Katamarino's Round the World flight

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Katamarino, May 6, 2019.

  1. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Congratulations! Y’all look like you’re really having an awesome time.

    I must say, I sure appreciate you taking the time to give such great reports, I’ve really been enjoying it all... keep it up!
     
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  2. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Congratulations and Best Wishes!!!
     
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  3. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    Good on you not asking her in flight. I always tell my friends who propose in airplanes that it doesn't count unless she says yes again when you're safely on the ground. Congratulations and best wishes on that adventure. Just don't sail around the world. I know a married couple who tried that. They only made it across the Pacific before they had to park the boat and fly home for more consistent prenatal care than they could get at sea.
     
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  4. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You know, you did not have to plan an around the world airplane trip to ask the very important question.

    You could have asked like I did.... through an email....:lol::lol:
     
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  5. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Congrats! Certainly a memorable proposal!
     
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  6. G-Man

    G-Man Line Up and Wait

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    Congratulations! Well done, sir, well done!
     
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  7. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congratulations to you both. I was wondering if something like that was going to happen. May you both live long and be happy together.
     
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  8. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    Thats great news! Congrats. Are we all invited to the wedding??
     
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  9. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    Of course! Your options will be London or Beijing.
     
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  10. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    I won't be able to make those, but have you considered a fly-in bonus reception somewhere in the US? Nothing big, something between an AOPA fly-in and Oshkosh.
     
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  11. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Easy call, Chinese food so much better than English food...
     
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  12. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    Actually, yes, it'll be at KPJC! :D
     
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  13. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Congrats! What fun to add to the story!
     
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  14. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    We had one more day left on the Coromandel before heading south. Our first destination for the day was the Karangahake Gorge, an hour’s drive to the south (it seems like everything on the Coromandel is an hour’s drive away). This gorge used to be a major mining and industrial area, and even today there are some companies still prospecting in the area using much less intrusive methods than in the past. The peak years were from the 1880s until the 1950s, and at times this single area produced more than 60% of New Zealand’s gold.

    At the railway cafe
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    We started our visit with a brunch at the nearby railway cafe; a section of the old rail line now runs twice daily return trips for tourists, and the cafe takes advantage of the captive tourist traffic as they wait for the return trip. We then headed along to the main historical area. The old stamping battery and other industrial buildings, at least the ruins of them, can now be visited and the old rail route has been turned into a cycle and walking trail.

    Railway cafe
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    We spent an hour or so following one of the most popular trails, a loop running through the long old railway tunnel that cuts through one of the river bends. There enough to see that we could have spent much more time there, but we had a long drive ahead of us to go and see Cathedral Cove and the Hot Water Beach, an hour the other side of the hotel.

    Visiting the old industrial area
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    Double-decker bridge
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    The old rail tunnel
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    River walk
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    We parked near the beach in Hahei, and set out on the walk to Cathedral Cove. It turned out to be rather further than expected, with over an hour of following the trail through the hot afternoon sun, along the hillsides and down to the beach. We’d looked at taking the water taxi instead, but it wasn’t operating due to large waves! Nonetheless, the walk was very much worth it to have the chance to wander through the huge sea arch that gives the cove its name, and we spent time relaxing and re-hydrating before starting the walk back to the car. I gallantly volunteered to walk ahead and drive it up to the trail head to meet Elsa; what a gentleman! I even brought back a nice cold bottle of water and an ice lolly.

    Walking to Cathedral Cove
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    Cathedral Cove
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    Our final stop for the day would be Hot Water Beach. Unimaginatively named, this beach features a section where you can dig at low tide, and the incoming water from springs above it hot. If you find the right mix of hot and cold water, you can sit in a pleasant hot tub like pool of your own construction. Low tide on this day was at about 7am (not going to happen), and a little after 7pm, so we first found somewhere to get dinner before continuing. The only place that was both open, and had an appealing menu, turned out to be a gourmet burger van in the nearby holiday park; places close early in Hahei. The friendly barman in the trailer next door poured me a sensible glass of wine, then asked if I was driving, and topped it all the way up to the rim on hearing that I’d be on foot for the next few hours. Good man.

    Hot water beach
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    We headed to the beach after Elsa polished off her enormous burger, and made our way down to the hot water section. It was very obvious where to dig, as the area was already pretty crowded. We borrowed a shovel, found a suitable site, and began construction; after a great deal of digging, and one blister, we had a workable pool and were able to relax and enjoy the twilight and the waves lapping on the sand below. A couple of locals turned up and educated me on the proper way to get a bathing pool; just come along later in the tide window, and wait for somebody else to leave!

    Evening at hot water beach
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  15. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    My daughter's first swim in ocean water was at Cathedral Cove. We were there all day! Man I love seeing these NZ photos. Such a cool place to visit. Must be awesome to see from the air.

    The southern Alps and glaciers will be fun to see through your lens :)

    If you make it to Dunedin and have time check out the Royal Albatross Center. The albatross are of course cool. However it just happens to be at the location of the last fully restored "Dissapearing Gun" which was so friggin' cool. And really, just book the full tour because you can also see the little penguins swim in at night and you can watch from right above them. That whole evening was one of our favorites. Would be really awesome if you could fly by it - it is way up there. The tour guide actually remembered the last time the gun was fired (like 20 or 30yrs ago) said everyone heard everywhere! The bird observation is actually from the targeting bunker!

    So much to see on the South Island. Envy.
     
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  16. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    We wanted to visit some attractions in Rotorua, so we left the Puka Park lodge fairly early and drove north to Whitianga airport. The DC3 had clearly had its engine repaired, as it was no longer on the field. We later learned that it was the one normally based in Ardmore, which had been stranded here after the engine issue. I left my landing fee in the honesty box, and we headed out south along the coast. Yet again, the weather had cooperated and it was a beautiful, sunny day in the Coromandel!

    Leaving Whitianga
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    Passing Pauanui
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    Our destination today was Rotorua, and the flight took us down the coast over the city of Tauranga, before heading inland. The views of the coast were beautiful, and we got a good look over the unusual, enormous hedges that we had been driving past everywhere. Our best guess was that they might be wind-breaks for fruit orchards…? The coastal scenery gave way to Tauranga town, followed by more dry fields as we headed inland. Lake Rotorua was soon in sight, and we passed near the central volcano as we flew the circuit to land.

    Approaching Tauranga
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    The flight to Rotorua
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    Approaching Lake Rotorua
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    Downwind at Rotorua
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    Final approach
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    Parked up in Rotorua
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    We parked on the grass near the control tower, and spent a bit of time wandering around trying to figure out how to get out of the airport before a helpful fireman showed us the large “push to exit” button that we’d somehow missed. I collected our car from RaD (previously Rent-a-Dent) car hire, and we set straight off to Wai-o-tapu thermal wonderland, about half an hour down the highway, and one of the most popular geothermal tourist locations to see bubbling mud, steaming pools, and so on. The geothermal area overall covers about 18 square kilometers, with the “Thermal Wonderland” situated over some of the most active and impressive features.

    The thermal wonderland
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    The wonderland is set up in three loops, and we had just enough time to walk them all. The variety of thermal features is impressive; hot springs, boiling mud, geysers, and more. With the amount of sulfurous gas being vented, it’s a treat for the nose as well as the eyes! The site is still active enough that new pools are appearing, and existing ones enlarging, sometimes without much warning.

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    The signs telling one to keep to the path are not just for show; many of the pools are right at boiling point, and poorly suited to swimming. It was interesting to find that the walls of some of the craters have been colonised by birds for nesting, as the temperature is nice and warm even through the winter.

    A very large tuatara
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    After some souvenir shopping and ice creams, as well as the rescuing of Elsa’s forgotten hat from the shop, we stopped at the bubbling mud pools situated on the access road. These pools of bubbling mud are the real stereotypical image (and aroma) of Rotorua.

    The mud pool
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    Geothermal adventure complete for now, we drove back to Rotorua and our AirBNB. We were greeted by our lovely host, who turned out to have injured her foot and then put her back out, all in the last two days, but didn’t want to cancel our booking and inconvenience us! We were glad she’d kept the booking, as it was a beautiful room and a good location; she was a great source of ideas for where to go and what to do, as well. Dinner was at a Japanese restaurant in the center of town, followed by dessert at an ice cream parlour. Here, the smallness of the modern world was demonstrated yet again, when it turned out that three of us strangers next to each other in the queue had all lived in The Hague at some point.

    Rotorua's food street
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    After dinner, we drove out to the Redwoods Treewalk, suggested by our host. This treewalk, high in the canopy of a grove of imported redwood trees, is 700m long with 28 individual bridges. At night, the entire grove comes alive with a light show that can be enjoyed as one wanders around the loop of suspended walkways. It’s popular enough that even though we arrived after 9pm, there was still a 30 minute wait to start the walk!

    The treewalk
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  17. SCCutler

    SCCutler Administrator Management Council Member

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    Keep 'em coming!
     
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  18. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    Today would be a long day of flying. We breakfasted at the AirBNB, then headed out to the airport for the first of our two flights. On the way, Elsa insisted on a stop at the “Fruit Monster”; being a major fruit lover she was expecting great things, but reported that overall the store was a disappointing experience. I returned the car to RaD, and put my baseball cap on to free up a hand for carrying bags. A sharp pain on the top of my head was soon explained, when I hurriedly took the hat off and a bee flew out. This was not something I had expected.

    The Fruit Monster
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    Not wanting to have any complications from the stinger being left in, I dropped in to the airport fire station on my way back to the aircraft, to see if the first aider could check it out. After all, it’s difficult to assess the top of one’s own head. The fire service were very helpful, although did take the opportunity to call a few of their colleagues to come and have a good laugh. One, I assume the most junior, was tasked to write up the incident for the airport’s incident reporting system and settled on the headline “Pilot brought to his knees by killer bee attack” which I thought was a little melodramatic.

    Departing Rotorua
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    We had decided to fly out and see White Island, before doubling back to the south and heading towards Wellington. We donned life jackets, given that the island is 30 miles off shore, and set out from Rotorua. White Island is an active volcano and just a few months earlier had erupted while groups of tourists were present in the crater, tragically killing 20 and seriously injuring a further 25. A restricted area was still up around the island, and so we could only get within 2 miles and 2,000ft of it, which was still closer than I wanted to get! The volcano was at a fairly low activity level as we flew around it; a particularly adventurous mariner had positioned his yacht close to shore, which seemed a questionable decision.

    Coasting out
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    White Island
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    We turned back to the south, for what would be another two hours flight across the north island to the difficult-to-pronounce Paraparaumu airport. We’d been invited to this field, a little north of Wellington, to have lunch with a couple of pilots who’d been looking to fly their homebuilt aircraft around the world. We’d been corresponding a little bit, with me trying to share the various things I’d learned, and while they’d decided to put the flight on hold for now it would be nice to meet one of them; Simon was away on business, but Peter would be there to greet us!

    South of Mt Ruapehu
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    The route took us back past Lake Taupo, which looked as beautiful as ever, and would then take us past the tallest mountain on the North Island, Mt Ruapehu. Unfortunately, the weather curse struck and the mountain was entirely shrouded in cloud and entirely invisible. Soon after passing Ruapehu, it started to look like conditions in Paraparaumu would necessitate flying the instrument approach, so we called up Ohakea approach for an IFR clearance. They were happy to oblige, clearing us through their airspace. They called back shortly afterwards to ask “Is that the round-the-world C182? We just looked you up online!”

    The day's route
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    Approaching Paraparaumu
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    On the ground
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    The low cloud over Paraparaumu persisted; a layer of overcast that finished just a few kilometers north of the field. Most airports in New Zealand have great GPS approaches though, and we were able to fly our chosen approach all the way to minimums. The field appeared at the last minute, and we landed without difficulty and taxied to the flying club. Peter arrived shortly afterwards, and drove us down to a nearby restaurant for lunch by the beach. Elsa very stoically put up with the non-stop pilot talk about round-the-world flights, no doubt being well used to it by now.

    With Peter at Paraparaumu
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    After lunch Peter dropped us back at the flying club, and we spent a while chatting to the members before departure. One of the people who turned up was Tim Gorman, keen photographer, who had been following our progress towards and through New Zealand. It was great to catch up with him and have him take a few photos of the aircraft.

    Meeting Tim Gorman
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    Tail-draggers leaving ahead of us
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    Departing Paraparaumu
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    Photographs finished, we started up and taxied out behind a couple of back-country tail-draggers that were headed to an event. The overcast had lifted a little, and we stayed just below the ceiling as we headed out to the west, climbing up higher as soon as we were clear of cloud. The south island came straight into view, with perfect visibility all the way from us to the fjords around Picton and Nelson. We cut straight across the water towards Takaka, where my father and my aunt were waiting to meet us.

    Crossing the Cook Straight
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    The South Island
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    South Island fiords
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    Approaching Takaka
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    The field was tucked into a cove on the tip of the south island. We landed to the south, and taxied in to the small apron nestled between two of the runway ends. Dad and Aunt Janet walked out as we arrived, and after checking with some pilots from Golden Bay Air, helped us push it onto the grass by the flying club. We loaded up all the bags into the car and headed into Takaka.

    Parked up in Takaka
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    We settled into our rooms at the motel and took care of some laundry before relaxing with a drink and figuring out what to do for dinner.

    Takaka artwork
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    Takaka did not have many options to choose from of an evening, and we ended up at a trendy local bar and grill, with a very hip menu but not much in the way of service. Three of us enjoyed almost the right meal, and about ten minutes after we finished, my aunt’s food finally arrived! Better late than never.

    Many more pictures at https://katamarino.co.uk/index.php/2020/03/27/round-the-world-new-zealand-days-15-and-16/
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
  19. G-Man

    G-Man Line Up and Wait

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    "Intrepid British explorer risks all to fight off horde of vicious attacking killer bees!" Glad you were successful. The rest of the trip is still overwhelmingly wonderful - thanks for continuing to share!
     
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  20. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    My dad and my aunt left Takaka a couple of hours before us. We’d be meeting up again that evening, and their journey was going to take them significantly longer than ours would. Elsa and I took a walk up and down the main street, grazing on a selection of croissants and Thai beef curry for breakfast. Takaka is clearly a very trendy town, as evidenced by the number of people wandering around with no shoes and dreadlocks. The highlight was the very friendly cat in the flower shop; half the people passing were stopping to pet him on the step as they went by!

    The flower shop cat
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    The day before, Tim Gorman had sent me a message pointing out that the Golden Bay Flying Club had spotted our Cessna parked up and posted photos on their website. We chatted to the club official, Murray, who had been following the trip and he invited us to meet him at his office on the high street for a lift out to the airport. We gratefully accepted! At the airport, he showed us around the club house before lending a hand to push the aircraft out onto the tarmac, ready for departure. After an arriving Golden Bay Air charter, we taxied out and departed.

    With Murray at the flying club
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    Departing Takaka
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    Our first stop for the day would be the airport at Karamea, to kill a bit of time and allow my dad and aunt to make progress towards our night stop. A Golden Bay air-van had departed a little before us, and Murray had tracked it on Flightaware for us to see if it made it through the pass that was on the most direct route; he was unsure if the cloud base would allow that today. It did, and so we set off in the same direction, following Murray’s directions to head up the valley to the southwest. As we went, the cloud layer helpfully broke up, and weather turned out not to be an issue for our climb up into the mountains.

    Up the valley towards Karamea
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    The west coast
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    The flight to Karamea wasn’t long, and almost as soon as we reached the required height to clear the pass, it was time to start descending again. We flew a right downwind to Karamea, over the water, touched down and taxied in to park up by the little pilot’s room/terminal. Closer inspection revealed that there wasn’t really anywhere close enough to easily walk to, so we relaxed on the sofas and watched a couple of helicopters come and go, tracking the ground team using Google location sharing to figure out when it would be time to take off again.

    The day's flying
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    At Karamea
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    Departing Karamea
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    West coast cliffs
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    It was a straight run down the coast from Karamea to that night’s destination of Westport. Phone signal is surprisingly good when aloft in New Zealand, much like it was in Australia, so we were able to track the progress of the ground team as we flew. We decided it would be fun to go inland and wave to them; the route took us between several restricted areas, set up over quarries to keep aircraft clear of blasting debris.

    Down the west coast
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    We overflew the Buller River canyon to check for obstructions, before descending lower and following the road downstream. There was very little traffic, so we were able to spot my aunt and father easily (the second time around, at least). They were stopped at a view point taking photos of the canyon, so managed to get a great look at us as we flew past, but unfortunately were too busy waving to take any pictures!

    Quarry
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    The ground team
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    The Buller River
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    We carried on down the Buller River towards Westport, climbing into the traffic pattern for landing at the airport. We flew a left downwind over the water, and landed to the north, taxiing in and parking off to one side of the apron to stay out the way of the commercial traffic. The ground team arrived just as I finished fitting the cover, and we headed to the motel to check in.

    Approaching Westport
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    At Westport
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    Elsa and Dad relaxed at the motel while my aunt and I headed out for some essential supply shopping, preceded by ice creams.

    Essential shopping
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    That evening we strolled a few blocks down for dinner at the “Dennison Dog”, who turned out to serve portions that would not have been out of place in the USA.

    Dinner in Westport
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  21. Gary

    Gary En-Route

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    An amazing journey!! It is wonderful to vicariously travel the earth! Keep the narrative going! And, congrats to you both!
     
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  22. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @Katamarino I was just wondering what you're using for charts and airport information? ForeFlight has made a lot of progress internationally but they're not worldwide yet, at least for charts. Is the basemap with aeronautical layer enough, or do you have some sort of Jepp subscription, or are you using another EFB or even an EFB at all?
     
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  23. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've used a variety. Garmin Pilot and my IFD540 have IFR navdata across the whole world which is good enough for most flying. I've also used SkyDemon for Europe and Turkey, and AvPlan/OzRunways for Australia and New Zealand. I get instrument plates and airport diagrams either from these, from the national AIPs, or from Jeppesen.
     
  24. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    You mentioned ice cream....now I keep thinking about Tip Top.
     
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  25. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Amazing how much New Zealand landscape looks like California but surprisingly it seems they have even more earthquakes than we do.
     
  26. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    The next morning, the weather was awful. Low cloud, high wind, and rain had come in overnight. The ground crew dropped us off at the airport and went on their way, while we hung around in the terminal building using the wifi to finalise the flight planning, and waiting for a bit of a break in the rain so that I could take off the airplane cover without getting soaked through. The manager of the airport was there, although it was otherwise deserted; she kindly opened up the garage for me so that I could fold the cover up in the dry.

    Rainy Westport
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    We set out from Westport and were into the cloud within moments. New Zealand has a very pragmatic system for IFR flight outside of controlled airspace, to go along with their excellent network of instrument approaches for even the smallest airports. The one positive of the bad weather was that the strong wind was blowing our way, so the flight down the coast to Hokitika was a high speed affair.

    Departing Westport
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    On top of the cloud layer
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    Hazy conditions on descent
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    On the instrument approach
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    Over Hokitika
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    Final approach
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    Conditions over the field were cloudy, and it wasn’t until the very last minute that we caught sight of the runway, right at minimums, and touched down. One of the local pilots came out to greet us and directed us to the tie-downs. We secured the aircraft, and made our way towards the terminal. The ground team turned up just as we got there!

    The day's flight
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    Parked up in Hokitika
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    One of the top attractions in Hokitika is the National Kiwi Center. In the middle of Hokitika, the center houses two kiwis (one male and one female) in a purpose built habitat. Feedings happen three times a day, and we were able to make it just in time for the 3pm session! As well as housing kiwis, the center is home to a large collection of giant freshwater eels. These eels start their lives in the waters around several of the Pacific islands, journey all the way to New Zealand to mature and live their lives, and then swim back to the islands to reproduce.

    Eel-feeding
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    While Elsa and I were visiting the kiwi center, Dad and Aunt Janet took all the gear to the house that we’d rented through AirBNB. This turned out to be a much better way of accommodating four people than using motel rooms! They joined us opposite the kiwi center to shop for an evening barbecue, the cooking and eating of which took up most of the rest of the evening!

    Our home for the night in Hokitika
    [​IMG]
     
  27. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    We woke up in Hokitika to greatly improved weather. The ground team dropped Elsa and I in the town center to have breakfast and kill some time while they drove down towards Franz Josef Glacier. We lingered over bacon sandwiches and an absurdly large slice of chocolate cake, and were about to start a leisurely walk to the airport when the rain began. We waited for a while, but things didn’t improve, and the temperature had dropped ten degrees as well, so we elected to give up on the walking idea and took a taxi to the airport.

    A brief window of sunshine in Hokitika
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    We took off IFR once again and turned south. The west coast peeked out at us every now and then through the clouds as we headed towards our first destination, Franz Josef Airfield. There was a large area of low cloud over the field, so we flew a little east towards a hole in the cloud, that ended up giving us great views of the glacier before we circled down through and made our way to the airstrip.

    Departing Hokitika
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    Heading south along the coast
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    Franz Josef Glacier
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    The runway, home of the Air Safaris flight-seeing company, had been partially washed away in recent weeks and reinstated in gravel; we taxied to the gravel parking area and shut down next to the Air Safaris air van. With the weather the way it was, they weren’t operating any flights, and the airfield was deserted; we waited for a short while inside the unlocked tour office before the ground team arrived to pick us up.

    Approaching Franz Josef airstrip
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    Lunch time
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    Parked at Franz Josef
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    It was about a twenty minute drive to the car park near the base of the glacier. Along the way we stopped to watch an enormous bulldozer working in the river, using giant mounds of gravel to redirect the entire main flow away from the bank holding the road. As well as washing away part of the airfield runway, the heavy rains of recent weeks had cut numerous roads across the west coast of the south island, including the highway to Milford Sound.

    River re-shaping
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    Team colours at Franz Josef
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    Waterfall in the Franz Josef glacier valley
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    We soon arrived at the Franz Josef glacier car park. The very base of the glacier was just visible, peeking around the corner of the valley. Janet decided that she’d stay in the car and read her book, so Elsa borrowed her jacket and the three of us set off in the drizzle up the path to the glacier. Despite conditions, there were plenty of other tourists around. The end of the trail is adjusted by the parks service based on conditions, and today it was set about 2km back from the foot of the glacier due to unstable river conditions. It turned out that Janet had chosen the best viewpoint; from the end of the path, the glacier was 100% invisible behind low cloud. We spent a while waiting to see if it would clear, and headed back down to the car.

    The Waiho River
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    Scooby Doo and Shaggy were nowhere to be seen
    [​IMG]

    The ground crew dropped us back off at the airfield, and we went our separate ways for a night. They set off for Haast, while we would be making our way across the Southern Alps to Wanaka. We departed to the west and flew out towards the coastline to get into clear air, before starting a steady climb up to 9,500ft. As soon as we had safe clearance from terrain, we turned on course towards Wanaka.

    Departing Franz Josef
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    The day's flights
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    Climbing to clear the Southern Alps
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    The flight route would take us fairly close to New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook. Unfortunately, the cloud was shrouding the mountain completely, and we didn’t get any views of it as we passed to the south. What we did manage to see of the mountains, however, was still beautiful and offered tantalising glimpses of what we might enjoy on future flights when the weather was better. As we continued, the cloud started to break up and we were treated to the sight of the eastern part of the Southern Alps; we were not disappointed.

    Southern Alps peeking through the clouds
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    Southern Alps
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    We headed down Lake Hawea as we descended. Wanaka is one of the busiest airports in New Zealand, and has specific VFR arrivals published to help keep traffic separated; we followed the Maungawera corner arrival to fly a right downwind for runway 29, touching down after a couple of flight-seeing Cessnas. We taxied in and parked in front of Southern Alps Air, which seemed to have the largest number of light aircraft in front of it. Wanaka, like most NZ airports, did not have transient parking marked on the airport chart, and so it was usually necessary to ask someone!

    Descending down Lake Hawea
    [​IMG]

    Southern Alps Air directed us to the visitor parking, which was entirely non-intuitive and involved taxiing all the way down to the end of the runway, round the end of the hangars on the grass, and then all the way down a grass area to near where we’d started. Elsa decided to walk, rather than ride along, and ended up somewhat lost so after I had shut down I went off and found her. We asked at the counter of a local helicopter business about the best way to find a ride to town, and a young guy standing nearby overheard and offered us a lift. He turned out to have just successfully been checked out in a new helicopter model, and also worked as a helicopter mechanic. A man of many talents!

    On the ground at Wanaka
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    He dropped us off at our motel in Wanaka, where we were met by a very friendly proprietor and given a room upgrade. Lovely! After a bit of time spent resting at the motel, we took advantage of the motel manager’s offer of a lift into town, and ate at an interesting Asian fusion kind of restaurant overlooking the lake. The waiter turned out to be quite the local tour guide as well and gave us some excellent tips of what to get up to the following morning. Sitting enjoying dinner, overlooking the beautiful lake views in the sunshine, was a far cry and a welcome change from the rain and fog of just a few hours area.

    The view from dinner in Wanaka
    [​IMG]
     
  28. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Some gorgeous scenery (when visible) and a great adventure. Were you planning on spending this much time in New Zealand? If not, it still doesn't sound like you've seen everything yet, so probably not a bad deal if you are stuck there.
     
  29. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    After breakfasting, we packed our bags and called a taxi to take us to our morning’s activity, the Lavender Farm. This had been a top tip from the friendly waiter the night before, and appealed to us primarily due to the fact that they had alpacas. We entered the farm through the quaint gift and tea shop, and discovered that when our waiter had said the farm was heavily lavender themed, he had certainly not been exaggerating.

    The Lavender Farm
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    [​IMG]

    We had never seen so much lavender in one place. It’s a good thing we quite like it. The property is set up as an active lavender producing farm, with numerous lavender products available for sale in the gift shop, and even for consumption in the cafe! However, at the same time, the whole place (including working farm part) is made to be incredibly picturesque and attractive. We enjoyed a couple of hours wandering around and taking pictures, and even bumped into a British recreational pilot who was interested to chat about our respective flying experiences.

    A very small horse
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    [​IMG]

    We had a snack at the cafe while waiting for the ground team to arrive, and once they did we threw the luggage into the car and headed out to the airport again. Given that we were so close to the beautiful Southern Alps here, we’d decided to do some scenic flying; I’d take Dad and my Aunt for flights one at a time, as the aircraft only had 2 of the seats fitted for this trip.

    The world's greatest aviator
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    I flew a flight with each of them, taking off from Wanaka and heading north along the lakes and around the beautiful Mt Aspiring. It was interesting to see the colour of the snow fields; ash from the fires in Australia had made it this far, and coated the glaciers, making them a beige colour rather than their usual brilliant white.

    Ash on the snowfields
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    Another remarkable feature were the many stunning waterfalls to be seen, a number of them emerging directly from the base of glaciers and tumbling down the cliffs below. It was a real pleasure to fly around the mountain and glaciers twice and enjoy a slightly different view and experience each time!

    Lake Wanaka
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    While I was flying, those who were on the ground spent some time in town, as well as picking up some food for me to eat after the flying, which was greatly appreciated. Scenic flights complete, I fully refilled the wing tanks with a loaned fuel card from the “U-Fly” company on the field; unfortunately, he failed to tell me about the 15% mark-up he was intending to charge until it was too late! At least we now had full tanks, and could continue on our way; and he did give some good tips on routing for the next flight.

    Glacier waterfall
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    Southern Alps
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    Elsa and I took off out of Wanaka, and headed once again for Mt Aspiring so that she could enjoy the dramatic views that we’d had on the scenic flights during the morning. From Mt Aspiring, we continued west past another renowned ice field before arriving at the seaward end of the famous Milford Sound. Widely known as New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination, the sound is situated in Fiordland National Park, and in 2008 was even voted the world’s most popular international tourist destination. Formed by glaciation, the sound is 15km long, and the sheer sides rise to heights of 4,000ft or more straight out of the water. It is renowned for the dramatic waterfalls that tumble from these towering cliffs.

    Milford Sound
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    The day's flying
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    The highway to Milford Sound had been seriously damaged in the recent rains. The only ground access was limited to buses, in two set time periods; they drove in as a large convoy in the morning, the road was then closed for the day for work to continue, and then the convoy was allowed back out in the late afternoon. Apart from these convoys, the only way in was by air, and flights seemed very busy indeed. To land at the Milford Sound Airport a special permission from the government is needed, as well as an in-person briefing session in Queenstown, so we elected to just fly over this time and enjoy the views.

    Milford Sound Airport
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    Milford Sound
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    We flew up and down the sound, down below the cliff tops, and announcing our position and intentions on the mandatory broadcast frequency. It seemed we’d arrived at a busy time, with a string of about 7 light aircraft departing to head to Queenstown, so we made sure to stay out of their way and enjoyed the views. Sightseeing completed, we tacked onto the end of the string of aircraft as they headed out to the southwest over Lake Ada, towards Lake Quill and the Sutherland Falls. These rivaled even the beauty of Milford Sound itself!

    Lake Quill
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    Arriving at Queenstown
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    We followed the line of airplanes towards Queenstown, following the arrival procedure mentioned in the literature and being reassured by having preceding aircraft to copy and be sure we were on the right track. The ADS-B was handy for spotting other aircraft, although not every aircraft has it so you still need to keep a strict look-out going. We passed overhead the airport and joined right downwind, touching down and following the tower’s direction to parking. We were pleased to even receive an unsolicited compliment, being told “great job for a transient” after managing to follow all the procedures accurately! The planes in front deserved a large part of the credit. Once again, where to park was not at all clear, but luckily we had arrived not long after a pilot who’d seen my post online the night before, asking for tips on arriving at Queenstown. He saw us coming, and ran over to direct us to where we needed to be.

    Parked up in Queenstown
    [​IMG]

    It was only a short wait before my father arrived to collect us and we settled down in the hotel. After a couple of drinks in the bar, we headed out to wander through the town, stopping in a souvenir store to browse, and then had dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant.

    Queenstown
    [​IMG]

    Elsa's favourite sheep skin
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    On the way back Elsa was delighted to discover a newly opened milk-tea bar, and managed to get a drink and a slice of cake moments before another customer bought out the entire remaining stock for the evening. We had an early night; the ground crew were departing on a 6am bus to Milford Sound, and we were heading out not much later to get to Manapouri and our next adventure!

    Chopstick practice
    [​IMG]

    Evening in Queenstown
    [​IMG]
     
  30. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    We had to be in Manapouri for 9am, so it was a fairly early start in Queenstown to catch a taxi to the airport. Elsa very helpfully went down to breakfast and collected food for me, so I could sleep a little longer! We had to wait a while to get someone to open the security gate, but once we did it didn’t take us long to load up the aircraft, pre-flight, and get on our way. There was a fairly low overcast over the airport itself, but conditions were more than good enough to head out over the lake to where the cloud lifted, and climb away.

    Departing Queenstown
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Early morning overcast near Queenstown
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    Short flight to Manapouri
    [​IMG]

    The flight was not long, and the weather was great. The view of the southern alps out to our west was beautiful as always, and there was some interesting variety in the more rolling hills and lower peaks of the central South Island. As we approached Manapouri, we had great views of Lake Manapouri, which we’d soon be crossing by boat. The reason for our visit to this particular airport was to take part in an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, and the tour organiser had offered to pick us up from Manapouri airport on her way to the quay.

    Approaching Manapouri
    [​IMG]

    Southland
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    We landed and got directions from a local pilot to visitor parking, next to a DC3. I covered up the aircraft and we headed in to the terminal to wait for Mandy, who arrived not long later in the Firodland Expeditions truck, and gave us a lift down to the first boat. We’d be taking this across Lake Manapouri, transferring to a minibus, and then riding that across the pass to join the boat for the overnight trip. At the quay, we met the 6 others we’d be sharing the cruise with; 2 retired doctors and their wives from the USA, and a couple from New Caledonia. Luckily, they all turned out to be great company!

    Crossing the lake
    [​IMG]

    We shared the first boat ride, across the lake, with visitors for other boat tours as well as a party of electricians who were going to carry out some work on the large hydro-electric power plant at the other side of Lake Manapouri. This power plant is quite a feat of engineering; it intakes water at lake level, down giant underground pipes to a turbine hall 200 meters below the surface, and after being used here to generate power the water exits down two 10-kilometers long underground tail-race tunnels into Doubtful Sound. It’s the largest hydro-electric power plant in New Zealand, able to generate more than 800MW of power. A large amount of this power is used to power an aluminium smelter.

    First view of Doubtful Sound
    [​IMG]

    At the visitor center near the power plant, we met up with one of our three boat crew, Jimmy. He guided us over the pass, stopping at a viewpoint to enjoy the first views of Doubtful Sound, and keeping up a fascinating commentary on the history of human activity in the area. We descended the other side of the pass and arrived at our vessel, the Tutoko II, being met on arrival by Captain Jason and Cody, the other members of the three man crew. We carried our limited luggage aboard, and soon we were on our way!

    Heading out along the sound
    [​IMG]

    Two other passengers had failed to turn up, so there were only eight passengers on the 16-person capacity vessel. This made for a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. We settled into our cabins before having a safety briefing and some welcome champagne as Captain Jason skippered us out into the sound. The views were every bit as stunning as we’d been led to believe.

    Elsa fishing for dinner
    [​IMG]

    We stopped first about half way out towards the sea, for a little kayaking. Only three of us decided to brave the cold and go out in kayaks, and we spent a little time exploring the shoreline and taking the chance to get a few photographs of the boat. While we paddled, the others started going with some fishing; nothing very big was caught, but they did manage to bring in a few fish to use as bait for later! Before too long we recovered the kayaks, and started heading further out towards the mouth of the sound.

    Our boat, Tutoko II
    [​IMG]

    Kayaking
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    We might need a few more of these to feed everyone
    [​IMG]

    We stopped next near the shoreline, not far from the mouth. Cody, one of the crew, donned his SCUBA gear and plunged into the water, while the rest of us fished with about the same amount of success as earlier. Cody returned a while later with a bag bulging with enormous crawfish, destined for the first course of that evening’s dinner! We pulled in the lines, and headed further out towards the sea, stopping for a while to view a seal colony on the rocks near the mouth. It was pretty choppy though, and Elsa discovered that she suffers from sea-sickness, so before long we all agreed to head back in for one last go at fishing!

    Cody ready to get crayfish
    [​IMG]

    Fishing success
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    Cody's catch
    [​IMG]

    We started to get numerous heavy bites on the fishing lines at our final fishing spot. Every time we came close to reeling in the prize, though, the line would break and the quarry would get away. The gentleman from New Caledonia was particularly affected by this, getting by far the most bites and by far the most subsequent escapes! Eventually, though, he triumphed and reeled in a large “Grey Boy” shark, very common around New Zealand and one of the few shark species that’s good for eating. He was heartily congratulated by all for finally winning the fight, and providing the main course of the dinner!

    Shark!
    [​IMG]

    Dinner
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    Chef Jimmy
    [​IMG]

    Having enjoyed an excellent three course meal, courtesy of Jimmy, we motored over to our night’s mooring position near one of the many waterfalls. We drifted off to sleep to the sound of the falling water, and nothing else.

    The passengers
    [​IMG]
     
  31. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    The crawfish look as big as lobsters!
     
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  32. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    After a peaceful night’s sleep, we woke to find very different conditions to the day before. A low overcast had descended over the sound, the tops of the cliffs on either side disappearing up into the cloud, and a light drizzle was falling. It was colder, too! Jimmy had cooked a hearty breakfast, and I took full advantage of the availability of “Weetbix”, an excellent cereal that only seems to be available down under. While we ate, Cody was busy cleaning the rooms; it would clearly be a fast turnaround once we made it back to the dock, ready for the next passengers.

    Morning in Doubtful Sound
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We cruised back along the sound, stopping occasionally to admire waterfalls, before ending up back at the mooring. Jimmy drove us back over the pass in the van, pausing first to look over the outflow in to the sound from the hydroelectric plant’s tail race. The final stop was to look out from the same viewpoint as we’d visited on the way in; the view was quite different today!

    The passengers
    [​IMG]

    The crew
    [​IMG]

    We were dropped off back at the visitor center, and were soon back on the boat across Lake Manapouri to the town, where we said our goodbyes to our overnight friends. Mandy met us once again and drove us back to the airport, to head off to our next destination.

    The hydro plant
    [​IMG]

    Another DC3
    [​IMG]

    We took off and headed south east, towards Invercargill. The overcast and mist seemed to be confined to the Fiordland area, so we had mostly clear skies as we crossed the rolling agricultural fields of Southland. This was the first time either of us had been this far south, and it was exciting to see a whole new part of New Zealand.

    Departure
    [​IMG]

    Lake Manapouri
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    Our day's flight
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    Crossing Southland
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    Invercargill tower cleared us to land straight in, bringing us in over downtown for a good view of the city center. They gave us direction to visitor parking down one end of the apron, and we unloaded and hauled our bags over to the main terminal to catch a taxi to the bed and breakfast. Before leaving, I stopped into the office of the airline servicing Stewart Island. Our first stop the next day would be their private airstrip, so I had arranged to visit and get a quick briefing on the procedures. They were welcoming, and everything seemed fairly straightforward!

    Invercargill
    [​IMG]

    Parked up
    [​IMG]

    Part of the reason for visiting Invercargill was its use as an ending point in the excellent 2017 New Zealand movie “Pork Pie”, which I had thoroughly enjoyed, and I was hoping the city did not disappoint! We were staying at the “Villa Rouge”, a lovely little BnB that only has one guest room, so it’s a very peaceful and intimate experience! We were welcomed by Diana and Noel and spent a while settling in and relaxing, before joining Diana for tea and some of her delicious homemade cake.

    Queen's Park
    [​IMG]

    After tea and cake we headed out to explore the nearby Queens Park. This park is enormous, situated close to the center of town, and is beautifully maintained with a wide variety of different garden types. During our wanderings we checked out the main lawns, fountain, glass houses, rose garden, animal enclosures, native New Zealand garden, and even the “stumpery”. We had never heard of a stumpery, which turned out to be a garden created using all the dead trees and wooden off-cuts from around the rest of the park. It looked somewhat apocalyptic!

    The cactus room
    [​IMG]

    Strange flowers
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    Another Tuatara
    [​IMG]

    After the park, we walked into downtown and explored a little. The city is small, and large areas of it were undergoing major renovations and rebuilding. We had dinner at a pleasant Thai restaurant, before a relaxed walk back to the BnB. Being summer in the southern hemisphere, it was still light well into the evening, and it was fun to look at all the beautifully maintained houses and front gardens that seemed to pepper the streets north of the city center.

    Downtown
    [​IMG]

    Meeting a Hedgehog
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    Appropriate licence plate
    [​IMG]

    The B&B cat
    [​IMG]
     
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  33. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Your pics are just awesome, I'm enjoying following your adventures!
     
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  34. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    You're only the 2nd person I've heard mention Weetbix. I knew a Kiwi pilot who flew helicopters in the GOM and never left home without his Weetbix, not to be confused with WeetAbix.... as he would insist. I believe he got his stash from a place in Cincinnati OH that specializes in food from Down Under. Maybe search for the store??
     
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  35. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    @Katamarino - is Invercargill the southernmost flight you've ever done?

    Especially loved the Southern Alps, Queenstown, Wanaka and Milford and Doubtful sound area pictures. Our favorite areas of both islands. Awesome you got to see it free of clouds that second day!!!
     
  36. woywoyboy

    woywoyboy Filing Flight Plan

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    WoyWoyBoy
    Properly Weet-Bix, please! :). I grew up in Australia, meaning I'm one of those Weet-Bix Kids in the ads, and I know what Weet-Bix smeared with Vegemite tastes like (I'm also half British, meaning I have Weetabix on that side of the ancestral equation). Weet-Bix (or Weetabix, for that matter) weren't exactly my fave cereal as a kid, but I kept quiet about that.

    You can actually get them (and Vegemite, for that matter) here in the SF Bay Area at the Aussie Products store down in San Jose (I've bought a bunch of stuff down there over the years). Weet-Bix are a bit of an acquired taste, is all I'll say.
     
  37. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    Almost - the southernmost flight of my flying career so far will be covered in the next post!
     
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  38. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    And heavy on the acquired. When we would cross paths Kiwi would pull out some other morsel from his childhood and try and convert me. It never worked until he showed up at my house with Aussie/Kiwi beer of some sort which wasnt that bad. But then again I like most beer as long as its wet.;)
     
  39. woywoyboy

    woywoyboy Filing Flight Plan

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    WoyWoyBoy
    Ah, perhaps you're familiar with Weet-Bix dunked in cold Australian beer, then, one of the, umm, delicacies of my late teenage years and early twenties (and a classic late-night undergraduate snack at the UNSW Electrical Engineering department in Sydney when I was a student there).
     
  40. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Talk about an acquired taste - Vegemite is just evil. Yes, I have tried it. No, I won't try it again. If you enjoy it, go for it. Just don't try to serve it to me. :D