Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

CHAPTER 24: Pearl's Ashes--New Zealand

New Zealand was my final 2012 Circle Pacific adventure stop largely devoted to Pearl's Ashes.  We first visited New Zealand in the 1970's when I was the reservoir engineer for the Hawaii Geothermal Project.  They were our mentors, with Hank Ramey of Stanford, so I went to Aukland, then Waireki, where in 1958 this location became only the second geothermal plant in the world.  #1 was Larderello, Italy.  That collaboration began during World War II when New Zealand engineers visited the totally destroyed Italian geo-system.  NZ returned in 1948 to observe 282 megawatts of operating and in-construction geothermal operations.  I was particularly intrigued that their geo-resorts  in Rotorua, 45 miles away, advertised the sulfurous smell as therapeutic.

A particular concern was that we rented a car and they drive on the left side of the road there.  Okay in general, but when you come to a circular intersection, that can get confusing.  

I recall stopping by a fish and chips takeaways place and ordered two meals.  They asked, how many people.  I replied two.  They said one would be enough.  I ordered two anyway.  We got so much fish (at least three pounds) and the equivalent of a gallon container of french fries, all wrapped in some kind of white paper, than again with newspaper.  We only ate, at most, 25% of what was provided.  The whole thing with a liter of orange soda cost a couple of dollars.

On my more recent stop I compared New Zealand with Australia:

There is a love-hate relationship between the peoples of these nations, and the rivalries in certain sport events are legendary.  They both now have excellent wines, with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Malborough sold (at high prices) around the world.  It all started with Cloudy Bay nearly 30 years ago.  Australia has the edge in red wines, with Penfold's 2004 Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon (left) known to be the most expensive:  $168,000.


Not that I can tell, but the Australian accent is a combination of London cockney (convicts) with a smattering of Irish from the Goldrush.  In NZ, the heavy influence came from Scotland, with a touch of Maori. 

Australia has all kinds of interesting animals.  NZ only has two natural mammals, both bats.  However, they have the heaviest insect in the world, the giant weta.

Back to the 70's, we stayed at a hotel near Mount Ngaruahoe (see above map), which had recently begun to erupt.  I took this photo at sunrise.  Apparently, it has continued to be active.  Similarly, on 3 January 1983 I was golfing at the Volcano Golf Course on the Big Island of Hawaii, when the earth shook.  Just a mile or so away, we saw fountains of lava.  This was the Kilauea eruption that also continues today, 34 years later.

Regarding their capital, Auckland, from my earlier blog:

Auckland is sort of like the equivalent of Honolulu-Oahu-Hawaii in that there are only a little more than 300,000 living in the city, but 1.4 million in the whole metro area.  The Maori tribes are well organized and gaining significant concessions from the government.  Something to watch as Hawaiians attempt to assert themselves.  On a totally different subject, primary schools are beginning to drop teaching The Bible in class as students don't want to take them and parents don't seem to care.  Schools are suggesting that Christian values should be taught at home.

On my second day in NZ I posted:

The All Blacks, of course, are the members of their world's best rugby team.  The Kiwi is a strange bird, about the size of a chicken.  How would you like to be a female Kiwi and lay an egg that is six times larger than it should be?  All Pinks?  Click on that article.

I usually stay at Starwood Hotels, but New Zealand is one of the very few countries without one.  A Four Points is opening next year.  I thus picked the Skycity Grand Hotel, which is linked to a casino, has three good restaurants and, next door, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, called, of course, the Sky Tower.  You can jump down from 1076 feet high for $300.

I might add that the complex has 1600 gambling machines, 100 gaming tables, a 700-seat theater, convention center, and 12 bars.  This is why, like Las Vegas and Macao, room prices can be attractive.  

My best meal was an English roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Caesar salad and NZ beer.  Otherwise, I didn't spend much for food.

I thought about just tossing a gel cap off the tower, but ended up dropping Pearls Ashes #39 near these pink flamingos at the New Zealand Zoo.

I might add that Pearl and I almost a two decades later came here a  second time to catch the Crystal Harmony from Aukland to Honolulu.  I made this reservation way ahead of time, and, as this sailing was not well filled, when we boarded, we were given a Penthouse suite.  This was the best cruise we ever had.

Next week:  Kahala Hotel in Honolulu with Chaine des Rotisseurs.
The eye of Typhoon Hato at 100 MPH passed south of Hong Kong by 37 miles, caused a range of problems, killed 3 on Macao and just made landfall at noon in the Pearl River delta city of Zhuhai:

There are two other ocean storms in the East Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, but neither will attain hurricane strength.  However, Tropical Storm Harvey will make landfall near Corpus Christi tomorrow.


No comments: