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Posts tagged “New Zealand

Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Thought for the day….”Turn your face to the sun and the shadow falls behind you.”

“Striving for sucess without hard work is like trying to harvest when you have not planted.”

People often criticize countries such as China for restricting freedom of speech and people’s freedoms.    But now the governments around the World are being just as bad as any dictatorship.   Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are now censoring posts which do not comply with the official government line or which question vaccines or controls.    So even when there is scientific evidence, people are being stopped from publicly questioning governments.   And governments now are using coronavirus as an excuse to introduce all sorts of controls and restrictions on freedom that would never have been accepted before.   People fought two World Wars so that generations could have freedom, yet now those very freedoms for which they fought (and sometimes died) and being taken away by politicians.   Many, many years ago, I was taught in school an important lesson which I have never forgotten….that is to never believe everything that people tell you.   Very good advice.   So now when I see statistics then I am careful.    And when I see the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removing posts which go against what the politicians are promoting, then I am very, very suspicious.    We are already well down a very slippery slope.

Great light and mood in this photo from Glenorchy in New Zealand, looking towards the Mount Aspiring National Park and both the Dart and the Rees valleys.

and another photo from the archives, Zebras drinking at a waterhole in Namibia –

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As always, two laws, depending on who you are

Thought for the day…”Rough Diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.”

“We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.”

So often in life there are two sets of laws, depending on who you are and who you know.  The New Zealand government is charging NZD 3100 (about 1800 euros)  for the compulsory 2 weeks quarantine but has a quote system to limit the number of international arrivals.   Sounds fair enough to only allow in as many people as can be housed in the isolation hotels BUT, as always, some groups are getting in.    A film crew was allowed into New Zealand to make a sci-fi film as they were considered ‘essential workers’.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/121692713/political-favouritism-for-hollywood-film-crews-says-opposition-mp

This week, the NZ news is reporting that the West Indies cricket team is being allowed into Queenstown, all 28 of them –

https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/queenstown/warm-welcome-windies

Whilst there are stories in the press and on the internet about families UNABLE to get places in the isolation hotels and unable to get one of the limited places to be allowed into NZ.    Families are also being kept apart –

http://www.thesouthafrican.com/lifestyle/south-africans-delays-henco-de-beernew-zealand-quarantine/

So while families and couples are being kept apart due to the quota system for managing isolation and arrivals, a film crew is deemed to be ‘essential workers’   and 28 members of a cricket team are also allowed in.  Now in my mind that is wrong.  Very wrong.  Making a sci-fi film is NOT essential, nor is playing cricket.     But as always, there seem to be two sets of laws…….

Gone but not forgotten, this 747 of Air Pacific takes off from Nadi airport in Fiji.  It was retired from service in 2013.

and another photo from the archives…..a motorist enjoys the early morning view over Lake Wanaka, Pembroke on the South Island of New Zealand.

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South Island beauty, Southern Alps of New Zealand

Thought for the day…”Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

The beauty of the South Island of New Zealand with some fantastic weather.   The river here, the Waimakariri, is one of three rivers which cut through the Southern Alps.   The main east-west road and also the trans-alpine railway follow this river for many kilometres.  In just a few km from where this photo was taken, the vegetation changes from dry grasslands and bushes to the rainforest of the (wet) West Coast.  This area was also the area where the extinct moa bird was said to have been seen by two locals in 1993, leading to a mini tourist boom.  The fact that these two locals were about to take over the running of the local pub near where the ‘moa’ had been seen may just have been coincidence !!   Nowadays you are more likely to see fishermen by the river and hunters in the hills after wild boar or deer.

and another photo from the archives…an intense stare from this boy in a market in Sri Lanka

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Joys of travelling

Thought for the day…”Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus”

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

The joys of travelling….exciting new places and destinations.  But it is not always fun.   One of my pet hates (one of many) is that hotels often do not have a list of TV channels.   Given that some hotels can have upwards of 100 channels, why can they not put a list in the room to save endless channel surfing trying to find the 5 or 6 interesting channels??    A simple card or print out listing the channels would be so good.   And linked to this pet hate are hotel TVs that as soon as start them are at maximum volume, hardly ideal for a hotel when guests are trying to sleep.

Next pet hate……Many hotels are no longer giving the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner or individual soap, preferring to have dispensers on the walls instead.   All very well IF the hotel refills them but so often just when you are in the shower you discover that the dispensers are empty.

And staying with hotels and pet hates…..the annoying habit that more and more hotels are only putting in one rubbish bin/trash can in the whole room and bathroom.  Saves them a little money, but is hardly good for the guest experience.

Another hate….modern hotels whose managers have decided that THEY know the temperature that guests want the rooms to be at, and have removed individual temperature controls in the rooms….I am seeing this more and more and it is also not good for the guest experience.

Topping the list of pet hates for hotels…..any hotel that has slow internet or has a poor internet signal in the room deserves to go out of business….no excuse for this in the 21st century.    Excuses such as “it is the number of guests in the hotel” or “it is the rainy weather” just get me irritated.  It is not rocket science to get fast, reliable internet in a hotel, but it seems to be a major problem for some hotels.

The list goes on….to be continued………

Today’s photo is of the lakefront in Pembroke, South Island, New Zealand, on a perfect Summer’s evening.  One man and his dog admire the view….

and another photo from the archives…..driving hazards on the roads of Scandinavia….these are a much bigger problem at night when they tend to freeze in the car headlights.   A male elk can be over 300 kg, so can cause a lot of damage to a car.

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An aerial view of Lake Wanaka in perfect weather

Thought for the day….”Life Always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow”.

A video instead of a photo today…the lakeside town of Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand.  A short (10 minute) drone video taken in perfect weather.  Starts over the town of Wanaka then along the lakeside at Glendu Bay and finally over Dublin Bay. New Zealand at its best.   Sit back and enjoy !

and another photo from the archives…an Autumn day in Glendu Bay, South Island, New Zealand (same place as featured in the video above).   The glaciers visible in the background are in the Mt. Aspiring National Park, with Mt. Aspiring (3033m) visible on the skyline to the right.   The mountains are part of the Southern Alps.

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Soon to be devloped – an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Though for the day…”Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.”

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.”  (J.B. Priestley).

A panoramic photo from Glendu Bay on the South Island of New Zealand near Pembroke.    This area is on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park, but sadly is being sold for development.  Already new roads are being put in and sections for houses laid out.    It is terrible that the local council is allowing an area of outstanding natural beauty to be developed.  As they say, “money talks”.     Sadly the politicians and officials in NZ have not learned from the mistakes that have been made in other places, and once this area is developed then it is gone forever.     Soon photos like this will be just a memory.   Progess??

And another photo from the archives, beautiful Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, Australia

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Censorship by Booking.com

Thought for the day…”Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness.”

“The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.”

Free Speech.   Something that is very important, but something that is disappearing fast in Europe.   Political correctness has already gone far to far, but now the online travel agency (OTA)  Booking.com   is also at it.

I recently stayed in some accommodation in Zurich which I booked online via Booking.com         The property was not good (badly run, dirty and with poor facilities) with poor security.   Not only was the property not clean, but it appeared to have many problems, one of which was what appeared to be asylum seekers in the accommodation.   So after my stay, I wrote a TRUTHFUL review to help other people in deciding whether or not to book.    One of the things that I wrote in the review was that the property appeared to house asylum seekers.    I did not make any statements about the rights or wrongs of this, nor did I mention nationalities, skin colour or race.    No references were made to immigration policies or criminality, just a statement that there appeared to be asylum seekers housed in the property.

But Booking.com   refused to publish my review because I had used the words ‘asylum seekers’  which they said could cause offense to some some people.   I would argue that the words described (truthfully) a situation, and were just reporting what I had seen and experienced.   Despite emails to Booking.com   the review did not get published.     So it seems that Booking.com   also want to be politically correct, even if this means distorting the truth.

The result of this….I cancelled a lot of future bookings with Booking.com     and now try to book direct with hotels etc. where this is possible.  I am not going to have Booking.com   tell me what I can and cannot say in a review.   It also makes me think that the other reviews on their website may also have been edited too.    So if you are reading reviews there then be aware that the reviews may have been edited for suitability.    George Orwell’s   1984 is here, just a bit late.   Booking.com    is in the same group as Priceline.com    and Agoda.com

Today’s photo comes from Glendhu Bay on the South Island of New Zealand.    The valley in the photo was until recently one of the homes of the Canadian country-pop singer, Shania Twain.  Nearby is Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Southern Alps.

and another photo from the archives….a SRN-4 hovercraft seen here in Boulogne in France.  These hovercraft had a top speed of 154 km/h and crossed the English Channel in as little as 22 minutes.  The record is held by the hovercraft in this photo, the Princess Anne.

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Now it is SWISS airlines turn.

Thought for the day…”It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

“The less you talk, the more you’re listened to.”

More evidence of how bad things are getting for Economy Class passengers.   SWISS airlines have now announced that on routes to/from Geneva GVA, that passengers on the cheapest economy tickets will now only get free water.  Gone are the  (included) meals and tea/coffee for those travelling on the cheapest fares.   So given that SWISS airlines are using aircraft such as the Airbus A320, the same as some budget/Low cost carriers (LCC) are using then what is the point of paying extra money to fly with SWISS airlines??   Seats and interiors are very similar, and both are going for a buy-on-board system, flight times are very similar, and increasingly, departure and arrival airports are the same.    So the legacy carriers believe that people will continue to pay higher prices for the same service as on a budget airline?  Not me for one.  Airline managers may have looked to the USA and have been inspired by what airlines there have been able to get away with, but I am drawing the line now.    With SWISS airlines announcing these cuts to basic economy tickets (not to mention the devaluing of the frequent flyer points system), I may end up flying a budget airline such as Wizzair in future.   No point to pay more money for the same service.  At least the budget airlines do not try and pretend that they are full service airlines.  Swiss airlines have gone too far with the latest cuts.

A black & white for for the picture today, one from Iceland taken in 2005.

and another photo from the archives…early morning on the lakefront in Pembroke, South Island, New Zealand.

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Overcrowded New Zealand – record tourist arrivals mean crowded resorts.

Thought for the day “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” (Richard Nixon)

“Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place.”

One of the problems at the moment is that New Zealand is getting too many tourists, resulting in overcrowding and an experience that is far from the idea that many people have of NZ.  With over 3.6 million tourists a year now (versus a population of 4.7 million), the country just cannot comfortably cope with the large numbers of tourists.  Queenstown for example, often called ‘The Adventure capital of the World’   has a population of around 16 000 locals but receives over 2.5 MILLION tourists a year (try finding a local person in Queenstown !) and the airport has plans for a 2nd terminal to handle up to 5 MILLION tourists a year (remember just 16 000 locals).    Part of the problem is that airfares to NZ are incredibly cheap at the moment, less than half the price that they were a few years ago.   Flights from Europe to NZ are being offered for around 500 euros return for the 18 000 km trip, with specials sometimes below 400 GBP return.   So whilst NZ is breaking records every month for tourist arrivals, the country is suffering, with overcrowded national parks, fully booked accommodation and crowded tourist towns.   Cheap airfares are not always a good thing.

One of my older photos here, but a historic one showing the now bankrupt Air Berlin.   Seen here at full power climbing out of Innsbruck Airport in Austria on a winters Saturday.  Now Air Berlin are history.

and another photo from the archives…deep thought on the face of this man…..

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Oslo (Norway) Gardermoen airport – Still a disgrace for Norway

Thought for the day…”The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”

I have had the misfortune (and misfortune is the word) to travel through the enlarged Oslo airport.   It is still a national disgrace for Norway.   Despite earlier complaints, the airport managers in their infinite wisdom, have still ignored the needs of waiting passengers.   All very well to build a big new terminal, but the queues to check in and at security seem just as bad as ever.    Not only that, but those same airort managers have STILL not put in anywhere near enough seats for waiting passengers.   Before, their excuse was that they did not have enough space for seats (although apparently they did have enough space for stupid scultpures).  Now that the enlarged terminal is open (with more space), there are still not enough seats for waiting passengers.

And once you have negotiated the snake-like lines to go through the security controls, then you have another challenge to find enough seats whilst you wait for the flight.    If you want to find something to do while you wait, good luck, because there seems to be almost nothing for passengers to do (apart fro slow, restricted internet).   Good luck too if you want to charge your phone or computer…the search for a socket will keep you amused for some time before your flight.

So the recently enlarged Oslo airport is just as bad as before.  The queues are still there, the lack of seats is still the same, and the lack of things to do whilst waiting for your flight is just the same.    And the worst part…..we passengers are paying for the privilege of using these poor facilities.    A disgrace for Norway.

Plenty of space for these 2 people on the beach near Surat Bay, on the Catlins Coast of New Zealand..

and another photo from the archives….black and white lines and modern architecture…

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Think before you install……that app may not be so innocent

Thought for the day…”What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

It is amazing that so many people install apps on their mobile phones without any regard for just how much information those apps may collect. I recently wanted to install an app to control the flashlight on my mobile phone, but refused to install it when I discovered that it wanted access to my camera, email contacts and microphone. Absolutely no need for a glorified light switch to need access to my emails or the microphone on my telephone. And a second flashlight program proved just as bad.

Now there is the news on the internet about Amazon, and their plans to open physical stores in the USA. Apparently, they are going to monitor shoppers mobile phones, and will block their internet access if they attempt to check prices at other stores or online. So not only will Amazon be able to see what you are interested in, they will also be able to stop you comparing prices, and presumably, will also be able to see other sites on the internet that you are interested in. No doubt many people will quickly install a new Amazon app, without thinking about the loss of privacy. 50 years ago, people would have demonstrated against the idea of carrying something that gave authorities the power to see where they were within a few metres, and also what they were reading/eating/shopping/listening to. Even installing a flashlight app may now mean that somebody is listening to your conversations. Privacy is important, yet many people are now readily giving it up.

A photo from Spitsbergen of the Artic poppy flower, braving the cold weather…

and another photo….early morning in Riverton, in the far south of New Zealand.  At one time, this port received freight boats from Australia before the estuary silted up.  Now the railway and the larger boats have long since gone, leaving just the small fishing boats and a few tourists who pass through Riverton whilst driving the Southern Scenic Route.

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Flying variety – old and new, north and south

Thought for the day….”Success – keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep.”

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.”

Two photos from the opposite sides of the Earth….the first is a Tiger Moth aircraft seen here in Pembroke, New Zealand.   This type of aircraft was designed in the 1930s  by the De Havilland company, who went on to make over 8800 of them.   Many pilots learnt to fly in these, and they are still popular for teaching pilots their initial tail wheel training.   Typically, it had a 120hp Gypsy Moth engine, which required hand starting as there was no electrical system in the aircraft.    Top speed was 140 knots.

and another photo….the lunchtime Wideroe Dash 8 aircraft arriving at Honningsvag in Artic Norway.  The aircraft carries 50 passengers, and is often used in Norway on the ‘milk run’ service in northern Norway, stopping at many of the isolated towns along the coast.

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Uncovered…what lies beneath.

Thought for the day…”Hope is but the dream of those who wake.”

“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.”

Ever wondered what the inside of a jet engine looks like?   Here is a CFM56 engine uncovered.  More than 30 000 of these have been built, but it will set you back around USD 10 million for one. This one is an example from Air New Zealand, and was used in its 737 fleet.  At one time, AirNZ was a quality, full service airline (it even had the advertising slogan ‘Pride of the Pacific’  but nowadays it has changed into a budget airline which charges extra for add-ons, and also service levels onboard have fallen.   Sad to see a once great airline change so much.

But we customers are lucky to have a choice……I now avoid any flights on airlines that use 10 across seating on their 777s, and I am also checking the seating before making reservations…things like not booking on the newer Lufthansa A320NEO aircraft where they have put seats closer together (with even less legroom than Ryanair) and have removed one galley and toilet to squeeze in even more seats.    There is a limit, and some airlines have passed that limit for what is acceptable.  And if the airlines think that by making economy class uncomfortable that they will force me to upgrade to premium economy, then that is just not going to work….the answer is to choose another airline.    Their loss.

and another photo…Honningsvag in north Norway, high above the Artic Circle.

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Not a nuclear explosion, but sunset over the Baltic Sea

Thought for the day…”Well done is better than well said.”  (Benjamin Franklin).

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

A wonderful story in the news at the moment from Washington, DC,  about ‘Steve’, the security robot who fell down some steps into a water fountain.  The high-tech robot was fitted with ultra-sonic sensors, infra-red sensors and HD video, yet still managed to fall down the steps and into the water below.   His makers, Knightscope,  have been providing updates on his ‘condition’ from ‘hospital’.   The security robot is quoted as thanking his human helpers for saving him, and he is also quoted as saying that he did not see the ‘No Swimming’ sign before entering the water.    Apparently the water has played havoc with his electronics (natually).  His condition was reported as ‘critical’.    So despite all the high technology, the ‘intelligent’ robot still managed to end up wet and useless.   And this is supposed to be the future !!

Not a nuclear explosion, but sunset over the Baltic Sea near Sweden for the photo today…

and another photo…Lake Hawea on the South Island of New Zealand, another Fuji X-T20 photo..

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Worse service on the airlines, and more to come

Thought for the day…”The envious man grows lean at the success of his neighbour.”

“Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook.”

It is amazing that so many people are still choosing to fly with airlines, as a new round of cuts in services are leaked in the press.  The Hong Kong based  Cathay Pacific Airlines has announced that it too will follow the trend and squeeze in 10 across seating on its Boeing 777 services (the aircraft was designed for 9 across, so the change to 10 across will mean even less shoulder room).  There is also talk about going to 11 across onboard the A380, with the same result, less shoulder room for passengers.  And following on from that announcement, it seems that the Lufthansa group will move towards a ‘buy on board’ system for food.   It is being trialed at the moment, and apparently SWISS airlines (part of the Lufthansa group) are also going to trial a buy on board system.    Here is an example of one of the ‘meals’ that was served on a Lufthansa flight not long ago…about 100g of cheese and bread.   No plate, no meat and no other food.

So even before they start charging for food onboard, then they had almost cut out the included ‘meals’.  Earlier there was the news that British Airways were going to reduce the seating pitch onboard, meaning that their passengers would have LESS leg room than those on Ryanair.    And Lufthansa have also followed the trend by squeezing in more passengers on their new Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.   They have also removed one of the toilets (to fit in more seats) and made the remaining toilet even smaller.   Less leg room, less shoulder room and now even less food onboard.     The airlines mileage/frequent flyer programmes have been devalued so much that they are now virtually worthless, so the question is, is there any point now to choose one of the original airlines over the budget alternatives? Seems not.   You often have to pay for checked-in baggage, advance seat selection and a higher basic ticket price on thee traditional airlines anyway.    So why choose them?????

In most other businesses, giving a poorer service would usually drive people away, but it seems that the airlines are an exception.   Poorer service now, but still increasing numbers of people wanting to fly.  One thing is sure, the airlines that have increased the seating to 10 across on their 777s will not be seeing me onboard.   The limit has been passed.  Economy class has become a test of endurance, and is far from a pleasure now.

Staying with the theme of aviation, a photo that is now history, an AirNewZealand 747, seen here at Brisbane airport in Australia in 2004

and another photo from the archives….a local man in Southern Oman….

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New Zealand Sea lions – the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens again

Thought for the day….” Do not watch the clock, do what it does, keep going”

” Success is when preparation meets opportunity”.

The Fuji XF 100-400mm lens.    Interesting how things have reversed.   Initially I returned the lens after one day, having decided that it was far too heavy (almost 1.4kg) and too big to carry around.    But after seeing so many brilliant pictures on the internet, and also needing a longer zoom, I purchased it again.    Once you have adjusted to the size of it (it is big !!) and have adapted your way of carrying it, then it starts to get better.    Initially I thought that I would only use it occasionally, but as it is such a great lens then I am finding that I use it much more often.   FAST at focusing and also fast at taking photos, but it is the photo quality which is outstanding.    I used to think that the Fuji 18-55mm  kit lens was fantastic, but now the XF 100-400mm lens has taken top place.   Not a cheap lens to buy but quality costs, and this lens certainly IS quality.   The 3 photos below of sea lions in New Zealand will show what this lens can do, although the images here are only low resolution copies for the internet.   The photos below were taken with the Fuji X-T20 and the XF 100-400mm lens, all taken as jpegs.

and another photo…..

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New Zealand Oystercatcher bird – the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens

Thought for the day…” Turn your face to the sun and the shadow falls behind you”

“You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind”

When was the last time that you printed a photo???   Nowadays it seems to be the trend to take a photo with a mobile phone, then only share it via Facebook or Instagram.   The photo is only a temporary thing, shared then forgotten.    Previously photos were printed out, then passed around at meetings of friends.    Far easier to look at a printed photo instead of an image on a mobile phone or tablet.    Photos printed out mean more.    Much nice to look at a printed photo then a mobile phone screen.     And photos will be treasured more than an image on a mobile phone screen for only a few seconds.  Many of those images on a mobile phone will only last as long as the phone lasts, whereas photos that are printed out will last a long longer.   And printing photos is fun too !!

Today’s photo was taken with the Fuji X-T20 camera and the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens.  The quality of the lens is amazing, and with 5 stops of stabilisation, photos like this can be taken hand held.   The lens is big and heavy (almost 1.4kg)   but the quality of the photos speaks for itself.

and another photo….Lake Hawea on the South Island of New Zealand.   An early morning photo….

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Spectacular start to the day – dawn in New Zealand.

Thought for the day….”Dreams do not work unless you do”

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise me”

Couple of sunrise photos from Pembroke, New Zealand.  Strong upper winds and lots of clouds, but the golden colours only lasted for about 5 minutes.  The term ‘sunrise’ is actually incorrect, as the sun does not rise at all.  It is the motion of the earth which makes it appear that the sun is rising.   In the days when Concorde was flying, it was possible to see 2 sunrises or 2 sunsets in the same day, as the aircraft flew ‘faster than the sun’.     Both the photos today were taken as jpegs using the Fuji X-T20.

and another photo of the same sunrise….

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National parks. What do they mean to you?

Thought for the day….” We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail”.

“Experience is what you get when you do not stop trying”

What does a national park mean to you?  Probably an area set up by the government to conserve or encourage nature for future generations, and an area where developments are not allowed.  The ‘conservation of wild nature for posterity’.     To quote from the New Zealand Department of Conservation (who administer the parks in NZ) “New Zealand’s national parks contain some of our most treasured wilderness areas.”   Note those last words most treasured wilderness areas.
Here is a photo of Mt. Aspiring, 3033m.

News is now spreading in New Zealand (NZ) that two companies have ALREADY been given permission to extract and bottle water from the Mt. Aspiring National Park.  One of these is going to be in the extremely beautiful Dart Valley, and the other towards the west coast, including an export facility next to a beach.  To make matters even worse, the permits were given without public consultation (why??).    A petition was started earlier this month to protest, but as permission has already been granted then probably it is far too late.     Of course, the Maoris are claiming that the water belongs to them under the Treaty of Waitangi, but they are trying to claim (wrongly) that the Treaty of Waitangi gave them rights to many things which the treaty never even mentioned.

Even under NZ law, the national parks should have been protected…..

“It is hereby declared that the provisions of this Act shall have

effect for the purpose of preserving in perpetuity as national parks, for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of the public, areas of New Zealand that contain scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important that their preservation is in the national interest.

— National Parks Act 1980, Part 1, section 4, subsection 1[5]”

Yet the consents were given by the government without public consultation.   HOW COULD THEY DO THIS IN A NATIONAL PARK   ?????   Just another sign of the way that things are going downhill in NZ.

To finish off the post, another photo….the lighthouse at Nugget Point, South Island, New Zealand

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Full power for take off- Queenstown, New Zealand

Thought for the day….”Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.”

“You cannot start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”

Full power for this AirNewZealand departure from Queenstown (ZQN), New Zealand.  In the background are the Remarkables Mountains.   Not one of the World’s easiest airports to fly in or out of, due to the surrounding mountains, although they have recently started night flights due to the huge demand for tourist flights to the area.   One of the problems caused by the success of the airport is the severe congestion on the road from the airport to the town centre.   There is already talk about making a 4 lane highway from near the airport into the city centre, although the real problem is that there is not enough public transport.   The town planners’ answer is to build bigger and more roads, whereas the solution should be a public transport system.

and another photo from New Zealand….Nugget Point in the Catlins.   Named after the ‘nuggets’ off the actual point, there has been a lighthouse here since 1870.   The area is home to many fur seals, yellow-eyed penguins and also seabirds such as spoonbills and gannets.   The road to the Point is now being sealed, which will make access easy.

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Yellow Eyed Pengiuns of New Zealand

Thought for the day….”Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great”

“The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”

Lucky to have got one of the first Fuji X-T20 cameras in New Zealand, and while many people are waiting for their orders, I have been trying out the new camera.    Great new sensor (now 25.4mp) and also the ability to take 4K video (looks superb).   It has been said that Fuji cameras make taking photos FUN again, and it seems to be true.   Nice to have physical controls and also the ability to customize a lot of the menus and buttons to what you want.      Having upgraded from the X-T10 then a lot of features on the X-T20 are similar,  which makes using it much easier.  Same batteries and same lens mount (X system) too, so again changing cameras was no big problem.    A couple of photos of the Yellow-Eyed penguins, found on the South Island of New Zealand.    For those who are interested, the photos were taken with the Fuji XF 100-400mm lens, hand held.   As the light was fading fast (the penguins come ashore around sunset) then a much higher ISO was used than is normal.

and another of the penguins, taken the same day….

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The Southern Alps of New Zealand

Thought for the day..”Success is when preparation meets opportunity”

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your entire life running up and down the field and never score”

Two photos from yesterday, taken on a flight around the Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand.   Unusually there was absolutely no wind over the mountains, meaning absolutely no turbulence, so I was able to fly closer to the mountains than normal.    The photos are screenshots from the video camera (the video will go up on Youtube later), and show Mt. Aspiring (3033m high) in the Mt. Aspiring National Park.  In the first photo, on the horizon left of the wing, you can see New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt. Cook, which is now 3724m high.   To the right of Mt. Aspiring is the large Bonar Glacier.   Unfortunately there is a movement in New Zealand to rename many of the places and mountains with minority names, however the official names of the mountains are still Mt. Aspiring and also Mt. Cook.   So here is Mt. Aspiring below the wingtip….

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and another photo, again a screenshot from the video camera..The normal climbing route is up the long snow covered face (about 60 degrees) on the left, then along the ridge to the summit at 3033m.

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Triathlon in Pembroke Wanaka, New Zealand

Thought for the day….”Success with a negative attitude is called Luck.  Success with a positive attitude is called Achievement”

Next Saturday (18th February) is the day for the annual Challenge Wanaka triathlon.    This event is part of the worldwide Challenge triathlon circuit, and it has grown into a large competition.    The race comprises of a 3.8km swim  (the lake will be around 15 degrees), followed by a 180km cycle, and finally the 42.2km marathon run.   The fastest competitor will finish in around 8 hours 40 minutes.    Here are a few photos from previous years races….

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Overcrowded and full, New Zealand

Thought for the day..”There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

“Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.”

New Zealand continues to be overrun with tourists.   Whilst the tourist board seems to think that ever increasing numbers of tourists are a wonderful thing, those people who are in New Zealand are now seeing the effects over too many tourists.   Accommodation is full in many places, cafes are packed out, roads are busier than they have ever been (=more accidents)  and the national parks and nature are suffering (and suffering is the word) from the onslaught.    And there is no end in sight.     Airlines are putting on more and more flights (particularly from China) and are upping frequencies.     Trying to get reservations for accommodation at the moment is a nightmare and the once quiet country is now far from quiet and unspoilt.

The number of tourists has now passed 3.42 million a year, (population of NZ is about 4.7 million), and is growing by over 10%.     So the overcrowding at the popular tourists sights is becoming serious.     This also means that the nature and wildlife is suffering too.    Imagine driving into Milford Sound (which is in a national park) and arriving before 0900 only to find that ALL parking was already full and that officials were telling arriving motorists to turn around and drive out again.

And the worst part…..there is no end in sight.   Quiet, peaceful and quaint it might once have been.   Not now.

Today’s photo comes from the Old Town in Bergen, Norway.    It started out as a quick snapshot in colour, and was converted to B&W.    Just lucky that there was somebody in the sunlight in the ideal position.   Another reason why it is good to always have the camera ready.

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and another photo from the archives…..sunset over Norway from an aircraft window…..

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