Sunday, 31 July 2011

WT - Return to Auckland

Yesterday we had planned to race back to Auckland and try to catch a flight to Dunedin on the South Island so that we could spend some time with Dalene and her family (Cousin Lucas daughter) unfortunately fate conspired against us The Tri-Nations NZ v SA Rugby was on so there were no plane tickets available and I came down with the Flu.

Instead we took time out for the mundane (to do our laundry in Piahia, yes that still has to be done - twice a week). We left Piahia just before lunch and headed for Auckland stopping frequently for me to get 10 min shut eye at a time... it seemed like a very long trip.

Scary part is I've used these museum pieces when doing my apprenticeship "Carpenter/Joiner - Cabinetmaker" in the early 1970's.

Friday, 29 July 2011

WT - Bay of Islands Cruise

Piahia is a very picturesque settlement in the Bay of Islands and our arrival at our Motel room had been quite late last night so we didn't appreciate our surrounds until later in the day (early morning fog blanketed the area).
We took off relatively early this morning for a pre-booked cruise with Fuller Great Sights Bay of Islands Tours and tried to put the horrific events of yesterday out of our minds. This started with a power walk to the pier about a kilometre away - Ronnie of course was a bit slower to start but kept going while old bug-a-lugs here had to stop three times... yeah, yeah.. she beat me.. but I am improving and I will get there, mark my words:)

A most informative and enjoyable morning was spent cruising for Dolphins and viewing a number of the Islands. We did come across a pod of 12-15 dolphin  but they appeared to be having a domestic dispute and whilst we were able to get some photo's the pod was not very co-operative.

 We did a lot of window shopping (my favourite form of shopping I must admit - low cost and no queue's).

I find Kiwi art and especially that of the Maori quite fascinating - everything has a significant meaning much like some of the American Indian tribes such as the Inca.
Highlight of the day was hard to pick today but we both agree the seagulls popping in for a feed while we were speeding along was pretty cool.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

WT - Bay of Islands Drive

The morning was spent walking to some of the sights in and around Auckland, we wanted to be sure that our fitness levels are improved. I must say that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves even though we had to stop frequently. The highlight of the morning was the discovery of some really old and dearly loved magnificent old tree's.

After lunch we took a walk down to Budget car rentals and collected our little Toyota Corolla Hatch for our trip to the Bay of Islands. This was meant to be a leisurely drive, taking in the sights and stopping frequently to experience the local hospitality.

The journey started well enough and we decided to call this Pete's Day, should never have done that.... An hour and two stops into the journey we came across a white station wagon  on the shoulder of the road with what appeared to be smoke escaping from the window and or door seals. I pulled over just in front of the station wagon and put my hazard lights on as there was quite a bit of traffic but no one appeared to be concerned about this smoking vehicle.

I had not been able to see into the vehicle so had no idea what to expect and a fleeting thought of the recent Casino NSW gassing (a father took his life along with those of his children on the side of the road). I initially went to the drivers door but the passing traffic was so close to taking me out that I thought better of this and went around to the passenger door instead. There was no sound coming from the car and the smoke was really serious but was not from the engine, it appeared to be coming from the cabin so I hoped the car had been abandoned.

I opened the front passenger door and thick acid dark brown smoke billowed out, I could see nothing through it but just as suddenly there was a whooshing sound and the interior erupted in flame (there may have been some flame prior, I just don't know). I had just let in a lot of oxygenated air and this was fuelling the fire, I immediately shut the door but in the process I had glimpsed what appeared to be a person in the drivers seat and I definitely heard a groan.

My mind was racing there was someone alive in there and that person along with the entire cabin was ablaze, I needed to suffocate the fire but also needed to get the person out, I had nothing to hand, didn't even know the emergency numbers for this country. How damned unprepared am I? ... Pocket knife confiscated at Brisbane Airport .. nothing to cut the seat belt with, I'll have to climb in... Can't!!.. I'm petrified of fire .. they say you can't remember pain - bull-dust! anyone who has been burnt never ever forgets that... months of absolute agony. I was yelling at traffic to stop waving my arms frantically and very near panic, finally someone stops but then he is reversing away from me, I can't believe that! I rush back to the car open the drivers door, again the whooshing sound, the acid brown smoke, the sweet stench of burning flesh, the heat and the flames, I can't do this on my own, again I shut the door to suffocate the flames while I get something to free him with.

Then the car starts to roll forward... "oh God No!" I think as it barely misses the Corolla with Ronnie still in it, travels halfway around the bend gaining momentum due to the camber of the road, crosses the oncoming lane miraculously missing all oncoming traffic and crashes into the bush on the other side. I ran after the car and before I knew it I had help and we had the driver free of the station wagon... someone tackles the fire while we tend the driver... we needed water to cool the driver who was in a very bad way... traffic had stopped in both directions... people sat there in their cars with their windows up so that I had to scream and beg for water.
Ronnie snapped these during the rescue - can't even see the vehicle for smoke in the first one.

Finally we were able to get a few bottles of water which we began to administer slowly to the burns until emergency services arrived.

A helicopter was brought in to transport the driver to hospital and we continued on our journey after the obligatory statement's to Police. We have no idea how the driver is but I am surprised that he was still alive when emergency services took him from the scene, so much smoke, so much heat, so much damage!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

World Tour - day 1 NZ

Arrived at Auckland 16:30hrs Australian SE Time and adjusted our clocks to 18:30hrs NZ Time yesterday. The weather was good although is was overcast and the sun set while we were going through Customs and so forth. We found the locals to be very friendly and helpful as we sought transport to our hotel (Best Western President Hotel) - sounds posh hey! Not bad but certainly not posh is how I would describe our suite on the top (14) floor. The hotel is very central - (Smack bang in the middle of the CBD) so it is very handy to everything, including the Sky Tower. See the photo's.

Ronnie in front of the most spectacular 360degree views of Auckland

Just love the elevator which has a glass bottom section that one can stand on and watch the ground rapidly diminish in size - breathtaking is one word to describe it, I won't repeat what the young lass next to me said when I suggested she look at her feet as we shot skyward...hehe!

The Sky Tower was fantastic and we shall return on Saturday or Sunday for some daytime pics but on the downside we were going to have a meal at the revolving restaurant but were made to feel like trailer trash not only at the booking which we forgave. We waited till 21:15 for a table... delays sure... then put at a table next to the kitchen as far away as you can get from a window seat? We had booked a window seat so queried the table and were advised "fine you will just have to wait for one to become available." At that point we had only ordered a glass of "sparkling water" each... not happy Jan! Paid the $30,00 bill and left. We had a Donner Kebab at a diner on the other side of the street on our walk home... and were treated like royalty.

Today was spent exploring Auckland CBD and it's many shops of interest, Ronnie's Day we called it.