Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Pirate and Izzy


Or, in Maori, Whanganui....
It is a lovely city, about 40,000 people live here.    It was one of the original European ports in New Zealand.  Before the arrival of the train, everything went by boat and up the River Whanganui by woodfired paddle steamer, which is still going!
In the early days the boats winched theirselves  up rapids right into the interior as far as one of the first inland towns, Taumaranui. (Thanks to The Pirate for the information)

I haven't seen much of the town yet,  I've been on one clubrun up the river on Highway 43 and back, but most of my time has been spent on the velodrome, built in 1990 for the Commonwealth Games.
The original velodrome in Cooks Gardens was asphalt and about 450  metres, where the present athletics track is sited. The pavilion was cut in half and moved on two transporters and stuck together you do in New Zealand!!

It is named after Peter Snell who ran the first sub 4 minute mile in NZ, forty years ago.
 The track is just like Meadowbank in Edinburgh, Scotland....with sun!!

The Pirate having a chat during his "warm down" after training with his friend Adam Hamlin, born thirteen days earlier, also near London (UK) but resident in New Zealand for forty odd years.     They are both riding Adam's bikes!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


We saw Mount Taranaki in the late afternoon, the highest mountain in the North Island, and a most sacred place.

We were there for the Pirate to take part in the Taranaki Challenge,  one of 1500 entrants in the 156km around the mountain.

Up early again, only 6am this time, and the mountain showed her morning face, still with a little snow. The last eruption here was only 350 years ago.

They started in bunches, grouped by estimated times, fastest first.

The Pirate was somewhere in the second bunch....

There were motorcycle marshalls

 and more and more riders.....

They use transponders clipped to the front forks of the bikes, so as you start and finish you pass sensors are registered and receive an exact time.

I then had a three hour wander around the city before returning to the racecourse to see the first riders come in, after 3 hours and 40 minutes! 

This includes going through the hamlet of Cardiff...population 500 or so!!

The Pirate wasn't far behind, at 4h 28m, in the top 200 and fastest 70+ by nine minutes!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting in the shade talking, before the prize presentation at about 5.30pm, as some riders took nearly twice as long.
This included a family relay team (taking turns to ride so no-one did all the ride) the Shepherds..descendants of one of who had ridden the original race in 1913...and his 93 year old daughter was there to watch!

Then off again, by van this time to Wanganui,  seeing the sun set by Mount  Taranaki, driving past a huge milk processing factory...and being told that we could only see a third of it, as two thirds are underground!!    It is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and milk is constantly being delivered, by train as well as by lorry.   If anything happens to factories in the South Island it takes milk from there too.

Arriving late, tired but happy to a warm welcome and a comfortable bed for a good night's sleep at last!!

New Plymouth

Murals, corporate and otherwise, everywhere!

I was wandering round the centre by 8am....note the street washing/plant watering buggy!!  
The old house snuggles in by the didn't need moving again!
Art shops and galleries open between 9 and 10...then I went to the i centre (information) which is in the museum/library/civic centre.

There was an exhibition about prefabricated building, starting with Maori traditional building..

through the traditional European Colonial wooden building of the 1840s-1940s, to flat pack buildings for use in disasters based on the traditional Maori building
then out again to the sunshine.

journey to New Plymouth

We started with breakfast at 4am!!!...then a lift from Te Aroha to Auckland to catch the Intercity bus....a two hour wait in the bus station as it gradually lightened and the streets slowly busied.
At last the bus came, and we were off by 8am...into the traffic and off South on the Expressway.
The driver had a dry sense of humour, gently pointing out the bus food, and no drinks especially don't want it on your lap if he has to brake suddenly, and HE has to clean up the mess!!   No i-pods without earphones firmly plugged in....after all, not everyone shares your taste in music!!  

We had a short "pit stop" in Hamilton at 9.30, then on to the Big Apple for a half hour food break....

Then at 11.15 on towards New Plymouth....

The Bus...note the stone guard at the bottom of the windscreen- it is needed!

We came through sheep country, then gorges with basalt cliffs (like Fingal's Cave in Scotland)  and steep valleys covered in tree ferns and Manuka bushes and trees.

The Tasman Sea!!...just realised that we haven't seen the sea for months!

As soon as a cutting is made through the rock it is sprayed with a cement mix to stabilize it.
It may be a State Highway, but in places there are one vehicle width tunnels and windy stretches with rock on one side, a drop on the other and seemingly only just enough room for the bus and the large, long, lorries to pass each other. 
The lorries have eight axles,  either four on the tractor unit and four on the trailer, or four on a rigid front lorry, then a long rigid bar to a trailer with four axles. They are, I think 50 ton lorries.

 We've 1.50pm!!