Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

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Tehran 4/23

In the morning took a photo from our room of the city.

Today we visited National Museum of Iran that preserves the country’s historical and cultural record through the presentation of some 300,000 artifacts — the oldest dating back more than 30,000 years. Its two buildings are dedicated to pre-Islamic and post-Islamic periods.

The National Museum of is an institution formed of two complexes; the Museum of Ancient Iran and the Museum of the Islamic Era, which were opened in 1937 and 1972, respectively.

When we arrived at the museum, there were a  group of female students also waiting on the steps.  I took a photo of them and I had the usual exchanges with several of them – Hello, How are you?, I am Fine.

One of the girls asked me where I was from?  I said, “United States.”  Several o f them responded with wide open eyes.  Then the girl said, “Trump.”  I put my fingers into my mouth and gestered my disgust.  Many of the girls gathered around me with laughter and more fun photos were taken.

historic copies of the Qur’an.  I took a few photos in the museum although glare on the cases made that difficult.

The girls were following me around and I apologized to their teacher because they were paying more attention to me than to what they were supposed to be doing.  I would rather have been talking with them,

My favorite highlights of the museum were the stone reliefs and sculptures from Persepolis.

The sign near his relief from the northern stairs of the Apadana at Persepolis said that it is one of the most important examples of Acaemenid art that shows Xerxes sitting on a throne.  Behind the king are the crown prince, the chief Magian, king’s weapon carrier, and two guardsmen.  The releif shows the king receiving an important official who announces the arrival of the tribute bearers and performs the ritual greeting that is known as proskynesis  He is followed by two guardsmen.

This is the statue of Darius.Although the head and upper body are now missing, it survived from the Achaemenid period.  The king wears a Persian dress with a dagger stuck into his belt.  The pleats on his robe are inscribed in cuneiform in the three official languages of the empire – Old Persian., Elamite, and Babylonian on the right and in Egyptian hieroglyphs on the left.  Although the king wears a Persian costume, the pillar at the back and the decoration on the base are Egyptian in style.

This is a fragment of a composite column capital with a human head and a four-legged proteome is also from Persepolis.

This is a part of the main staircase from the southerlies of the tripylon (a palace with tree gates) carved on one boulder of Stone.

On one side of the staircase there is a ritual representation of Persain lancers and archers.

This is a clay figurine of the god of Bacchus (ancient Greece)or Dionysus ancient Roman).

This is a stone oil lamp.

A stucco Mihrab (praying Niche)

Stone Myrab.

Wooden doors,

A Panel of tiles.

After the historical museum, we visited the Museum of Islamic History where I did not take any photos.

In the restaurant where we had lunch a man baked bread in the shape of a heart.

It was fun to watch him bake the bread ….


.and great to eat it.

This was a delicious stick of sugar which I ate like a lollipop.

This man brought a Nightingale to the restaurant.

It was sad to see it in a cage.

After lunch we visited the Treasury of National Jewels.  It was collected over centuries. This priceless collection includes a staggering array of crown jewels from the Qajar and Pahlavid royals and others going back 25 centuries. The collection is so valuable that it has been used to back Iranian currency.

We were not allowed to take any photos.  The jewels were astounding but it was too crowded and we were rushed from case to case.

Dinner was delicious.

In the evening Jane and I turned on the TV and reached CNN news.  Mike Pompeo was speaking on the dangers of the IRGC (Iranian Revoluntionary Guard Corps).  I wanted to pull him out of the screen and scream at him (or maybe even hit him over the head).  I have been in Iran for 12 days.  I have had wonderful interactions with the people in Iran and the girls being with the girls today topped it off.  I know there are problems with the Iranian government.  Even some people in Iran have problems with their government.  We have major problems with our government.  there are wonderful people here in Iran.  His statements and the actions of the US government are dangerous.  Are they blind.

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Qom April 22

First thing this morning I decided to walk outside the hotel and not go very far so I could take a photo before all the people arrived.

I think these men are entering the place where they study.

I enjoyed being outside by myself.

Bob took a photo of me in my new navy blue outfit.  Naderah had told me that Qom was a very conservative city and that my colorful outfits may not be as appropriate.  Qom is considered holy by Shi a Islam as it is the shrine of Fatimah Masoumah. So I purchased this in Isfahan.  Here I am.

When Bob handed the camera back to me, it dropped to ground.  I am so happy that I was carrying 2 cameras because it never worked again.

After breakfast, the whole group walked to the Fatimah Masoumeh Shrine.

Fatimah Masoumeh Shrine is considered to be one of the most sacred shrines by Shia Muslims only second to Mashhad. Fatima Masoumeh was the sister of the eighth Imam ‘Ali al-Rida and the daughter of the seventh Imam Musa al-Kadhim. In Shia Islam, women are often revered as saints if they are close relatives to one of the Twelve Imamas. Fatima Masumeh is therefore honored as a saint, and her shrine in Qom is considered one of the most significant Shi’i shrines in Iran. Every year, thousands of Shi’i Muslims travel to Qom to honor Fatima Masumeh and ask her for blessings.

I read the following story online.  Fatima Masumeh died in Qom in 201 A.H. as she travelled to join her brother, Imam Al ai-Rida  in Khorasan. The caravan she travelled in was attacked in Saveh by the Abbasid Sunnis, and 23 of Fatima Masumeh’s family and friends were killed. Fatima Masumeh was then poisoned by a woman from the Sunni enemies, fell ill, and asked to be taken to Qom, where she died. Fatima Masumeh’s host in Qom buried her in his plot of land.

The style of Fatima Masumeh’s Shrine has developed over many centuries. During Ayatollah Khomeini’es 1979 Iranian Revolution  Qom was named “the birthplace” of this movement. Khomeini studied in Qom and lived there at the beginning and end of the Revolution. Aspects of the culture of Qom, including the Shrine of Fatima Masumeh, were used to unite the Iranian people over significant historical and mythical events. Khomeini used images of the Shrine of Fatima Masumeh in posters, money, and stamps created during the Revolution. Khomeini also constructed an addition to the Shrine of Fatima Masumeh and added more space for pilgrims.

Before entering the shrine or mosque, all of the women in our group were required to cover ourselves.

One of the mullahs gave us a private tour of the shrine, normally off limits to Western travelers.

Some of the other Iranian women wearing Chadors were very friendly and liked to take photos with us and also gave us permission to photograph them.  We had fun taking all of the photos and having those brief “Salam -Hello,” “Chetor – How are you,” and “Hoobam – I am well” conversations.  I am sure I messed up the phonetic spellings but I sure enjoyed the interchanges.

Naderah had her own so she didn’t match all of us.

Somebody told us that the women holding the blue fuzzy things would tap other women who may not be dressed appropriately with them.

These are some of the photos I took today.


Before entering the mosque, each person had to wash (hands, face, feet).  I took more photos of them and others in the area.


After lunch, we listened to an Islamic scholar who delivered a lecture on Islam and Shiite traditions and its significance in Iran.

He talked about basics of Islam and some of the differences between Sunni and Shia’. He said many things that I have heard attending talks at mosques in Beaverson. We had the opportunity to ask questions. It wasn’t until it was over that I realized that none of us had asked him any questions about the persecution of the Bahá’i in Iran.  We were certainly avoiding political conversations.  In retrospect, that was too bad.

One of the woman at the desk in our hotel took photos with us before we left.

I am in communication with her via Whatsapp. This is one she took with her phone and sent to me.  I am posting it although the quality is not very good.

Then we drove to Tehran where we checked into the Espinas Hotel where we ate dinner.

I spent time repacking my stuff to make sure I could get “Bob’s bowl” home safely.

Then I went into the lobby to listen to a man play piano.

After he asked me the name of my country, he played the Star Spangled Banner for me.  I thanked him and said that the music was beautiful but I wasn’t crazy about the words.


Train to Auckland; Day in Auckland; and Home Again 12/4 – 12/6

While writing my post on the last night at the Chateau Tongariro I met a woman, Sandy, who lives in Auckland.  We had so much fun listening to the piano player.  In the morning I saw her again.  I asked her what I should do if I only had one day in Auckland and she gave me a plan.

In the morning we met again at the train station.  So, of course, we had to have a photo taken.


The train ride to Auckland was great.  Rather than taking photos, I just relaxed on the train and had fun with the people. We had a lot of laughs.

I went to the food car and bought some curry soup and brought it back to my seat.  When I tried to eat it, I realized that I didn’t have a spoon.  So I went back to get one.  As I was sitting down to eat, I noticed that I actually had a spoon right next to the soup.  I just figured that it was my crazy mind forgetting that I had already opened up the spoon.  Then Jan asked me if I liked my spoon.  It turns out the man who was sitting across the aisle put the spoon on my tray just to trick me.  I fell for it.  We all had a great laugh.    Of course I had to have another Kapiti Boysenberry Ice-cream bar – running out of time for New Zealand ice-cream.

Some of the time I walked around the train talking with other passengers.  I found Sandy and her friends in another car.  Lots of laughs all around.

We had a lively conversation with the man who was tricking me about the spoon.  I am not sure if he really had the political beliefs that he was stating or if he just wanted to bait me into conversation.

When we arrived at the Strand station in Auckland, it was a far as the train went.  But there was a free shuttle bus to take us into town.  I can hardly find enough words to describe the kindness and hospitality of the people in New Zealand.  There were only 6 of us on the shuttle bus and the driver asked each of us where we needed to go.  Two got off at the regular drop off; 2 needed to go a bit further to the backpacker’s place. We told him that we needed to find a place to get a taxi that would take us to our garden apartment.  He started driving.  As I was watching the GPS on my phone, I realized that he was getting closer and closer to where we needed to go.  After about 20 minutes, he dropped us off just a few doors from the house;  We were astounded at how far off his regular route he had driven to get us close to the place we were staying.

We stayed in a lovely garden apartment that had been remodeled in what we think was a shed behind the owner’s house.  It was very comfortable.

In the morning we walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the city.  Then we found the Ferry Building …


and purchased our round trip tickets to Devonport.  Here is the view of the Ferry Building and some boats from the ferry.


Sandy had told me that it was a lovely Victorian village.  The first thing I did in Devonport was to buy a Kapiti chocolate and Hokey Pokey ice-cream cone even throat it was 10:00 am.  Delicious.

We walked up Victoria street to Mount Victoria to see the views of Devonport and Auckland.   On the way up we passed this lovely house.


The house is actually the Michael King Writers’ Centre which is the first full writers’ facility and literary centre in New Zealand. It is a residential centre. The project was launched after Michael’s death in 2004, when a group of his friends and literary associates decided to honour his memory by setting up a writers’ centre.  Michael wrote or edited over 30 books on New Zealand topics, including The Penguin History of New Zealand, which was the most popular New Zealand book of 2004. He is deeply respected for his understanding biographies of leading Maori.

On the way up the hill I also passed a bunker that had been turned into the Devonport Folk Music Club.  I was lucky because a man was doing something in the bunker and let me come in to see it.


There was  a concert scheduled for the evening, but we would not be able to attend. Bummer.

Mount Victoria is not really very high. It is the highest volcano on Auckland’s North Shore rising to 87 m. Its age is currently unknown. Its lava flows now line much of Devonport’s waterfront.  This is the working port in Auckland.


These cute toadstool looking things…


… are actually vents for the tunnels which are underneath.

Fort Victoria was selected for the Observation and Control Post for local coastal defenses.  This is another place where they thought Russia might attack.  They still have one of the hidden guns there,


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Tongariro Alpine Crossing 12/3

The people at the Chateau were able to get my poles which were water-logged when I crossed the estuary on the Abel Tasman hike to at least temporarily open for the hike today.

By the way, Bruce sent me this photo of us crossing the estuary when we hit the deeper parts. It isn’t the clearest photo, but it shows how deep we were in the water.  I think I am the one in the middle of the group of 3.


I took this photo of Tongarino from the porch near our room in the chatteau.


The shuttle picked us up at 7;00 to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  The crossing is a trek over steep volcanic terrain.  I couldn’t get an exact number, but I think there were literally hundreds and hundreds of people doing this

Here is a brief description of the hike. It was a 19.4 km hike with 2 challenging climbs.  It was definitely not a still in the park.  It was a serious hike over a mountain.  We began at Mangatepopo Valley and followed what is called a gentle  gradient (1100 meters to 1300 meters) to Soda Springs (4.4 km). Then we had a steep climb up to 1600 meters in 2 km to South Crater.  The  section from South Crater to Red Crater is known as Devil’s Staircase and has over 350 steps.  On one part of the hike we had to use a chain to help pull ourselves up the steep incline. We were trekking over layers of ancient and modern lava flows and other volcanic deposits and the tracks surface was anything but smooth.

Actually on parts of the trail we were climbing up the loosest scree I have ever traversed.  The path takes descents and ascents into and back out of two different craters, passing the Emerald Lakes and along the edge of the Blue Lake.  Hiking down to Emerald Lakes was amazing.  I had to side step most of the way. Of course  there were the young people who would just run down and not worry about the slipping they were doing.

The last two hours of the walk involve a long descent down the northern flank of the volcano,.

Here are some photos I took of this incredible day.  There are many of me because I needed to document this adventure with me actually experiencing it.

The hike began with long shadows.


I love the red on the rocks.


Here are some plants that were on the beginning of the trail.


We were still on a flat part of the track.


There was a stream nearby…


…and even a little waterfall.


We had a great view of Tongariro.


At the only toilet facility there were people lined up.


Now it was time to begin the harder part of the trek and I came to this sign.


The trail was beginning to get a bit steep.


If you look very closely you can see the people coming up the trail.


I made it to an overlook.  I took photos of a couple of guys from Brazil their and they took one of me.

We walked along the piles of lava.


Here I am by the lava.


There were many more people coming up behind me on the trail.


This photo is just a tiny example of the many, many stairs we had to climb.


Every time somebody asked me to take a photo of them, they also took one of me.


There were a group of women from all over South America and they wanted to take a photo of me with their cameras.  That seems to happen frequently even though I am not the oldest one on the trail.  Anyway, later on they asked me to take a photo of them on a rock.  Then they took one of me.


Of course we had to have photos taken of all of us.20-south-american-woman-and-nancy

Here is a panoramic view of some of the lava.


I made it to South Crater (1660 meters high).  There was fog all around us and it was pretty windy.



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Train to Tongariro, Chateau Torgariro and a hike 12/2

Now I am only 2 days behind in writing these posts.

We walked to the train station early this morning and caught the long distance train from Wellington to Tongariro National Park. We were scheduled to leave at 8:00 but were delayed a bit because of a computer glitch in the ticketing.  The train ride was great fun.  I spent a lot of time on the platform by observation car.

These are some of the photos I took of the rolling hills and Ruapehu Mountain from the train.







We went around several curves and I finally got a photo of the front of the train.


I remember seeing cows like this in Ireland and somebody told me they were from the Netherlands.  I think these are the same kind of cows.


This is Ruapehu.  It means two peaks.



What a fabulous train ride. We arrived at the Tongariro National Park a  little after 1:00 and were picked up by our shuttle ride to the Tongariro Chalet.


Here is a view of Mount Tongariro.  It is an active volcano.


Here are some facts about Mount Tongariro.

  • November 21, 2012 – eruption, ash plume from Te Maari Crater.
  • August 6, 2012 – eruption, first since 1897. …
  • The Tongariro volcano is a massive complex of volcanic cones formed by at least 12 vents erupting over more than 275,000 years.
  • Mt Tongariro itself is a complex of craters that have been active at different periods
  • Mt Tongariro is the northern-most of three volcanoes that includes Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu
  • Geologists describe Tongariro as an “active stratovolcano”, or composite cone, made up of alternating layers of ash and lava flow
  • Tongariro in Maori means “fire carried away or seized by the cold south wind”
  • Popular walking track Tongariro Alpine Crossing bypasses the volcano
  • Parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed in the Tongariro National Park, where Mt Ngauruhoe was cast as Mt Doom

After settling in a bit we went to the visitor’s center to find out about a hike for today.  We then looked for a restaurant for dinner after our hike.

We decided to walk to Taranaki Fall.  The trail was very pleasant.


The trail then became a bit of an uphill climb. I was not expecting much of a waterfall, so I was pleased when we arrived at the first one.


Then we arrived at Taranaki Falls.




It was quite a surprise to see a couple come up the other side of our hike with a pram and a 7 day (that’s right – 7 day) old baby.  I was amazed. I took photos of them with their camera.

On the way to the pub for dinner we saw both Ruapehu


and Tongariro.


I had a great lamb burger.  After dinner I was very tired and we had to get up to catch a 7:00 am shuttle for our hike in the morning.  So it was off to bed.

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Last Day in Wellington 12/1

I am again behind with blogging so this is from 3 days ago.

The weather cleared so we took the cable car.  First we went through a tunnel.


The cable car is used as transportation for residents as well as for tourists.  The track splits so the car going up can pass the one coming down.


Here is the cable car leaving to go back down.


We could see out to the water, but the view from the top was still pretty cloudy.


Here are a few photos at the top and of the garden as we walked through the Botanic Gardens back to the town.  Is this a flowering palm?


Jan is walking under a fern tree that hangs over the trail.


The trunk of the Tree Fern is really cool.


This is a Morten Bay Pine.   That is very different from the Morten Bay Fig.


How about this pink hydrangea?  Pretty nice.


This sculpture is called the “Pink Lady.”


This sign that was around the Seddon Memorial said we were not allowed to go near. Seddon was one of the first Prime Ministers of New Zealand.


We went to the Bee Hive and had a tour of Parliament.  I learned a lot about the New Zealand’s government.  Did you know that the ruling party can vote out the Prime Minister?  Wow.  Wish we had that system.

The Bee Hive Building houses the executive branch.


After our tour we walked back to the harbour.   We passed the shop where I purchased my new jacket.


We went back to Te Papa and I went back to see Gallipoli exhibit.  I was too overwhelmed to sty there.  I viewed a couple other exhibits and then went up to the 6th floor to see a view of the city.


I got a message from a friend about not missing going to see Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of New Zealand’s greatest heritage places originally built by the Anglican Church between 1865 and 1866 on what was originally the site of Pipitea Pā, a Māori settlement on Wellington’s waterfront.


The church was constructed from fine native timbers and is an impressive sight from the outside.

Inside, it is simply breathtaking. Soaring arches lend the appearance of an upturned galleon, a shapely form enhanced by transepts and other additions which were seamlessly incorporated as the congregation grew. Spectacular lighting gives the interior a rosy glow.  It has a very spiritual feeling.



A woman in the church pointed out the American Flag to me and asked me if I noticed anything.  The flags displayed in the nave include the flags of United States Flag and  U.S, Marine Corps which was stationed in Wellington during WW II.  The flags were presented in 1948.  They are an expression of thanks and recognition of the important friendship the two countries formed as they enduured WW II together. The church retains close links with the New Zealand Defense Force.   The US flag is the one with only 48 stars.


After visiting the church, Jan went back to Te Papa and I walked to St. Gerard’s Monastery.  The door was locked but when I rang the bell, a young woman opened it. There are a group of students there learning to be missionaries.

This is the view of Oriental Bay Harbour from outside the missionary.


I walked from their to the top of Victoria Park Lookout.  From there I could see Evan’s Bay and Lyall Bay.


Mark, a man I met on the way up, pointed out the containers on the other side of the city.  They fell down doing the last earthquake (which was about 9 days ago) and they are still down.


Mark and I walked up a bit higher for another view.  I took a panorama of Evan’s Bay.


Then we watched the planes landing on the peninsula.

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Behind this plan landing you can see a ship in Karake Bay.

Version 2

Mark walked with me back into the city so, of course, we had to take a photo before saying, “goodbye.”


Although we will never have contact again, it is so much fun meeting and talking with people when I travel.

Wellington appears to be a very livable city.  I love the harbors and wish I had been able to take the ferry boat all around the harbors before I left.  There are many restaurants, theater, movies, and it is very walkable city.  I really enjoyed my time here.  This is likely the city in New Zealand that I would choose as a place to live.


Wellington 11/28 through 11/30

On Monday, 11/28, Jan and I finished getting our gear all together and went out for a bite to eat at the local organic place.

Our flight to Wellington was really a quick one.  You actually fly mostly over the south island first (We had great views from the plane.) and begin the landing approach even before you finish crossing the sea to the north island.  That is because the islands are really close together.

We were very pleased with our room at Quest Terrace.  We have an equipped kitchen and a comfortable space.

After getting unpacked and looking over the maps we went out in search of the information center.  We got there just before 5 and discovered that it had moved to a new address.  No problem.

We went to explore Cuba Street. It is Wellington’s famous inner city slice of bohemia.  Cuba Street was named after an early 1840 settler ship of the same name, not an island country in the Caribbean. But a number of the street’s residents have since run with the latter theme.

Part  of the street has been turned into a mall with no cars.  We walked down one side of the entire street (including the parts that are not on the mall) and back up the other side stopping in stores as we explored.

There were several buildings that had old tiles on them.


Many of the buildings were Art Deco and mixed in with other buildings.  It is hard to get photos of buildings with people and cars.


I really liked this building, but it is not being used now.


Some of the buildings had signs that said that they were inspected and “Earthquake Safe,” and others (including stores and restaurants that were opened) had signs that said that there were “Not Earthquake Safe.”

By the way, we heard that Wellington felt the nearby 4.6 earthquake just before we hiked Abel Tasman last week.  They cordoned of several of the streets because of some damage.

On the way back we discovered this funky outdoor restaurant called, “Ekim.”


This collage shows:

  • The 40 gallon barrel chairs near the entrance
  • The menu
  • Jan ordering her dinner
  • The counter where they had set up all of the fixings for the hamburgers because they expected to be slammed with customers
  • A bit of the atmosphere of the other outdoor seating
  • The metal chair that I thought would be uncomfortable, but was quite comfortable
  • The grill where they cooked
  • The drain pipe that took the water from the downspout and watered the plant
  • The napkin holder

The hamburgers were hand-made and went well with my chocolate, mint, caramel milk shake. I think we were lucky to find this place.

On the way home we passed this cool sculpture of a man with his dog.


We decided to check out the location of he train station before we returned to our hotel because we will need to be there very early on December 2nd.  There was a sculpture of Gandhi near the station,.


We were out until after 10:30.

November 29

I am finding myself much more impressed with Wellington than I expected to be.  Some of the reasons are:

  • The combination of old and new buildings makes for really interesting walking and viewing the skylines at various corners.  (I haven’t done many photos of that because I don’t like the cable lines in my photos.
  • Streets go off in all different directions.
  • There are both elevators and stairs to get us from one level of street to another.
  • The waterfront is a very pleasant place to walk

We didn’t get on our way until almost 10:00 am this morning.  We were headed towards the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum.  But Jan and I seem to get waylaid by stores.   I bought another new Icebreaker shirt.  I may find out that I am paying more in New Zealand for Icebreaker clothing than I would when I get home but, oh well, we are having fun.

When we walked through Civic Square there was an artificial soccer field where people were playing.


We walked down more stairs and came to a place where people were walking; eating lunch; and just milling around the area.



If you look at these from one direction, you see the city.  If you look the other direction, you see the sea.

An Artist named Para Matchitt created several sculptures in 1993 to reflect the bridge between the sea and the city. The sculptures of whales and birds serve as barriers.


I liked the use of wood for barriers and benches.



Today people arriving at the waterfront can cross to the heart of the city.

We walked down some more stairs and past a shop with some interesting clothing and I found a jacket made out of old kimonos.  After trying on several of them for fun, I couldn’t resist getting one.  It is a bit funky and is reversible.  This is my favorite side of it.


Jan liked them too, but the one she liked was too small on her.

Finally we were ready to make our way to Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.  We walked by the Central Fire Station which was built in the Art Deco style.


Te Papa is New Zealand’s bold and innovative national museum and a recognized world leader in interactive and visitor-focused museum experiences.

New Zealand’s geology and natural environment, and the stories of New Zealand’s indigenous people (the Maori) are celebrated in Te Papa’s permanent exhibitions. An exciting range of exhibitions display New Zealand’s diverse art and visual culture and top-rating international exhibitions tour regularly.

We arrived right before there was a tour scheduled which would give us an overview of the museum. Our guide was very knowledgeable.  We learned about the various areas of the museum that we planned to return to see over the next couple of days.  One of the places he showed us was the Treaty of Waitangi:  New Zealand’s Founding document and how it had been broken.

Jan and I were both hungry so we went out to a Turkish place for lunch.  Then we took a walk along the waterfront.  Here is another place with varried architecture mixed together.  The original houses with the hills above them looked like a great place to live.


The staircase near these seems pretty steep.


St Gerard’s Monastery is above these houses behind the trees.  We did not get there because we wanted to go back to  Te Papa to see the history of the Maori section.  It would take me all night to write about the displays we saw.

One of the displays showed the story of Haka chant. The Haka is a traditional war cry, dance, or challenge from the Maori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.

War Haka were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition, but Haka are also performed for various reasons: for welcoming distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals.

The New Zealand sports teams’ practice of performing a Haka before their international matches has made the Haka more widely known around the world. This tradition began with the 1888 -89 New Zealand Native football team tour and has been carried on by the New Zealand rugby team  since 1905.

I had never heard it before.

On the way back to our room at Quest Terrace we passed the Embassy Theater.  Jan remembered being there before.


The Embassy Theatre is recognized as a place of historical/cultural significance by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and is the only custom-built 1920’s cinema still in use in New Zealand.  It was originally built-in 1926 and held 1700 people at that time..  It was fully refurbished inside and out in 2003 for the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The Embassy has retained many fine features like its marbled staircases, wrought iron handrails, original tiled foyers, and exquisite plastered ceilings despite many upgrades her the decades.

I took a few photos:

Some of the original tiles…


The staircase …


The inside of the theater with refurbished seats.


The women’s bathroom sinks…..


We decided to see, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and it was a pretty good movie.

We stopped at the grocer to get some light food for dinner.

October 30

We planned to take the Wellington Cable Car this morning, but it was cloudy and raining a bit.  So we changed our plans and went to the Wellington City Gallery .  The exhibit was a photography exhibit by Cindy Sherman.  It was lucky for us that the orator was showing the exhibit and doing some lessons with a group of high school students.  She did several very interesting exercises with them. We listened to her and their discussions through several of the displays.

Cindy Sherman is a master of impersonation and is known as one of the world’s most influential artists.  Since the mid 1970’s, the New York based artist has been her own model playing out a range of characters in staged photographs.  It was a fascinating exhibit.

After going back to the room for a while this afternoon, we returned to Te Papa to spend some time viewing the ANZAC display of Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War.

This ground-breaking exhibition tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

Each is captured frozen in a moment of time on a monumental scale – 2.4 times human size. The large-scale sculptures took a staggering 24,000 hours to create, and countless hours were spent researching their rich histories.  They were so realistic and I was absolutely amazed at the incredible detail in each of them.  This is just an example of one.  You could actually see the hairs on his arms and legs and the sweat on his brow.



Cutting-edge technology was used to create 3-D maps, projections, miniatures, models, dioramas, and interactive experiences to bring this story to life.

In total, 2,779 Kiwis lost their lives on Gallipoli, and many others were scarred for ever. Gallipoli: The scale of our wartakes you to the core of this defining event.

We spent about 90 minutes there and did not finish before closing time. I was very overwhelmed by this exhibition.

We had a delicious dinner of mussels, ravioli, and garlic bread at Nicotine’s Bistro. Then we went to the Circa Theater …


… to see the theater production of  “Scarlet and Gold.”   It was a play depicting the dramatic Waihi strike of 1912 was the first union action in New Zealand where women played an active and innovative part.  Scarlet & Gold follows the changing fortunes of women from the three sectors that clashed so dramatically in Waihi: the striking miners; the mine owners and shareholders; and the workers who crossed the line.  The Waihi strike changed New Zealand’s industrial law, and out of the ashes of the long and bitter strike the New Zealand Labour Party was born.  We enjoyed it very much.

I think I am finally learning to navigate the intricate street system in this town. We sure have done a lot in the last 2.5 days in Wellington and still have tomorrow to explore some more.


Abel Tasman Day 3 11/27

It is hard to believe that it rained again last night but by the time we were ready to leave this morning, the skies were mostly clear.

Linda left with Squid (nickname for one of our guides) in the kayak.  I was a bit jealous.

The Torrent Bay was filled with water in the morning.  A.J. said the tide changes every 6 hours.  The 5 day people will be able to see that happen because they will be here for 2 nights – jealous.

Jan, Dick, A.J. and I started out from Torrent Bay. The bay had filled with water from the tides.  A.J. said that the tides change every 6 hours.


Jan and Dick were ahead of me on the trail.


The reflections in the water were beautiful.


This is a fairy toadstool with great color.


These traps are all over the park.  This particular one is sponsored by BirdSong.  They are for catching weasels and rats.  There are ones in the trees for possums and also bait traps for wasps.


There are places where the ground under the rocks has eroded and plants are growing in the space under the rock.



We would walk along the trail for a while along the rocks and in the forest.  Then we would come around a bend with walls another view.

The island on the right is called Motor Ranui (Adele Island). The one on the left is called Fisherman Island (I couldn’t spell the Maori name correctly.  In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [ˈtanifa]) are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers (giant waves). I think that what A.J. told me is that it is said that Taniwhal lives in the water between these two island and protects the area.  It is not a safe area. Parents teach their children about Taniwha and when they don’t want them to go someplace, they say that Taniwha lives there. I hope I got this story right.


A.J. spotted an orchid that was partially opened.


Jan, Dick, and A.J. crossed another one of the bridges in front of me.


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Able Tasman Day 2 – 11/26

Before I begin today’s post I want to do some updates to yesterday. Here are a couple of  photos of the Meadowbank Homestead where we stayed last night.



The cover of the brochure for this trip says it is a civilized adventure. That is an understatement. It was luxurious – both the place we stayed and the food we were served.

Today I learned that the estuary (the one that came almost up to our waists) that we crossed yesterday was not 500 m. across. It was much closer to between 1300 m and 1500 m. That’s almost 3/4 of a mile.  No wonder it seemed to take us so long.  And I also realized that it was not just that I was stepping into deeper and deeper parts of it.  The reason the water was coming up so high was because the tide was coming in.  That is why the women behind were in water up to their waists.  You can see where we crossed the estuary towards the back of this photo.


I also learned that the winds we experienced when we were on the boat yesterday we’re over 30 knots per hour.  I guess that is only about 34 1/2 mph.  They do not always experience those swells but no wonder we were bouncing around so much.

When we woke up this morning it was raining pretty hard. We thought we were going to be in for hiking and a very rainy day. Then after a delicious breakfast (we each had a choice of what we wanted to eat and I had poached eggs with bacon), the rain had stopped and it was sunny again. This was the 2nd day that we were lucky to have great weather.

Some of us gathered on the lawn.  The 3 people to the right of me and I were getting ready to go on the hike today.


We were told that the waves were still going to be too high for the people who wanted to kayak. We left behind all the rest of the people who were doing the five-day trip. They would just be walking around the Homestead area and spending the night in the same place.

Since non of our bags arrived because the waves were too high for the boat to get there, A.J again carried my CPAP.  We weren’t going to cross anymore estuaries  so I wore my boots.

Today was the day of undulating hills.  I read that there is no place in the area of Tasman National Park where we hiked that is higher than 200 m.  But that didn’t take into account that we would hike up and down and up and down. Actually, it wasn’t too difficult but 18 + km felt like a long way.

We sure saw many beautiful sights and learned about several new plants that I have never seen before. I paid much more attention to what I saw here than I ever do at home.

This is a cabbage tree flower.


The place we started yesterday (Totarunai) and the beaches where I waded in the bays of the Tasman Sea can be seen along the edge of the land in the back of this photo.

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A.J. told us that it take 2 weeks for the fronds of this fern to fully unfurl.


I think this is the flower of a flax plant.   It was used to make ropes that were very strong.


A.J.showed us the design from the Maori people’s oars that’s her friend created for the edge of this bridge.


We walked pretty far before lunch today at Bark Bay. We had to get to the place where Darcy and Lynne  could catch the boat because they were leaving today.


These Wekas hung around the lunch spot. I think some of the other people who were eating here had fed them. Of course that is really a bad idea.


Every time we came to a view of the water, we were astounded by the color.


Here ia am standing in this fabulous scenery.


This plant is called Giant Moss.  It doesn’t really look like moss to me. It can grow to a height of 60 cm.


This is a view of the giant moss in A.J’s hand.


This is a Rimu plant.  The male version of the plant is spiky and the female version is smooth.


I think that A.J. said that the male version is large enough to use it as a comb for your hair.

This is the trunk of a Beech Tree.  It is black because it is covered with Sooty Mold.  The female Scale Beetle burrows in between the mold and the tree bark.  It eats nutrients from the tree and the mold and then poops out pure sugar (honey-dew). The sugar is at the end of the tail which is sticking out of the tree. It is actually a good relationship because the honeydew gives nutrients back to the tree so there is no harm done.


I know this is not the greatest photo, but you may be able to see the tiny hair-like things.  If you actually touch them, you harm the Scale Beetle so we just had to flick the end of it.  We could get the drop of liquid on our finger and taste the sweetness.


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Abel Tasman 11/25

Today started out as a rainy day. We were picked up at about 1015 from the Tasman Backpack.   It was raining the entire bus ride to the place where we had to put our gear together for the walk.  The guides told us that there was a possibility that the luggage bags we had packed for them to transport would not reach the destination for tonight because the seas were going to be pretty rough. So we had to bring enough clothes for the night in our backpacks.  I immediately put a patch on to prevent me from getting seasick. I also took one of those seasick pills. I wasn’t taking any chances.

Since it was a possibility that the luggage  was not going to arrive one of the guides carried my CPAP machine in his backpack. We were also told that we needed to have some kind of water shoes with us because we were going to be crossing water and would need to take off our  boots and put on water shoes.

It didn’t take long for us to need to put on the water shoes. As soon as the bus arrived at the boat they said we were going to have to cross some water just to get on the boat. I noticed that one of the guides, AJ, was wearing sandals.  I asked her if she was going to hike in them and if it was gonna be possible for me to do today’s hike just wearing sandals and caring my boots in my pack. She said that she would carry my boots.  I was astounded.

We all got onto the boat and the sun came out. It was such a beautiful day.  They were so right about the seas.   Several people including Jan we’re feeling very sick.  I was very lucky and having an absolute blast. We were going from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui.

I met these four guys (Bruce, Bill, George, and dang – I am having a brain fade) who are from Auckland  We imediately hit it off with a lot of teasing.  They take a trip together every year.


This is Bruce.


OK, don’t get any ideas. We were all just laughing a lot and taking a bunch of photos.

I realized that the top deck was really the place to be.


The boat was  bouncing a lot and they made us come down to the back deck.   I feel so lucky to not have felt sick.  I really had to hold tightly onto the railing as the boat was bouncing and swaying.

Here are some views from the boat.  Somehow this rock naturally split. I just couldn’t hear what they were saying when they explained it because it was so loud.




It is really hard to tell from these photos how rough the water was.  What a trip.  I was laughing a lot because it was so hard to move from one spot to another.

We reached our destination and began the hike through isolated northern forests and along spectacular beaches. Here are my new friends at the beginning of the trip.


The trail was pretty easy with only a bit of uphill and views of the water were just stunning.


It is hard to express how happy I was to be in sandals and be able to take them off when we reach the part of the hike where we walked along the beach in the sand.


And of course I felt like I was five years old again when I was able to put my feet into the Tasman Sea.  In this photo I am at Goat Bay.


I was able to do go in the water again at Waugarakeke which means flax close to the water.


I got a photo of these Oyster Catchers. At l at least I think that’s what they’re called.


The trail portion of the hike was also wonderful.


I also can’t remember the name of this tree that AJ showed us but it is really old.


I was also able to photograph these Wekas. The are a flightless bird species of the rail family which are endemic to New Zealand,  As omnivores, they feed mainly on invertebrates and fruit.



The guides told us that we were going to have to cross an estuary but I really have no idea what it was going to be like.   I did get a few photos this we were doing it. It was about 500 m long. And these photos do not show the time when the water was up over our butts.



I had my camera my arm up over my shoulder and was holding my screwed up as high as I could. The water came right to the bottom of the my pack. The sand squished below my feet and sometimes shells would get caught in my sandals.  It seemed to take forever. Perhaps this photo will give you some idea about the distance.  At this point I was probably equal distance from each shore.


I am really glad that the water didn’t come all the way up to my waist. It did that on the women who were behind me. The guide said that it has even come up higher than that on previous trips. As crazy as it was, I was having a lot of fun.

We didn’t have long to go after we reached the shore to get to the incredibly beautiful historic Meadowbank Homestead (Awaroa) where we are staying.   I used my iPhone to take the photos of this place and I can’t believe I left the cord for that  connection back in Nelson.   I will try to take some more photos in the morning before we leave here and post them tomorrow.

We were served an absolutely fabulous dinner. I had salmon, a wonderful dessert, and some wine. I think I’m the only one left awake right now because I just had to do this post. I’m so glad that they had Internet for me to use.

Most of the people here tonight are on the five-day hike and/or kayak trip  so they will be staying in the same lodge for another night  and doing some hiking around here before they move on to the next place. I sure wish that is what we had signed up to do. I think there are only eight of us moving on to the next lodge in the morning.  Two of them will be taking a boat for part of the way. Four of them will be kayaking but I don’t have anybody to do that with me and the winds may be high again.   I think Jan I will be the only ones hiking the whole 17 to 19 km.

But all in all this has been the most incredible day. It is what I hope to never forget.