the long way home

another in our series of long city walks, today we did the “go the distance” walk along the wellington harbour, and then extended it by walking the rest of the way home via the southern coast. 16.93 km (10.52 miles) from start to finish.

there is common phrase said throughout nz that “you can’t beat wellington on a fine day” (partly a dig by the aucklanders given we are prone to frequent southerlies) and today was definitely one of those fine days.

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the tramp started at queens wharf where one of the local hardware stores was sponsoring a fishing-off-the-pier day for kids. a common fixture at events like this is the sausage sizzle where you’ll get a sausage from the grilled wrapped in piece of white bread. usually free or $1 – today was free courtesy of carters. you can see the jboss standing at the zero marker with her pre-tramp sausage

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the city council and several organizations have rescued the hikitia – the world’s oldest working crane ship from the scrap yard. built in scotland in 1924 it has been in near continuous use since and is currently going through a detailed restoration. the air new zealand employees volunteers are striping an old window using dental tools…

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we had to make a quick stop at the “santa line” so jackie could add a few things to her list. telecom sets up a giant tree in one of the parks along the harbour and has 3 santa line phone boxes for the youngsters (and the jboss) to pass along their wish lists.

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row of boat houses along oriental bay. all along the oriental parade is a string of tiny parks. just one of the little things that makes a great livable city.

the panorama is from the bench in the shade under the overhang.

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oriental bay

view of wellington harbour from balaena bay. the council has recently rehabs the park at evans bay adding these wooden loungers. the jboss stops for a snooze.
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great old build at the bus terminal. surfers, swimmers and walkers along lyall bay.

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lyall bay is one of the all times dog friendly beaches. during summer gromit is not allowed on our island bay beach between 9am and 7pm. dad and a wee one scrambling on the rocks with the rimutakas in the background.
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wedding ceremony out on rocks near waitaha cove. the surfers waiting for a wave at houghton bay. i’m always amazed at how close to the rocks they are.
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her majesty’s park

today we went for a tramp at queen elizabeth park along the western shore about a hour north of wellington.

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we didn’t see the queen – but i’m guessing that she’s a bit harder to spot in her tramping gear.

we started in the middle of the park, walking north along the beach, then heading south on the inland path, before finishing with a walk north along the shore back to our starting point.

in the early days the shore was the primary highway for north-south travel in the region.


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recently i’ve been using a gps receiver to tag the location of my photos. you can also get a great map of your tramp.
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just like plymouth – only newer

it’s a three day weekend so we’re off to new plymouth to see some more of nz and hopefully go for a tramp on mt taranaki.

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as we passed though hawera (home of nz’s largest private collection of elvis memorabilia) we got our first view of our final destination – mt taranaki.

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next small town down the road is manaia. the framingham post office looks a bit bland in comparison to the manaia post. you can see the royal cypher of king george v at the top of the building. with his reign from 1910 to 1936 his mark is on all the great art deco works. the build on the right is a small hotel & pub.


we were traveling on state highway 45, known as “the surf highway” as it has easy access to many great surfing spots.

we had expected the road to travel right along the coast similar but realized after a bit that we were always a few k’s from ocean and were frequently passing small country roads that snaked off to the shoreline. we picked one just as it was starting to get dark.

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it’s hard to tell from this photo, but the road ends at a cliff with the ocean crashing onto the rocks several hundred feet below. no fence or barrier.


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looking back from the shore we had some great views of the mountain.

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after arriving at our motel in new plymouth we took a walk into the cbd. lots of great architecture including a movie house with a neon marquee.

the jboss has done some homework and had a list of potential places for dinner. but it’s never that easy. antony left the map back at the motel so we wondering around a bit looking for choice #1. can’t seem to find it. choice #1 is out of business and is now something else. on to choice #2. much harder to find and after asking some folks on the street, and then again at gas station we find it. we review the menu posted outside. looks good, but a bit expensive. we finally decide to splurge a bit and head in. sorry – all booked for the evening. can someone explain why they watched us noodle over the menu for several minutes knowing they were full? most of the other places were either packed or spookily empty with the owner looking at you hopefully as your pause outside. we ultimately decide on a pub.

turned out to be a fine choice. the finals for the super 14 rugby season were on and soon after we arrived the place filled up nicely. the food was just ok, but the beer was fine and it’s hard to beat the neighborhood pub atmosphere.

the shots below are from our drive home, once again along sh 45.


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anzac day

poppy.jpeg today is anzac day.

a summary of the day from nz ministry of culture and heritage (te manatu taonga) is below:

Anzac Day occurs on 25 April. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders.

Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians. To this day, Australia also marks the events of 25 April. Among the dead were 2721 New Zealanders, almost one in four of those who served on Gallipoli.

It may have led to a military defeat, but for many New Zealanders then and since, the Gallipoli landings meant the beginning of something else – a feeling that New Zealand had a role as a distinct nation, even as it fought on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire.

Anzac Day was first marked in 1916. The day has gone through many changes since then. The ceremonies that are held at war memorials up and down New Zealand, or in places overseas where New Zealanders gather, remain rich in tradition and ritual befitting a military funeral.

we got up early at 0500 (not early enough as we’ll see later) and headed into town for the dawn service. we took the car thinking how hard could it be to find a spot at 0500 in the morning? big mistake. firstly most of the spots are occupied by overnight parkers (parking is free from 6pm to 6am) and we totally underestimated the size of the crowd for the service. as we started getting closer the sidewalks started filling up with people heading to the event. families with little ones. couples in the their 20’s. keep in mind that it is pitch black and a crisp fall morning. and there are hundreds of folks walking in the darkness towards the service at the cenotaph.

well – after some significant parking stress we finally abandoned the car nearly on the far side of town and started walking as fast as we could. sadly we arrived just at the service was ending – but we did get to see the servicemen march off through the huge crowd.

next year i’ll have my full motorcycle license and we’ll be able to scoot in with jackie on back and avoid the whole parking fiasco.

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the dawn crowd at the base of the cenotaph with the aussie, uk and nz flags.

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there were large crowds in cities across the country including over 20,000 in auckland for the dawn service

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is the 10’s of thousands at anzac cove in turkey.

this leads to the the second, perhaps equally inspiring, part of the anzac story. as the summary mentioned above the anzacs were part of an force intent on invading turkey and in the process killing thousands of turks. despite their efforts they were soundly defeated by the turks, who were led in part by mustafa kemal atatürk, who served as a divisional commander at gallipoli and went on to become the first president of modern turkey.

in 1934 atatürk recited the following at the opening of the memorial along the shores of gallipoli:

Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosoms and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.

further in 1984 turkey renamed ari burnu to anzac cove. in response new zealand created ataturk park and the ataturk memorial. australia did the same in canberra.

i can’t think of another example where a country has established a memorial honoring a defeated invader, allowed thousands of it’s citizens to camp out on it’s shores each year in remembrance, and renamed a part of their coast after the invading forces.

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at midday we climbed up to the anaturk memorial for the midday service.

there was a slightly awkward moment when everyone (including the grammar school age kids behind us) sung the nz national anthem and we stood there silently. reminded me of what happens whenever a canadian baseball team in in town and they play the canadian anthem. nothing like 35,000 fans belting out “oh, canada!, hmm hmm la da hmm hmm…”

we vowed that we learn the words for next time.

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event number 3 for the day was a trip to wright’s hill reserve to tour the wwii fortress.

built during wwii as one of several outposts to defect wellington harbour, the fortress is a large underground complex providing support for large 10″ guns. the fortress was closed after the war and abandoned until the late 80s when the local lions club took began the long restoration process. it is now open to the public 4 times a year (waitangi day, anzac day, queen’s birthday & labour day).

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the gunners in gun pit #1 had a great view of the city.

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last scheduled event for the day was the “we’ll meet again” concert at town hall but unfortunately we were worn out by now and opted instead for a takeaway from the island bay malaysian restaurant.

something to look forward to for next year.

life on a south pacific island

the biggest surprise for me about our move to nz has been how much i enjoy living on the coast and spending time at the shore.

i’ve never been a big ocean person before despite living over 20 years in boston. and i still have no interest in going to the beach to lie down on a blanket and get a tan – but most of the nz coastline is too rugged for that anyway and is great to walk along. the rock and tides make it a new experience every time. and something that i can’t explain is that if i didn’t know better i would swear that that water was fresh and not saltwater. previously i always felt sticky and gritty as soon as i got out of the water – but not here.


just a few blocks from our house is island bay with the local fishing fleet. island bay is one of the oldest settlements in wellington and founded by italian fishermen. unfortunately there’s not much evidence of the italian culture left in town (i’m trying my part to reverse this with my italian scooter). you can see in the 2 photos below the island bay shoreline is a mix of clear and rocky areas. during the warm weekends there is always a group of local kids swimming and having a great time in the surf.

gromit has become quite the ocean dog – scrambling over the rocks and wading through the surf. his favourite activity is fetching the tennis ball that we throw just a few feet into the surf. what amazing me is how he immediately knew how to time waves and that if he waited the ball would come to him. in the gromit-has-his-long-list-of-issues camp, after we’ve had our fun at the beach and everyone is quite wet, gromit totally cowers in fear of getting rinsed off with the hose. running in the ocean, timing the crashing waves, scrambling over rocks – no problem. a bit of water from a garden hose – no way.

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a bit to the west is siren rocks – a very popular place for snorking and kayacking. we take our beach chairs and hang out whenever the weather is good. gromit is on high alert when i’m out snorking.

notice the

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the map below shows island bay. near the top of the bay you can see the fishing fleet and counter-clockwise around the bend the pier and then the first rocky bit of our shore. further down where the shoreline bends to the left is siren rocks. the island right off shore is taputeranga. it is the small island visible some of our shoreline photos and movies.

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the hills in the distance of many of our photos is another part of the lower north island – on the right in the map below.

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i’ve added some mini-movies of our times at the shore on the media page.

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island bay surf

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super bowl monday

with us 18 hours ahead of boston, super bowl sunday is actually on monday. that means it will be up to the jboss to root for patriots whilst i’m off making money for the man.

espn international is part of our cable package and carries the occasional baseball or american football game. we were able to see the 2 pats playoff games, but no surprise the super bowl is only available on one of the sky sports package channels.

on the day it was below zero in green bay we were spending the afternoon at the ocean.


the hats make us dorks look even dorkier, but if you look at the graphic below you’ll see that one country is nestled neatly under the cozy comfort of the ozone hole.

you gotta do what you gotta do.


howdy neighbors

island bay beach is closed to dogs from 9 am to 7 pm during daylight saving time so our new weekend ritual is to head off a bit before 8 and spend the early morning at the beach. at 9 it’s time for everyone to wash their feet / paws. we then stop for a coffee and egg&bacon pie.

a bit east of island bay beach is princess cove. a really fantastic place to spend some time. you’re on a bit of a peninsula with lyall bay to your left and the cook straight directly in front.

today we shared all this with one family + dog and a classic group of pensioners having a picnic out of the trunk of their car.

but by far the highlight of the day was clear sky giving us a clear view of the south island and the snow capped peaks of the southern alps. unfortunately my pocket camera that has served me so well didn’t capture the view very well.

this is where we live

yesterday and this morning jackie and i went for a walk with gromit down to the beach.

a quick few blocks and we’re there.

(click any for larger image)

the coastline reminds me of portland – wild and rocky in places, calm beaches in others.

gromit was a bit skeptical about the whole ocean thing but then all of sudden decided he liked it. today he went for two swims.

(“I’m not so sure about this” / “ok – i like it”)

(the local fishing fleet / i guess even dogs can get caught with their eyes closed during a photo)

( digging to china spain / waiting for breakfast from the bakery)

this is from a month back but one of my favourite views is looking down on the city and harbour from the botanical gardens. on jackie’s first day here i made sure to take her there for the view. there are a few images that continue to strike me. this is one of them.

each time i experience them i say to myself “this is where we live!”