Photos: New Zealand 1 , New Zealand 2
of the San Francisco Ambassadors
on the New Zealand
May 12 - June 2, 2011
with New Zealand
These are the Journals from our Friendship Force trip to the north island
of New Zealand led by ED Barry Rader with 19 ambassadors.
12 from FFSFBA the San Francisco Bay Area
Dee and Dave Gustavson
Wendy and Kent Dewell
Karen and Dave Rice
Karen McCready and Barry Rader
3 from Los Angeles
Peter Landecker and Lenore Snodey
2 from Utah
Polly and Ron Toth
2 from Ottawa, Canada
Karen and Al Torren
We traveled for 3 weeks from February 15-March 6, 2012
Touring Auckland and the Rotorua area, learning of the Maori culture
Homestay in Wellington
Homestay in New Plymouth
Here are the personal stories of our adventures,
big and small, that made the trip so wonderful.
February 15 to Friday, February 17, 2012
by Dave Gustavson
This one long day, was mainly a travel day,
flying to New Zealand, losing one day due to the International
Dateline crossing. Natalie Heling and Katharine Kleinke came to our
house so we could share a shuttle to SFO. We left at 3pm, for an Air
New Zealand flight to Auckland at 7pm, just to be comfortable in
case of rush hour traffic accidents etc. The free WiFi service at
SFO was horribly congested and barely usable. Our flight was about
12 hours, nonstop, and was smooth and uneventful. Reasonable food,
good personal entertainment system. But the seat gets very
uncomfortable for the second half of the flight!
Dee and I were picked
up at the airport at about 5:30am (the flight arrived early) by a
longtime friend, a retired professor from Wisconsin who now teaches
in Auckland. He took us to his lovely home in Devonport, introduced
us to his wife, fed us breakfast and tea. They took us for local
sight-seeing and hiking, then lunch in a local restaurant, finally
delivering us via ferry to our hotel about the time the room became
available, around 2:30pm.
We had time for a 20 minute nap, then we were
picked up by another friend, Morrin Cooper. Morrin was mayor of
Howick, which is now part of Auckland, and was the ED for a FF
exchange for which Dee was the incoming ED, in the 1990's. He took
us to Howick by ferry, where we met his friend Kay, who drove us
sight-seeing in her brand-new Mercedes! Then they took us out to
dinner at a lovely country club, which Morrin was a founder of
(plaque on the wall etc.) Finally, we ferried back to our hotel and
tried for a good night's sleep!
The time change was only 3 hours (New Zealand
Daylight time was 21 hours later than California Standard time, so
the difference was one day, less 3 hours, in mid February. Things
get more complicated later, when California switches from Standard
to Daylight time on the second Sunday in March (4 hours difference),
then New Zealand switches from Daylight to Standard time on the
first Sunday in April (5 hours difference), on different dates from
year to year!)
was a great first day for our trip! And a full one.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
by Dave Rice
Saturday was everyone's first morning together
in Auckland. We were all checked in at the Copthorne Hotel, which
was across the street from the harbor waterfront. Karen and I had
arrived a day early along with our friends Wendy and Kent Dewell and
Ron and Polly Toth from Utah. Friday we had seen bit of the city. We
had had Karen's first-birthday dinner in the revolving restaurant at
the top of the Sky tower watching elevator jumpers fly past our
window. We had a preliminary look at the Auckland Museum and went by
ourselves to Kelly Tarleton's Museum, a private underground
aquarium, with an exhibition about Antarctica and penguins.
On Saturday morning we
watched a cruise ship from our hotel window as it came in and then
watched it disappear in fog. We then met the bus and our driver,
Brian for the first time. The bus was spacious with plenty of room
to spread out. We started with a quick tour of the city and we soon
realized we would learn from Brian practically every fact known
about New Zealand. I learned what streaky bacon is, it's regular
bacon. We learned that New Zealand was one of the largest exporters
of dairy to Asia, that sheep were on the decline in favor of cattle
and that New Zealanders imported large numbers of three-year old
used cars from Japan and drank their own version of Corona beer.
The tour took us past
the Sky Tower again and past the Fonterra Dairy Center. Auckland is
the business center of New Zealand it sits between the Pacific to
the east and the Tasman Sea to the west on a number of low hills,
similar to San Francisco. Our first stop was Mount Eden – we didn't
go to the top but we stopped to listen to crickets – we passed a
cricket game in progress and learned that cricket games went on for
days! Then it was on to the Auckland Museum, which was our first
major stop. The Museum is a war memorial - we skipped that as a
group – but it has the world's largest collection of Polynesian
artifacts as well as cultural items of the Maori People – the native
Polynesian inhabitants of New Zealand.
Combining here the visits of two days, we saw
the first of several Maori shows and learned about the Haka, a war
dance to intimidate enemies and its modern version, which is held
before "All Black" rugby games. We learned that Maori and colonial
history – only since the 1840's - are still relevant to modern New
Zealand culture, to the pleasure of some and the chagrin of others.
After the museum
we had lunch in Parnel, an area of beautiful homes and quaint shops.
We then returned to the waterfront for our Harbor cruise – on the
“Pride of Auckland” – a small catamaran. We learned that much
Auckland waterfront development had been spawned first by the
America's Cup and more recently by the rugby World Cup in 2011. The
waterfront is growing condos everywhere. We went under the Harbor
Bridge watching more jumpers. Only tourists bungee jump in New
the tour Karen and I were tired and just had a Subway sandwich,
though the night before we had had a nice dinner at the Kermadec– a
good fish restaurant on the viaduct and also a French Island chain
northeast of New Zealand, known for its fishing. We did what little
internet we could, 20 minutes allowed, and went to bed early for our
next day south on the bus to Rotorua.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
by Karen Rice
Today was a travel day between Auckland and
Rotorua on Highway 1, which traverses the North Island from top to
bottom. We meandered through the rolling farmland hills of the
Waikato Region. The Waikato River is New Zealand's longest river
(425 km). There are 8 hydro power stations on the river.
Hydroelectric power accounts for 57% of the total electricity
generated in New Zealand. Historically, the Waikato River was always
important as a means of transport from the interior to the coast.
The Waikato Region is famous for lush farming, thoroughbred horses,
and sheep. Forestry is big industry here, and we saw many logging
trucks. Trees grow quickly from seedlings to full grown in 25 years,
because of good soil, temperate climate, lots of rain.
We stoped in Waitomo
for a tour of the famous Glow-Worm Caves. We began the guided tour
through long galleries and lofty chambers to view stalactites formed
over thousands of years. We continued with a boat ride through the
glow-worm grotto that is illuminated by thousands of tiny lights
emitted by glow-worms suspended from the cave ceiling. The
glow-worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand.
Thousands of these tiny creatures radiated their luminescent light
as our Maori guide provided informative commentary on the Caves'
historical and geological significance. More than 30 million years
ago, the legend of Waitomo began with the creation of limestone at
the bottom of the ocean. No pictures were allowed in the caves.
Waitomo is a Maori word composed of Wai=water and tomo=cave. The
Glow Worms have a one year cycle. 9 months as larva, 2 months as
pupa. The fly emerges, mates and dies.
On the road to Rotorua, we passed:
- Several small Kiwi towns (Pirongia,
- A monument to the Battle of 1865
between the Brits and the Maori.
- A Morai, which is a meeting house for
Maori celebrations and funerals.
- A sanctuary for endangered NZ species
with a 2 meter fence to keep out dogs and other predators like
rats and possums.
- Arapuni Dam across the Waikato River,
one of 8 hydroelectric doms.
- Fitzgerald Glade, a natural canopy over
the road with native ferns
When we arrived in Rotorua, I could smell the
scent of sulfur in the air. Rotorua is built on a volcano and there
are many earthquakes, most too small to feel. There is a lot of
geothermal activity with hot areas marked off. New mud pools sprout
up overnight. The population of Rotorua is about 70,000, but it’s a
tourist destination and the number of people can triple at vacation
was right near Lake Rotorua, which is the crater of a huge volcano.
There are 10 lakes around Rotorua, the largest is Lake Taupo, south
of the city. Many brown and rainbow trout are released from
hatcheries for flyfishing. After shopping for souvenirs and dinner
at a pub with Polly and Ron Toth, Dave and I enjoyed an evening
relaxing in the hotel spa where there was a pool, regular hottub and
a sulfur hottub. I forgot to remove my silver ring, which turned
completely black in the sulfur water.
Brian, our bus driver who had us a captive
audience for about 6 hours today, provided a wealth of information
(all unverified and uncensored). A few highlights:
- Population of NZ is 4.4 million, one
third of whom live in Auckland.
- Average median salary in $700 /week.
Minimum wage is $13.50/hour.
- Health Care is free for everyone at the
public hospitals, which are great for emergencies/accidents.
Many people who can afford it, purchase private insurance.
Dental insurance is all private.
- There are no farm subsidies. All free
market prices. Many people have private gardens for fresh fruit
and vegetables. Maize (corn) is mostly grown for stock. The
crops are all natural, no genetically modified crops partly
because of the expense of chemicals.
- The main dairy cows are Friesian and
Jersey. Friesian are also known as Holstein cattle un the US.
300 head is a normal herd. Bails of hay are wrapped in green
plastic to protect from rain.
- Dry stock is term for beef cattle and
sheep for wool as opposed to production of milk, cheese, butter,
etc. known as wet stock.
- Honey, produced from the Manuka tree,
has medicinal properties, good for health being a natural
antibiotic. It’s also the best tasting (Brian’s opinion).
- The school year begins February 1 and
consists of four 10 week terms with 2 weeks between terms and a
4 week break at Christmas.
- Moari are the largest ethnic
population. They are trying to keep the culture and language
alive with special schools run by and taught by the Maori. In
earlier times Maori language was outlawed and not allowed to be
- 85-90% of the population has Maori
blood, but there are no pure Maories left. They are at the lower
end of the economic scale. 30% leave school by 16 years of age.
Maori account for most of the crime in New Zealand. The genetic
make-up of Maori means they are predisposed to drugs and
alcohol. Because of their warrior mentality, if they want
something, they just fight and take it.
by Dee Gustavson
We woke up to rain at
the Novotel Lakeside Motel in Rotorua, then enjoyed a smorgasbord
breakfast, offering a huge variety for many nationalities, including
miso soup and baked beans.
Setting off at 8:30 a.m. for a full-day’s tour,
our first stop was at Rainbow Springs Nature Park. Our guide showed
us silver fern, a New Zealand symbol, and also mamaku, a fern tree,
and redwood pine tree.
We observed the parson bird, their national
song bird, sometimes called the bell bird, red-crowned parakeet, the
kea, a sub-alpine parrot (one of the most intelligent birds, which
is an endangered species, with only about 5,000 left), and the tui,
which has two voice boxes and is able to produce many calls out of
our hearing range. While touring the rearing facility for the kiwi
bird, New Zealand’s national symbol, we learned many fascinating
facts about the kiwi. It’s an unusual bird, actually more like a
mammal than a bird. They can’t swim or fly. They dig burrows in the
ground for their nests, and one kiwi may make up to 6 burrows. They
escape there in daytime when it gets too bright outside.
The kiwi lays a large
egg, weighing 1/5 of her adult weight. It takes 12 hours to 7 days
for the baby to break out of the shell. From the moment they hatch,
they’re fully feathered and independent. They weigh less than a kilo
at birth, but can weigh up to 3 kilograms as adults. There were 17
kiwi chicks in the brooding room. They have 87% survival rate.
People hunt for eggs in the wild, then they bring them to the
facility to keep them warm, hatch and raise them for 9 months,
before releasing them in a place near where the eggs were found.
This facility has raised and released 1,050 birds in the last 15
years, at a cost of about $4,000/bird. When they’re released, their
natural instincts return. 200 years ago there were 12 million, but
now only 40,000. An animal called the stoat kills 95 of 100 chicks
in the wild now.
Kiwis have a strong odor that is very
attractive to dogs. In the daytime, they can only see 1 meter ahead,
and they have poor night vision as well. Their unusual, flexible
beak is made of cartilage, about 15-20 cm long, and is actually an
extension of their skull. Their nostrils are at the end of their
beak. If dirt gets in its nose while grubbing for insects, it
sneezes to remove the dirt. A kiwi has a very loud call, which can
be heard a mile away.
Our next stop was to visit the Agrodome, a
160-hectare working sheep and cattle farm (1,200 sheep and 120 beef
cattle.) We were introduced to 19 different breeds of sheep, and
learned that the Merino breed produces pure white wool that is soft
like silk. The Southdown has the sweetest, tastiest meat, the Dorset
Horn can produce two sets of lambs/year. The sheep dogs did tricks
and jumped across the backs of the sheep on display. Later on,
outside in the corral, we watched the farmer demonstrate the sheep
dogs’ skills at rounding up the sheep.
Watching a sheep
shearer at work was interesting. He gets $1.80 NZ per animal, and
can shear between 280-350 in an 8-hour day. 14.6 seconds is the
shortest time in which a shearer has shorn a sheep in a New Zealand
competition, and one shearer totaled 866 in 9 hours. A fleece weighs
up to 9 lbs.
Several of our members volunteered to
participate: Karen McCready and Peter volunteered to drink milk and
feed the lambs. Lenore volunteered to milk a cow. Barry ‘bought’ a
sheep from the ‘auctioneer,’ but when he said he had no money, the
trainer jokingly tried to take his watch, shoes, and jacket.
After watching a
wool carding demonstration, we ate lunch on the grounds, then drove
on to Te Puia, a landscape of erupting geysers, hot thermal springs,
and bubbling mud pools. Seven geysers are still active, including
the most famous, Pohutu, which means big splash or explosion. Pohutu
can erupt up to 30 meters high. Our Maori guide explained that the
Maori culture is being revived. There are 600,000 Maoris living in
New Zealand (about 14% of the 2-1/2 million NZ population). There
are very few full Maoris left, and none are under age 50 (97% are
mixed). The Maoris were very healthy on a vegetable and fish diet
until the Europeans came and introduced sugar and alcohol.
At the Maori cultural
performance, Barry Rader, our ED, was chosen Chief and was
privileged to meet their Maori leaders and give a welcome. Because
we were Barry’s ‘tribe,’ we were allowed to follow him into the hall
and sit in the front row seats. The performers sang and danced in
traditional dress, and demonstrated scary techniques they use in
battle, including the use of their eyes and tongues.
The emphasis that
evening was again on Maori culture, this time at Mitai. Dave
Gustavson volunteered to be the Chief, so he was ushered to the head
of the line. After watching the traditional Hangi meal being cooked
in the earth, (pork, roast lamb, whole chickens, several kinds of
potatoes, and dressing), we were taken to a large room, where the
audience was seated on seats under a roof. We looked toward the
stage, open to the outdoor natural bush setting, including trees,
rocks, and knolls. Chief Dave greeted their warriors with a message
of Peace and Friendship from our Friendship Force tribe.
The Maoris introduced
us to their tattoo art, weaponry and combat, singing and dancing.
Following the cultural performance, they served us the delicious
food which we’d observed cooking in the ground, with a variety of
salads, vegetables, bread, and gravy, as well as pavlova (NZ’s
national dessert), chocolate jelly roll, and truffles.
Following the meal,
some of our group took the guided bush walk (they supplied
flashlights) through the sacred Fairy Springs. The night sounds were
intriguing and a bit haunting: owls, waterfalls, creeks, etc. The
best part was viewing glowworms in their natural habitat, under
small cliffs along the walk way, and along the edges of small ponds.
By turning off our flashlights, and bending down low, we were able
to get within a few inches of the green glowing worms.
by Natalie Heling
Today was a travel day
by bus from Rotorua to Wellington. We covered approximately 285
miles in about 6.5 hours. The day was mostly cloudy, but the
temperature was pleasant. Our first stop en route was the village at
Lake Taupo, the north island’s largest lake. It is fed by streams
coming from the surrounding mountains; including the usually
snowcapped volcanic cone of Mt. Ruapehu. It is known as New
Zealand’s winter resort area, because skiing is only an hour away.
In this same area we also visited Huka Falls, which is on the river
carrying water from Lake Taupo to Auckland.
traveled south on Route 1 across the Rangipo Desert, the plains of
the Manawatu, and finally along the Kapiti Coast into Wellington.
Along the way we saw forests of radiata pine, the export of which is
New Zealand’s 3rd largest industry. Tourism and farming are the top
2 industries. Other sights along the way included military property
and the edge of one on New Zealand’s pest free nature reserves.
While traveling, our
bus driver, Brian, provided commentary on New Zealand’s government
ant taxation system. A few tidbits from this discourse on taxation
and benefits include: government retirement pensions begin at age
65, and are calculated at 90% of the average New Zealand wage;
maximum taxes are set at 33% for those earning over $70,000 and 10%
for those earning up to $14,000; all citizens pay into an accident
insurance program which covers medical costs and wages in case of
injury; there is a Goods and Services Tax of 13.5%; all citizens
receive free medical care, though private insurance is also
available to ensure faster service.
Some tidbits about the New Zealand government
include: there is a single house of Parliament made up of 120
members; the major political parties are the Labor and National
parties, with smaller parties as well, which often join a coalition
to form a majority party; elections are held every 3 years, and are
limited to 2 months in duration; all citizens must be enrolled to
vote, but are not required to vote.
Today turned out to be a lucky day for our
driver, Brian. He was stopped by the police for going a bit (?) too
fast through a construction zone. A “slap on the wrist” was all he
got. And very much relieved he was.
Our journey ended with a drive along the coast
of the Tasman Sea as we made our way into Wellington. We were
welcomed with warm smiles and greetings by our hosts at the home of
Lynnda and Tony Bouzaid, enjoyed a lovely welcome party, and then
joined our new friends for the first night of our homestay in
February 22, 2012
This was a
rainy summer day in Wellington, our first full day with our hosts.
After a good night’s sleep and becoming accustomed to new night
sounds I enjoyed breakfast with my host David Hector, while his
wife, Kate would walk next door every morning to see her baby
A short ride in the car brought us to Hutt City
where both clubs met in the morning for tree planting at Belmont
Rhododendron Dell. Graham Wiggley of the Wellington club gave the
introductory talk. The tree being planted is a rhododendron named
“Mi Amor” (my love). Lynnda, the Wellington ED and Barry from FFSFBA
shoveled in some dirt. Then all the ambassadors took turns shoveling
dirt and having our pictures taken.
We got back in the cars and drove to the
“campsite”, a covered picnic area in Kaitoki Regional Park for
morning tea. Morning tea is a lovely custom, which both clubs
next activity, after tea, was a walk through the woods, which was a
bit longer than advertised, depending on one’s habits of walking.
The walk began with a balancing act across a swinging bridge. The
group continued through the woods and over another bridge. Lynnda
gave an explanation of the trees along the way. One of the scenic
places we passed was a site for filming of “Lord of the Rings”. We
returned to the campsite at the confluence of two rivers, where
lunch was served. The menu was grilled lamb sausages on buttered
white bread with various sauces, so tasty and much anticipated by
EFIL DOOG = GOOD LIFE, located in the Akatarawa
Valley is a totally unique place in any corner of the world. It is a
large acreage privately owned by Ernest and Shirley Cosgrove since
1976. The Cosgroves planted the gardens and collected art. The first
place we were shown was the art gallery where the different
paintings and works of art by New Zealand artists were explained or
described, by some of the people familiar with the gallery.
Apparently the Cosgroves had amassed more artworks than could be
displayed at one time. Therefore, the art was rotated through the
building used as the gallery. Mrs. Cosgrove invited us to their home
for tea and cookies. The house is a wooden structure that fits so
well in the landscape. After tea the charming and somewhat enigmatic
host Mr. Cosgrove led a group through the grounds showing off the
varied terrain which he had imagined and created piece by piece.
There was much outdoor sculpture, some pieces so well hidden he had
to to point them out.
In the evening my hosts and I enjoyed a potluck
dinner at the home of Lynnda and Tony Bouzaid.
Thursday, February 23,
by Peter Landecker
It was stormy, windy
and rainy all night. I briefly spoke to my 98 year old mother and
her caregiver, and was relieved that my mother was making progress
with the healing of her broken femur. We then had a delicious
breakfast (homemade bread, homemade marmalade, homemade yogurt,
home-grown tomatoes), prepared by our hosts Brian and Judith Clarke.
We were driven by
our hosts to Oriental Bay to start the group mystery tour. It was a
breezy day as we began our treasure hunt for local places and
history. We were told that some of the land was "reclaimed" from the
sea. We went to the Oriental Bay overlook with a view of Wellington
city. There were 12 Maori villages in the area prior to the arrival
of the first English settlers in the 1840's. The land in the area is
now very expensive with home values starting at a million dollars.
We proceeded around the base of Mt. Victoria on our mystery tour. We
stopped at a Scuba dive shop called Splash Gordon to finalize
arrangement for my Saturday morning boat dives. As our scenic drive
continued, we looked for answers to the 12 quiz questions.
We then drove to Te
Papa museum for lunch and learned the correct quiz answers. At the
museum, we then went on a tour of the many interesting exhibits
describing the plants, animals, history and geology of the region.
The most interesting exhibits I saw were the only displayed Colossal
Squid in the world (caught in 2007), a giant Ammonite fossil (140
million years old), the Maori culture exhibits (they came to New
Zealand about 800 years ago from Polynesia), the original cloak and
helmet given to Captain Cook in 1779, at which time he quickly went
from deity to devil), and the earthquake demonstration in a shaking
We met our
hosts in front of the Museum at the agreed upon time, went to their
home, where I briefly checked my emails. We then went to the home of
Ginny and Graham where we and six other FFNZ members enjoyed a
delicious fish dinner and wonderful fellowship. Ginny and Graham
were originally scheduled to be our hosts until Ginny's mother broke
her wrist. A short five-minute drive brought us a short distance
back to the home of our hosts. It was a full and wonderful day.
Organizing mystery car
tour and quiz, Easter Island link statue on tour, Captain Cook
original cape at Te Papa, Kiwi with huge egg at Te Papa, Delicious
dinner at home of Jenny and Graham (photos by Peter).
Friday, February 24,
by Lenore Snodey
The day was
alternately cloudy, sunny, windy, or calm as we boarded the train
from the lower Hutt Valley to Wellington to join John and Ngaire
Dunford, our tour guides, on a walking tour of downtown. We began at
the waterfront where in the past great container ships docked but
now redevelopment is bringing in many small shops and businesses. We
continued on past the aromatic Mojo coffee roaster, just missing
joining a tour. Further on, Ngaire told us the story of Paddy, a
much beloved dog who once wandered the waterfront, and is now
honored by a plaque on a wall.
Bypassing the Museum of Wellington City and
Sea, which featured a Death and Diversity Exhibit, we stopped at a
teashop where tea, double espresso coffee and pastries were enjoyed.
At a nearby tiny dockside gift shop, several of us found lovely paua
shell jewelry. We proceeded to cross the bridge connecting the sea
and the city. Ngaire led us to a shop where the remains of an
ancient boat, nicknamed Plimmer's Ark, had been discovered and
preserved. An interesting cable car ride uphill to the Cable Car
Museum and Botanical Gardens was our next adventure. Reluctantly, we
left this site to saunter downhill through the Botanical Gardens to
have lunch at the Begonia House and Cafe. The banks of gorgeous
5-inch brilliant colored begonias in their hothouse were a delight
to behold. Continuing our citywalk after lunch, we viewed the
Beehive Parliament Building, visited Old St. Paul's Cathedral, and
finally relaxed in the Thistle Inn, the second oldest licensed pub
in New Zealand, and the oldest one still trading on its original
day concluded with boarding the train for our return ride home to
our hosts and treating them to a harbor-side dinner at The Fish
Market restaurant. What a wonderful day!
Saturday, February 25,
by Patricia Snowden
When I saw that my day
to write the journal was on a free day with my host, Jenny Hart, I
thought that there was not going to be very much to write about.
Well, I was quite mistaken. Jenny and I woke up to a lovely calm
day. There had been a storm the night before and I was sure we were
in for another “windy” day in Wellington.
We met Jenny’s
friends, Norma, Joy and Piroska for coffee at the Dowse Museum. This
is a small art museum in Lower Hutt and the day we visited it was
featuring Bedazzled: Showcasing costumes and drawings designed for
the Royal New Zealand Ballet. I particularly liked Cinderella’s
gorgeous ball dress.
We next made a quick stop at Knit World. I had
admired Jenny’s unusual multi-colored spiral scarf and I wanted to
buy the yarn to knit a similar scarf. Then we went to the $2 store
and Jenny bought me a lanyard so that I could display my FFI pins.
and husband, Kate and Kevin Morgan were attending a wedding that
evening and Jenny was babysitting their son Leo (age 2 and a half
years) overnight for the first time. Leo had visited his grandma
many times, but never to sleep over. Jenny didn’t know what to
expect, but Leo behaved beautifully and didn’t give any trouble. I
was very impressed!
In the afternoon we were joining Jenny’s other
daughter and her husband, Anne and Matt Dallas at a park in Porirua
for the Relay for Life Cancer Society Walk. Matt is the Editor for
the Kapi-Mana Newspaper that was sponsoring the event. As both Jenny
and I are cancer survivors, we donned our red sashes and walked a
couple of laps around the field. Anne and Matt had their two
children, Luke and Laura with them. Luke who is the same age as Leo
was very happy to see his cousin and little Laura (age 8 months) was
quite content to sit on the lawn.
It was a very colorful affair with many groups
from the Cook Islands, Samoa, etc. walking to support the Cancer
Society. I was sitting on a lawn chair watching the various groups
walk by, and started talking to the nice young man near me. Then
Jenny introduced me to him and said he was the Major of Porirua,
course I had to have my photo taken with him.
I thoroughly enjoyed
my stay with my host Jenny Hart. Jenny works for the Correspondence
School in Wellington. The school was changing to a new computer
system, and although she was very busy, she was a gracious host and
made me very welcome. She also made sure that I went with other day
hosts to the planned activities.
This was my fourth trip to New Zealand and once
again it didn’t disappoint me. I love its beauty and hospitable
Sunday, February 26, 2012
by Anne Doublier
Located in the Wellington Harbor, Somes Island
is a tranquil retreat for wildlife and visitors. Maori occupied this
island for generations. More recently, it has served as a human and
animal quarantine station, an interment camp, and military defense
position. the island was opened to the public in 1995. In 2008, it
was included in the Treaty of Wartangi cultural redress and has been
returned to the Iwi ownership. the island was named after Joseph
Somes in 1866 and is 25 hectors in size.
The ride to Days Bay
to meet the ferry at 10:30 AM was a long one. Many pleasure seekers
were out to enjoy the beautiful weather today along with our fellow
FF participants. Everyone is required to process at the island to
insure that the pure ecological balance is safeguarded. I brushed my
shoes off and checked my coat pockets for any unwanted items. We
enjoyed our brief visit here before returning to the restaurant
pavilion on shore for lunch, a glorious Tip Top ice cream cone, and
tea accompanied by FF members from the Wellington Club. Indeed, this
was a lovely venue on this picture-perfect day!
Afterwards, the four
of us headed to the small town of Eastbourne to visit the shops and
art galleries. Margaret, in the Wellington group is a talented
artist and was able to take us to some interesting and special art
galleries. I discovered the awesome original artwork of Richard and
Michael Ponder today and would have loved to purchase a piece...next
time. These works were each selling for up to $6000. NZD. Stopped at
the Palliser Lighthouse before heading home. Fish and Chips for
dinner tonight, my treat, by the water before settling in for the
Monday, February 27, 2012
by Jan Gordon
As my late husband would often say, whether at
home in California or when traveling, "Another day in Paradise". New
Zealand is very much like California in many ways--the coast, the
vegetation, the rolling green hills, they even have some redwood
trees. The weather was varied --misty rain, wind and sunshine.
We started the day
with a walk through the Pauatahanui wetlands. The path wandered
through lush greenery. It was quiet except for the occasional sounds
of cicadas or the song of a bird. The New Zealanders are working
hard to retain their natural beauty and resources.
While part of the
group went to a car museum, some of us chose to go to Nga Manu Bird
Sanctuary where they are protecting native birds in the large
reserve. After checking out the Kakas, woodpigeons and Kiwis (hiding
as usual), we enjoyed the lovely Swan Lake. New Zealand has
beautiful white and black swans. There were mute white swans and
ducks enjoying the sunshine and water.
After a picnic lunch and leisure time, we drove
back along the coast, stopping at Paraparaumu beach where we viewed
Kapiti Island. This island was a stronghold of feared Maori warrior,
Te Rauparaha in early times. Throughout our trip the Maori culture
was a big part of our experience. It was especially evident to me in
Wellington. My host had Maori blood. She took me to a nearby town to
meet her Maori daughter and her 4 grandchildren. Her grandchildren
attend a Maori emersion school. This type of school is typical in
this area, in order to retain the Maori culture and language, which
seems to be important to many New Zealanders. In its early history
after the conflict with the arrival of the English and other
Europeans, the Treaty of Waitani was signed with the Maori's giving
them back certain lands and privileges.
Jeanette's daughter and grandchildren, Kahe,
daughter 9 years old, and three sons, Manawatoa, Tairua and Potiki,
ages from 7 years down to 3 years, were delightful, polite, friendly
and bright. They helped their Mom with dinner and cleanup, and then
entertained me with the Haka, the traditional warrior chant and
dance, designed to scare approaching enemies.
Dale and her 4 children took me to the small town horse races where
families gathered casually to bet on the horses and relax with
friends and family. I bet on 3 races. I chose Number 7 (my
grandson's baseball number). On the next race, I chose a horse named
California, and third race my bet went for Randy Andy. They all
placed and I came out $8.00 ahead!
This was our final day in Wellington. I left
with a feeling of joy and thanks for a wonderful visit.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
by Wendy Dewell
Today was the day to transfer to Wanganui from
Wellington. Up early, we packed up, and loaded cars to get to the
private bus that was transferring 18 of us. (Dave Rice had to leave
us to go back home to work.)
First stop was a rest stop that we had visited
before. We recognized it because of the "toy lending library" that
we had discussed on the way down as a 'good, new idea' !! After
coffee and some play, we drove through the countryside with lots and
lots of cows.
got to Wanganui just in time to take a boat ride up the river. It
was a typical boat of the time when the Europeans were settling the
area in the 1800's. Coal fired, it belched smoke, but it was still a
nice ride even if the weather was cold, gray, & rainy.
The bus took us to our
hotel, and we had a little R&R before dinnertime. Dee had spoken
to the FF club in Horowhenua, and on the spur of the moment about 8
of them came to our hotel for drinks, and a nice dinner, and some
really good conversation until late at night. The Horowhenua FF club
is scheduled to visit our club in 2013, so perhaps we will see some
of them again next year.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
We got a bonus day
this leap year, but unfortunately there is no report by Kent Dewell.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
by Karen L. McCready
Barry and I awoke
about 7 A. M. to our first full day of the second NZ home stay in
New Plymouth. After spending the previous evening with our hosts,
Janet and Barry Goble, and five guests from their club, we felt
right at home. The gusty winds through the night had given way to a
quiet, sunny day. Janet, Barry Rader, and I set out for town at
9:15. Barry Goble, still on two crutches from his hip surgery,
stayed behind to rest.
The main scheduled group event for the day was
a reception with New Plymouth’s mayor at the New Plymouth District
Council Hall. The sleek, ultramodern, stainless steel and glass
building would make any city proud. A mix of steel “Lego” style
supports, glass blocks, and wood combined aesthetically in an open
yet functional design. Mayor Harry Duynhoven, bedecked with an
elaborate “chain of office, launched into a traditional Maori
greeting promptly at 10:00 A. M. In his half hour address, he
covered many details about the district economy and government. As
for much of New Zealand, development began about 1840. The Taranaki
District population is near 73,000, with 50,000 in New Plymouth.
Their number one industry is dairy and number two is energy, with
petroleum a major element. Even the early Maori were aware of the
oil. Considering it a nuisance, they found ways of filtering it out
of the water supply. The mayor claimed that British oil actually
began here. Such high quality coal is found here that they literally
have “sold coals to Newcastle”—Australia, that is. The townspeople’s
perspective on the sea gradually changed from turning their backs to
the industrialized shoreline to situating their most luxurious homes
The mayor acknowledged many small niche
industries, including an electronics supplier to NASA, sliced cheese
for McDonald’s, frozen dough for Subway, and classic car
restoration. While tourism is important, it consists mainly of
organized events, such as the annual WOMAD—World of Music, Arts, and
mayoral style, the mayor rationalized the “rates” (property taxes)
as relatively moderate and detailed the redevelopment projects in
the works. I didn’t note too many smiles on our hosts’ faces while
he was doing his political thing. Most notably, New Plymouth was
recently declared the best community between 20,000 and 70,000
population in the world.
Our ED, Barry Rader, greeted the mayor on our
behalf, comparing this reception with the greeting he received from
a fierce tribal chieftain in Roturua. Barry then read the
proclamation from Fremont’s acting mayor.
During the Q and A
session, the mayor volunteered that the land wars with the Maori
began in this area. In simple terms, he said that the settlers
wanted more land than the Maori were willing to sell. The Treaty of
Waitingi may have been written in 1840, but 1,200 leaseholds remain
to be settled.
After the tea and muffin reception, which some
of the hosts considered a meager offering, many of us moved on to
Pukekura Park, just one example of this area’s many significant
parks. Janet led Barry and me on a gentle stroll to explore the
highlights. All those majestic species that constitute the New
Zealand “bush” are there, complemented by such manmade spectacles as
a geyser-spurting fountain and gushing waterfall that visitors can
switch on for brief displays. I had never seen such inventive
energy-saving devices in a park! We traversed many acres of duck and
lily ponds, across bright, red painted bridges. We walked through
dark, mysterious, green shrouded tunnels to find the Fern and
Begonia Houses. The glorious tuberous begonias were at their
peak—intense shades of pink, yellow, and orange, some white fringed
with color. The multi-colored coleus, orchids, and bromeliads
managed to compete for attention. We stopped for midday “tea” in the
park tea house along with several other ambassadors and hosts.
For evening tea, the
four of us drove out to Ashley and Lorraine’s house in the Waitingi
area. Called “Castleford” in a wink to Ashley’s collection of Fords,
the house’s ground level consists of display rooms for Ashley’s
custom-assembled classic cars and Lorraine’s quilt work. Ashley
specializes in customizing ‘30’s vintage Fords, including a sporty
model, a “traveler” caravan on a truck chassis, and a Model T
Raceabout. Lorraine’s quilts ranged from a Dick and Jane primer
theme to the Underground Railroad to Kiwiana flora and fauna.
Upstairs we dined on “peas, pies, and spuds” dinner, topped off with
an ice cream and fruit mealange dessert. Lorraine sated all the lady
ambassadors coveting her handiwork by giving each of us a quilted
potholder in a Kiwiana design. I chose a working dog standing on top
of a herd of sheep. Another attraction for me was the plush gray and
white British cat lording over the parlor and the shy one hiding in
the master bedroom.
From the pomp and circumstance of the mayor’s
reception to a major garden attraction to a down home dinner in the
home of a creative Kiwi couple, our first very full day of New
Plymouth hospitality was just a sample of what this region and its
people have to offer.
Friday, March 2, 21012
by Barry Rader
We are closing in on the end of a great home
stay in New Plymouth, but before it is over, I have to tell you all
about Karen and my hosts. Both of them are in their late 70's and
very vital. He has had three hip surgeries to fix the ones that went
wrong (it seems both the docs and Barry, my host, are equally to
blame). Janet, the host, gets up at seven am to move the heifers
from one part of the pasture to the other on an ATV. We all share a
bathroom, but it is not a problem, even though I thought it would be
one. They raised three boys and set each one up with their own dairy
farm. Barry, my host, is very talkative and engages me in debates on
all sorts of subjects, I always win, because I use facts and he uses
opinion, at least that's what I think. Janet, host, is quieter and
runs the whole family. She also is President of the FF club.
We ate a breakfast of
whole grains and yogurt, which Karen and I requested. Every morning
there is a huge, fresh avocado ripened to perfection for use to
share on our toast. Oh yes, TEA, there is TEA, I counted six to
eight times a day that we drink tea. I bet the Kiwis' kidneys never
Now to March
2. We went with our hosts to the "Garden for all Seasons", not the
first garden on this exchange, but maybe the largest. It is supposed
to be great for a Rhododendron collection, and yes, many were in
bloom, but their time had passed. Lots of interesting plants to see
and paths to walk on. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Then, it
was on to "Foxy Lady", a gift gallery nearby. I bought a tee shirt
and Karen bought earrings. Others purchased different symbols of New
Zealand, a nice find. From there, we went to our house, for, guess
what? That's right, TEA. Then we went on to our hosts son's milking
shed to see cows milked. WOW, 600 cows an hour milked by one man,
that is what I call mechanized farming. Two circular tables putting
the cows on and off, with one man attaching the milking cups to
their tits. I am not sure I am ever going to drink milk again.
Finally, it was our night to take the hosts out to dinner. They all
chose the same venue, a buffet at the best hotel in town, and it was
great-something for everybody, and high quality food. I ate mostly
green lipped mussels and desserts. Both my choices were excellent.
Everybody had a great time, I know, because they all told me. Then,
home for a cup of TEA and sleep.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
by Polly Toth
Today is Dee Gustavson’s birthday, and I’m
happy we celebrated last night at “Marbles” the lovely restaurant
where we took our hosts out for a delicious buffet dinner. We were
able to serenade her with a rousing group rendition of “Happy
Birthday” complete with a “Birthday Crown”.
Today is a free day
because of weather concerns. We were scheduled to have an outdoor
day at Mt. Taranaki and a tour of the Hocken sheep and beef farm,
but that will occur tomorrow.
We wound up having an opportunity for some
shopping—the final opportunity before pack-up day.
Spent an hour or two
on Devon Street, and another couple of hours at the Center City Mall
with a coffeeshop with a wonderful view of the Tasman Sea! What a
great tea stop! Ran into fellow shoppers Peter, Lenore, and Kathryn
on Devon Street and Al and Karen at the Mall.
Tonight we celebrated
our hosts’ Don and Joy Hine’s 22nd Wedding Anniversary! They hosted
a dinner party at their home that included Marge Rutherford and her
ambassadors Kent and Wendy Dewell, Joy’s sister Ann, sister-in-law
Mara, and grandson Lochlin. What a special treat to share special
events like this with our New Zealand friends. It was another
Friendship Force bonus!
Sunday, March 4, 2012
by Ron Toth
Polly and I awoke to a beautiful clear-sky
morning in New Plymouth. We could clearly see Mt. Taranaki and its
snow-capped peak from our hosts’ (Don & Joy Hine) dining room
picture window…WOW!! After another great breakfast, we were off to
the TBS Stadium to meet up with our fellow ambassadors/hosts and
board the chartered bus to Egmont National Park. By the time we
reached the Park’s Visitor Center @ 10:15, the mountain had
disappeared into the clouds….but no worries mates, it was time for
morning tea! Later in the day, it reappeared! For many centuries,
this dominant, quiescent but active volcanic 8,260 ft. mountain was
known as Taranaki by the Maori natives. However, Capt. Cook named it
Mt. Egmont after John Perceval, Earl of Egmont and First Lord of the
Admiralty, who promoted and secured funding for Cook’s voyage! It
appeared on maps as Mt. Egmont until May 1986 when the New Zealand
government ruled there would be two official names, Mt. Egmont and
Mt. Taranaki However, the Egmont name still applies to the huge
83,000 acre National Park preserve which surrounds the peak! The
Park, created in 1900 as the second National Park in New Zealand, is
a protected 6 mile radius area around the mountain, where old growth
forest can still be found.
After a short hike, an informative 15-minute
film about the Park and a visit to the gift shop, it was back on the
bus at 11:30 to head for a noon-ish rendevous and barbeque lunch
with New Plymouth F.F. members Brian & Helen Hocken on their
huge 1,000 acre sheep (2,000 head) & beef (600 head) farm! On
the way down the mountain, we learned this was the route where
fellow New Plymouth FF member, Ashley Smith, had earlier started his
marathon run. We later learned, he had won his age bracket with a
time of 4:02 hours for the 26.2 mile course. This from a man who
only started running at age 50. WOW!!
As we meandered onto the Hocken ranch and along
the Waitara River, it was evident this was a very large ranching
operation. We de-bused into the shearing shed, a huge 2,000+ sq. ft.
area containing shearing stalls, wool packing & weighing
equipment, kitchen, BBQ grill, loo, picnic tables, and lots of
flags/posters/bric-a-brac on the walls and hanging from the rafters.
Brian, the “unofficial Mayor of Tarata” followed the lunch with a
15-30 minute Q & A briefing about wool, wool prices, and his
sheep dogs. He explained that these animals were “strong-eyed
heading dogs from Border Collie stock”. Then we went outside and saw
these dogs “work” the sheep into areas Brian directed by using only
their bodies and “strong-eyed” stares on the sheep. Amazing!! Not
one barking dog in the lot, except the 4-5 that he did not use in
Brian also did a brief sheep shearing demo (of
sheep “buns”) and asked for a volunteer. Peter did a good job for a
“city-slicker”!! On the way off the ranch, Brian and his two
grandchildren rode with us on the bus before departing & bidding
us good-bye at the gate. What a unique and exciting experience!
That evening, our host
families purchased fish and chip dinners, which we took to Shirley’s
lovely home to eat. While there, we had the pleasure of joining a
group of ambassadors when Shirley was showing and explaining her
exquisite silk on silk Japanese-style stitchery and beadwork. This
is her hobby and she certainly is a Grand Master of the
craft….absolutely magnificent pieces of workmanship. She has been
refining her craftsmanship for many years and besides her home, her
works hang in the New Zealand Parliament and the Royal London
Theatre. What a talented and gracious artist and another FF
Monday, March 5, 2012
by Karen Toren
It was a beautiful sunny morning, 17 °C at 8:30, when we left to board the
bus at New Plymouth’s TSB Stadium. The clear sky gave us spectacular views
of the often cloud covered Mount Taranaki, which dominates the landscape.
It looks so much like Mount Fuji that filming for the movie “The Last
Samurai” took place around Mount Taranaki.
Our first stop was Stratford. We arrived in time to hear and see the
Glockenspiel Clock Tower mark the hour with pop out figurines of Romeo and
Juliette reciting well-known lines from Shakespeare’s play. A lovely morning
tea was set up in a small park near the clock tower.
Next, we went to Lake Rotokara, a natural spring-fed lake, surrounded by a
wild-life preserve. We were given an informative talk by a volunteer about
the efforts undertaken to preserve native flora and fauna. In 2004 a trust
formed, involving government and local farmers, for a trapping program to
rid the area of introduced pests (possum, rats, mice, hedgehogs, stoats,
weasels, cats, and ferrets). A $4 million predator-proof fence built around
the preserve was completed in 2008. The fence is 1.8 metres high, made of
fine stainless steel mesh topped with a unique sloping stainless steel hood
and electric wire and is dug into the ground. The pest-free sanctuary is the
largest in mainland New Zealand. There are 2 kiwis there at present with a
kiwi introduction program underway. There is ongoing monitoring to check
for pests and it was interesting to see the inked cards that they put in
baited tunnels so they can check footprints. Lake Rotokara was a lovely
setting for our boxed lunch picnic. We took a bush walk along the lakeside
and saw three native birds, the fantail, tui and wood pigeon.
We continued on through beautiful rolling farmland, mainly dairy farms.
Fields were often separated by tidy hedges and majestic Mount Taranaki
crowned the horizon. We stopped again at the Tawhiti Museum, a former
cheese factory which has been converted into an impressive visual history of
South Taranaki. The super-realistic displays have all been made on site using
moulds cast from real people by the owner, Nigel Ogle, who also worked in
the gift shop and came out to take a group photo of us. There was an
interesting Maori village replica showing the series of trenches and fences
used for defence. A display about the book “The Adventures of Kimble Bent”
by James Cowan, which tells the story of an Englishman who came to be
accepted into Maori society, reminded me of Canada’s own “Grey Owl” story.
As we headed home the great weather continued: 22°C and sunny. We had
time to change, and then headed off to the farewell pot luck dinner held in a
church hall. Audi, our host, and others had stayed behind for the day to help
with preparations. The room looked lovely. Audi’s floral centrepieces came
from lilies out of Shirley’s garden. The buffet table was filled with delicious
home-made dishes brought by the local members. It was a wonderful meal,
topped off by an amazing spread of desserts. Not the time to count calories!
The ambassadors sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” and presented ball
caps to the hosts. New Plymouth FF presented the SFBA FF with a pennant
and ambassadors were given photos of themselves with their hosts and a
Rangiora leaf message. Both clubs recognized members present who were
also there 25 years ago when SFBA FF last came to New Plymouth. (Dee and
Dave Gustavson from SFBA FF) We ended the evening with the singing of
Ault Lang Syne.
Tuesday March 6, 2012
by Al Toren
We had a leisurely breakfast with our hosts, Audi and Horrie Hayman and
finished last minute packing. We arrived at the New Plymouth airport with
time to spare. We thought the rest of our group was flying to Auckland in
the afternoon, so we were pleasantly surprised to meet Peter and Lenore and
their hosts at the airport waiting for an earlier flight to Auckland. With no
security to go through, it didn’t take long to board our plane, a Canadian built
Bombardier Q300. As the plane climbed we had a fleeting view of Ashley’s
and Lorraine’s farm. We had spectacular views of snow covered Mount
Taranaki* and surroundings from the air.
When we arrived in Christchurch the temperature was 21°C. We took the
shuttle bus to our hostel, the Jailhouse, a real historic, refurbished jail. The
room was small, the bars on the window and the heavy metal door
intimidating, but otherwise everything was good. Accommodation is hard to
find in Christchurch as so many hotel and hostel rooms are no longer
available because of the earthquake.
We started to feel very much on our own and missed having afternoon tea
appearing out of nowhere and someone pointing out the points of interest to
us. We walked along the pretty Avon River to the central district, cordoned
off with chain link fencing. It was truly sad to see the devastation. Large
cranes, buildings being torn down and piles of rubble for blocks and blocks.
We walked through the Re-Start shopping area – stores housed in shipping
containers, brightly painted and getting back to business.
By the time we walked back to the hostel, we were exhausted. We went to
bed early, looking forward to the next day’s train ride over the Southern
Alps to Greymouth on the west coast.
* On our return flight to Auckland, a week later, there was no snow at all on