Sunday, June 27, 2010
We did a lot of hikes while in New Zealand and this one for me was the most adventurous. We ended up in this gorge, when it was getting to be pretty dark. Cameron set up this photo and then ran back to the bridge to be in the shot, in just 10 seconds. Of course, I just stood there and called out the rate of the flashing light to let him know how much time he had. It was great fun to watch.
This place was a huge gorge where they processed much of the adjacent mining rock. The valley's sides were steep, carved out by a small creek, and a road managed to wind through it.
Our hike took us on a couple of hours loop up and down the gorge. We explored along the creek a bit, an old railroad grade, and alongside the road. Little did we know, there were also some some impressive gold processing ruins including some stamp mills, cyanide processing plants, exploratory mine adits known as the windows & full of real glow worms (childhood flashback), and a 1.5k (15 min) hike in the complete darkness through an old railroad tunnel.
The geography of the gorge really made one feel small and these photographs don't do the area justice. If you have time, check this out on google maps, especially the street view. You can see the bridge in the next photo really clearly from the road. It used to carry railroads, but has been turned into a pedestrian walkway into the dark tunnel.
The tunnel was barely lit, and the lights that were there were quite dim. The old railroad bed had been mostly patched, but there were drainage channels on each side and it generally was an uneven surface. Basically one was in total darkness through about half of this walk and as another group approached you walking the other direction, you used voices to make sure everyone you wouldn't walk into each other. CRAZY stuff, this is what should be on the "only in New Zealand" visitor videos.
My favorite part of the hike was walking through the cyanide plant, literally following the process. Much of the buildings were in ruins, but with the aid of a former map, Cameron and I could easily pick up what was where in relation to what we saw. See, our education came in handy.
After the giant kiwi, I was always on the look out for unexplained, over-sized things in NZ and I was not disappointed to find this huge
bottle of Lemon & Paeroa or L&P for short and it's made in NZ. It was a tasty lemon pop that quenched my thirst. I gave it a giant hug.
NEXT FLASHBACK will be about the town of Napier and us sleeping in a jail converted into a backpacker lodge.
Cameron and I have finally made it, we are living on Fifth Avenue! OK, so its no where near the famous one with all the shops. In fact, our street is so small, you can't turn into it from the main drag, nor can you turn right (if you are driving on the left, that's a turn across traffic) onto the main road. But it is home & "Ant" (that's what we named our car) looks great parked out front.
Join me for a virtual tour...You walk into the front door that you can see to the left of the car & enter into a large living/dining room area. Off that towards the back is a kitchen, small hall with washer, and a back patio. In the other direction are the two bedrooms, and a bathroom split with toilet and shower/sink. The "dining" area is shown in this image with kitchen in background and part of one living room couch.
Moving right along (this place isn't too big) is the kitchen. Since this photo, we've gotten a toaster oven, new pots & pans, dishes not shown, and four mugs (hoping only 2 people ever join us for coffee or tea). Funny thing today, ran the dishwasher with regular dish soap and although it worked, there sure were lots of suds.
Off the kitchen is the back patio, where I can hang up some laundry. This shot looks left out of the door. Its not easy to do laundry when its 15 C or overcast & about 60 F.
On the other side of our back patio, is our NEW GRILL! We grilled a salmon, onion, and red pepper (capsicum for all you Aussies reading) for our first meal. I think its Cam's favorite item we've purchased so far.
Back inside the front door, if you looked left, you would see our "living room" with small wall decoration (working on that by painting some things). The hallway you see in the back connects all the bathrooms and bedrooms with the main bedroom off to the left.
Finally here is a shot of our bedroom. Check out the silk sheets from Ted (Cam's oldest bro) & Song. They are from China & very comfy. Since I'm waving good bye in the photo, I'll sign off for now. We had dinner last night with some archaeology/history folks in town (Peter, Julieanna, Justin, and Robyn) and they gave me some ideas, so I need to send off some resumes.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The second thing that surprised me was the lack of kiwis (the fruit). Instead, I kept seeing rows & rows of what appeared to be grapes, but instead of growing vertically as seen in the US & Canada, they were grown horizontally. Strange, I thought, New Zealander's have figured out how to grow grapes horizontally, and then we came across...
And who would visit the north Island only not to see Rotorua? You may be thinking to yourself, "ahhh, hot springs" but what you probably didn't realize was how smelly the place was. After pulling along side the road & peering through a fence, we went to a hot spring park called Craters of the Moon that had a short trail in & around a bunch of active hot springs. It was pretty mesmerizing to watch the steam rise through the air, especially as the sun was setting. We only had 30 min or so to do the walk, and we were quite distracted by the bubbling mud, but we made it out in time before they locked the gate.
Next up for flashbacks: Karangahake Gorge (and more industry).
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We spent some time at this stamping mill that was used by government assaysors to asses ores coming out of the surrounding country. The gold percolated through cracks in the surrounding volcanic rock and could be found in fissures near quarts.
There was a working waterwheel (New Zealand's largest working one) that powered stamps that still worked. The miner who owned the mill occasionally processed ores he found, but primarily runs tours. We also took a ride on a narrow gage railroad that wrapped its way up a very steep incline (4 switchbacks and 2 reversals or something like that) with amazing views of the coast. It was really fantastic engineering & we luckily got on an afternoon train.
We traveled down the coast to Waihi, an active gold mine with a huge open pit. The tour was specifically designed to teach visitors about the process, but mostly was a PR measure. The company paid for the van, the tour guide told us of the enviromental actions taken by the mine such as saving the birds and recycling. I was particularly facinated by the iron balls that ground down the rock from the size of a kickball to a golf ball.
See if you can find Cameron in the last shot, he was standing next to this pumping house adjacent to the mine. The sky, building, and approach really make for a stunning photo. One of my favorite parts of this small town were the roundabouts decorated with warn down steal balls used to pulverize the rock from the mine that were painted place. Now that's recycling!
We've finally made a decision & moved to Adelaide where Cam had an offer for a job. He's working as the Senior Heritage Consultant for the South Australian government. Adelaide is a "small" place, only about 1.25 million people, but listed in the top 10 cities to live by The Economist.
For those of you who are goegraphically unfamiliar with Australia, here's a map with Adelaide marked. The continent is about the size of the continental US. As you can tell, its located on the coast and if anyone wants to come visit, the beach is only about 20 min. away.
Cam looked really spiffy on his way to work on Tues. I had to snap a picture. We've also found an apartment after looking at about a dozen places. Its in a great part of town, sandwiched between a train and bus line. Its part of 3 on a lot, including the owners. Maureen and Barry have been really nice to us & have helped with a few kitchen items to get us started. I'll try to take a photo of the place for the next Adelaide post. This weekend, Cam is going to work on his book about MI and I am going to continue looking for work.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
New Zealand: the land of volcanoes. I have to say, I totally had no idea about the geology of the islands, and only came to realize their youth after visiting & seeing crazy mountain after mountain.
We began our trip in Auckland, the capital city. Our flight was quite relaxing as we got a whole center row, 4 seats! After landing, we went on this HUGE hike, about a few hours.
Cam snapped this photo while I was still able to manage a smile. The hike went through some gorgeous territory, gentile rolling hills, and huge trees. I wore some short socks & got blisters on the back of both of my heals that lasted the rest of our trip.
Our hostel was located right in downtown. We went out for a drink & watched someone jump from the top of that tower. It was crazy to see. Our tour around included the quay with huge wharfs and smart new construction and a university with beautiful historic buildings.
We are headed to the Coromandel Penninsula and gold country next in New Zealand. Till then.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Driving down from San Fran, Cam and I then went to visit my cousins: Tammi, Greg and their children: Steph, Greg, Natalie, Tim, Brad, & Zach. They are in LA, Orange County to be exact. They gave us tickets to Disneyland to ride the teacups & check out rides, like splash mountain.
Being in CA, we absolutely had to go to the beach & after burying some of the boys we flew a new kite!
Cam wanted to see the walk of fame / Hollywood sign, and I got to put my hands in those of another famous archaeologist.
We also spent a Sat at the ball field & both Cam & I took turns testing out our new spectacular camera. I LOVE CANON and I love that I got to see all of the Froneks before leaving the country. In these shots, Greg is pitching, Brad is batting, and Tim is catching. All of the Froneks have talent. The next post will be about our official Honeymoon: New Zealand, north island.