a girls' afternoon out arranged too; high tea in a smart hotel. Actually champagne for some names no pack-drill!
Then it's playtime again.

Although Ted insisted on working. There were paper chains for Christmas to be made!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Arrivals from Beeston

Sunday 21st December 2008 is a Special Day. First thing - to Auckland Airport, post haste. Ian, Nikki and the boys are due to land this morning after the long haul from UK and all four grandparents want to be there for the arrival.
The screens showed the plane had landed, then after what seemed an age, people came pouring through the arrivals gate ...and let's say they weren't the first through.
But we were delighted to see them. Jet lag seemed lotally lacking in the younger generation, who played happily during the rest of the day.
But even the stalwart Ted was struck down ...mid pizza!
And so to bed.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Early Arrival at Auckland

Peter and Brian had joined forces to find accommodation for the 'extended family' in Regent Street, Narrow Neck, Auckland. A very spacious and 'architecturally interesting' detached house in the eastern suburbs near Devonport. Ideal in other words. The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice a paper chain on the balcony. This was made by Ted shortly before Christmas and will feature later.
And you could see the famous Harbour Bridge from ouside the front door!

Our arrival here on the 14th December and Ian and Nikki and the boys were not due to fly in until 22nd, so we had a week to wait, a chance to see a little of our local area.
The local beach.

The rugby pitch (during the off season).

We made a trip into Auckland primarily to collect wedding presents, but we also visited the Auckland Museum. It tells the story of New Zealand as a nation, natural history and cultural origins.

View from the collonades.

Locally, it was only a short drive (or a long walk) to the eastern shore from where the Auckland city waterfront is a wonderful sight and there are parks and fortification ruins.

Devonport is a lovely mixture of traditional and modern housing styles from modest cottages...

to much more opulent mansions.

An evening out for a meal yielded a preview of Christmas...

...and a view of Auckland's CBD by night.

The Advance Party's one week flew by very quickly, Brian and Carole were such good company but soon we were all looking forward to the arrival of 'the gang'.

New Zealand December 2008

We left Bundaberg (with Ellida - safely tucked up in the Port Marina) and took the Tilt Train to Brisbane, where we stopped overnight before catching a flight to Auckland.

Just a short hop compared with the flights that we have been used to over the last few years, but quite a change in temperature on arrival in NZ, but still pleasant - it is summer after all.
We have a car booked and before long we are on the road North, heading towards Whangarei. All familiar sights and it's nice to be back. We had arranged to stay with our friends Len and Kathryn, owners of MARY HARRIGAN a beautiful, classic schooner. However Len and Kathryn, now New Zealand residents, also have a land base in Parua Bay on the outskirts of Whangarei while the Mary H has an extensive refit.
It's always good to see friends and the house is beautiful. The back garden overlooks the Bay where there are yachts at anchor and the scenery is mountainous.

We also have a chance to pop to Opua on the Bay of Islands and meet with Derek and Anthea (SUKANUK), Ruth and Angus (Do-It) and several other cruising friends.
Soon it is time to make the journey South to Auckland. Still another week before Ian, Nikki and the boys arrive, but we shall stay in the rented house with Nikki's Mum and Dad, Carole and Brian.
On the way, we call into the park at Wenderholm. It was a regular stop whenever we drove South, it is such a beautiful area.

House in the park grounds at Wenderholm.

Monday, 1 December 2008

We Have Turtles

The coastal region of Mon Repos is home to an established Turtle Rookery. Visitors pay for places on conducted groups that are escorted to the beach to witness turtles during part of their reproduction cycle, either egg laying or young hatching.
On this occasion it is the laying season and we arrived at the centre on time, where we received a briefing and then a slide show. Several groups were booked in that night including a few school parties and our group was at the end of the pecking order.
Rangers patrol the shore keeping a lookout for turtle that are swimming to the shore to lay eggs. They then report back to the centre and the next available group is shepherded to the exact location to observe.
Groups were called and time passed. I think we exhausted their supply of educational DVDs and it was nearing 11:00pm before the rangers sighted yet another arriving female turtle and we were 'called'.
It was worth waiting. because we got two for the price of one. The first turtle came ashore, selected her site and started to dig a hole. Our experienced guide knew the particular turtle as she had been ashore previously this season and failed to lay. She had a damaged hind flipper and she had problems digging though not enough to stop her from making a nest. Sure enough it was another abortive attempt and we felt we had drawn the short straw for the evening. Then a ranger hurried to our guide and reported another arriving female.
We were led to the new site and we watched the full process of digging - a long and pains taking task - followed by laying and covering. It takes over an hour to complete.

Next we watch her make her way back to the sea, taking care to allow her to lead and staying out of her line of sight for fear of frightening her and jeopardising her future return visits. We returned to the nest, for it seems that this female has not been 100% successful in her choice of site. Too far away from the sea can cause problems, but so can too near to the sea, temperature is critical and also protection from the ebb and flow tides.

This nest is in the latter category and the eggs must be unearthed and replaced in a man-made nest further inshore.

We are invited to take part in the task as 'egg-bearers'. Our guide digs and counts the eggs. Memory fails, but I think there were about 120. Another ranger digs a replica nest and we form a line, accepting an egg from our guide and carrying iy up the sand to the ranger at the new hole.
It was early morning by the time we finished and drove home. But an evening well spent. Our ranger reckoned it was the latest visit for qiute some time.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

We have Rum

Other than the marina and the beach, there is little else so close to the coast. The town of Bundaberg is 20 kilometres inland (sorry you Imperial folks, Australia is completely metric) .

Confession time here, I was not aware of Bundaberg when I lived in UK. But it is quite a substantial town and is (at least in Australasia and the Pacific) famous for its Rum and its Ginger Beer.

Both the Rum Factory and the Ginger Beer Plant have visitor centres and when the chance came up, we called in to see the rum factory. The tour of the factory is involves a guide and a fair bit of time, however, the museum is open to the casual visitor, so we opted for that as a starter.

Then made just a quick call on the Ginger Beer visitor centre. We loved its appearance, barrel-like as you can see.
The old delivery lorry is in a custom glass display garage adjacent to the centre.

Monday, 3 November 2008

We have Pelicans

We have a slip on the outside rank of the marina, nearest to the mouth of the estuary. It may be further to walk to the office, but we get a fresh breeze and we don't suffer from the noise that must be expected from the restaurant, bar and the general areas that people congregate. In fact just a hundred metres or so across the water is a tiny beach, which families and fishermen use - in small numbers.

We walked to the beach one day and surrounding the fishermen were pelicans, larger than we have been used to in the Caribbean, but with the same agenda

Sunday, 2 November 2008

We have kangaroos

We have Kangaroos...

A friend from another yacht said that she had seen wild kangaroos near to the woods that lie to the south of the marina.
Apparently late afternoon is prime time to spot them, so armed with binoculars and cameras, we went for a forage.
They weren't hard to see. A whole troop or 'mob' were out in the open.
They had seen us first and virtually every eye was on us, ears twitching independently of each other like radar scanners. We stayed very still, and after a while, they resumed their task of grass consumption, with just a reduced lookout.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Arrival in Australia

Our arrival in Australia was to the Bundaberg Port Marina, Queensland. We were a little anxious about meeting the officials. The rumour around the cruising community was that they were strict and Australian rules about the condition of the hull and the goods you have on board were similarly stringent.
In the event, our fears were unjustified. The rules are strict, but well publicised and we had read them in advance. The officials were pleasant, business-like and friendly. "Welcome to Oz mate!"
The Bundaberg Port Marina is smart and efficiently managed. We felt that we had made a good choice.
After a good rest, Jackie and Dave were anxious to be off. They had only a short time to explore Australia before they were due to meet up with their next boat in the far North of Queensland.
Bundaberg the city is 20 kilometres up-river and has an interesting history. It was founded by timber merchants John and Gavin Steuart and Lachlan Tripp in 1867. The first farmers in the area arrived soon after. Timber was the first established industry in Bundaberg. In 1868 a sawmill was erected on the Burnett River downstream from the Steuart and Watson holdings. The city was surveyed, laid out and named Bundaberg in 1870.
Experimental sugar cane growing in the district followed and a successful industry grew. The early sugar industry in Bundaberg was the result of the semi-slave labour carried out by Kanaka. (People from the mainly Miconesian Pacific Islands) Bundaberg was gazetted a town in 1902 and a city in 1913. The main street is called Bourbong Street and contains the imposing Post Office.
The street name is the result of a typographical error by the local daily paper, the News-Mail. The street had originally been named Bourbon Street.