Vacation 2016

New Zealand, North and South Islands

Perth, Western Australia
and a visit with
Peter and Brownie Dickens
at White Gate Cottage




Air New Zealand preps a 777-300 for us, and 250 new friends


Auckland, New Zealand, Sky Tower, 10 km ahead
Note, steering wheel on wrong side of car and
cars on the wrong side of the road.


Auckland, from our hotel room


Looking toward the business district


The Sky Tower, as seen from our hotel room


Tiny apartments, as seen from our hotel room filled with students from Asia and India


Along the waterfront, an excellent martime museum


Sleeping Beauty, catching up on a few time zones
We lost a day crossing the date-line going west


The next morning we took a cab to Mount Eden.


Hauraki Gulf, from Mount Eden


Frankfurt, Germany, is 18170 km in this direction.


Our tour started with a visit to the Sky Tower


Auckland, from the top of the Sky Tower
Mount Eden on the horizon, left


Mount Eden


Harbor View


Glass panel in the Floor is strong enough to step on
if you are brave enough to try it


The tower shadow makes a fine sundial


The shadow has grown shorter and moved noticeably to the left in 15 minutes


The Accidental Tourists in Auckland


The view from 220 meters (722 feet) up.


The kiwi is a unique and curious bird: it cannot fly, has loose, hair-like feathers, strong legs and no tail.
It's the national icon of New Zealand and unofficial national emblem.
The Kiwi Bird is best viewed in a museum


Air New Zealand retired this 737 after it flew to 70,000 hours and 40,000 cycles.


Departing Perth for Wine Tasting on Waiheke Island
The cruise ship is the Costa Brava, halfway through a 4-month cruise around the world


Approaching Waiheke Island


The first of the three wineries we visited



The grapes are ready for harvesting


Departing Waiheke, returning to Auckland



Our hotel at the base of the tower was about 8 blocks from the ferry terminal and a good climb


This spiral staircase led down 50 meters into the Ruakuri Cave, home of many glow worms


Water drips onto the rock continuously


Glow worms are actually not worms at all, but the larvae of an insect called Fungus Gnat. They glow through bioluminescence.
They feed themselves in a similar manner to spiders in that they "weave" a web, no more than a series of sticky strings hanging from the cave's ceiling.
Insects that fly towards the light are caught on the net and are promptly eaten by the glowworm. The glowworm then repairs the net for its next prey.
This larvae stage is the only time that the Fungus Gnat can eat, as the adult does not have a mouth



Our Esteemed Guide, Malcolm Campbell
shows us the ski slopes, closed until the Southern Hemisphere winter in July


Bring your Rock Skis


Chateau Tongariro, our humble abode for one night


View from the Chateau


Elegant surroundings in the Chateau


Dinner with half of our traveling companions


First sign of Geo-thermal activity



Enjoying one of the 1400 miles we spent on busses.




Driver, Craig, and Guide, Malcolm


Rocks that Float
Pumice stones trap so much air inside that they become bouyant


Water from Lake Taupo, forming the start of the Waikato River
New Zealand's longest, at 435 Km.


The Noble Waikato River


Waiotapu Thermal Park


Boiling, bubbling Mud



Almost got it... now take two steps back...


The Devil's Bath


The Rotorua museum


Lake Tarawera, as seen by New Zealand Travel Bureau


Lake Tarawera, as seen by American Tourists
That's Hokey Pokey Ice Cream, a New Zealand specialty we had almost every day


The Pohutu Geyser at Te Puia
The biggest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere



An innocent representative prepares to accept our group's invitation into the Whakarewarewa Marae


If the visitor picks up the flower, it means he comes in peace


The peaceful intent is accepted... but mind your manners...


Air New Zealand arrives in Rotorua to take us
to Christchurch, on the South Island


Arriving Christchurch, before heading immediately toward the mountains
in the distance with a new bus and a new driver


Lunch means not riding on the bus for a while


Our new bus has 50 seats, so everybody has room to spread out
Enjoying a little nap after lunch


New Zealand has 30 million sheep and 4 million people


The number of sheep is declining and the number of cows is growing
It all depends on which will bring more money at market-time


This sad little exhibit is all we could photograph of a very interesting natural wonder.
These little two-foot tall penguins come out of the water at about 8:30 PM every evening,
in groups of 30 to 50 birds at a time, after feeding at sea all day. They all come ashore
and waddle up the gentle hill to their nesting box. No photos were allowed


Steampunk Headquarters, Oamaru, New Zealand
For a $2 coin, the locomotive will shoot fire and make some smoke


Round Rocks, the Moeraki Boulders


Maori influence on present day New Zealand is very strong
American Indians got nothing, in comparison.


Did I mention New Zealand has 30 million sheep?


Trying to stay awake by counting sheep


Mirror Lakes


Approaching Milford Sound


Boarding the "Milford Wanderer"


Milford Sound




At the opening of the sound, looking out to the Tasman Sea


Sleeping Seals



Thanks to Jack Chen, our traveling friend who took this dolphin photo


Thanks, Jack



On the 4-hour drive back to Queenstown



Lake Wakatipu, approaching Queenstown




Dart River Jet-boat ride.
Excellent idea for those who like to be cold and wet
for an hour and a half



Start of Jet-boat ride
The river is wide and quite shallow. The boats are designed to need no more than 10 cm depth


Whose dopey idea was this ???


I must admit, this was my idea...


At least somebody had a good time


The boat ride ended in the middle of nowhere
The boys were encouraged to pick a tree and water it
while the ladies stood in line for the single outhouse


I'm pissed. When is lunch being served? It's already 1:00 PM !!


Back at the Rydges Hotel, Queenstown
A view of para-sailing from our window


The "Lady of the Lake", the steamship "Earnslaw" arrives to take us
across the lake for dinner at the Walter Peak Station


Shoveling coal into one of the two burners


This wouldn't last a minute with the EPA on guard in America


Our feast awaits



Dinner with our new friends, Vimal and Vinod


A short walk after Dinner


Airport across the street from a lunch stop
The Cessna 185 is the workhorse here
Four departed within the hour we were nearby


Siberia Experience
Wanaka, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Book at the Cafe


Main Street, the town of Franz Josef Glacier


Climbing to the Franz-Josef Glacier view-point
with Vimal and Vinod, who live a few miles from us in Cerritos


The Franz-Josef Glacier
A mere shadow of its former self


It's not my fault the glacier is melting
That started before I was born


Last view of the Tasman Sea before we turn east toward Christchurch


The mountains are being left behind



Life is good in Christchurch


But it isn't cheap...
These homes are in the $4 million NZD category


John, our second driver (for the second island) waits patiently
Each Kiwi bird symbol on the back of his bus represents one Australian tourist road kill


Overlooking Christchurch toward the mountains we crossed on the west coast


A reminder of the earthquake 5 years ago


Reconstruction is much in evidence downtown
Work will continue for another 10 years


Leaving Christchurch for Auckland at noon - a 4 hour flight


Leaving Auckland for Perth the same day - 8 more hours in the air


After 12 hours of flying and subtracting 5 hours of time change
we clear customs and immigrations in a snap - at 10:00 PM


At 7:30 AM the next morning, fhe bus to Busselton arrived on schedule,
booked months before for our 3-hour ride


Elsa exits the bus, while our host, Peter Dickens, comes to take us 45 minutes to Nannup


We pass through Nannup


Population 500


It's true, Australia does have kangaroos wandering through the bush
This one is trespassing on the White Gate Cottage estate where we stayed


The home of Peter Dickens and his wife, Brownie


Our gracious hosts, Peter and Brownie


Breakfast on the back porch


Elsa walks Jarrah in the back yard


Guinea Hens playing "Follow the Leader"


Our home away from home, the White Gate Cottage
just a few steps away from the main house


Vineyards in our front yard


Our first adventure - feeding the kangaroos


Tiny kangaroo claws holding Elsa's arm left marks she proudly displayed


Brownie can't resist...


"I did say, 'Please'. Now may I have some more?"


Just don't come around looking for my grapes to eat...


A skittish emu joins the feeding frenzy


Off to visit the Alpaca family "next door"


Elsa feeds the Alpacas


Brownie feeds the Alpacas


Four Marron (crayfish of Western Australia) were trapped in a pond on the 100 acre property
A thousand more are waiting to become dinner guests...


A Marron gets a swimming lesson


Swimming lesson complete... well done


One of many delicious dinners


A new family member has arrived !!


A baby Guinea Hen destined to be an Only Child. None of the other eggs hatched




Moving to a new warm house for a while


The city of Busselton, population 15,000, offers "big city" conveniences
We dodged rain-clouds and visited the pier


This little train will take you to the end of the pier


In the Margaret River wine region, south of Busselton



Enjoying the Good Life in Western Australia


Peter and Brownie



Peter prepares lamb from one of his flock


Elsa and Brownie get ready to take credit, while Peter works


Peter puts on the finishing touches


A formal Easter Dinner in the Formal Dining Room
served with wine from the White Gate Winery


Easter Sunday breakfast before we leave for the bus station at 6:00 AM


All our stuff is packed and ready to go


Our cottage was left just like we found it



An early departure for Busselton to catch the bus back to Perth


The long road back to Perth, a 3-hour trip


Perth, Western Australia


The Swan River, as seen from our hotel room


Food's not cheap, but there is plenty of it


Perth is modern, clean and attractive


Perth, from Kings Park, bigger than Central Park in New York City


Leaving Perth by boat for Fremantle


Large boat, small bridge


Fremantle didn't look touristy at first...


But it was.


Lunch at the "Little Creatures Brewery"


Heading back to our hotel


Elsa on the balcony of Room 706


It was a long day


Departing Perth at 6:30 AM


Seven hours from Perth to Auckland
Then two hours waiting for the11 hour flight to Los Angeles

We're getting too old for this