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The Saga of Ursa Minor
Weta Works
03/03/2010, Wellington, NZ

What a treat. Back in Wellington we took the opportunity to visit Weta Works, the amazing special effects studio that worked on Lord of the Rings and Avatar amongst may others. Along with many of the original props they've created for movies they also show a 20 minute film about their entire operation in the 'Weta Cave.' And, it's all free.

Way South
02/14/2010, Fiordland National Park

It's been a while since last entry. In the last three weeks we've visited lovely Wellington, crossed the Cook Straits and camped in the Abel Tasman Peninsula. From there we've wandered down the west coast of the South Island through beautiful Nelson Lakes, the Buller River Gorge and down to Glacier Country - the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers to be exact. From there we crossed the Southern Alps once again through the exquisite Haast River Valley Pass to to Te Anau, the gateway to our paramount destination - Fiordland. We are presently forest-camped at the head of Milford Sound and preparing for a boat trip through the sound to the sea. Awesome!

Camping in Mordor
01/24/2010, Whakapapa, Tongariro World Heritage Area

Last night we camped at the foot of 'Mount Doom' (Mt. Ruapehu) made famous during the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Close by is Mt. Ngauruhoe which served as the pedestal for 'The Eye' of Sauron in the movie. We went part way up Ruapehu this morning. It is still an active volcano and the widespread rubble-covered slopes are just what you saw in the third movie. Many of the second and third movie outdoor scenes were shot in Tongariro.

The park is NZ's oldest national park, similar in many ways to Glacier National in the States. We did some alpine hiking and hope to return before leaving NZ - magnificent!

New Friends
01/18/2010, Coromandel Town, NZ

The picture shows us with two new friends, Tony and Dawn Evans, s/v Cape Provedence, who were our generous hosts at their home on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. The Evans were doing their circumnavigation at the same time as Judy's brother John and his family, crossing wakes from the Red Sea to Spain; thus the connection to us. The Coromandel has everything from spectacular seascapes on Haruaki Guld and the Pacific to dense kauri tree rainforest - it's a must for any visit to NZ.

Zephyr at the Cape
Bryan & Judy
01/05/2010, Cape Reinga, NZ

Zephyr, nephew of the famous Sirocco, is a flightless parrot whose relations live in the southernmost reaches of NZ. We took him north to show him the northernmost reaches of his native land - the Cape at Reinga. Zephyr agreed with us that the Cape, and its sister, Cape Marie van Diemen are truly awesome to behold.

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Ursa Minor's Crew
Who: Captains Bryan Lane (callsign NP2NH) and Judy Knape
Port: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
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