Mo & Terry Smedley


horizontal rule

Sunday October 15th I briefly explored Rangitoto Island, and enjoyed a walk to the summit of this young (600 years) volcano.   I don't expect to do much more "touring" in NZ, as I have a full work week through Friday.  I will have a few hours the morning of Saturday the 21st before boarding my return flight - that may be the day for the SkyTower.

Of general interest:  One of the most difficult adjustments is to figure out which direction you need to look as a pedestrian.  This might be a relatively simple matter if you were in a city where the streets have regular geometry.  Auckland is anything but - with curved and angled intersections in abundance, making it a real challenge to figure out the traffic pattern.   I have tended to follow the "critical mass" rule, similar to how we survived New York City - if enough other  pedestrians are already charging the intersection, your chances of being singled out  by a car are pretty low.  This does, however, fly in the face of that parental query we all grew up with:  "If your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you go with them?"  In this case, I guess the answer is "yes".

Second item of general interest:  If you're in a country where you drive on the left-hand side of the road, what would you expect the pedestrian convention to be?  I've struggled with this, too, assuming that I should be walking on the left.  I don't see a strong preference by pedestrians for one side or the other, and I sense I am doing a greater amount of zig-zagging to find the right path when walking on crowded streets.

Final item of general interest:  240 volt power has some interesting benefits.  I'll have to do some research on the reasons for and advantages of each of the common voltage standards.   In the pictures below, you'll have the pleasure of reading my discussion of one particular benefit of 240 volt power in the kitchen of my hotel unit.

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I promised a picture of the "Lee Jeans" billboard.  At home, I'd expect to see this kind of image in Maxim magazine rather than hanging on a downtown billboard.  Which is not to say that I was offended - I walked all the way back to this place to get a picture of it!  It certainly piqued my interest in Lee Jeans! Here's another example of a billboard that would probably be considered too "racy" for home.  There is a series of these billboards, with similar double entendres, and the guy has the same expression  on his face in all of them. When the skies clear and the sun comes out, the Auckland harbor takes on beautiful colors.  I have a "thing" for keeping horizons horizontal (that is, after all, why they're called "horizons").  To get these pictures from my 18th floor hotel balcony, I keep one hand anchored to the sliding door, and put my other arm out as far as it will go and hope for the best.  That's my excuse. This is a picture of Rangitoto Island from my hotel.  The summit is my objective for Sunday.
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Egads - The US can no longer export manufactured goods (because we import them all from China), but we can export shopping mall technology!   Doesn't every US city have a "Westfield Shoppingtown"? Ha!  Who needs a SkyTower, when you have a Space Needle that's recognizable around the world?  The "Seattle" coffeeshop on the Auckland waterfront. Departing by ferry for Rangitoto, gray skies hang over Auckland.  The commercial (mostly container) port facilities on the left blend more or less seamlessly with the passenger and tourist facilities on the right of this picture. The tall white building just to the left of the Hyatt is where I'm staying.  The 18th floor is fifth from the top.
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A view of Rangitoto summit as our ferry docks. The US measures distance in miles, everybody else in the world measures distance in kilometres.  Except New Zealand, where distances are apparently measured in time!  All of the signs on the trail were marked this way, undoubtedly to put a quick answer to the perennial question "how much further?" Unsettled marine weather hangs over Auckland City in this view from the top. A long-lens picture of Auckland City and the SkyTower from Rangitoto.
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A long-lens look back at the ferry dock from the summit.  Look carefully and you can see the numerous volcanic rock outcroppings. Weather was changing rapidly - you can see a squall moving to the left of the city, while sunlight peeks through on the right. Brief glimpses in bright sunlight.  More views from the top.
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The track (trail) was wide and flat - definitely a high-capacity footpath. This, I believe, is Boulder Bay on the "back" side of the Island.. Typical volcanic rock. These guys came right up to me and, as you can see, stared me down.  I assume they were waiting for food.  I expected the guy on the left to say "AFLAC"!!!!
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If you don't want to make the hour-long climb to the summit, you can take this tram most of the way.   Fortunately, the tram does not run on the foot trail - it takes a separate roundabout approach.    Nice tractor! I thought Nokia made cellphones! Looking back to the summit as a kayaker arrives. There were several of these small cabins right along the volcanic shoreline. I expected Rachel Ward to pop out at any time.  If you don't "get" that reference, you probably are also too young to remember Dr. Kildare.
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  The green-covered volcanic islands are reminiscent of the vegetation on Kauai. Our catamaran ferry is returning to pick us up.  The ferry service to all points out of Auckland harbor is operated by private enterprise. The "City of Sails" deserves its nickname.
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Four  boats in a race, just rounding the marker. The Auckland Ferry Terminal looks like a train station. A teapot in my hotel room.  Just like any other teapot? The answer lies in your high school physics.  A watt is a measure of power - more watts heats water (or air) faster.  And watts is equal to the applied voltage multiplied by the current in amps.  Or as your physics book put it, P (power) = I (current) x E (voltage). This kettle easily and instantly separates mechanically and electrically from its base,  has a completely concealed heating element,  and boils water quicker than anything I've seen (including a microwave!)  This kettle heats water using 2400 watts of power.  That's a LOT of electric power!
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What makes 2400 watts possible in a small electrical appliance is the 240 volt supply!  With just 10 amps of current at 240 volts, you can generate 2400 watts of power to heat water - FAST.  To generate the same amount of power in the US would require 20 amps - the ENTIRE  current capacity of even the largest of standard home circuits.  Even a short connecting cord would have to be at least 14 gauge wire (stiff, heavy, and expensive) to handle the 20 amp current, and it would require a special plug (with one right-angle blade) to prevent it from being plugged into a standard 15 amp household outlet.  The reduced current draw at 240 volts also means the base and removable kettle can be engineered with a small, lightweight pin connector (in the center of the base).  You won't see these in the US because it's simply not possible to have a 2400 watt plug-in appliance on a standard  120 volt circuit.  But these "cordless kettles" are very common in 240 volt countries (the UK, NZ, and Australia, for example).