Tag: Marina

Maori Carvings

Maori Carvings

Taupo, New Zealand – February 2, 2018

Our drive from Napier to Taupo took just under two hours. It was cloudy and rainy, nearly the entire distance.

Taupo is a city at the north end of Lake Taupo. With a population of roughly 24,000, it is about one-third the size of Grand Junction, Colorado. As one may have noticed, Taupo is a Maori word. The full Maori name for the town is Taupo nui a Tia, a reference to the cloak of Tia, the person that discovered the lake.

We stayed at the Acacia Lake View Motel in an apartment at the front of the motel. We had a lovely view of Lake Taupo from the living room. The scene included the hole-in-one challenge. There were several tee boxes with artificial turf from which one could try to get a hole-in-one on a floating platform anchored out in the lake. There were three different holes on the platform, each of various sizes. Discretion was the better part of valor; I did not even try the challenge.

After breakfast the next morning, we drove to the marina.  While we waited for our boat to take us to the Maori Rock Carvings, I walked away from the marina to the lake’s edge.  There, I stumbled across two black swans and numerous ducks.  At that time, the weather was stunning, allowing for a beautiful landscape photograph.

Lake Taupo as seen from near the marina.

When we boarded the boat, we initially sat on the upper level.  Just before we departed the marina, we moved to the main level.  On that level, there were tables with fixed bench seats.  At the rear of the seating area was a small bar from which they served muffins, tea, and coffee.

The other three travelers…

Moored in a slip nearby was the Ernest Kemp. It is another of the vessels that daily transports tourists to see the carvings. It is a unique looking vessel. I had initially thought we should have reserved space on that boat. It reminded me of the T.S.S. Earnslaw we had enjoyed while in Queenstown about two years ago. However, after seeing how small the Ernest Kemp was, I was pleased with our selection of transport.

Another of the boats that take tourists to the Maori Rock Carvings.

As we departed our slip, the weather was variable. At times we enjoyed brilliant sunshine. Then, just moments later, we found ourselves in an intense downpour. We were pleased the boat seating area was enclosed. The Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde weather was with us throughout our trip.

Once underway, one of the attendants shared details and tidbits about the area as we slid along through the water. The surface area of Lake Taupo, 236 square miles, is nearly the same size as the country of Singapore. The average depth of the lake is 110 meters (360 feet). At its deepest point, the lake reaches 186 meters (610 feet).

For those friends in Colorado, it is worth comparing Lake Taupo with Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in that state.  The surface area is a mere 14 square miles, about twice the area of Fruita, Colorado.  The maximum depth of Blue Mesa is 104 meters (341 feet).

Shortly after departing the marina, the attendant directed our attention to Mount Tauhara, referring to it as the “pregnant woman mountain.” It was easy to see why when looking at the profile of the mountain. Mount Tauhara is a dormant volcano. Its summit is at 3,569 meters (11,709 feet) above sea level.

Mount Tauhara, the pregnant woman.

A little over an hour into our trip, we stopped in Mine Bay to view the Maori Rock Carvings.  The attendants opened the front hatch on the boat so we could stand on the bow and take photos.  Standing was quite difficult.  Our weather stirred up the lake such that the bow was severely bouncing around.

The carvings were spectacular. The largest of the carvings was about 10 meters (33 feet) tall. Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and John Randall made it and the other carvings, completed in 1979.  Ngatoroirangi, a Maori navigator who allegedly led Maori tribes to the area some 1,000 years ago, is the basis for engraving. The only thing that could have made the carvings any more spectacular would be if they were carved some 1,000 years ago.
This is the main and largest carving.

On the route back to the marina, I found it stunning just how crystal clear the water appears. I can only wonder what it would be like to dive into the lake.

Walking from the boat back to our vehicle, we saw a family of black swans enjoying a meal.  I do not know if it was a male or female, but the older black swan pulled water plants to the surface so the five cygnets could easily partake of the meal.  They did not seem to be bothered at all by the parade of humans coming by their dinner table.

Family meal.

The following morning, as we departed Taupo, we stopped at Huka Falls. The fall is more of a horizontal fall than a vertical fall; but, none the less, it is impressive to see the clear blue water rushing north. This is the beginning of the Waikato River. Huka is the Maori word for foam.

Huka Falls looking to the north.

From there, it was on to Ohope Beach.

Huka Falls looking to the south, toward Lake Taupo.
The boat we took to look at the Maori Rock Carvings.
Two black swans among the ducks.
Ducks on the very clear water.
Two ducks near the shore.
The cockpit for our boat.
Departing the marina.
Maori Rock Carvings.
Some additional, smaller carvings. The largest is the lizard near the waterline at the far right.
Enjoying the ride.
View of the shore.
Lake Taupo is huge.
View of the shore.
Typical homes near the marina.
Boathouses across from the marina.
The Marina.
Crystal clear water.
Part of the business district.
Street sculpture.
Tiki sculptures.
Gone Fishin’

Gone Fishin’

Seaview, New Zealand – December 21, 2017

It was a smashing morning. We were both excited about our fishing adventure with Pete Lamb Fishing. We arrived at the Seaview Marina at about 11:40 for our 12:30 departure. Another 19 people from the office and their family joined us, for a total of 21 people.
The Daniel with Captain Pete on the bow.

We saw our boat, the Daniel, entering the marina from Wellington Harbour.  At 62 feet (19 meters), it is a good-sized boat.  It is white with a red gunwale.  As each of us walked up the stairs and stepped on board, Captain Pete greeted us with a smile and a handshake.

Behind the pilothouse was a small room with a dining table and storage cabinets.  Leaving that room, one is on the deck.  There is a roof above about half of the deck.  The remainder is open and not shaded.


Leslie and I took up positions near the door to the dining area, under cover. All of the fishing poles were rigged, baited, and standing in rod holders evenly spaced along the gunwale. As the Daniel reversed and began to make its way through the marina, we marveled at homes above Point Howard. They have a commanding view of the harbor.

Pacific Rainbow

Moored just outside the Seaview Marina was the oil products tanker ship, Pacific Rainbow. It is a 28,000-gross ton ship, capable of carrying as much as 46,000 tons of product. At just under 600 feet (180 meters), it is small for a tanker. I imagine that is due to the depth of the harbor. More massive ships probably have too deep a draft to dock at Seaview. The contents of the tanker are pumped to holding tanks at the Mobil Petroleum Products Company for ultimate distribution throughout New Zealand.

Once in the open waters of the harbor, Captain Pete pointed the boat toward the southern point of Somes Island. It is the largest island in the harbor. Currently a reserve under the control of the Department of Conservation, the island previously served as an internment camp and a quarantine location for both humans and mammals.

Lighthouse on Somes Island.

We passed Somes Island off the starboard side of the boat. I did not realize until this trip that there is a lighthouse on the island. The current tower dates from 1900, while the original lighthouse dates from 1866. It is one of 23 operating lighthouses in New Zealand.

The weather became windier. Luckily, the wind was out of the north, so it was not really cold. Throughout the afternoon, it became more and more cloudy. The good news, we did not have any rain.

Point Halswell Lighthouse.

Continuing, off the port side of the boat, we could see the Point Halswell Lighthouse.  It sits on the northern point of the Miramar peninsula.

After a trip of just under six miles (nine kilometers), we reached the “fishing hole.” We anchored just off the point of Oriental Bay. As soon as the anchor hit the harbor floor, Captain Pete sent his deckhand around to instruct each of us how to use the rods. The hooks were many times larger than the hooks one uses for trout fishing. They are known as self-setting hooks. A trout hook looks roughly like the letter “J.” The self-setting hooks look more like a sloppily drawn letter “J.” The small portion of the hook is bent back considerably toward the main shaft. The tip of the hook is bent back a little more. This design makes it more difficult for the fish to spit out the hook. Virtually every time, the hook ends up in the corner of the fish’s mouth.

For bait, the hooks had either fish or squid pieces. Each pole had two baited hooks and a lead weight of about 12 ounces. There was no casting. One placed a thumb on the wound fishing line on the reel, released the drag, and allowed the line to drop to the harbor floor. As soon as the weight hit the harbor floor, one re-engaged the drag, wound once or twice and then waited. The water was about 65 feet deep (20 meters).

Very quickly, people started hooking fish.  The most prevalent fish was the kahawai.  I had a large kahawai hooked, but just at the surface, it jumped off.  I did not catch anything else the rest of the afternoon.


Leslie did land a good cooking-size kahawai a little later.  Captain Pete commented that there was a school of kahawai near us, as evidenced by the sea birds.  Several types of seabirds circled near the boat, diving periodically for the fish.

In addition to the kahawai, two red gurnard, one red snapper, and one barracuda found their way onto the Daniel.  When a fish made it to the deck of the boat, either Captain Pete or the deckhand removed the hook, dispatched the fish, and placed it in a cooler.  They also assisted with snags and tangles, of which there were a few.

The fishing expedition was communal. That means that all fish caught are filleted and distributed evenly to those fishing. So, even though I did not land a fish, I still got an even share of the total catch. When the cooler was full, the deckhand began filleting the fish. He never gutted any of the fish. He filleted both sides and then removed the skin. The deckhand tossed the remains over the side, much to the delight of the seagulls…and who knows what in the depths.

When the first fishing hole petered out (no pun intended), the captain weighed anchor and motored the boat near the port. That meant that while we fished, we could watch the loading of ships. There were two ships docked at the port, a container ship, the other boat was a cargo ship, taking on logs from New Zealand bound for China.

A cargo ship loaded with logs.

After 30 or 40 minutes, Captain Pete moved the boat to a spot just off the west side of Somes Island.  That is where one of the fishermen caught the lone barracuda.  The captain said the barracuda was not a keeper because of the worms they usually carry.  Instead, the barracuda became bait.

We had fished for a little over six hours when we left the west side of Somes Island, bound for the Seaview Marina. By the time we arrived, the deckhand had all of the fillets in 21 separate plastic bags. Since we received two, I estimate Leslie and I ended up with about two pounds of fish.

Two nights after the fishing trip, we had the fish for dinner along with a trout that a friend had given us.  I must say, I was not all that wild with the kahawai.  I much preferred the trout.  Regardless, the fishing trip was a lot of fun.

A container ship.
A fishing boat.
Apartments at the point at Oriental Bay.
New Zealand fish poster.
Somes Island.
Wellington in the distance, just beyond Somes Island.
Happy fisherwoman.
Seaview Marina
NZ Navy 75th

NZ Navy 75th

Auckland, New Zealand – November 17, 2016

Another business trip to Auckland!  I am fortunate that Leslie can travel with me on so many of my business trips.

On this particular trip, on our way to the hotel, Leslie asked the taxi driver where we could find crayfish for dinner.  He suggested Sails Restaurant.  We made arrangements to have him pick us up later that evening and take us to the restaurant for dinner.

The restaurant is at the Westhaven Marina.  The dining area is on the first floor with a beautiful view of the marina and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.  Our starter was a smoked salmon platter.  It came with a melba toast type cracker, beetroot, and assorted greens.  Maybe it was the ambiance, but the salmon was the best tasting I had had in quite some time.

Smoked salmon appetizer.

Our main course was the crayfish Leslie wanted. In New Zealand, crayfish are equivalent to lobster, not the mudbugs that one might find in Louisiana. Here, the crayfish are very similar to lobster. The main difference is the claws; they are much smaller on the species here. The meat looks the same as a lobster. It also pulls out in clumps like lobster. The taste though is not as rich. For me, that makes it all the more delicious. It was not served with melted butter; however, Leslie was able to talk them into bringing some to the table.

Dessert was just as good as the other two courses. I had the crème brûlèe. Leslie’s dessert was reminiscent of doughnut holes, ice cream, and caramel. It was quite good, but it made up for the crayfish not being rich!

One morning we walked to Albert Park and, subsequently, the Auckland Art Gallery. It was a beautiful morning. We found many varying views of the Sky Tower.

When we visited the gallery, one of the exhibits contained dozens of pieces of work by Gottfried Lindauer.  He was a renown portrait artist in New Zealand at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.  His portraits of Maori with their various moko facial tattoos.  We enjoyed seeing so much of his work.

Strolling in the park.
Sculpture in the park.

Saturday morning, we had time to tour around. We settled on taking the ferry from Auckland across the harbor to Devonport. We would have been hard-pressed to pick a cloudier, more drizzly day. But, it is what it is, so off we went.
There were several naval ships from around the world anchored in the harbor. They were taking part in the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary. One of the invitees, the USS Sampson was absent. The ship made the trip to New Zealand to participate; however, it volunteered to be rerouted to the South Island to assist with recovery efforts following the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake. That earthquake occurred about one week before the anniversary celebration. It would have been nice to see her. This appearance in New Zealand waters was the first time a United States ship had been welcomed for more than 30 years.

The Indonesian ship Banda Aceh, a Banjarmasin-class Landing Platform Dock.
The Chilean tall ship, Esmeralda.
The Chinese and South Korean frigates.
We got off the ferry at the Devonport pier where there are several shops and restaurants. We walked outside and saw a lot of activity in a park near the dock. There were dozens, maybe hundreds, of hand-painted and decorated wooden birds. On one of them was written, “Save the Godwits.” A godwit is a native New Zealand bird. Their numbers are declining. One estimate I saw was just 75,000 in all of New Zealand.
Save the Godwits.
Looking at each one.
A flock of wooden birds.

We continued walking around the CBD of Devonport, exploring the many shops and cafés. Near the Devonport library, there is a massive tree. Other than fake trees at Disney World, I am not sure I have ever seen a tree with such a large trunk.

Back at the pier complex, we stopped in the Devon on the Wharf restaurant. We had a leisurely lunch.

Devon On The Wharf.

After lunch, we stood in a queue to wait for our ferry back to Auckland. While there, I spotted a “no” sign. It was amazing to see one sign with so many “illegal actions.”


Back in Auckland, we prepared for our journey back home. On our way to the airport, our driver took us to One Tree Hill. It offers 360-degree views of Auckland.

View toward the airport from One Tree Hill.
The obelisk at the summit of One Tree Hill.
View toward the CBD from One Tree Hill.
Looking toward the harbor.
The marina and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
RSS Resolution, a Singapore Endurance Class tank landing ship.
The New Zealand ship Otago, a Protector class offshore patrol vessel.
A kayaker.
The Chinese frigate, Yancheng.
The Republic of Korea frigate, Chungbuk.
Fishing from the Devonport pier.
Wall art in Devonport.
A massive tree.
Sky Tower.
Sky Tower looking west along Victoria Street.
Albert Park with the Sky Tower in the background.
The fountain in Albert Park.
Fountain detail.
Albert Park and a view of the Sky Tower.
Albert Park.
Flowers in the park.
Handrail leading down to the Auckland Art Gallery.
A “guard” at the Auckland Art Gallery.
Inside the Auckland Art Gallery.
The Landing of Lieutenant-Governor Hobson at Waitangi, by Matthew Clayton (1896).
Limbo by Judy Darragh (2015).
Limbo detail.
Limbo from above.
The Civic Theatre building.
Christmas display at the Farmers Department Store building.
The intersection of Queen & Victoria.

Ahead of the Shake

Ahead of the Shake

Picton, New Zealand – November 12, 2016

Secretary of State Kerry was “wheels up” early Friday evening. That meant his visit to Christchurch, New Zealand, and the United States Antarctic program was over.
Once I got back to my hotel, the Ibis; I had dinner, a glass of wine, and prepared to check out early the next morning.
The following morning, I reported to The George Hotel at about 06:30. Some items need to be loaded in a truck and driven back to Wellington. I met a small vehicle and a driver there. In no time, the truck was packed, and we began our journey north.Our route was State Highway 1. We stopped in Cheviot to get a cup of coffee for the road. Then it was on to Oaro. Until that point, the highway was like so many roads in New Zealand. It wound its way through valleys and fields in the lovely rural, green countryside. At Oaro, State Highway 1 begins to hug the east coast of the South Island. Right next to the highway was the railway. We passed through Peketa, Kaikoura (little did I know I would grow to know a lot about this area very soon), Mangamaunu, and Clarence; before turning back inland toward Ward and Seddon.
The scenery in New Zealand is stunning at every turn. However, the view along this portion of the South Island, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was some of the most picturesque I have ever seen. On the west side of the highway were towering hills. Tectonic plate movement thrust them up from the ocean many millennia ago. I marveled at how they seemed to shoot straight up from the roadbed. At a couple of points, there were tunnels because going through the towering hills was the only way highway engineers of the past were able to make any headway.Along the east side of the highway was the rugged Pacific Ocean coast. Now and then I spotted a few seals. In fact, at one point, there was a highway sign cautioning motorists to be aware of seals straying across the road. The rocky coast also appeared to be the perfect habitat for the much-loved paua (abalone). It was all such a beautiful sight.
I remember marveling at how portions of the hillside did not come crashing down onto the road…
Our destination on the South Island was the small town of Picton. That is where we would catch the 13:00 Interislander ferry back to Wellington. I was looking forward to that part of the trip. It would be my first time crossing the Cook Strait. I was secretly hoping the crossing would not be in rough seas.

The main road through the Picton business district.
The marina at Picton Harbour.

We arrived in Picton with some time to spare. I took advantage of the time to do a little shopping for tourist trinkets and to take photos.
Waiting in the queue to show our tickets, I saw the large sign with the current water conditions in the Strait. The broad arrow of the Twister-esque game spinner stopped on the pictogram of three-wave crests. The word above that ominous pictogram read “Moderate.” Oh, how I longed for something more in the green or blue-tinted area of the sign. I began to wonder whether or not I would have to deal with seasickness. Waiting in queue allowed ample opportunity to come up will all sorts of plans to deal with the potential discomfort.

Interislander ticket booth and sea conditions.
The upper deck of the Kaiarahi. The ferry just departed Picton.
Panorama of Picton Harbour.
Sunfish sailboats in Picton Harbour.
Picton Harbour.

I tried not to let my imagination get the best of me, but I have heard horror stories of Strait crossings taking seven-plus hours or stories about running out of seasickness bags. I wanted nothing to do with either of those eventualities.
The driver drove onto the ferry with no problems. We parked the vehicle and headed up to the passenger deck. Before departing Christchurch, I bought an upgrade to my ferry ticket to the Interislander Plus, which is roughly equivalent to a first-class fare. The lounge area has comfortable seating and coffee tables. Once the ferry is underway, there is food, drink, and alcohol available. While I did partake of some of that, I did spend a lot of my time on deck taking photos of Queen Charlotte Sound.

The beach at Bob’s Bay just outside Picton Harbour.
A Picton Water Taxi.
A tourist boat and a private boat pass.
A private boat.
Te Pangu Bay.
Wider view of the king salmon farm at Te Pangu Bay.
A king salmon farm in Te Pangu Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound.
Erie Bay and Moioio Island.
The only way to get to this home is by water.
A bach along the shore.
The beauty of Queen Charlotte Sound.
The Sound as seen from Picton Harbour.
The tour boat turning around to return to Picton.
A tour boat in Picton Harbour.
At the mouth of the Sound, a police boat in the distance.
Weather station atop the hill at the mouth of the Sound.
Queen Charlotte Sound looking back toward Picton.
The mouth of the Sound. The North Island is in the distance.
View from Queen Charlotte Sound, looking across Cooks Strait toward the North Island in the distance.

The voyage from the South Island to the North Island takes roughly three hours; about one hour in Queen Charlotte Sound, about one hour on the open water in the Strait, and then one final hour to get from the opening of the Wellington Harbour to the dock.
As it turned out, the crossing was very smooth. The water in Queen Charlotte Sound and the Wellington Harbour was very calm. The Strait did have some swells, but I did not think it was bad at all. I felt no sickness whatsoever. All-in-all, it was a brilliant success.By the time we docked, drove off the ferry, and arrived at the Embassy, it was about 17:00. We had additional help there, so the unloading went very quickly. After the unloading, I grabbed a taxi and went home, arriving around 19:00.
Shortly after midnight, I was unceremoniously awakened. At first, I thought it was Leslie shaking me, trying to wake me up. Once I did wake up, I realized it was Mother Nature shaking me. I found myself sitting up in bed, feeling the whole house violently moving back and forth. Leslie has a cross collection on one of the walls in our bedroom. They were swaying to and fro like leaves in the wind. I saw things on top of our dressers scooting violently back and forth across the surface.After roughly 30 seconds, the shaking stopped. New Zealand has a service that monitors earthquakes. It updates very quickly. I suddenly realized that we had just lived through a monstrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake. When we were in Pakistan, we went through a 7.2. That extra six-tenths was enormous. The earthquake epicenter was very near Kaikoura.
Leslie was bushed, so she stayed in bed. I went downstairs to begin to try to decipher what exactly had happened. It was during that time that I discovered the magnitude was 7.8. While I was watching television and checking for information online, the emergency sirens began sounding. It took me a while, but I finally found out that it was a tsunami warning.I was shocked that our house sustained zero damage; either to the structure or the contents.
Meanwhile, we had several aftershocks that seemed they should have been classified as earthquakes. Many were well over magnitude 6.0. All totaled, there were more than 5,000 aftershocks.
I made it back to work at about 04:00 to see what damage the Embassy may have sustained. I was glad to see nothing. To be sure, I arranged for an engineering firm to do a more thorough review. They found no issues.As news reports began to filter in, I saw the damage along State Highway 1; particularly in the stretch of highway near Kaikoura. The damage was substantial. Several parts of the highway were covered with dirt, rocks, and debris. That all used to be those magnificent hills I had just seen the day before. Parts of the railway were completely swept away and across the now blocked highway. Parts of the coastal seabed were thrust up by as much as six feet. I was so thankful the earthquake did not occur as we were driving.
I was equally glad that I made it to the dock. That next day, I found out the docks were damaged. As I drove home, I saw all four Interislander ferries anchored in the harbor. I was fortunate that I and the Embassy truck were not stuck on one of those.
I really do not wish to go through another earthquake.  I have had enough.

The green hills just prior to the mouth of the Sound.
Moving toward the mouth of the Sound.
A couple of homes near the mouth of the Sound.
The south shore of the Sound.
A very nice home along the Sound.
Pencarrow lighthouses.
Baring Head Lighthouse at the point on the far right.
Baring Head Lighthouse at the entry to the channel leading to Wellington Harbour.
On the deck of the Kaiarahi.
In the midst of Cooks Strait.
Police patrol boat just outside the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound.
In the distance, the point at Jordy Rocks.
The mouth of Queen Charlotte Sound looking toward the point at Jordy Rocks.
Rock formation at the outlet of Queen Charlotte Sound across from Okukari Bay.