Tuesday, March 31, 2009
When he's had enough of us, he'll hop into a padded post bag and fly to some other family in another part of the world, and continue his quest.
You can follow his story here: http://toyvoyagers.com/index.php?a=topic&t=101970
So far he's travelled over 7,000 km, been on two cruises, explored the North Island of NZ and met lots of people.
Not bad for a small bird, hey?
Saturday, March 21, 2009
We visited this beautiful part of the world in the winter of 2004, and would very much like to return one day.
Thanks for the great card, Helen and Fred!
Jennifer has happy childhood memories of living in Australia. feeding kangaroos and seeing koalas.
Hope you come back soon, Jennifer.
Thanks for the postcard!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I've installed a program called Orb which lets me access any of my media (videos, photos, songs) from any computer over the net - even using my mobile phone.
It also lets me share that media (such as family videos) with friends and family.
One cool side-effect is that it lets you share the webcam on your computer.
So I thought I'd give it a go.
Let me know what you think.
If it chews up too much bandwidth, I'll turn it off. But for now lets see how we go!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
On the last morning of my journey, before I left for home, we went for a trip on the Wellington Cable Car.
Here's a video of the short trip. If you only have a brief time in town, this is a "must do", it's cheap, quick, and you get to see a lot of the city in one go.
Up the top there's a museum which describes the history of the cable car, plus the botanical gardens, planitarium and a cafe.
I only had an hour or two before my flight, so this was the best way to spend an hour.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Taupo is a huge freshwater lake in the middle of the North Island. It's
surrounded by picturesque mountains, gravelly beaches, pine trees, and green
There's something about seeing so much freshwater in one place that
impresses a parched aussie like me.
There was an ironman competition here yesterday. The winning time was
almost nine hours. Can you imagine running, swimming and cycling for that
Saturday, March 07, 2009
At the Waiotapu Thermal Park there's a large area of thermal pools all
colored by different chemicals that occur naturally in the water.
My specs fogged up from all the steam.
We're off the ship and exploring New Zealand.
Here's some quick shots of some thermal mud pools at Waiotapu today. It
looks like something from another planet. And smells like it too :)
The ground is still rocking. We haven't quite got used to being off the
Friday, March 06, 2009
It's been a fantastic last day today. We couldn't have asked for better
weather. This'll probably be my last video from aboard Aurora, so I thought
I'd film it from my favourite place - up on the forward observation deck
overlooking the bow.
I might try and get a video of our table-mates tonight so you can see some
of the fascinating people we've been eating with each night.
I saw these birds following us yesterday. We were hundreds of kilometres
from land. They weren't flapping, just gliding behind the ship and skimming
They almost looked like they were doing it just for fun!
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Here's a quick peek at the kids facilities.
The staff are protective of the kids, so they asked me not to film in there until the kids were out watching a movie (Wall-E).
It looks like a lot of fun!
Oh, and Lilly, I know how disappointed you were that the dance machine on Oriana didn't work. The dance machine on Aurora works!!!
A video slideshow of the Dawn Princess as she passed us (going a lot quicker
than we were) at about 11am today.
Bob and I will be travelling on her in June :)
Aurora has a few freshwater swimming pools, including this one which is
covered over when the weather is cool.
I think the nearby sculpture of the diver is very lifelike. It looks like
it's made out of bronze. Apart from the color, you'd think it was a real
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
The Curzon Theatre is where we see most of the shows in the evening. Most
of the shows are aimed at baby boomer style visits to the 1960's.
If you can get over that hurdle, the shows are usually quite well done.
Here's a quick video of the crows nest bar.
It's right at the top of the ship, at the front, so it has a great view of
the horizon, to the left, right and forward.
If you don't mind a little bit of cigarette smoke, it's quite a pleasant
place to have a pre-dinner drink in the evenings.
Here's the view from one of the observation decks at the front of the ship.
Although the wind makes a bit of noise in the microphone, it's a lovely
peaceful place where not many people visit - probably because it's difficult
to find, and hard to open the door :)
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The captain has just informed us that our engine problems have caused our
speed to drop to a bit over half what it should be, which means we have to
cancel some ports.
Rather than stopping at Wellington and Napier, he has decided to sail
straight to Auckland so that we get there on time.
The cruise duration will be the same - we'll arrive in Auckland on
Saturday. We just won't stop anywhere on the way.
Here's a quick view of Aurora's atrium and its impressive water sculpture.
Here's another video of the sea this morning.
It's flat and calm.
The only problem is that our engines aren't working too well, and we're only
going a bit over half our normal speed.
I don't know how this will affect our arrival time into Wellington, but I'll
let you know.
Regardless of how fast we're going, it's still great to be here.
Formal night tonight. And I'm lookng forward to watchng a classical piano
concert before dinner.
More news later.
Monday, March 02, 2009
A small stream called "The Tank Stream" flowed into the harbour near where they landed.
Today it's covered over by roads, railway lines, wharves and 200 years of other city "stuff".
But if you look closley on the pavement at the top of Pitt Street near Circular Quay, you can see this marker which shows where the stream flows.
And if you're lucky enough, you can be one of the few tourists who gets to do an underground tour of what's left of the stream.
Look up "Tank Stream" on wikipedia of you're interested.
It's amazing what history lies under our feet, waiting to be rediscovered.
Sorry about some of the camera movement - I'll do a better job next video. Promise!
I'll try an upload a video of our room and the view from our window later on this afternoon.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Here's my first attempt at a video blog post.
I did this to see what sort of effort is necessary to do a blog entry because I'm going to do a few of these over the next week as part of my cruise.
My Nokia N95 does pretty good quality videos, and it lets you edit them. But here's a few points that you need to bear in mind.
1. Each video records about 2mb per minute. So for posting blog entries on a cruise ship I'm going to have to limit myself to one minute posts.
2. The N95 has a "pause" button that lets you stop filming for a while, but if you pause too long, the video stops, and you have to record a new one rather than add to the existing one.
3. The N95 editor lets you merge videos together, but once merged, the size of the video bloats out. E.g. I had two 30 second videos, each 1mb in size. I merged them and the result was 14mb in size. Try this a few times with a number of video fragments. I ended up with a 140mb monster that took a couple of hours to merge!
4. So I had to convert this video from MP4 to AVI using Blink. Then I loaded the resulting 200mb file into windows movie maker, which I got to spit out a 15mb video which you can see here.
5. I will be posting to Blogger via Flickr. This is because Blogger rejects any email attatchments that are more than about 250kb in size. Flickr allows larger video attachments, but the maximum duration is only 90 seconds. There's one other "gotcha" in Flickr. When it posts to Blogger it sets the height and width of the video to 0px so it's invisible. So you have to edit the post after the fact, and set the height and width to something reasonable. Painful over a slow connection, but that's the only choice I have.
So in onboard posts over the next few days, please excuse me if I talk really fast :)