Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Splendid Spring Spectacles
We have had an splendid spring. Hence the title of this post. First, it is unusual and interesting for us to experience spring in September and October. As you know from an earlier post we went to the temple in Temple View, near Hamilton, New Zealand. Because our white corolla was getting over 90000 Km. we were asked to drive up and switch cars. So our adventure began. We left early one morning so we could make the Picton Ferry. Our first stop was in Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand. We spent a P day with the Jensens touring interesting things in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Merle loves to watch the news and we have seen the capital buildings many times and he wanted to see it in person. News people were gathered to welcome in the HMS Wellington, where the navy were marching from the harbour to the capital. We missed this parade which was good, we don't like crowds.
This building is called the Beehive and it is right next to the parliament building. It is an interesting office structure. As we were looking at the buildings it was kind of cloudy but warm.
We spent the day with this lovely couple--Elder and Sister Jensen, aka Don and Marilyn Jensen from Logan, Utah. They are the mission office couple and they do a great work. Merle and Don really get along great and we always have a wonderful time with them. We toured around the city and enjoyed that; as when we first landed in New Zealand we were a little jet-lagged and didn't really enjoy the city. Wellington is built on hills surrounding the harbour. It is called windy Wellington for a reason. It is even more windy that at home.
After going to a market and touring around the city we went to the Botanical Gardens. It was splendid and we saw many wonderful flowers. I especially enjoyed the thousands of orchids. There was also a beautiful plant called the "Skunk Plant". When it is in bloom it emits an odor that is quite distinct. Enjoy the picture.
After spending some time in the gardens the sun was beginning to come out and so we went to the tallest point in Wellington, Mount Victoria. It was a windy trip up but the view was spectacular.
As you can see the wind is blowing but you can see a bit of the harbour behind us and the small dot over Merle's shoulder is the ferry.
Here is a symbolic Maori carving. It has been made of cast something so people would not deface it or carve into it. This is looking out towards the hills. We had a magnificent view from atop this mountain. Afterwards we wound our way down the hill and around and decided to go to the beach to eat our lunch. We came to a bay where there were at least 50 wind surfers. Some even had kites behind them and would be lifted up when the wind was just right. It was a beautiful sight but photos didn't capture it as it was.
That evening Sister Jensen and I went to a baptism. We told the 4 elders there that we were doing splits. Elders Archibald and Jensen stayed at the flat and Sister Jensen and I went to the baptism. It was most interesting. The mom and dad were getting married. Then the dad got baptized, confirmed, ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and made a Priest. Then he baptized his wife. It was very touching. They made the focus of the evening their baptisms. After, the father sang a beautiful song that he had written. They are planning next year to go to the temple to be sealed as a family. They have 4 beautiful children. It was a great evening and nice to spend it with another couple.
We left good time the next morning to drive to Hamilton. It was about 8 hours of driving. As you know Merle does not stop a lot on the trip. I was driving most of the way as his feet were driving him crazy. We took this picture above because we are amazed at how they do not back slope by the roads and there are very few slips. Merle says at home if they just cut straight down through the hill, the hill would cave in on the road; but here clay, gravel, rock, etc. it just does not cave in easily even with all the rain they get.
By early evening we had arrived in Hamilton, in the above picture, on the banks of the Waikato. Hamilton is the largest inland city in New Zealand, with a population of about 200,000. As New Zealand's fastest growing and largest inland city, it sits on the banks of New Zealand's longest river, the Waikato River. Hamilton is the heart of New Zealand's largest export region. It is strong in agriculture, particularly dairy and thoroughbred horse breeding. Hamilton hosts the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere. The area is surrounded with beautiful rolling hills.
It was just coming into spring and above is one of the many spring flower beds we saw. I just love how green it all is.
In an earlier post I talked about our wonderful temple trip. I also mentioned Rangi Parker. We had an amazing experience with Rangi Parker and her family. She is a talented lady. When we first arrived in Temple View we asked at the Visitor's Centre how we could get in touch with her. The gave us her card and told us how to get to her place. We went right over and she was not home. We kept trying and finally one evening she came home. She had gone to Aussie to edit a book she was working on. The phones were too distracting at home so she left. She did come back for the Auckland MTC dedication and the Prophets visit. She was now home. We were invited to view her massive collection of missionary history and church history in New Zealand. When I walked into the rooms I was overcome with emotion. I could just feel something that touched my heart. Rangi has a passion for the history of the church in this small country. She has archived much of it. When she visits in the states she is often given photos that the missionaries took while they were serving here. I was glad to be able to share a little of what I had with her. Each time we went to visit her she was so gracious. She also shared her singing talent with us. She gave us a CD of her singing. One evening I put the music on the computer and she sang Merle to sleep. Too bad I am not smart enough to set up a listening gadget so you could hear some of the soothing sounds. She sings a lot in Maori- and does some of her own harmonizing and her daughters do some also. I wished that I understood the language. The above picture shows us with Rangi Parker, Vic Parker and a grandson.
When we left Hamiton we decided to take a few days coming home and see some of the North Island. Many people told us to go to Rotorua. So we did. The drive was amazing and Rotorua is a beautiful small city. We went to the Pohutu Cultural Theatre where we enjoyed a traditional program presented by descendants of the Te Arawa Tribe. We both enjoyed the music and activities and learned more about the culture. We also enjoyed traditional Maori delicacies, steam pit hangi, and delicious seafood buffet.
The next day we had many choices of things to do and see. We could have gone to the buried village but because we had seen Pompeii and Herculaneum we didn't go there. The only difference was this was a Maori Village. We could have gone to the Redwood forest but we had been to the Redwood forest in California. We had been told that Oarkei Korako was amazing so we drove to there. It is a geo-thermal area south of Rotorua, on the way to Taupo. We crossed the Waikato River on a ferry then walked around the area. This area has some of the largest silica terraces in the world. It is a lot like Yellowstone only more compact. Also, there are not the wild animals that Yellowstone has. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the "tramping". You can see the steam coming out of the hillside.
The above picture is of Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in Australasia and roughly the size of Singapore. It is known for its trout fishing. The area has 3 active volcanoes Mount Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. They ski and snowboard on Mount Ruapehu. This is a very touristy area,and oh so beautiful.
We have heard of the desert road and often wondered how on earth there could be a desert in New Zealand. In the stormy times the desert road is often closed because it gets treacherous. We were driving along on this beautiful road when all of a sudden the green was left behind and you come to something that is sandy and reminds one of Wyoming with the sand and dried growth. It lasts for about 50 km. and the army uses the area for training. You can see the snow-covered volcanic mountain in the background. There were 3 volcanoes around here. What a difference from what we were used to seeing. As we crossed the desert and looked at the mountains there were long white clouds hanging over the mountains. The Maori word for New Zealand is Aotearoa meaning the land of the long white cloud.
We spent the next night in Palmerston North. We were so tired we just had to stop. The next morning we drove on to Porirua and went to Church with the Jensens. They belong to a ward on the Pah where everyone is related. The bishop is just a young man. We met Elder Metikingi's nana and auntie. We also met many other people who are related to many of our friends in the Nelson District. We couldn't get a ferry ride until Tuesday so spent Monday in Porirua. We became the helpers for the Jensen's. I hung out the laundry and let it enjoy the wind and bring it in before the dew fell. We enjoyed lunch with the Jensens and made tea for them when they arrived home in the evening. We could tell it meant a lot. They were almost in tears. We prepared for the next day when we would catch the early ferry to return to the south island. Below you can see the Kaitaki which is the largest Interislander Ferry. Kaitaki means challenger. It was a smooth sailing and this time the windows were clean and we could take pictures.
We were the first car on the ferry as we were when we crossed from South to North. It is interesting that you can see the South Island from the North Island. It was a smooth sail and we visited with many of the passengers.
Here you can see the Marlborough Sounds and if you look closely you can see Picton in the distance. On our trip we saw Mussel Farms and Salmon Farms. At the edges of some of these islands are cottages. Their mail is delivered by boat. Although there are roads most of the residents travel by small boat. It is very beautiful coming through the sounds. We spent a nice afternoon in Picton. We had lunch and enjoyed an ice cream. I even found a maple walnut for Merle. We called Phillip MacDonald, as he had invited us to stay with them. We spent a fun afternoon and evening with Chris and Phillip. Grandma had taught his father on Wairau Pah. That is where the MacDonalds live. We were shown where the school was and things have not changed a lot, except there are grapes where sheep used to graze. The sea is not far away. The school was close to the Wairau River. Across the river is a group of trees where the old hotel used to be. Spring Creek is nearby where Grandpa spent a lot of time proselyting. It was really cool to walk where they once walked.
The bushes are where the school used to stand. The river is just behind me. The beach is just less than a mile downstream. I loved being here.
Here are Chris and Phillip MacDonald, our hosts for the night. We really enjoyed our stay with them in there lovely home. The land around is land that his father owned many years ago. Phillip has worked hard to make it profitable. We hope to be around in their autumn to watch the grape harvest.
This is Lake Rotiti, just off the road at St. Arnaud. We have driven the road many times and never stopped here until now. It was windy. Imagine how pretty the lake will be on a calm day. This lake is part of the Nelson Lakes National Park. I have a picture of Grandma with relatives at this lake.
Here is Elder Hill on the Ab Circle Pro. It is an ab machine which we borrowed for a week. It really gives you a workout. He has borrowed it from a member until he is transferred out of Blenheim. Elder Hill is a real pro at this. He is a little fellow but his abs must be great because he can really move on this machine.
Elder Kavaefiafi, a Tongan elder from Australia, is really great on these pushup things. He doesn't like the Ab Circle Machine. He is really strong. He got transferred this transfer and we will miss him. We took these pictures at flat inspection time.
We journeyed on to Nelson for flat inspection there the next day. This flat was the cleanest it has ever been. It was just amazing. Elder Berryman and Elder Prebble are the Zone Leaders and there will be two more elders moving in here this transfer. We also were able to get LPG gas for their water heater. Then we took the long way home.
On this trip we came home by way of Motueka. This is one picture we took as we were journeying back to Westport. It was nice to see some more beautiful country.
We have seen enormous stumps around New Zealand. Here is one clever use of a huge stump. We saw this and backed up and took the picture.
On October 14th we saw this steam engine coming into Greymouth. The steam is made from diesel instead of coal as in the olden days but it was a fun sight. We were taking Elder Fullmer to the plane as he was going home with honor.
Elder Fullmer and Elder McLean as Elder Fullmer prepares to go home. We sure will miss him but hopefully we will see him in the future.
While we were waiting for the new elder we "hung out" in Hokitika. In the Gold Shop Merle was able to hold this gold nugget. That was cool.
Also, at the entrance to the shops, many owners had placed these clever mats. It was fascinating.
We have a great beginning to spring and we hope it continues. This coming weekend is Labour Weekend and the people here say it is the beginning of summer. Although the Solstice does not come until December.