227. A Significant Birthday Adventure – Ziplining!

When i turned 50 I was a fairly new Brisbaneite, and some of my new friends organised a wonderful birthday dinner. When I turned 60 I was again in a new place, this time Christchurch NZ, and treated to another dinner with more new friends. When I turned 70, I decided dinners were all very well but I wanted to do SOMETHING, and as I’d already made a number of parachute jumps in my younger days, and done some gliding and flown in light aircraft, and because some friends and relatives from Australia were coming over to help celebrate, a balloon ride over the Canterbury Plains seemed a good idea (it was). But now I was turning 80. I wanted to do a wing walk or have a ride in an open cockpit Tiger Moth. Neither being available, Dave suggested I consider a zipline adventure in Rotorua on the way back from the wedding in Russell. We could also have a small family luncheon or dinner on the actual day.

Do have a look at the website. https://www.canopytours.co.nz/experiences/the-ultimate-canopy-tour/ 

We were in a small group of 6 people with two guides. The company is very safety-conscious. Gearing up took a while – it seemed very hot at first but we were going into rainforest and knew it would be much cooler there – and it was.

A short bus ride to the rainforest entrance and we were finally off. First a long walk through the forest. At one point the guide stopped and started whistling. and produced a worm from a small Tic-tac container… someone was invited to hold out their hand, and a few moments later the worm disappeared .. the culprit was too quick for me to photograph properly.

On we staggered through the bush, heavy metal clasps clinking and banging .. until we reached the magic door. Then all discomfort was forgotten.

Over the narrow swing bridge – I love swing bridges, the swingier the better, and I have no qualms about looking down and admiring the circular fern tops…

Up ahead we could see a platform round a tree trunk, and before I knew it we were up there and preparing for the first zipline rider to take off. Note all the safety gear.

That’s Dave in the distance, and here he is again just reaching the landing platform. The guide was controlling the speed.

And so it went on … and on … and on. According to the website there were 3 swing bridges and 1200 metres of ziplines, 6 in all, one of them a double (side by side) 400 metres (I beat Dave but he claims I launched myself too early), a 50 metre cliff walkway and an 18 metre controlled descent.

This is from the official website:

My only regret was that too often I swung around while zipping along, so I could not see where I was going and could not put my arms out and really fly as I wanted to – after all birds don’t fly backwards! We were cautioned on one line (only) to keep our arms in anyway as we went close to a tree. I’ve since learnt it was probably because the thick cord which linked my harness to the clip on the line was twisted. I will just have to go and do it again.

More photos: The last four were taken by one of the guides. The ‘controlled descent’ was straight down, you had to push yourself off into space. One of the others in our group, a young girl who confessed to being scared of heights, did really well up to that last descent – but the guide was soon able to soothe her. I wish I knew what he had said to her.

After a quick lunch we drove on south, around Lake Taupo to a small old-fashioned holiday park on the southern shore at Turangi. We walked (I staggered – I was SO tired) into the town and miraculously found a wonderful authentic Italian restaurant up a rather seedy staircase … the food and wine and indeed the whole service from a smiling Italian Mamma were all first rate but I was too tired to fully appreciate it.

Back to camp. As one reviewer wrote: “For fifty dollars a night one should not complain too much when supplied with four walls and roof over your head…” plus a double bed with a mattress but nothing else. We only had thin sleeping bags and the heater did not work for long, so we packed up very early and were on our way.

226. A Wedding in Russell; visits to Devonport and Mt. Maunganui

First – the Wedding. With a capital W. The most glorious affair in fabulous surroundings. It was admittedly a hot day – so the ushers thoughtfully handed our paper parasols as we all waited in the grounds of Pompadour House. Meanwhile the bride was descending the magnificent staircase at the ‘Duke of Marlborough and riding in style down the promenade in a vintage Austin. I know this because we all saw photos afterwards.

And the groom was standing waiting rather nervously with the celebrant. Then finally the bride made her entrance – and I’m sure there was a collective gasp, she looked so stunning in a vintage white lace figure-hugging dress with vintage baby blue shoes.

A lovely gesture at the ceremony was the individual blessing of the rings by everyone present – we all got to hold them for a few seconds. The bride and groom’s two dogs were ring bearers and her nieces helped pass the rings around.

All too soon the magic words were announced. (I should add at this juncture that I was very grateful to the bride for ensuring that I was provided with a copy of the ceremony – so I knew exactly what was being said – a vast improvement over almost all wedding ceremonies I have attended in the past, including my own – twice!).

Bride and groom elected to walk down the promenade back to the Duke where the wedding feast was to be held. A ride in the vintage Austin was offered to some of the older people, including Dave’s sister Alison.

Arriving at the ‘Duke’, everyone posed underneath the huge fig tree on the promenade, fortified by a glass or two of cooling wine … (that’s Dave in his kilt and me with the yellow bag, I should have hidden it).

Then we moved onto the front balcony and had a simply sumptuous feast, all sorts of wines and delicacies being offered, mostly mulltiple-choice. Only three of the nine people at our table loved oysters (Dave does, but they don’t love him) so we three enjoyed more than expected of the local produce, which is world-class. No time to take photos until dessert… In between various speeches were made, including one by Dave.

Some time in late afternoon a couple of us staggered down to the end of the jetty to see the iconic Tall Ship R Tucker Thompson depart with a gaggle of tourists.

Later still Dave, Alison and I promenaded around for a time admiring the sunset at the end of a prefect day. We all slept well that night!

Next day – a Recovery BBQ at the bride and groom’s home. No photos.

Next day – reluctantly we packed up and left the Duke, heading south for Auckland. First the ferry from Okiato to Opua. I spotted this house from the ferry, complete with private landing. Nice! Particularly if it had a private ‘ride’ up to the house (probably not).

We dropped Alison off at her friend’s then braved the Auckland traffic to Dave’s brother John’s beautiful home in Devonport, where we stayed for a few days. Willie the Russian Blue kept us entertained. Most certainly a cat with attitude!

We went for a long walk along the nearby Cheltenham Beach near Krarkin Point with its views of Rangitoto Island, Motuihe island in the distance, and Browns Island and St. Helier’s to the south-east (photo). Rangitoto shelters it from the main force of Hauraki Gulf weather but even so there was much evidence of erosion. Some houses on the cliff have already been abandoned. The beach is also lined with magnificent old mansions, but some of them are in danger of disappearing into the waves.

I didn’t realise seagull babies were so large – this mother seems rather henpecked or is that child-pecked.

We also visited the lovely little Navy Museum at Torpedo Bay – containing an incredible wealth of Naval history.

I never really knew where the Battle of Jutland occurred …

Pelorus Jack the bulldog first joined HMS New Zealand on 4 February 1913 as a puppy prior to the ship’s world cruise of that year; he was donated to the ship by a New Zealander, a Mr Pomeroy, who was living in England at the time. During the cruise he was presented with two silver dog collars (one is now in the Auckland Museum and the other is in our collection).
Pelorus Jack had an accident just after he joined the ship which broke a lot of his teeth whilst playing with a wooden deck block in which he got caught. Jack was present during two naval actions, in 1914 and 1915. He died, it is said, when he fell down the forward funnel and was burnt to death. His successor as Jack had requested in his will, was to be a “bull pup of honest parentage, clean habits and moral tendencies” also named Pelorus Jack. It was Jack’s wish that “no Dachshund or other dog of Teutonic extraction be permitted on board HMS New Zealand except as rations for his successor”.
Pelorus Jack II joined the Navy on 29 February 1916 and was present when the ship was at the Battle of Jutland and after this he was gun shy, bolting for his life every time the guns fired. When the ship visited New Zealand in 1919 Captain Leggett donated Jack to the people of New Zealand under the watchful eye of Mr and Mrs Pearson of Auckland. Jack was landed along with his possessions (silver dog collars etc) to quarantine for six months before being allowed to his new home. 

There were scale models of various famous Naval ships, including the German one (below) and a NZ one (I forgot to note their names).

the detail was absolutely incredible. The museum thoughtfully provided a torch ….

We had a beautiful meal at one of Devonport’s many restaurants. But too soon it was time to leave.

We headed for Tauranga, picking up Alison on the way. After spending the afternoon with Dave and Alison’s sister Bev and husband Bruce, we left Al there and headed for their son Paul’s place at Mt. Maunganui, our home for the next few days.

A morning walk on the beach ….another family cat (this one with a far more laid-back attitude, after all she is a ragdoll) … fish and chips on the beach while watching local Waka races … the days flew by.

Next morning we left at dawn, as we had to be in Rotorua by a certain time. For a rather special early birthday celebration for me.