ELECTRA: intelligent, organised, practical, creative & strong; mum, wife and person.

WANTS TO VISIT: Germany, Portugal, Spain, & France, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, USA, Andorra, Bulgaria, Thailand, Phillipines and Venezuela for starters.

14 October 2013

Watching the planes come and go

A favourite trip for our boys is to the small local aerodrome.

Driving in, many of the hangars are hidden from view and you don't get a true appreciation for just how many there are, nor the number of planes housed within.

This visit though, we got to see heaps of planes in non-stop action, due in part to an instructor being there to assess the trainee pilots for their commercial pilot's license.

Every 5 minutes there was a plane re-fueling, taking off, taxiing or landing - enough action to keep Kita interested as well.  

We learned that there were 4 different types of fuel available at the aerodrome from petrol to A1 aviation fuel; and that the Stinson we saw filling it's wing tanks right next to the fence could fly for 4-5 hours on around $300 worth of gas.  Did you know that the pilots hook on an earthing wire from the fuel pump to the plane to stop sparking and explosions when filling?!

We met a lovely lass from India, who was one of 2 international students studying at the flight school.  She already had her private pilots license and counted on being in New Zealand for 9 months before leaving with her commercial license.  What dedication! [At least 4 of the pilots we saw were females, which is cool.]

A previous visit we talked with a chap from an aerial mapping service, and that was fascinating.  Finding out about the planes; where he had flown; the cameras; and the answers to any question the children asked.  I would have loved to 'interview' the guy and find out more.  

People's lifestyles and the opportunities for them to use their skills interest me.  I want to understand why they do what they do, how they learned for it, what it means on a day-to-day basis, where they want to go with their job etc.  There is so much that we don't know that goes on all around us in our own community.

There are apparently 136 airports / aerodromes / heliports etc in New Zealand.  If you have a young lad I'd recommend packing some snacks or a picnic lunch and heading out for an hour or two.  Perhaps phone ahead and find out if there are going to be any scheduled transits, but otherwise just get out for a different place to have lunch.

Ready for take-off at Bridge Pa Aerodrome, Hastings

The flying station wagon - love it!

Hawke's Bay

What is there to explore & experience in your local community?

14 October 2013

Taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Diwali

If you can't go to India, then immersing yourself in a little of the culture here at home, sounds like a good compromise!

Vega and I went out to the Diwali Festival of Light, held in the Napier Sound shell, and organised by the Multicultural Association.

There were food and produce stalls around the outside of the open-air theatre; with throngs of people either sitting on the grass or standing around the outside and spilling out onto the pavement.

It is hard to be exact but I would estimate that only half the people there were of Indian descent.  The women wore their traditional saris and it was a shame that the lighting wasn't brighter so that their colours and designs could have contributed more to the richness of the event.

The festival was a performance, by dancers on stage, and had nothing of the participation that I imagine would have taken place in it's country of origin.  There were also no fireworks or candles but to make up for that they did have a fire-dancer and a fire-breather.

The last act of the evening demanded an encore by the audience, and the 4-man dance troupe gave it their all - no mean feat considering their routine was the longest medley of the whole evening. 

Diwali Festival of Light, Napier

Male dancer at the Diwali Festival of Light, Napier

Some of the saris seen at the Diwali Festival of Light, Napier

Male dancer at the Diwali Festival of Light, Napier

Napier Sound Shell at night

I was surprised that I was keen to go and check out what the celebrations were about, and felt that I would be missing out on something had we not been able to attend.  Standing among the crowd I could imagine myself discovering the festival in it's native land; as well as the music and dance being symbolic of any culture, any country, any where we may go.  Yes, it's events like these that continue to stir the soul for travel and that extra-ordinary life.

Hawke's Bay

What are you willing to experience in the name of doing something new?

06 October 2013

In New Zealand, vehicles over 3500kg; or those under that don't run on petrol, are charged seperately for using the roads, with a couple of exceptions.  [Petrol users have this built into their per litre fill.]

Road User Charges (RUC), also called a Distance License, are paid per 1000km, must be purchased in advance and displayed on your windscreen.  There are a number of places where they can be purchased, each having their own administration fee to factor into the overall amount you pay.  Obviously the more kms you purchase together, the more any adminstration fee is amortised over the total cost.

The clincher is that you need to purchase your RUC on the gross laden weight of the vehicle - the amount it potentially is allowed to carry if it were full.  New Zealand has weigh stations on the sides of the road in various locations and these are used to spontaneously stop motorists to check their loads.

Most of the recreational vehicles on our roads fit into the following 3 classes:

How much will you pay on top of fuel?

Car, vans and utes fit into the under 3500kg band.

Many of the motorhomes are made to fit into the type 2 tier and under 6 tonnes, meaning that you pay the lowest per km charge of $57 (1000km).

[Remember that these vehicles are able to be driven on a regular car license.]


A bus however will cost between $230 and $351 per 1000 km.  That's a huge difference in a trip that could be 5000+ km.

[The under 18000kg requires a class 2 drivers license 2 and the over 18 tonne a class 4]


The other important note is that if your vehicle weighs over 3500kg you must record your distance travelled per trip from an approved hubometer or electronic distance recorder.


You can download the entire RUC booklet from the New Zealand Transport Agency here.


Note: the rates in the above image have since been updated, with the inclusion of a specific sub-section 413 / 414 for 3 and 4-axle motorhomes.