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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Rift Valley

The Happy Valley lies on the great fault that runs from Taupo to the sea. This picture shows one small section of another the fault escarpments created in the first century eruption.
For the first people who found this secret place, it must have been truly frightening. It isn't surprising that the Maori speak of a taniwha, water monster, living in the river below.

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Eerie landscape

It is difficult, within our photographic skills, to capture the strangeness of this landscape. It is wreathed in smoke, painted in strange and vibrant colours and carved into fantastic shapes. There are enormous holes, sides slick smooth, at the bottom of which bubbles hot mud. Elsewhere, cliffs polished to shining white, hide funnels or caves which belch out hot steam, and gurgle before gushing plumes of water that fills the air with the stench of sulphur.

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Details of the colours

Closer up you can see the manifold colours left by the waters.

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Kakariki: the Emerald Terraces

The first section of the Happy Valley is these huge terraces, one of the three fault escarpments created by the nearby eruption of Mount Taupo in 131AD. They are painted in all sorts of colours by the algae that live in the hot water that is covering the rock, ejected from the geysers, fumeroles and hot streams that run through the area. A lot of water: 20 million litres a day cross these rocks, though it looks like it is trickling into the lake.

Places and people
Lake Ohakuri

This lake was created when the River Waikato was dammed and managed for hydro electricity. Before that, this was a fast running river, and visitors were paddled across in a canoe. Today it's a nippy little launch.
Pip had been here before, and made sure we got up really early, to get the first trip across. A great thing to do, as we had the area to ourselves for over an hour. It is, by the way, excellent value: NZD28 each (about 12GBP) including the ferry and, for us, a night's parking with use of toilets!

Places and people
Blue 'moorhens'

The water lilies are surely introduced, but the pukeko love them, splaying out their big red feet as they peck at the insects on the leaves.

Places and people
Sarah's first ever geyser
22/02/2008, Orakei Korako

We parked for the night in the car park of this little resort (with full permission), across the lake from the geothermal area,
While walking around we saw this geyser take off on the hills.
In fact, there's thermal activity everywhere, with a smoking mud pool just beside the car park, feeding a scaldingly hot stream that runs into the lake.

Places and people
Oh yes and the wine!

Here's Arthur and Joan toasting with the excellent Hawkes Bay chardonnay.
After the racing we headed off, making for the extraordinary geothermal areas further north.

Places and people
Off to the races
21/02/2008, The race track

On Thursday we went to the racing at Hawkes Bay. Noni was working with the trainer for whom she rides track every day. She also had her eye on a dark grey filly, Ecstasy, which she wanted to run not too well, as the trainer had promised to sell her if she didn't turn up trumps. Noni wants her for a jumper.
So we backed Ecstasy who dutifully trundled home in the middle of the field. She was on the farm by the end of the day, Noni not being a woman who wastes any time.
It's a lovely race track and we had a great day losing on the Tote and enjoying the sunshine.

Places and people
The other former State Cinema
20/02/2008, Grays, Essex, UK

For those who don't already know it, here's the Art Deco State Cinema in Grays High Street, a truly challenging regeneration project both in size and its advanced dilapidation.

Places and people
The former State Cinema

For those with whom Sarah worked in Thurrock, here is the other Art Deco State Cinema (now an office-products shop.) Influenced by Spanish Mission style as well as Art Deco, it's a lovely building.
See the cantilevered lamp-post. When the town was rebuilt, all street level lampposts were banned, to keep the streets clear and uncluttered. Road-signs were tiled into the pavements, or put onto enamelled signs that sat flush with building walls. Today these are considered inconvenient to car drivers and have been replaced. Verandah support pillars have also come back in, when the 1930's designers banned these too, requiring all verandahs to be suspended from the higher floors.
The results are stupendous, and an object lesson in clear but draconian design guidance. Napier is a beautiful city, an enduring tourist destination, as well as a thriving commercial port and centre for the agricultural businesses of the region.

Places and people
The Bank

The guidebook says that this bank building is probably the finest example of Maori carving and kowhaiwhai (rafter) carving on a European building, both inside and out. Here is the lovely ironwork above the outer door.

Places and people

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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