2016 New Zealand Trip Report-A-Thon!

Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
As usual, I will try to take you all along with us on our latest trip Down Under to the incredibly gorgeous island nation of New Zealand! My wife, Jenn grew up here and this will be my 15-16th trip down over the 23 years that I've known her. In the spirit of The Tropical Section of this message Forum, I'll try to keep this Report along the lines of all things nautical, maritime, seafood, fishing (lots of that already!), boating, ships, boats, waterfront and of course, lots of Food **** photos as the food here is incredible!

We flew out of Miami International (MIA) last Thursday and with a quick stop in Houston, we soon were aboard our Air New Zealand Boeing 777 for the nearly 15 hour non-stop flight into Auckland (AKL). We booked a "Skycouch" row which gave us three seats and a little more in the way of sleeping accomodation. Jenn did well sleeping but I never do so I had to make do with about one hour of sleep over a 45 hour period! :willynilly

Using the Lavatory on the plane for the first time, I ran right into that famous NZ sense of humor! On the wall was a graphic of a book shelf. Reading the book titles as I stood in front of the toilet, I just had to laugh! On the next trip I took my camera!

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Standing there and just to the left of my waist and groin area were titles such as:

1) Image is Everything!
2) The Insiders Guide to Nude Ski Resorts of New Zealand
3) Public Toilets of New Zealand
4) The Mile High Club: Tell-All Stories
5) My Word "That's Big"! (my favorite!)

Hadn't even landed in NZ and I already was laughing!

After we landed and made a large purchase at the Duty-Free Liquor Store, we spent an hour in line here after my checked bag did not show up at Baggage Claim! Being a pilot, I knew enough to bring a carry-on bag that was stuffed enough to carry me few a few days without my main bag so I had no worries. We got my bag the next day.

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We got the rental car (Toyota Corolla which is a perfect/small size for the somewhat smaller NZ roads and parking areas) and went for Mission # 1
> Buy me a fishing rod! I had brought a very small tackle box as I knew that I'd be going out on on our brother-in-law, Ian's new boat for some fishing off the west coast of NZ. I found a nice Shimano spinning rod combo spooled with 20lb line. Perfect! It now has a permanent spot in Ian's garage for next time!

We then went here! Wow!

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Many 'fish' that we'll never see!

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'Piper' are like our Ballyhoo and yes, many Asians in NZ will eat them! Sort of like a fellow Forum guy who when he reads this, will know who he is! Hi Ed!

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We picked up some smoked Salmon which was nice! Enjoyed that on our balcony a few times with an evening 'docktail'!

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Albacore Tuna here.....

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This is their "Kingfish", or 'Kingie' and we'll recognize it as a cousin to our Amberjack. Much better to eat and they fight hard! GREAT smoked!

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A "John Dory" which is VERY unique with a mouth like a Snook! Delicious and I've caught one here many years ago.

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We finally moved into our wonderful waterfront apartment right ON Auckland Harbour! We got the same unit as we did three years ago so I'll post up a few more photos from our first (and long!) day very soon.......

Breakfast is waiting for me on the balcony right now!! :dance
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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    With a nice breakfast just now out of the way (It's Friday morning as I write this), I'll continue on with our Day One adventure!

    Our apartment overlooks the Auckland Harbour Bridge (built in 1957, it connects the north and south sides of Auckland Harbour) as well as the National Maritime Museum and a large fuel 'tank farm'. Daily, we see a wide variety of ships, boats, sailboats, tankers, one warship, tour boats, NZCG, yachts, sportsfishermen, tugs and even an antique float plane!

    Here's the view from the living room at our large balcony/patio (3rd floor) looking over to the tank farm and the bridge to the right.

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    The peninsula that our apartments are on was built prior to the 2000 America's Cup Race when NZ had won the race and had the honor to then host the following Race. We were here during the 2000 and 2003 Races and this city went WILD back then! The buildings here have a large boardwalk for trucks, vehicles, etc to use to service the buildings, etc and it also make a nice walkway for people to walk along as we see here from this cute couple who obviously just met........

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    Here's the sailing vessel 'Ted Ashby' heading out for a sunset cruise and raising her sails.....

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    And the first of several nice sunsets that we enjoyed.......

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    For dinner that first night, we were so exhausted that we got take out burgers from a nearby place and enjoyed them on the balcony before crashing to sleep. We had left home on Thurs but because we crossed the International Date Line, we arrived on Saturday! We had a pretty 'easy' Sunday planned........

    Sunday morning, I woke up still having no clue what time zone my own body clock was in! :willynilly But a cup of coffee out on the patio as I watched the harbour come alive was very relaxing!

    Things got very busy for a weekend day as the William C Daldy actually left her own dock for a day-long tour right as the 1940-50s DeHavilland Beaver sight-seeing float plane was also departing! As you'll see, this harbour hosts a LOT of very different vessels, all vying for the same water! While on the water, the float plane is a 'boat' so we've seen the pilots deal with wakes, other vessels, etc while ON the water!

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    The William C. Daldy was built in Scotland in 1935 and she served faithfully in Auckland Harbour until 1977. Jenn's Dad spent 16 years as a 'longshoreman' loading and unloading ships here in Auckland so no doubt, he knew the Daldy very well!

    Here's an interesting history of the small tug that we can see from the patio here.

    http://www.nzmaritimeindex.org.nz/nzmdaldy.htm

    Finally, the Beaver was lined up to take off, right next to the Harbour Bridge. She's powered by a 450 hp Pratt & Whitney radial engine. A GREAT sound at full take-off power!

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    Climbing out.....

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    After about 30 minutes, the rumble of the radial engine signals her return.......

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    A sharp left turn to line up for landing.........

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    And a nice touch down....... Sure wish we had the time to do this tour!

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  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,355 Admiral
    Awesome trip Gary, looking forward to more
  • MikeOMikeO Posts: 111 Deckhand
    Nice pics! my home town

    p.s Piper taste way better than any ballyhoo :wink
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    More of the pics right out in front of the apartment.

    Catamarans are very popular here and make for great tour boats. We see this guy every morning.

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    Nice looking fishing boat. Reminds me of a sleek version of my 30 foot Grady-White......

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    Wearing life jackets is very big here as you can see. Five guys at least in little "Dorothy"!

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    This is what I love to see! A working fishing boat. With that spool on the stern, I'm guessing a long-line fishing boat.

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    I think that the 'Eight Bells' has stabilizers that drop down and they did not waste any time dropping them into the water, yet they are miles and miles away from any potential fishing waters since we are so far up/in the Harbour.

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    If you are a fan of Tuna Wars, you'll recognize the huge blue bin on deck from a boat or two on that TV show. Notice the smaller, stacked bins as well. I'm guessing that the fish get un-hooked, tossed in the small bins, then dumped into the big one.

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    With the skipper's head sticking out the top, I'm guessing that this is a 1/2 scale of a much larger boat!

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    Like the USCG, the NZCG loves their inflatables! This is a BIG one!

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    With many islands around the Hauraki Gulf (and the Auckland Harbour area) Car/Passenger ferries are popular. Jenn and I used one with our rental car three years ago. In 45 minutes, I'll be aboard another big ferry to take us over to Waiheke Island. The car ferries, you drive straight on, then drive straight off!

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    This is an old, gorgeous, American built Chris-Craft, the 'Skipper CJ'.

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    The guy on the stern seems to be enjoying his ride on this older boat!

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    More later! Off for another boat ride, a nice lunch with family on an island and a visit to a winery!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Okay! Time to go FISHING!

    Our bro-in-law, Ian took delivery of his new boat last year, the 'Tranmere' which is named for an 1830s cargo ship that in 1831, was the first ship to sail over from Australia and enter the Manukau Harbour which is on the west coast of NZ, very near Auckland which runs out into the Pacific side of NZ.

    In this map, you can see the Manukau Harbour and near the bottom left is a small peninsula near 'Huia' and that's Cornwallis where Ian and Jenn's sister live. Our waterfront apartment is right above the black "K" of Auckland. LOTS of water to explore here!

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    Exiting out of the Manukau takes local, current knowledge as there is a large sand/rock bar that spreads across and just outside the inlet. There is a south and a north channel to exit out and get beyond the 'bar'. There has been loss of life here going back to the 1800s where a ship broke up with the largest loss of life in NZ history! Life jackets are worn and a call to the NZCG with vessel name, number, POB and which channel will be used to exit the harbour. A call once past the bar is also done.

    Here's Ian's boat. He had it more or less custom made and the factory used it in this promo video! Ian designed the davit arm/winch and that's shown in the video. More on that in a few more days! Tranmere is about 25+ feet long and is powered with an F-250 Yamaha. Small cabin, port-a-potty, live well, hardtop, big bait board, nice seats and lots of rod holders! Very comfortable and nice riding. Big Lowrance multi-function display unit with a feature that not many of of us have seen!

    Ian's boat is the black one........

    With the alarm set for 0545 on Monday, we loaded up and made the 45 minute drive out to Cornwallis. It would be a 'double date' with Jenn and I and Ian and Jenn's younger sister, Delwyn. A beautiful morning awaited and it was time to load the boat and make the short run down to the beach for launching.

    Yes, the Lowrance has a 'back-up cam'! Ian can use it to see if the pee hole is clogged and also to make sure that the engine is not too low in the water when launching off the beach. Very handy for his purposes!

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    They have built their house onto the side of a steep hill and this is why Ian uses a tractor to tow the boat around! To help out with loading the new boat, he's designed and built a small dock area that wraps around the stern of the boat! Notice the nice patio up on the house! That gets a LOT of use!

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    The tractor launching the boat. Ian will get it afloat and then either park the tractor/trailer near the beach, or run it up to the house which is about one block away. We idled out until he walked out and hopped in.

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    Ian has a winch up front and uses that to help out cars, etc when they can't pull their boats out.

    Getting ready for the run out the inlet....... Nice enough day?

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    He's got the south channel exit dialed up on the chartplotter.

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    Gorgeous ride out.....

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    The inlet to the Manakau Harbour. To the right and the left are normally called "the heads" as you can see......

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    The Manukau is very lightly populated and since the inlet can be nasty, not many boaters want to deal with it. This makes for GREAT fishing as there is very little pressure outside the inlet!

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    We ran out about 9-10 miles and were in about 150' as Ian had done well there on their 'Snapper' recently. Delwyn stayed pretty busy the whole time!

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    Ian has several 'Newell' rods with Accurate reels spooled with 50lb braid on them. The rods only have one guide that places the line inside the rod where it exits out the tip in a trumpet type tip! For rigs he uses a double hook dropper rig with a good size weight at the bottom. Me, being old-school, still used my new spinner with a single hook but I used his double hook rod a few times.

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    Which still put some fish in the box!

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    Feeling a few 'taps' on the rod, I handed it to Jenn and said, "Here, hold this for me for a minute"!

    'The Heads' in the background.........

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    Delwyn brought a bacon/egg dish that kept the energy level up! It was tough to eat as the action was very steady. Grab a bite when you can!

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    Delwyn coaching her older sister!

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    Which resulted in a double header of a Kawhai (Ka-why) and a Snapper!

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    Delwyn and I bagged a pair of Snapper!

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    Looks like a hand coming out behind the boat's 'privacy curtain'! Anybody seen Jenn lately? :rotflmao

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    Ian said, "Better get the net"...........

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    A very nice (but not huge as they get up around 45-50 lbs!) Snapper and I think that this was the largest of the 37-38 that we brought home that day.

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    His shirt says "My sense of humor earns me Countless uneasy stares"! :rotflmao

    Delwyn and I both had cutoffs and her Snapper we were not sure if it was one of the dolphin/mammals around the boat or the Mako Shark that showed up a moment later. My Kawhai was definetly a shark cut off but her Snapper looks more 'chewed' which is not like a shark cutoff.

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    Ian tossed the chomped Snapper back and this bird wanted it so BAD but the size befuddled the bird!

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    I have only seen one Mako Shark in my life and that was a few year ago, in this same area. They are a gorgeous BLUE! Could not get a photo....... :banghead

    Here's the perfect result with the double rigs...... two fat, legal Snappers to put in the box......

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    With a near limit of Snapper in the boat, we pulled the anchor and headed for home........ More to this day coming soon!
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,355 Admiral
    What a cool fishing trip G, Ian looks a lot like Edk in the pics, real life? How are bag limits/sizes in NZ, does Ian think they are appropriate or too strict? How's enforcement there? Why are metal boats so popular there, cheaper than fiberglass, more durable? Other reasons?
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    I'll get back with the answers but I know that he wants a metal boat because of launching off the beach. When coming in, he gently runs her aground to hop off and that holds the boat in place as well.

    It's Monday morning now and we fly out to go down to Queenstown today for the next week. I hope that we can get out on the lake there for some trout and/or salmon fishing!
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,723 Captain
    I'm fully subscribed to another G-Mon Travel Tale. Incredible array of boats to be seen AND some great fishing to boot.:applause:beer
  • JonsredfishinJonsredfishin Posts: 1,307 Officer
    I must meet that woman!
    One president put a man on the moon.
    Another president put a man in the Lady's bathroom.
  • privateer19privateer19 Posts: 362 Deckhand
    as always just an awesome report, well done.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Thanks guys......... wait until I get to the Queenstown photos! We flew down here yesterday and WOW is it ever gorgeous!

    Regarding the quotas, limits, metal boats, etc, here'w what Ian wrote back....

    "We have 3 quotas in NZ; Recreational, Commercial and Maori. All are carefully counted and regularly adjusted up and down according to fish availability. In addition to full time Fishery officers who are present on all big commercial boats we have guys like me called 'Honory' fisheries officers [HFO] who monitor localitys, all officers have the power to confiscate anything used in the breaking of fishing regulations.........so cars, boats, dive gear, fishing tackle are all regularly confiscated until a Court Hearing when they will usually be forfeited to the Crown. We also have the power of 'instant fines' typically $250 for an undersize fish or similar.

    We call alloy boats 'tinnys' they are not really much cheaper than glass. Decent boat ramps are few and far between and this means dragging hulls on sand and rock........
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,661 Captain
    subscribed. love the details, history, pictures and wit. thanks and look forward to each installment. rick steves has nothing, absolutely nothing, on you.

    ***THE GUY IN MY AVATAR IS BLAIR WICKSTROM***

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Thanks guys.......... the Internet here in the Queenstown apartment is not 100% stable but I'll take another whack at moving the story along.....

    Here's what the 'chilly bin' looked like on the way back in. The fish come up already a bit cold so not much ice is needed and Ian only uses frozen, plastic ice blocks and then sprays some more cold sea water in for better chilling. They actually have 'salt ice' for sale here and another Kiwi guy went crazy when I told him that I use fresh water ice to chill my fish! :willynilly I had never heard of salt ice before on any of my previous 16 trips to NZ so that was a new one for me! Jenn said, "Maybe there's a business for us to start back home!"

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    Approaching the beach at Cornwallis, we get a great view of Ian and Delwyn's house on the hill. They do have a house in front but the hill is so steep that we look down onto their roof, well below us! Ian built the house around 2000 and it's gorgeous.

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    Hooking up the boat. The tractor is a 4-cylinder and has a powerful winch that yanks the boat out no sweat.

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    Going up the steeeeep driveway with the neighbors Rec Vehicle in their drive. It's not uncommon in NZ to have two 'lots' with only a driveway along one side to get to the house in back! Ian says that the current boat is about as wide as he'll ever be able to get up that driveway!

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    The sisters........... What a view from the patio above! You exit off the boat with the dive ladder at the stern!

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    I sent Ian a 'Bubba Blade' fish knife mainly because he loves American redneck humor and I used it for the hour that it took us to clean fish. The fish table is out the back of the carport area. He also has a spring-fed water tank/cistern for the house water. Fully filtered and it has a LOT of pressure!

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    Before I headed for the shower, Ian showed me his 'air rifle'! Yeah, that's 3000 psi of 'air'! At 30 meters, I hit the skinny target the first two times so maybe I need to take up hunting! I pretended the target was a pesky Iguana about to poop on my dock!

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    After my shower, it was time to hit the patio with a cold beer and enjoy the view!

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    It's sparsely populated out there but somehow neighbors still show up at their place for a drink! We ended up having three neighbors stay for dinner that night!

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    But first, Delwyn and Ian set up some snacks like this fresh Snapper Sashimi! Margueritas and stuffed/small peppers as well!

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    All with a great view!

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    I am fully to blame for NOT taking a photo of the table when we sat down to eat! Jenn and Delwyn made up a huge batch of Jenn's Caribbean Fish Stew with nice chunks of the fresh Snapper from that day's catch. It looked like this and the flavor is incredible!

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    Slept great that night out at Cornwallis and Ian invited me back out the next day for a 'job' that he needed a bit of help with. A very interesting, one-hour back on the Manukau Harbour once again!













    Ian designed and installed this heavy rope to prevent the boat/tractor from sliding backwards in the event of rain or a wet driveway as he's already 'seen' that happen once! This gets hooked up asap!

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  • cprcpr Posts: 9,292 Admiral
    cool

    :thumbsup
    "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." F. Scott Fitzgerald

    "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr
  • MikeOMikeO Posts: 111 Deckhand
    Salt ice is amazing and I can't believe it hasn't been sold here in the states!
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,355 Admiral
    the safety line on the tractor is hilarious, what does Ian do for a living?
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    dpdash wrote: »
    the safety line on the tractor is hilarious, what does Ian do for a living?

    He had a successful security biz (homes and businesses) that he sold a few years ago.

    Even with all four wheels/tires locked, he only needed to see the whole rig slowly slide backwards on a slick driveway into some heavy bushes to come up with the safety line idea!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Whew! Sorry for the delay! My laptop locked up the last two days in Queenstown and it took me a few days to get it all sorted out once we got back home on Monday evening....... :willynilly

    Sooooo............ We spent the night at Cornwallis at Delwyn and Ian's place that night after a day of fishing and after a full breakfast (thanks Delwyn!) the next morning, Ian loaded the boat for the day's 'different' kind of fishing! He's a part-time/volunteer NZ Fisheries Officer but has been hired to collect mussel samples from Manukau Harbor. Remember in the boat's video that they showed the guys pulling in a lobster trap on the davit? That was Ian's personal design and it was specifically designed and constructed to pull a special 'dredge' across the bottom to collect wild mussels.

    So, off we went, back down the driveway, headed for the launching beach next to the Cornwallis Wharf!

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    We headed across to an area where Ian had a few lines set up in his chartplotter to drag the dredge. I was tasked with holding a straight and slow course but with a good tide running, I did a poor job! After a few minutes (depth was about 35 feet) it was time to pull the dredge up to see what we had 'caught'.

    Here, you can see his custom winch, davit and pulley. The dredge bucket is connected by a long length of chain and heavy rope.

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    A few wraps around the pulley, engage the motor and up she comes! Somewhat similar to the boats on Deadliest Catch.

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    The dredge bucket is designed to lay down on the bottom and scoop up the mussels. Of course it scoops up lots of other things as well! On the first pass we only got 6 mussels, but on my second terribly driven pass down the line, we scooped up a mother load of about two dozen mussels! That one was also filled with a lot of rock and it was all we both could do to get the bucket up onto the gunnel!

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    Everything but the mussels that he keeps gets tossed back but a shiny mussel shell and a huge scallop shell might accidently now be sitting on display here in our Key Largo home....... right below a huge, detailed, beautiful map of New Zealand!

    We put the mussels on the bait board and then went through them looking for the nicer samples, cleaned them up a bit, tossing the other things that came up, etc. The water temp must also be noted (22.5C that day).

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    You can see what a nice morning it was that day as I have a go at some clean up.

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    After less than 30 minutes we had enough samples and headed back to the beach at Cornwallis......

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    Ian showed me a few really nice, quiet, isolated homes on the south shore of Manakau Harbour on the way back in. Good view from this one?

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    I believe that this one is the home of an older woman who has lived here since the '40s. She's written a book about her life on the Manakau, with some very interesting photos! Sharks in the Manakau? Over 10 footers and Ian told me that Great Whites will come in here to spawn! :hairraiser

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    We had the boat back on the trailer in under one hour! But it was a very fun and very interesting hour! We offered to drop off the special bag of samples to the Shipping/Courier office as they must be air-shipped right away to Nelson and the Fisheries offices/labs there. There, they are tested and inspected for pollutants, health of the mussel, size, etc. We spent a few wonderful nights in Nelson during our trip out in 2009. It's a quiet sea-side village at the top of the South Island.

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    More fishing to come!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Sorry for the delay! :willynilly

    Okay, so that Tuesday was Mussel Day and Weds we just hung out down near the waterfront in Auckland but on Thursday, the marine weather looked just good enough for us to get out past the Manukau Bar for a morning of fishing, this time with Ian's friend Alex.

    We launched off the beach for the third time in four days and it was a bit lumpier as the bar was a bit roughed up but we took the usual south channel out.

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    We did the same thing in the same area as two days before but the Snapper were few and far between. We did get plenty of Kahawai (Ka-why) and they fight as hard as a fish twice their size! Jump too! Loads of fun on lighter tackle but not great table fare. They are however pretty nice smoked and Ian just happened to have a home made smoker back at the house! It might not be this T-shirt but Ian was wearing one that week that said: "If I were a Jedi Knight, I would use The Force in totally inappropriate manners." :rotflmao

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    We pecked away at the Snapper but kept enough Kahwhai for a big smoke-up.

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    He splits them and guts them on the boat and as soon as we pulled back up to the house, he got the smoker going.

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    I took this about an hour into the smoke-up. Big enough?

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    While that was going, Delwyn and Jenn had a nice lunch ready for us! Ribs, chicken satay, Thai Beef Salad.... I think! Totally UN-PC, but Ian's shirt here says: "Save the Whales, eat the Japanese!" I swear, he has a closet full! :dance

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    Later that afternoon, back at the waterfront apartment, Auckland Harbour was visited by this small warship from the Royal Australian Navy! He smartly pulled into the fuel dock across from us with all hands on deck, fore and aft!

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    The Gascoyne is a 172 foot long minesweeper and she's made of fiberglass to prevent magnetic mines from detonating! Coincidentally, we had seen a fiberglass Royal Navy minesweeper come limping back into Portsmouth Harbour on the southern coast of England when we visited there two years ago!

    The Gascoyne has a crew of 40 and has a rapid-fire 30mm cannon and two .50 caliber machine guns. Amazingly, she's only powered with a single diesel.

    Ian sent some Snapper fillets home with us and Jenn **** up some Fried Snapper Fillets on a fresh green salad with a nice glass of New Zealand wine (for her) and shockingly, a Bacardi and Diet Coke with lime for me!

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    What a wonderful evening dining alfresco out on the patio in the cool evening air!

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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Got up the next morning and enjoyed a great breakfast back out on the patio. Leftover piece of Snapper, egg on toast, potato slices, mushroom and a nice cup of coffee.......... nice way to start the day!

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    There was a special display at the Auckland Museum celebrating the 75th anniversary of Air New Zealand and since I had also never visited the Museum, that was on the agenda for that day.

    I have always told Jenn that the airline part of aviation is a 'small world' and while we were dating in 1993 in Orlando I was flying an old Boeing 737 out of there on charters. Tail number: N453AC. Well, here's where good old N453AC started her airline days! I flew this 737 on my FAA check ride to get my Boeing 737 Type Rating from the FAA and then a few months later, I started dating a girl from New Zealand!

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    She ended up getting chopped up in Arizona in the 1990s........ :cry

    At the Museum, we also learned about the local, native Maori culture. I was amazed to learn that because of NZ's remoteness, that it was one of the last major land masses to be discovered by man! Eastern Polynesians arrived by boats just over 800 years ago!

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    This open canoe is about 75 feet long and could hold about 200 people! I wonder how many did NOT make it to New Zealand!

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    This shows the large volcano named Mt Rangitoto and it's a nearly perfect, circular volcano that marks the basic entrance to Auckland's natural harbour. The smaller volcano in front is North Head and it's in the suburb of Devonport. There were gun emplacements built there in case of an invasion during WW 2. We saw both of these much closer the next day........

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    A quick phone call to Jenn's brother, Grant had us crossing the big harbour Bridge that was built in 1957 that connects the north and south shores of the greater Auckland area. We picked up some libations and soon were sitting out on Grant & Deb's wonderful patio with snacks and drinks.

    From the patio we could see the Sky Tower Casino (with a revolving restaurant at the top like the Space Needle in Seattle!), the Auckland Harbour Bridge and in the background the volcano named Mt Eden. Jenn, Grant, Delwyn and their folks grew up and lived nearly in the shadow of Mt Eden! Yes! I have walked to the top of Mt Eden! The suburb of Mt Eden is a growing and vibrant little piece of Auckland and Jenn and I had a great breakfast there on Day One.

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    From Grant's patio, they look right down on Little Shoal Bay. They also can easily tell when the tide has gone out! Tides run about 9-11 feet here so it's not uncommon to see sailboats lying in the mud! :hairraiser

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    In one of the first pubs that I visited here in 1993, the bartender noticed that my beer was empty and pointed to it and said, "Looks like the tide's gone out mate"! We now use that expression a lot at home.......

    Tide's gone out at Little Shoal Bay too!

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    Grant works from home so he has a terrible view from his office!

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    Next up, more boat rides and an island visit!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Planned a month or so in advance of our trip, all three kids, spouses and one daughter and her boyfriend all met up at The Ferry Building in downtown Auckland to take the same ferry boat over to the beautiful island of Waiheke.

    The Ferry Building is located right dowtown Auckland and the ferry boat pulled in at Matiatia Bay on the far left end of the island. Rangitoto is the circular island right outside the harbour.

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    Before we shoved off on the big ferry boat, I of course politely knocked on the door labeled: "No Admittance Crew Only". Next thing I know the Captain and I are discussing marine electronics, etc! In my old age, I have found that if you are polite and respectful that you can 'see' things that you normally are not allowed to see!

    Notice the Lat/Lon!

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    Of course, I take the highest, most forward seating area! Pulling away from The Ferry Building....... built in 1909-1912!

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    This is a Hilton Hotel and was originally built in the late 1990s for the 2000 America's Cup Race that was hosted by the previous winning nation, New Zealand! Not uncommon now to see a full sized cruise ship tied up here. Our building was right behind this one.

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    Auckland Harbour is a very busy 'working port' as you see here. Jenn's Dad was a longshoreman here for 16 years, loading and unloading the ships. Tied alongside to this older ship is the smaller fuel ship that we saw tied up at the fuel dock a lot across from our apartment. He takes on a load of fuel and then delivers it right to the various ships so that they can load/unload at the same time! :banana

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    This shipping company is out of Norway and they handle the heavy stuff!

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    Auckland: "The City of Sails"

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    It was overcast but in the background is the home port to The Royal New Zealand Navy located in Devonport. A total of just 11 ships and 8 helicopters. I asked a NZ Navy guy why their navy was so small and he replied, "We are so far from the rest of the world that who would want us?" Their Army is quite stout (with Special Forces equal to our SEALS, the British SAS, etc). The NZ Air Force is now transports, trainers and helicopters. No offensive aircraft at all.

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    Heading toward Waiheke, we pass Mt Victoria, North Head (located in the very quaint village of Devonport) and in the background Mt Rangitoto.

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    Looking back at the Central Business District (or 'CBD' as it's called).

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    A Saturday with good winds so it was busy out on the water. This guy cut right across our bow... :nono

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    With North Head off to our port side....... the old home defense radio base visible at the top.

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    I should have stood up to take this one but I have never seen so much of a boat's bottom while it was still in the water! :hairraiser

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    Bean Rock Lighthouse right at the entrance to the Harbour. Built in 1871 the lighthouse keeper from 1909-1911 would row out from Devonport and his son would use a signal light to keep in touch with him from the family's house! It's still operational but solar powered now......

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    A 'fast' ferry on her way back into the harbour with good 'ol Rangi in the background!

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    Okay you blow-boaters here! Who's got the right-of-way?????

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    A closer view of Rangitoto. She last erupted about 550 years ago and is about 850 feet high. She is a main landmark that can be seen for many miles....... You can take a tour boat over and get to the top........

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    This is a pretty, older sailboat. At least one of you guys here knows how much I hate to take spray in my face so I was laughing when I took this! It took about 5 shots to time the spray right!

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    We ended up taking the white boat back a few hours after this.....

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    After the 11 mile ride, we entered the calm and very beautiful Matiatia Bay....... Rangi still visible in the background.....

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    A pair of beautiful old girls........ still looking great......

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    We took a van up to the small village of Oneroa (own-e-row-a). We wandered around there and then had a wonderful lunch up on a hill looking out to the South Pacific Ocean. Our van driver back to the wharf was hilarious! He was a graduate of the University of Rhode Island!! FULL of stories and he kept us laughing the whole time. :rotflmao

    Back in Auckland that evening, we only had one full day left before we hopped back on an Air New Zealand jet for the second half of our adventure! On that last day we packed and had the family over for a big 'feed' at the waterfront apartment......

    Get ready for some 'post card' quality photos from Queenstown coming up soon!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    It was finally time to make the move from Auckland on the North Island down to gorgeous Queenstown deep into the mountainous part of the lower South Island. I had never been to Queenstown and Jenn had not been there in 30 years so we both were excited to be spending a week here.

    About 600 miles for the nonstop flight.

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    I got a good seat on our Air New Zealand Airbus A-320.

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    With the gear coming up, we saw the DHL ramp at AKL airport. Jenn was once a SVP for DHL-USA.

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    Just south of the airport and climbing out. Lots of farm land. NZ is about the size of California with a population of just over 4 million with a million people in the greater Auckland area. Oh yeah, and the sheep population is over 60 million! :willynilly

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    As we passed just to the west of the town of New Plymouth (Jenn's Dad's home town), we got a great view of Mt Egmont sticking herself above the clouds! She last blew in 1854 and is just under 8,300 feet high. You can see some snow in the crater right at the top!

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    "It's Always Cookie Time" on Air New Zealand!

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    We descended into the mountains north of the airport with some twists and turns to get set up to land. This Internet photo looks back at the mountains that we weaved our way through.

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    Yep, this is right out my window!

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    I got a bit of the top of the engine to give some perspective of how close we were to the mountain! I'd LOVE to fly a jet into there!

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    And a nice landing on the somewhat short (6,200 feet long) runway. No wide-body types in here and no night operations either. We had to do a 180 at the end because there is no taxiway there and this looks back to the approach end of the runway.

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    We grabbed the Toyota Corrolla rental and were soon off to make the 4 mile drive into town and and to our apartment looking down on the main harbour in QTown. Jenn did an incredible job organizing the flights, car rentals and both apartments!

    We dumped our bags and went right back down to the waterfront and CBD that all revolves around the wharf there. Jenn was determined to have some 'Bluff' oysters because they come from a local town named Bluff and they are delicious and big! Well, we found them and an adult beverage that first afternoon!

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    I had a beer called "Killerrabbit Double IPA" with about a 7.5% alcohol content and Jenn got talked into this monster that just might be meant for four people!

    I walked out onto the wharf to take some pics and saw these guys high above us! They 'launch' by running off the top on the nearby, 1,100 foot hill! Yes, one guy is upside down!

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    I saw this boat there as well and he must have had a serious leak to have that pump on the deck! :hairraiser

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    There's a cute, blond Kiwi girl sitting in there somewhere, waiting for her Bluff oysters! We enjoyed this place a few times......

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    As Ian mentioned, 'tinny' boats will put up with beaching far better than our plastic boats.

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    We saw this guy and another one every day. One passenger and one driver. Turns out that this passenger was from Ft Lauderdale and it was not me! We just called these guys the 'shark' as they were quite noisy........

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    And then........... the majestic Queen of Lake Wakatipu made her grand entrance back to the wharf! I had read about the TSS Earnslaw and was lucky to catch her docking up. More about this incredible lady later!

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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Just heard from Ian. While dredging for more mussels, they were surrounded by a pod of Orcas! He's going to send some pics and I'll post them here!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    We had the pleasure of seeing the TSS (Twin Screw Steamer) Earnslaw every day that we were in Queenstown. She still works up to 14 hours a day, 11 months a year!

    She was built in 1912 and still has her twin original, locomotive-type steam driven engines. She's loaded twice a day with about 7 tons of coal. At nearly 160 feet long and with a beam of about 25 feet, she can hold 350 passengers. In her early days of hauling cargo all around Lake Wakatipu, she could hold 1,500 sheep and 30 head of cattle!

    Her engines burn one ton of coal an hour yet only produce 250 horsepower each! Two crew shovel the coal into the two fires and wear sunglasses because the fires are so bright! Top cruising speed? About 11 knots.

    In the 1970's she was saved and retrofitted out as a tour/passenger boat. They opened the ceiling of the engine room and walking around the interior decks is HOT! The boat was built in nearby Dunedin, taken apart, trucked to the lake and then riveted (70,000 rivets!) together!

    She runs a few trips out and back to a working farm that has turned the main home into a large restaurant, "Walter Peak". Wow, two fun boat rides, a huge, open grill dinner/buffet AND a farm display of sheep shearing and watching the well trained sheep dogs round up and herd sheep into their pens??? Yep, we booked that!

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    Here's what we saw each day from our apartment looking down onto the entrance to the main harbour at Queenstown. She'd usually toot her steam whistle, announcing that she's entering the harbour....... She's returning from an early trip to Walter Peak.

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    We hopped on the Earnslaw as soon as we could that afternoon for our 6pm departure to Walter Peak and I quickly banged out some photos before the crowds got in the way. This looks down into the Engine Room. Having been running all day, the HEAT was rising!

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    I'm guessing that 'HP' means High Pressure.

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    The small Repair Room.

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    Interior seating. I missed it but they had a guy playing a grand piano in here (near the stern) with a lot of people singing along!

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    One exterior companionway.

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    A small Museum under the foredeck........

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    The shiny vertical cylinder is the smoke stack. The stairs to the right lead up to the helm. The doors on either side lead to the open air foredeck. I did not dare touch the stack!

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    I quickly planted Jenn on a bench seat on the foredeck and ran around taking some photos! The upper helm area while still docked up.

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    A lower helm, directly below the upper helm.

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    With a full head of steam, we are underway! The CBD of Queenstown would have been behind the boat, to the left.

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    The engine room air intakes and the CBD directly astern.

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    We steamed across the narrow part of this finger of Lake Wakatipu, made a gentle turn to starboard and cruised just offshore to make the 7 mile trip to Walter Peak. Jenn's up there somewhere!! I had walked up to the main/upper helm where they was a nice viewing area.

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    Coming up! Docking up at Walter Peak and an amazing dinner! Vegans, turn back now!! We'll be talking about MEAT!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Of course, I end up at the helm area but the skipper was giving his tour 'chat' to the folks. We learned that this 'lake' is over 1,400 feet deep at it deepest! Temp runs steady at about 53 degrees which must be why I never saw a Dive Shop! :nono

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    We ran just offshore in this section/finger of Lake Wakatipu and up ahead I saw a 'collapsed' portion of this near perfect 'dike'.

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    Mini-glacier at some point in time? (There are glaciers in this area!) Melting snow, water erosion over centuries?

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    After a nice, smooth ride of just under an hour, we neared the wharf at Walter's Peak. We later found out that the 'crew' on the boat also worked as waiters, etc during dinner!

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    This place turned out to be beautiful........ and very secluded.

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    Getting ready to toss the shot line to the crew on the dock. This smaller line has a 'monkey's fist' knot at the end to help the crew to accurately toss the line to those on the dock. This smaller line is used to then pull the main/larger dock line down to the crew on the dock. When I mentioned the monkey's fist knot to this guy he laughed and said, "If it hits someone on the head, it will knock them out cold!" You can see it hanging just below his right hand.......

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    Here, you can see the dark shot line on the deck and the main line on this single piling. It gave out a loud 'groan' when the weight of the boat snapped the line tight!! :hairraiser

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    "Let's get going and get a good table!"

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    Nice evening........ temp about 65.

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    As I did on the boat, I ran around to snap some clean photos before the crowds got in the way. Our table for two was just to the right so we had some great 'people watching' which we love! This is the MEAT area! :hail

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    In another room, the salad, veggies, appetizers and desserts....... It was all very neat and very organized.

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    Two lines on opposite sides of the big grill area, both identical.

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    We were LUCKY in that our main chef was from Argentina because those people know their meats and how to grill!

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    On the extensive menu were several seafood appetizers, different breads, salads, veggies and for meats we had fish, chicken, beef ribs, several types of lamb, steak and beef. I tried them all and all were great! Creamy, home made vanilla ice cream for dessert!

    We had a loud mouth American couple on one side of us and a nice quiet Canadian couple on the other table next to us. The Canucks wanted to know ALL about our election, Trump, etc and I just kept quiet!

    We watched a bit of the evening sheep show and we boarded early to sit back up on the foredeck and just enjoy the nice breeze and the full moon that was appearing. What a wonderful boat ride we had back into Queenstown! This was one of the highlights of our week in Queenstown and we are so glad that we made it happen!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Jenn had pre-booked us in for a wonderful lunch at a local winery. We opted for the "Chef's Menu" and we asked that they 'lean' towards seafood! Each course was a surprise and the food was incredible. We started with a gorgeous morning out on the patio. The Earnslaw docks off to the left, behind some trees...... right downtown.

    New Zealand
    'Land of the Long White Cloud'

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    And on the way out of QTown we followed a fisherman. Looks like he likes gold spoons but might want an engine!

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    Gorgeous winery........ Jenn's on the patio off to the left somewhere.

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    After a light 'starter' we got this lovely bowl of Mussels and Clams with warm bread and fresh butter. The broth was amazing and the bread soaked it up nicely!

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    As soon as our waitress said, "The Chef has pan fried a nice fillet of Gurnard.........." I smiled! :dance Gurnard is a very unique and strange looking fish but it is delicious! Here's one that we caught on Ian's old boat in 2009. They do not fight hard and have almost a triangular shaped body, but what a wonderful flavor!

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    It came with a side of cherry tomatoes.......

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    After lunch, we drove into the old mining town of 'Arrowtown' which has enjoyed a growth over the last few decades.

    More Kiwi humour.......

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    From Arrowtown, we went UP and made it (nearly) to the top of Coronet Peak which is just under 4,000 feet above sea level. During the winter, it is a popular ski area.....

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    Great views and I was glad that my camera has a 30 power zoom.

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    Jenn got good at running downhill in 2nd gear and near the bottom was a warning sign---> Please Test Your Brakes!

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    A gorgeous valley......

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    Next, time to go to 'Paradise'!
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,133 AG
    Awesome trip! Keep the photos coming!
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  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    Cyclist wrote: »
    Awesome trip! Keep the photos coming!

    Thanks........ I literally wore my camera out and had to buy a new one in Queenstown because our last full day in NZ was the main reason that we planned to come down when we did!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,123 AG
    We had a bit of a 'schedule' in Auckland but in QTown we had decided to just go with the flow. Our dinner cruise was booked that day. Only the last full day did we HAVE to be somewhere so one morning while having coffee, tea and a bit of breakfast on the patio I suggested that we take the scenic drive up alongside a finger of Lake Wakatipu to the tiny village of 'Glenorchy'. Beyond that, we could actually visited 'Paradise'!

    If you saw The Lord of the Rings, The Last Samurai, Chronicles of Narnia or Vertcal Limit, many scenes were filmed in the greater Queenstown area and some up around and near Glenorchy. It's so UN-populated, that filmakers can get real shots with no power lines, jet contrails, etc for wide and majestic shots.

    Pulling out of QTown we headed up the narrow, 2-lane road for the 30 mile drive up to Glenorchy. Part of the time the road was high above the lake, other times we were right down at lake level. It was scenic and fun! Notice that 'Paradise' is above Glenorchy.

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    We had nice weather and I had a fully charged camera! It wasn't long before Jenn heard, "Pull over!!!"

    Here she is, returning from a morning run up to Walter Peak!

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    Almost mirror-like........

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    Looking down from about 80-90 feet above...... clean water.....

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    One lone boat......

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    On the outskirts of Glenorchy we stopped at Mrs. Wooley's General Store for a snack, a coffee and a tea. You can buy anything from a hand ax to baby food here!

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    Nice old truck serving as a Gate Guard......

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    And the Official Glenorchy Marina!

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    Time to head out of town to go find Paradise!

    Baaaaaaaaaaa.........

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    We soon ran out of paved road (called 'sealed' roads in NZ) and ended up on a packed, gravel road (called 'metal' roads). Everybody go slow and suck it in here!!

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    Not uncommon to find one-lane bridges far from villages or populations........

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    Getting tight and getting dark on the narrow road! Not quite to Paradise!

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    There's a sign post up ahead! We made it!

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    I wonder if they get mail delivered?

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    On the way back, deep in the woods, we had no clue how this one big tree had been ripped up by its roots.... :huh

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    A pretty long, one-lane bridge......

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    The drive up/back was a blast with many fantastic views........
  • privateer19privateer19 Posts: 362 Deckhand
    there are several shots there that should be post cards or calendar pics. well done.
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