4/23/2016

Invercargill, South Island, New Zealand


We travelled in style from the Greens to the Healy’s, for our first reunion,


… in this classic Chevrolet, courtesy of the Greens’ son-in-law, Warren

From Wellington, we flew to Invercargill, at the southern tip of South Island, to stay with friends we hadn’t seen since 2008. What a wonderful welcome we received!

While we were there, we took the opportunity to visit Stewart Island, even further south! The climate
there is unpredictable at latitude 47°, but we were fortunate to go there on a fine day, with no rain. (The island’s rainforests are a testament to the frequency of its rainfall.)


As we waited for our ferry to Stewart Island, we saw this beautiful sailing ship,
The ‘Spirit of New Zealand’

The ship was built in 1986 by the Spirit of New Zealand Trust specifically for Youth development. Every year, groups of trainees, aged between 15 and 18 years, take up the challenge of learning about
the sea, and how to sail a tall ship.


David in Oban, Stewart Island

Stewart Island is 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of New Zealand's South Island, and is best known for  its conservation areas of native birds and plants. We only went for the day, but it is a popular place for camping along hiking trails, and for sightings of the Aurora Australis at night.


The Police Station on Stewart Island

As you can see from the size of the police station, the population is very small, less than 400 local
inhabitants.


We saw the sign, but didn’t see the kiwis!


We walked up hill, and down to the Ulva Island Ferry


David waiting for the ferry


Sign at the ferry station

Ulva Island is an unspoilt rainforest, a natural haven for rare birds and plants. The sign is to remind visitors the importance of keeping predators away, especially rats which devour birds eggs, hatchlings, and kill native plants.


Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara)


Steps up to Flagstaff Point


View from the top

Mail for Stewart Island used to be delivered on Ulva Island, and the residents used to row across to
collect their post, and a raised flag on Flagstaff Point signalled that the post had arrived. It became quite a festive occasion as friends from different settlements could meet up.

We trekked around the island as quietly as possible, so we could see the wildlife. Here are some of
the unique birds we saw.


The elusive Weka

The Weka cannot fly, but is able to walk and swim long distances. It feeds mostly on insects, birds' eggs, lizards, and sometimes even other birds.


New Zealand Wood Pigeon (Kererū)

These are larger than the pigeons seen in cities throughout the world, and we saw several swooping
through the forest.


Stewart Island Robin (Toutouwai)

The ferry boat driver told us just to step into the forest, and the birds would come. He was quite right. As we walked off the path, we disturbed the insects they eat, and immediately a Robin came hopping along.


Kākā

This is quite a destructive bird. It strips the bark off trees to get at the insects underneath.

We had a wonderful day on Stewart Island, and I will definitely want to visit it again, perhaps for longer than just one day.

Elizabeth Coughlan

4/14/2016

Wellington NZ's Own Gezi Park


The protesters’ banner attached to the railings overlooking the green

I was living in Turkey during the Gezi Park demonstrations against the government's plan to raze that
small green space, and build a shopping mall. Although the demonstration was peaceful, and non-
threatening, the police reacted violently with tear gas, and water cannons, inflaming the situation. I couldn't help but compare this with the attempt by residents of Wellington to prevent their local council from selling or leasing this tiny green space to a private developer.


Jack Ilott Green is a tiny sanctuary among concrete high rises

I will admit that the park doesn’t look much, but that is because the local council have stopped all maintenance on it, according to the protesters.


Collecting signatures for the petition to the Wellington City Council


This was the sign behind the protesters’ table.

I love it when the people speak. I believe this petition has already collected over 8,000 signatures.If the developers do move in, perhaps they can have an ‘Occupy Jack Ilott Green’. Although, unlike 'Occupy Gezi Park’, I can't imagine the New Zealand police donning riot gear, bringing in water cannons, and tear gassing the protesters, so perhaps ‘Occupy Jack Ilott Green’ is the way to go.

More information can be found on  http://savejackilottgreen.my-free.website/ and
https://www.facebook.com/savejackillottgreen/

Elizabeth Coughlan

4/03/2016

Practicing Dragon Boat Racing, Wellington, NZ


Dragon Boat crew practicing for the Festival

I must confess, I am not a fan of cricket, although I don't mind watching the occasional game. So, on the day after our visit to the Basin Reserve, I decided not to accompany David to the second day of the test match between Australia and New Zealand, choosing, instead, to take my camera, and see what other delights the city of Wellington had to offer.

I noticed groups of people heading to the waterfront, so I followed them. They were all going to watch the teams practicing for the 2016 Dragon Boat Racing Festival. Wellington holds the largest Dragon Boat Festival in New Zealand, and this 2 day event attracts thousands to its action packed entertainment. What I was watching was a training event, leading up to the finals.

Any group can enter their team, and the organisers will even help with coaching in the weekends before the event. This is a true team sport where timing is everything. Just one person out of sync can jeopardise the whole team's effort. It obviously takes a lot of work, but it looks such fun!


Here is the video I took that day

Elizabeth Coughlan

3/31/2016

Australia v NZ 1st Test Match 2016

 

Crowd waiting for the first test match between Australia and New Zealand,
at the Basin Reserve, Wellington


We had breakfast in the Members’ Lounge

Brian, David and I made an early start and hastened to take our places for breakfast in the Members’ Lounge of the Basin Reserve cricket ground in Wellington. After our ‘typical English breakfast’, we listened to Ashley Mallet, an Australian international cricketer of the ‘70’s, who regaled us with his memories of that era, before taking our seats in the members’ enclosure.



The teams warming up on the field before the match


Crowds on the field at lunchtime

New Zealand cricket grounds are unique, in that they allow people on to the ground during the lunch break of a match. No other country allows this for security reasons, and so the pitch is not damaged during the match. It appears that New Zealanders are more responsible than the rest of the world!


Captains go out for the toss

Winning the toss of a coin is vital in cricket, as it determines which team goes in to bat first. New Zealand didn’t want to win the toss, as this would mean the Australians would put them in to bat while the wicket was new. Apparently, it is more advantageous to bat after the ground has worn down a bit.


Oh, dear! Australia won the toss!


The National Anthems are played at the beginning of a test match…


…and then the match begins

Unfortunately for the local supporters, New Zealand never recovered from their first morning collapse and were beaten by Australia.

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I couldn't resist this one!