Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Waka...Haka...New Zealand Festival, 2018

A waka is a Maori sea-going vessel of yore. A haka is the traditional Maori greeting/challenge. Perhaps the most famous haka is the All Blacks' numerous instances preceding their rugby matches. Our favorite was by a New Zealand military band at the Edinburgh Tattoo some years ago. Anyhow, the biennial New Zealand Festival was set to kick-off, so to speak, as several waka arrived in Wellington harbor, outside Te Papa, the national museum. They were to be welcomed by a thousand-voice haka. We'd arrived just in time...
But first, dinner at a favorite northern Thai restaurant

There were some thousands there for the ceremony, and the
best we could do, mostly, was in font of a big screen

Main guy

I think this may have been the waka we saw from the ferry that
afternoon...anyhow, there were seven waka hourua, double-
hulled vessels that were completing a months-long voyage from
Samoa, the Cook Islands, etc; a reminder that these folks'
navigational exploits, centuries ago, made the Vikings and
Portuguese, and Columbus, look like veritable pikers

Main gal

Part of the throng, and harbor-side Welly

Coverage by drone; interestingly, NZ drone laws are extremely
fussy (must have explicit  permission from land-owners,
individuals over-flown)

A huge traditional canoe arrives

More throng and a bit of Te Papa

More arrivals

A bit of Wellington harbor as the sun sets

The haka

Other main gal; the whole thing scored, scripted, choreographed,

And we were there, understanding little, but enjoying the pageantry
and the moment

Weta Cave, 2018

We drove across old friend Wellington to the Miramar peninsula, where our campground was, a block or so from the Weta Cave, which we'd visited in 2009 and 2014. The campground was a flat spot astride Brendan's driveway, electricity provided, for 15U$. Brendan himself was nice enough and accommodating; he's part of a scheme that rents residential camping space to fellow RVers, an interesting plan we might conceivably use again, especially in the big cities (!). Anyhow, after settling in, we decided to take the bus into town for the opening of the biennial New Zealand Festival (next post). The Weta Cave was on the way.
"Please do not climb on the trolls"

Bert, Tom and William are still guarding the place, if in different
positions; compare with my 2014 post, and you will see that they
are now partially clothed; something about a US tourist posting
photos of troll genitalia...

Theoden King's armor; the place is still part-
museum and part-retail store

Gollum is still there; they keep moving things
around, placing ever greater emphasis on their
more recent achievements; alas, our interest is
strictly old-time LOTR

Rather more of the store now is figurines and other purchaseables;
and not cheap, either

Gandalf-style hats for sale

Also still there

Bilbo's wearable feet

Mouth of Sauron

So, much later in the evening we are returning from town,
walking past the Cave in utter darkness, and I see Bert,
lurching there menacingly by the sidewalk...I wonder how
many drunks have fled in terror at such a sight..

Monday, February 26, 2018

Across Cook Strait, 2

Approaching North Island

In 3 meter swells, I would not want to be doing this

Ride 'em, cowboy (so to speak)

Entering Wellington harbor

Remember this..a Maori waka...we'll see later in the evening

OK, so we have been summoned to our vehicles for debarkment

We are comfortably right behind an NZ army
armored car

Problem is, however, the door is stuck; really stuck; like stuck
for an hour

After some time and effort on the part of the InterIslander crew,
I amble on down to the armored car and suggest perhaps they
could use their anti-tank gun to blow the door open; the officer
in charge laughingly remarks I am the 6th person to suggest this

At last the crew springs the door

And we are off across Welly to our campsite in Miramar, a block
from the WETA Cave

Across Cook Strait, 1

On February 23rd, InterIslander ferried us across Cook Strait, a largely uneventful voyage, despite 3m swells, a bit beyond my comfort level for a 6k ton vessel, but OK, until the interestingly eventful landing and debarkment in Wellington (next post).
All my life I have been waiting for this

At an NZ camping association campground...

Tow-car of my sometime dreams

A BlueRidge ferry departs (much smaller boats)

Among the early boarders, we found excellent seats

Sounds scene

Our vessel; London registry?!

Picton harbor

Largest lens ever, so far



Small fry

On to the open sea

And the arrival of the scones trolley

Into the Strait

Ferry traffic

South Island coast

And big mountains