Entries in Trav's New Zealand Blog (27)

Home from my voyages

Monday, March 2, 2009 at 04:59PM
Posted by Registered CommenterTrav in

Well here I am home again. I've been dangled in volcanos and pits of bubbling mud, left at the mercy of untrained check-in staff, stalked by feral cats, stuck in an airport with no bar with two grumpy pet humans for eight hours and worst of all - I lost the last of my quince jelly in Dubai.

Looking back through the photos, I found this one of me which I think shows me at my dashing, modest, sea-faring best (obviously this was taken before my shirt got its quince stains, mud marks and big sulphurous spots from the volcano!).

In case you haven't found the rest of my pictures they are here. Thank you for following my travels. Mrs Pet Human has already found some unused airmiles ... watch this space!


Almost Abandoned!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 03:17AM
Posted by Registered CommenterTrav in

There are times when I regret all those quinces and big breakfasts. The Pet Humans were checked in at Auckland by a trainee who announced that they were two kilos over weight on our luggage. Personally, I think that Mr Pet Human tried a bit too hard on the upgrade front - trying to get rid of - sorry upgrade - Mrs P.H. to business class so he could get at the free booze and stewardesses - but there we were suddenly re-packing at the check-in counter. Out went the Woof Guide and the Fidors and all that was left was Mr Pet Human's Big Lens or my good self. It was touch and go for a moment there - I was almost put in the post for an extended stay with cousin Emma - but common sense prevailed and the Woof Guide, etc, went into Mr Pet Human's big coat pocket, so now he looks even more voluminous than normal. Mrs Pet Human is very upset becuase she calculated her luggage allowance to the picogram.  Needless to say, Mr Pet Human is in the doghouse over his collection of volcanic rock and driftwood samples, but at least he's carrying the Woof Guide so he should be able to find the doghouse fairly easily.

Submarine volcanoes and acid lakes......cool

Monday, February 23, 2009 at 08:20PM
Posted by Registered CommenterTrav in

Hello world, I have survived our epic adventure on Whakaari/White Island, a marine volcano fifty kilometres from the mainland. It took two hours to get there by boat on a beautiful morning although the water wasn't exactly 'Pacific' it was more bouncy than rough and only one person chucked up going in either direction, so it can't be bad. The crew of the boat were very friendly. They did warn Mr and Mrs Pet Human that they might get a bit splashed in the seat that they had chosen and that turned out to be typical southern hemisphere understatement as massive tsunami of water broke over the bows, innundating us all.

The island is basically a huge crater, with one bit of the side wall missing so that you can walk inside, all the way into the inner crater which is filled with a huge acid lake, bubbling away like some alchemists concoction, half a mile wide. The pet humans had to wear gas masks and hard hats but of course I am made of sterner stuff - although I do look a bit pale this morning and I think my fur might be a bit bleached!

The floor of the crater is warm to the touch and superheated steam jets out all over the place. If you jump on the ground it sounds hollow, although jumping up and down is not recommended as you might fall through into a bubbling cauldron of hot mud. One vent in particular (see above) spouts a jet of steam which reaches high above the wall of the crater, probably a thousand metres into the air. The ground is covered with yellow sulphur which people used to mine until they realised that mining a volcano is not the safest occupation in the world. As the steam clouds piled up overhead, drops of - presumably - sulphuric acid made our skins sting.

The walk took a couple of hours and then we had a chance to swim off the boat, where the sulphorous water from all the geysers and acid pools empties into the see. Mrs Pet Human appreciated the opportunity for a free acid skin peel, while Mr Pet Human entertained everyone by heaving himself over the side of the boat into the water. After 'last time' in Doubtful Sound, seawater has been emptying itself from his sinuses ever since in what we can only describe as nasal lahars.

Then it was time for another two hours cruising on the Bay of Plenty. We didn't see any whales or dolphins as we headed out, but we did see some flying fish which I was convinced were a myth, like mermaids.

It was a sensational day out and well worth the money. Back at the wharf, we retired to the bar to review the days photos and drink beer. The beer pictured is made from spring water from the East Cape with a touch of manuka honey and no sulphur at all which is a welcome relief.


Preparing for Puke Apocalypse 4

Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 07:36AM
Posted by Registered CommenterTrav in

We have arrived in Whaketane and tomorrow we are heading off to Wakaari or White Island which is an active maritime volcano. We all have to wear hard hats and gas masks and the 50km crossing is described as 'often rough'. For this reason the trip has been tentatively dubbed Puke Apocalypse IV: Volcanoes of Vomit, the others in the sequence being Kaikoura, the crossing to Stewart Island and Emma getting seasick sitting on a bench in Wellington. Ahem. Anyway, the weather looks pretty nice at the moment so we might get lucky.

Watch here for an update.

Grumbly Old Geysers, Fetid Old Fumeroles and the Pongiest Pits of New Zealand.

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 06:03AM
Posted by Registered CommenterTrav in

I am always open to feedback and it has come to my attention that some of my fans have been saddened by my lack of blogging, which I shall immediately rectify if I can stop Mrs Pet Human from posting pictures of herself in the hot tub for long enough.

Today we took a trip up towards Rotorua (map) to a couple of the thermal valleys that infest these parts. This whole area is basically one big volcano. Dig down far enough and hot 'stuff' comes out; sometimes water, sometimes mud, often steam, gas, obnoxious smells and very occasionally cubic miles of ash and dust sufficient to devastate an entire hemisphere.

Anyway the best of today's excursions was to a place called Wai-O-Tapu (advert or wiki).

Now Mrs Pet Human is not known for her overuse of the word 'awesome' but today was an exception. Both of the Pet Humans are used to noxious gases, Mrs Pet Human in particular is used to strangely coloured and highly noxious spreadings of weird stuff upon the Earth, but this was something else. Every few metres we came upon a new pool of oddly coloured water, a flooding of hot steam and huge fountains of hot mud the likes of which would make Madonna weak at the knees. Now these weren't just the odd hole in the ground with steam coming out. These were whole rivers and lakes of the stuff. We took the long (75 minutes, ha ha) route and every ridge we laboured up had another huge amazing view on the other side.

It might have been better if it hadn't been raining torrentially half of the time, and it would certainly have been better if the guide hadn't told us that this was the first time that it had rained since December - grr. But the views were stupendous and the sense of the enormous power of the Earth under my paws was sensational. It was like a bunch of godlike schoolkids had been let loose with a celestial chemistry set and a few too many bunsen burners. Of course I was ordered off to the edge of each and every crack of doom to have my picture taken and having almost fallen in the arsenic pond, I very nearly fell off the next viewpoint and into the Devil's Bidet or some such colourfully named orifice.

This was one attraction which really was worth the entrance fee, rain or shine. We spent so long there that Mr Pet Human was unable to visit the Geothermal Power Station, which closed at 5pm at which point Mrs Pet Human was heard to snigger quietly into her Rough Guide. Perhaps tomorrow...

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